Monday, July 21, 2008

Hazelnut and Lemon Stuff

I have this book, Le Champignon Sauvage. Actually it’s not my book, I’ve borrowed it for an extended period, and actually it’s called Essence, but that doesn’t matter. It’s recipes from David Everitt-Matthias. It’s fancy stuff, we’re talking multi-step recipes, for example: roast grey-legged partridge with chicory caramelized in maple syrup, and elderberry gastric, or brill fillet with salsify and artichokes, hazelnut emulsion, and red wine and tarragon jus. Yes, you’re lucky if there’s a dish that contains only one word you don’t know or only one ingredient you don’t know how to obtain. And so with all those emulsions and juses and confits and stuff, comes a long process. There was actually one main that I thought to myself, “hey, it’s only got three parts, and I have access to all of them!” so I gave it a go. It was brandade (poached cod, garlic puree and potato gnocchi). Alright, the gnocchi turned out not so great, might just be me. And the fish was not cooking, and we kept thinking it should only be poached for a few minutes but wasn’t flaking like it should, so that didn’t come out well. So then I got discouraged.

But no, this post is not about that dish, because in the back of the book are desserts and not all of them are as complicated as the savory food. They’re still multi-part, but little things, and I made two of them. Well, I took two different desserts and stuck them together. Pistachio and olive oil cake plus lemon and pine nut iced mousse, or semifreddo, with one tiny change, I had perfectly good ground hazelnuts and I do love them, so I substituted them for pistachios. And I should mention that about a year ago I made the cake with pistachios and it’s an amazing color. The hazelnut isn’t as pretty but darn good. And I thought of making these two random desserts together because they seemed like they would compliment each other and they did. The hazelnut was sweet and extremely moist (probably because it contained both olive oil and butter) and had a nice orange flavor to it, and the semifreddo was really tart with a bit of crunch. I ended up liking it more than I had expected because I don’t go for lemon/lime flavors in dessert very much, but it was somewhat addictive, and I kept spooning more onto my plate. Next time, though, I would cut back on the lemons. It used six. Six! That’s a whole lot from such a powerful fruit, and it kinda made you pucker. I remedied that with a bit of powdered sugar, but there’s no way to really hide six lemons. So I’ve made the changes for yall, and added and subtracted a few other things from the original recipes.

Hazelnut Olive Oil Cake and Lemon and Pine Nut Iced Mousse

250 g ground hazelnuts
50 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
125 ml olive oil (a little over ½ c)
100 g unsalted butter, melted
1 vanilla bean
3 eggs
200 g sugar

juice and zest of 1 orange

Mix the hazelnuts, flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt together. Add the olive oil to the melted butter, then scrape in the vanilla bean seeds. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until pale, then slowly whisk in the oil and butter. Whisk in the hazelnut mixture, then add the orange juice and zest. Pour into a springform pan with parchment paper on the bottom. Bake at 160C/325F for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out almost clean.

juice and zest of 3 lemons (not 6)
200 ml double cream
100 g caster sugar
30 ml water
4-5 egg yolks
100 g pine nuts, toasted

Put the lemon juice and zest in a small pan and boil until reduced (he says until 75 milliliters, but it’s not that easy to measure, so just reduce). Whip the double cream until it forms soft peaks, then set in fridge. Put the sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil and boil until it reaches soft-ball stage (115C, be careful, this happens very quickly). While it is boiling, whisk the egg yolks in a mixer until thick, airy, and very pale. When the sugar syrup is ready, slowly drizzle it on the egg yolks with the machine running on high. Whisk until cold. Fold in the lemon juice, then the whipped cream and finally add the pine nuts (his pictures have pine nuts perfectly dispersed, but mine ended up at the bottom). Pour into a bowl or pan and freeze until set, at least six hours.

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