Monday, February 05, 2007
Ice-Cream Sunday 6: Triple Chocolate Semifreddo
This delightful triple-chocolate semifreddo served as a birthday cake for my cousin Catherine's birthday dinner tonight. The last time I cooked dinner for my relatives, Catherine was flicking through Falling Cloudberries, and I suggested she bookmark the recipes that looked good so that I could make them for her sometime.
Chickpea, feta & coriander salad
Calamari with butter, lemon & garlic
Lemon & oregano chicken
Ciabatta rolls (Convent bakery)
Triple Chocolate Semifreddo (Donna Hay's Modern Classics)
Obviously the dessert wasn't chosen by Catherine - she'd chosen loukmades - but the forecast was 38C and sunny. Definitely not the weather for deep-fried balls of sweet and yeasty goodness. Next time, next time.
I made the semifreddo a couple of days in advance (see below for description of the process), soaked the chickpeas the night before, and made the rest of the dishes on the day.
For the chickpea salad, you start by soaking and cooking some chickpeas. Tessa says that tinned ones work fine, but I had a couple of bags sitting around. Next, you cook a red onion with garlic and red chillies in olive oil and leave it to cool. Once everything is cooked and cooled, you mix the drained chickpeas with the onion mixture, lemon juice, crumbled feta, spring onions, coriander and parsley. It sits happily in the fridge until you need it.
The chicken needs to be fried in butter and oil until browned, and then grilled under a high heat with some water, lemon juice and oregano. This crisps up the skin, cooks the chicken through, and makes a little sauce.
The calamari, simply, is chargrilled on a super-high heat, and doused in a sauce of butter, lemon juice, and garlic. (You're supposed to use parsley, but I used it all in the salad. Whoops.)
I didn't dress the green salad, or offer butter with the bread. Left plain and simple, they were the perfect foil for the rich dishes, mopping up the buttery juices.
I think the chickpea salad was the most popular of all the dishes, although my dad loved the chicken. I was really impressed by the freshness of the calamari - I'd bought it a few weeks ago at Box Hill when it looked too good to pass up, but stashed it in the freezer, knowing I wouldn't cook it immediately. It was soft and flavourful, without a hint of rubberiness. Phew!
We were absolutely stuffed after the meal, so the grown-ups got up to do the washing, whilst my cousin, a friend and I went on an appetite-building walk.
Here's the semifreddo. It was a bit tough to slice, especially on a pretty white plate, so I transferred it to a heavy-duty wooden board, dipped my largest roasting knife in hot water and got slicing. It was very, very rich and chocolatey, and as it melted, the texture became more moussily soft, and the chocolate flavour became more pronounced. Lovely!
Happy Birthday Catherine!!
Making a Semifreddo
This triple-chocolate semifreddo recipe comes from Donna Hay's Modern Classics, which I received as a gift for my 21st birthday. I have to admit that I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Donna Hay's work. On one hand, her pictures look so fake! They are pretty, but look so stylised and so far removed from anything you'd would serve at home, that they don't look particularly edible. On the other hand, her books and magazines are a useful resource of dozens of basic recipes, and her recipes can be pretty fabulous. Her melt-and-mix white chocolate mud cake with white chocolate frosting is divine! I used it as the birthday cake for my 20th birthday, and 5 years ago, for my mother's... umm... birthday.
I don't normally look through my Donna Hay books, but I recently loaned Modern Classics 1 & 2 to a friend who's living out of home at the moment. Before parting with these cookbooks, I had a read through them, and, looking beyond the artistically arranged picture that I knew I'd never be able to replicate, was tempted by the semifreddo recipe.
A semifreddo is a bit different from an ice-cream. If homemade ice-cream is a churned and frozen custard, then semifreddo is an unchurned, frozen mousse. You start by whisking eggs, egg yolks and sugar with an electric hand held mixer in a double boiler until thick and pale, then take it off the heat and continue beating until the mixture room temperature. However, once it came time to remove it from the heat, my 20-year old Chefette mixer (and more importantly, my 22-year old arms!) were feeling the strain, so I put the mixture into my KitchenAid mixer, and let it whisk.
Once the mixture is cool, you fold through melted dark chocolate, followed by whipped cream, and a mixture of white and milk chocolate chips.
Then it's simply a matter of putting it in a gladwrap lined tin, covering it well, and freezing it until solid. There was a bit too much mixture to fit in my tin, so I shared the remainder with my parents as a "triple chocolate mousse". It was good. In fact, I'm not sure I don't prefer this semifreddo in its unfrozen, mousse-like state.
On the night I served it, I unmoulded it onto a plate, drizzled melted white and dark chocolate over it in a decorative fashion, and tumbled fresh strawberries on top.