Find flavour in the flames
Explore endless possibilities of cooking beautiful food with fire
THERE’S so much more to cooking with fire than simply charring a steak over the flames of a barbecue or toasting marshmallows over a campfire.
In Finding Fire, Lennox Hastie, of the acclaimed Sydney restaurant Firedoor, shows how to harness fire to truly enhance the flavour of our food.
Coconut, chocolate, cherry granita
While botanically a coconut is a drupe and not a true nut, coconuts have a rich nutty flavour and creamy texture that is a good substitute for the richness of dairy.
Like the process of slowly cooking a tin of condensed milk and making dulce de leche, the idea was that, buried in the ashes, the coconut flesh would cook down slowly in its own sweet milk.
The result was incredible. The coconut retained all its natural juices but they had combined with the creamy flesh, taking on subtle notes of smoke and caramel, and an intense coconut flavour. We then froze it to make a refreshing sorbet, which needed nothing more than the addition of a little sugar.
For a bit of texture, we made a choc-top, combining highquality chocolate with coconut oil, which sets and hardens to a crisp coating on contact and provides a delicate bitterness to the sweetness of the coconut. A chocolate with notes of dried fruit pairs well with the fresh cherry granita and grilled cherries, making it quite decadent. SERVES: 4 WOOD TYPE: cherry HEAT: medium-intense embers, hot ash, gentle embers ADDITIONAL EQUIPMENT: hacksaw, ice cream machine
2 coconuts (approximately 1.2 kg each)
150g liquid glucose
100g dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa solids, such as Valrhona Macaé 62%)
50g coconut oil
100g ripe, sweet cherries, washed, pitted and halved
FOR THE GRANITA:
75g caster sugar
150 ml filtered water
250g ripe, sweet cherries, washed and pitted
Pinch of sea salt Squeeze of lemon juice
NOTES: The coconut mixture needs time to chill before churning, so begin this recipe at least 8 hours ahead of time. Be sure to use fresh coconuts that are heavy for their size.
Prepare your embers.
Toast the coconuts directly on medium-intense embers until blackened all over, covering the coconuts in 200C hot ashes. Leave to cook for 2 hours, then remove and allow to cool.
Carefully make a hole in the top of each coconut and strain the coconut water into a container. This should yield 400ml of liquid.
With a hacksaw, cut the tops off the coconuts. Scoop out the flesh; you should have approximately 600g. Place the coconut shells in the freezer.
Blend the reserved coconut water with the flesh to form a smooth purée. Pass through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, add the glucose and combine. Refrigerate the mixture for 8 hours. Once the mixture has cooled completely, churn it in an ice cream machine. Transfer to a container and keep in the freezer.
Prepare the granita. Boil the sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved, producing a light syrup. Allow to cool completely. Blend the cherries to a smooth purée, adding the sugar syrup, salt and a squeeze of lemon. Place in a clean, shallow container and freeze for at least 1 hour.
Prepare the chocolate-top liquid. Melt the chocolate in a bowl suspended over a pan of barely simmering water. Remove from the heat and whisk in the coconut oil until emulsified. With a fork, scrape shavings from the cherry granita. Return to the freezer.
Remove the charred coconut shells from the freezer and place a large scoop of coconut sorbet in the middle of each shell. Carefully spoon over the chocolate-top liquid (whisking first to re-emulsify if it has separated). Place in the freezer for 2 minutes to harden.
In a fine-mesh sieve, grill the halved cherries over gentle embers until warm, slightly smoky and the juices are just beginning to release.
Remove the granita from the freezer, scrape again with a fork, and then place the granita around the dome of each coconut choc-top. Surround with warm grilled cherries and serve immediately.
This is an edited extract from
Finding Fire by Lennox Hastie, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $60, and available in stores nationally. Photographer: Nikki To.