What’s not to like about deep-fried chilli bread?

The Book
Red Hot Chilli Pepper| Jenni Fleetwood (ed)
(Anness Publishing, 2001)

The Recipe
Chilli Pooris

The Reason
I’ve had this book for like a decade. Like most of my cookbooks, it’s just sat in the cupboard, but as it is, I think, the first cookbook I bought of my own accord, it’s worth another look. I got it when my old housemate was a member of one of those weird book clubs that make you buy more books or they’ll steal your children. Considering its provenance, it’s not bad. Actually, that’s not fair; it’s a great book in its own right.

It’s got what I love in cookbooks, which is loads of background information. The origin of chillis, how to grow and store them, explanation of the Scoville scale, and so on and so on. Not all of it was new information to me, but it’s still nice to have it there. And to say the book is generously illustrated would be an understatement. Every recipe (140+) has colour photos, not just of the end result, but of the cooking stages as well. It’s the sort of book that makes me want to be a food photographer. (That is TOTALLY a job. Stop looking at me like that.)

I went for the chilli pooris because, well, they look good, and also because I wanted to make something savoury. Also, I figured just making a stir-fry or something was a bit lazy, so I should branch out. Also: it’s deep-fried chilli bread. What more recommendation do you need?

The Cooking
Yeah, I say that stir-fry is lazy and then make something that just involves making dough. I’m not exactly stretching myself to the culinary limit here. It seemed a remarkably small amount of chilli – half a teaspoon of chilli powder in half a pound of flour – but I guess they’re going for warmth without overpowering the flavour. The diced chilli fresh chilli should add a little kick, I guess.

I’m not good at deep-frying it turns out. It’s hard to keep the oil at an even temperature, for one. I was excited that I got to use my slotted spoon that I bought for the sole purpose of deep-frying. Such is what passes for excitement in my life. They all cooked well enough, although some got more done than others, as the oil get hotter despite my best efforts at moderating it. (I don’t know how anybody cooks on electric hobs. It was hard enough doing this with the instantly adjustable gas, doing it on a hob that retains the heat would be a pain in the arse. I guess the newest electric hobs are a lot better about that, but still. Gas all the way.

The result
They’re … fine. They don’t really deserve a photo. They’re just kind of little bread nuggets. They taste not bad. I think they need a bit more chilli powder, or some more herbs and spices, or something, if they’re going to be used as snacks. Oregano might be good. For an accompaniment to curry or even stews and stuff, I think they’d be really good.

And it’s occuring to me that they’re incredibly moreish, because I’m going to go and now stuff them in my mouth like a pig.


The only thing better than Oreos is home-made Oreos

The Book
Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe | Joanne Chang
(Chronicle Books, 2010)

The Recipe
Homemade Oreos

The Reason
Because they’re Oreos. I’m not sure what more reason I’d need, to be honest. Given that my flatmate has to eat at least some of what I bake, he also approved the suggestion.

The Cooking
The cookie dough was super easy to mix because you do it with melted butter and melted chocolate, so there’s none of the strenuous hours of beating to get solid butter into a whipped state. I didn’t have enough cocoa powder, so had to run to the shop and get some, which conveniently allowed time for the butter and chocolate to cool. I try to be good and avoid contributing to the commercial behemoth that is Tesco, but having one about a minute’s walk from the flat does place temptation and convenience in the path. Especially when the night bus stops right outside it and you can stagger in and buy a sandwich when drunkity.

Anyway. The mixing stage was easy. The next, slightly harder, because you have to roll the dough into a log and mine didn’t seem quite firm enough. Which, I realise as I post this, is possibly because I didn’t put the egg in. Only one, but I missed it. We’ll see how this works out… The smell is definitely right, if that counts for anything. That really intense ‘black’ smell of Oreos is present and correct.

