Sunday, 25 January 2015

Nigella Lawson's Spanish Omelette

OCD Panic Rating: 2/5 during preparation; 5/5 by the end
Handwashes: 4

I'm always looking for new and interesting things to take to work for lunch.  I'm not much of a sandwich fan and the office microwave is a health hazard, so I often have to resort to a pre-packaged salad concoction from the supermarket or a trip to one of the cafés or food stalls in the area.  I'm not averse to the latter (there is a supreme falafel stand about two minutes from my office) but it can become costly and more calorific than recommended.  Nigella's Spanish omelette from Nigella Express looked like a brilliant answer to my dilemma, something quick to prepare and suitable for chucking into the lunchbox for a couple of days too.  On a Sunday evening, ready for the working week,  I gave it a go.

On first glance, the instructions seemed delightfully straightforward.  Chop up a few veggies, crack some eggs (the first two handwashes), grate in some cheese, then heat through.  As with the croissants, there was no real reason why this should have been a problem. The slicing and dicing went fine, as did the mixing and combining.  But, also like the croissants, Nigella's instructions here were not idiot-proof.  And I am most decidedly an idiot.

I popped the frying pan onto the hob for the required length of time, then placed it under the grill, just as I was told to.  Nigella suggests that this is only needed for a couple of minutes but, even after ten minutes, the omelette was still clearly wet on top.  I upped the temperature and gave it longer until the top had firmed up and become golden.  It was still a little loose in the middle but the recipe told me that this was ok as it would continue to cook while it cooled.  In fact, it was already time to pop it on a plate.  Which was when this happened:

The unset egg started to ooze out of the omelette, leaving it floating in an eggy puddle.  I left it to cool for a bit longer then shifted it onto another plate (the final two handwashes, in case you were wondering). The oozing had stopped but there was some sinkage in the middle where the mixture had been lost.  I put it in the fridge where it stayed until my husband was brave enough to try it.

That's right: the final 5/5 OCD rating comes from the fact that I just couldn't eat it.  The soggy ooze freaked me out so much that I would have had to wash my hands if I even touched it.  Thankfully, my husband said that the taste was very good even though the texture suffered from being too wet.  It was “like a crustless quiche” apparently.  He recommends that I make it again, so maybe I'll get to try it eventually.  Just not this time.

Key points:

  • You've gotta cook those eggs.  Next time, I'll cook it for longer both on the hob and under the grill, and will also leave it to cool in the frying pan before I turn it out.  If it doesn't set then, it's Nigella's fault, not mine.
  • Maybe leaving the office at lunchtime isn't so bad... I mean, you don't want to be sat at a desk all day...

Win rating: 1/5

Friday, 16 January 2015

Chocolate croissants à la Nigella Lawson

OCD Panic Rating: 2 out of 5 (generally, it would be a 1 but there was a moment)
Hand washes required: 2

There are times when you deliberately choose something so easy that you couldn't possibly fail.  Something that is probably a little beneath you but which will build your confidence when you utterly smash it outta the park.  A foundation for bigger and better things around the corner.

And then you balls it up.

This is how I feel about my chocolate croissants.  All I had to do was put a square of chocolate in some pre-rolled pastry, fold it up a bit, give it an egg-wash, and bung it in the oven.  Suffice it to say, my end product is not like hers.  Here you go:

They don't look too bad, I know, but there's chocolate leaking out of the sides and they do not live up to their crescent-y reputation. Considering Nigella believed this an easy win for the children to make, my pride very much presaged my fall. 

The preparation process was not helped by some ambiguous info from the lovely Nigella.  The ingredients list calls for 100g of chocolate.  Now, if it asks for that much, I expect to use it all.  Based on the chocolate explosion this caused, I was incorrect.  It also does not specify baking chocolate.  Again, maybe this is because it's fucking obvious, but in my tired and hungry Friday night state, I just picked up the first bar I found.  It was regular cheap milk chocolate and does not appear to have melted at-bloody-all during the cooking process.  Grrr.  I'm not convinced that her explanation of how to fold the pastry was much better.

The OCD moment was one of my own making, I'll admit that much.  I cracked my egg into a bowl (cue handwash the first) then discovered my pastry brush was waiting to be cleaned.  I ended up eggy washing with my fingers (cue handwash the second).  I'm less squeamish about eggs than some things in the kitchen, but it would have been nice to have got away without sticking my hand in the yellow gloop.

The pastry (i.e. the bit I had nothing to do with) tastes lovely.  The chocolate is, well, just a piece of slightly burnt chocolate in the middle of it.  The end product is fine, as it goes, but my dreams of culinary excellence are still a long way off.

Key points:

  • If you're baking and you need to use chocolate, you probably want to be using baking chocolate.
  • EVERYTHING is fuckupable.

Win rating: 2/5