Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Slaying Batter Demons

I'd like to think that nothing in cooking frightens me. I don't think I'm even terrified of delicate desserts. The first time I saw a crockenbouche made I just wanted to dive in and build my own. I put that down to a love of Lego. I now find it laughable that I used to be afraid of baking, especially as it was a cake that actually saved my cooking mojo a few months ago. More on that in a later post.

There are, however, a few things I approach with some trepidation, and the latest demon I've put to rest is batter. I know. It's possibly one of the simplest things to cook, but I've had a bad history with batter. I won't give you the gruesome details of the time I ate a battered banana in a nightclub that became a restaurant during the day and was violently ill before even leaving the establishment. It was a bad night!

Against my better judgement, I will share with you a picture of my first Toad in the Hole from a few months ago:

Showing you this makes me feel more vulnerable than if I were showing you my naked body

I might as well have made a three inch deep omelette. I was mortified that I failed so badly at a British classic and vowed not to touch it again. Well, until a couple of weeks ago. Determined not be beaten by eggs, milk and sausages, I jumped back in for a second try.  This time, I went small with Lorraine Pascale's Mini Toad in the Hole.

I learnt an important lesson I should already know during this meal - preparation is the key to stress-free cooking. To use a very chefy term, I got my mise en place in order. Sausages pre-cooked, potatoes, carrots and parsnips prepped for roasting, baby leeks set aside for braising and some leftover onion soup made into a gravy.



The rest was about timing, making the batter, and not being afraid.



YES! They absolutely worked and were delicious, even the next day warmed up. I feel somehow that I've reclaimed the Britishness I lost when I failed first time around. Maybe next I should slay my macaroon demon. It haunts me nightly.


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