Wednesday 22 April 2020

Chaos In The Covidian Kitchen

You win some, you lose some. My breadmaking is gradually improving. A pan of water in the oven, and having the temperature slightly lower than the recipe suggests both seem to be important things to remember. I've stopped making one loaf with 500g of flour, and instead I split the dough in half, to make two smaller loaves. It works better for us. 
Last Thursday, after I'd been ringing my school bell for the nhs, my neighbour called across "Do you have a loaf tin we could borrow please?" Young Rosie-next-door is learning to cook. We discussed recipes, and she'd tried banana bread, but used the wrong sort of tin and it hadn''t worked. I said yes I could lend one - and had she made biscuits yet? Later that evening I left a loaf tin and some cookie cutters on the doorstep.
But this has meant a rearrangement of my twin loaf system.
I made a tear and share loaf on Monday morning, arranging 7 balls of dough inside a cake tin.

I listened to The Kitchen Cabinet on Radio 4 on Saturday morning. This has been a longtime favourite programme, and their broadcasts during lockdown have been superb.
This week they had a scientist on the panel, who was giving us amazing facts.
Did you know that if you are handling garlic, and want to remove the odour from your hands, you should rub them with a piece of bruised apple? The other panel members tried this out [as they were recording in their own kitchens] and declared it really works. Barry Smith explained it was to do with the garlic molecules and something in the apple. He suggested cutting a small slice from an apple before you start cooking, and when you finish, it will have gone brown and be ready to deodorize your fingers! I have yet to try this myself. His other interesting comment was about cucumber and melon.
He said they are basically the same thing, but one has more sugars in it. If you peel and slice cucumber and put sugar on it, you will think you are eating melon. I tried this, and added mint and blueberries. It seemed to work. It was certainly a refreshing little dessert.
The Kitchen Cabinet crew were advocating using 'aqua faba' [which means bean water] in recipes. This is the liquid drained from a can of chickpeas. I found an internet recipe for aqua faba meringues and decided to try it.
There was a packet of shortcrust pastry in the freezer. I used half to line a pie dish, and filled the dish with some stewed apples from the freezer. 
Then I made my meringue - I used the Kenwood. TIP all the recipes say beat the liquid till it is white and glossy and has stiff peaks. This takes far longer than it does with regular eggwhites. But in the end I got there, added a tsp of cream of tartar [allegedly this stabilises the mix] and the sugar. I had a bowl of billowy white clouds. 
I piled this onto my pastry and apples, but had half a bowl left.
I decided a pavlova would be a good idea. I put a parchment paper circle into a flan dish, and piled the meringue onto it. Then I baked them. The pie didn't turn out too bad. But the pavlova - oh dear! 
It just sort of vanished - leaving a sticky mess on the lining paper.
And I used the remaining half packet of pastry to top a leftovers meat pie. I definitely had the oven too hot here, and should have let the rolled out pastry rest a little longer. There was hideous shrinkage.
It is a good thing there was only Bob and myself to eat it!
Still, apart from the pavlova, it was all edible. I should say that the pavlova did seep over the edge of the flan dish, and there were strange black carboniferous lumps like magma on the base of the oven.
I've recorded all the Daily Kitchen programmes with Jack Monroe but only watched three so far. The sound quality wasn't good - and I put on the subtitles. That was screamingly funny. They referred to Wartime Cook Marguerite Patten "cooking with the Russians", a strange character called "Anchovy Phillips" - and most bizarrely of all, the phrase "cinnamon rolls" was subtitled "nipples"
We're not starving, and we are laughing a lot. I hope this is the case for you too.


  1. I've also been told that rubbing your hands and fingers with a stainless steel spoon also rids your fingers of garlic smell too (it seems to work for me.) You just treat the spoon like you would with a soap.

    Well done for trying Aquafaba! I was furious with CBC for chucking it away when he opened a tin of chickpeas to make hummus recently as I wanted to try using it! The idea of making a smaller loaf is a better idea as the bread will be fresher in 2batches. Mmm, I'm excited as I bought some mini Pain Au Chocolat in Lidl yesterday (as well as 2 rolls) so there is a ttrat for breakfast!
    Sometimes, the subtitles are hilarious!

  2. Oh, your bread rolls and the loaf look so good!

    I didn't know about a slice of apple being able to remove garlic odor (apples were an imported fruit when I was a child and when the government put a ban on imported fruits, apples could not be bought, until someone figured out how to grow them in the "up country" hill areas, where the climate was cooler). I have always used the blade of a steel knife (often the one used to chop the garlic or the onions) to remove the smell, by running my fingers over the blunt edge of the blade. :)

    Too bad about the meringue for the pavlova; perhaps the oven temperature was too high. But, the meringue on the pie looks perfect!

    1. It is so strange, they were next to each other in the oven too!

  3. I'm planning on opening a can of chickpeas today so maybe I'll give it a try!
    Your bread looks wonderful!

  4. There are lots of aqua faba recipes out there. Thanks for the comment re bread. Practice brings improvement


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