Posts Tagged ‘Custard’

Apricot Tart with a Shuffle

June 19, 2010

No matter how hard I try, there’s a particularly irritating sound I find very difficult to bite my tongue and ignore.

For anyone who’s gone food shopping with a partner who is not as “into it” as yourself, the hopelessly bored shuffle of unwilling feet behind you as you go about trying to gather everything you need can be a bit of a – now, how can I put this politely? – pain in the posterior.

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There’s not much that I love more than food shopping, especially at the market.  Most of the time I manage just fine getting it all home (with a fair bit of dexterous arrangement) on my bicycle, but occasionally a little help is needed.  On these occasions, I tend to play on the ‘you’ve got such big muscles’ tack, but I think I’m wearing that one out.

But anyway, on to the main theme.

We had friends round for dinner tonight, and of course I leaped at the opportunity to “do something Mrs Beeton-y”.

With a bag of golden-orange apricots in my boyfriend’s unwilling hands (“Can you please go and weigh these?” I directed, hoping to distract him from sighing and twitching desperately behind me.  Off he went, shuffling and sighing forlornly.  Geez and blimey!!!)

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INGREDIENTS – 12 or 14 apricots, sugar to taste, puff-paste or short crust.

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“Sweeten with good moist sugar”, Mrs Beeton advises.  I’ve long been puzzled as to what ‘moist sugar’ is – I’ve been given a few hints about modern equivalents, but I’ve found myself puzzling over the question on occasion for quite a while.  Eventually, after quite a bit of internet research, ‘moist sugar’ in Mrs Beeton’s world was something like Muscovado Sugar (which is not actually moist, but has a higher molasses content, apparently, hence the ‘moist’ – in comparison to other sugars – label).  Off I rushed to hastily grab a box, my poor suffering boyfriend shuffling forsakenly behind me.

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Our friends are German, and they’d never heard of Mrs Beeton.

“She studied in Heidelberg, really?’ one of them cried.  An instant convert was born.

I opted for (shop-bought) puff-paste (pastry) – one of these days I’ve got to give Mrs Beeton’s recipe for this a try.  In the meantime, the pre-made stuff made a very good substitute.

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However, the recipe doesn’t specify clearly whether pastry is meant to form the sides of the tart, or if it’s just to go on top.  After debating it with my boyfriend for a few moments, we figured she meant ‘just on top’.  On it went, over the fresh apricot halves, and popped into the oven.

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Unfortunately, I served the dessert after a rather large dinner and too short a pause between the main and sweet courses.  Politely reluctant looks dressed the faces of our guests as I keenly encouraged them to try a little bit, whilst at the same time deftly putting all the blame on Mrs Beeton should it not be to their taste.

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Thankfully, they really liked it.  I accompanied it with Mrs Beeton’s custard, which I’ve made before (https://mrsbeetonin365days.wordpress.com/2010/02/27/day-91-lemon-brandy-custard/).   This time, unfortunately, I curdled it ever so slightly – but I sploshed enough brandy into it to mask any deficiencies.  I hope.).

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“Mmm, interesting,” one of them commented about the sauce as she took another bite.  Luckily, this sort of custard is not a typically German thing, so I got away with the slight curdling by saying it was an English sauce.  (“Oh, OK then.”)

The fact that there was nothing left is a testament to the simple tastiness of this simple dessert (thank you Mrs Beeton).

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Apricot Tart (Recipe 1239 ): http://www.mrsbeeton.com/27-chapter27.html#1239

Lemon Brandy Custard (Recipe 404): http://www.mrsbeeton.com/10-chapter10.html#404

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Lemon Brandy Custard

February 27, 2010

I know I’ve done Custard here before – but this is Lemon Brandy Custard.  Made from my very own (well, Mrs Beeton’s very own) Lemon Brandy plus her regular custard recipe.

Instead of using the custard as a sweet sauce for dessert, I used it this time as a topping for Baked Apple Custard (see Day 89).  The instructions for putting together the custard in that recipe weren’t specified, so I played it safe and turned to her other custard recipe for guidance.  As a flowing sauce or as a baked topping, it works really well.

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INGREDIENTS – 1 pint of milk, 2 eggs, 3 oz. of pounded sugar, 1 tablespoonful of brandy. [Lemon Brandy was used in this case ]

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According to this recipe, you’re supposed to faff about with various saucepans full of boiling water etc. – but I decided to take a risk and just do it all in one saucepan, at a reduced heat.

“Can’t hurt to try,” my boyfriend commented dubiously.

To my great delight, it worked perfectly. I had to continually whisk for a few minutes to ensure it wouldn’t burn, or clump, or whatever it is that custard does if it doesn’t work perfectly, but the frothy, thick sauce that greeted me at the end of 3 or 4 minutes’ worth of whisking made it all worth while.

