Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Sliced & Spiced

Crema di Frumento con Mele Speziate & Bacche di Goji
Cream of Wheat with Spiced Apple & Goji Berries

Sometimes it is the simplest of dishes that give us the most pleasure- good, familiar and comforting flavors that evoke days gone by... Even everyday things invite us to recall fond memories sometimes... and ah- that is what good food is all about!

Something as simple as cream of wheat, boiled up with a little vanilla, is already delicious in itself- and combined with some warm, sweet and spicy apple and goji berries, we have all of the flavors of those good old-time Winter desserts- but with a nice, new twist!

I got home late and was cold and tired... but feeling the need for something warm, soothing... and yes... something sweet! It can also happen to me my friends- you're perfectly right!

I was initially going to make a simple bowl of cream of wheat with cinnamon, which would have also been delicious, but decided to make a fruity topping to go with it and to make it more fun and interesting. The first thing I did was to bring some milk up to the boil and to add the wheat, sprinkling lightly and stirring swiftly until it became a nice thick but soft and smooth consistency. I could say that it should be mixed in a ratio of 2 parts milk to one part powdered wheat, but I think rule of thumb and judging by yourself is the best way to go about it. Pour yourself about as much milk into the saucepan as you want to eat your cream of wheat and then keep stirring until you have what you need!

Once it had come up to the boil, I added a little vanilla pod and reduced the heat to a low simmer. I keep the pods after scraping out the soft pulp inside and store them in a jar of sugar- this flavors the sugar on the one hand, but the pods are fine to use to infuse into other dishes such as this one. Waste not, want not and all that!

Whilst the cream of wheat was gently bubbling away, I got a little water boiling in my frying pan- just enough to cover the base. I then quickly peeled and sliced 2 small apples and added them along with the spices, which were 1 clove, 1 section of a star anise, a half teaspoon of coriander seeds and 1 cardamom pod, which I ground up with the mortar and pestle. I stirred these in and let the apples bubble away until the water had been completely absorbed and had cooked away. I then deglazed the pan with a splash of calvados and added the goji berries, a pat of butter and a little honey. I turned off the heat, gave the apple slices a last toss to make sure all of the berries and all of the flavors were nicely mixed and was then ready to roll!

Obviously, it goes without saying that you can prepare this without alcohol if either you are making this for children or simply prefer to leave it out- and I would go as far as to say, just use water. But only a little! The water is simply there to transfer heat to the apple so that it cooks- the idea is to bring out the apples own flavor and not to add too much of anything else- there are already the complimentary spices in there to do that... keeping it simple is the key!

I spooned the apple slices and berries over the cream of wheat and then popped it into the oven to bring it up to temperature. I know from past experience that the berries tend to be very delicate and to blacken and burn easily, so I had to stop myself from risking the broiler- haha! But letting the apple cook into the wheat and allowing the flavors to mingle is a good thing! Again- simple and scrumptious- and down-to-earth and inexpensive to boot! So what's not to love? :-) Enjoy!

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