It was Earth Hour last Saturday and Salvelio and I invited a few friends over for dinner in the dark. Of course the catch was getting everything finished before the lights went down, as it’s one thing dining by candlelight but quite another cooking by it! On the menu was fish pie from the new Jamie Oliver cookbook (see the recipe a little further down on the blog), which we served with brown basmati rice, a simple green salad and a roasted pumpkin side dish.
In the video above, I’ll show you how to make the pudding we served – grilled pears and pistachio ice-cream – which really made for a winning combination. The pear part looks impressive but is not only easy but cheap to do, as pears are plentiful right now and only cost around R6,99 a kilo. The basic vanilla ice-cream recipe (which I glammed up with the addition of pistachio nuts) was my late mother’s who, back in the seventies when she used to make this for us, didn’t have the luxury of an ice-cream churner but did it all by hand. We were always begging her to make this for us and even today the taste of it reminds me of summertime on the farm. It takes a bit of time to freeze but the recipe itself is terrifically easy.
The song at the end of the video is all about food and was written and performed by Luis Medina, a friend of ours from Cordoba in Spain, who has the most beautiful voice and poignant lyrics.
Grilled pears and pistachio ice-cream – the recipe
Ingredients and method for the pistachio ice-cream
Make a basic vanilla ice-cream by beating together 2 cups (500ml) of milk, 1 cup (250ml) of cream, 1 tin of condensed milk and 1 tsp of vanilla extract (or 3 to 4 squirts of vanilla paste). Pour the mixture into an ice-cream machine and let it churn for about 40 minutes. Transfer to an empty plastic ice-cream dish and freeze for a few hours until fairly solid, then mix in about 50g or half a packet of raw, unsalted pistachio nuts (Woolies stocks them) which you’ve chopped fine using a mezzaluna to prevent the nuts from scattering all over the place. Return the ice-cream to the freezer until needed.
Ingredients and method for the grilled pears
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Peel 6 to 8 fresh, firm pears (the very ripe ones tend to go mushy in the oven). Halve and quarter them so you have different sized pieces. Carefully cut out the cores and pips but keep the stalks on some of them as that’ll add interest to the plate when you serve them. Pack them into an oven dish which you’ve greased with a little butter. Drizzle over some honey – a good 3 or so tbsp’s, as well as 3 to 4 squirts of vanilla paste (or all the seeds you can scrape out from one vanilla pod). Sprinkle over 1 tbsp of Nomu sweet rub, which comes in a handy little jar and contains cinnamon, allspice, cloves and vanilla sugar. Pour over 1/4 cup of sweet dessert wine like muscadel or noble late harvest, then gently mix everything together. Add a few small dots of butter on top (optional) and pop the dish into the oven, uncovered. Bake for about 10 minutes, remove and stir through a bit, then sprinkle another 1 tbsp of the spice rub on top. This time don’t mix it through, as you want the sugar in it to caramelise a little. Pop it back into the oven for a further five or 10 minutes, turning the grill on for the last couple of minutes.
Tips and tricks
* Use a mezzaluna or half-moon blade to chop the nuts for the ice-cream – the hollow in the middle of the chopping board will prevent the nuts from scattering all over the place.
* If you don’t have an ice-cream churner, don’t panic. The way around it is to pour the milk/cream/condensed milk mix into a freezer container. Pop it into the freezer and take it out every couple of hours to stir through it with a fork so the ice-crystals can break up. Keep doing this until the texture is smoother. This could take a while so best make the ice-cream the day before you want to serve it, or it won’t have enough time to freeze properly.
* Peeled pears will discolour quickly, so make sure you peel them fast and get them into the oven fairly quickly. If you don’t want to be away from your guests for too long, another little trick is to bake them in the oven for 10 minutes well before the guests arrive, and then setting them aside until you’re almost ready to serve dessert. You can then sprinkle your second tbsp of sweet rub over the top as per the recipe and get the dish back into the oven for the final 10 minutes – don’t forget to hit the grill!