So Can You Cook? 9

For this column, the Talkabout Working Group have asked me to give you some recipes using ingredients considered to be aphrodisiacs. However, first things first – what exactly is an aphrodisiac? Well, the dictionary definition is:

aph-ro-di-si-ac :
noun; 1. an agent (as a food or drug) that arouses or is held to arouse sexual desire; 2. something that excites.
Webster Dictionary

So, having ascertained that I was on the right track, I decided to do some Internet research, and what I found was…interesting, to say the least. The aphrodisical property of foods is in the belief that certain foods and beverages have mystical properties that create sexual attraction. Foods such as bananas, oranges or oysters gain their powers through the resemblance to sexual body parts. Alcohol, such as champagne and wine lower inhibitions. Chocolate releases endorphins, which is a ‘feel good’ chemical, while other foods excite through a combination of taste, texture and appearance.
The actual list of foods considered to be aphrodisiacal is a lot bigger than I thought, and a lot more diverse. The entire list, which can be found at http://cook2best.vwh.net/atoz/a.shtml is too long to list in its entirety here, but to give you some idea what to expect when preparing food to arouse your lover, included are;

Aioli; apricots; artichokes; asparagus; bananas; basil; beef; cardamom; carrots; caviar; celery; chocolate; cloves; cucumber; dates; eggs; fennel; figs; fois gras; frogs legs; fish; garlic (what the!); ginger; grapes; honey; ice cream; kumquats; lamb, liquorice; lobster; lovage; mango; nutmeg; nuts; onions (what the!); oysters; peach; pepper; pine nuts; pomegranate; quince; rice (what the!); saffron; strawberries; sweet potato (what the!); tomatoes; truffles; turnips (what the…yuk!); vanilla; walnuts; and zucchini.

A few surprises, eh. Now, I’ve got to admit to being somewhat surprised myself. There were the ones I did know of such as oysters, strawberries, oranges and chocolate, but a few were just a little beyond my imagining. I hate turnips – and don’t bother sending me recipes trying to convert me – and could never see them as sexual due to my aversion. Other things like garlic and onions I would have thought would be off-putting due to their overpowering odour, especially on the breath. Still, one mans meat…
On a close correlation between what recipes I have already published through my column and this list, I have already made most of you raving sex maniacs.
Mind you, if you’ve set the mood for love with romantic colours, flowers, soft music, wine and candles, even a hot dog or hamburger can become an aphrodisiac.
So, to the recipes. I have decided to stick with tradition and just give you recipes for oysters, strawberries, figs and chocolate. These are obvious and delicious attempts at seduction on anyone’s table, and I’m sure both the person doing the preparation, and the one induging in the result will appreciate the intention.

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OYSTERS:
Oysters are not expensive, except at Christmas and Easter. I never used to enjoy oysters, but have come to like them over the years by eating them with accompaniments. Don’t buy bottled, as they look much nicer presented in the shell. You can buy them already shucked and just sitting in the half-shell, and this is far easier to prepare than having to open them yourself – also safer, as the shells are sharp, and can be difficult to open without the correct knife. Serve them on a bed of either sea salt (inexpensive, but DON’T reuse it), or a bed of crushed ice. Serve a selection of these in small bowls alongside the plate of oysters.
I am going to give you a variety of accompaniments that you can serve with them. They are, as the connoisseurs will tell you, best eaten raw, but if you find them a bit hard to swallow even with an accompaniment, try coating them in tempura and deep-frying them.
Tempura Batter: You can purchase prepackaged tempura batter from supermarkets or specialty Asian grocers. To make, combine 100g of tempura flour (from Japanese grocers) with 160ml ice-cold water. Dip oysters in batter and deep-fry at 180°-190°C until puffy and golden brown. Serve with Japanese soy sauce.
Lemon Herb Dressing: Mix together 1 tablespoons chopped fresh dill; 1 clove garlic; 1 tablespoon finely chopped continental parsley; 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh chives; 2 tablespoons lemon juice and ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil. Garnish with bows made from chives. Makes 24
Bloody Mary Oyster Shots: Combine 1/3 cup vodka, ½ cup tomato juice, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, 2 drops of Tabasco and a pinch of celery salt (from spice section in supermarket) in a jug, and refrigerate until chilled. To serve, fill shot glasses two-thirds full of liquid, then drop an oyster into each glass. Top with a teaspoon of julienned cucumber, and a pinch of cracked black pepper. Makes 12
Lime & Soy Dressing: Mix together 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice; 1½ tablespoons soy sauce; 1 tablespoon olive oil; 2 kaffir lime leaves (good green grocers like Harris Farm), centre vein removed and finely chopped; 2cm piece fresh ginger, finely grated; 1clove garlic, crushed and a pinch of sugar. Place in a bowl. Makes 12.
Tomato & Balsamic Dressing: Mix together ½ ripe tomato, seeded and finely chopped; 1 tablespoon finely chopped Spanish (red) onion; 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar; 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of sugar. Place in a bowl. Makes 12
Prosciutto & Garlic Topping: In a hot frying pan, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil, then fry 100g finely sliced prosciutto and 1 crushed garlic clove until meat is crisp. Crumble when cool To serve, present a small bowl of Worcestershire sauce with topping. Spoon a small amount of sauce over oyster, then sprinkle topping. Makes 12.
Lime Ginger Dressing: Combine finely grated zest and juice from 1 lime; 2 tablespoons pickled ginger (from supermarket or Japanese grocers), 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (supermarket); 1 tablespoon mirin (supermarket). Place in a small bowl. Makes 12.
Oysters Osaka: Mix together 1/3 cup mirin; 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar; 2 teaspoons lemon juice; ½ teaspoon wasabi paste (supermarket); 2 red Thai chillies, seeded and chopped finely. Serve in a small bowl. Makes 32. Reduce quantities accordingly.
Pesto Butter: Blend or process 125g soft butter; 1 tablespoon lemon juice; 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil; and 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts. Divide pesto butter among oysters, then bake, uncovered, in a 180°C oven for about 5 minutes, or until butter melts and oysters are heated through.
STRAWBERRY & MASCARPONE SLICE:
175g unsalted butter, softened
70g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
1 egg yolk
250g (2 cups) plain flour, sifted
300g (1 1/3 cups) mascarpone (Supermarket dairy case)
60g (1/2 cup) icing sugar (NOT ICING MIXTURE), sifted
1 tablespoon lemon juice
300g (2 cups) strawberries, washed, hulled and cut into quarters
50g dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 20cm X 30cm shallow baking tin with baking or greaseproof paper, leaving it hanging over the two long sides (this helps to remove the slice after baking).
Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk and beat well. Using a large metal spoon, fold in sifted flour until well combined. Press firmly into the prepared baking tray and prick all over with a fork. Bake for 25 minutes until light brown. Cool completely.
Beat the mascarpone, icing sugar and juice until smooth. Stir in the strawberries. Spoon over the base and refrigerate for 3 hours, or until firm.
Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, then remove from the heat. Place the bowl with the chocolate over the top of the saucepan, and stir until chocolate has melted. ENSURE THE BOWL DOESN’T TOUCH THE WATER. Drizzle over the slice, then cut into pieces. Makes 24 slices.

