Saturday, June 18, 2011

Testing The Smoke Alarm

After my adventure in measurements (see below), I got home and put together the ice cream - whereupon I discovered that it said 7-8 sprigs of mint, not 7-8 leaves. Luckily, with cutting it down two-thirds, I figured I had about enough. I was slightly dubious about the no-cook process, but I decided to go with it.

Final verdict (mint ice cream): I don't know if I didn't get the egg whites whipped sufficiently or if I let the ice cream machine run too long ... but the texture of this was just off. It didn't taste blended (so I doubt "run too long") and I felt more as if I was eating frozen creme fraiche rather than ice cream. The mint flavor was nice, but I'm not willing to experiment with this one again.

For the butterscotch bars, the bottom crust had to bake and then cool, so I started on that right away. The amount of ingredients going into the batter surprised me: it fills the food processor (or at least, it filled mine; it may not fill the platonic ideal of a food processor). I had trouble with the butter melting as I was cutting it. The mixture demonstrated the existence of centrifugal force, and while trying to redistribute it with my hands, I managed to cut my finger on the blade. I bled faithfully for some time. I did not bleed into the mixture (there's no call for added protein here).

Either the mixture was off or the crust "set" way earlier than advertised and started to melt again, because I know I overbaked it, and when I finally took it out, it still wasn't what I would consider set. Instead, it was gooey to the touch. So ... I would go by the time or color here, not whether or not it has set - though with brown sugar and butterscotch chips being a principle component of the mixture, it's hard to tell when it's reached golden, too.

While the crust cooled, I peeled and grated the potatoes for the pancake, using my trusty zesting glove to assist me in recklessly shaving aforesaid potatoes down to nubbins.

The filling and topping of the butterscotch bars could not have been easier, and after some cooling and chilling - they finally came out right after dinner. Perfect timing.

Final verdict (butterscotch bars): Okay ... I overdid the bottom crust and mine came out of kinda burnt. However, even at that, the middle layer and the top are exceedingly tasty enough such that I know I want to try it again. The filling is tangy; the lemon definitely points up the flavor - or maybe, again, it's my mutant lemons.

Next step, I made the apple salsa and realized two things: one, I had used all my mint in the ice cream, so decided to go with basil and dill instead, and two, I had misread "a stalk of celery" as "a rib of celery." I decided to use four ribs to get a ratio I liked. So by this point, I was really just riffing off the recipes.

I had intended to try and cut my pork loins in half thinwise (is that a word)? to get eight, then realized this was just about impossible. Instead, I sliced them in half the other direction and pounded them out. This unduly perturbed my dog, but you ain't seen nothing yet.

The breading process was a breeze. A step that Mooking showed when demonstrating the recipe that was omitted: he seasoned each cutlet with salt and pepper individually, rather than adding it into the dry stations (which lack seasoning). If you miss this - and again, it's not in the recipe - you could end up with some blandness in the final product.

I will confess to making a pan choice error: I started with a too-small pan (10") for the pancake and a too-large pan (12") for the schnitzel ... but I don't think that fully explains why the panko breadcrumbs never really turned golden, going from pale to brown quite quickly - and why the pan started smoking.

At this point, the smoke alarm went off.

I was heartened by the fact that my dog knew enough to be frightened of the smoke alarm. I was less encouraged by the fact that her decision was to go upstairs. After I retrieved her the second time, she went to the downstairs window I had opened and climbed onto the sill. I felt so bad for her.

I was so scared about flipping the pancake. I didn't want to burn myself, but I could so easily see it splorching all over the place. Luckily, I managed to hold onto the plate ninety percent of the flip and then ease it down for the rest. If the bottom is properly cooked, this step really is a breeze.

Final verdict (schnitzel): I thought the schnitzel were going to be bland, but they were actually quite juicy and - dare I say it - crunchy. As for the salsa, I shall not turn into one of those Foodnetwork reviewers who gives 5 stars to a recipe they have changed and substituted beyond all recognition, but I will say that my variation was very tasty and complimented both the schnitzel and the pancake. I did overcook a few of the schnitzel.

Final verdict (pancake): Arrrr ... I overcooked this, too. This was just not my day. Apart from that unintended crunch, I thought this was quite tasty, though I didn't really pick up either basil or parmesan from the pancake.

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