‘Inject your own doughnut’ as a concept was all the rage, well, quite some time ago now, but I remain convinced that there’s life in that trend yet. What wouldn’t be enjoyable about plunging a giant needle into something and pumping it up with sugary goo? To quote Paris Hilton circa 2003: that’s hot. ( See, I do have my finger on the pulse of what is hip and cool). However, my views on injecting foodstuffs into things abruptly changed recently, when I erroneously volunteered to shoot up about 100 edible insects with lemon syrup for the dessert course at a gala function. Injecting jelly into fried dough is vastly more pleasant and rewarding, but I did suffer some traumatic flashbacks while I was preparing these doughnuts. You never want to hear the phrase ‘Huh, that one’s come back to life’ about a bug you’ve just euthanised, while you’ve got said creature IN YOUR HAND, with a hypodermic full of acidic liquid poised precariously close to your thumb. At least they weren’t spiders. Good grief, WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS BLOG? read more…
The first time I had apple fritters was in New Orleans Square at Disneyland, while a woman presumably dressed as some kind of voodoo queen was singing a jazz song about jambalaya right next to me whilst throwing Mardi Gras beads around everyones’ necks. As awesome as that sounds, the fritters were in fact horrid, much like most of the food we had in Disneyland. One hotdog I ate there even had me vomiting in a lavishly Alice in Wonderland-themed bathroom stall. That was right after we rode the teacups, however, but I will continue to blame it on the hotdog and not the fact that I’d worked myself into a state of such frenzied over-excitement that I literally made myself ill. The only comestible I remember actually enjoying was a churro (that was life-changer; we bought our own deep-fryer purely so we could make churros at home).
But I digress…back to the topic at hand, that being apple fritters which aren’t terrible. Prone as I am to having odd ideas based on experiences I’ve had, I was thinking the other day about my extensive career as a tempura batter-maker at the restaurant I used to work at. My designated station was the deep-fryer; when I told my parents all about my new job this was the gist of the conversation: “I make the batter and cook the blue cod, the spring rolls and the scallops. And also the fries and onion rings.” “Oh, so you’re working in a fish n’ chip shop? Good one.” One thing I did learn from working there was that tempura is hands-down the best kind of batter because it is so light and crispy without being greasy, so I made a sweet version of it for my fritters. I haven’t tried it myself, but presumably you could recreate this recipe with any similarly starchy fruit like bananas or pears.
- 40g / 1/3 C Cornflour
- 50g / 1/3 C Soft flour
- 1 tsp Baking soda
- 1 Tbsp Icing sugar
- Bottle of lemonade
- 1 Large green apple
- Extra flour for dipping
- Cinnamon sugar for rolling
- Peel and slice the apple into wedges. You’d get about 16 wedges out of one apple. Use a green apple if possible because their flesh tends to stay quite firm when cooked.
- Put your cornflour, flour, baking soda and icing sugar into a bowl.
- While whisking, gradually pour in just enough lemonade (from a freshly opened bottle; you want it to be really fizzy) so that you have a smooth batter that is flowing but still fairly thick.
- Heat your deep-fryer to 180ºC and set up a dish with a paper towel in the base, to put the cooked fritters into.
- Dip each apple wedge in a thin dusting of flour, then into the batter. The batter should coat and cling easily to the apple but some of it will drip off. Just use your hands because it is seriously too much of a pain to try and use tongs or anything.
- Put the wedges into the deep fryer and cook them until they are golden, flipping them so that each side cooks evenly as it floats in the oil.
- When your fritters are all cooked and drained, roll them in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.
This pie is inspired by memories of one my Granny used to make with Scotch pastry (also known as rough puff). Unfortunately Granny herself has no memory of this, so with her recipe being lost to me forever, I had to start from scratch. There are only four ingredients though, so I’m fairly confident that I’ve made a decent imitation. Granny is very Scottish, but the legacy of this proud heritage in me is really only a tendency to describe things as ‘wee’ instead of ‘little’ (even if they’re not little at all), and an extreme delight in finding bargains. The propensity to be stoically hard-working and ‘idle hands are the Devil’s plaything’ and all that stuff kind of passed me by. This lack of good Presbyterian work ethic led to me vainly attempting to figure out a way of making Scotch pastry without all the book-turn folding and resting that you are supposed to do, but there’s just no getting around the fact that doing it properly and not being a lazy little @#$& is actually the best way. And, as it turns out, it’s not even that difficult or annoying! read more…
What to say about custard? Not even sure where to start. I barely need to explain why enrobing your dessert of choice in a lush, silken pool of eggy, vanilla-y, creamy glory is relevant to the interests of those that follow this blog, but suffice it to say that making the [minimal] effort to whip up a custard is most definitely worthwhile. This particular incarnation is essentially crème Anglaise (that’s basically French for ‘English cream’ but let’s not call it that), although I put half cream and half milk rather than all-milk as per tradition, because it makes it a bit thicker, and, well…creamier. That is what passes for a grand revelation around here. You may also wish to spike your custard with various sorts of booze eg. rum, whisky, brandy, which I think is an admirable concept. I am uncomfortably familiar with custard powder from my days as a chef in a rest home (they eat that stuff by the gallon, no lie) but here comes another ground-breaking revelation: when you make it from scratch it does in fact taste vastly better. read more…
Friands, made mostly out of ground almonds, rise into a moist, dense cake by way of including whipped egg whites in the batter, which make them a good go-to recipe for me because I inevitably have a lot of egg whites sitting around waiting to be used, and at least some form of frozen berry or tinned fruit stashed away to top them with. This weekend I conveniently happened not to have either of those things but still went ahead and made friands, being in a rush to go to my Dad’s place for Fathers’ Day and not wishing to turn up empty-handed.You might wonder why I did not just think ahead a little and have something organised prior to the morning-of, but sometimes I just abandon all sense and leave things up to chance, uncomfortably close to the moment of reckoning. My final wedding dress fitting springs to mind as I write this…
So, to get to the point of this mundane little tale, I did happen to have some walnuts and thus used them as the defining feature of these particular friands. And having tried them, I don’t think I’ll go back to using any old fruit or berries I can lay hands on (at least not until I run out of those walnuts), because the crunchy, toasted nuts on top were in perfect contrast with the sweet, spongy cake aspect, and the maple caramel that I liberally doused them with soaked in around the edges and went all sticky and delicious as the friands cooled down. My favourite part of a friand is this wee halo of chewy, crisp, cake that they get around their top edge, and coated in caramel this was elevated to even greater levels. read more