Thursday, July 23, 2009

Challenge Book #42 - Grilled Strawberries with Pimms

Last week I mentioned Masterchef a TV show that has drawn a record number of viewers here in Australia. I loved the show too. Most of all because it brought my favourite topic to the front and centre of general conversation. Everyone had an opinion on Poh's rhubarb pie or Chris's roasted pigs head. People were suddenly awake to the exciting possibilities open to them in their kitchens.

Hopefully, the show's finale won't dent this wonderful development. The surprising winner - Julie - was less than inspiring as she stumbled and bumbled her way to a cook book deal. I won't go into the ins and outs of it all (there is plenty of outraged commentary all over the internet), but it did make me think about what it is I look for in a cook book or recipe. What is my style of cooking? Why do I love Jamie Oliver's recipes but wouldn't lift a finger to cook a Gordon Ramsey dish (beyond personality issues)?

After much thought, I think it's the following:

1) I do not like overly fussy cooking. I am not willing to go through endless steps, processes and ingredients to end up with a plate of food. I have been known to go to ridiculous lengths for baking and desserts, but even that has limits.

2) I like classic dishes as they are meant to be. What I want is to be able to do them really, really well. I want to be able to make the best beef bourgnion, yorkshire puddings, lamingtons, scones etc that anyone has ever tasted. I am not interested in the dreaded 'twist' - where chefs try to differentiate themselves by adding stupid, pointless and/or surprising ingredients.

3) I like to cook with fresh seasonal local produce, but convenience has to come into it too. A few years back, I watched a cooking show done by Gary Rhodes. He insisted that you should pick and peel your own almonds for a particular dish. Good luck with that Gary. That is a very lonely road you are travelling right there!!!!

4) I like dishes that use ingredients that I haven't heard of before, but which are not ridiculously obscure or expensive. A few weeks back on The Cook and the Chef they made a dish using ponzu, a japanese citrus flavoured soy sauce. I now have a bottle in my pantry which I am all agog to try.

5) I like dishes that use familiar ingredients in a new and interesting way. A way that I have never thought of. And I sit there and wonder why I never thought of it. And finally we get to the subject of today's post

I must have eaten bazillions of strawberries in my time, but I have never in all that time thought to grill them. Why not? It seems like a perfect thing to do with strawberries. So when I spotted this recipe - Grilled Strawberries with Pimms - I was intrigued. I just had to try it for myself.

And so I ended up with the absolutely divine dish you see before you. The strawberries are sitting in a gorgeous sauce of Pimms, stem ginger, vanilla and juices (from the strawberries). It turns out Pimms and ginger were made for each other. I could have quite happily spooned it over ice cream, even before adding the strawberries.

As if all this is not good enough. It literally takes minutes to make. Add some good vanilla ice cream and you are done. So good, so simple and so me!!

This recipe is from Challenge Book #42 in the KJ wants a Kitchen Aid Challenge. I think this is the best book Jamie Oliver has produced. The sweet cherry tomato and sausage bake is beyond gorgeous. Not to mention the crispy and sticky chicken with squashed new potatoes and tomatoes. YUM! And of course the proper chicken ceaser salad which has featured previously. My mouth is watering just thinking about these dishes.

Grilled Strawberries with Pimms
(adapted from Jamie at Home)
500 gm strawberries, washed
two pieces of stem ginger, chopped
3 tbspn of stem ginger syrup from the jar
1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped
a few splashes of Pimms
vanilla ice cream
shortbread biscuits, crushed (optional)
Preheat the grill to high. Slice off the strawberry stems and place them in a bowl. Mix in the stem ginger syrup, vanilla seeds, Pimms and chopped ginger. Place strawberries on their flat ends, tips in the air, in a shallow oven proof dish.
Pour over the juices and pieces of ginger from the bowl. Wind the vanilla pods around the strawberries and place under the grill.
Grill for 3-5 minutes until bubbling. When the strawberries are hot and have softened, divide into bowls. Add a dollop of ice cream and a sprinkling of shortbread biscuit crumbs.


At 8:58 pm, Blogger Anh said...

I am not a big fan of Master Chef, mainly because I cannot watch it due to my working schedule. But I do like the positive food vibe it offers :).

Love to read your thought about food!

At 10:21 pm, Blogger Moi said...

You've been given an award, please check out my blog for details!!

At 2:08 pm, Anonymous Daniela Restrepo said...

Strawberries in Pimms? How thoroughly civilized!

At 4:02 am, Blogger grace said...

what a perfect dish--elegant and sophisticated yet totally doable. i echo your sentiments about food, particularly the fact that we both have no use for fancy-shmancy, overly-fluffy stuff.

At 5:38 am, Blogger Helen said...

I'm always a little hesitant about cooking strawberries as they taste so perfect as they are but this recipe sounds just lovely!

At 11:54 am, Anonymous Kathie said...

Looks great for a ladies tea!


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