Frozen yoghurt

In Australia at the moment – to quote Robin Williams’s character in Good Morning Vietnam – “It’s hot! Damn hot!”

It's hot Down Under.

It’s hot Down Under.

Which means it would be nice to have something to cool down with, especially with the kids home from school for another week.

Even better, it wouldn’t be so bad to have something the kids could participate in actually making. Something which takes minutes and which wouldn’t end with them climbing the walls on added sugars and artificial colours and flavours.

Ta da!

Ladies and gents, if you’ve been following my latest posts about making yoghurt, then I’m guessing there’s some lurking in your refrigerator right about now. How about using it to make some fruit-flavoured frozen yoghurt with – wait for it! – real fruit and real yoghurt?!

Well, why not?

All you’ll need is some frozen fruit, some yoghurt and something to sweeten it with.

Mango frozen yoghurt.

Mango frozen yoghurt.

Unfortunately, this is one of the rare recipes on this site that actually requires a particular appliance. Sorry. You’ll need a food processor.

You could try making this in smaller batches using a stick blender, but I give no guarantees.

So, find yourself some fruit. If you are in a screaming hurry to do this, you can easily purchase bags of frozen berries from the supermarket. If you must. However, it’s summer, there are oodles of different fruits in season right now and going for a song. My local green grocer is selling mangoes for 50 cents each.

A gorgeously ripe, in-season mango.

A gorgeously ripe, in-season mango.

So, I bought a few, peeled and sliced them up and popped them in a ziploc bag in the freezer overnight.  Just before Christmas I did the same with a punnet of strawberries I found on sale. Here’s how to go about it if you’ve never done it before.

1. Wash your fruit.

Wash your fruit well and allow to drain.

Wash your fruit well and allow to drain.

 2. Cut out any soft bits (especially with strawberries) and slice up larger fruits, like mangoes.
Prepare your fruit so you freeze only the best bits.

Prepare your fruit so you freeze only the best bits.

3. Put them into something you can seal well. A tupperware freezer container or ziploc bag will do nicely. Squeeze out all the air you can from bags, if using. Then freeze.

Seal into an airtight container and freeze.

Seal into an airtight container and freeze.

Simple.

Now to make your frozen yoghurt you’ll need to set up your food processor with the metal blade. The plastic one won’t work.

Trust me on this.

Add your frozen fruit.

Place your frozen fruit in the food processor bowl.

Place your frozen fruit in the food processor bowl.

Blitz for about 30 seconds, or until decently pulverised. Add a good drizzle of sweetener: this can be honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, golden syrup or even a few heaping spoonfuls of brown sugar.

At this point, it’s important to bear in mind the properties of your fruit. The coldness of the dish will affect your perception of its sweetness, it will seem much less sweet. The strawberries in the pictures were passing sweet at room temperature (the way I like them) but were pretty tart in their frozen state. They needed a fair whack of honey to make them palatable at sub-zero temperatures.

Now add your cold, straight-out-of-the-refrigerator, yoghurt all at once and blitz again for about a minute.

Add your yoghurt and blitz.

Add your yoghurt and blitz.

Taste for sweetness.

The frozen fruit will have caused the yoghurt to start to freeze and your mixture should resemble soft-serve ice cream already. Feel free to eat it immediately. 😉

The finished product.

The finished product.

Alternatively, place it in a container in your freezer. This mixture will set quite solidly as it is lacking the additives that commercial blends have and which make them scoop-able straight from the freezer.

Take it out of the freezer about 20 mins before you are wanting to serve it. So, if you want it for dessert, take it out as you serve up your main meal…

This firm setting property makes it ideal for popsicles, paddlepops or ice lollies though! Pour your mixture into moulds and you’ve got the ideal cool down when your kids come back from their first stinking hot days of an Australian school year.

The popsicle moulds were bought at Aldi...

These popsicle moulds were bought at Aldi…

Better yet, they can help with pretty much every aspect of making the things – short of using the food processor. Just be prepared for some mess…

Frozen Fruit Yoghurt

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

300g frozen fruit

500g chilled yoghurt (Greek, full fat, skim, soy, whatever…)

3 tablespoons honey or to taste. (You can substitute maple syrup, agave syrup, golden syrup or corn syrup if you wish)

Method

Fit the metal chopping blade into a food processor.

Add your frozen fruit and pulse for around 30 seconds or until the fruit has a relatively even texture. One or two larger pieces just add interest to the finished product.

Add your sweetener and pulse briefly.

Add all your yoghurt and blend until smooth.

May be served immediately, or frozen for several weeks in a sealed container.

Remove from the freezer at least 20 minutes before serving (or risk tears and sprained wrists).

Variation: Pour into popsicle moulds for individual treats. If you don’t have any moulds, then try using small plastic cups or tumblers with a paddle pop stick inserted into the mixture.

Run hot water around the outside of the mould to help release the treat.

Cranberry-Almond Quinoa Pilaf

Cranberry Almond Pilaf

I’m posting this particular recipe in response to a request from my Dad, although I do hope everyone else likes it too.

It’s not really a pilaf in the strictest sense of the word – rice cooked in broth with other things then added – but it does resemble it and I’ll settle for that.

Cranberry Almond Pilaf

Cranberry Almond Pilaf

It contains an ingredient that seems to be one of the trendiest on the planet at this point in time, but I first learned about it in the early 1990s.

Not that I could find it anywhere, of course. Now it’s on the supermarket shelves. How times change.

I’m talking about Quinoa, an ancient South American grain that is unique in its nutritional profile.

Quinoa in the raw

Quinoa in the raw

But before I go on, let’s address a matter of some importance…how to pronounce it.

