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Watermelon and Ginger Granita

Watermelon and Ginger Granita

In the realm of shameless – this possibly sits in the top 10 for me.

This is not a story of how my husband proposed marriage .  But this is a story of how I faked a proposal to get into one of Neil Perry’s restaurants.

A few weeks after his famed Spice Temple opened a work mate mentioned this restaurant and how difficult it was to get a booking.  Apparently, all weekends were booked for the next three months.

“I bet you I can get a booking.” I said.

“Unless you know Neil Perry personally I don’t think you stand a chance.” he said.

So I called the restaurant.

“Hi, I’d like to make a booking for this Friday please.”  I said.

“I’m sorry but we are fully booked.”  said the receptionist.

“Yes but is there anyway you can make an exception?  This is for a really important occasion.”  I pleaded.

“No, I’d really like to accommodate you but we are full for Friday.  If you’d like, I can put you on our wait list but there are 5 ahead of you.” she replied.

“But you don’t understand, my boyfriend asked me to make a booking at the restaurant of my choice.  I think he is going to propose to me.  I’m DESPERATE”  I said.

“We get people asking for exceptions ALL the time.” she said, obviously unimpressed with my reasoning as to why I should get special treatment.

“No, no… you don’t understand.” I told her, “I am 35 years old.  I am DESPERATE.” I repeated.

“Wait a minute.”  She put me on hold. “Alright – we’ve got a table at 7 pm but we need it back by  9 pm.”

Can you imagine me trying to get my husband to agree to re-propose? Of course, there was NO WAY he’d say yes.  The waitstaff of Spice Temple looked disappointed when we were being seated, I flashed my “engagement ring” and whispered that he had “surprised me by proposing” the night before.

Anyway, what was supposed to be a memorable night, then was doomed to become “just another dinner”, eventually became unforgettable because of this – fresh watermelon granita laced with a ginger syrup.  It was a perfect ending to a delicious and very spicy meal (think Hot and Numbing Wagyu Beef or Stir Fried Prawns with Salted Eggs and Four Chillies).

I’ve never been able to bring myself to go back to Spice Temple after the “engagement episode” for fear they’d caught on to my shameless actions…

But I’ll always have their watermelon granita…

Watermelon and Ginger Sorbet

Watermelon and Ginger Sorbet

Watermelon Granita with Ginger Syrup

From Neil Perry’s Spice Temple

  • 750 grams coarsely chopped fresh watermelon
  • 60 grams white sugar
  • 200 grams finely diced watermelon, to serve
  • 100 grams white sugar
  • 20 grams ginger, chopped
  1. Macerate the watermelon by combining the first lot of watermelon with the sugar and allow to stand for around 45 minutes. Process this in a food processor and then strain. Transfer to a 20 cm x 30 cm shallow metal tray and freeze, scraping occasionally with a fork until crystals form and the granita is frozen. This usually takes around 4 to 5 hours.
  2. For the ginger syrup, combine the sugar, ginger and 60 ml of water in a saucepan. Bring this to a boil and then remove it from the heat and allow to cool. Strain out the ginger.
  3. To serve, place some granita in a chilled class, add the diced watermelon and pour some ginger syrup over it.

Watermelon and Ginger Sorbet On the Thermomix

  1. Combine the ginger, 100 grams white sugar and 60 ml water in the thermomix. Heat at 100c for 5 minutes on speed 3. Remove from heat, strain the ginger and allow to stand until cool.
  2. Combine the watermelon and the sugar in the thermomix and process on speed 8 for 10 seconds. Pour the ginger syrup on to the watermelon. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.
  3. When the watermelon cubes are frozen, process once more on the thermomix on speed 10 for around 20 seconds. Use the spatula to assist in the mixing of the sorbet. Top with the finely diced watermelon. Hint: If you want, use a fork to scrape on the sorbet until you get the granita like texture.
Watermelon and Ginger Sorbet

Watermelon and Ginger Sorbet

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Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread

I’ll admit, I am a creature of habit.  I can go for weeks having the same chicken schnitzel wrap for lunch (to a point where I am walking towards the sandwich shop and they will start preparing the wrap for me).  Probably, my most un-blogger like behaviour is my ability to go to the same restaurant and order the same dish over and over again.

When traveling however, I’m totally different.   I have no inclination to go to the same restaurant and have never ordered the same dish twice.

