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.**
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