It was with the greatest intentions that I swore off cooking pudding for a while, it was also with the greatest of intentions that I started cooking tonight's pudding. Now, with the benefit of hindsight (she is a cruel mistress!) I can see that something involving homemade pastry, baking blind, separating eggs and using a double boiler probably isn't the best thing to make when you get home from work. I wish I had some kind of alarm system that would go off whenever I have a fit of deranged domesticity like this, but it does creep up on you. One moment you are craving something sugary, the next you are up to your elbows in temperamental egg yolks.
Firstly, last night's dinner. It consisted of two salads, which, as unfilling and cold as that sounds, made a lovely meal. Because we are going away for a week on Saturday (home to see my family, the cats, and Muse!) I'm trying to use what we have in the cupboard. Thus, we ended up with this:
Above: This was a mixture of rice vermicelli noodles (the sort that I put in rice paper rolls) with cabbage, beans, brocolli, and one of those fish sauce-and-lime juice dressings. It was a lovely combination of flavours but I have to say vermicelli noodles are a bugger to eat - this might work better with something a little less slippery. A good store cupboard meal.
To go with, I made this, which required a bit more planning.
Above: Where do I start? First of all, I soaked the chickpeas yesterday morning, then cunningly cooked them up with the pearl barley, which meant they were ready at the same time. Meanwhile I chopped up and roasted what was left of the capsicum and fennel, plus a beetroot. While this was happening, I made dressing of the mashed up garlic that was boiling away with the chickpeas, some orange juice, and a little red wine vinegar. Finally I added some chopped up chorizo because Tim was bemoaning the lack of meat present and some linseeds to make it even more virtuous. I realise that the noodle salad's Asian flavours clash somewhat with the earthier flavours of the chickpea and barley salad but they actually went well together - even on the plate.
Above: Juxtaposition. One of my favourite words when I was studying art in high school - just throw it in conversation, nod sagely, and you will pass.
Both salads tasted great, though probably would have tasted better with bucketloads of oil in the dressing...I think the best way to avoid this is to maximise on flavour and texture which certainly was achieved.
Now to tonight's dinner:
Pudding technically isn't essential in the way that carbs are for insulin-packing Tim but my soul was saying, Morrissey-like, "Please, please, please, let me get what I want" and I gave in to its wheedling, by making the Raspberry Curd Tarts from the January 2004 Cuisine magazine. Cuisine is an NZ food magazine and has to be one of the classiest and most elegant food publications in the world. Its recipes aren't always terribly accessible but this one seemed to be - in that I didn't have to go out and buy anything - and I really was itching to make some pud.
I started off making the pastry, which then chilled in the fridge while I made the raspberry curd, which involved softly stewing the berries till they collapse in their own juices, before cooking them in a double boiler (or in my case, a bowl suspended over a pan of water) with butter, egg yolks and sugar till thickened. This was an undeniably messy job, and rather disappointingly, the raspberries lost their fabulous scarlet tinge, turning into something that reminded me of a lipstick that Mum used to have.
Above: The curd a-curding. It thickened surprisingly quickly.
What followed was a little nightmarish - draining the curd through a sieve to get rid of the pips. I can't tell you how many photos I took trying to get an artistic 'drip' effect. It would drip like mad and then as soon as the camera flashed the little blighters would disappear!
In between all this I made dinner:
Nearly fainted after dinner when I realised I hadn't read the bit about blind baking.
Above: The bane of my existence - blind baking, made more excruciating by being executed mini-style. Although there is something satisfying in seeing a crisp, golden pastry shell awaiting its filling.
Finally, I poured the curd into the cooked shells - and was too exhausted to eat anything (also scoffing too much pastry while rolling it out may have contributed to this - hmm, this isn't the first time I've said this...)
Above: Tart, top and sides.
Like I said, I didn't try any, but Tim and Kieran did, plus Alicia who also works at Starbucks and her mate Vi. The general concensus was that it tasted awesome - thank Heavens is all I can say. Do I recommend this recipe? Hard to say. On the one hand, you could make everything in advance, which would make things a lot easier than hitting the ground running after work. And according to everyone it does taste pretty fantastic, not to mention the fact that the tarts are undeniably cute. On the other hand, I am now a gibbering wreck, not looking forward to going to work tomorrow.
I guess you could call them The Great Gig in The Pie...perhaps a Tart of Gold...okay, okay, I'm going to bed.