Do you remember when I wrote about ‘nowness’? In the final weeks of his life, it was the word Dennis Potter used to describe his intense love for the present moment. My Granny’s way of describing ‘nowness’ was what she called ‘having a minute’ and this morning I found yet another version. In 1817 John Keats wrote a letter in which he said that ‘…if a sparrow come before my window, I take part in its existence…’
It was with thoughts of Keats’ sparrow that I set off on a walk, a piece of cheese and an apple in the pocket of my coat. You’ll know by now that I love picnics, especially ones that fit into my pocket. An apple and a piece of cheese have an easy compatibility. Each has its own special qualities and neither tries to outshine the other. Their happy camaraderie makes them the perfect companions for a ‘nowness’ walk. Inevitably, though, when I got home I stopped thinking about now and started thinking about ‘what if?’ instead. What would happen if I gave an apple and cheese new, glamorous outfits and invited them to a party?
APPLE SORBET IN PARMESAN CONES
FOR THE SORBET
- Ikg cored, unpeeled apples — a sweet, full flavoured variety such as Cox’s Orange Pippin
- Juice of a clementine
- 1 cup water
- 375g caster sugar
Grate the apples, skin and all. Squeeze the clementine juice over the apple and put in a pan with the water and sugar. Bring the mixture to a simmer and keep on the heat for 5 minutes. The beauty of grating the apple is that you don’t need to cook it for very long, so you will retain the goodness and flavour of the fruit. Tip the cooked fruit into a sieve and allow to drip into a bowl. While it’s dripping through, start to make the parmesan cones.
FOR THE PARMESAN CONES
- 8 tablespoons finely grated parmesan
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Using 2 tablespoons of parmesan per cone, pat the grated cheese into four flat circles, on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Cook in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and after one minute, lift the melted cheese circles off the paper and roll between your fingers into a cone shape. Don’t leave them to cool before you do this, because the parmesan biscuits will simply snap. Once rolled, the cones will be about 6 cm long, rather than full-sized ones. This recipe is better in miniature.
By now the apple juice should have dripped through. Cool the juice and then churn in an ice-cream maker. Don’t panic about its amber colour at this stage. The churning and freezing process will turn the juice a pale, creamy pink.
Place a scoop of sorbet into each cone. If you think that an ice-cream cone isn’t properly dressed without a chocolate flake, decorate your sorbet with a tiny celery stalk, its leaves still attached. The combined flavours are perfect. And after all, if apple and cheese are going to the Ball, they have to be given the right accessories, don’t they?