A Moment on the lips, a Lifetime full of Hips

Continuing my tradition of horrific puns in blog post titles…see above! I have always had something of a sweet tooth. In my teens, I would happily scoff on endless packets of baobab seed candy, dried mango in chilli syrup and ice lollies flavoured with Vimto. And my aunt used to say to me “Mina! Stop eating that! Don’t forget that it is a moment on the lips and a lifetime on the hips!” Well now I still have my sweet tooth (albeit a little more under control than when I first came to the UK and discovered this amazing thing called ‘buy one get one free’), but it is directed towards more exotic things. Yes…baobab seed candy and Dried mangoes in chilli syrup may be exotic for you, for me it’s totally normal. Like buns (oh sorry…cupcakes to you non-Yorkshirites). Now I target my sweetie sense at candied Alexander stems and elderberry pulled sweets, wild blackcurrant clotted cream ice cream and elderflower curd…if I can forage it and turn it into something sweet, I probably will. So when I went into Emmaus, one of my favourite Leeds charity shopsand found three Coeur à la crème moulds for 50p, I knew I would have to create something super special.

For those of you who aren’t obsessed with TV cookery programs, Coeur à la crème is a delectable french dessert and the words mean ‘Heart of cream’. It’s normally made with a combination of cheese (either cream cheese orNeufchâtel) and double cream. I decided that I loved the idea but couldn’t bear the thought of all those calories. So I decided to make a low(er?) fat version that tasted just as good and the recipe I came up with is at the bottom of this blog post. But before that, I wanted to talk a little bit more about rose hips. See I love love love rose hips. They’re so common, possibly the easiest wild food to identify, taste wonderful, and are even good for you! What more could I want in a foraged food?

According to my beloved Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, vitamin C was first discovered in Rose Hips. Rose hips are rich in Vitamins A,C, B1 and B2, are anti-gall and kidney stone, a diuretic, an astringent and a mild laxative. Drunk as a tea, they help to maintain healthy collagen levels in your body which also helps provide some protection from viral diseases. When I was in Sweden at a conference, I sawNyponpulver or rose hip powder everywhere. There, they use it to help relieve inflammation and rheumatic pain in joints as well as an immune system booster. The conference venue we were at even provided us with rose root pills to help us concentrate during the many many hours of paper presentations All in all, an amazing plant. I make it into an amazing ‘anti-aging’ face cream that has made my facial skin so happy and I haven’t had a single breakout since I started using it!

But enough about the medicinal benefits of rose hips. I know that some of you who read this blog are just interested in how you can eat things! My previous blog post had some recipes from Carol Hunt on how to make candied rose hips and rose hip syrup. I used to make a cooked rose hip syrup until Julie Bruton-Seal told me you could make a raw syrup by layering rose hips with sugar and leaving them on the windowsill for 8 weeks. That is how I made the syrup for the recipe below and is so thick it’s like honey. You can have a tablespoon of it daily as a lovely sweet treat or make it into a tasty drink.

Plan B (if you can’t be bothered with making a syrup) is to simply dry the fruits in a very low oven until hard (don’t forget to prop the door open with a wooden spoon to let steam escape or your hips will just stew). Then all you need to do is pop the hips in your food processor and buzz for a few seconds at a time to chop it up into pieces. Then pop it in a sieve and give it a good shake to allow all the little hairs to fall out. These are a bit like fibreglass and can be very irritating if ingested. In fact, if you so feel like it, you could keep those little hairs and make itching powder. Juvenile…? Yes. Fun…? I leave that to you to decide! Incidentally, it is not yet too late to forage for rose hips – just pick ones that are still firm and, when squeezed, release pulp not liquid.

The other thing I have been making a lot of lately (other than rose hip syrup!) is soap. I have gone soap crazy in preparation for my shop launch. Only problem is that I now have to wait about 4 weeks before I can use or sell them! This is the only problem with natural soap making. It needs that time to cure or it will get used up so fast in the shower. The older the bar, the milder and more long lasting it becomes. On Sunday, I made the 4 wonderful logs of soap in the photo above. Feel free to click on it for a zoomed in view if you like. I have rediscovered my lovely Panasonic camera that got left by the wayside when I got tired of carrying a chunky thing around and just started using my iPhone camera for everything. :)

They are (from the very back) MintyBot,FemBot, Green Tea and Jasmine and ManBot. The reference to ‘Bots’ will become clear once I have sliced them. I am currently waiting for my new soap cutter to be delivered from my suppliers. ManBot is scented with cedarwood and chocolate and smells so so good that Peter and I want to eat it. FemBot is fragrance with lavender and MintyBot with…you guessed it…peppermint essential oil and peppermint leaves. I have however sliced the Green tea and Jasmine so here’s a picture of that.

Anyway, here’s that recipe I promised you!

 

Coeur à la Crème avec un Sirop de Fruits de l’églantier (Creamy hearts with Rose hip syrup)

 

140g natural yoghurt

225g low fat cream cheese

340g cottage cheese

135g double cream

4.5 tablespoons icing sugar

1 vanilla pod

Combine the cream cheese, cottage cheese, sugar and yoghurt in a food processor. Scrape the vanilla pod and put the seeds in with the cheeses in the food processor. Puree until the mixture is completely smooth and not grainy or lumpy. In a separate bowl, whip the double cream until thick and then add the cheese mixture. Blitz for a few seconds with your hand mixer to blend it and then set aside. The mixture will be only slightly sweet if you taste it at this point. Do not panic! It needs to be this way otherwise, combined with the syrup, it will be inedible!

Line your Coeur à la crème moulds with a layer of muslin (the market is a great place to pick up cheap muslin cloth). If you don’t have Coeur à la crème moulds, you can make yourself some. Heat a metal skewer in the flame of your cooker and then use it to poke/melt holes in a range of plastic tubs. Philadelphia tubs will make enough for two, supermarket hummus tubs half filled are a perfect serving for one…you get the idea. Once your mould is lined, spoon the cheese mixture in. Place your moulds in a deep baking tray then cover with cling film before putting it in the fridge. It needs to drain for 24 hours in order to be set enough to unmould. After 24 hours, unmould onto a pretty plate and then pour the syrup around it. I made this dessert on Saturday for a dinner party on Sunday and we had two left. These were absolutely fine in the fridge until we finally got round to eating them the following Wednesday.

(Shameless plug alert!) And if you don’t want to make your own rosehip syrup or don’t have the time, why not just buy a bottle from me! (Shameless plug now over…promise)

Muhaimina Said-Allsopp