Saturday, August 26, 2006

Beans & Watermelons

Pim's post on What's Weird reminded me that I had a cow tongue sitting in my freezer... I also had some yard-long beans from Chubeza. Well, perigrinations between cookbooks and blogs and contemplation of the various combinations that could ensue, I decided on a really simple stirfry with chili, garlic, fish sauce, sugar, the remainder of my CSA basil and eggplants, with the beans and tongue as the main focus.

I got a bit distracted when I started, and ended up making room in the fridge first, attacking my watermelon and throwing it in the blender (with some frozen watermelon cubes from its predecessor) .

Refreshed, I set off to deal with the tongue... first of all I washed it really really really well until it almost didn't feel slimey anymore - who knows where it had been. Then I stuck it in a pot of cold water, brought it to the boil, drained it and rinsed it again. I put it back in the pot, covered it in cold water, added an onion, some coriander stems, a carrot, star anise, cinnamon stick, cloves and peppercorns. I brought the whole thing to a boil again and then turned it down to low and let it simmer for 3 hours. After cooling down, it went into the fridge to chill.

While it was chilling I decided that the perfect dessert, as inspired by Cooksister, would be a clafoutis using the first prune plums of the season.

Per usual, I looked at various recipes and then closed all of the books and blogs and winged it. I added some fresh ground mace and lemon zest to the batter, and added less sugar than suggested. Then I threw it into my disfunctional oven which only has 2 settings, high and grill, that work right now. This means that I have to turn it on and off trying to keep the heat regulated. It takes a bit of getting used to but I am generally successful.

Dinner was good - but I think the beans had suffered from the hot dry weather we have been having lately as they were quite chewy and tough even after being stewed as against stirfried. The tongue, however, was meltingly tender and delicate, its flavour not overwhelmed by the garlic-ginger-chili sauce.

The clafoutis was exactly like it is supposed to be - eggy and spongy and sweetly sour. But I am undecided if I really like this - the texture is always just a bit rubbery. Next time, perhaps, I will try to treat it like a really damp muffin mix and the crumb will change.

So after puttering in the kitchen for most of the day I turned out two tasty but not totally satisfying dishes. Some days you just can't win. Oh well...

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