Sunday, August 22, 2010
Of painting a love story with Plums at the Nature’s basket US F&B Showcase
"PFA a list of SKUs for the US Food and Beverage showcase" they wrote. "We’d like you to create recipes from them."
Now these are the sort of challenges that I love, being given ingredients and told to create a dish. Like a fresh palate of paints and a clean sheet of paper. So I very enthusiastically opened it up only to my enthusiasm diminish with each product name I read as I progressed down the list. All sorts of delicious ready to eat things but nothing to actually work with!
And then there they were, my saviours, right at the bottom of the list and almost missed by me. California Plums. I asked for a few to play with because I like to experiment with any new ingredient for a while to see how much I can push the limits with their use. But when they arrived and I held the solid weight of one in my hand, the shiny crimson magenta skin just called out to be bitten into. I did and almost immediately realised two things.
One, that often when we eat plums we miss out on their beauty - their crimson-purple skins with the glowing translucent flesh instead – and Two, that I had to keep the plums as whole as I could or risk doing them a grave injustice.
At first I thought of halving them and filling them like I had done with California Peaches in the past, but then I thought no, these plums, My plums needed more finesse in presentation, A Carpaccio? Yes that would be perfect!
A Carpaccio is traditionally a dish of fresh raw meat or fish served sliced extremely thin and (very appropriately in this case) named after the Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio, but it has inspired a slew of dishes with all sorts of vegetables in haute kitchens all over. And a Carpaccio offered the perfect vehicle for my dish to ride on.
As I ate that plum, I mused to myself my instincts told me that they needed something decadent paired with them, something strong and spoilt to contrast with their fresh unspoilt quality.
Gorgonzola! After all can it get any more spoilt then that?
But my plums would need some dressing to really lead that BAD Gorgonzola on... Perhaps a touch of salt to bring out their delicious juices - sea salt since only the best would do, a drizzle of honey to accentuate their sweetness and something more – that final touch to make them perfect.... ...
Green chilli! Yes! That would give my beautiful plums the oomph they needed to hold their own beside the sharpness of Gorgonzola!
So I sliced up the plums on a mandolin, and bathed them in a bath of sea salt, Cider Vinegar, Wild Forest Honey and Green Tobasco (we are so well acquainted with red Tabasco but Green Tabasco is fabulous, entrapping the venomous sting that only green chillies can bring as opposed to the more glowing heat of the red chillies).
Then I laid out the seductively perfumed slices on a white plate to bring out their beautiful colours and drizzled over a little of the juices with their slightly pickled green chilli notes to would lending the perfect accessory to boost them as I scattered over crumbled Gorgonzola.
As I served up this love story of California Plum and Gorgonzola, I could not help thinking to myself that this Carpaccio was the prettiest dish I have ever made.
I will be recreating this dish on the 28th at my cooking Demo at Nature’s Basket on 28th August after which I will put up a picture and the recipe.