Saturday 9 June 2007

Recipe: Peaches in Pistachio Cream

For three:

Ingredients: 2 medium-sized ripe peaches; 2 Eggs Plus 2 Egg Whites: 100g Pistachios; half a teaspoon of Almond Essence; half a cup of sugar (or sweetener); two and a half tablespoons of Flour; 1 oz of Butter, melted; 8 fl oz Milk; 3 tablespoons of Demarara Sugar.


1. Quarter, stone and peel the peaches. Then cut each quarter into thin slices and layer these over the base of three greased individual gratin dishes. Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees C.

2. Make a Creme with the whole Eggs, 1/4 cup of Sugar, Flour, and Milk: heat the milk in a double boiler, while you whisk together the eggs and sugar, so that they become light yellow and leave a tail behind the whisk; stir the Flour into the Egg & Sugar mixture, then mix in a little of the heated Milk, before adding the remainder of the Milk. Stir to incorporate thoroughly, then return to the double boiler and cook, stirring from time to time, until thickened (this might take ten minutes or so).

3. Shell the pistachios, then blanch them three minutes in boiling water. Once blanched, rinse them in cold water, and slip the loosened skins off each shell.

4. Place the pistachios in a blender and process well, then add the Creme, the melted Butter, and the Almond Essence. Blend again, to mix everything together, and remove to a mixing bowl.

5. Whisk the Egg Whites until stiff, then add the remaining Sugar and continue to whisk for a further minute. Fold this meringue mixture into the Creme, and then divide the Creme between the three gratin dishes, making sure it entirely covers the layer of peaches.

5. Sprinkle a spoonful of Demarara over each dish, before placing them in the pre-heated oven for five minutes. After five minutes, turn the grill on to 'high' and leave the dishes under the grill for just long enough until the tops become brown and bubbling and caramelised.

Serve straight from the oven.

Friday 8 June 2007

Eating in Paris.......

Monday night was dinner at the restaurant in the Palais Royal, which has to be one of my favourite places to eat, anywhere in the World. Or certainly, on a summer's evening, seated outside, between the colonnade and the serried ranks of trees that populate the Grand Cour, watching the games of boule and the people strolling in the evening sunlight. Before you even get to the food, the setting itself is sublime beyond description, with the majestic facade of the palace providing the backdrop to a scene of perfect calm. Paradise!
I had a carpaccio of Sea Bass, dressed in a superb olive oil, followed by a breast of chicken, in african spices. All washed down with a more-then-serviceable aligote. The last time I ate there was probably five years ago, and it was all still just as perfect as ever......

And, from the sublime to the ridiculous. Tuesday evening - a work-related 'banquet' - was an instance of the success of style over substance. Lots of theatre, and very few points.
An acceptable Creme d'asperges, followed by a slice of something, in which an amount of foie gras had been sacrificed to no good effect, on top of a bed of salmon (which was the only flavour discernible) and beneath a layer of finely sliced apple in aspic (which was merely pointless). Followed by some kind of beef, possibly deep-fried. I didn't dwell on it. And the grand finale was a presentation of something over a glass filled with liquid nitrogen. Lots of dramatic vapour - as though something had escaped from BBC technical effects - but at the end of the day, it was just a serving of strawberry trifle....Oh dear!

And on Wednesday, sanity was restored with a visit to 'Anahy'. I don't know the street, or even the arrondisement, as I was taken there by car. But it was, in its own small way, perfection. Simple and unpretentious: a perfectly grilled steak on a wooden platter, accompanied by a green salad of an incomparable softness and flavour; preceded by a n Omelette Parmentier , with a firm exterior and a meltingly runny inside that could not have been bettered. The bottle or two of Maalbec that went with it certainly helped the quality of the evening. Another one for Dr Pomiane, I think.

Back in Pisa now, Jennie is here for our annual Masterchef weekend, where we all have responsibility for one course in each dinner. Competition is relaxed, and we all end up quietly de-structuring over a glass (or two) of homebrew grappa. I must say, it's good to be home!

Tonight's Dinner:

Salade tiede of calves liver, with pine-nuts and sultanas in a dressing of sherry and extra-virgin olive oil, over a bed of roquette leaves.

Saltimbocca with sage leaves and prosciutto, with sweet-and-sour Fagioli Sant'Anna.

Caramelised peaches in a pistachio cream (recipe to follow tomorrow; too tired to include it now.....)

Monday 4 June 2007

Recipe: Pineapple Sorbet

This is by far the best recipe for pineapple sorbet I've ever found. Most versions tend to be rather crystalline, whereas this one is creamy and soft when first made, and it remains so even after several months in the freezer.

For Four.

Ingredients: half a cup of Sugar; half a cup of Water; 1 very ripe medium-sized Pineapple; juice of 1 Lime.


1. Heat the Sugar and Water together over a low heat, stir just until the Sugar has all dissolved, then remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

2. Peel and core the Pineapple (preferably using a pineapple-corer, as this does the job in seconds, literally, and allows you to catch all of the juice as you do so). Cut the cored fruit roughly into pieces and place in a liquidizer jar.

3. Liquidize until very smooth, along with the cooled syrup and the Lime juice.

4. Churn the mixture in an ice-cream machine. Can be eaten immediately, but will also keep well over time in the freezer.

I am off to Paris for the next four days, and with only uncertain internet connection - which means that there may be radio silence on this blog until the end of the week. If you would like to be notified of the next installment, simply enter your e-mail address into the 'subscribe' box on the right hand part of the screen.