Friday, October 12, 2007

Crazy Yet Plain Vanilla

I watch Fresh every lunchtime and it's exactly like porn: you've seen it all before but you keep watching. But the other week an Italian recipe jumped out at me: fish in crazy water. How could you not be intriguied by a name like that? The 'aqua pazza' comes from using sparkling mineral water, and with the southern flavours, I couldn't wait to see what it tasted like.

But forget the taste, the aroma is amazing. While the fish was cooking I went to check my mail, and when I opened the door the most amazing scent of all the ingredients had me swooning. It's glorious stuff.

This is such an easy dish to make, something like 10-15 minutes and no work. Pour yourself a glass of shiraz and it's too easy. The original recipe uses a whole snapper, but I used a salmon fillet cut in half. So it would go well with red or white fish, whole or fillets.

My modified version of the recipe is as simple as this: wrap a few garlic cloves (skin on) in foil and bung in a hot oven for 15 minutes. Halve and slice a red onion, halve a handful of cherry tomatoes and finely slice a red chili if you'd like the heat (I left it out). Heat a little oil in a frypan and when very hot add the fish, skin side down. Take the garlic out of the oven and squeeze out the softened flesh. After a few minutes, flip the fish over, and add the garlic, vegetables and a handful of Liguarian olives. Season. Pour enough sparkling mineral water to almost cover the fish, put a lid on and turn the heat down. Simmer for a few minutes, then add some shredded basil and a nob of butter. Cook for another minute then serve with extra basil on top.

The sauce needs to be mopped up with crusty bread, or you can realise you don't have any bread and instead serve them with store-bought salty chips. Honestly, they were so good together.

I also made my own ice cream for the first time. I have been craving ice cream lately and almost bought an ice cream maker. Because I'm sure I'll have plenty of room in my luggage along with coats and boots and more coats and boots for an ice cream maker. But I stopped and thought, people have been making ice cream for longer than there have been ice cream makers, and there's something romantic about making ice cream by hand.

And it wasn't a problem at all. Of course I had to start with vanilla. I made the creme anglaise - a combination of Michel Roux and David Lebovitz's recipes - and bunged it in the freezer. I stirred or stick blended it every hour, and in the evening, after crazy water fish, we oohed and aahed over the creamy vanillaness of it all. Before dinner I thinly sliced some adorable baby pears and dried them in the oven - pear and vanilla is one of my favourite combinations. They're like pear jerky, chewy and caramely and one time I'll chop them and add them to the ice cream.

Because there will be many next times for homemade ice cream.

(The heat in my kitchen started melting the ice cream before I quickly snapped it with my camera phone)


Blogger surfercam said...

"it's exactly like porn: you've seen it all before but you keep watching."
- Quote of the Year!

mmmm melting ice-cream...

4:19 PM  
Blogger The Late Bloomer said...

Oh.My.God, Julia, that salmon recipe looks perfect! Simple, easy and delicious. I'm going to have to give it a try... There are some combinations that I never think of, and this is one of them -- I usually use dill and parsley with my salmon, and I bake it in the oven. I haven't made it in a pan in ages, but I'm really curious about the crispy skin aspect -- I usually don't eat the skin!

And that homemade ice cream -- delish! I'm dying to try this myself... I'm far behind on my David Lebovitz reading, I've got to catch up. I love the pear-vanilla combination too! And the pears I've been getting at the market over the last few weeks have been AMAZING! They would be perfect for this.

12:16 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Darling, this is very posh. Love your work. x

8:53 AM  
Blogger simon said...

great photos. Camera phones can work well.

I took a shot of sunrise on a beach at Disaster Bay (south of Eden).. Used a Nokia, and it turned out a really great shot! (not boasting at all- just did not thinkit would work out)

9:13 AM  

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