Faster than the Speed of a Poached Pear

The news that sci­ent­ists have recor­ded sub­atom­ic particles trav­el­ling faster than the speed of light has been greeted with aston­ish­ment. I’m no doubt miss­ing out a mil­lion links in the sci­entif­ic chain here, but in its simplest form it shoots craters into Albert Einstein’s sac­red prin­ciple that noth­ing travels faster than light. It might be pos­sible to watch these particles, known as neut­ri­nos, leav­ing after they’ve arrived in the place where we’ve already seen them. Roughly trans­lated, it raises the pos­sib­il­ity of going back­wards in time.

Time travel is some­thing cooks have been able to do for gen­er­a­tions of course. Noth­ing will trans­port you back to a moment in your child­hood, a summer’s day or a per­fect birth­day, like the taste and aroma of the food that you ate at those golden moments.

Without fail, the sight of a poached pear takes me back to Italy circa 1991. A softly spoken, eld­erly chef called Benito told me that the only way to check if a poached pear is per­fectly cooked is to pierce it with the quill of a wild Umbri­an por­cu­pine.  To make sure that I’d always cook per­fect pears in future, he gave me a quill as a present. (Benito didn’t speak a single word of Eng­lish, so it’s per­fectly pos­sible that I com­pletely mis­un­der­stood him and that what he was really say­ing was that the sharp point of a por­cu­pine quill is the per­fect weapon to attack people steal­ing pears from your tree.)

This morn­ing, I was trans­por­ted back to my con­ver­sa­tion with Benito when I found some beau­ti­ful Con­corde pears at the mar­ket.

So, com­pletely unaided and without a single neut­rino in sight, I take you back 20 years. Until neut­ri­nos really prove their stuff, this is the finest time travel I know — the culin­ary kind.

POACHED PEARS WITH BUTTERSCOTCH ICE-CREAM AND PEAR CRISPS

Serves 4

For the Poached Pears

  • 4 ripe, firm pears such as con­corde
  • 300ml red wine
  • 100ml water
  • 1  cin­na­mon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 80g caster sug­ar

Peel the pears, slice a piece off the bot­tom so they will stand up straight once cooked, Remove the core from under­neath, or leave it in if you prefer. Com­bine all the oth­er ingredi­ents in a pan, heat until the sug­ar is dis­solved and then add the peeled pears. Make a car­touche out of greaseproof paper. This is simply a circle of paper the same dia­met­er as the pan with a small circle cut out of the middle to allow steam to escape. Press the car­touche onto the pears to keep them in the liquid as they cook. Sim­mer gently for around an hour, until the point of a knife, or a por­cu­pine quill of course, slides in eas­ily.  Allow the pears to cool in the poach­ing liquid. When the pears are cool, remove them from the liquid. Reduce the liquid to a rich syr­up.

For the Pear Crisps

  • I pear
  • 25g caster sug­ar
  • 1 table­spoon lem­on juice
  • 100ml water

Heat the oven to 110 degrees C. Boil the water, pour into a bowl and add the sug­ar and lem­on juice. Stir until dis­solved. Slice the pear finely using a man­dolin if you have one, or a very sharp knife. Dip the slices in the sug­ar water. Bake in the oven on a tray lined with bak­ing paper for around 1.5 hours, until the slices are dried out, but not yet brown.

For the But­ter­scotch Ice-Cream

But­ter­scotch

  • 225g unsalted but­ter
  • 170g brown sug­ar
  • 50ml water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 150ml cream
Cus­tard
  • 225g cream
  • 50g caster sug­ar
  • 475g semi skimmed milk
  • 8 egg yolks

First make the but­ter­scotch, by com­bin­ing the but­ter, sug­ar, salt and water. Sim­mer for 15 minutes, until the col­our darkens to a pale car­a­mel brown. Keep stir­ring so that it doesn’t burn. Take off the heat and stir in the cream. It will bubble and churn up. Put to one side to cool.

Whisk the egg yolks and sug­ar togeth­er until they become pale, creamy and form trails when you lift the whisk and let the mix­ture drip into the bowl. This is called the ‘rib­bon stage’. Com­bine the cream and milk and bring almost to the boil.

Whisk a spoon­ful of the cream mix­ture into the egg and then trans­fer the egg mix­ture into the pan of cream. Keep whisk­ing con­stantly to avoid it turn­ing to scrambled eggs. Con­tin­ue to heat gently and when the cus­tard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. sieve the mix­ture onto the but­ter­scotch, stir well and pour into a chilled bowl to cool down. Once cold, churn in an ice-cream maker.