They seem to be holding together pretty well considering the absence of egg. The heat distribution in my oven is totally messed up, so they cooked a little unevenly, and I had to do them in batches because, again, it seems to make a lot for a domestic oven. I could probably just adjust down, but I’m not quite confident to do that yet, even though it’s a pretty straightforward process.

I did mess around with the filling. Joanne Chang gives a recipe for vanilla filling or for peanut butter, so I kind of just split the difference, and made half vanilla and half peanut butter. That’s about the level of customisation I can handle right now.

The result
Gurgle. Like I mentioned, they cooked unevenly and ended up different shapes and sizes. But none were burnt and none were undercooked. So that’s something. And they 90% held together, so screw you egg! I don’t need your binding capabilities!

They look like this: Oreos.

They are, perhaps unsurprisingly, really really rich. They’re crunchier than a cake, but softer than a biscuit. They do that mouth-coating thing Oreos do. I really need more visitors to eat these things. I’mma get fat(ter).

Project Runway and Top Chef – Stop. Saying. Taste.

So Project Runway had a ‘taste’ theme this week. You may have noticed that from the way that Angela Lindvall kept saying taste about a thousand times in the introduction. ‘There are many kinds of taste and taste comes from lots of places so this week we want to challenge your taste and have you show us your taste by making something in good taste from something with good taste which is to say gelato which tastes nice so you have to take the taste of your gelato and base a garment that is in good taste on the taste of your gelato’s taste. Taste.’ I know she doesn’t write her own scripts, so she’s not entirely to blame, but that shit was clunky as hell. I liked her at first, but now she’s kind of grating. Apart from the moments she SHOUTS RANDOMLY, she just drones. She sounds like one of the Fashion Club from Daria. Maybe she’s just tired from having nightmares about orphans who can’t afford ankle boots.

I enjoyed April saying that she didn’t understand some of the flavours and then mentioning ‘Fruits of the Forest’ like that was some obscure gelato arcanery that only gelato masters with secrets handed down the generations would understand. Rather than, you know. An ice cream. She did somewhat redeem herself when Joanna Coles was all ‘I brought delicious ice cream for everybody! DELICIOUS DELICIOUS ICE CREAM! Taste!’ and handed it to April, all ‘Refreshments!’ and April immediately just tossed it aside and caried on talking about sewing.

Joanna’s visit was weird, though. She wasn’t really giving them any advice or help; she was just serving as weird ‘Voice Of The Audience’ thing, asking simplistic questions about where they get their ideas and so on, which she as a fashion editor has no business asking. It seemed a really clunky way of giving information they thought the audience would want, when we (well, I) just want to hear her being mean to the designers.

Michael Costello continues to be the absolute worst. Gasping, hand-flapping, insincere little wretch. Spending any amout of time with him must just be exhausting. With him and Anthony and Jerrel all not being nearly as funny as they think they are but getting so many interviews, it’s all a bit wearisome.

They continue to all make horrible, horrible clothes. I know that the six hours time limit is a lot to blame in this instance, but still. Kenley’s dress was cute and, as always, very her. Mila used notblack! But still did colour blocking like a champ. Mondo’s was the least bad from him this season, but was still, well, an ugly orange kaftan. Rami’s was hideous in a similar way to Anthony’s. Trying too hard to prove they could do construction. I admired Kara for avoiding the obvious ‘chocolate is brown’ conclusion, but the result was … offputting. Jerrel’s was gross, again. I don’t know how he’s cruising through making these short in front long in back gowns in ugly fabrics with bondage accoutrements. Not good. April’s was a nice idea, poorly executed, but she’s grown on me and she is young, so I’m sure she’ll be fine. I’d rather she’d stayed than a lot of the people left.

Michael can make some prety gowns, but this was not one of them. It sagged weirdly in the middle and the colour was drab drab drab. He does give good back, though. His reaction to winning was typically obnoxious, but I loved how it became glaringly apparent that the ‘industry event’ Miranda Kerr was wearing this to was yet to be decided, and may end up being a trip to Michael to Jack in the Box in Palm Springs. Do they even have Jack in the Box in Palm Springs? Anyway. Clearly this was Schrodinger’s Industry Event.

