September 7, 2009

Oh, I say, these entrails are offally good...

I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later – one of those days where The Team wasn't quite hitting their mark, when things were going a little awry…
Perhaps it had something to do with our latest project. You see, thanks to a charming and friendly gentleman and his extraordinarily generous family, we've acquired a little space and the opportunity to start growing our own produce. We'd therefore spent a significant part of our day before Sunday baking in the throes of manual labour, which when combined with a sudden bout of minor insomnia, made for a sore and sleepy Miss Emily and a similarly spent Miss Rose.

Preparing the garden of earthly delights
We had some tasty treats and a new dessert creation in store, so were becoming increasingly frustrated by various items that refused to conform to the usual ease and simplicity of operation in kitchen TPB. Things didn't seem off to a good start and for once, we were not feeling the love.
Enter Miss Rose and her innate ability to rescue any downwardly spiralling situation with her unique sense of hilarity and insanity. Naturally, when your feeling a little low, the most obvious solution is to stick the stomach tissue of a ruminant on your head, that's just plain common sense…

The versatility of tripe – pretty, delicious, and keeps the water out!
And so this brings me to the first item on our menu for the day – tripe. Not to say we regressed to being touted worthless, rubbish and offensive (hush now!), but rather that Miss Rose had somewhat of a peculiar craving, and so stomach was prepared, Italian style.

Slow cooked with celery and carrot in a verjuice-laden tomato sauce finished with muscatels (200g individually and meticulous de-stemmed, might I add) and toasted pine nuts, and served with parmigiano-reggiano and fresh parsley. With such loving preparation, even I'm prepared to acknowledge that stomach lining can be pretty delicious.

Slow cooked ox tripe with wine
Offal always seems to give the impression of dirty, so we figured a suitable 'other bits' companion would be found in the form of sticky balsamic ribs. Marinated, slow roasted and then smothered in a glistening glaze of balsamic and brown sugar, these were gloriously messy, and devoured with the grace and finesse of individuals not bound by the conventions of social etiquette.

Sticky balsamic ribs
For dessert we selected two items, which between them, utilised just about every dairy product available. First up was a lime cheesecake with ginger nut crust, and despite a few early hiccups involving vessel selection, we eventually settled on the conventional and presented this most excellent combination of deliciousness.

Lime cheesecake with ginger nut crust
Our final number was a unique Team Pretty Bake creation combining Miss Rose's talents for ingredient selection with Miss Emily's skills in construction and execution. I give you – lemon yoghurt panna cotta with leatherwood honey praline and crystallised violets.

Leatherwood honey praline and crystallised violets

Lemon panna cotta with leatherwood honey praline and sugared violets
Certainly a more elegant and refined end to the day than what was seen at the beginning, this was an absolutely glorious amalgamation of flavours that were both luscious and refreshing, and which had a gorgeous crunch and heavenly aesthetic (although my apologies for the formulaic praline shard, it won't happen again).
All in all we were quite happy with tripe weekend, and are childishly excited about plans afoot for our little planting patch. There is still much work to be done, but we hope to be sharing the fruits of our labours with you soon (pun fully intended). In the meantime, stay tuned for a little competitive baking which will be taking place very soon…

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