About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Saturday, February 18, 2006
Peel Me A Grape
Feeling a bit peckish. It was Friday after work and I was with M. at the supermarket. We were going to make pizza from scratch, dough and all. With the rising time stretching out dinner time, felt like a beer and something, but what? Poato crisps weren't going to do it for me, though M. had no such problem, she loves Twisties, her only difficulty lay in choosing between cheese or chicken flavour. Corn chips perhaps, no too heavy. Nuts, that was it!

Raced to the nut section and perused the choices. Macadamia... cashews... almonds... peanuts, oh, that's what I want, pistachios. Perfect.

I've been in love with pistachois ever since I discovered a tin of them from Iran. That was way back in the days before any of the present troubles erupted. The tin was highly decorated in Arabesque designs and was air tight. What was inside was like manna from heaven, the most perfect nuts roasted to a pale gold, perfectly brined, not too salty and the most exquisite pistachio flavour you could imagine, light and crisp. I'm almost crying remembering how good they were.

Then the troubles started and I have never seen a tin of them since. I keep a weather eye out for them and in the mean time satisfy myself with lesser quality nuts. It is a nut that has always spoken of the mysteries of the Middle East.

Baklava is a Middle Eastern pastry that is justly famous around the world. It is made with filo pastry, scented sugar syrup and nuts, the best and the most expensive, are made with pistachios. If you can't see vivid emerald green pieces of nut, you have bought something nice, but something that could be better.

We arrive home and set to make the pizza dough. I use bread making flour that the supermarket sells for bread making machines. Read the instructions on the side panel that say when making by hand, you need to use less water, exactly 0.62 of the original quantity. My head was hurting! Fortunately, further down the panel they had a set amount already worked out, too easy. Other instructions point out that making dough by hand is very hard work, but at the end of the working week, it's a great way to rid oneself of some stress. M. must have been a little stressed too, for she pitched right in.

We chatted about the dough as we punched and kneaded it, I told her to much amazement that the dough would become twice as big, so after the dough was made and resting in a covered bowl, she raced to the kitchen every five minutes to check its progress. While the dough was proving I opened a beer and sat down with my pistachios.

All parents like to give their kids a taste of new things and I'm no exception. Popped open a pistachio shell and handed the nut meat to M, who cautiously put the nut in her mouth. After an exploratory suck, she handed the nut back to me and asked me to skin it. Absentmindedly I scraped the skin off revealing the vivid green nut and handed it back to her. Putting the nut back in her mouth, she ate it with relish.

"Dad, can I have some more?"

Looking at the full bag of pistachios, I realized what I had just done.
  posted at 11:14 am

At 4:53 pm, Blogger neil said...

I'm kind of hoping someone can tell me where to get Iranian pistachios in the tin, if you know, I would be more than pleased to find out.


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