Saturday, 5 November 2011

Cookbook Challenge - Cheating with testers

Thinking about testing always makes me think of one of Tom Hanks's many SNL appearances, the one in which he played Wayne's cousin Barry, who was a roadie for Aerosmith, and gave a demonstration of his job by doing a mic check ("check, check, sibilance, sibilance").  I digress.

This week's cookbook challenge is another Isa and Terry week.  I spent all of my new-recipe-making energy on Terry testing, so I'm cheating and saying I did them for the challenge.  Let's be honest, the only Isa/Terry book I haven't already made loads from is the cookie book (well, and the pie book, but that just came out), and I really don't need to make a bunch of different cookies (especially after my week-long cookie-fest in which I made 3 types of chocolate chip cookies).

I ended up making five testers this week:
The first was Toasted Lentils, Onions, and Rice.  Yeah, it's not all that pretty, but it's tasty.  It's loaded with caramelized onions, which are one of my cooking nemeses.  It took me about an hour (probably longer) to caramelize those bloody onions.  Next time, they're going in the slow cooker.  This would actually be a pretty quick-ish recipe if one were to use frozen caramelized onions.  It's got a bit of a sausage-y flavour with the addition of whole fennel seeds.  I tasted this shortly after it finished cooking and didn't really care for it, but the flavour improves immensely after sitting or a few days, so I'm glad I reserved judgment.  The recipe also makes a ton, so I had lunches all week and a few dinners.
After a most of a week of frozen food and leftovers, I knocked out three more testers on Thursday (well, four, but I made another tester with tester seitan).  Pictured are Gyro Roasted Seitan (made with Lemon & Olive Seitan), Lemon Garlic Roasted Potatoes, and Roasted Broccoli with Lemon and Sage.  The reviews were mixed on this meal.  We both loved the broccoli - roasted broccoli is really a thing of beauty.  I really liked the potatoes, but Mike thought they were just OK.  I only kinda liked the seitan (the flavours were good but the texture was off due to my seitan being underdone, as you can probably see from the pic), but Mike didn't like it because he thought it was too "different".  Honestly, I'd make it again because I knew it was just a user error, but Mike probably wouldn't eat it (or would eat it but complain about it, more accurately).  Together, it was actually an excellent meal.
We went to Glasgow today to get Mike's passport sorted and had lunch at Heavenly.  Be warned - you don't wanna rock up at 1 on the Saturday they do the craft fair, because you might not get seated.  We actually had to get a snack at Holland & Barrett and do some shopping, then go back after we'd picked up his passport.  Anyway, I finally got the breakfast, and I was not disappointed.  On the plate are tofu scramble (made with smoked tofu), mushrooms, tempeh rashers, toast, beans, tomatoes, sausage, and a potato scone.  This was the best vegan breakfast I've ever had at a restaurant, and the two things that made it were the scramble and the scone (which was actually more like a mushy hashbrown or giant latke).  It was so, so good.
Bonus picture of Mike eating his brunch.

For dessert, we both got caramel hot chocolate, which was delicious, and I got the gingerbread.  I was really excited to eat it based on my previous experience, but they've already changed it.  This one came out floating in a puddle of really thin custard with no chocolate sauce.  It was still good, but not mouthgasmic like the last time (and the presentation, which I usually don't care about, was sub-par).  The custard wasn't as flavourful, the cake was flatter and seemed less fresh (which isn't surprising since the last time I know they'd just baked it), and it didn't come together as well without the chocolate.  I'll maybe skip this if we're not having it as a post-dinner dessert - I'm hoping that they just didn't try as hard because it was a lunchtime thing.

I'll be doing more testing next week, and I'll also be attempting Irn Bru cookies.  Let's hope they work better than the cupcakes.

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