Now I know a lot of people think I talk drizzle, but on this occasion, I'm not referring to a weather pattern, a grumpy child or something you should really see a doctor about, but those amazing little additions to certain dishes that just seem to add pizazz and a little flair. Have you ever eaten a beautifully cooked steak and wondered why it just didn't jump off the plate? It was nice, but nice isn't good enough when you've spent $32 a kilo on fillet steak! Right?
Here are the Top Ten things to add to various meals and dishes to give you that 'gourmet restaurant' look, taste and most of all, reputation!
ONE: Gremolata is so great with most savoury things, that you should never overlook it and keep in your fridge as firm staples, garlic, lemons, parmesan and pine nuts! (Hopefully you have some parsley growing in your garden...and let's not argue here, pull out any curly leaved parsley and replace it IMMEDIATELY with flat leaf or Italian parsley which has so much more flavour and is easier to eat!) Whilst not strictly a 'drizzle' a good dose of Gremolata can spice up steamed veggies, is wonderful on any kind of roasted meat, adds crunch and flavour to a toasted sandwich and of course is a wonderful topping on a salad.
TWO: Whilst we're on the whole garlic, herb thing, if you have never made your own Pesto you are missing a flavour treat. The bought varieties, whilst getting better and better, can never rival your own. Pesto is fantastic on pasta by itself, as a dip or spread with crackers, on steamed veggies, as a pizza sauce, add lemon zest and juice and use as a fresh salad dressing. (see Harvest Salad) I use my Pesto Lemon dressing on a melting Camembert for a real treat. Now remember that a pesto does not have to have the same ingredients in it all the time! Pesto merely means crushed, so go to town with the flavoring of choice, (sun dried tomato, black or kalamata olives, basil, coriander, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, macadamias, parmesan, feta, strong cheddar and oil) Whiz and taste and you will come up with many concoctions...and bought dips or Pesto will never have the same appeal again!
THREE: Marinated Feta...Try cubing some fresh feta, (Danish is my latest craze) and placing it in a clean jar with some lemon zest, lemon juice, pepper (no salt) a garlic clove or two, possibly a whole chilli. Top up with a good quality olive oil...even add olives if you want. Leave this jar in the fridge for a couple of days and then serve with Steamed Vegetables, as a side dish or cold accompaniment to meat or fish, blend the cheese a little more and add some more lemon juice or vinegar and this drizzle will be awesome on most things! Get a loaf of crusty bread and use as a dipping oil. Pour over flat Turkish bread and then roast in a hot oven for only a few minutes. Serve with a salad of fresh greens! Gently steam asparagus, chop and mix with feta, then wrap in phyllo pastry, (follow package directions) and bake strudel in Microwave Grill for around 3-4 minutes. Eat immediately with a little more of the filling served on the side!
FOUR: Do the salsa! Carribean Salsa is again, not a drizzle, more of salad really, but so great with all things fried. Try it with Prawn Cakes, Steamed Fish Parcels or Crusty Fried Chicken! It adds color, oodles of flavor and lots of vitamins. You may find yourself adding this one to most Barbeque menus. Don't use canned pineapple, whatever you do...it just isn't the same! You could replace the pineapple with mango if you are lucky enough to have them in season.
FIVE: This is the last savory 'drizzle' I'll allow! I think my favourite thing to drizzle' on anything from roast meat to salad is a herb oil. Because the steam oven is so fantastic for blanching without the hassle, I do these all the time. You need to blanch whatever herb you are using to preserve the color...so if you have a steam oven, place the herb of choice (basil, mint, rocket and parsley, coriander..cilantro, even lemon grass if you strain the oil before using!) loosely in the steam oven tray and process in steam oven for about 1 minute tops! (No walking away from this one!) You want the herbs to be bright green and just a little softer than completely fresh! If they are hot, dunk in cold water, but they should be OK to puree in the food processor immediately. To every cup of tightly packed herbs, add one cup of oil. You can add chilli, lime juice, lemon juice, a pinch of salt. These will keep in the fridge, but should be used within a week for best flavour. Basil oil with lemon is terrific with roast chicken and I serve it all the time in the store to great acclaim!
SIX: Your fridge is naked without some lemon butter in it! As long as it is homemade! I use Lemon Butter folded through cream on Pavlova, or for any dessert that needs a lemon twist for that matter. I love it in my Sour Cream Pastry in little tarts which you bake in a 160 degree oven for only about 8 minutes. The pastry stays crispy and the lemon is sweet and tangy. You can fold it though a fruit salad...not much, but just a drizzle! It is beautiful as a topping on pure vanilla ice cream...and should you be caught short for a quick hostess gift, tie a ribbon round the old jar of Lemon Butter and voila, the hostess gift with the mostess!
SEVEN: I always have frozen berries in my freezer and a quick sauce that you can make for pancakes, ice cream, dessert, plate decoration is to heat up 2 cups berries, with 1/4 cup sugar, a squeeze of lemon juice, generous teaspoon of vanilla extract and a tablespoon of vanilla custard powder. Bring to the boil on Induction 6, stirring occasionally. Serve hot or cold as the palate directs!
EIGHT: My favorite caramel sauce which is great with almost anything fruity (Sticky Date Puddings, Banana Crepes, as a dressing for Apple Crumble) is so quick, you could miss the whole thing if you blink! In a saucepan, melt 75 grams of butter, add 1 cup packed dark brown sugar, 1/2 cup of whipping cream and when sugar has dissolved, bring to the boil (Induction 10). Just as you are ready to serve, add a dash of rum. Let the alcohol burn off and serve immediately. (This also stores well in the fridge.)
NINE: No list about drizzles would be complete without a chocolate sauce recipe...so my ganache is as follows: On Induction 3 melt 1 block dark chocolate (220 grams) with 1/2 cup whipping cream. At this point you may add sieved berries of your choice or as in the case of Raspberry Dream Cheesecake a dollop of raspberry jam or some zest and juice from an orange. This sauce can be thinned down with more cream or butter if desired and is truly decadent eaten whilst hot over vanilla icecream...and SOOO easy!
TEN: What is the penultimate drizzle? I had to ponder this one, but as it is coming close to midnight, my quick decision is; Strawberry Dessert Syrup. Puree a punnet of strawberries with the juice of 1 orange and a generous amount of natural honey. Drizzle this over fruit salad, on the plate of a stunning dessert, over the cream on a pavolva, fold it through the cream for any dessert and don't forget to add and mix and experiment and try something different. This too will keep in the fridge, or freeze it in iceblock form and use in a summer punch!
So there you have it...another night spent drooling at the computer...and now to bed and to dreams of what I must cook this weekend so I may photograph them for you! No wonder the kids are calling me a food nerd! Move over food...she's a blogging nerd as well!