16 January 2012

The Food Fights Back

Yesterday I cooked the evening meal - now that's not unusual, but the amount of resistance I met with from my ingredients certainly was.

First up was the meat: a neat collar joint of bacon, cooked in the oven in a huff (pastry case). Huff pastry is just water and plain flour (you don't eat it, it's just ye olde equivalent of baking foil) and so there should be nothing to go wrong really, especially as I've made it so many times, having seen it demonstrated by Sara Paston-Williams on tv in the 1980s. I measured the flour, put it in the food processor and added the water: a few whizzes later I found myself looking at something nearer the consistency of paint than dough. Whatte?? Oh well, better add some more flour and hoist it out onto the worktop - oops, still not enough (hastily slosh more flour on until we have a suitably elastic pastry in which to wrap the meat). This accomplished, and the meat in the oven, I also added the jacket potatoes and turned my attention to the apple and rhubarb crumble. Nothing went wrong with that, praise be, it's just a lot of peeling and chopping, though I almost did too much fruit, even for the biggest casserole we have. But then can you have too much crumble? I think I know the answer to that...

Also on the menu were steamed fennel and carrot - I gave up boiling veg years ago when I'd ruined a few saucepans (and nothing burns quite like carrots, on account of the sugar). Anyway, they gave little trouble except that the carrots took longer than usual to cook and so held things up a little. The potatoes, on the other hand, were still like bullets after an hour and a quarter in a hot oven - OK, let's cheat: microwave for a few mins then back to the oven to crisp up.

Final finishing touch: the parsley sauce, which is after all only basic white sauce with chopped parsley added, and I'd quite like a pound coin for every time I've made white sauce. I put the butter on to melt on a low heat, left it for a minute and turned back to it to find that it was already beginning to burn - and continued to, even when I took it off the heat. And admonishing it makes no difference, either, sadly... OK, let's see if we can get away with this - in with the flour, shuffle it about a bit, add the milk. Hmm, this is turning into a meditation over a pan of milk and roux - for the longest time it simply wouldn't thicken, so in desperation I added some butter and flour. I go away for a minute to put a few things on the table, and of course come back to find it's turned into something very like wallpaper paste. OK, more milk - I win! It's no good, food, resistance is futile - we piled our plates high and scoffed the lot.