Saturday, May 18, 2013

Right Place, Wrong Time...

Am again short of time today, so again a pruned-down blog, but first must reply to comments.

Am so sorry Sarina that I won't be able to meet up with you this coming Thursday.  Unfortunately this is one of my busiest days of the week as in the morning will be having by hair done, then later in the afternoon off to the cookery course (present from my daughter who will be accompanying me).  The few hours left in the day will be taken up with preparation for the Saturday Indian meal.  

Something similar happened a few years ago after we moved here.  Two readers (Cheesepare and Eileen) were hoping to meet up with me at the Midland Hotel for coffee.  I hadn't seen the comment/email invitation until too late (think the comp had broken down or something, anyway didn't know about it until after the day) so unable to meet up.  I was bitterly disappointed, but able to meet Eileen some time later.   Story of my life really, when invited somewhere that I really would like to go to, something always prevents me.  A 'something' that usually takes priority, so even though I'd much rather do the 'fun' thing, this time at least, common sense tells me that I need to concentrate only on the 'catering'. 

The Foodbank event sounded really good Janet.  Maybe the organisation will be able to hold other 'cookery courses' for that is something I'm sure most 'clients' would like to attend.  Learning how to shop on a tight budget, and also cook economically are skills sadly lacking in this day and age.

Morrison's were also selling Paul Hollywood's book (Bread), for £10 Granny G, and although they had none yesterday said they would be getting more.  However, now you say he's left his wife, am not sure I want to buy his book.  Am very 'off' celebs who - once they get famous - suddenly decide their wives are not worth having any more.  It could be a completely different reason why P.H has left his home, but once a person becomes 'well known'', it does seem that a marriage split soon follows.   Let's just hope it's not Mary Berry he's run off with or I'd go off her too!

Two things I forgot to mention yesterday was that I did buy a book - this was 'GI Wives', spoken about in a previous posting.  Morrison's were selling it at half price (now £3.49p), and although have only read the first few chapters, found it fascinating as it does show how different life was in American in the 1950's compared to that in the UK, and - despite us now having supermarkets and burger bars etc - still seems our cultures are so far apart - especially with the  'language' - the author almost kicked out of a store when she asked the assistant to show her a 'nigger brown jumper'. 

The book was written by a lady who had married at GI at the age of sixteen (she was born in 1938) so she is of much the same 'period' as myself, although she too young to remember much about the war years, her first book gives her recollections of the bombing in London and her evacuation to a home in Wales.  As I'm enjoying her second book, will be looking out for the first as she is a writer whose words make easy and enjoyable reading.

Second thing bought yesterday was a set of  the American 'cup' measures.  You would think that in the UK we have more than enough recipes for cakes and desserts, but now that I'm watching Food Network so often, and especially interested in Anna Olsen's 'cookery tuition', felt that it was time I followed many of her examples, so will now be sitting watching TV with a notebook and pencil ready to write down recipes and delighting in the fact that it will then seem so much easier to measure out the ingredients.  It does seem that in the US they don't need to use scales.

Some of the dishes in the US cookery programmes give me cause to shake my head in disbelief.  Yesterday Nadia G was cooking a meal for her 'pyjama party'.  Dessert I thought I heard her say was 'baking chocolate', but what it turned out that she actually said was 'bacon chocolate' where she fried snippets of bacon until crisp, then stirred melted chocolate into the pan.  Spooning it out in lumps on kitchen paper towel 'to drain away excess fat'.  Somehow don't think this is the type of dessert that would go down well in the UK.  But then, not having tried it, maybe it IS good.  Perhaps a American readers of this blog can let us know.

One new thing I've been trying out (in a spare half-hour that I suddenly found I had).  While tidying the conservatory discovered a bag stuffed with long sheets of plastic bubble wrap (the one with the small bubbles).  This I use as insulation for both hot or iced foods, so folded it up ready to tuck into the D.R. polystyrene boxes that I also keep, this 'insulation' keep food hot for literally HOURS.  Works in the same way as a 'hay-box'.   We will be using these to take the hot foods (curries, rice etc) to the clubhouse next Saturday.

The bubble wrap reminded me of something I'd read in the past where a chef had liberally spread melted chocolate over the bubble-side of the plastic sheets and then chilled it until set.  The plastic peeled easily away and the resulting dimpled chocolate was broken into shards to use as decoration.

Decided to take this one step further and cut a narrow strip from the bubble-wrap, just long enough to wrap around a jar of pesto sauce.  I first covered the jar with clingfilm, then - after spreading the strip of plastic bubbles with melted chocolate, wrapped this round the jar (choc side facing the jar).
The flat 'back' of the bubble wrap faced outwards, so easy to smooth the strip to fit the jar closely.

This I left in the fridge overnight, and yesterday sat and peeled away the bubble-wrap from the chocolate.  It came away really easily,  but the annoying thing was I couldn't slide the chocolate 'tube' from the jar, it clung too tightly (I should have used baking parchment and not cling-film). In the end had to run a knife down the bit where the ends joined together and was then able to remove it, unfortunately breaking an inch off one end.  Despite it being very fragile, was still able to peel away the cling-film.  

If I had the time - and the patience - I'd loved to have been able to make at least 3 dozen of these 'tubes' and fill them with a mousse to serve at the party, but feel a little more experimenting needs to be done before I take that step.
On the other hand, if the same idea was used (spreading chocolate over strips of bubble wrap), the prepared strip was placed round the sides of a made cake (preferably already coated with buttercream to give a 'hold') or a cheesecake, after chilling it would be easy to peel off the plastic leaving the chocolate already in place.

In the past I've often made a lemon mousse with a chocolate base and sides.  First lining a loose-based round tin (but it could be square) completely with baking parchment, then spreading this with melted chocolate.  Once set poured in the made mousse and left it in the fridge to chill. Once the side of the tin has been loosened and lifted off, then easy enough to peel away the parchment.  It always looks very impressive, but I think using the bubble wrap will take it one step further.  What do you think?

Don't forget tomorrow is World Baking Day.  No doubt I'll be making my fair share of 'bakes', and certainly want to make some macaroons.  These will keep well for a week in an airtight tin, to be sandwiched together next Saturday to take as 'extras' to the club meal.  My intention is to make some pink (rose flavoured filling), and some pale green (pistachio filling) and some basic 'fawn' (Nutella filling) as the rose and pistachio are very definitely 'Indian' dessert flavourings.

Still uncertain as to what to make for the main dessert, but can always fall back on 'mango cheesecake'.  After eating curries, the 'pud' needs to be both cooling and refreshing, so no Sticky Toffee Puddings!

Will be joining you again tomorrow, but possibly only for a limited time.  I'm hoping you all understand that I need to pace myself this coming week, and as I work best (in the kitchen) in the early part of the day, I will need to either do a lot before I begin my blog, or get up early and blog so that I have left enough of my 'active body-time' to do what needs to be done.  Will probably have to take at least Thurs. Fri. and of course Saturday 'off' spending time at the comp but will let you know the nearer the time. 

A miserable wet day today, so won't feel that the sun is coaxing me to down tools and go and sit outside for a bit.  Use every spare moment I have, then the work-load will become easier as the days go by.  If you can join me tomorrow, you will be able to find out what I've managed to do today.  TTFN.