Being wholly and completely original in cooking is a rare thing. The foundations of good, tried-and-true flavour combinations are so well-laid it often takes silly measures like making cubic watermelons or beet-root sorbet to truly surprise and shock people.
Personally, my cooking ‘innovations’ tend to be inspired and based upon the ideas of others (I always try to give credit where credit is due!). I mix things up with my own ideas in order to create a brand new little baby/mutant dish that can go on to grow up and become a moody teenager like all my others. This is the story of one of those little dish podlings.
This week I bought a big ol’ basket of nectarines that were half-price at Sainsbury’s. I had been reading about Cook Sister!’s proscuitto-wrapped baked nectarines, and I thought oooohhhhh…cooked fruit. Then, I read about Molly Wizenberg’s drool-a-licious lemon basil syrup. Yum, I thought. I’m going to try that.
But at this point, the ideas remained exclusive of one another in my head. Nectarines. Cooked fruit. Syrup. I have so many Homer Simpson-like moments of “oooh, chocolate donuts” or “ooooh…<insert delicious food name here>…” per day, if I put them all together I’d end up creating some kind of bipolar dish involving everything in the world I think is delicious (a little bit like the ground-beef trifle a la Friends).
It wasn’t until I headed home slightly bruised from a vicious day battling it out in the city, and I stopped to buy some Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla that my inspiration hit me: Poached Nectarines in Lemon-Basil Syrup. It’s not new at all in terms of true culinary innovation, but it’s new enough for me: it tasted delicious and it was all I could ask for after a hard day when I just needed something to keep me going until Friday. I was too lazy to peel the nectarines the first time round, but if I had to do it all again, I might. Then again, I’d probably be too lazy a second time.
Poached Nectarines in Lemon-Basil Syrup
4-5 nectarines, de-stoned and quartered
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
The juice of 1 lemon
1 big hunk o’ lemon rind
1 big handful fresh basil
In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water and lemon rind. Stir on medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is just beginning to bubble. Add the lemon juice and nectarines. Wait until the mixture has thickened to your liking, then add the nectarines, stirring until soft and gooey.
I spooned the still-warm mixture over vanilla ice cream, and then I died happy.