Churros with Caramelised White Chocolate Ganache

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Like a less wholesome version of Sesame Street, this post is brought to you by the colour brown. Why brown? Because brown is the hue of tastiness. See also: gravy, Jack Daniels, crispy chicken skin, 10 year Scotch and the thin bits on croissants. I seem to have mash liquor on that list twice; oh well,  nevermind. I made a whole slew of delicious things with the intention of photographing and writing about them, and belatedly realised they all happened to be a very similar shade of brown and thus were going to be bloody hard to make look desirable and visually appealing. Rather than attempting to solve this [admittedly not huge] problem, I’m just going to roll with it.

Churros are Spanish doughnuts which are made long and thin, and are classically served with dulce de leche or dipped in thickened hot chocolate. At breakfast time. There’s nothing objectionable about any of those concepts, but caramelised white chocolate ganache is definitely worth a try. It is especially worthwhile if, like me, you are one of the generation of New Zealanders who lived in the halcyon days of Cadbury Caramilk bars, and were then dealt the crushing blow of having them suddenly and cruelly taken away from us. Oh, what is life? This event clearly had an untoward effect on me, but it turns out that the mysterious and lovely Caramilk bar is just white chocolate that’s been in the oven, and you can do it with minimal effort at home. I also made a little dukkah-esque mixture of sweet toasted nuts with cinnamon, vanilla and fancy shredded coconut, because I thought it would be tasty. And it WAS.  read more…

Just a quick update because I spent all weekend working on an essay (and drinking and leaving my car in random places, but that’s inconsequential) and no one wants to hear about that, including me. Having casually mentioned at work last week that I might do churros for the blog, I have been constantly harangued about bringing some in for the demanding wenches lovely ladies I work with. So I guess I ought to do that…tune in during the week for the recipe!

In the meantime, here’s an awesome blog I found that recreates nerdy food from books, television and such. My favourite is the direwolf bread from Game of Thrones.

Kitchen Misadventures

My day job is being a chef, which inaccurately implies that producing this blog is somehow my night job. I like to think that being a chef lends me a certain air of coolness, badassery and authority as a food blogger, but I am deluding myself, as per usual. I love my career but I’ve definitely had some shockers over the short span of it, and I thought it would be both hilarious and educational to recount a few of these for the purposes of making everyone else feel a little bit better about themselves by comparison.

My first restaurant job was in one of the busiest spots in our town, in a boutique hotel with an executive chef who could bring me out in a terror-sweat merely by glancing at me. I got the job in a November and proceeded to blunder my way towards something in the vicinity of competence, finally hitting my stride right around Christmas-time. I was the deep-fryer person, and it was at this station that I did such illustrious things as accidentally immersing my own thumb in scorching oil, but during prep time I typically assisted the pastry chef.

When I was still quite new I got tasked with preparing a 20-egg batch of lemon tart filling, and was given a tray with exactly the right amount of eggs on it with which to go forth and achieve this presumably mundane objective. So I’m working away, just morosely going about my business and considering the relative merits of being mauled by a shark or being caught in a tidal wave (we had an ocean view from the dessert bench, okay?). The finished lemon tart filling is poured into pastry shells which go into the oven to bake. I start dealing to all the crap that I’ve hauled out in order to make the filling, throwing out lemon rinds and empty cream bottles and egg shells and…errrrrr, there’s still an egg in the tray…WHY IS THERE AN EGG IN THE FARKING TRAY?!

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Now, my general disposition at that time was not one that supported rational thought in a ‘crisis’; I was often rather wound-up. This only goes so far to explain my following actions though. In my fear-beset brain the presence of this one wee egg nestled amongst the shells instantly translated to ‘an obvious and very incriminating piece of evidence that points to the fact that I have caused the complete ruin of three large desserts, and will subsequently be flayed alive. Probably with one of the shitey blunt knives too’. Gripped by paranoia, I was convinced that suddenly everyone in the kitchen was a master of deduction and/or a genius savant who would immediately figure out from glancing at the tray that I’d left an egg out of the mixture, thus dooming the entire restaurant to epic failure.

In a move that seemed well-calculated at the time, I stealthily slipped the damning article into the pocket of my chef pants, put my game-face on and nonchalantly proceeded with my cleaning up. The fact that I was now the appalled owner of one ill-protected pocket-egg slipped my mind during the lunch rush, and was only recalled to my memory when I leaned particularly heavily against the bench at one point, and felt it burst against my thigh. That was quite the unwelcome surprise, let me tell you. Not as unwelcome as spending the rest of the shift with the business part of an egg seeping down my leg, though.

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Having spent my break taking the opportunity to change my pants and lose my mind with apprehension over what had happened to the tarts, I returned to the kitchen to find the sous chef contemplating said tarts with a confused and enraged look on his face. Having laid eyes on them myself, they were looking decidedly, well, @#$&ed. From my perspective this turn of events completely validated my earlier batshit behaviour, and I concluded that I should probably just take that little secret to the grave. Either that or spin it into a mildly amusing cautionary tale on a blog in the future.

I later found out that someone else had overcooked the tarts, and leaving one egg out of such a huge mixture would have done bugger-all to affect it, but the egg-stealing episode remains one of more fascinatingly dumb things I have done in my working life. So, what is the dumbest thing you’ve ever done at work? Tell me in the comments…if you’re brave enough!

 

Pintolerable

I just got done adding all the content from A Space for Pudding to Pinterest in one all-encompassing board that can act as another recipe index. It was a prick of a job and I was going to call this update ‘Pinternal Hemorrhage’ due to the [totally self-inflicted] pain I endured in order to sort it all out, but then I thought that was a bit too real for the title; best bury it in the body copy.

You can find this bounteous trove of photos, ranging from the well-lit and properly composed recent ones to the more atrocious ones from the early days, right here. Please repin my pins (what a god-awful sentence); the more people that see them and unwittingly stumble upon this blog to be ensnared in its metaphorical clutches, the better!

While I was sorting through the photos I found this one of me working a canapé function with my friends Liz and Robyn…naawww. Thought you might like to see it and put more of a face to the disembodied voice that prattles inanely at you every week. I’m on the right, dropping the top button on the jacket à la Gordon Ramsay on Hell’s Kitchen. WHAT a dork.

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Photo reproduced courtesy of Fifi Leong Pictures

Banana & Dulce de Leche Monkey Bread

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One of the most timeless and enduring truths of food is the joy evoked by the sharing of it. The act of sharing adds an intangible value to food; where at first it might have nourished and comforted just one person, it effortlessly extends those life-affirming feelings to another by the merest, most humble action. For a short time, more than one soul is drawing from the very same pool of energy. Its all a wee bit magical. You can’t achieve that kind of magic with a $20 iTunes gift card, yo. But sometimes this ephemeral, wondrous element of the human experience has to be cast aside in favour of ensuring one’s own survival. Either that or you just really don’t wanna effing share. read more…