black pepper: 2 posts

Candied Orange Peel (Pierre Herme Recipe) : Star Anise and Vanilla

Candied peel2

The Sugar Plum Fairy bade Marie and Nutcracker sit down while a feast was brought before them: teas, cakes and the rarest of fruits. The food was the feast, first for the eyes, then for the palate… Marie hardly had time to nibble at her sweetmeats before the next diversion was presented: the music abruptly changed to an adagio tempo. Arabian dancers dressed in gauzy veils garnished with gold medallions and jewels swayed hypnotically past… The rich aroma of coffee drifted past.  –from E.T.A Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.

The last days of each year are invariably orange hued for me: an evening spent peeling the stubborn orange peel with orange stained fingers and tossing the curls into the fire; the delicious icy chill of mandarins brought home from an outdoor winter market; the vanilla-orange sweetness of vin d’orange and slender orangettes dipped in chocolate. As I set the ingredients to make candied orange peel, I am once again a little girl watching her grandmother making this confection. To prevent me getting near the boiling sugar syrup, I would be given a large illustrated volume of E.T.A Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. To this day, the scent of oranges conjures visions of fairy kingdoms, groves made of candied fruit and coffee scented dancers.

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Black Pepper and Potato Salad


Black pepper as a fragrance note (Armani Privé Bois d’Encens, Hermès Poivre Samarcande, Lorenzo Villoresi Piper Nigrum, by way of example) has a vibrant character — citrusy, resinous and ever so slightly smoky. It is not the rasping sensation of pepper powder, but the warm woody dryness of a dark glossy berry. When cooking, I often crush the peppercorns just to inhale their aroma. Needless to say, from steak coated in pepper to ripe strawberries dusted with sugar and freshly ground spice, black pepper finds its way into numerous dishes. A Spanish inspired potato salad is a dish that allows me to enjoy the perfume of pepper to the fullest.

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