CARPACCIO OF FIGS:
4 ripe, firm figs
200g sago (from supermarket or health food store), boiled for 6 minutes, drained and refreshed under cold, running water.

2 tablespoons coconut cream

Coconut CreamSabayon
30g desiccated coconut, toasted
100ml single (pouring) cream
100ml milk
150ml Strained coconut liquid (heat the milk and cream together to just below the simmer. Add the coconut and infuse for a few hours. Strain the infusion. If there is not enough to make 150ml, top up with cream).

Sabayon
40g caster sugar
2 egg yolks

150g mascarpone.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar over a saucepan of simmering water (called a bain-marie) till thick and creamy. Slowly whisk through the 150ml coconut liquid. Cool.

TO SERVE – Finely slice figs and arrange around a serving platter. Add the coconut cream to 4 tablespoons of cooked sago and 3 tablespoons sabayon. Serve over the top of the figs with mascarpone.

CHOCOLATE, WALNUT & HONEY TART
225g (1½ cups plain flour, sifted.
2 tablespoons icing sugar
150g cold, unsalted butter, chopped
1 egg yolk
icing sugar, for dusting
whipped cream, optional, to serve

FILLING:
150g dark couverture chocolate, chopped (from chocolate section DJs, or chocolate shop. Expensive – but this is a seduction)
150g unsalted butter, chopped
55g (¼ cup) caster sugar
3 eggs
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (this is stronger than vanilla essence. From supermarket. If using essence, double amount)
¼ cup honey (Australian, naturally)
120g walnuts, roasted and finely chopped.

Process flour, icing sugar and butter until mix resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg yolk and 2 tablespoons iced water and process until mixture just comes together. Form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface until 5mm thick. Line a 24cm tart tin with a removable base, then refrigerate for 30 minutes. Line tart shell with baking paper and either rice, dried beans, pasta or baking beads, and bake at 180°C for 15 minutes. Remove paper and weights and bake for a further 5-8minutes until pastry is golden and dry. Cool.
For filling, place chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and cool.
In a separate bowl, place sugar, eggs, vanilla and a pinch of salt (always in sweet dishes) and whisk until well combined. Add honey and stir until well combined, then fold in chocolate mixture until combined. Sprinkle walnuts over base of pastry, then pour chocolate filling over. Bake tart at 180°C for 25 minutes or until filling is set and a skewer comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Dust with icing sugar and serve with whipped cream.
Tart will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Have lots of hot sex – in fact, why not feed each other in bed.

HINTS:
• Keep any leftover eggwhites and use them to make meringues or a pavlova. They must be kept refrigerated, and use within 24 hours.
• People get intimidated by pastry making, but it is really simple. The big secret is to keep everything as cool as possible. Don’t try to work or roll it in a hot kitchen – move somewhere cool. Make sure your roller is well floured, and work on a cool surface. Don’t keep on remoulding it if you make mistakes – this will just make it tough. If you do stuff it up, it is better to start again from scratch. Take your time, and be patient. Keep your rolling surface floured. To place it in the baking tin, either roll the pastry onto your roller, then roll it over the top of the tin, work it in, then trim by rolling your roller firmly over the top of the tin OR fold pastry into four, centre the middle point in the tin, then spread the pastry out, work it in, then trim by rolling over the top of it. Covering the pastry with baking paper and weights and baking is called BLIND BAKING. This gives you a firm base to pour your filling into. Don’t forget – you will get a small amount of shrinkage when you blind bake.
• Remember – fresh made pastry is far superior to any other, and has a wonderful, buttery, melt-in-the-mouth consistency. However, if all else fails, use shortcrust pastry purchased from the supermarket.
• You can purchase pastry weights, marble pastry slabs and metal rolling pins from specialty homewares stores like ‘House’. The metal rolling pins stay cool, and are also quite heavy.

Tim Alderman 2015

  

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