Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Sandwich Time

We have a bread maker. It has various settings, and I've come a-cropper with them before, but I managed to successfully navigate its user interface yesterday and came out with a lovely loaf of soft-crust white bread in 2 hours!

It looked ideal for sandwiches, so after it cooled, I cut some slices.

Ok, the first slice was mobius-cut, so I cut another 4 slices to make sure it was just an anomaly. This meant that I had enough sliced bread for two rounds of sandwiches. I buttered the bread, thinking about fillings.

I looked in the fridge for processed meat. None.
I looked in the fridge for cheese. None.

Ok, I can make PB&J sandwiches. We have crunchy peanut butter in the cupboard, so I spread that over the slices. Now for the jam.

The jam in the fridge has a layer of mould on it. This isn't going well.

I root in the fridge for jam substitutes. Horseradish sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, mustard. None of those would be suitable substitutes.
I look in the cupboard for jam substitutes. Marmite, apple chutney, mint jelly. None of those would be suitable substitutes. I'm worried that I might end-up eating Peanut Butter sandwiches, and that thought fills me with dread, but I eventually find white chocolate spread and a tub of squeezable honey at the back of the cupboard. Those look promising.

I spread the white chocolate, and make one sandwich.
I try to squeeze the honey out of the squeeze tub. Nothing happens. I need to unscrew the lid and delve-in with my knife to get the honey out, and it's all crystallised.

Why is it that amphorae of honey can be retrieved from wrecks of Roman ships on the seabed after 2 millennia and are perfect, but leave a tub of honey in my cupboard for a few weeks and it's virtually unusable?

I scrape the crystals of honey over a slice of bread, and I eat the sandwiches.

They were rank!

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Poaching Eggs

Doris is away in Australia for 3 months. Therefore I'm not being stretched in the kitchenery department.

However, last night I watched Doris, over webcam, poach two eggs and serve them on toast. It took only a couple of minutes, and I saw her make a mistake, which she said was impatience at the time taken for the water to properly boil (so I'll remember that, and make sure I don't try to move too fast) but it was salvaged with the aid of a pasta spoon and nice to eat.

Ok, can I boil water without burning it, can I whirl a vortex and can I crack an egg? If I can do these things, I can poach an egg.

Off we go then! Water in saucepan ... check!
I then ground some salt into the pan, (I have no idea whether it's necessary for this, but I was taught to do it, so I always do).
Saucepan on the hob, with its lid on, over a high heat ... check!
Cut some bread, put it in the toaster ... check!
Wait for the water to boil, then start toasting the bread ... check!

Ok, now we have the technical part. "Whirl a vortex" is a fine phrase, but what does it actually mean?
I have a wooden spoon, and I can stir the water. I stop stirring, the water stops moving.
I stir faster, the water moves faster until I stop stirring and the water stops moving.
I stir hard-and-fast, I get splashed with boiling water, I stop stirring, the water stops moving.
How on earth do I create a vortex?

By now, the water is bubbling very vigorously, so I need to get the egg into there, but I have a wooden spoon in my hand. So I take my chances and crack an egg with my other hand, and it works! Ok, I have albumen all over my hand, but the yolk dropped into the pan, and the albumen drips into it from my hand, so that's a result!

Now, I have a yolk boiling and some albumen whitening in my saucepan. I examine it, but it doesn't look much like a poached egg. I wonder whether I'm supposed to keep stirring, so I stir the protein solution. The albumen starts to clump together, on the opposite side of the pan to where the yolk is rapidly hardening. I try to guide them together and just manage to unclump the albumen.

My yolk now looks hard-boiled, so I decide to serve. I can serve the yolk, but the albumen won't clump. I end-up serving a load of water along with a hard-boiled yolk onto one slice of toast.

Ok, that wasn't very successful. I can do better the next time. I have another piece of toast and another egg.

The saucepan still has lots of streaky albumen bits in it, but I'm sure that won't matter. This time, I will boil the water less vigorously and keep the water moving.

I wait until the water starts to boil. I start to stir.
I stir harder and faster. The water stops boiling.
I stop stirring, the water starts bubbling and stops moving.

Ok, perhaps the bubbling is stopping the water from keeping the vortex? Perhaps I need to keep stirring and not worry about the water not boiling?

I stir, I stir more, the water stops bubbling, the water swirls
I keep stirring.
I take the egg in my other hand and crack it. The yolk drops into the middle of saucepan and starts to migrate to the outside, followed by the albumen dripping through my fingers.
I now have a comet with a golden head swirling around in the water
The head breaks away. The yolk comes free, it quickly escapes to the other side of the pan. I keep stirring, trying to force the albumen to catch up by force of will.

It won't do it, Again, I have an egg yolk on one side of the pan and albumen on the other side.

This time I don't interfere with the albumen, so I can at least combine the yolk and the white on my piece of toast. I keep stirring, the pieces of egg keep moving.

The albumen breaks apart without any action from me. I've kept stirring! I can't fix it! The yolk is going all hard-boiled again! I need to finish this!

I stop stirring, fish-out the yolk and put it onto the toast. I notice that the other piece of toast has disintegrated due to water damage, so I don't risk serving albumen on the second piece of toast.

I eat one piece of toast with two hard-boiled egg yolks, and I didn't set off the smoke alarm. I suppose it's a success of sorts.