Friday, December 24, 2010

In preparation

Since Mum, Dad and I are heading up to Blenheim on Saturday to spend Christmas with Anthony and Beth (my brother and Sister-in-law), we decided to have a low-key Christmas celebration with Nana at my place on Christmas Eve.

If nothing else, this gave me a chance to knock off a good few recipes, because Beth (who's a much better cook than me anyway) will be doing most of the cooking in Blenheim.

So on Thursday night (Christmas Eve Eve), I arrived home with a long list of things to get done. Chief among them was to get my house in some semblance of order and cleanliness, but I also had several things to make in advance for the meal.

I'd decided to do a simple starter of 'breads and spreads', making salmon pâté (p193) hummus (p196) and also some savoury pita breads (p195) to add to the bread platter. The hummus recipe uses dried chickpeas (though I expect you could substitute canned ones and skip the first few steps) so the first thing I did was to pour boiling water over the chickpeas and leave them to soak while I made my lasagne.

With the lasagne in the oven, and the chickpeas still soaking, I made a start on the pita breads, splitting one large pita in half, then spreading them with butter (or canola spread, in my case), garlic, cheese and sesame seeds.

Unfortunately, I didn't keep a close eye on the pitas in the oven, merely trusting the given ten-minute cooking time while I snatched a few minutes to eat my vegetarian lasagne. By the time the timer went off, the pitas were seriously overdone. Sighing, I made another tray - and this time I kept an eye on it.

After the chickpeas had soaked for an hour, I drained them and put them on to boil in fresh water. The chickpeas had to boil for an hour, so I had time to make my other spread - salmon pâté. This was a fairly quick job, consisting of draining a can of red salmon, flaking the fish up and adding spring onion and mayonnaise. When this was done, I stirred through some gelatine and put it in the fridge to set.

Eventually the chickpeas were cooked and ready to use. From this point, the hummus is very easy to make - just put the chickpeas in a food processor with garlic, tahini, spring onion, parsley, olive oil and lemon juice, then pulse until smooth.

When I first tasted the hummus, I thought it was quite disgusting. The texture was furry and the taste bland. I added another squeeze of lemon juice and drizzled in more oil while the processor was going. This made a huge difference and the hummus was really quite tasty by the time it was finished.

The final task I had for the evening was to make a sponge for my trifle. I'd selected Edmonds Fielder's classic sponge (p67)for no particular reason - any one of several recipes in the sponge chapter would have done as well. It was quite different from any other sponge I'd made, the process beginning more like a meringue than a cake - beating egg whites and adding sugar until it went shiny. After that point the similarity ceases, as you add the yolks and fold in the dry ingredients.

The mixture was incredibly light and fluffy, and I had every reason to expect good results. Unfortunately, when I took them out, they were sort of shrunken and collapsed: not good at all. Never mind, I was only using it for trifle, so the deficiencies of my sponge could be safely hidden amidst the sherry, fruit and custard!


Amidst all this culinary chaos, I also found time to open up my rumpot and add a handful of blueberries and a few cherries. My rumpot's filling up fast - I should have got a bigger pot!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular posts this week