I've talked about Kaffir Lime Leaf before - it's a leaf from the Kaffir Lime Tree, used in Thai cooking, it imparts citrus notes. Moghrabieh (or Mograbieh) is offer labelled large couscous but this isn't quite correct - made with semolina and flour, it's closer to being a pasta. The original recipe calls for Israeli Couscous - from research it seems these two are pretty much interchangeable.
When given these two ingredients, 99.99% of the time if you guessed they went into a savoury dish you'd be right but Charlie Trotter performs a bit of magic - the moghrabieh is cooked in a mix of orange juice and water until softened and then combined in rich custard. With the use of gelatine, the grains become suspended in this pillow of cream. Before serving it's ringed with strawberry slices and a drizzle of a most amazing kaffir lime syrup to produce his crowning glory
½ cup Moghrabieh (or Israeli couscous)
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup water
½ cup caster sugar
2 sheets gelatine (I used Titanium grade)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cream
6 tablespoons milk
6 tablespoons sugar syrup
1½ tablespoons lime juice
1 kaffir lime leaf, stem removed and sliced finely
strawberry slices, strawberry cubes for garnish
To make custard:
Place the couscous, orange juice, water and ¼ cup of the sugar into a saucepan and simmer - stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook for at least 30 minutes, it could take up to an hour until the couscous is tender. Add more water if too much liquid has evaporated before the couscous has cooked.
Place cold water into a shallow bowl and add the sheets of gelatine - let this sit until it has softened.
Place the cream, milk and remaining ¼ cup of sugar into a saucepan over a medium heat and stir to combine - cook until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat.
Take the gelatine from the water - squeeze out the excess water and place into the cream mixture - stir until melted before placing in an ice water bath. Continue to stir until chilled then fold this through the couscous mixture. Place this in the ice water bath and continue to cool, stirring occasionally until the mixture is thick enough the suspend the couscous.
Note: to maximise cooling and quicken the setting , place this mixture into a metal bowl - combined with the ice water bath, this optimises the cooling reaction.
Divide this mixture into 6 2½ inch x 1½ inch rings - I placed the rings on a board then lined them with plastic wrap before spooning in the mixture. Then I placed a circle of baking paper over the tops before folding over the overhanging wrap to seal each ring.
Place this in the fridge to set - I left these overnight.
To make the Kaffir Lime Leaf Syrup:
Use a simple syrup made from equal parts of sugar and water.
Place the simple syrup and lime juice into a small saucepan and slowly heat until warmed, about 5 minutes. Pour this into a blender with the shredded lime leaf and blend until the mixture looks speckled by the leaf.
The original recipe calls for oven-dried strawberries. I did do this but, I hate to disagree with Charlie, I preferred fresh strawberries - they seemed more in line with the texture and taste of the dessert and really stood out when combined with the kaffir lime leaf syrup. Charlie also presents the strawberry garnish in the form Parisienne balls - this is one tool I don't have in my kitchen - so I've opted for a small dice instead.
Place the ring in the centre of the plate and unmold. Press slivers of fresh strawberry around the base to form a crown.
Mix a tiny dice of strawberries into the syrup and drizzle this around the crown.
So there you have it - two surprising ingredients in one delicious dessert.
The syrup has to be one the best combinations I've had and I can see it being added to watermelon juice this summer to provide a sweet tang. The custard is soft and creamy, everything you want custard to be and the Moghrabieh are like pearls of texture.
It looks great and it tastes great - what else can you ask for?