First cab off the rank!
What a week! Why is it always that the short weeks are always the craziest?? I guess because we all try to shove 5 days into 4. That was me this week. A glorious public holiday fell on Monday and so did game 6 of the NBA playoffs. We also had just finished building our long anticipated deck and the timing seemed to be serendipitous. And so, we deck-warmed with 25 of our closest friends. A long day of cooking, eat and drinking. A fabulous affair that not even the damned weather could dampen. Following which was 4 long/short days of dull desk job at which I was dreaming up my next event. Said dreaming produced the brilliant idea of cooking through The Food I Love – imagine all of the dinner parties! The mind boggles at all of delicious possibilities before me… all I need to do is cook.
Yesterday we attended a 4th birthday party (seems impossible to be so young, no?) and gorged ourselves on bbq and birthday cake. We enjoyed the surreal madness of little girls dressed as fairies running between our legs and casting their enchanting spells on us all. We fell in love with the pink-faced milky cheeks of lads waddling about exploring and discovering all we take for granted. Bliss.
We got home pooped and stuffed. No room for dinner. And so, in preparation for now-Sunday’s cook off – I started my first Neil Perry recipe, The Original Dr Bircher Muesli with Poached Pears.
I was relieved to see that all I needed to do last night was juice the lemons, apply said juice and some water to the oats, cover and pop in the fridge.
After a wee little sleep in today, finally got myself out of bed to finish off my muesli and pears. The first thing I did was get the pears on. Common sense told me that I could finish the muesli while the pears were poaching. I was correct. Generally, when I hear the word poaching, I can feel my gut fill with dread and a massive lump form in my throat but I figured in this case, as it is pears, a solid fruit (as opposed to the globby consistency of an egg), it may not be so bad. Correct again. So I grabbed the sweet white wine, a bit of water and sugar and into a pot they went! As the sugar dissolved, I plopped in my four gorgeous pears (I used Corella), brought to the boil and then simmered a while.
While my gorgeous pears were poaching away, it time to finish the muesli. Firstly, I needed to roast my nuts (hehe… nuts). Hazelnuts to be precise. So I cranked up the oven and once hot, popped them on a tray and in they went. Whilst the hazelnuts are tanning, apples are to be grated! And so, they were.
By now, my pears are poached and my hazelnuts look like they’ve just spent a week in the Bahamas – perfect!
Into the muesli goes the grated apples, natural yogurt and some golden honey and then we mix, mix, mix. We buy our honey straight from a honey-making man down the South Coast and the flavour is wonderful. My hazelnuts are skinned and beaten (sounds horrific but really, does them the world of good) and sprinkled over the top of the muesli with a gorgeous poached pear. Welcome to breakfast heaven.
By this point, I was pretty hungry and couldn’t wait to get some of this good stuff in my mouth!
Let me say, I was pleasantly surprised. In the bowl, it looks quite heavy (and it is very filling) but it’s got such a lovely fresh flavour. You can really taste the freshness of the lemon which balances the bite of the natural yogurt perfectly. The nuts were a nice textural addition and I think I could go without them if I was making this regularly. Finally, my gorgeous poached pear. Well, the wine laden poaching concoction did it’s job and brought out the natural sweetness of the fruit. And, if I do say so myself, I poached it to perfection – firm on the outside, soft on the inside – so I could break it apart with my spoon.
I love this breakfast dish and it will definitely be a repeater. Thanks Neil!
Tonight I will be cooking Lamb Cutlets with Lemon Grass and Ginger, Barbecued Asparagus, Roast Potatoes and Curry Butter (sorry Willy, maybe scallops next weekend…)