July 17, 2011 (Bu yazıyı Türkçe okuyun)
The best part of my California adventures are yet to come: San Francisco and the highlight of the whole trip, fine dining and wine tasting in Napa. I wanted to give a little break with something sweet so you don't mistake this blog for a travel blog and take my blah blah blah on California for granted.
I wanted strawberry to play the lead for this post and a strawberry tart seemed to be the easiest thing to do with frozen pate briseés I had, stocked up in the freezer. While cruising my favourite food blogs, I saw that's what they came up with too, so I thought I'd do something a bit more imaginative.
I tried a strawberry and amaretto recipe from a pocket dessert book, not very sophisticated it turns out, one without sugar and egg yolks and only with whipped cream. I don't know how I haven't foreseen that with my vast culinary knowledge but all I got was strawberry and cookie crumbs, in grease. So instead I adapted Gordon Ramsay's recipe for lime and mint semifreddo which I tried in winter and liked, by substituting lime and mint with strawberry and amarettos. The result was quiet good.
While I was concocting this recipe in the kitchen it suddenly dawned on me that this dessert is the exact same one that I had eaten years ago, when I was visiting with my significant other, his family in Lisbon. The kind and lovely wife of my friend's father, Andrea, had prepared this dessert for the Easter dinner on the day of our arrival. As timid as I was, I only had one plate and although I fell in love with it, I deemed it was more lady-like to refuse the second round, as usual. Today, I don't understand what was with this obsession of kindness and etiquette of mine those days but if it were today, I wouldn't leave the place without getting the recipe in writing and that, only after eating the whole thing.
When I retreated to my room for the night, Andrea knocked on the door. When I opened, she had the bowl of semifreddo and told me she was going to place it in the fridge next door and if I felt like it, I was free to go ahead and dig in. I tried to seem cool but inside I was singing and dancing to the idea of being alone on the same floor with the whole bowl. But sadly, that was the last time I had laid eyes on that dessert. Exhausted from travelling, sleep had entangled me before me and the strawberry amaretto semifreddo could reunite. And the next morning we hit the road with the whole family to the south of Portugal, leaving that dessert behind, in the fridge, possibly to rot.
The next morning in Vilamoura, we are having breakfast in our rented flat with food brought from the house in Lisbon. The couple offer me cold meat left over from the previous evening's dinner which is okey, as long as one is used to eating meat for breakfast. But I can hardly eat anything when I wake up, let alone meat. So without hesitation, I kindly reject the offer and say that I'd be more than happy to have what the kids are having: corn flakes. To my surprise, my rejection pisses my friend's father off and trigger him to jump from his chair, walk into the kitchen and start opening doors of empty cabinets one by one, pretending to search their insides in fury, while muttering "what should we do to make this Turkish princess happy!" To his remark I get paralyzed of shame and all I can do is to fight the tears that gather up in my eyes from rolling down, because a drama in our first day is the last thing I want for this vacation I had been looking forward to. In the mean time, I go over and over in my head my words of rejection, questioning if I had the tiniest hint of contempt or rudeness. But I am convinced that I did it in the most gentle way possible and I conclude that this man I barely know must be crazy. Or that he hates me, simply.
This is the memory that surrounds the image and the taste of that delicious bowl of strawberry semifreddo made by Andrea, the lovely wife of not-so-lovely Darko. I have two regrets when I think of this: I regret that I fell asleep too early that night in Lisbon and missed the chance to eat the whole thing. Secondly, I regret that I let him treat me the way he did, my friend's father, who I figured during the rest of our vacation, was nothing but coldbloodedly mean and cynical. Since I miraculously deducted the recipe on my own, the first regret is off the list. And my second regret too, is almost off because I find relief and partial vengeance by disclosing here on my blog this memory so bitter, that keeps overshadowing the memory of a dessert so sweet.
Thank you for being part of this.
Strawberry and Amaretto Semifreddo
(Recipe: Ramsay's Best Menus combined with Solar 1001 Recettes Les Desserts)
- a 1 liter loaf tin
- 150 gr sugar (3/4 cup)
- 100 ml water (slightly less than 1/2 cup)
- 3 egg yolks
- 300 ml cream
- 300 gr strawberries, stalks removed, washed and sliced
- 100 gr amaretto cookies, crumbled
1) Line the loaf tin with a cling film. Put sugar and water into a sauce pan and dissolve the sugar by stirring once or twice. Increase the heat and let syrup boil for 5-7 minutes until it is light brown on the edges. At this point, be careful not to overcook the syrup because if you do so, it might get harden before you incorporate it to the yolk mixture.
2) While the syrup is boiling, whisk the egg yolks until pale and creamy.
3) When the syrup is ready, tickle it onto the egg yolks slowly, whisking continuously. Keep whisking until the mixture has cooled. (This step is tricky because doing this too fast will cook the yolks while doing it too slow will leave you with a hardened sugar syrup.)
4) Whip the cream to soft peaks. Fold it into the yolk mixture, then the strawberries and amaretto cookies. Pour it into the loaf tin, cover with the cling film. Freeze for 4-5 hours or overnight, until firm.
5) 20 minutes before serving, turn the semifreddo onto a plate and cut it into slices with a warm knife. Serve with fresh mint or basil.