Sunday, 5 January 2014

The Things That Creams Are Made Of

Crema di Yogurt al Pistacchio, Limone & Carrube con Zenzero Candito
Cream of Yogurt, Pistachio & Lemon with Carob Flour & Candied Ginger

Whilst on my recent visit to Sicily, suffering with tummy-troubles, I was advised by my doctor to try out Carob flour as a remedy, as it has astringent properties which can be helpful when faced with those dilemmas in life where we are losing electrolytes and making numerous journeys to, ahem, you know what...

The thing is... that who knew just how delicious the stuff is! With a mild and delicious, natural, caramel-like flavor, it was easy to add a spoonful to coffee and cocoa and for me, much more sensible than taking artificial medication. Back home, it is often used in baking recipes, for example Mastazzoli, which are made with chopped almonds or hazelnuts and mulled wine and spices for the Christmas period. That is the happy part of this little anecdote. And the rest of it will be fine for any of you living in the USA where they sell the exact same product that I bought in The Old Country. 

But alas, for poor me living in Germany and anyone else here... I am sorry to say that the product they sell in the "healthfood" stores here, though it may indeed be made from the ground seeds of the carob pod, has nothing of the flavor, color or aroma of the real thing! Shame on you! And shame on me for buying it! 

Then again, those of you who are familiar with me and indeed with any tales of heroism in the face of adversity, will have quite rightly presumed that this story does not end on that sad and sorry note! No, instead, deciding to hope that at least the "medicinal" qualities of the stuff may still be there, I decided to make the most of the situation and to use the white carob flour for the reason that it is sold here in Germany... as a binding or thickening agent. 

Wanting to make use of yogurt as a healthy alternative to cream, as well as the fragrant zest of a huge, Cedro lemon that I picked up at the market hall yesterday, I decided to combine those 2 ingredients with another all-time favorite of mine, pistachio, to concoct a little dessert that had all of the flavors of Sicily and the sun and all that was good about being back home in it... and that is exactly what I did!

To make these 2 servings, I began by finely grating my lemon zest- I used a large Cedro, because I just happened to have one at home, but regular lemons or limes will be just fine. I would say I used a good tablespoonful to make these desserts. I blanched the zest in boiling water for a minute- just enough to cover it, then poured the water away. I then added the zest to about 8 tablespoons of milk and brought it to the boil, added a teaspoon of Stevia and let it cool down. You can of course use sugar- or even honey- whatever you prefer is good :-)

When the milk was lukewarm, I stirred in a tablespoon of carob flour as it dissolves better in warm liquids and added a couple of tablespoons of ground pistachio. I then added the yogurt, which was in this case low-fat, but of course that too is a matter of personal preference. Each serving was about 5-6 tablespoons of yogurt... I think you can figure out that much mathematics by yourselves ;-)

I whisked the mixture together well, tasted it for sweetness and adjusted as necessary... this depends of course on how bitter the zest is and how sweet your tooth is! A good 3-4 minutes of whisking will incorporate the carob flour in evenly and throughly and after a final last taste, the yogurt creme is ready to fill into your serving dishes... you really can not get mush easier than that!

After a night in the fridge, the yogurt had set to a panna-cotta like consistency and was nicely infused with citrus and pistachio flavor- delicious! All it needed was a sprinkle of ground pistachio and a delicate scattering of finely shaved candied ginger to make it ultra-pretty and perfect! Sound good? It IS good. It may not be the dessert I was planning to make... but look on the bright side of things- as I have had to do... maybe the best is yet to come... but this was pretty damned good in the meantime!

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