Constant testing…that is the key.
We are on day three of testing Gizzi Erskine’s Skinny Weeks and Weekend Feasts.
I need new trousers.
The fridge (which is now working again – but possibly only temporarily) is creaking at the gunwhales.
We are feasting like kings.
The Malaysian Beef Rendang was very nice. We liked it. We would happily eat it again. Next time I would make the effort to deprive a cow of its shins to see what it would taste like in the original.
The gypsy tart was a massive success, despite the fact that my baking beans didn’t weigh my pastry down enough, so I got hillocks. I do not know if this is a technical term, but there were definitely hillocks in my pie dish. I thought the pastry was a tad thick. Everyone else liked it like that. They like pastry.
I did not get a soggy bottom.
Paul Hollywood would approve.
Like I care.
Except you know I do…
Last night I made the batter/mix for crumpets for breakfast. I am not usually this organised, but it said you had to rest it for at least an hour, preferably overnight.
It was a doddle to make. Truly easy.
Sadly, achieving crumpet perfection when it came to cooking them this morning, was another matter.
It seems that cooking perfect crumpets is rather like plastering. You think it’s going to be so easy because there are very few things to remember. You say to yourself: ‘What could possibly go wrong?’
Half an hour later, there are lumps of plaster everywhere except on the wall, and you are showing yourself up to the entire neighbourhood by indulging in a major tantrum and hurling things at the wall.
All I had to do viz: the crumpets, was pop them in the crumpet rings and cook them for about five minutes. I did not have any crumpet rings. I did not know crumpet rings existed, but I did have taller rings which I wanted to make some kind of layered potato thing with once, and never quite got round to.
After twenty minutes of coaxing batter as viscous as Calpol mixed with baby snot into the rings, I threw them in the sink, along with a lot of batter, which, by then, had adhered to everything, including the cat.
We had crumpet blobs instead. Gizzi says that the technical terms for unreconstructed crumpets is pikelets. I think she is being kind.
They were alright. We all agreed they tasted rather too yeasty, and really, at 65p for eight from the supermarket, it wasn’t worth the anguish.
If only plasterers were so cheap.
We made up for the disappointment by testing the ricotta pancakes with sour cherries. Gizzi says stick the sour cherries in the batter. I say no, because I’m the only one who likes them. We had the batter unadorned, and I put cherries on top of mine. The pancakes were easy to prepare, easy to make, and tasted lovely.
We had a break at lunch time and drove to my friend Hairy Farmer’s house. We took ginger and pear cake, topped with orange cream cheese frosting with us as a gift.
The pear bit was always going to be complicated. The recipe called for eight dried pears. I could not find eight dried pears for love nor money, and I wasn’t about to dry any. Especially as you then had to reconstitute the dried pears by soaking them in pear liqueur (which I didn’t have either). I had ordinary pears, and I reckoned four regular pears would probably equal eight dry ones.
I wasn’t confident though. Pears are a bit of a nightmare frankly. They’re either rock solid and appear to have no moisture in them whatsoever, or so juicy you only have to look at them to be bathing in pear juice. It is very difficult to judge what state they’re in at any given time.
They are a mysterious fruit.
After trying to turn out the cake to find that my pears had all sunk to the bottom and the cake, although cooked was moist to the point of falling to bits, I would say three is probably a better bet.
It was a damned good cake though, despite the soggy bottom.
Paul is now frowning at me.
This evening we trialled something called Pork Bun Xao. I was sad to find that there were no buns involved, but I raised myself up and soldiered on.
It is a hot and cold salad with thin medallions of pork which you marinade in a Vietnamese style paste, and the fry off. You serve it with noodles, peanuts, various items of salad, and a lethal dipping sauce, which makes your nose run.
I loved this.
The children weren’t keen. Jason’s face blew off because of the dipping sauce, but other than that he rather liked it too.
Tomorrow, if his face comes back, and our stomachs are still in full working order, we shall try Nyonya chicken, which is another Malaysian curry.
Every time I say Nyonya I think of the Muppets and sing Mah Mah ma ma Mah.
It has no muppets in it. Although it does have six boiled eggs in, which I may well leave out. I know boiled eggs in curry is a very Malaysian thing, but it is not my favourite, and six is a hell of a lot of curried eggs to throw away and if I eat them all I will be a) actually as full as an egg b) egg bound and c) hell to live with.