Warning - controversial content follows.
Do vegans cook? Can vegans cook?
We were eating recently at our favourite Thai restaurant, Soi.38, in Adelaide. We started with a plate of Sago Peanut Dumplings with salted coconut sauce. These were apricot-sized balls of sticky steamed tapioca, stuffed with both finely chopped mushrooms and peanuts. They sat in a shallow sauce of coconut milk and were topped with a ring of sliced red chilli and some coriander. They were amazing and delicious, like nothing I’ve ever had or imagined before.
Then it struck me. They were inadvertently, unselfconsciously, quite naturally made with no animal product at all. I guess you’d say they were vegan. I type this word with a tremor in my hand. Why?
This brought to mind another “vegan experience”, in particular a dish of steamed whole zucchini, served as is, with no enhancement. Let’s be brutally honest here, the zucchini is not the wildest little veg on the block. Apparently it has some food value hidden in its fibre and is certainly a flavour carrier but plain, steamed…?
The worst part of the experience was that the hosts/cooks commented at every bite “Yum. Isn’t this delicious!” Now I love sitting around a table and will enjoy practically everything I’m offered (and I don’t have to wash up). But, I’m the guest here guys and it’s my role to comment on any deliciousness, not yours.
I’ve found a recipe/explanation for the sago balls above, on the great Google cookbook in the cloud (and I’ll try that later) but my mind is buzzing. I know I can do a fantastic, delicious, exciting, meal where no-one misses the eggs, cream, honey or meat. I would have to put in a little effort, of course and that raises the question. Do vegans cook? Are they interested in flavour? Are they interested in texture variation? Are they committed to honouring the produce of this beautiful earth? Are they interested in exciting the senses or is that too base a desire?
Above - steamed asparagus and poached leeks (à la grec) topped with a toasted mix of chopped walnuts, olive oil, coarse breadcrumbs and parsley.
I'm thinking of a menu starting with gazpacho or chilled avocado and count milk soup. (Tetsuya offers a nice carrot and soy soup in his eponymous cookbook.)
We could follow with the dish above (1910 Wedgwood)...
or perhaps red capsicums, halved, stuffed with cherry tomatoes, garlic, marjoram and roasted just short of caramelisation...
or tofu fritters on a bed of pickled seaweed...
or... or... or...
Vegan cheese? Don't go there! We'll finish with orange segments, dates, cinnamon and caramelised zest with perhaps an orange sorbet or...
Help me out here. Comment and suggestions below.
My Smørrebrød with prawns, egg, spring onion & mayonnaise, then herring, red onion, apple, dill & sour cream. Below some suggestions...
(Plate - Aluminia Sonja, c.1950 a subsidiary of Royal Copenhagen, cutlery by Arne Jacobsen 1957, as seen in a Space Odessy.)
We finish here, in God’s own country. We have been generously lent a small “town house", in an enclave surrounded by farmland and forest. This community placement seems quite common in Denmark. Here I spend a week pretending to be Danish. I have Danish muesli, Danish blueberries, Danish milk, Danish tea…The Danes have not learnt how to make bad bread. Danish pastries are called Viennese pastries. I drink lots of elderflower water. The food is very good.
Just going to the nearby shopping centre is a thrill. Have I mentioned that I love supermarkets? You learn so much. The language is difficult - I take photographs then look up words on "Google Translate" (the traveller’s friend). These ginger shots I learned were not for making dessert or cakes. The Danes also do "healthy" by adding them to their kale & chia smoothies.
Iceland has its Hákarl – fermented shark that has an underlying smell of ammonia
Sweden has its Surströmming – a salted, fermented, canned herring so fetid one is advised to open the can under water in a bucket.
Norway has its Lutefisk – whitefish soaked in lye. Left for too long the fat turns jellied and saponification takes place. (It’s the same method as making soap.)
Denmark just has the glorious pickled herring, seen at their best with sour cream, potatoes, egg perhaps, and there’s no better way than as a smørrebrød.