Speaking of Miranda Kerr, she … isn’t the brightest pair of shoes on the fabulous Neiman Marcus accessories wall, is she? She mostly just echoed what the other judges said, about five seconds too late. There’s a weird inconsistency with the judges this year – genuinely capital F Fashion people like Diane von Furstenberg, or Badgley and Mischka, alongside derpy old Miranda Kerr and Miss Piggy. I did love how Angela said ‘Here’s Diane von Fursternberg to tell you more about the challenge’ and then DvF basically just stood there looking like the leathery beach skeleton she is, winking at people. I still really enjoy Georgina Chapman. She gives really considered, thoughtful feedback and seems to have actual opinions. I still pretend that Mizrahi doesn’t exist.

I’m sorely disappointed that in a challenge that was supposedly about TASTE they didn’t really question the tackiness of some of the clothes. And that there was no Nina to say ‘We have concerns about your taste levels’. This truly is a show in its own mould.

As for Top Chef, wow, Sarah and Lindsay just continue to be utterly unpleasant don’t they? Grinning with delight when Paul forgot his shrimp. Their horrible self-congratulatory love-in of ‘I’d eat that every day!’ ‘no, I’d eat YOU every day!’ ‘IT TASTES SO GOOD’. I kind of yelped with delight when they lost to Grayson and Chris. And of course, they remained classy by implying that they lost because Cat Cora doesn’t like tarragon. Not because it was misjudged in that recipe, or because it was too strong, or any real actual reason. Or not even because Grayson and Chris simply made better food than them. No, it’s because Cat Cora doesn’t like tarragon, and is so lacking in professionalism that that would affect her judging of how well the food was made technicallly. Gross me out.

There’s not a lot you can say about the food, really. Two meatballs, two chicken salads, two Asian barbecues. They all looked nice enough. But that’s what you get when you make them serve food for 200 people in a short period of time, outdoors, in the summer, in Texas. At the risk of overusing a phrase, it’s Top Chef, not Top Caterer. (I would totally watch that show, by the way.) By all means challenge the chefs and make them do different things, and have a couple of ‘bulk’ challenges, but there’s been so many this season. The barbecue one, the steak one, the Quinceañera one (bring back Blanca Flores as a judge, by the way), this one… I dunno. I’d just like more ‘fine dining’ challenges that push the chefs in interesting directions, rather than ‘make lots of food in not enough time’.

Of course, the highlight of the episode was Grayson standing up to Tom. The judges on this show, and especially Tom, are hugely inconsistent about what they want, and what they expect, and it was great that Grayson called him out on it. And with such finesse. ‘Like a MEATBALL?’ said in three words what could have been a whole protracted argument about what they should do and how the challenges are set and so on. And he actually shut up! She’s signed her own death warrant, of course, because there’s no way Tom’s ego will let somebody who talked back to him win the competition, but at least she’s going to be on ‘best bits’ clips from now until forever. She really should be Fan Favourite, but nothing can stand up to the might of hausfraus in love with Malibu Chris (who really wasn’t that hot).

Project Runway and Top Chef – Evil Queens and Muppets

I’m not sure either of them really deserve a standalone post.

Top Chef was actually a pretty fun week. It’s a good challenge, and, as ever brings out the best in them. These are the best kind of challenge – it’s a specific task, and not a hugely easy one, but other than that it just lets them cook. No teams, no weird ingredients, no staying up all night. That sort of challenge has its place, but should be the exception rather than the rule. So, as it was in the All Stars season when the challenge was ‘make a dish inspired by your ancestry’ and all the meals were so good that they refused to send anybody home, again the judges kept going on about how it was one of the best meals they’ve had in the competion. Learn from this, show – give them parameters and let them cook. You’ll get to eat better food and we’ll still get good TV.

