Thursday, July 20, 2006

Food Bites: Lychee Martinis and New Culinary Aspirations

As most of you know, I love food: taste, preparation, history, scent...everything. After living in Austin for several years, I became spoiled by some of the town's better food markets such as Central Market and the gastronomic Whole Foods , with the endless supplies of nearly any kind of food product I could ever imagine needing.
I may be in Negroshire, but at least I have a local gastro-gourmet store,Provender Brown that gives me amazing cheeses, wines, charcuterie, duck confit (Yum!), unique ice creams and sorbets.

So, whenever I travel, I seek out interesting grocery stores and gourmet delicatessens.
This weekend in Edinburgh, Andy and I managed to find a bottle of caçhaca so I can make Brazil's best drink, the Caipirina, whenever I want. Even better, we came across a bottle of lychee liqueur! Back home, Sunday brunch was followed with reading of the Sunday papers or newly purchased books, bossa nova tunes playing on the stereo, and the consumption of lychee martinis!

Very, very tasty. I imagine it may become the new "it" drink soon...esp. among women, once bartenders change the color to hot pink, thus becoming irresistible to people obsessed with pronouncing their femininity and sexual prowess through pink alcohol.

Besides the hunt for culinary delights, inside the hearth, I've been experimenting and coming up with new culinary aspirations. Of course, these pics are not amazing--I'm not a food photographer, but you'll get the point.
Here are a few things I've tried:
For colder days, I sometimes want chili.
Making it from scratch, I found that adding port wine adds just enough sweetness and extra depth without having the taste of alcohol in my chili.
Bacon in the UK is really a cut of ham--like Canadian bacon. To get what we call bacon, you have to look for "streaky bacon". Simple enough. But I want to learn more about British bacon so I decided to roast it with a chicken stuffed with apples and onions. The strips are large enough that I only needed 4 strips to cover the entire top of the bird, legs and all. The drippings add something smoky to the gravy at the bottom of the roasting pan.

As for dessert, I wanted to do something with the lovely cherries since they are in season and pretty cheap. I altered a strawberry tart recipie and it came out pretty delicious. It's creme caramel tart that is almost a clafoutis except for the tasty crust. I always opt to do a pate brisee crust cause it's so buttery and very close to a shortbread. Needless to say, this is not something to eat if you're on a diet. Andy has taken to it like crack, sneaking into the kitchen get get an extra slice.

To make the tart, I had to make a caramel. Since I've stopped using white sugar for the most part, I had to subsitute brown sugar which ended up as a black caramel. Sweet but dark as its color. Much like molasses.
With the leftover black caramel, I found it's delicious when lightly drizzled on slightly tart fruit or extremely pungent soft cheese.
There are plenty of times, I just don't feel like cooking and I don't want to go out either. So, we do a picnic.

In this picnic featured, I did the blueberries drizzled with black caramel in the lower left side. After that, there is my new favorite cheese, the soft Irish Cooleney. Ooo! It's like a pungent brie with wonderful flavor. Next are slices of tomatoes from the vine, dressed with salt and pepper only. Fresh lettuces. Parma-ham (that's prosciutto to the US) baked for 3-5 mins to make it a bit crunchy. Black cured olives. Blanched asparagus dressed with salt pepper and lemon juice. Fresh cherries. Delicious Shropshire Blue cheese. In the center is a little container of shelled pistachio bordered by roasted red peppers. To accompany, sometimes we use good, top-quality fresh baked bread or large crackers.

It doesn't get any easier or tastier than that.


At Jul 20, 2006, 3:46:00 PM, Blogger Jamie Brandon said...


At Jul 21, 2006, 3:38:00 PM, Blogger girlblue said...

absolutely sinful!

At Jul 22, 2006, 4:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn, Peggy...why´d you have to take all that culinary skill to the other side of the pond? You know we need it here!
Sorry you´ve been sick, I´m battling illness of my own down here in Central America but we´ll all pull through. Keep the blogs coming!


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