There are restaurants that specialize in smørrebrød such as the well-known Ida Davidsen (who boasts as patrons everyone from Danny Kaye to American presidents). It’s simply any delicious combination piled on bread (as distinct from the Swedish smorgasbord, which is a buffet). The bread is a delicate platform, generally a crumbly rye which in no way overwhelms the topping.
Left: Traditional /old-style restaurants are often underground. They're very "woody" and serve lots of herring, dill, beer and aquavit. Café & Øle-Halle is in the cellar of the "Workers Museum". As well as butter, they serve a smoked lard, studded with crispy bacon bits. Bliss.
Centre: Contemporary restaurants all seem to claim someone who did time at Noma (the Danish restaurant at the top of the world's best list for many years). Here, a very "on-trend" dish of haddock terrine, pickled vegetables and foraged beach-side herbs sits on a "soil" of smoked rye.
Right: We have a light lunch in the palm-filled atrium of the Glyptotek museum - a salad with blue dressing and a brioche filled with a massive heap of tiny prawns (locally sourced, fresh and hand peeled), topped generously by a cap of rich tomato mayonnaise.
We spend a couple of days trawling through acres of vintage, mid-century modern furniture and hardware where the "big names" fetch eye-watering prices. They are proudly displayed and curated, redolent of tung oil and turpentine, in particular in Frederiksgarde, the street that runs through to the museum of decorative arts. We calm our longing with a visit to the Kunstindustrimuseet to soak up chair upon chair upon chair and rooms full of porcelain.
At the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum, I am pleased to make the acquaintance of Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg (1783-1853). He is seen as the father of the Golden Age of Danish Art. He studied abroad, in particular with Jean-Louis David, in France. One painting was particularly mesmerizing. With neo-classical perfection, the delicious, tactile flesh is juxtaposed against blocks of cold marble... but I did wonder why he had no clothes on, only his hat.
But it was the title of this 1812 painting that left a smile on my face all day.
Danish: En ung skytte, som sliber sin pil ( 1812)
English: A young warrior sharpens his spear. (ROTFL)
Smørrebrød are a great way to feed friends, with several compilations, one after the other. The bread should be less than the piled topping, in fact shouldn't be seen. Use thinly sliced whole grain rye (dark or light depending on the topping). This is crumbly and therefore light with no hard crusts. In the opening image, dressing is served in a plastic half egg - cute. Only in Denmark! (Save your eggshells and make your own.) You can Google suggestions but you can't go wrong with...
Herring, egg, red onion, prawns, dill & cucumber, blue cheese & fresh pear, roast beef.
Go cross-cultural with asparagus & humous, prosciutto & mortadella...
Be generous with dressing and herbs. Eat with knife and fork. Offer chilled beer, aquavit or schnapps from the freezer.
Like (👍) or Comment below.
Left: The waterfall, Gullfloss
Centre: Harpa - the Concert Hall and Convention Centre at Reykjavik.
Right: Angelica, growing wild around Stokkseyri.
We are finally in Reykjavik. It is busy with tourists, very noticeable in primary coloured anoraks. We walk around Harpa, the stunning concert hall, sitting right at the water’s edge, made like a honeycomb of glass. The anoraks are everywhere – red, blue, yellow, lime green – and I remind myself that we too are tourists filling the space, albeit dressed in tasteful black.
He’s got the hand-knitted cardigan now, in natural dark brown wool, he’s had a brunch of skyr (served with lingonberries) and I’ve had the pickled sheep’s head (deliciously served as a terrine or brawn) with mustard and dark bread, so we decide to scarpa, hire a car for two days and head to the country.