Keen-wa.

Ok? Got it? Good.

If I hear anyone saying kwin-oh-ah, I’ll slap them.

Quinoa, as I was saying, is a little famous at the moment. It is a seed that has been in cultivation for thousands of years, but only commercially so for a very short time. Which explains its cost (more on that later).

Remarkably it is a source of complete protein, which makes it extremely valuable to vegans and vegetarians. It is gluten-free and rich in dietary fibre, magnesium and iron as well as being a good source of calcium – very handy for the lactose-intolerant.

It comes in white, black and red versions. I prefer the white, but that’s just me.

Teeny, tiny seeds

Teeny, tiny seeds

It also tastes good, is easily digested, low GI and incredibly easy to prepare.

It’s not a large commercial crop though, and is on the pricey side. At my local supermarket it comes in at $2 per 100g or $10 for a half kilo (500g) bag. Bear in mind that it behaves somewhat like rice in that it swells when cooked, so one cup of quinoa will yield 2½ – 3 cups of it cooked. It can also be used in recipes that call for rice and I have made several quite successful risottos with it.

Please note that, even at that price, this entire recipe will still only cost you around AUD 4.50.

Cooked Quinoa.

Cooked Quinoa.

Unlike rice, it will give a large nutritional bang for your buck (see above) and not give you just calories and carbohydrates.

This dish is one I like to take to gatherings that require one to “bring a plate.” It’s simple, it has only three and a bit ingredients, it travels well, it caters for the gluten and lactose intolerant as well as vegetarians, it’s served cold and can often provide a talking point as everyone tries to work out (a) what it is and (b) how to pronounce it.  HINT: Keen – Wa

Ahem. Moving on.

This dish is great for Christmas gatherings in Australia too as the colours of the craisins are very much of the season and the coolness of the dish is wonderful on stinking hot days.

Enough. Let’s cook.

The first, and most important, step is to wash your quinoa. It’s also the trickiest. Quinoa seeds have a chemical in their coating called saponin. It is quite bitter and may not all be removed on the way from the field to your kitchen. Wash it.

This can be difficult to do as the seeds themselves are tiny. Really small.  Think the tip-of-a-ball-point-pen small.

The quinoa is only a little larger than the holes in my finest mesh sifter.

The quinoa is only a little larger than the holes in my finest mesh strainer.

They are easily washed through the holes of any sieves you may own. I have found myself a strainer with a very fine mesh that saves me from dumping the lot down the drain with the water. You may find that your current strainer works with the addition of a lining piece of paper towel, cheesecloth or a clean Chux.

Line your sieve so you don't lose your quinoa.

Line your sieve so you don’t lose your quinoa.

Place your quinoa in a bowl and cover with water, agitating gently. The water will turn cloudy, like this:

First rinse.

First rinse.

Drain through your sieve, return to the bowl and continue the process until the rinse water looks clear, like this:

The same bowl, two rinses later.

The same bowl, two rinses later.

It will only take two or three turns.

While you are doing this, three-quarter fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to the boil. By the time the boiling point is reached, your quinoa will be clean and can be added all in one go to the pot. There is no need to add salt.

Set a timer for 15 minutes and just let it cook, stirring occasionally.

Let it cook at a roiling boil.

Let it cook at a roiling boil.

At the end of the 15 mins, drain it. You’ll notice that the seed has separated from its husk. Don’t panic, those aren’t worms through it. And yes, I have actually been asked this!

Cooked quinoa

Cooked quinoa.

Run a fork through the seeds in order to facilitate proper draining as quite a bit of water can become caught. Leave it to cool thoroughly.

Now place your quinoa in a bowl and drizzle with a good glug of olive oil – as much or as little as you want.

Add your craisins (dried cranberries) and stir through.

Add the cranberries.

Add the cranberries.

Now heat a small frypan and gently toast your slivered almonds. Toss or stir them constantly as they will burn quite easily. You will know when they are done when they are a gorgeous tanned colour and the smell is simply mouth-watering…

I use a little egg pan for toasting my nuts.

I use a little egg pan for toasting my nuts.

Add to your bowl, mix through and serve.

Isn't it purty?

Isn’t it purdy?

This will keep happily in the refrigerator for at least three days. You’ll find the colour of the dried cranberries will ‘bleed’ into the quinoa, which just makes it look even prettier for my money.

Apart from being ideal for gatherings, it’s also a great packed lunch option. Make up a batch on the weekend to be taken to work or school during the week to come.

Whatever you do, resist the urge to add anything more to this dish. It looks as though it needs something, but it really doesn’t. I added some parsley to it once and regretted it immensely. If you really can’t help yourself, then I would suggest some very finely grated lemon or orange zest. Then stop.

Cranberry-Almond Quinoa Pilaf

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 cup (185g) quinoa

½ cup dried cranberries (craisins)

¼ cup slivered almonds

olive oil.

Method

Rinse the quinoa well until the water is clear. This will remove any bitterness.

Fill a large saucepan ¾ full with water and bring to the boil. Add the rinsed quinoa and cook at a rolling boil for 15 minutes.

Drain the quinoa thoroughly and cool. It is helpful to stir the draining seeds with a fork to release any trapped pockets of liquid.

Place the cold quinoa in a large bowl and add a glug of olive oil to taste. Stir through.

Add the craisins and mix through.

Toast the slivered almonds until lightly brown, either in a frypan or in the oven on low heat. Watch them carefully as nuts burn easily. Toasted nuts smell fragrant.

Add the nuts to the pilaf and serve.

Will keep for several days in the refrigerator.