April 3, 2011 § 13 Comments
Over our back fence there is an overgrown lane-way. The grass is knee-high littered with old televisions and garden clippings sneakily dropped out of neighbours lives. This place seems long forgotten. Certainly no one seems to go there. And I wouldn’t either, if it were not for the huge fig tree that hangs beyond one lucky neighbours back-yard, the branches reaching deep into the lane. Once a week I have been jumping our fence, braving the long grass with the hidden electrical appliances and checking on the figs, waiting for them to turn soft and blushing purple. I’m glad I have been watching so closely, because all of a sudden they have hurriedly begun to ripen and split, the purple blush revealing delicious pink softly wrapped in white. My recent visits have had me returning with a wide sticky smile and pockets juicy and bulging. I have needed careful restraint in order for them to make it all the way to the kitchen with me. Luckily the idea of fig ice-cream has kept me determined to save a special few.
Semi-freddo is a lovely way to get the idea of ice-cream without all the bother, fluster and equipment needed to produce it. Inspired by Jamie Oliver’s recipe in this book I have changed the quantities a bit, and adapted it to my own flavourings.
It’s probably obvious, I am making fig and pear semi-freddo because I want to impress someone. What could be especially delightful for my sweetheart just back from 5 months in Africa. This recipe is both seductive and gentle with the comfort of pears and flirtation of figs.
What you will need
400 g fresh figs
1 ripe pear
2 Tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
100 g brown sugar
1 vanilla pod
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
5 free range organic eggs separated
600 ml thick organic cream
1 Tbsp raw organic honey
Remove the stalk from the fig and cut into quarters. Remove the core from the pear and roughly chop. Place the fig, pear, lemon juice, cinnamon and sugar in a saucepan and stew until soft and caramelised. Allow to cool before pureeing.
Whisk together the egg yolks and vanilla.
In a second bowl whisk the cream until soft peaks form.
In a third bowl whisk the egg whites and salt until very firm peaks form.
Gently fold all ingredients together. Transfer to an old ice cream container or tupperware and drizzle with honey before placing in the freezer for about 4 hours or until partially frozen. Otherwise, freeze for longer and place in the fridge for 20 minutes before serving. Semi-freddo is Italian and literally translates to semi-frozen.
Serve in a bowl with fresh figs or a drizzle of honey.
Other very tasty combinations:
Banana and cardamom
Apricot and almond
Chocolate and chili
March 23, 2011 § 5 Comments
Bacon is a treat for me. I rarely purchase it because I worry about how happy those little pigs might have been in their lives. But as much as the well-behaved wholesome environmentalist in me protests, I secretly love bacon. I have tried not to, but the pleasure has remained, pure bacon enjoyment when it is on my plate. So in order to overcome my internal battles, I have justified eating it every now and again, provided its happy bacon. The bacon I have used in this recipe is biodynamic and free range, which if you are in Melbourne, you can find at Belmore Biodynamic Meats in Thornbury.
Now I also happen to think that a very good place for bacon, possibly even the best, is in soup. In saying that, I have to admit I have a bit of a soup obsession. It is probably my most favourite food in the whole wide world. If I had to choose just one thing to eat for the rest of my life, it would be soup, no questions asked.
This soup came about because as usual for this time of year there are whale like zucchini’s everywhere. I think the zucchini is balanced nicely with the richness of the bacon and the freshness of the lemon and thyme. You may have begun to notice my love affair with lemon and thyme… if not, Im sure you soon will, they seem to make their way into a lot of my cooking these days.
Recipe for zucchini and bacon soup
Good splash olive oil
1 large onion diced
4 – 5 cloves garlic crushed
1 tsp paprika
zest of 1/2 a lemon
3 – 4 medium-sized potatoes (I used toolangi delights, purple and beautiful)
About 1.2 kg zucchini
1 good tsp good quality vegetable stock
couple of sprigs thyme plus more for garnish
4 free range organic bacon rashers
Juice of half a lemon
In a large saucepan saute the onions and garlic until soft. Add the paprika and lemon zest and stir until fragrant. Add the potatoes, zucchini, stock, salt and pepper. Add enough water to just cover the vegetables. Simmer until the vegetables are nice and soft. Add the thyme, simmer for a tiny bit longer and then blend with a potato masher. If you have a blender feel free to use that, I don’t have one so i work by hand but I also like the no machine approach of the potato masher because I’m a bit quaint like that.
Slice up the bacon and fry in a pan until browned. Add to the soup along with the fresh lemon juice.
Serve in nice deep bowls and top with a bit more lemon rind and fresh thyme.
Serves 4 big bowls with a bit left over for lunch the next day. Because soup is always better the next day!