As I surveyed my accomplishment I glanced at the dates - wow, these go back to 2000. I know it's not that long ago but it seems like a lifetime and 2000 was a year that had so much emphasis placed upon it. As I slipped the January 2000 Australian Gourmet Traveller from its spot and started flicking through the pages, it started to dawn on me how all these recipes and all these dishes at one point were cutting edge and things we aspired to make and yet, I don't think I've opened this magazine since I first got it. It seems a shame that they sit there unloved.
So I've resolved to go back in time and cook the food of 2000 - I'll be flicking through the magazines coinciding to the correct month and choosing things that attract my eye.
The first dish I've made is from Liam Tomlin who was at the time the much lauded chef of Banc Restaurant in Sydney. A lot has happened to both the chef and the restaurant (you can read more about it here) but this dish spoke to me, first through its name and secondly, the clean flavours and presentation.
Minestrone of Fresh Fruits, does make you stop and think please don't be something too wacky but when you see it, the name makes sense. It is a dolled up fruit salad but I like the care behind it.
In the original recipe, a strawberry consomme is made from a mix of strawberries, raspberries and sugar that is slowly heated to extract the natural juices from the fruit. It's then put through muslin to obtain a clear red "broth". Final touch is to add sparkling wine and then pour it around the fruit.
I've taken a different approach - I've pureed watermelon and then strained it through muslin, making sure it drains naturally so no solids pass through. This gives me that lovely clear red broth found in the original. I then add a touch of vanilla vodka for a bit of body and warmth.
Minestrone of Summer Fruits
Vanilla Vodka, optional
Selection of Summer Fruits:
Prepare the Watermelon stock:
It's important to make this first and have it as chilled as possible.
Cut the watermelon into pieces, place in a blender and blend until smooth. Line a fine sieve with muslin and place over a bowl. Pour in the blended watermelon and allow to drain naturally. Don't be tempted to push the liquid through or you will cloud your stock.
Once it's drained, place it in the fridge to cool.
Prepare the fruit:
This is the time consuming part but once the fruit is prepped place it in the fridge until you are ready to serve. If you're using citrus, I've used Clementines, make sure you segment them to remove the pith and the outer skin so all you're left with is the pure fruit.
Either use shallow bowls or deep lipped plates and place them in the fridge to cool before using.
Arrange the prepared fruit around the plate. Remove the watermelon stock from the fridge - add a little Vanilla vodka to taste and then carefully pour it around and over the fruit.
I finished the dish off with a fruit that probably wouldn't have been used in 2000 - fingerlimes. I scrapped out the flesh and then sprinkled those pink pods over the fruit and broth. It adds a lovely cleansing burst of flavour to the dish.