These brûlées look really pretty topped with black and white sesame seeds, and the sesame flavour is delicious. You can buy both toasted and untoasted black sesame seeds, so if yours are already toasted, just toast all the white seeds together in the oven and take one tablespoon from those to add to the black for the topping, rather than setting it aside pre-toasting.
Recipe Category: Issue 187
Finally, you can burn your desserts without judgment! The recipes that follow are based on classic techniques that involve fire, smoke or high heat. The nectarine dish is smoky, fruity, with just a hint of sweetness, while the barbecued bananas are super-easy and tasty, as well as being vegan and dairy-free.
The sesame brûlée is inspired by sesame ice cream, which I’m a big fan of, and the baked Alaska slice is a simplified version of the retro favourite. Finally, no fiery dessert feature would be complete without a bit of flambé, which is where the buckwheat crêpes Suzette come in. Enjoy!
Smoked fruit should be delicate, so I smoke these nectarines for 10 minutes only and really try to manage the heat, which I find easier over my gas hob. But this means you need to close the foil tightly to avoid a smoke-smelly house. Activated charcoal is very on trend right now, having made its way into ice cream, lattes, cocktails and even burger buns.
It imparts a subtle smoky flavour and a striking black hue to food to which it’s added, and I love the way the black wafers contrast with the white mousse in this recipe. You can get activated charcoal from pharmacies and health or wholefood stores.
Helen and Richard Dorresteyn of Clevedon Buffalo were the first people to farm buffalo in New Zealand and are famous for their Italian-style cheeses and yoghurt. This new-to-the-market cheese is a beautifully creamy number, meltingly soft and marinated in olive oil, thyme and roasted garlic. It’s easily spreadable and has a light, tangy flavour.
It’s such a brilliant product that I am loathe to play around with it, instead keeping the preparations simple to allow the flavour to shine through – although it (and some of that delicious oil) does go well tossed through a tangle of spaghetti with some chilli flakes and a few herbs, or dolloped onto an Italianstyle frittata with seasonal vegetables.
This is also good as finger food – put a small slice of salmon and carrot pickle in each baby gem leaf, then top with a small dollop of the dill sour cream dressing.
I often find cooked salmon too rich, preferring to eat it raw or barely cooked, but I enjoy it most when it’s been lightly cured as in this classic gravlax. You can of course play around with the flavourings – whisky and orange zest in place of gin and dill, add extra spices like coriander or juniper, or grated raw beetroot to the mix to give the outer flesh a ruby glow.