The first day we drive north east to Gullfoss, a massive waterfall (OK it’s not Niagara but it’s pretty spectacular and very loud). We have lunch at the nearby visitor centre and “family” restaurant, where the food is surprisingly good. RTV has the roast lamb (lots of sheep in Iceland) and I have a traditional dish – plokkfiskur - cod and potatoes in creamy white sauce with a dark brown “bread” cooked in the steaming hot earth. (I’m sure they’ve now found easier ways of cooking rúgbrauð!) Once home, I try out the recipe given to me in Iceland (see below) and find that it is indeed good with smoked salmon, lamb pâté, cheese, pickled herring or simply buttered for a tea or coffee break.
The next day we have a magical drive south to the sea. We stop at Stokkseyri, population 400, watch birds dive for fish in the shallows, take a break at a little café in a charming wooden house. Here we discuss books with the lovely proprietor, in particular the Icelandic “noir” crime genre. She continues to knit between frothing cappuccinos.
Travel for me is generally about food, traditions, art museums and shoe shops. (Shallow? I feel no shame.) Iceland however, is about landscape and puffins.
Interesting trivia (from Wikepedia) -Each square km is shared by 3 people, 8 sheep, 100 puffins.
It’s a sane country despite building plans being changed to accommodate settlements of elves (trolls) because some of the population believes in them - (democracy in action). It’s an ethical country with a VAT of 24% (except on food) which is noticeably spent on the comfort of its people. (The roads are a dream to drive).
The financial crash of 2008 saw many stranded by dodgy deals and predictions. (Fishermen left their nets hoping to make billions.) Bankers and Financial Advisors complicit in the disaster were jailed, whereas in our country they would be retired on substantial "packages".
(Rye bread, a touch of sweetness, no yeast . VERY easy and delicious and keeps for days!)
1 1/2 cups dark rye flour
3/4 cups wholemeal or plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk*
1/3 cup treacle or molasses
1 small loaf tin approx. 250cm x 100cm
Prepare the tin by buttering it or using a baking spray.
Stir together the buttermilk and treacle.
Mix together all the other ingredients.
Pour the milk mixture over the dry ingredients and blend everything together for a sticky dough.
Fill the loaf tin. The tin should be deep enough to allow the bread to rise.
Now for the tricky bit. The bread used to be cooked in a closed container for eight hours, buried in hot earth, giving it a dense crumb. You do not have a spring nearby. To create a sort of steamy atmosphere, cover the loaf tin with foil, crimping it loosely around the rim. Put the loaf tin in a baking dish half-filled with water (like a bain-marie). Bake at 120˚C for 4.5 hours. Remove from oven, un-mould and cool on a rack.
*If you can't find buttermilk at the supermarket, plain milk will be fine. The acidity in the buttermilk works wonders with the baking soda as a raising agent.
You must be impressed by my mastery of and Þ- þ and Ð - ð. These are old runic letters once also used in old English and Norse.
Þ– þ (upper and lower case) - The letter Thorn is always used at the beginning of a word but since it doesn’t exist outside Iceland and the Faroes, it’s hard to look up a town on Google maps that begins with Þ. It’s the sound of “th” as in Thor.
Ð - ð (upper and lower case) is the letter Eth. It’s never found at the beginning of a word and is a “soft th” sound. (I can't actually tell the difference!)
G in the middle or end of a word is not really sounded so with this information, can you pronounce Rúgbrauð? Good luck!
Comments or suggestions below...
Land of lava fields, steaming earth
Elves with legal land rights
An unusual approach to family names
An alphabet larger than 26 letters
Vikings (Don’t believe the bad press.)
A stunning concert hall
A cuisine of fermented shark, pickled sheep’s head and heavenly yoghurt
What’s not to like?
(Should also mention the national sport - Glima - where two men try to trip each other up whilst grabbing onto his opponent’s undies. Mmmm. ( Not in the Olympics yet, then.)
First up, went ashore at Akureyri, (population 19,000) a significant town in the north where my goal was to see the blue Iclandic poppy. This is the second most northern botanical garden in the world. It's awe-inspiring, beautifully laid out. I cannot imagine what happens when it’s under snow. The poppy was on its last blush but amazing nontheless – a blue not usually assocated with any plant, let alone a flower. The garden is “worth a journey” not just a detour.
