Monday, October 22, 2012

Working to Plan

So far so good.  Yesterday made loads of tiny choux buns, all baked perfectly even though I'd beaten some grated Parmesan cheese into the mixture (hadn't done this before).  These are now in the freezer and will be given a quick burst in a hot oven to crisp them up before a creamy cheese and chive filling is piped inside (to be done on 'the day').
Also made some cheese straws.  We'd come to the end of a jar of Marmite, but managed to scrape enough out to spread very thinly onto rolled out shortcrust, sprinkled more Parmesan on top, plus a grinding of sea salt and black pepper (just wanted to give them a bit more flavour), then folded the pastry over, rolled it out thinly and cut into strip.  Twisted these then baked them off in a hot oven.

I've found with things like that (pastry etc), to avoid them getting too brown, turn the oven off just before they are done, then leave the door wedged open slightly (tucking a folded tea towel into the door at the top (as it drops down this is easier than a door with a hinge on the side), and turning off the heat.  The residual heat in the oven continues to dry the pastry so it ends up crisp and golden, but not in any way burnt.

There were a few bits of pastry trimmings that I baked at the same time, so was able to eat these to see if the job was well done.  And it was.

Our daughter visited us yesterday, and - bless her - she is going to make the Florentines (for the dessert tray) for me, as well as the Millionaire's Slices (already doing these) so that has taken a bit of the load from my shoulders.  As she is going to the 'do' herself, she will take them with her.

Today I will be making the Macaroons, also cooking the gammon, also baking some bread as we are running out, at the same time baking mini loaves for me to slice and use for some bases (for these the bread needs to be slightly 'stale', as it slices more evenly and also dries out in the oven well  if I wish to do this.  Think today the bread will be granary (being the moistest of the lot), and tomorrow will bake white bread (I have bought plenty of Pumpernickel and other 'dark bread' from Morrison's, already sliced in packs).   May also have a go at making Blinis today and if they don't work will copy Nigella's suggesting of mini-potato pancakes that I saw her making for HER canapes (on the Food Network yesterday).

The frozen packs of mixed game (breasts) will arrive tomorrow, so they have to thaw out overnight and on Wednesday can make the Game Pie.  On Thursday can make the Strawberry and 'Champagne' Jellies (n wine glasses, each covered by a square of clingfilm) as these will need time to set and will be taken to the club house on the Friday evening (they will then be kept in a cold room for the following day). After that there is very little to do other than make toppings, cook quiches, prepare some garnishes (radish roses, spring onion 'frills - both need soaking overnight in iced water) all these can be done on the Friday.   Then Saturday it will be all go - assembling what will keep well in the fridge during the morning, and the rest during the afternoon and early evening.  It is all looking a bit too easy.  Let us hope I haven't forgotten something important.

What is really wonderful (and I'm probably the only person in the country who thinks so), is that at the end of this week (from Thursday onwards) the weather is going to turn very VERY cold, so perfect for me as I can turn the heating off in the kitchen and the conservatory will then be cold enough to use the table in there if necessary for preparation/assembly.  The trays or boxed will then be place in my big cold box and my DR's polystyrene boxes (these will have already been chilled with ice-'bottles', these 'ice-packs' being kept in the boxes along with the food to make sure the temperature is kept as low as possible).  Then all B has to do is carefully lift the boxes and place them in the car and take them to the venue.  

Thanks Cheesepare for your suggestion of your curried apple and apricot chutney to top the chicken live pate.  Will try this. 
I have tried make bread cases using thinly rolled bread, brushed with oil on both sides, then pressed into tart tins to 'bake' (toast/dry off) in the oven.   Worked reasonably well but as I'd cut squares of bread the 'points' got a darker brown, and the bottom part still needed a bit more drying off.  Also slightly too large for the canapes I was wishing to make.  Perhaps cutting the bread into circles instead of squares would prevent the edges becoming too brown, and toasted bread 'cups' would make good canape bases. 

As with most canapes, it is not just the content (base and main ingredient) it is those 'little extras' that make the canapes look appetising and give  'mouth appeal'.  Have to say if it all turns out right, I'll be wishing I was there having my share of the food.  Although I always make sure I taste one of everything I make, to make sure the seasoning is correct etc.  So suppose I'll have already eaten plenty on Saturday before any of it goes to the clubhouse. 
Once B has left I'll no doubt collapse in my chair and go to sleep.

Was lucky enough to finish what needed to be done yesterday by early afternoon, so went and watched a programme about Baking (ITV 3.00pm?), and found the same thing happened as had when I watched an earlier episode.  The presenter just doesn't inspire me.  So I gave up watching.

Think today (Channel 4, 5.00pm) is the first of Jamie Oliver's 15 minute meals.  Want to watch that for he does inspire me (hope B watches as well as he might like to make some of the dishes for his supper now and again).

Did I mention yesterday the printer appeared to have got jammed halfway through printing out a copy of the Hairy Bikers' Game Pie?  This because I was just setting up the screen to print when Gill rang (five minutes earlier than her usual time), so this threw me a bit and I obviously hadn't pushed the paper into the printer properly and it all went wrong.  After printing out the second page (it didn't print the first), it stopped,  while talking to Gill I pressed 'print' again, and nothing happened, then did it again and the machine started flashing red lights and some paper was caught in the rollers so I gave up.   Was VERY annoyed with myself for not concentrating properly as I needed the first part of the recipe printed out (for me to take into the kitchen with me) as it was a bit complicated.   Expected to have to write it out by hand from the screen this morning, but once I'd switched the comp on, the printer then started working.  Out came several sheets with nothing printed on, then it began printing the recipe in full (both parts), but not just once, several times (due to my constant request for it to print them).  Anyway eventually it stopped and now I have more than enough copies of recipe to make use of.   Was very grateful the printer didn't need any personal attention as I couldn't find the instruction book!

Am now trotting off into the kitchen to begin cooking the gammon, and then making Macaroons, followed by baking bread, and then hoping to come up with some sort of supper for B that doesnt' need too much attention (yippee! have just remembered there is left over Steak and Kidney Pie in the freezer that can be thawed and reheated, all I need to do is cook some veggies to go with it).
Yesterday we both had chilli con carne (another almost ready made meal from the freezer - well had the cooked meat, just needed to add canned tomatoes, chilli mix and red beans).

Told B that this week it would be more Pot Luck than planned meals according to what else I had to cook (for the party), and how tired I might be during the afternoon.  But am sure he won't got to bed starving.   Myself am finding I'm losing at least 1lb a day (and need to - so am pleased) because I'm not finding time to make myself more than one meal a day, and that might only be a salad.

Really would love to stop and keep 'chatting', but have to control my urge to 'ramble' - at least until next Sunday when I should be back in full flow again.   Gill will be away so won't be phoning me that day, which means I can write my blog earlier.  Also hoping to show some photos of the canapes.  Just as long as I remember to take the pics. (and I've spare batteries, but can't think of ANYTHING other than canapes (and desserts) at the moment).

Hope you continue to read this blog, and please keep sending comments and these really help to lift my spirits.  Can always find time to answer a query - even this week.  So hope to hear from some of you by tomorrow.  Whether you comment or not, already looking forward to 'chatting' to you again tomorrow, so hope to see you then.