17 November 2008

The Ultimate Bean

Wao, has it seriously been 2 months? I cannot believe how fast time has passed. And for all that time gone, I have little to show for it. Except a rather horrid trip to China where I unknowingly drank Starfish and Seahorse Soup, and saw the grey foggy skies of Guangzhou (Beijing was still benefitting from the major clean up pre-Olympics) among other things which are better left unsaid.

In the meantime, I haven't been able to spend as much time as I would like in the kitchen (how many times have you heard that from me already?). The parties and gatherings I used to organise, it seems, have become a thing of the past. Though of course this depends on the definition one chooses to subscribe to for 'past'.

Anyway, I managed to dig up photos I had stowed away for dryer months such as this, and found these two photos that immediately triggered beautiful memories of never-ending beaches and mountain ranges in Mauritius.

I almost never fail to visit the market, whichever city I visit - La Boquiera market in Barcelona; Borough market: London; and Central market: Port Louis (Mauritius). It was at the Central Market that I picked up a couple of packets of super plump vanilla beans (bottom left). Far from the dried, shrivelled up vanilla beans (bottom right) that I bought from the local baking supplies store, these plump beauties yielded eagerly under the knife tip to reveal an abundant supply of thick, syrupy seeds.

I enthusiastically used them in some ice cream, cake, and my latest and probably longest project ever - vanilla extract. So many recipes are available on the internet, but they all point to the same combination of ingredients: a bottle of alcohol (vodka, brandy or rum) and some vanilla beans for about 3 months and more.

I've put all my spent vanilla pods (i.e. shell without the seeds which would have gone into the ice cream/cake) into a bottle of dark rum and left it in a dark cupboard. It has been there since late August and I can't wait to use some of this homemade vanilla extract perhaps in some wicked ice cream - uber rich Rum and Raisin Ice Cream. Till next time!

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