Saturday, April 23, 2011

Too Easy?

I admit: I didn't disclose my substitutions yesterday. I shall humbly note them now. First, the sorbet said "fresh" orange juice, but didn't specify store-bought or straight from the orange; I wanted to eat the oranges I zested, so I used regular juice. For the fettucine, I used black pepper rather than white pepper ... and seeing the price on a block of fresh parmesan cheese, I opted for pre-shredded.

After a rocky start - I wrote down the wrong number of oranges on my grocery list and had to jog back out, paying a grand total of a quarter for a second one; felt moronic - I settled into making the sorbet. Warning: it doesn't tell you how to determine whether or not you have a syrup. I may not have let mine go long enough and / or stirred it too much, but that didn't affect the final product. There were heartstopping moments, however, when I looked into the ice cream maker after three or four minutes and the mixture was still completely liquid ... then it started to harden, and the consistency was perfect.

Final verdict (sorbet): This is an enjoyable sorbet with a strong flavor, but doesn't make very much. Consider doubling.

The muffins were intended to be dessert, so I started on them next. Have you ever chopped a Snickers bar with a kitchen knife? However hard you think it might be, double that. I thought mixing chunky peanut butter into flour etc would take a long time, but it blended very readily. Of course ... then I forgot the salt and ended up adding it at the last minute, sprinkling it on top and poking it into the individual muffins. Wish I were kidding! At this juncture, each individual muffin cup was full to the brim.

Smooth sailing other than that ... until I went to get them out of the muffin tin. The filling had bubbled over a bit, crusting on the tin. The tops were very light and fluffy, which meant that trying to remove the muffin paper with a fork often just popped the top off aforesaid muffin. I think of a dozen, I got only three out of the tin without damaging them in some way. I'm not sure whether this is a recipe ratio issue: I did use the full four Snickers bars, rather than the 3 1/2 proscribed.

Final verdict (muffins): These are very good, but their balance of sweetness puts them in an odd category. Are they dessert (maybe not quite sweet enough) or breakfast (a little too chocolatey)? Maybe the answer is where Nigella Lawson filed them - under the kid's recipes. Kids are too sensible to worry about these kinds of distinctions. I think if I made these again, I might either adjust the ratios or just not use all the batter. Tin overflow will kill these, as mentioned above.

Next, on to dinner, which I knew had to be timed precisely, but which went swimmingly, suspiciously free of hassle with the exception of the necessity of burner-juggling: I had two large pots and a skillet which had to all be on the front two burners at some point. Both pots were large enough that, while I could slide them temporarily onto the smaller back burners, it was difficult to do anything with them while there.

The space management went well, with a couple burner-juggles on the fly. Small hitch in testing whether the soup was ready to be pureed: it's supposed to be decided by when the garlic is soft, but finding the garlic in the pot was a bit like hunting for the white whale.

Used my pasta ... doo-hickey (the wooden thing that looks like a spoon but has tiny wooden pegs on one side of the round - yes, I am too lazy to look up what this is called) to toss the fettucine, then a few minutes later, thought, "Hmm, how did a cinnamon stick get in here?" Not a cinnamon stick: one (possibly two) of the pegs had come off. I am still waiting to bite down on the second one.

Final verdict (soup): This is the second Giada soup I've made, and like the first, it was creamy and delicious. It's quite simple, but very satisfying. The sage leaves don't completely puree, leaving pretty green flecks here and there for color.

Final verdict (fettucine): Either Giada has my taste for lemons, or my mutant lemons strike again - the lemon is pronounced here. For me, it was perfect, creamy and zesty. Pasta came out a bit underdone; not sure whether it was the recipe or because I used a medium skillet rather than a large one, so less surface space of the pasta was exposed to the heat. To be honest, I suspect both: I don't see how four minutes, then one minutes is enough time for the prescribed amount of pasta. Maybe it's dog-years time, but no, that would be a half hour or so.

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