I’m nuts about Puffins. I have no trouble resisting the demeaning portrayal of them as key rings, bottle openers or fuzzy toys but I do allow us some packs of paper cocktail napkins and a very tasteful, screen-printed puffin teatowel – black on ecru linen.
This is my second time in Iceland. I've wanted to visit after reading the Icelandic-Noir crime novels of Arnaldur Indriðason. His detective, Erlanður, is introverted and depressed. His life's a mess, his adult children are broke or vagrant and sometimes all of the above. His divorce was messy and bitter. As a child he lost his younger brother in a snow-storm on a glacier, for which he blames himself. He is haunted by loss and his obsession with cold cases of missing people. Overwhelmed by work, he treats himself to an evening of clearing loads of dirty washing and a supper of cold beer and pickled sheep’s head.
I had to find out more. I wanted to see a glacier, learn how to pronounce Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano (good luck with that one) and go to a supermarket to check if pickled sheep's head is really "a thing".
From the sublime to the ridiculous.
Left: Wooden houses in Isafjörður - cute, beyond cute.
Right: Thai Café & Take-away in Isafjörður.
I love supermarkets. They tell us so much. I’m in the town of Isafjörður (population 2,600) on the west coast. The supermarket is part of an arcade. Arcades keep people out of the cold in winter. Naturally it has a Thai take-away restaurant.
Found the Hákarl in neat little tubs in the freezer section – a traditional dish (eaten by Vikings). It's fermented shark. Fermenting, salting, curing was a way of preserving food, and in the 21stcentury, it’s still a national and celebratory dish.
("Hákarl - This is probably the worst thing I’ve ever put in my mouth,” said Anthony Bourdain and he was pretty open-minded.) I didn’t try it. Pickled sheep's heads were also plentiful, frozen in criovac, ready for your next party.
Keen to try Skyr (pronounced Skeer) which I’m sure will “go viral”. It’s an Icelandic milk product not unlike yoghurt, made from skim milk. It’s not as acidic, it’s rich and creamy and doesn’t drop whey when it sits for a while. It’s now sold in fruit flavours. Delicious.
More Coca-Cola is drunk per head of population that anywhere else in the world!
With long, dark winters, Icelanders love to knit. They all knit. Wool is sold on the supermarket shelves.
We were farewelled by a charming young Viking. This "check-out chappie" was fluent in two languages. (Perhaps look at our education system. For Iclanders, OK, it's a necessity, to be part of the modern world but they manage it somehow.)
Finally, we reach Reykjavik.
We go to Copenhagen to join a sub-artic cruise. (I should write København. Pretentious? Moi?) We have a nice cabin – sorry, suite - on the Zuiderdam.
Bad things about cruising-
As Jean-Paul Sartre said, "Hell is other people".
There is practically no wi-fi nor internet contact with your "other world".
You get only a snap-shot of places you visit.
It's a "cash-less economy" situation so you can easily overspend.
Being constantly asked if we are enjoying ourselves, or if everything is all right is exhausting for us and demeaning to the crew.
The selection of movies is appalling.
Good things about cruising-
You meet lots of different interesting people.
There is practically no wi-fi nor internet contact with your "other world".
You get a snap-shot of places you might like to revisit.
There is nothing you'd want to buy in the cruise shop or in the gallery of so-called art.
You come home to your cabin every night, and the housework is done for you.
You relax and have time to read lots of books.
The catering is incredible with something for every taste and occasion – formal dining, very formal dining, in-room dining, buffet dining, taco bar, hamburger bar, afternoon tea. The quality is outstanding notwithstanding the huge numbers - over 8,500 meals each day, fresh, varied and stylish for the 1,900 passengers and ship's crew. Unfortunately, the service is full-on and is not to my taste. It’s stifling, needy and wheedling.
Note: great breakfasts of omelette, hash browns and crispy bacon. (And I adore "grits".)
