Sugarbird's Sweet Nothings

I am passionate about food. And cooking. And baking. And running. Come and find a new recipe, a funny story, some strong opinions and whatever else I feel like throwing in the mix today.
May 2nd, 2012

Pistachio Ice Cream

I have been meaning to make pistachio ice cream for AGES. For as long as I can remember really. So, I finally go around to it. Finally got the nerve to fork out the dough for the pistachios (those little green babies aint cheap!) and finally got the fingers up for the task of much nut shelling. For some reason shelled pistachios are harder to find than the ones in the sharp little shells. Typical.

I don’t know what it is about pistachios that I like. Or that people in general like so much that they are willing to pay the large price demanded for silly little bags. So here’s a bit of trivia about the pistachio: its originally from Iraq/Iran and has been a food source since 6750BC. The pistachio was supposedly grown in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon around 700 BC, so its seen some history and been part of an ancient wonder of the world. Impressive. Also, human studies have shown that 32-63 grams per day of pistachio nut can significantly elevate plasma levels of luteinalpha-carotenebeta-carotene, and gamma-tocopherol. No idea what that mans, but hey. It sounds impressive.


Its pretty much a typical ice cream recipe, consisting of a custard made with cream, milk, egg yolks and sugar. Lots of gentle stirring while the eggy, bubbly mixture slowly turns into a velvety, rich base which could really be used for any ice cream flavour. Just a hint, the mixture expands a lot once the egg yolk mixture has been added to the hot creamy milk, so use a big saucepan to avoid you having to switch over half way through cooking like I did. Its messy. But worth it.


The roasted, pureed pistachios are added to the custard and the the mix is sieved to smooth it out a bit. It is still a slightly coarse mixture, but with that amount of nuts in it, that isn’t surprising. And I liked the slight texture sensation. It is a gorgeous creamy, nutty ice cream. The only thing I might change next time is that amount of the sugar. I do think it could be dialled back some. Maybe from 400g to 350g, or even 300g. Next time…



Pistachio Ice Cream

What you will need:

200g unsalted shelled pistachios
400g caster sugar, plus an extra 80g
700ml full-cream milk
300ml double cream
10 large eggs, yolks only (freeze the whites in a couple of batches and use them for meringues)

What to do:

Roast the pistachios by putting them into a dry frying pan over a medium to low heat. Watch them carefully and shake the pan so that the pistachios brown very lightly on all sides. Don’t let them burn.

Put the roasted pistachios into a food processor with 80g of sugar and pulse-chop them as finely as possible.

In a large thick-bottomed saucepan, heat the milk and cream to just below boiling point (you will see bubbles beginning to form at the very edges of the pan). Remove from the heat.

Put the egg yolks and 400g of sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for about 8 minutes, until pale and thick and doubled in volume. Wash the saucepan (this is to remove any milk residue that might be a bit scorched).

Add the warm milk and cream to the egg and sugar mix, beating on the lowest speed.

Return this custard mixture to the clean thick-bottomed pan and cook slowly over a very gentle heat until it coats the back of a spoon; this will take at least 15 boring but worth it minutes.

Remove the custard from the heat, stir in the pistachio paste, and then pour and rub the whole thing through a fine sieve into a bowl.

Leave to cool, then churn in an ice cream machine (in two batches if necessary, as it was for me) until frozen.



April 4th, 2011

Pistachio Petit Four Surprise Birthday Cake

Why not start my post with the pretty picture of the whole and beautiful cake? Because this is the best bit about making a cake. When its been hacked to pieces and everyone around you is munching it. Awesome. And it makes me happy looking at this picture. And right now, while injured and unable to run, with this annoying dull ache in my leg, I need pretty cake pictures to make me smile.

I was commissioned to make this birthday cake by my neighbour Kevin for a surprise birthday party for his wife Geri. This weekend was her 50th birthday, and after insisting that she did not want a 50th birthday party, he decided to throw her a 49.9th birthday party instead. And just to make sure that she could not object or get out of it at all, he made it a surprise party so she knew absolutely nothing about it. As Kevin is a frequent devourer of my cookies, cakes and other tempting treats, he knew I would be delighted to make the cake for the party, which I was, provided I could come along and see the surprise on Geri’s face for myself. And just for good measure we brought along my mom and sister who were visiting for the weekend. It worked out nicely as it was my mom’s birthday the very same day, so I took advantage of the fact that Kevin was barbecuing and putting on a good party and celebrated with her as well.
Read the rest of this entry »