Assemble the pear, crisp, ice-cream and syr­up. While you eat, spec­u­late about the pos­sib­il­ity of eat­ing poached pears which haven’t been made yet. That way you get to eat them before the wash­ing-up even exists.

 

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If You are inter­ested in pur­chas­ing medic­a­ments online, now may be the sea­son to do so. So the next mat­ter is where can you find inform­a­tion that is reli­able. You can get such inform­a­tion fast and con­veni­ently by going online. There are many ill­nesses such as schizo­phrenia which have no cure. One of the most pops medi­cine is Via­gra. What about com­par­is­on between Cial­is versus Levitra and ? Nearly either adult knows about . Oth­er ques­tion we have to is . The symp­toms of sexu­al dis­orders in men turn on lack of sexu­al fantas­ies. Not­with­stand­ing sex is not vital for good sound­ness, it’s cer­tainly good for any­one. So if you are exper­i­en­cing erectile prob­lems, it is essen­tial to see a cer­ti­fied doc­tor imme­di­ately for a com­plete med­ic­al test­ing. Cer­tainly, online phar­macy can hands-down help you for solv­ing your all per­son­al dif­fi­culties.

Smoked Salmon and Pentimenti

The Leonardo da Vinci exhib­i­tion at London’s Nation­al Gal­lery has only just opened, but it’s already sold out. Not bad, con­sid­er­ing that few­er than twenty of his paint­ings sur­vive.

I was cap­tiv­ated to hear that the work newly attrib­uted to Leonardo, Sal­vat­or Mundi, was only firmly estab­lished as being his by its ‘pen­ti­menti’. Loosely trans­lated, pen­ti­menti are ‘marks of repent­ance’ — in oth­er words, adjust­ments, mis­takes, rethinks, alter­a­tions.

As a meta­phor for life, what could be bet­ter than the real­isa­tion that we’re defined by our mis­takes, rather than by our breezy suc­cesses? You can take the gloomy view and assume this means we can nev­er shrug off our fail­ures. Or, like me, you can take the Pol­ly­anna line of argu­ment that we’re shaped, tempered and for­ti­fied both by our imper­fec­tions and by the things we elect to change.

One of my most pre­cious pos­ses­sions is a sil­ver ring made for me by one of my chil­dren. Look closely and you will see its ‘pen­ti­menti’ — the fin­ger­print glan­cingly cap­tured in the sil­ver before the met­al hardened. It wouldn’t fetch much at auc­tion, but it’s price­less to me.

 

Or exam­ine the pin cush­ion made for me by one of my old­est friends, who knows all too well that I have an abid­ing pas­sion for strong tea. It fea­tures a teapot, two tea­cups and a milk jug, all picked out in pin heads, along with my ini­tial. Its pen­ti­menti are a couple of miss­ing pins, and isn’t it beau­ti­ful?

 

Or the hand-made jugs and and bowls I col­lect, each of them marked by a thumb print, mis­shapen edge or wonky sig­na­ture. The pen­ti­menti make them more glor­i­ous than per­fect ver­sions could ever have been.

 

 

The pen­ti­menti argu­ment works with food too. I’ve just made Smoked Sal­mon Pen­ti­menti, in fact. Not a new, elab­or­ately-shaped form of pasta, but a way of feed­ing six unex­pec­ted guests with only 140 grams of smoked sal­mon. Logic says that smoked sal­mon shouldn’t be cooked and that 140g is nowhere near enough to feed so many. But what could have been a mis­take turned into a tri­umph.

SMOKED SALMON PENTIMENTI

Serves 6

 

  • 50g but­ter
  • 75g flour
  • 1 litre semi skimmed milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 300g mature Ched­dar cheese, grated
  • Half cup or 125ml dry white wine
  • 2kg floury pota­toes
  • 1kg white onions
  • 140g smoked sal­mon

Pre­heat the oven to around 165 degrees C. You will need an oven-proof bak­ing dish around 25cm wide, 30cm long and 10cm deep.

Peel and slice the raw pota­toes and onions into 2mm thick rounds. Melt the but­ter and make a roux by adding the flour. Stir to com­bine and heat gently for a couple minutes to ensure the floury taste is cooked out.  Heat the milk in a sep­ar­ate pan and once sim­mer­ing, add the onions to the milk. Keep the milk sim­mer­ing for a few minutes until the onions have softened slightly before remov­ing them with a slot­ted spoon and put­ting them to one side.

