Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Spider bite? Ice packs and a Blackberry Parfait please!

This past Sunday evening marked the first time I experienced a spider sinking its fangs and releasing venom into me. It hurt tremendously at the moment of my foot being bitten. Oh why oh why did I forsake socks that day! My yelp of pain woke up Dirac the Cat who was napping on the pergola roof under which I was sitting. First his ambling steps could be heard. Then his face peeked down over the edge. He was reassured that if I died, The Calm One would feed him. Then the real fun began. The swelling intensified so that within an hour my foot resembled a blooming flower, huge, floppy, pink, but not pretty like its nearby counterparts. Blackberries got picked shortly after the incident when I was under the misconception that the perpetrator of my injury was a wasp. They remained in the fridge while I researched insect bites. Frequent ice packs and rest lessened the pain and puffiness within two days. When noticing today the sleek, shining berries, I mused a parfait could take the focus off the woeful condition of my flipper-like appendage. And if one parfait didn't do the trick, then a second might.

Topped with vanilla ice cream

To fill a 250 ml/8 fluid ounce glass, take several large handfuls of blackberries, put them in a fine-mesh sieve, and rinse. Reserve ten of the plumpest and most ripe of the berries (more if they are on the smallish side).

Our thornless bush so far has given us around 3 litres of jumbo berries!

Place the sieve over a bowl and squash the berries with your hands (ensure they are clean, including their nails!). Finish the extraction with a fork, remembering to use an utensil other than the mashing fork when scraping the outside of the strainer to prevent getting seeds into the sieved coulis.

Add powdered sugar to taste, whisk till smooth, and set aside. Mine was fairly sweet to offset the unsweetened whipped cream.

Combine one heaping tablespoon of crème fraîche with six tablespoons heavy cream in a tall container. Slosh some vanilla extract (1/4 to 1/2 tsp) and whip with an electric stick-mixer's balloon whisk until soft peaks form.

Start with a layer of whipped cream and follow with a half of the berries. Douse with several tablespoons of the coulis. Repeat with some more whipped cream, ending with the rest of the fruit and coulis. Top with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream and a spearmint sprig. Any surplus coulis can be frozen or served on the side with the parfait.

The delicate tops of our potted spearmint are kept available for garnishing in a small vase (originally a vanilla extract bottle) of water.

Such a garnish delights the eye while its glacial fragrance gives the nose a whiff of the refreshing treat to follow. The dollop of ice cream furthers this sensual preparation for the heady burst of flavour from the juicy berries, syrupy coulis, and airy, slightly sour whipped cream.

Happy to say, I was a completely compliant patient.

This is the patio chair which concealed the spider! It and three others are now thoroughly clean and spider-free.

À la prochaine!

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