Saturday, March 08, 2014

Practice Makes Perfect.

Another coincidence.  Granny G mentions Identity Cards and it was only this morning that I discovered my Identity Card that was issued during World War II.  I can even remember the number - this later being used as my National Healthy Number for several years.   With the card was an old ration book - still with some points left in, and a few other things saved from that time. 

After watching the Hairy Bikers this week - in Japan - have decided to pickle some ginger, cook some sushi rice and start making up some sushi using seasticks, smoked salmon, mackerel, avocado, and omelette as fillings.  I just LOVE sushi and it is very expensive to buy (for what you get), but - like everthing else that needs a bit of love and attention (and a bit of skill), extremely inexpensive to make at home.

With James Martin today demonstrating food when entertaining, he echoed what I was saying in a very recent blog  "take a bit more time on the preparation and it will be just like restaurant food".  So I'll continue to neatly dice my veggies from now on, even if it is only me that will be eating the soup.

It's like everything else, practice makes perfect, and although I still can't chop onions/veggies as rapidly as most chefs seem to, at least I'm getting the end results the same.   Practice IS important and I'd never serve a meal to guests I hadn't made several times before.  It would be bound to go wrong if I did. 

Browsing through some small cookery booklets that come with some cookery mags,  had a real feeling of deja vu with one of the latest to arrive.  As I was trying to sort out my books/mags flicked through another booklet and lo and behold some of the same desserts were in more than one, with exactly the same photos.  Think I'm going to cancel my subscription as almost every mag I get now, I see a recipe there that has already been published, and sometimes several times. 

This perhaps shows that cookery writers are running out of ideas.  After all there are only a few classic recipes, yet hundreds (possibly thousands) of very similar versions of them published. Maybe with a change of name, or the same ingredients but slightly more or less of them, or maybe an extra one added. 
Do we really need all these cookbooks?  My mother seemed to manage with just one (Bero booklet), but then meals were not so varied as they are now.  Once we've cooked the same dish more than once, we can remember what to do without referring to a recipe, and that's how I cook now.  So probably why I tend to cook the same meals over and over again (as mentioned the other day). 

After discovering a recipe for a Lemon and Lime Pie have decided to make one tomorrow as I already have a blind-baked pastry case in the freezer waiting to be filled.  The original recipe used crushed ginger biscuits bound with melted butter to make the 'case' (as for a cheesecake), but when you think of it, crushed biscuits are much the same as crushed pastry, so I thought 'why not use the pastry case instead - it will turn out much the same as Lemon Pie'). 
As it happened, this was one of the recipes that had been repeated in a couple of mags, with the second different only in it used gluten-free ginger biscuits instead of ordinary ones.  The photo was the same in both cases, so a bit of a cheat perhaps?  However it sounds really yummy and something my Beloved will love.
We could use all lemons if we have no limes, using all limes might make it a bit too strongly flavoured - it does need some lemon.  As only egg yolks are used, no reason why the whites can't be whisked up to pile on top and bakes to make a 'Lemon/Lime Meringue Pie', but this time will just stick to the recipe and use the whites to make meringues (these keep for weeks in an airtight tin).

Lemon and Lime Pie:  serves 6
1 x 8" (20cm) pastry case, baked blind
3 egg yolks
2 oz (50g) caster sugar
zest and juice of 3 limes
zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 x 397g can condensed milk
Put the egg yolks, sugar, and the zest of the limes and lemons into a bowl and whisk with an electric beater until doubled in bulk.  Pour in the condensed milk, and continue beating until combined, adding the citrus juices at the end.
Pour the mixture into the pastry case and bake at 180C, gas 4 for 20 - 25 minutes until set - but with a slight wobble in the centre.  Leave to set completely then remove from the tin, cool and chill.  Serve, cut into 6 wedges.

Having left-over egg whites is what we need for this next dessert, especially as this is the start of the rhubarb season.  Also a good way to use strawberries that might be in the freezer (easy to slice when still frozen). This is a 'sort of' upside down Pavlova, but if you already have the basic plain meringue Pavlova base, then just top with fruit and cream.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Meringues: serves 4
11 oz (300g) rhubarb, chopped
zest and juice of half a lemon
4 oz (100g) strawberries, sliced
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
1 tblsp strawberry jam
2 egg whites
Put the rhubarb in a pan with the lemon zest and juice and poach until tender.  Drain off any excess liquid, then stir in 1.5oz (40g) of the sugar until dissolved, then fold in the strawberries and the jam. Divide between 4 ovenproof ramekin dishes.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold in half the remaining sugar, continue beating until thick, then fold in the last of the sugar.   Pile the meringue on top of the pots of rhubarb.
Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake at 180C, gas 4 for 10 minutes or until the meringue is golden.  Serve immediately.

Here's another dessert using rhubarb,  not quite a crumble, not quite a suet pudding, but delicious to eat and extremely easy to make.

Rhubarb Betty: serves 4
1 lb (450g) rhubarb. chopped
2 oz (50g) granulated sugar
grated zest of half an orange
4 oz (100g) breadcrumbs
3 oz (75g) Demerara sugar
3 oz (75g) shredded suet
half ounce (15g) butter
Grease a 1.5pt (900ml) ovenproof dish.  Put in half the rhubarb, sugar and orange zest.
In a bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, Demerara sugar and the suet.  Take half this mixture and sprinkle it on top of the rhubarb, then repeat with another layer of rhubarb mixture and a final cover of the breadcrumb mix.
Dot the top with butter and bake at 180C, gas 4 for 35 - 40 minutes until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden.

Final recipe for today is what I call 'dual-fuel' - in that it can be served either at breakfast or for a dessert after supper.  Mind you, it is so nice I could eat it any time of the day.

Any-time Rhubarb 'treat': serves 4
14 oz (400g) rhubarb, chopped
2 oz (50g) sugar
juice of half an orange
half teaspoon ground cinnamon
17 fl oz (500ml) Greek yogurt
3 oz (75g) rolled or porridge oats
2 tblsp runny honey
Poach the rhubarb with the sugar, orange juice and cinnamon, then leave until cold.
Put the yogurt into a bowl and fold in the rhubarb, oats and honey. Spoon into individual serving glasses, then place in the fridge to chill before serving.

That's it for today.  As it is now after midnight and already Saturday, normally I'd be saying there would be no blog on Sunday (as usually take Sunday off), but as this change of blogging time could mean I will continue writing late every evening.  On the other hand I could take Saturday off now (which means you won't get a Sunday blog), and decide to blog late on Sunday instead, publishing it ready to read on Monday. Haven't yet decided, it depends if I want an early night tomorrow.  All I can say is 'watch this space'. 

We are supposed to be getting warmer weather this weekend, so am hoping to have a scoot out with Norris.  But I've said that before.  When the time comes I always find something else to do.  TTFN.