Thursday, 31 January 2008

Hey Baby I cook you looong time.......

I am a useful person to have in an office, for birthdays I cook cakes (2 or 3 tier) or cupcakes or a selection of the 2. Most people love them (or say they do because I am the boss) and wolf them down pretty quickly however I have a friend who loves pork not cake. PP has an obsession with pork, if you talk bacon he starts to salivate mention sausages wrapped in bacon only if you have water proofs on.

PP (as I will call him for the sake of privacy) requested, yes I take requests as well, some form of pork cake. He was thinking along the lines of sausage, black pudding and bacon cooked in a cake shape. My thoughts immediately went to slow cooked pork shoulder and a form of doggy torture.

I went out to my brilliant local butcher (thank you Roger Brown) and purchased a large shoulder of pork, the whole thing, from a wonderful gloucester old spot pig who lived a cheerful life in a field grubbing about for food. It probably weighed about 4 kilos in total so just enough for PP with a little left over - PP is greedy.

To cook this baby I preheated the oven to 200 degrees and made a rub to anoint its precious skin and underbelly with. The rub is a slightly bastardised version of Nigel Slater's and consists of soy sauce, fresh ginger, chinese 5 spice (only a pinch), salt, pepper and chillies. You are looking for a paste rather than a liquid that will slid straight off.

Half the rub is spread onto the top and then it is shoved on the oven for half an hour, take it out and turn over. This bit is tricky as the thing is now huge, hot and sticky I sort of man handle it with any implement to hand but do be careful. Once on its back slather on the rest of the goo, turn down the oven to about 100 degrees, throw in a glass of water, bung it back in the oven and leave for 12 hours.

This was the mean bit. Harry, the pooch, sleeps in the kitchen. The smell is frankly heavenly and poor Harry was very dehydrated from all the drool.

Anyway the following morning I carried the beautifully browned baby into work to finish off in the oven there in time for lunch. You will need to flip the pork back over and turn the oven back up to about 200 to crisp up the crackling, this won't take long so keep an eye on it.

To demonstrate how good this is PP & the office had great jerk pork and festival for breakfast yet still managed to polish pretty much the whole shoulder off. Mmmmmmmmm........

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

My, my Lemon Meringue Pie!

I love lemon meringue pie so when I discovered that's what we had to bake for the Daring Bakers challenge this month I was delighted. I thought I could make a few all the name of experimentation and getting nice photos and I thought I could eat them all. Then I remembered I have to lose 4 stone before my brother gets married in June. Bugger.

Fortunately really bad tooth pain kicked in. I am talking nearly passing out painful, whimpering quietly to myself kind of pain. Now I realise this does not sound great but it did / does mean I am on a solid diet of mush and soup whilst my recent root canal settles and the horrid abscess goes away. This diet of mush means I can still lose weight and eat the middle bit of the pie!! Always a sliver lining.

Anyway I invited my Mummy and Daddy round for Sunday lunch in order to make my pie. I cooked lovely chicken for them with all the bits - bread sauce, roast potatoes and real gravy - and I had mushed veg and more bread sauce than is decent. Then we had pie, yummy, yummy pie.

I had no problems with my lovely, buttery, sweet pastry although I did cheat slightly and used 1 cup flour one cup ground almonds as lemon and almond are my all time favs. I made one big pie and some small ones in a muffin tin, I baked them all blind and had no problems with pastry slippage (I did pop them in the freezer before cooking). The filling was fab thick and yellow until I added the lemon then it was thinner and yellow. (Tasty and thin just what I want to be!) Still undeterred I filled my pies and hoped it would thicken on cooling.

Well it did thicken in the mini ones but sadly not in the big one although I didn't leave it all that long so it didn't have much of a chance. However thick or not it was really tasty, I had never added vanilla before but it really added something and I would suggest you try it. My Daddy thought it was great and even had seconds (unheard of) and we all sat picking at it for quite some time until it was gone!

That was some good pie and I still managed to lose 3 pounds so a diet pie as well....

Lemon Meringue Pie
From Wanda’s Pie in the Sky by Wanda Beaver, 2002
(Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie)
For the Crust:
¾ cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (60 mL) granulated sugar - I used caster sugar
¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt
⅓ cup (80 mL) ice water
For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
½ cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
¼ cup (60 mL) butter
¾ cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
½ tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt
½ tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
¾ cup (180 mL) granulated sugar
For the Crust:
Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.
Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of ⅛ inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about ½ inches (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.
For the Filling:
Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated.
Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.
For the Meringue:
Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

That's My Boy

No food post, the GI diet has temporarily destroyed any creativity I might have had whilst I try to understand what I should and shouldn't eat. The strange thing is butter has no GI value therefore could be deemed OK but pair it with flour, eggs and sugar - as nearly all my favourite things do - and it is bad. Very bad. Beans and pulses are good as are greens, no one wants to visit us particularly as Harry is eating the left overs...

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Let the Excuses Begin!

Well what a December! Firstly we seem to have a dozen events at work that need organising - the one for 600 including 300 children was a challenge. The first part of the month disappeared in a round of finding 300 presents, wrapping them, labeling them and then creating the grotto to house them. Good fun but with normal work, the ever present dissertation and general Xmas panic i have been distracted.

I thought I had plenty of time to do the Daring Bakers challenge, end of the month to make a yule log - easy! The suddenly it was Christmas Eve, still no need to panic I thought I don't need to post until the 28th. Where the heck did I get that date from? I must be unable to read or I simply make things up to suit me not sure but apparently everyone else understood the need to finish and report by 22nd December. Bugger.

However I was still in ignorance at this time so on Christmas Eve I popped out for drinks, ate food and then went to bed to wait for Santa. Christmas day at Ma & Pa's, great goose, great company then on Boxing Day on to Rob's sisters past Nottingham then back to work in Brum on 28th. No worries I will make the yule log tonight. Easy.

Genoise sponge turned out great, really light and fluffy I also added a little Tia Maria to the mix for a subtle coffee liqueur flavour. Yum. Then I read the post again, I swore loudly as realisation that I had well and truly missed the deadline dawned. I went out for a drink, this in turn led to several drinks which led to the sponge being covered and thoughts of finishing it the following day.

The following day came with a hangover and Rob's admission that we were going to his parents house that day. The sponge is covered for another day.

I finally managed to make the butter cream three days after the sponge had been baked. The butter cream was a bugger and after it curdled unattractively I did give up as the sponge was also past its best. I made coffee butter cream instead and I hit upon chocolate ganache for the filling. The butter cream was pale the ganache darker and so the butter cream became the filling.

It was OK. The butter cream I could have eaten on toast, the milk chocolate ganache not so great - note to self always use 70% dark choc - the sponge 2 days too old. Pants.

Never mind I though I will post it anyway just to show I tried. At this point the gods that watch over bloggers decided they were bored and felt the need to spice it up for me. My laptop broke, arrrrrrgggghhhhhh and maybe even a few exclamation marks (no more than 6, only the truly insane have more than 6)!!!!! (5, you can count them if you like). Harry, being a selfish Labrador would not lend me his - sorry I am too busy emailing my felicitations and gratitude after the festive period (he reads too much dickens). I was stuck, my blog burning with shame at just how naked it looked and me frustrated that you can not put a laptop through double glazing no matter how hard you try.

Any hoo new year, new laptop, new resolutions to clothe my blog with all things daring and some other bits besides. Pop back in a couple of months if you fancy and I promise there will be better photos - if Rob pulls his finger out, it really is shaming that he is a professional photographer - and more regular posts with delicious food. Well maybe more of a list of my clumsy disasters but at least you can feel smug that your blogs are so much better....