I was away in Auckland for work over the weekend, but very happily, I got to fit a night at home with the family in around it. During my 18-hour stint at home I somehow managed to catch up with huge amounts of family, both extended and immediate. Well, the family minus one cat (Rupert, who died in May). Roger, the remaining feline, seemed to enjoy the extra attention but didn't go so far as to actually sit on my lap for an extended time period or sleep on my bed that night.
While packing up on Sunday in my Auckland motel to head to the airport, I bent down to check if I'd left anything under the bed (I always do this, even if I hardly bring anything with me - I once found twenty cents!) and on the way down my right temple connected hard and swift with the wooden back of a desk chair. It hurt so bad, and I wailed really loudly. And then kind of laughed at the fact that there was no-one to hear me saying "owwww", which...actually sounds fairly sinister now on paper. Anyway, if this blog is completely non-inspiring to read, blame it on my sore, impacted head.
The new Cuisine magazine arrived in our mailbox the day before I left to go up to Auckland, giving me just enough time to read it, but not enough time to cook any of its content. I did daydream about one particular recipe while away, which I then made pretty well immediately after returning home to Wellington. Rote Grutz, or its supercool translation Red Grits (I find it hard not to spell it Gritz) is a German recipe that Ray McVinnie, one of my very, very favourite local food writers, discovered while researching food in Berlin. I'm not even going to pretend to *cough* when I say: "Luckyyyy".
It doesn't look like there's much to this recipe, and it's true, but the ingredients come together to form something that's a gorgeous merging of jam and custard. The 'grits' part of the name come from the berries' seeds, at least that's my guess. They're certainly gritty. The cornflour and juice cooks together and becomes satiny and light (apart from that one lump of unstirred cornflour stirring in my glass), stunningly red, not too sweet. In fact, the sour-sugary aspect makes it compelling eating. I even sneaked back to the fridge in a bit of a trance while it was cooling to eat some more spoonfuls, then accidentally dropped a steak right into the bowl of berries. Luckily the steak was wrapped and on a tray and I removed it fast.
I didn't have the exact ingredients that Ray McVinnie specified, but I'd like to think what I had worked just as well. There's something nice about the red-on-red of the juices but I'm sure you could use orange or apple juice if that's what's most accessible to you.
Rote Grutze/Red Grits
From the June/July 2011 issue of Cuisine magazine.
250mls cranberry juice
800g frozen raspberries
50g cornflour mixed with 4 tablespoons water
Or, my appropriation based on what was in the fridge and the amount of people it was feeding:
125ml (1/2 cup) strawberry juice (I know! I bought it at the food show, the brand is NJoy but I can't find anything about them online. Anyway, this seemed like a practical use for it.)
400g frozen cranberries and blackberries
25g cornflour mixed with 2 tablespoons water
Bring the sugar and juice to a boil in a saucepan. Add the berries, bring to the boil again and carefully stir in the cornflour mixture, stirring really well so you don't end up with lumps of cornflour. Remove from the heat, cool, then pour into glasses. Out of mine I got enough for the two glasses you saw plus a couple of tablespoons left over to be saved for making future breakfasts more exciting.
The Red Grits are pretty to look at, dark as garnets and just as light-catching. While they'd taste gorgeous with a cascade of fresh cream plunging into their red depths, they were satisfactorily delicious as is. As well as served in glasses, I imagine these saucy berries could be spooned over ice cream, tucked under a crumble topping, or used to fill a pie shell.
And extremely easy to make. Tim and I never actually saw these on a menu in Berlin, but it does feel nice to be eating something Germanic, so that our holiday doesn't feel quite so far away in the past.
Last week I had the extremely cool opportunity to go to the launch of Visa Wellington on a Plate. Which I'm really excited about. Particularly the set menus which allows me to briefly feel like a Lady Who Lunches. At last year's launch I met Mika of Millie Mirepoix for the first time, and also the magnificent Ray McVinnie himself. He wasn't there this year, but I re-met Delaney of Heartbreak Pie and Rosa of Mrs Cake, and met for the first time Joanna from Wellingtonista, etc. We ploughed through beautiful nibbles, ended up at Cuckoo round the corner for wine (I will pay you back Delaney and Rosa) and then Tim appeared and he and I ended up having a wild dinner at Foxglove with Jo and her friend Heather. It all happened really spontaneously which is a word that I don't usually use to describe activities that I participate in. It was so fun, and several bonus points to the staff at Foxglove who dealt with our increasing raucousness. But as well as making real-life friends of people that also seem cool online, Wellington on a Plate has plenty to offer people who just want to eat stuff: check em out.
Title via: Linda Clifford, Red Light, from the Fame soundtrack. I love this song so much. It's also an amazing moment in the film itself - obviously Leroy is a total babe and it's supposed to be humourous but I always felt so sad for Shirley Mulholland. When she says "who wants to go to a...school and learn to dance anyway" a bit of my heart chips off (this is why I can't watch this film too often) because I know how she feels.
Arctic Monkeys, Don't Sit Down Because I've Moved Your Chair. Some of the music I was really wild about six years ago really hasn't aged too well, or successive output has downright deteriorated. So it's nice to see the Arctic Monkeys continuing to be awesome.
Patrick Wolf, The Magic Position. I had a bad headache today from the aforementioned head-hitting moment and so was feeling a bit grim. This song came on my ipod and, with its carousel-ride sound and Bolero-baiting violins, it was about halfway through before I realised I was happily swaying my head side to side like Stevie Wonder.
Next time: I've been tutu-ing with the idea of making a Facebook page for this blog. On the one hand...it might be a good way for people to latch ever further onto this blog. A lot of people like Facebook. On the other hand, I don't really like Facebook (it's true! You have to scrape me away from Twitter with a silicon spatula but I can't spend more than a minute on Facebook) and I wouldn't know what to say on there, and research would suggest that you actually have to have an engaging Facebook page to keep people around. On a further, auxiliary hand, what if I built a Facebook page and nobody turned up? Any thoughts'd be appreciated.