That is until I tried Locanda Verde’s zucchini bread which was pretty amazing.  Think a rich tea cake speckled with grated zucchini and a cinnamon undertones.  Think a generous dose of toasted pine nuts and a crumbly sugary topping… freshly baked or toasted – with a dollop of butter – no wonder this warranted a second visit!

Now, I wasn’t able to get my hands on Locanda Verde’s recipe but was lucky enough to stumble on Manggy’s blog where he recreates Tartine’s Zucchini and Orange Marmalade Tea Cake.  I substituted pine nuts for the walnuts that was called for in the original recipe and here you have it – a replica of the absolutely habit forming zucchini bread I once tasted from Locanda Verde.

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini and Orange Marmalade Tea Cakes with Pine Nuts

Adapted from Tartine Cookbook

  • 270 grams flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 155 ml vegetable oil
  • 150 grams sugar
  • 115 grams orange marmalade
  • 285 grams zucchini, grated (if not using thermomix)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 115 grams toasted pine nuts
  • 30 grams brown sugar for topping
  1. Pre heat oven to 170c. Lightly oil and flour the bottom and sides of a 23cm by 13cm loaf pan
  2. In one bowl sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, beat the eggs, oil, sugar, and marmalade until combined. Now, incorporate the zucchini. Add the flour mixture to this and mix until combined. Incorporate the nuts into the mixture (leaving some for the topping).
  4. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and smooth the surface with an offset spatula. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and a handful of pine nuts.
  5. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Remove from oven, and let cool for about 20 minutes on a wire rack then remove from the loaf pan and invert onto the rack. Turn this right side up and let cool completely.

Using the Thermomix

  1. Place the zucchini into the TM bowl and set to speed 6 for 4 seconds.
  2. Add the eggs, vegetable oil, sugar and orange marmalade. Using the butterfly attachment (from steps 2 to 4), mix on speed 4 for 15 seconds.
  3. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and mix on speed 4 for another 15 seconds.
  4. Add the toasted pine nuts (leaving some to top the loaf) and mix on speed 4 for 10 seconds.
  5. Pour the batter into the pan and follow baking instructions above.

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Lychee Sorbet

Lychee Sorbet

Thermomix

I saw it…

I wanted it…

TANTRUM

I got it…

Now… I know it sounds bratty… and it sounds like I had a major tantrum to get my latest (and promise, my very very last) kitchen appliance/luxury but, friends, when you want something, you gotta pull out all the stops for it… and this time…  it was oohhh soooo worth it!

My husband and I first saw the Thermomix up close during a lunch at Sergi Arola’s Gastro restaurant in Madrid.  I’d heard of it before but only thought it was a super powered food processor.  During our tour of the kitchen,  Sergi’s wife mentioned that the thermomix was one of their most indispensable appliances.  I was needless to say, intrigued.  A bit of research on the internet and I found out it could weigh, grate, mill, puree, grind, blend, cook, steam, crush, whisk, emulsify and knead… I was ready to get one and I told my husband I would get one in New York and take it home to Australia.   He said there was no way we were going to take something that heavy back home.

Enter the tantrum…  I begged, pleaded, cried, whined, and begged some more and said I really really REALLY needed one.  But he stood firm.  But the truth is, none of this mattered because no matter which store I asked –  I went to Dean and Deluca, Sur la Table and a few other kitchen stores and was surprised to find out no one stocked it.

It seemed like no one even knew what a Thermomix was… until we had dinner at Momofuku’s Ko restaurant.

“Do you have a Thermomix?”  I asked one of the chef’s while he was preparing our dinner.

“Nope. ”  He said.

“Why not?”  I asked.  “I would have thought every kitchen would want one.”

“They are not available in the U.S.” he said.  “If you are going to buy one, can you get me one too?”  he added.

“Get two, one for him and one for me.” Chimed another chef who was listening to our conversation.

On our way home my husband said “I think you should definitely get a thermomix when we get home.  If the chef’s in Momofuko want one then it’s probably worth it.”

And that…  my friends… is how I got my Thermomix!

Lychee Sorbet

  • 150 grams sugar
  • 300 grams lychees (canned or fresh)
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 x 350 grams ice cubes
  1. Place the sugar into the TM bowl and mill for 10 seconds on speed 9
  2. Add the lychee followed by the 350 grams of ice and egg white. Slowly turn the speed dial to speed 10.
  3. Add the remaining ice after 20 seconds. Use the spatula to assist in the incorporation of the lychee with the ice.

And by the way… that saying… I just got it off a mug I saw the other day… 🙂
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