We met and enjoyed the company of Dutch, German, English, French, Israeli, Australian, American passengers but also saw a weird and not so wonderful array of cutlery handling. I want to investigate the origins of various methods used in the U.S. This is possibly the worst I've seen. As Pauline Hansen would say, "Please Explain."
Snapshots from our journey - Paris, as usual is soooooo beautiful but... I’ve always avoided July and I’m reminded why. The heat is debilitating. With its core of 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th century buildings, how could one possibly air-condition Paris? We are on rue de Verneuil, (where lived Serge Gainsbourg, his house graffitied by fans) in a miniscule ground floor apartment, minus the graffiti.
Eclairs are the new macarons. More satisfying then macarons, less etherial than macarons, more varied than macarons, they are everywhere, sporting different colours, different flavoured crème patissière, fruit and glazes. Watch it happen here.
Left: Salt crystals (proud, pure, natural, organic, macrobiotic) and from our own River Murray. Salt is certainly the new collectable. There were ridiculous raspberry-flavoured salts, ranging from pretty pink in colour to strident puce, mushroom-flavoured salts (a grubby beige), smoky salts (for when you're too lazy to fire up the barbie). The Oz salt was delicate and in good taste, of course.
Right: Alluring displays of spices and dried herbs, arranged to make you want to cook.
Both from the Fine Food department of Galleries Lafayette. (Don't pronounce the S.)
I adore supermarkets. Monoprix is a great attraction and it’s FREE entertainment. The yoghurt section is my particular favourite with many brands still coming in tiny glass or earthenware pots, all of which, when empty, I have to then cram into my suitcase to bring home.
These are two “must-eat” places every time - the casual Comptoir du Relais (place de l’Odéon) and the very special Le Grand Véfour (le Palais Royal, my spiritual home - the apartment above, once the home of Colette).
Le Comptoir – No tablecloth and a table the size of a darts board, they bustled, we hustled. I indulged in my personal weakness, the funny bits. Started with a grilled terrine of boudin noir, followed by crumbed, boned pigs’ trotters. Promised myself I’ll do these at home on return.
Le Grand Véfour – Perfection. Sat down (this time in the seat reserved in the past for Colette) to a beautiful plate by Bernadaud, Limoges, in the centre of which was a folded napkin. The quality of the napery made me tremble. No-one flicked open the napkin to invade my space by flapping it on my lap.
And, as we were enjoying the relaxing atmosphere, we realised there was no music! Absolute bliss.
Half way through the meal, the immaculate maître d’ approached our table, raised one hand in a questioning gesture and asked simply, “Tout... ça va?” No-one asked me how my day had been. We were not asked at every bite whether we were enjoying our meal.
Why is this appalling Americanised (sorry, dear American friends) behavior seen as good service?
Left: Le Grand Véfour - Elegance and comfort - and note a choice of salted or unsalted butter. What more could you ask for?
Right: Le Comptoir du Relais - a bit squashy but...
Le Tour de France finished in Paris on the Sunday. The city was packed with people and tour busses. Roads were roped off, access everywhere was difficult. We hid out in the gorgeous museum of decorative arts (le Musée des Arts Décoratifs), at the end wing of the Louvre - quiet, unhurried and safe - my second spiritual home - plates, cups and saucers, soupières everywhere.
I could fill this blog with images but let this one suffice - a cup in milk glass with ormolu mounts - late Napoleonic Empire. If I had this for my SFTGFOP Darjeeling, (Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe), I swear I could give up alcohol.
Also did some damage at Laure Bassal (shoes, 3 rue de Grenelle, 75006) and at Issey Miyake (with a "onesie" that could make me look like a "teletubby" in black unless I lose the holiday kilos).
"Spap-shots - the cruise", coming up.
Comment /questions below...
Last week, I was watching a programme on the state of agriculture in Oz and heard that 25% of all potatoes harvested are discarded because they are the wrong shape. The wrong shape? Are we absolutely stark raving mad?
