Don't you love a sure thing?
I'm not referring to "Sure Thing" as in the 1980's definition of the term implying someone who can be counted on to deliver sex on a date. Don't get me wrong...if I recall correctly those kind of sure things could be nice too and they certainly have their place in our lives. Or did. Ahem. Rather, I'm talking about those times in life when you just need a winning particular outcome and you know just the item in your arsenal guaranteed to deliver?
My college chum Stewart collects sure things. He would be the first to admit that he doesn't have any well rounded, in-depth knowledge of any one thing but he has managed to find ways of accessing or mastering a sure thing in all sorts of various categories where a sure thing might someday be necessary.
He has the sure thing shirt, the sure thing date itinerary, the sure thing book choice, and even the sure thing Dinner menu dish for entertaining (which he got from yours truly!). The rest of his wardrobe, library, and culinary repetoir was definitely not impressive or expansive and left little to be desired. This is what can happen if you focus too much on developing sure things if you are not careful.
In college Stewart could always count on receiving all manner of attention with his impassioned and perfect vocal delivery of Billy Joel's "She's Always a Woman". It was a masterful to be sure but he worked on it with his sister, a voice coach, for several years to get it just perfect and to get it perfect he never studied any other song. He would win every Karaoke competition he entered with it and would easily turn any date he happened to be singing it to into a Sure Thing as long as he was not called back to sing anything else because, well, he couldn't sing anything else. He could only sing that one song and it always worked. He didn't want to be a singer. Just have a song that would always 'work'.
I reconnected with Stewart when his sister recently got married and I was invited to her engagement party. The party night was filled with great music and much dancing. Given her profession you can imagine how talented her group of friends and associates were. As the party wound down and Stewart's sister had sang a song to her fiance, some of her friends and former favored students asked to get up one by one and serenade the happy couple with a song of their own in tribute.
Finally, Stewart took his turn amid some knowing laughter. We knew what he would sing and he knew we would love it. Everyone always did. It would be as if when he decided to learn it those many years ago it he knew how entirely appropriate it would be for just this kind of moment between them.
This time however he surprised us all by taking a seat himself at the piano, winking to the audience, and then proceed to not only sing the song but playing his way through the entire piece as if he were The Piano Man himself.
No one could believe it! Stewart couldn't play piano! His fiancee DID know how, however, and it turns out that she had coached him through the entire piece during the entire three years that they were together! Nobody had heard it until that night. And it was perfect. A sure thing.
Unknowing friends called out for an encore when he was done (the first such call of the night) but most in the audience knew it was a futile request. He wouldn't be playing or singing anything else. He couldn't.
If you don't have the culinary equivalent of Stewart's various sure things you really should start collecting some. Even the most accomplished cook needs a few showstoppers to rely on. My culinary sure things tend to be focused on a particular audience I might be called on to 'target'.
The sure thing you see here is frequently called on to cap off a meal prepared for the Persian side of my family. Tossing saffron into anything intended for Persians is as much of a sure thing as there is in life. Saffron is very delicious and very expensive so the act of using it itself shows your guests how much you value them.
Its flavor here is just sublime in this quick and easy ice cream recipe I picked up from David Lebovitz' blog a couple of years ago. If you are not familiar with saffron don't be intimidated with it here. This is a great reason to buy some and discover its mysterious pleasures. Here it is simply delicious combined with tropical coconut flavor and palm sugar. It yields an unexpectedly perfect end to the evening meal. Much like my friend Stewart's song did.
Perfect this for yourselves, but keep it in your recipe box for those times when you are called onto entertain your Persian friends. Its a sure thing.
What are your sure things?
Saffron Coconut Ice Cream Adapted from David Lebovitz
- 1 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 4 ounces palm sugar, or 1/2 cup white or unrefined cane sugar or 1/4 cup white sugar – 1/3 cup brown sugar combo.
- scant 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
2. Remove pan from heat, and transfer mixture to covered, airtight container and chill the mixture thoroughly. 4 hours or overnight.
3. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.