Gradu­ally add the hot milk to the roux and keep stir­ring with a whisk. The heat of the milk will make it much easi­er to com­bine with the roux, as well as redu­cing the risk of lumps. Once all the milk has been added, con­tin­ue to whisk until you have a creamy sauce which has a cus­tard-like con­sist­ency. Stir in the white wine and keep at a sim­mer. Add the bay leaves and 200g of the Ched­dar cheese and whisk until melted in. Check the season­ing and add salt and pep­per.

Ladle a scant spoon­ful of sauce over the bot­tom of your dish. Then altern­ate a single lay­er of potato slices, fol­lowed by smoked sal­mon, onion and then one third of the remain­ing cheese sauce. Repeat the lay­ers of potato, sal­mon, onion and sauce, fol­lowed by a final lay­er of potato, sauce and the remain­ing 100g of cheese. Place in the oven and cook for 1 and a half hours. If you’re wor­ried that the top is brown­ing too much, cov­er with a lay­er of foil. Check that the pota­toes and onions are soft by pier­cing them with a fork.

Serve with a simple green salad. Any­thing more elab­or­ate would be a pen­ti­mento too far — trust me.

If You are con­cerned in pur­chas­ing medic­a­ments online, now may be the day to do so. So the next ques­tion is where can you find info that is reli­able. You can get such data fast and con­veni­ently by going online. There are many ill­nesses such as schizo­phrenia which have no cure. One of the most pop­u­lar phys­ic is Via­gra. What about com­par­is­on between Cial­is versus Levitra and ? Nearly each adult knows about . Oth­er ques­tion we have to is . The symp­toms of sexu­al dis­orders in men turn on lack of sexu­al fantas­ies. Not­with­stand­ing sex is not vital for good hearti­ness, it’s cer­tainly good for any­one. So if you are exper­i­en­cing erectile prob­lems, it is essen­tial to see a cer­ti­fied phys­i­cian imme­di­ately for a com­plete medi­cin­al test­ing. Cer­tainly, online phar­macy can hands-down help you for solv­ing your all per­son­al dif­fi­culties.

Review: Tasting India by Christine Manfield

Eggs On The Roof Reviews

Tast­ing India by Christine Man­field
Pub­lished by Con­ran Octopus, Novem­ber 2011, £40.00
Pho­to­graphy by Anson Smart

Com­batants in the fight over e-cook­ery books versus prin­ted ones have new ammuni­tion. Or should that be heavy artil­lery. If you believe paper books take up too much room, you’ll no doubt point accus­ingly at Christine Manfield’s new book, Tast­ing India. It’s vast — the biggest, heav­iest and most lav­ish cook­ery book I’ve ever seen. Its tur­mer­ic yel­low sat­in cov­er embossed with vivid pink pea­cocks is just about as showy as it’s pos­sible to be.

Yes, it’s imprac­tic­al — one splash from an unruly, bub­bling pan of dahl and its gleam­ing golden jack­et would be ruined. And yes, its girth puts it in the super heavy­weight class. It’s not a book to amble through so much as rock-climb over. But, call me a romantic if you like, I’ve fallen in love with it.

The Aus­trali­an chef Christine Man­field has been vis­it­ing India for more than twenty years. Her rev­er­ence for the coun­try, tempered with a prag­mat­ic under­stand­ing of its faults, shines through the text. It’s part travelogue, part encyc­lo­pe­dia, part mem­oir, part cook­ery book. Where she’s been so shrewd is to avoid a ped­es­tri­an, dogged tramp through each region. That’s not how cuisine works, and cer­tainly not in India. As she says, ‘For me, part of the excite­ment of con­tem­por­ary Indi­an cuisine lies in the way each cook or chef car­ries the recipes and her­it­age of their home­land with them, wherever they hap­pen to find them­selves.’

Immerse your­self in the pages of this book — there are nearly 500 of them, so it will take a while. Mar­vel at the stun­ning pho­to­graphs by Anson Smart. Savour the recipes for tea-leaf frit­ters, scal­lops in spiced coconut, desert-bean koftas with onion curry and curd dump­lings soaked in saf­fron milk. Just ima­gine what they must taste like, or throw cau­tion to the wind and lug this book into the kit­chen and actu­ally cook from it. Either way it’s entran­cing.

Hot Cold Wasabi Ice Cream for Anne of Green Gables

The won­der­ment with which Anne of Green Gables ima­gines what ice cream might taste like has always made me feel slightly guilty.…

I don’t feel that I could endure the dis­ap­point­ment if any­thing happened to pre­vent me from get­ting to the pic­nic. I sup­pose I’d live through it, but I’m cer­tain it would be a lifelong sor­row. It wouldn’t mat­ter if I got to a hun­dred pic­nics in after years; they wouldn’t make up for miss­ing this one. They’re going to have boats on the Lake of Shin­ing Waters—and ice cream, as I told you. I have nev­er tasted ice cream. Diana tried to explain what it was like, but I guess ice cream is one of those things that are bey­ond ima­gin­a­tion.

