I have something of an obsession with neatness. It's not merely tidiness and order, although those are included (I have to, for instance, open programs on my laptop in a specific order so they appear on the task bar from left to right thus: Thunderbird, Firefox, Spotify, then anything else - but Word has to be to the left of Excel). It's more about rightness, about the elegance of design exhibited when things are 'just so'.
And, of course, this fixation extends to food. I'm not talking about artful presentation on the plate, I'm talking about, for example, why I find the flawed design of celery so intensely irritating. And why a recipe that calls for either just egg whites or yolks sends me bat-shit crazy. What the fuck are you supposed to do with the leftover yolks/whites (delete as appropriate)?
Imagine then how happy the combination of these two recipes makes me - the whites used in the first, the yolks in the second. The stars are in alignment, God is in His heaven, and all is right with the world.
It also takes care of my fondness for something sweet to end the evening meal with for the next two weeks.
Can I get an 'AMEN'?
little almond cakes
Moreish and toothsome delights.
makes 20 little cakes
3 egg whites
125g caster sugar
30g plain flour
100g ground almonds
100g melted butter
icing sugar for dusting
Whisk the egg whites and caster sugar together until frothy, but not stiff. Beat in the flour, then the ground almonds, then the melted butter. Fold the raisins into the mixture.
Grease twenty of the holes of a 24 hole non-stick mini muffin tray with a little melted butter and spoon the mixture into them. Bake in the oven at 190C/170C fan for about 18-20 minutes - I'd start checking them after 15. Remove from the oven, dust with icing sugar and allow to cool before removing from the tray - they'll pop out without any trouble.
elderflower burnt cream
The classic flavouring for burnt cream (A.K.A. crème brûlée) is vanilla - add the seeds and the pod to the cream as it heats - but I didn't have any. I've always got a bottle of elderflower cordial though (Bottle Green ideally), and I now think I prefer it to vanilla for this - it adds a delicate, fresh note to the burnt cream.
makes enough for 4 x 100ml ramekins
3 egg yolks
20g caster sugar
250ml double cream
2 tbsps milk (or 3 tbsps if your cream is especially thick)
3 tbsps elderflower cordial
4 heaped tsps of demerara sugar for the 'burnt' topping
Heat your oven to 150C/130C fan. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar together. In a small pan, heat the cream, milk and cordial, stirring the while, until just about to simmer. Remove from the heat and pour into the egg/sugar, whisking all the time.
Place four ramekins in a roasting tray and pour the custard into them. Open the oven door, slide the tray onto the middle shelf, and then pour cold water into the tray until it comes about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Close the oven door and bake for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely, then chill in the fridge for an hour or so.
When you are ready to serve them, heat your grill to blistering hot, sprinkle the tops with the demerara sugar and slide the ramekins under the grill for a minute or so. Keep watching and remove the moment the tops are nicely golden and blistered (even better, if you have one, use a blow torch). Allow time for them to cool (and the burnt sugar to form a brittle shell) before scoffing.
SHORTLISTED FOR FOOD BLOG OF THE YEAR 2014