Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Going Nutty for Dessert!

Crema di Frumento al Pistacchio, con Cardamomo, Coriandolo & Albicocca
Pistachio Cream of Wheat with Cardamom, Coriander & Apricot

One of my favorite, simple, sweet treats, is cream of wheat... which is maybe not exactly haute cuisine and is definitely underrated. It is also proof that some of the best things in life are modest and unpretentious. And I like that. So this evening, I decided to put this most simple of desserts in the limelight and raise it up to a higher level that I definitely deserves!

I decided to keep things simple, but to add a little exotic flavor and spice with cardamom and coriander, some fruits sweetness from diced, dried apricots and depth of flavor from some lovely, ground Sicilian pistachios- which sounds pretty good, right? It also looks pretty good! And I'll be damned if it didn't actually taste fantastic as well!

The great thing about this, is that although it sounds and indeed tastes much more exotic and complicated than some plain-old cream of what- it is hardly any more difficult to make! The important thing is that you want to get plenty of flavor into the milk before adding the wheat- and I did that like this...

For each portion (1 cupful) of wheat, I added 1 cardamom pod and maybe 10 coriander seeds to 3 cupfuls of milk. I popped open the cardamom pod and fetched out the black seeds, which I ground along with the coriander seeds with my mortar and pestle and added to the 3 cups of milk. I brought this to the boil and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes and then added 3 tablespoons of ground pistachio and let it continue boiling for 2-3 minutes more.

After 3 minutes had passed, the milk had a nice pale green color from the pistachio, but the color and delicate flavor will diminish if it cooks for too long, which is why I let the milk and spice have a head start before I added it. In any case, at this point I removed the milk from the heat and sprinkled and stirred-in the 1 cup of ground cream of wheat, nice and swiftly, so as to avoid causing any lumps.

Next came the apricot- I would say 2 dried apricots can go into each portion. I cut each apricot into 4 strips, then turned then once and cut the 4 strips in 4 again- that is the size of dice you want to have... not too big and not too small!

The wheat thickened up very quickly- of course the pistachio also "binds" the liquid quite a lot, so I slowly stirred-in more milk until it became the right, thick and creamy consistency. I added a little pinch of salt and then sweetened mine with honey- you can of course use sugar or even Stevia as I often do, but this evening I decided that the pistachio would harmonize really well with honey... so there you go! It only took 1 tablespoon of honey to get it sweet enough for my taste- try it and see what you think and you can always add more!

After 5 minutes of gentle simmering and serving, it was lovely and thick and creamy, with a rich spicy flavor and just begging to be served-up! I added a generous sprinkle of pistachio to mine and one more apricot, cut into thin slices as a garnish, for a nice blast of flavor and color and also to add a little chewy texture to the creamy wheat... yum-yum!

There are plenty of more sophisticated and refined desserts out there I'm sure- but this was pretty delicious in all of its modesty! I am sure, had there been any left over, that it would also have tasted nice chilled... but I will have to find out if that is true next time I make it... because it was all gone in next to no time whilst it was still smoking hot. this time around! I think probably the same thing will happen to all of you too! Try it and see!

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