Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Disgorged wine

Friends Carol and Julie gave us a prezzie of a wine for lending the ute to them for moving prior to having major renos done on their house. It was a Tamburlaine 2001 Late Disgorged Cabernet Sauvignon, which, apart from tasting damn fine, got me totally intrigued by what on earth anyone was doing disgorging a wine and then bottling it and having the guts to then sell it. I mean, the last disgorgement of wine I did was after a particularly careless session a couple of weeks ago when too much of a good time with old mates led to a failure to drink enough hibiscus tea to counter the effects of the several bottles of red gorged during the evening.

Happily, I found that disgorging wine in the vigneron world is a much less disturbing process. The term 'late-disgorged' is English for récemment dégorgé, indicating a wine that has been kept on its lees for much longer than usual (up to as much as ten years) between bottling and disgorging. The wine feeds off its lees throughout this time, acquiring great complexity, depth and richness. The sharp intake of oxygen when the wine is finally disgorged (ie the temporary 'bottling cork' is pulled and replaced with a permanent Champagne cork, ready for shipping) adds a welcome note of freshness that highlights the wine's complexity.'

Which still leaves me a tad puzzled as my pocket Oxford French dictionary gives récemment as meaning recently which is not what the wine is, disgorged recently, that is. Ah well, another of those little linguistic licenses one lives with I suppose.

Flat earthers

Okay, not really, but gee, who knew about flat peaches. Well apparently the Chinese have for centuries, as I guess they would as China is the original home of peaches. The rest of the world has known about them for yonks on the evidence of Google searches (they were the 2009 London Summer 'most fashionable culinary accessory' apparently and have been grown in the US since 1869 or earlier depending on who is spruiking them). I totally missed their first appearance in Oz  but they are certainly making the running this Summer with a write up in The Land and a dessert  recipe in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Living section on 12th January (sorry vegans, it uses eggs).

Colleen, who brought them to my attention, called them squashed peaches and I have to say I quite like that in preference to 'flat' or 'doughnut', especially as they are being touted as great to fit into kid's lunchboxes and I love the vision of them being created by some frustrated Chinese mum who one day lucked on a big old round peach that didn't go kerblewy when she pushed the lid down on it to get it to fit into said item of schoolkids accessories.

I can attest post test that they are indeed sweeter and less fuzzy than your general run of peach, and the cuteness factor is high. That doesn't excuse the Oz company behind their Summer push marketing them as Taste Buddies. Boy did they miss the opportunity to be Oz AND to rhyme!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Brooder and its bretheren

No Christmas morning at the van Reyk family table in Sri Lanka was complete without the cutting, buttering and consuming of brooder. This, like frikadells, seems to be a left over from the early days of the Dutch in Sri Lanka. The name is variously spelt broeder (in Hilda Deutrom's Ceylon Daily News Cookery Book), breuder (in my grandmother Ada de la Harpe's cookery book), and brooder (in Chandra Dissanayke's Ceylon Cookery). I have opted for Dissanayake's as it's the closest to the Dutch word brood, meaning bread, which is what this dish is - well, cakey bread, based on a yeasted dough but with the sweetness of a sponge cake.

In our family it was always eaten with Edam cheese – and still is despite the sneers I get from the non-Burgher elements of the extended family when I put the Edam on the table.

In both Deutrom and Dissanayake the recipe for brooder is in the section on Dutch and Portuguese specialties, with Deutrom firmly declaring it for the Dutch. Now, the fascinating thing about this is that when I asked my Dutch friends whether this bread/cake is also made and eaten in the Netherlands at Christmas, they looked at me quite blankly. Neither of them knows of anything like this in the Dutch repertoire of breads/cakes. There is a Dutch Christmas relative called kerststol, though it shaped into a low round loaf, and there is also  let alone Christmas bread/cake. There is also the  tulband, so named for the fluted 'turban' shaped mould used to make it, which- yep, you guessed it – is the mould we use for brooder in Sri Lanka. But tulband is not reserved for festive occasions and I can't find any suggestion that it should be eaten with Edam. So naturally I wondered about other European cuisines that have something similar and of course recalled German stollen, which ticks most of the boxes except the turban shaped mould. There is also the Veronese pandoro though it is made in a star-shaped mould, doesn't use dried fruits and is dusted with icing sugar, and the Milanese panettone, which has the dried fruit but usually comes in a cupola shaped loaf and is sometimes eaten with mascarpone. Then you have the Polish babka (grandmother) which is the same basic dough baked in a turban mould with no dried fruits but in this case eaten at Easter where it's use of eggs allegedly celebrates the return to the usual diet after Lenten fasting. And finally there is the brioche, sort of a mini version of this form of cake/bread again without the dried fruit and eaten daily if not more often and which it would be mortal sin to accompany with anything more than a cup of strong black coffee or thick chocolate.

Brooder now takes its place as an evident fusion of these many styles of a basic idea. The recipe I use is adapted from my gran's cookery book.I have made it quite successfully with spelt flour, wholemeal and good old white wheat flour. The texture and taste vary; all yummy, though.

500gms plain flour
50 gms butter
baker's yeast
1 tsp sugar
6 egg yolks
250 gms caster sugar
125 gms currants or sultanas or raisins or a mixture of them

Make the dough the night before. Then take as much yeast as is recommended for your particular yeast for making bread with 500 gms of flour (it can vary so read the packet or ask when you buy it), add the yeast and the sugar to a little hot water to get the yeast started. It will froth slightly. When it's bubbling happily, add this to the flour and mix in well. Now slowly add water and keep mixing until you have a lump of dough that lifts easily out of the bowl or off the board. Knead it for 15 minutes or so. Put it in a bowl, cover the bowl with a damp tea-towel and leave it in a warm place to rise overnight.

The next day, take the dough and add to it the butter, egg yolks and sugar. Add the first three yolks separately and mix in well each time. Then add the others also one at a time alternating with dollops of the caster sugar till it is all used up. What you will have now is a very thick wet doughy batter.

Butter a turban mould. Put a good sprinkle of whatever dried fruit you are using on the bottom. Squish some dried fruit against the sides of the mould, too. Pour in the batter. Sprinkle more of the dried fruit on top of the batter. If you like, and I do, you can mix some dried fruits into the batter, too.

Leave this in a warm place, the mould covered with a damp cloth, for 1 or 2 hours until it rises again (it won't rise as much as the dough did overnight).

Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to very hot – around 220C.

When the dough has risen the second time, put the mould in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Check at that stage that the brooder is cooked by poking a bamboo skewer or similar into the dough. If it comes out clean, your brooder is ready. If it doesn't, give the brooder 10 – 15 minutes more. Putting some baking/greaseproof/brown paper on the top will reduce the likelihood of the dried fruit burning.

When it's cooked, take it out of the oven and leave it to cool in the mould. You should then be able to give the mould a good thump and have the brooder come cleanly out of it.

Resist all temptation to ice or otherwise muck around with the brooder! Just slice it up and have some butter and Edam or cheddar cheese to have it with. But you are allowed to make summer pudding with the left over brooder if you like, or indeed any of those bread pudding dishes.