Normally when I decide to ‘cheat’ or take shortcuts with a recipe, the outcome ensures that I abundantly regret not listening to the author.  This was the first time I could remember where cheating actually worked in my favour.

However, as already mentioned in Day 89, my boyfriend complained that it was “too eggy”.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I grumped.  ‘Why is everything just ‘OK’, ‘alright’ or ‘fine’?  Why?  Why? Why can’t things be ”really good”?”

“Hey,” he cried, “Sometimes I say something’s really good.  Sometimes.  And when I say it, because I don’t often say it, that’s how you know I really mean it”

I think at this point that I just have to accept that we’re always going to view food in totally different ways.  I see it as something exciting, he sees it as fuel.  But, at least I have the comfort of knowing, if he doesn’t like something, I can always blame it on Mrs Beeton.

Well, sometimes, anyway.  And, as I realised afterwards, two opinions about the same dish are far better than one – it makes the review more objective, if you will.

But still… sometimes…!

Lemon Brandy Custard (Recipe 404): http://www.mrsbeeton.com/10-chapter10.html#404

Baked Apple Custard (Pie)

February 25, 2010

The other day I saw an impressively large bag of apples in the local organic supermarket with a ‘25% off’ tag on it.

Anything smacking of discounts is like a flower to a bee for me.  The apples looked fine enough, and the price tag even better, so I grabbed them.

It’s been a madly busy week trying to deal with a load of red tape for my Canadian visa.  And when I say a load, I mean a load.  So, unfortunately the poor apples sat there for a few days until they were deserving of a ‘50% off out-of-date goods” tag.

It’s been a while since I made anything remotely dessert-like, so I figured the apples could contribute to the reversal of  any charges of cruelty levied against me by my super sweet-toothed boyfriend.  He wasn’t feeling too well tonight, so I thought this could contribute towards a cure – an apple a day and all that…

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INGREDIENTS – 1 dozen large apples, moist sugar to taste, 1 small teacupful of cold water, the grated rind of one lemon, 1 pint of milk, 4 eggs, 2 oz. of loaf sugar.

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Ah, my old friend ‘moist sugar’.  I still haven’t tracked down the German equivalent, so I decided to chance my arm by using regular raw sugar (I figured that the moisture of the apples would be more than enough to compensate for the lack of moisture from the sugar).

When it came to the custard, I decided to use Mrs Beeton’s regular custard recipe (with the lemon brandy flavouring – see Day 91 for more details) – there’s not much difference aside from the sugar level.

This pie came out of the oven such a delightful toasty-yellow colour – it looked utterly delicious even before I tasted it.

And it was.

“Bit eggy though, isn’t it?” commented my grumpy not-well boyfriend as his spoon cut through the custard topping.

“It’s supposed to be that way,” I shot back at him.  “Anyway, it tastes good to me!”

This is a fantastic dessert, with or without ice-cream.  I didn’t overload the apple base with sugar, so it came out with a nice balance of custard and apple (the hint of lemon in the apple gives it a somewhat sophisticated air).

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Baked Apple Custard (Recipe 1389): http://www.mrsbeeton.com/29-chapter29.html#1389

Lemon Brandy Part 2

February 7, 2010

Oops.

Mrs Beeton said ”…let them infuse for 24 hours…”, right?

Unfortunately, the days zipped by and the jar of soaking lemon rinds and brandy was somewhat out of sight on top of a cupboard.  So, let’s just say that 6 x 24-hours should only make the brandy 6 x better?

Here’s hoping.

“It’s lemony” commented my boyfriend aptly as he stuck his nose hesitantly into the jar.

“Well it’s got lemon in it you know,” replied I sassily.

He merely gave me a look and raised his eyebrows.

“So, you going to drink this or something?” he asked hopefully, ear half-cocked towards the living room door, where a computer gamed I’d interrupted him in the middle of was awaiting his incredible shoot ’em up skills.

I returned the look and raised eyebrows.  “No, Mrs Beeton says it’s for lemon custard or something”.

After boiling up the sugar and water called for in the recipe, I let it cool down and mixed it with the brandy (after removing the rinds, of course).  Before adding it, Mrs Beeton says to ”skim” the sugar water, but I guess that’s something to do with old-fashioned sugar preparation rather than modern, because there was nothing to skim off.

It does smell very good – like brandy, of course, and like lemon, as my on-the-ball boyfriend rightly pointed out.

I’ll make a custard sometime this week and reveal what it tastes like.

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Lemon Brandy (Recipe 460): http://www.mrsbeeton.com/10-chapter10.html#460