I’m yielding the floor to Jody this week. There’s a good story about how I lost my grip, its effects on a poor chicken, and Jody finding a solution despite the malfunction of the wheyback machine. *** Jody Notes: In February (a different world ago) I was visiting Rwanda for a close-up look at the …
For your consideration: Po’s Easy Pots de Crème. Po is my mother-in-law and she is a master of complicated dinner party timing. None of the slatternly boozing it up with the help in the kitchen that characterizes entertaining chez nous. She’s all guests-in-one-place, cooks-in-another, and the brevity of a host’s absence from her guests only redounds to her reputation for efficient culinary management. Ninety-percent of this recipe is “Place all of the ingredients… in a blender.” Not that you’d know it from the taste and texture. Remember how the genie in Disney’s ALADDIN describes his life? “ALL THE POWER OF THE UNIVERSE… in a teeny little space.” That’s this dessert.
I know people who organize their restaurant meals around dessert. Pas moi. The light in my brain, my desire for dessert, flickers in fits and starts, dependent on context and the availability of something inclined to my retrograde tastes. A slice of fruit tart is never amiss at the end of a picnic: if I know that a master of crème caramel, flying in the face of fashion, resides in the house, I can be tempted. As I can be with homemade panna cotta, that exquisitely delicate Italian wobbler. When Sara Cravedi, the pastry chef at Trade, introduced a coconut panna cotta onto the dessert menu, my dessert light began flashing an SOS. Sara’s dessert includes a scoop of avocado ice cream, crumbled peanut brittle and a mango macerated with lime and habanero pepper. It come together in an interplacy of heat, fat, sweetness, delicacy and unctuousness. Jody’s Coconut Panna Cotta with Spicy Mango pares things down to just a pair of flavors–coconut and mango–just in case you don’t have an ice cream machine and pastry kitchen standing in readiness for the next dessert launch. To make it even easier, there’s no need to un-mold this panna cotta–it’s served in its glass, topped with a spoonful of spicy mango. Think of the panna cotta and mango as a couple that wandered off the terrace party to do a little dance by themselves down on the beach.
Although our trip to Haiti wasn’t about food, we had hoped to reflect some Haitian flavors in this week’s post. Plantains, for example, are ubiquitous. You can’t drive for ten minutes in the Central Plateau without passing fields of what look like bananas that fell asleep downstream from the nuclear power plant and woke up with anger management issues and a family resemblance to the Hulk. Baskets piled high with green behemoths are a common feature at every market. At some point we’ll do a piece on green plantains, which we ate every day, but we reserved this last post in our current series on pressure cooking for dessert–and green plantains have no place in a dessert.*
Ergo, Steamed Coconut, Banana and Lime Bread Pudding.
Jody and I both like simple, unfussy desserts with a couple of dominant flavors that compliment each other. A couple of weeks ago I laid my hands on a quart of wild blueberries, so my original vision for this included a wild blueberry compote. Jody, however, wanted to go with peaches. Since I couldn’t get my hands on any wild blueberries for the day we were scheduled to blog, she won. This is a simple Coconut Yogurt Cake with Roasted Peaches. The crumb is moist, with a rich with coconut flavor. And the peach accompaniment, oh man.
Grilled Mussels with Coconut Curry Broth–what more is there to say? Last summer we did a piece about grilling clams. Mussels–and oysters–work the same way. You pop them on a hot grill and wait. When they open, they’re done. We’re talking about very lightly grilled seafood here. As you can see from the pictures, Jody first made the coconut curry broth. Then we grilled the mussels (no, really, we grilled the mussels). If you’re deft with a pair of tongs you can get the mussels off the grill and into the coconut broth with minimal loss of mussel juice. Toss the mussels with the herbs and the coconut broth and Bob’s your uncle.