I think that Bev pretty much sealed her fate with the quickfire. The show is open that the producers sometimes have a hand in eliminations and I’m fairly sure that they would have found the ‘She would have had immunity, but she didn’t! Oh, Cruel Fate!’ shebang too hard to resist. I mean, this is the second time Sarah has made bad (or, rather, not excellent) risotto, pretty much a Top Chef sin of the highest order, up there with using pre-cooked ingredients. Unless it’s a pre-cooked ingredients challenge, of course. But still. Imperfect risotto makes Colicchio almost as angry as Elia calling him about for shilling Diet Coke. ‘Whatever! I don’t even REMEMBER what Elia said. I’m TOTALLY OVER that bitch. I’m sure she’ll do brilliantly in her career that’s MUCH LESS SUCCESSFUL THAN MINE.’ So I find it hard to believe that Sarah wouldn’t have gone home for it without the drama of Bev’s lost immunity.

Tom trying to be funny was gross and lame. Charlize Theron isn’t going to sleep with you dude. And I know it’s not a popular opinion in the Top Chef-verse, but Eric Ripert creeps me out. He’s not sexy. His lips look like slugs. Grayson’s black chicken looked incredible on the plate, as did Chris’s poison apple. I wasn’t so impressed by Paul’s handprint. It was a cute idea, but Chris’s presentation was an enormous amount of work, Grayson’s was daring, and Paul’s was just … a handprint splatted on. But I’d totally eat it and, ultimately, what do I know?

As for Project Runway, first off, congratulations to all concerned for maintaining absolute stoney-faced discipline and seriousness with the concept of designing for Miss Piggy. Some of them seemed genuinely delighted with the prospect (although not all; Mila’s look of undisguised repulsion when it was announced was wonderful.) Especially excellent was Gordana, for being concerned about Miss Piggy’s comfort. The comfort. Of a puppet. It’s still a less absurd proposition than when the Top Chef contestants had to make cookies for Elmo, Telly and Cookie Monster (the pieces of cloth can’t eat; ‘Ripley, she doesn’t have bad dreams because she’s just a piece of plastic’), but as this episode didn’t feature Elmo sassing Padma Lakshmi, I’m afraid Top Chef still wins.

If Michael Costello continues to make not-hideous clothing then I won’t mind his inevitable dragging all the way to the final, despite him being massively objectionable. I mean, seriously. ‘I wasn’t worrying about who doesn’t like me’. You’re a grown man. You have a child. Who SAYS that? Mondo also seems to be heading down the road to insufferable..ness. I liked him in his first season when he was all weeping because he had so much talent and sometimes it just comes out as tears, but this new whiney Mondo who’s making ugly clothes, I am not on board with. Give Kara the gloves or don’t, but don’t give them and then piss and moan about it. If you can’t do something with good grace, don’t do it at all. This entire series exists for him to win, so it’s a shame they seem determined to make me hate him. April’s growing on me still. She’ll be gone in three weeks.

As for clothes, Gordana’s was pretty. Mila’s was Mila and I love her for her steadfast refusal to do anything except Mila clothes at all times. Kenley’s was great and should have won. Michael’s was good. Mondo’s was hideous. Jerell’s was ugly. Rami’s was repellent and I thought it was going to get him sent home. It looked like Carmen Miranda advertising kitchen paper. Anthony and April were fine. I didn’t really like Kara’s, except for the pink piping, which was a really nice touch. Austin’s was just straight-up ugly.

Closing thought: This is Project Runway, not Project Feathered Shoulders.

Sesame … brittle?

The Book
Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe | Joanne Chang
(Chronicle Books, 2010)

The Recipe
Black Sesame Lace Cookie

The Reason
More Joanne Chang! This is the fourth thing I’ve made from this book; I think it’s the most recipes I’ve ever cooked from one book. This is actually proving to be really good for me; because I had a post to write afterwards, I made them, rather than just thinking ‘Oh, those would be nice to make’. Also, purely practically, I got a massive pot of black sesame seeds in the Chinese supermarket, so it was incentive to actually make use of them.

