Monday, January 30, 2006

Cooking Up A Storm

First, a swim at Bronte after work on Friday afternoon. Glo-ri-ous. Then Saturday morning up finally after a sleeping pill for much-needed restful, non-jaw-grinding sleep and on to my adored Fratelli Fresh. God I love this place. You pull straight in and pick up the best fruit and vegies available in Sydney, for the same price as the supermarket. My car was smelling delicious with all the fresh basil, nectarines, tomatoes, peaches...Next was the Fish Markets for plump fresh mussels and some crab meat (managed to track down a tub of fresh, not frozen crab, from Indonesia - I'm not hand-picking a whole crab, not for dinner for two, not for Freddie Ljungberg). And then home for an afternoon of cooking, with Sex and the City in the background. There are worse ways to spend an afternoon, even in the heat, even with the fan off because it kept blowing out the gas. On the menu for the evening, three courses from Damien Pignolet's, french. Salad of potatoes, mussels, fennel with saffron-infused vinagerette; crab souffle; almond milk granita with crisp apples. I figure in the summer, and if you're hoping for some after-dinner action, you want to end the meal on a light note, as opposed to light entree-heavier main-substantial dessert. You want to start with full flavours, and work your way down. And it was a winning idea. Everything was sensational. And everything was ready and I was calm by the time he arrived (with beautiful red irises, I was hoping for flowers). The stand-out was the almond milk granita, because it's so delicious and so easy to make and so impressive. Voila the recipe (serves 2) (sorry, no photos, I forgot):

50g sugar
50mL water
125g blanched almonds (the recipe calls for about 250g, but because blanched almonds cost an arm and a leg, I hoped I could get away with half, and I did - it was just as flavoursome).
200mL milk
100mL water
1 apple
50g sugar
50mL water
Squeeze of lemon juice

Melt the sugar in the 50mL water over low heat. Let it cool. Process the almonds with the milk and water in a bzzsh/food processor until granular but smooth. Place the mixture in a muslin cloth (I'd say a clean tea towel could do the trick as well) and squeeze over a large bowl. (You can either do this straight after processing or leave it for 10 minutes to let the milk infused with the almonds). Mix the sugar syrup into the almond milk and place in the freezer. Every 20 minutes break up the mixture with a fork - you want to create fluffy crystals and if you leave it it will freeze into one solid mass.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 90C and line a baking dish with baking paper. Melt the sugar in the water and let cool, then squeeze in some lemon juice. Very thinly slice the apple into 3mm-thick circles. Dip the apple slices into the sugar syrup, draining any excess liquid, and place on the baking paper. Bake for 20 minutes on each side (but watch them, you want them to go pale golden and crispy and not burn). You can make a batch and keep them in an airtight container, they're so delicious.
The granita will take several hours to freeze properly, but once ready, spoon into martini glasses (or any other lovely glasses/bowls) and serve with a few apple slices placed into the granita on the side.

We then played "21" with tequila and sexual favours and had a fun night, but something was off. Maybe I watched too much Carrie during the day but I was channeling her inquiete (is there a proper equivalent in English?). I think I need some time on my own. However that will happen.

Sunday was the Australia Day picnic with the girls, of which two showed up. More cooking yielded frittata and mini pavlovas (which a bird pood on). We need to invest in our female relationships and I hope others realise that too. The weekend ended with the men's final of the Australian Open. Such a good game, and I cried with Roger.


Anonymous Augustusgloop said...

The granita sounds delicious. Have you tried getting blanched almonds from the nut shops at Paddy's Markets? Often they are significantly cheaper than the supermarket. Go to the bigger one near all the fruit and veg: not the one next to the cigar shop but the one in the aisle behind it.

1:59 PM  
Blogger Julia said...

That's a great idea! I used to do my fruit and vegie shopping there when I lived in Pyrmont but now I'm in Surry Hills I should go back - thanks for reminding me!

2:03 PM  

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