Here’s a fab dessert recipe from Matt McConnell’s new book Eat at the Bar (Hardie Grant Books). The book shares 55 recipes inspired by local farmers, providores, fishmongers and suppliers, which are underpinned by the flavors Melbourne author Matt McConnell continues to cook with today. The recipe line-up is drawn from 10 years of Matt’s respected repertoire of tapas and raciones at his Melbourne bar and restaurant The Bar Lourinha Project. Extensive travels through some of the great culinary centres of the world have given him all the inspiration he needs!
We ate heaps of pomegranates in Samos and saw them all over the place in Spain and Portugal. We love the combination of pomegranate and pistachio – they’re pretty much best buddies. We did a lot of different desserts in Samos playing around with these two ingredients. When pomegranates are in season, you’ll always see them on our menu.
pomegranate seeds, to serve
75 g (2¾ oz/½ cup) pistachio nuts, roasted
345 g (12 oz/1½ cups) caster (superfine) sugar
1 litre (34 fl oz/4 cups) thickened cream
115 g (4 oz/½ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
¼ vanilla pod, split and scraped
3 gelatine leaves, soaked
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
6 tablespoons Sugar Syrup (see right)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
To make the pistachio praline, place the pistachios on a baking tray lined with baking paper and set aside.
Put the sugar in a small, heavy-based saucepan and add enough water to cover the sugar. Stir gently, then place over a high heat. Cook until the sugar begins to change colour, trying not to stir or allow the sugar to crystallise. Once you have an even, dark caramel, carefully pour the mixture over the pistachios. Leave to cool completely before roughly chopping with a knife.
For the crema, combine the cream, sugar and vanilla in a heavy-based saucepan set over a low heat. Heat gently, to no more than 50°C (122°F), and stir occasionally to help the sugar dissolve. Remove from the heat and allow to steep for 5 minutes, then squeeze any excess water from the gelatine leaves and stir them into the mixture with the pomegranate molasses. Stir well, then pass the crema through a fine-mesh sieve and pour into serving bowls. Allow to cool and set in the fridge before serving.
While the crema sets, make the lemon syrup. Combine the sugar syrup and lemon juice in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.
To serve, sprinkle a generous amount of the chopped praline, lemon syrup and pomegranate seeds on top of the crema.
Prepare a sugar syrup by combing equal parts caster (superfine) sugar and boiling water. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.