Tuesday, 12 July 2011

'Ellice St Galley Kitchen', the vagaries of pastry, and icecream

Shortly after the 'Vegetarian Kitchen' was released, I received an email from a young woman who explained that she isn't vegetarian herself, but believes most of us should eat less meat. She wanted to extend her vegetarian repertoire as well as 'be better' at vegetarian cooking,  had  recently seen the dvd of the film  Julie & Julia, found my book, and was asking if I would mind her blogging her progress while cooking her way through all 180 recipes!

Needless to say, I was very flattered ( no, I don't regard myself as another Julia Child!), and  thought it would be really interesting for me to 'watch' someone objectively using my recipes. I'm able to access her comments about methods, flavours and difficulties along the way, kind of look over her shoulder as she works her way through the book, and she's assured me she'll be honest! (I can take it).

I know a bit more about her now, and am impressed; this is not a young woman with time on her hands; she has a very busy professional life with long hours, a partner, does voluntary fundraising work, plays music and puts time into keeping fit among other things - in short, one of those high achieving, hard working young women we all admire.

So, the  Ellice St Galley Kitchen blog has been up and running for a couple of months now and  Christy, despite at times struggling to find the suggested size or type of pan, dish or utensil in what I gather is a rather limited kitchen, is doggedly working her way through the book.  It's fascinating for me to read about what she's making, what she's learning and how she's coping along the way.

I did have a minor panic attack, however, when she posted that she hadn't been able to make the Tuscan Tart pastry work, that it had crumbled and refused to stay together, even when she added a little more water - Quelle horreur!  I've made it many times, could there possibly be a misprint I didn't pick up? An omission?

Anyway, I made a batch of the pastry and it behaved well, thank goodness - after which I decided to turn it into the base of a flan; I rolled it out to fit a 25cm, lightly sprayed flan dish; then layered roasted and seasoned vegetable slices (courgette, eggplant, capsicum) into it, interspered with torn basil leaves, dabs of soft goat's cheese and a few slices of buffalo mozarella - you could of course use other cheeses if you want, such as a creamy feta, perhaps, and slices of fresh mozzarella.  Then I topped it with a couple of seasoned eggs whisked together, before baking it at 210 C for  40- 50 minutes. Turn the oven down after 30 minutes if it's browning too fast - very yum. 

Christy had commented that she was late home the night she made the pastry, and she'd had a really busy day so was tired and distracted. I've had disappointing results with pastry and cakes/biscuits when I've been feeling like that, too, so am hoping she'll give it another shot.
Humidity is another thing to factor in with pastries and breads, too, though now that it's winter in Wellington that's not such a likely culprit as the need for a good sleep. . .

I know this isn't the same thing, but wanting to know why something didn't work reminds me of my early days as a columnist in the 80's, when I was new to writing and not quite so particular about exact measurements. I had published the recipe for a very simple but delicious coffee and white rum icecream - (the revised recipe for this is in the new book, incidentally, as it's a family favourite). A reader wrote in, explaining that she'd tried this icecream, her husband loved the flavour but it wouldn't set as it should.  I phoned, and we went through everything we could think of, from how stiffly she'd beaten the cream to what kind of beater she'd used. Then we got to talking through the steps and suddenly the penny dropped. I'd specified using a capful of rum, she'd read it as a cupful!

No wonder her husband loved it. . .

(Click here to take a look at Christy's blog)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

very interesting, thanks