The Cooking
The preparation was super easy. It’s just one bowl and a lot of stirring. It’s another of those ‘not a last-minute thing’ things, in that it needs to be chilled for several hours. I left it over night, and as my reward for preparing the dough, ate enormous amounts of Chinese food and watched the first episode of Game of Thrones. (NO SPOILERS.) Who needs to go out on a Saturday when there’s baking to be done?

The cooking was less straightforward, which was entirely my fault. The recipe called for at least three inches of space between each ball of dough to allow them to spread, but that would have required me cooking, like, two at a time over the space of a whole day, (especially as you can’t take them off the baking sheet until they’re fully cooled) so I left a bit less space to get them all done at once. That’s actually one criticism of this specific recipe – it seems to assume you’ve got an industrial-sized oven to work with, which is unusual, as the book’s normally really good at adjusting to domestic scales.

As it turns out, they cook in about twenty minutes and cool in about fifteen, so it wouldn’t have been too onerous to have done them in batches, so lesson learned for next time.

The result
Aesthetically, kind of a disaster. I’m generally photographing things, but these really don’t deserve to be immortalised like that. I really should have left the required amount of space, because they all just ran into one big sheet. It did still look pretty – properly lacy, with the tiny holes, and the semi-transparent effect. Weirdly, the different trays cooked differently. I guess that’s not that weird. One of them ended up kind of gooey, but the other two ended up properly brittle and crisp. And tastewise, it was (is) great. Because the sesame’s got that savoury bite to it, it stops what is basically just baked sugar being too cloying

.And now I’mma go buy ice-cream, because these will be amazing on the side of ice-cream,

I have a love-hate relationship with Sex and the City

I mostly hate it. It’s a gay man’s idea of what women are. You’ve got the frigid WASP, the slut, the ball-busting career woman and the, well, the myriad of awful that is Carrie Bradshaw. She’s not really a stereotype, other than ‘lol, women like shoes’, but she’s also the most obscenely self-obsessed harpy. Worse than that, (well, not worse, but just as bad) it’s a very specific kind of gay man’s idea of what a gay man is. But it’s also the sort of gay man that the dreadful women the show portrays thinks are the only ones that exist.

I was once genuinely told by this woman that she loved gay men because they’re so stylish (while I was unshaven and wearing an ill-fitting fisherman’s jumper), have the best parties (while I was playing darts in the pub) and that I should take more cocaine, because gay men love cocaine. Now, please understand that that’s not me trying to be all ‘I’m so masculine and straight-acting’, because that crap is ridiculous, and I’m also sitting here nearing midnight writing a thousand words about my emotional response to Sex and the City. A lumberjack I ain’t. But the idea that I’m some super-primped wealthy Alpha Gay is equally absurd. But basically, the show’s idea about gender roles and how people should act are not pretty, and don’t bear even a little scrutiny. It comes at you from different directions and is basically offensive in all sorts of ways at once.

I still watch it when it’s on, of course. I just tune out the bits that are most appalling and look at the surface. I don’t really like the ‘it’s a bit of fun’ defence, because it’s an excuse for laziness and poor standards, but I make an exception. Also, you know, getting pissed off at TV shows is fun. Currently, there’s repeats on one channel and the movie on another, and I’m flicking between the two for some weird time travelling cognitive dissonance. Although both the series and the movie are revolving around Carrie going ‘I CAN’T MARRY! WHY CAN’T I MARRY? WHY DIDN’T HE MARRY ME?’. So you know. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même show.

