I've finally managed to get back into the kitchen. I mean this in the sense of "trying to cook up something new, having fun and seeing where it takes me" as opposed to "it's time for dinner and I've already had a long day". I'm not complaining though as a little less time for fun in the kitchen means that I'm busy with other jobs which isn't a bad thing. I've been photographing and styling, planning and trying to stay on top of Instagram, Twitter and my emails. Ah yes, those emails...
About that. If you've emailed me three months ago and you're still waiting for a reply, you have my sincere apologies. I promise you, it's nothing personal. You see, more often than not, I will sit in front of my laptop, stare at my emails and feel like the proverbial rabbit in the headlights. There's a certain amount of anxiety involved when I see an inbox full of flagged up, 'need to deal with it' emails. It's the kind of anxiety I experience when I feel that I need to hold several conversations simultaneously and I will inevitably drop the ball somewhere along the way. Don't get me wrong, I am (I've been told) great at chatting one-on-one and can clearly hold a conversation without any problems and even be funny, but when confronted with a large event where I'm supposed to "mingle", I freeze up. Pretty much the same goes for emails, as close friends will know. We can chat back and forth no problem as long as I ignore the other mails piling up whilst we're having a chat. When I have a whole stack of 'conversations', enquiries, comments, event invites etc coming in at more or less the same time, my brain just freezes up.
There's also an element of worry involved about committing to something (I might add I always keep my work commitments!) and then weeks or months down the line not being able to fulfil that commitment as originally planned. I hate letting people down as much as I hate confrontation and will generally only RSPV an event if I'm absolutely certain I can make it. However, I often don't know what might happen next week as jobs can suddenly come in and of course paid work needs to generally trump fun events (that will of course change just as soon as I win the lottery!). I committed to an event a few weeks back for example and now a great work opportunity has come up. This means I had to send an apology and cancel the event. If I hadn't committed in the first place, then somebody else might have been able to take my place or it would have been planned for one less person. I now feel guilty about this because I've let somebody down.
If you could see my inbox, you wouldn't see any unread messages (apart from my bursting spam folder - when will they understand that I'm not interested in my inheritance from Nigeria or that sexy girl from Russia?!) and I can assure you that I've actually read your email. I'm probably right now scratching my head and wondering as to how best to answer it. Instead you'd see a whole heap of emails that are 'flagged' because I know I really need to answer them sooner rather than later. It's the Scarlett O'Hara "I'll deal with that tomorrow" approach taken when it all seems like an overwhelming task and of course tomorrow often gets postponed to, er, tomorrow. And this is where your email probably is. In my inbox, with a bright red flag, reminding me that it is important that I get back to you and of my inadequacy of dealing with your enquiry that came in at the same time as the other five. As I said, it's nothing personal and you have my sincere apologies...
Back to the food though! It's summer and that means it's peach time. I love peaches, their sweetness, the way they melt in your mouth and even their velvety skin. I have fond childhood memories of eating peaches straight from the tree in Portugal and also vividly remember that they tasted so much better than any that are available in this country. Peaches half-ripened on a lorry simply don't amount to the same thing as the ones naturally ripened on a tree. They're just not as flavoursome, sweet and juicy. Now, whilst adding actual peach flavour to peaches might be beyond my powers (or, for that matter, seem right), I can certainly try and add some sweetness. And it's exactly this thinking that has lead me to coming up with this recipe. I wanted to create a dish that would be sweet with an added extra. Combining the taste of peach, roses and cardamom has resulted in a delicious, sticky and very sweet dessert with a flavour combination half-borrowed from India and the textures from Thailand. If this sounds interesting, then here's my recipe.
For four people you will need the following ingredients:
For the peaches:
- 4 doughnut peaches
- 400g caster sugar
- 500ml water
- 5g whole, dried rosebuds (I used tea ones from JING Tea, grown in Morocco)
For the rice:
- 280g thai sticky rice*
- 450ml water
- 6 whole cardamom pods
*I could only get hold of a supermarket version, hence the reduced soaking time, other brands and original Thai ones may need longer
And here's how it's done:
First, prepare the peaches:
- put the rosebuds into a cup and top with 100ml hot water
- using an apple corer, remove the stones from the peaches
- put 400ml water, plus the rose water (with the rosebuds) and the sugar into a large pan
- slowly bring the water to a boil over a medium heat, then reduce the heat to simmer
- leave to simmer for 10 minutes
- now add the unpeeled peaches and poach for 2 minutes on one side
- turn the peaches and poach for a further 2 minutes on the other side
- remove the peaches and put them onto a plate to cool slightly
- reduce the syrup by half on a medium heat
- gently peel the peaches
- pour around half of the syrup over the peaches and put them aside ready for the rice
- prepare the rice by soaking it for 15 minutes
- bruise the cardamom pods slightly (I used pestle and mortar for that)
- drain the rice and put into a large saucepan with 450ml water and the cardamom pods
- bring the rice to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes
- once the rice is cooked, divide into four bowls, top with a peach and some of the syrup
- serve immediately