Tag Archives: oops

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.

Oven-baked French Toast (or pudding?)

I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.
~ Eartha Kitt

Someone I know through work recently emailed me this: “I have just recently come to understand the journey is just as important as the destination.” How I love that. We were discussing the mysteries of life, but I am so reminded of his wise words as I write this post now!

I decided to invite a few friends around for brunch in the weekend – so on Friday, I went to buy ingredients for Oven-Baked French Toast and spent a glorious half hour preparing it.

It was the most beautiful night. Honestly. Listening to the pitter-patter of rain falling outside while slicing bread, zesting an orange, sprinkling raisins and almonds, whisking milk with eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg and a tiny amount of Baileys… It felt like a dream, and I was so looking forward to sharing perfect French Toast with my friends the next morning.

I arranged everything in the baking dish, glad-wrapped it and left the bread to soak in custard heaven while I slept…

Nothing could go wrong, right? Nothing. I awoke on Saturday morning with a smile on my face, and the French Toast still looked good as I slipped it into the oven. I even had time to toss 4 plates in the oven to warm them while the French Toast was baking. I had juice and coffee prepared. My friends arrived on time. Cutlery was on the table.

Within minutes, I smelled the awful smell none of us like at all – the odour of something burning. Gah, stupid raisins!! I really should’ve made a double-layered French Toast after all.

Worse still, in my haste to save the raisins, I put a layer of foil on the whole thing and baked it some more.

For Saturday brunch, we had soggy pudding with scorched raisins. My friends finished everything on their plates. A firm reminder of them being WONDERFUL people – and friends.

Well. This wasn’t so fun to eat, but it was a very fun journey (part of it anyway!) and the road to perfecting a delicious brunch continues…!

Things I can think of to make a more pleasurable oven-baked French Toast in future: try a different bread (a soft loaf, perhaps?) and form two layers of it with the raisins hidden in the middle. Aluminium foil should not be allowed to interfere with the cooking process either.

Does anyone have oven-baked French Toast tips to share? ;-)