I’ve never seen the movie before. It’s APPALLING. The series at least had its moments. It was occasionally very funny. Mostly for the times when Samantha is an entirely different show from the rest of them, a show where she just stares at the camera and rolls her eyes and necks some vodka and effectively says ‘Can you believe these bitches?’ Or when she’s stoned and does a little dance in the street to her ring tone. Also any scene where Cynthia Nixon got to act, because she’s amazing. Her multiple personality disorder episode of Sexy Victims Unit is basically the best thing ever. ‘LEAVE HER ALONE!!’ The Sex and the City where her mother dies is pretty devastating. Lady can act, is what I’m saying. She has the advantage of acting the character that’s most written like an actual human being, of course.

But the movie? Has literally none of the charm of the series, with the added bonus of Jennifer Hudson as A Black Person who loves Another Black Person and spends New Year at a Black Person Party and buys a wedding dress with her Black People Family and explodes with joy when she gets a handbag. No matter how much Carrie apparently likes her, the only black person she interacts with is the help, and the only white person Jennifer Hudson interacts with is her boss. Oh, and the lady who sells her her wedding dress. I’m not trying to say let’s all live in a multiracial rainbow or that it’s terribly racist that a lot of people tend to have friends of their own race. But this just leaps off the screen with its crass obviousness. Also, Jennifer Hudson says things like ‘Yeah, I totally understand your pain about the man who you’ve loved for years and have this massively complex, twisty relationship with, dumping you at the altar. My boyfriend dumped me and I miss him soooo bad.’

The whole movie is basically an exercise in reshuffling all the pieces to make sure that they end up in the same place as they were to start with. You know, like an episode of the Simpsons (which has the excuse of being a cartoon and in many ways immune to change, and also resolutely joyfully episodic), or the end of a series of Doctor Who (which doesn’t have the excuse and needs to stop. with. the. story. arcs. But that’s a whole nother post.) Or the whole Samantha ‘She has feelings, so she EATS. Ain’t that just like a woman? Deanna Troi knows what I’m sayin’, right gurl? Bitches love chocolate’ aspect. And I’m pretty certain that it’s pronounced St Lou-iss and not St Lou-ee when you’re talking about the city. Try not to make a plot point about something you can’t even say, yeah?

I don’t think even my scientific curiosity and my insatiable appetite for really really bad entertainment can make me watch the second movie where they ride camels and liberate all the Muslims by throwing tampons and lipstick at them and saying ‘fuck’, or whatever it is that happens. Also isn’t that the one where the juddering groaning reanimated corpse of Liza Minnelli sings Beyonce like a drag queen of herself? That’s just depressing. Apart from anything, if you’re going to have Liza sing at your wedding, it should clearly be Ring Them Bells. (Which, incidentaly, Bebe Neuwirth sings on her newish album. Who knew she had one? Thanks Spotify. Also incidentally, Bebe Neuwirth as Velma on the Broadway cast recording of Chicago really emphasises that Catherine Zeta Jones is not … very good. And oh my god, you have to go and watch Catherine Zeta Jones doing Send in the Clowns at the Tony awards. It’s SO bad, you guys. It’s amazing. Send In The Lemsip And The Flyspray Because There’s a Fly In The Room And it’s Really Bugging Me; That’s The Only Excuse For My Head To Be Moving Like This And I’m Fairly Sure My Voice Isn’t Meant To Sound Like That.)

Part of me is questioning the wisdom of writing so much about Sex and the City. It’s still got to be better than whatever ‘So I got to thinking, is love like pasta? So many different varieties, you can find it everywhere, but have too much and you feel bloated and uncomfortable. Meanwhile, across town, Samantha was having her raviolo filled’ crap Carrie comes out with. And that’s problematic in itself. Jacob Clifton pointed this out in relation to another show; I don’t remember which, but it holds true here. The show is full of people telling Carrie that she’s an awesome writer, they love her work, she’s so witty and insightful and blah. But the episode writers also wrote Carrie’s writing. So Character A is writing something, written by Writer, and character B, voiced by Writer, comes along and says ‘GOSH. THAT REALLY IS SOME TOP DRAWER WRITING. BRAVA, FOXY. BRAVA.’ That’s a pretty hard knot to unravel. The cleanest solutions (never show her writing, or never talk about her writing) are kind of a blunt instrument, but playing it utterly straight, like the show does on countless occasions, leaves a rather funny taste. Of course writing is somewhat narcissistic. I’m writing this at least two-thirds in the hope that people are actually going to read it and like it. But a little subtltely goes a long way, and ‘You (AND BY YOU I MEAN ME) are a great writer!’ just ain’t subtle.

