Since my last post nothing has been done on my thesis, which is a terrible thing. The stress of having too much to do prevents you from doing anything, which compounds the stress you already feel, which in a vicious cycle, makes you do even less.
On the upside, I enjoyed, immensely, my time house sitting, getting into the Balmain lifestyle, making friends with the Gourmet Grocer, watching too much of the food channel, drinking, and having people over for dinner almost every night. My bank balance will, I am sure, be suffering for this extravagance, seeing I am only working one day a week at the moment, but, what is money when good friends and good food are to be had.
The highlights of the two weeks were a curry made with ginger, chili, turmeric, coriander, cumin and cardamon and chicken, pumpkin, and eggplant; Roast beef, which made delicious sandwiches the next day; a beef, eggplant and zucchini tagine, made with Herbie's Moroccan spice mix. I added dates and then honey at the end, it really was lovely with just the right amount of heat and fragrant spice; Moussaka, made with beef and pork mince, a bottle of white wine, beef and chicken stock, plenty of garlic, onions etc...and apart from almost dropping it on the floor as I took it out of the oven, it was amazing.
I didn't deprive my guests of dessert, and after making some more crumble topping, I made apple crumble one night, followed by mixed berry crumble the next. The berry crumble was by far the winner. I just used frozen mixed berries, a splash of vanilla, and a little brown sugar, let that sit whilst I finished dinner, and then topped it with the crumble and baked.
The overall winner, however, was poached pears. I have never made them before, and I couldn't find a recipe that I liked. Jamie's recipe wanted me to bake them in the oven, I didn't have time for that. Nigella doesn't seem to have one in the books I have, briefly looking on the BBC site, I couldn't find one that I wanted. I had, however seen Valentine Warner on his show What to Eat nowpoaching some pears, so armed with that and Jamie's recipe I proceeded.
1 Bottle of red wine
4 pears (though I could have fitted 6 or even 8 at a push)
Around a cup of caster sugar
Rind of half a lemon in thick strips
Juice of the lemon
A couple of Star Anise
A couple of Cinnamon sticks
A xouple of good slugs of vanilla
Knob of butter
Peel the pears (slightly better than I did)
Add all the remaining ingredients to a saucepan big enough for the pears. Bring to the boil. Add the pears and cook for about 20 minutes until the pears are tender, turning the pears a couple of times if they aren't covered in the liquid. (My pears were pretty soft do didn't need a great deal of cooking). Leave to cool slightly in the warm liquid.
Divide the creme fraiche amongst the bowls. Place the pears on top. Meanwhile, reduce some of the poaching liquid, adding a bit more sugar to help sweeten and thicken it. Once reduced, add a knob of butter to make it silky and glossy. Pour over the pears and put any remaining syrup in a jug to add as you eat.
The (almost) best part of poaching the pears, however was not the delicious deep red pears, it was the remaining, unreduced poaching liquid, which I reheated, added a little more sugar to, and poured into a tall glass with a couple of shots of cointreau. Delicious, citrusy, peary, spicy mulled wine.