I was reminded of an article - https://straight cucumbers - from Atlas Obscura sent to me from the indomitable BM. For afternoon tea (never "High Tea", please) cucumber sandwiches needed straight cucumbers and this is how they did it.
They might have been absolutely barking mad but do we need uniformly shaped potatoes? It must break a farmer's heart.
This has to be the best mash in the world.
Joël Robuchon died 6th August this year from pancreatic cancer. His name is not as well known around the world as say, Bocuse, Ducasse, Blumenthal or Gordon Ramsay (who was a protagé) despite being idolised by his peers. The food magazine, Gault & Millau, named him chef of the century in 1989. In 1995 he retired from the pressured world of Michelin stars and fine dining having at that stage opened and operated over a dozen restaurants around the world. Articles refer to his "relentless perfectionism".
He simply turned his back on three star cuisine to live better and to have a family life. Later he did re-invent himself - simpler food, simpler presentation and simpler settings, with dishes using just three to four basic elements. By this time, nonetheless, he had accumulated 32 Michelin stars, the most of any other chef in the world.
Left: Joël Robuchon - the chef's chef
Right: a "three star cuisine" presentation of eye-watering precision - caviar on lobster aspic, topped with gold leaf and enhanced by tiny cushions of crème fraîche mounted by individual petit pois.
But I do make his mashed potato...
Purée de Pommes de Terre (World’s Best Mashed Potato)
Follow this to the letter the first time. You can loosen up on the effort once you’ve got the hang of it and know what you’re aiming for.
1K potatoes (starchy rather than waxy)
(Choose potatoes of similar size for even cooking.)
up to 250 ml (1 cup) real milk (i.e. not low-fat)
200 – 250 gm unsalted butter, cubed and chilled.
The original Jöel recipe from his book Simply French (written by Patricia Wells) suggests “For exceptionally rich potatoes, the quantity of butter may be doubled”. Now, that’s my kind of recipe!
His mash became "iconic" with grand restaurants and hipster bistros following his lead.
Left: Mash, exquisitely served at the Grand Véfour, Paris, individually portioned, sitting in a jus, fragrant with truffle. (More on that later.)
Right: Mash served at Le Comptoir du Relais, Paris, to support a crisply bread-crumbed, boned pig's trotter - simple bistro that belies a menu of heavenly dishes. (More on that later.)
Tell me how you get on...
Above- Mary Berry's QUEEN'S PUDDING from "The Great British Bake-Off".
We’re still thinking of Tony Bourdain. I’m lounging around while my partner reads out the funny bits (Medium Raw). Funny and acerbic, these are ideas all cooks and chefs relate to. He’s writing about real food, hospitality, conviviality, culture, all with a reminder that pleasure and sumptuousness are as important as restraint and simplicity. He loved excess and hated waste.
In contrast, flipping through the TV channels recently, I caught a few moments of Master Chef, a show that purports to be about good food. Instead of warmth and friendship, the show promotes humiliation, suspense, aggression, fear and panic. It’s “Game of Thrones” in a kitchen. Worse can be said of My Kitchen Rules, which adds downright rudeness, plastic surgery disasters and bad table manners. I won’t elaborate on their bad suits.
If asked, I’d probably accept a stint as guest judge on MC. The money could add an extension to the house, repaint the sitting room, add a few Iranian rugs to the collection. It could for heaven’s sake even get me a Rothko or pay Willy Nelson to sing at my birthday. But honestly, what was Prince Charles doing on the show? Was that a new low? Who pulled that off? Why did he do it? Did the stables need re-roofing? Did the organic garden at Highgrove need to be expanded?
The charismatic Lee Lin Chin is leaving (retiring?) the news desk at SBS. Beautifully spoken, her dress sense is exquisite with just enough eccentricity to balance style and good taste. Would she have time at least to help the image of the gentlemen from Master Chef and MKR – five of the worst-dressed men on TV?