I will say that Miranda and Steve are basically the only couple in the whole of fiction that I’m invested in. Well, not the ONLY. Also Lily Bart and Lawrence Selden in The House of Mirth. (And, by the way, my other New York-set show I perhaps shouldn’t watch, Gossip Girl, featured in its first season the married-for-money and a bit of love socialite Lily, married to the brazillionaire, Bart. A show about rich people in Manhattan whose lives revolve entirely around socialising and where scandal and lack of invitations to places is genuinely devastating, slips in Lily Bart references. In a show aimed at teenagers. Actual layers! Jokes that are only funny if you get them! Never mind that, here’s an old woman giving a man a blowjob in a restaurant.) What can I say? I’m a sucker for a woman who does everything she can to sabotage her own chances at happiness. Unless it’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles. I hate that bitch.

I finally made brûlée

The Book
The Gate Vegetarian Cookbook | Adrian and Michael Daniel
(Mitchell Beazley, 2004)

The Recipe
Lavender and Pistachio Brûlées

The Reason
I’ve been intending to make these for literally years. My flatmate and some friends bought me the cookbook from The Gate vegetarian restaurant in Hammersmith. They got it signed by the chefs because of some long-forgotten guilty feelings about not inviting me to something, or something. The Gate is amazing. I was vegetarian for a year, years ago, and then lapsed back into eating meat. I’m not a ‘meat at every meal’ kind of person, but have got used to eating it again and do enjoy it. Point is, though, that if I could eat every meal at the Gate, or just cook vegetarian food as exciting as theirs, then I’d not miss meat even a little bit.

I put off cooking these for years. Mostly because I couldn’t find lavender flowers easily, but then Waitrose started selling lavender sugar, so I lost that excuse. Of course, now I have a whole big tub of lavender sugar and not much to use it in, unless I just start making loads and loads of brûlées. Also, it means I had a reason to use my pestle and mortar, which is always fun. I’ve got a lovely granite one my sister bought me, and I don’t use it enough.

The Cooking
Pestle and mortar! Crushing nuts into a paste is, like, loads of effort though. I think that I probably could have gone a bit further with it and really mulched them down, but I made an executive decision that I’d had enough. Life’s too short to pastify nuts.

The recipe takes a lot of cooling and waiting. Mix the cream, nuts, lavender and sugar to a simmer. Cool and wait for two hours. Heat with the eggs. Cool. Bake in a bain marie. Cool. Toast the tops. Cool. They’re not exactly a last minute knock it together kind of dessert, that’s for certain.

I poured them out a little bit unevenly, so the sizes were off, but I think I got it sorted out in the end. Given that Flatmate and I are the only ones eating them, it hardly matters. It’s not like there’s anyone to send them back and complain.

The sugar crust took two attempts; partly my fault, partly theirs. I used the wrong sugar to start with, but they also said too use WAY too much of it, so it didn’t melt properly. I was using the grill as I’ve got no blowtorch. I kind of want one, but it’s a bit of an indulgence. I doubt I’ll be making eouto justify it, considering how labour-intensive it was to make them.

The Result

They look like this:


I thought they’d be too rich, because, you know, cream and sugar and egg yolks. But the slight bitterness of the pistachio nuts cuts through some of the richness. And Flatmate was digging at it so hard he broke the bottom of the ramekin out, so I guess that’s a vote of confidence. They’re really, really good, but they’re an awful lot of work. Special occasions only.