Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Followups and repeats

So yes, I have been cooking without blogging. It's been repeats, along with a couple of pudding that I have assigned to a new post. I have recently made a ham and olive arrabiatta style pasta sauce, a "bolognese" pasta sauce, a keema, a roast chook, a risotto with leftover chicken; steak & salad; a massaman curry from a tub of paste; and sausages and salad. When I started this blog I was wondering how long it would be before I ran out of ideas, but it seems the answer is not too soon. Even though the Canberra Times has taken a lot of my review writing options, I still experiment with new ideas and techniques. Truffles and duck featured recently, as you may recall.

And I do follow up some of the ideas I spot on the net. Here are a few followup notes:

1. I made Alton Brown's granola, though I decided to use golden syrup. Maple is so expensive, and I do really like golden syrup. I also chucked in a half cup of sesame seeds. It's fine, but I still prefer Nigella's. Alton's is less sweet, which is good for me, so I will reduce the sugars on that next time I make hers. I had a problem with the cashews, too. 250F is only 120C, but even so they were starting to burn, especially the ones sitting around the edges. I reduced it further to 100C after that, but there are still some over-scorched ones. Since I caught it early, they are dark brown rather than black. But be warned - toasting cashews takes a lower temperature than almonds.

2. The vanilla essence proved disappointing. It darkened to a nice medium-weak tea colour after a couple of weeks, which was encouraging, but then it stayed put. It's more of a strong vanilla vodka than a real essence. I am now using it as a flavour, in cases where you need quite a lot of liquid so you can splash it in generously.

3. Those devilled kidneys. Let me remind you of the quantity for eight kidneys. You need two ounces of butter, and:

“I have accurately exacted the following measures. They are: three tablespoons of worstershire sauce; one heaping tablespoon of Coleman’s English mustard powder; one tablespoon of freshly squeezed juice of a lemon; half a table glass of water; one two-ounce canister of Fullers Earth, one substantial tablespoon of cayenne pepper; a heaping pinch of ground black pepper; and four drops of Tabasco sauce.”

Holmes was being sloppy here. It's "Worcestershire" sauce, and Fuller's Earth is basically fine clay (in the story, Watson surreptitiously removes this). There's also an amusing contrast between the substantial tablespoon of (potent!) cayenne pepper and the mere four drops of (mild) Tabasco.

I can only assume that Holmes' cayenne came in a slow ship from India, and it sat in warehouses for a year or two, and then on a grocer's shelf for another year going slowly stale. However, my cayenne comes from the Indian grocer and it is knock-your-socks off hot. I used a heaped teaspoon instead and it was still very potent. I had to go eat a tub of yoghurt for dessert, just to cool down.

So, well, use your judgement about your hot foods. I find that the heat comes off the mustard quite a lot with cooking, so this amount is fine. I used Keen's, since that's what I have. And water? Really? Just say no. The kidneys release quite a lot of juice, so you don't need much extra liquid. A tablespoon of brandy is the ticket here.


Zoe said...

But how did they taste?

Cath said...

Oh, d'oh, I didn't say. Yummy!

Zoe said...

Kidneys are the one kind of thing I can't get my head around - too many years going "ew" while feeding them to the cats. Perhaps I should give it a go.

Cath said...

Try a steak and kidney pie from Elaine's - it's good, and a cheap way to try. The texture and taste are quite unusual.