-The Great British Bake-Off
I came to it late, I admit, but The Great British Bake-Off has entertained and inspired me. I even “binged” on six episodes in a row, one Sunday.
Mary Berry – cookery writer, Paul Hollywood – master baker, Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc (comedians) host the show. Contestants work in a delightful marquee set in some bucolic corner of Britain. Their equipment is tastefully colour co-ordinated in pastel shades. They are put through a series of “challenges” – sponges, tarts, breads, scones, biscuits – but it’s all so civilized and calm, warm, friendly and encouraging. They all like each other. As an accomplished cook, I still learnt lots; about avoiding soggy bottoms, checking for yeast development, etc. (I had to get me one of them there automatic temperature checkers, by golly, and some better piping nozzles.)
“Tear’n share” breads were a first for me as was the new “all in one method” of cake mixing. Works well on a Victoria sponge (which leads, of course, to the differences between a Victoria, a Génoise, a Madeira).
I wasn’t happy with serrated knives cutting across cake racks nor with jumper sleeves pulled down to thumbs while cooking. I can’t believe that twice, salt was mistaken for sugar with disastrous results. The judges would criticize my love of dark pastry crusts - they prefer pale - and was it the British love of the double-entendre that gave so much attention to “nice buns”, “cream horns” and “soggy bottoms”?
The BBC couldn’t believe its luck when the show went viral with most of the population glued to the finals. The Great British Bake Off – catch it somehow – catch it on youtube – and for a laugh, watch David Walliams and Joanna Lumley do their thing!
https://www.youtube David Walliams Joanna Lumley
(based on Mary Berry’s recipe)
This is spectacular and easy.
*To prepare ahead of time, finish the custard and fruit part. Have the meringue whipped just before friends arrive. It will hold and can be “revived” with a light whisk before putting into the piping bag.
** If you have the privilege of eating this dessert, pour the cream AROUND your serve, not on top of it. (See Blog Post – “Respect” – 12/12/2017.) The chef has spent time cooking and presenting a lovely piece, with the meringue just right. Don’t dishonor it and cover it with cream. (The rugged individualists among us, of course, will do what they want.)
I first made this for a friend who is seriously gluten intolerant. For the base, I used part blanched almond meal, part gluten-free breadcrumbs. It worked so now I suggest the almond meal every time.
The recipe can be successfully adapted to the dish available. The pilluyvit dish in the photograph needed the recipe x 1.5.
For the base
600 ml real milk (i.e. not low fat)
25 gm butter (plus some for buttering the dish)
zest of one lemon (optional)
50 gm caster sugar
3 egg yolks
75 gm bread crumbs
(or better still, 50 gm blanched almond meal & 25 gm breadcrumbs)
Meringue: 175 gm caster sugar & the 3 egg whites
Fruit: 500 gm frozen raspberries & 200 gm caster sugar
Serve: pouring cream
Preheat the oven to 170C / 325F
Butter a 1.5 ltr (approx.) shallow oven-proof dish (one that will fit into a roasting tin as a bain-marie).
Base: Warm the milk, butter and sugar.
Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl and pour over the milk mixture.
Add the lemon zest.
Spread the breadcrumb mixture over the bottom of your dish. Pour over the milk mixture.
Place this dish of “custard” in a roasting tin, half filled with warm water.
Bake 20 – 25 minutes until set. Remove from bain-marie.
Fruit: Meanwhile, place the raspberries and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently for about 4 minutes or until you have a loose jam-like consistency.
Pour / spread over the custard.
Meringue*: Whisk the egg whites until fairly stiff. Gradually add the sugar and continue whisking until mixture is stiff and shiny.* (See above.)
Spread the meringue over the fruit, creatively forming peaks or better still, put meringue into a piping bag and pipe attractively.
Bake: Return to the oven (150˚C) for 20-25 minutes until the top is lightly brown and crisp.
Serve**: immediately with pouring cream.**
Comments below ...