Tag Archives: kitchen disaster

Broken

Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.
~ Fanny Crosby

I am having one of those weeks where nearly nothing goes right in the kitchen.

Mmmmmm… or not.

I can’t even talk about the two banana cakes… and just this morning, I wasted a couple of good eggs whilst attempting to make tiramisu. Le sigh! Butter fingers and brains, be gone! Kitchen coordination fairy, please return! :-(

On a separate note: I’ve been eating lots of lovely persimmons off the plants of family and friends – thankfully fruit don’t need much help to taste good, given my current lack of kitchen coordination. And pictured above is my most recent fruit discovery at the farmers’ market: the ice cream fruit, which I found lightly reminiscent of (but not comparable to) one of my favourite fruits – the custard apple or cherimoya. Interesting, as my friend Ariel put it – it tastes like an overripe pear… not sure it caused me to fall in love with it, but I’m glad I tried it, since its name would have lingered on in my consciousness for weeks otherwise.

And that’s all for now. Hope you are all having a lovely (and warm, if you are in NZ) day!

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Perfume: spray on self, spare from mouth

You may break, you may shatter the vase, if you will,
But the scent of the roses will hang round it still.
~ Thomas More

At one point two nights ago, I contemplated whether the taste in my mouth was more likely to kill someone or wake the dead.

That night, I learned a very important lesson: when working with an ingredient for the first time, it is better to go slow. Perhaps even taste it first.

I should have known when I took my first whiff of the open bottle, recently acquired from a trip to Sabato. In fact, “this is potent stuff” was the thought that immediately leaped into my brain… so I’m not sure what prompted me to use a full tablespoon of it on my dinner that evening. I can tell you that the flavour of it invaded my airway and filled me with a keen sense of desperation mingled with stupid thoughts.

It sure started off innocently enough. I halved two nectarines, washed a few spears of asparagus (finally got my first Spring bunch!), took out some prawns. I arranged these on a lined baking tray, drizzled some oil on the lot and grilled everything for around five minutes before plating it and adding some diced feta, lemon zest, fresh minced garlic and black pepper. I then put together a dressing inspired by Ottolenghi’s Cookbook (speaking of, I recently got a FANTASTIC bundle of cookbooks… but more on that another time).

The dressing consisted of maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, oil and orange blossom water.

If you remember nothing else from this post, remember this: Careful now with the orange blossom water. Less is infinitely more.

I cannot hope to describe what it was like eating this, but it went a little like this: (1) I was excited about my dinner (before I opened my mouth to eat it). (2) Some bites later, the excitement gave way to a few seconds of general unease. (3) I suddenly felt as alarmed as if my hair was on fire. Actually, I’m pretty sure that if my hair did catch fire I might have felt similar.

I tried to remember when food last managed to make me feel this way. Was it when I tried chou dou fu (fermented tofu) in China? Or when I bit into a peculiar pork stew cooked by a well-meaning friend? (Two bites into this meal, he told me it contained berry jam and an entire tub of sour cream. “Aren’t they [jam and sour cream] substitutes for chutney and yoghurt? They kind of look the same,” he said).

Anyway. On the orange blossom water. When the alarm kicked in, I knew that I had to do something. Fast. My senses were rapidly being overtaken by a field of flowers. It’s not as romantic as it sounds. My throat, tongue, ears, airway all felt like they were ablaze with perfume. The sort that you should wear on your clothes.

I’m almost a bit embarrassed to tell you the next bit, but I ran a running tap over my remaining nectarine, feta, asparagus and prawns and fried it all with a heavy shake of Moroccan spices, chilli flakes and garlic, then doused it all with lemon juice (yes… I don’t know what I was thinking. I wasn’t thinking). I chewed on cloves of raw garlic. I ate teaspoons of sauce. I brushed my teeth multiple times.

When I went to bed, I was still exhaling perfume.

Honey Pie

If music be the food of love, play on.
~ Shakespeare

This afternoon, I went with my flatmate Jono to Old St Paul’s for their lunchtime concert… City Jazz today! As they performed “Honey Pie” I thought… they might as well have been feeding me honey pie… their music was delicious food for the soul. Especially loved their very lively rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In”, and one song which brought to mind a carnival of camels, Middle Eastern skies and magic carpets. Loved taking in the exquisite talent of the men performing, their enthusiasm, the wonderful sounds, harmonies and rhythm; heck I even loved the stained glass windows of the church in the background!

I think I’m a little crazy too. Last night, I was sooooo sleepy in French class that I later found I had squiggled “21/1/06” all over my notes… yet, once I got home I was energised at the thought of cooking – and not even a mini kitchen disaster could send me to bed until the dish was done.

It all went well at first – obviously, at nearly 9pm I was hungry – so dinner was in order, and it took the form of linguine with zucchini, garlic, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, dried oregano, fresh parsley, salt, pepper, parmesan – so far so good…

But then I thought I’d make milk tart – well, the tart tin that my Dad gave to me was too shallow for this. When I took my pastry (which has to be pre-baked before the filling goes in) out from the oven, I found to my dismay that the pastry alone took up pretty much all the space… so I had to dig out the pastry and transfer it to a cake tin which was still not the right size, but at least had higher sides? Now let me tell you, this did not look pretty – and it did not feel good! The pretty scalloped edges were also ruined! I then poured the custardy filling on top of the now ugly pastry – a little disheartened, to say the least, as the pastry and custard would have been so fine in the right-sized tart tin.

I did some chores and reading while my eyes burned and I waited for the milk tart to finish baking. Midnight came and went, and it was around this time that (1) I realised I must be crazy, (2) the milk tart was ready, (3) I stumbled into bed praying that I wouldn’t sleep through my two alarm clocks and be late for work.

Anyway, this is a horrendously busy week for me – and not just because I am doing crazy things like cooking when I am sleepy, so I should get to bed. Goodnight!

PS. The milk tart doesn’t taste like a complete disaster, but there is still plenty of room for improvement with this one!