We lost our sense of won­der about the majesty of ice cream a long time ago. The glor­i­ous alchem­ic­al effect of com­bin­ing eggs, cream and a deep-freeze has become as routine as a walk to the bus stop. Which is why I was so pleased to be sent Ben Vear’s new ice cream book, Make Your Own Organ­ic Ice Cream, pub­lished by Spring Hill.

I tasted Ben’s ice cream at a won­der­ful lunch to cel­eb­rate the online food magazine The Food­ie Bugle. After the exquis­ite feast cooked by the Bugle’s founder Sil­vana de Sois­sons, we ate ice cream made by Win­stones Ice Cream, the busi­ness cre­ated by Ben’s great grand­fath­er Albert Win­stone in 1925. Albert used to drive around the Cots­wolds on his motor­bike, selling home-made ice cream from the side­car.

Ben’s book is simple, charm­ing and invent­ive. It’s not a hugely elab­or­ate affair crammed with lav­ish pho­to­graphs, but an hon­est and above all inspir­ing pae­an to the mar­vels of ice cream. I’ve already made his recipe for cof­fee and cream, a rich, aro­mat­ic cre­ation with crushed cof­fee beans, and I’m plan­ning to make mulled wine ice cream next. But this morn­ing I made Ben’s was­abi ice cream. Was­abi is also known as Japan­ese horseradish. It is, of course, fero­ciously hot which, much to my sat­is­fac­tion, makes this a hot cold ice cream.

BEN VEAR’S WASABI ICE CREAM

  • 250ml organ­ic double cream
  • 200ml organ­ic full-fat milk
  • 150g Fairtrade caster sug­ar
  • 1 large organ­ic egg
  • 50g was­abi paste, also known as Japan­ese horseradish (adjust to taste)

Pour the cream and milk into a sauce­pan. Tip in half of the sug­ar and place over a low heat, stir­ring at reg­u­lar inter­vals and not allow­ing the mix­ture to boil.

Whisk the egg yolk and the remain­ing sug­ar in a mix­ing bowl, beat­ing with an elec­tric whisk for about 2 minutes, or until the mix­ture has become a smooth, pale paste.

Com­bine both mix­tures and return the pan to a low heat. Cook, stir­ring all the time, for approx­im­ately 10 minutes, until the mix­ture has a thick, cus­tard-like con­sist­ency. Add the was­abi paste and con­tin­ue to stir.

Set aside to cool, then pour into your ice cream maker, fol­low the manufacturer’s instruc­tions and leave to churn. (Altern­at­ively, pour the mix­ture into a freez­er-proof con­tain­er, seal it firmly with a lid and place in the freez­er. Whisk after 1 hour to pre­vent ice crys­tals from form­ing; repeat 3 times before leav­ing it to set.)

Ben sug­gests serving was­abi ice cream with chick­en, red meat or game. But I com­bined this eleg­ant eau de nil-col­oured cre­ation with hot-smoked trout, rock­et leaves dressed with olive oil, lem­on juice and zest, and red onion pickles. Make sure that you add plenty of lem­on juice and zest when you dress the leaves, to coun­ter­bal­ance the slight sweet­ness of the ice cream. The astrin­gency of the red onion pickles adds an extra bal­ance to the dish too.

I sus­pect the nose-twanging prop­er­ties of was­abi ice cream would have been sev­er­al steps too far for Anne of Green Gables. But she would have approved of my face when I ate it, because my expres­sion was as full of won­der as hers.


If You are engaged in pur­chas­ing medic­a­ments online, now may be the time to do so. So the next mat­ter is where can you find info that is reli­able. You can get such info fast and con­veni­ently by going online. There are many ill­nesses such as schizo­phrenia which have no cure. One of the most pops phys­ic is Via­gra. What about com­par­is­on between Cial­is versus Levitra and ? Nearly every adult knows about . Oth­er ques­tion we have to is . The symp­toms of sexu­al dis­orders in men switch on lack of sexu­al fantas­ies. Not­with­stand­ing sex is not vital for good health, it’s cer­tainly good for any­one. So if you are exper­i­en­cing erectile prob­lems, it is essen­tial to see a cer­ti­fied phys­i­cian imme­di­ately for a com­plete medi­cin­al test­ing. Cer­tainly, online phar­macy can hands-down help you for solv­ing your all per­son­al dif­fi­culties.