In response to a charmless poster on my last blog who seems personally affronted that I am spending my days putting on makeup, binge watching Netflix and cooking. Forsooth! What outrage, perhaps I should go outside and break a few stones just to make the Methodists feel better.
As it happens, cooking is my main preoccupation these days. The make up not so much - it's impossible read to my faded Delia book through false eyelashes, no matter how natural they are and I always fear they will off and land in the batter. Reading the small print of a recipe is an ongoing problem, and I've never got used to my bifocals, they make me feel permanently drunk without the fun bit. Happily I have a large magnifying glass that I got in the pound shop, it was handy for checking fat and sugar contents as I used to go round the supermarket.
I have now spent several days trying to make perfect pastry. True, I have treated every pastry shell I have baked as 'it', the 'yeah I done it' moment, but it's not true. The first looked amazing but had a soggy bottom :( The next, burnt around the edges with a bottom that would break teeth. Picture perfect, but dentists would not recommend. I think I know where I went wrong there, apart from the over cooking. A slip of the hand while adding the water and the addition of more flour to soak it up, destined it to be hard in the first place. Doh! All those basic lessons I learned in the Domestic Science class room, why can't I get it right? I feel very much like Dr. Frankenstein, I'm not giving up until I achieve my goal! Should point out my own workshop of filthy creation is more covered in flour than blood and guts.
I haven't mentioned the quiches and flans that went before, but the above were made after watching every perfect pastry video I could find. I have discovered that if you take the pastry case out of the oven before the outer edges burn, you will have a soggy bottom. If you cook the bottom, you will have burnt outer edges. The solution, I'm hoping, tin foil which I was not able to get but have now. My plan, to cover the outer edges of the pastry case with tin foil before they begin to burn, foolproof huh? Watch this space.
On the plus side. I have discovered I can make good (though not yet tasty or divine) pliable shortcrust pasty with minimal involvement of my hot little hands - the fault of all my pastries from years gone by. The solution, I no longer rub in the butter and flour, I use a mixer. This has opened up a whole new world on the cooking front for me. I no longer have to plan quiches and flans in advance by buying shop bought pastry, I can rustle it up whenever I want and make something yummy out of whatever I've got in the fridge! A small step for mankind I know, but a giant leap for me.
In case any pastry makers are looking in, and just musing here, I was taught, at school, half fat to flour and the fat should be half butter and half lard. The butter for the flavour, the lard for the shortening effect. Most recipes now call for all butter, which I have been doing, but something's not quite right. Could be, musing out loud, that I am using salt free butter, but not sure that's it. Perhaps the lard does have it's place? On the taste front, I'm sure I do not add enough salt, that is, I use a literal 'pinch' and unsalted butter. The lard I think, will be trial and error to find the correct ratio.
Next week I am expecting via ebay and Amazon, vanilla pods and gelatine. I have never used actual vanilla pods before, so looking forward to giving them a try. I have always had a bit of a mental block with gelatine, having grown up with cubes and quick jel, but I would love to learn how to use it. Panna Cotta is one of my favourite desserts, definitely in my top ten meals on death row, but I have never attempted it due to lack of vanilla pods. I love foods with a soufflé, mousse like texture so looking forward to trying some out.
It would seem from social media, that making do is bringing out our creative sides, especially on the cooking front. I would love to hear about your efforts.
For now, my kindest wishes to everyone, I hope that you are keeping amused and finding new or even old interests to amuse you. Try not to let down your guard, even for a moment, you are safe because you worked towards staying safe, never forget that. Take care.