Tuesday, 16 August 2011

A tale of two halves

I wasn't going to post about my cooking efforts yesterday because they left me feeling utterly deflated and to be honest like a bit of a loser in the kitchen department. But it doesn't seem right to only write about the good stuff and I'm sure there was some learning/character building in my humiliation somewhere. So, pride swallowed, I will proceed.

The reason for yesterday's experiments was that I had in my possession the mother of all courgettes. This thing was ginormous. This, I now realise was probably where I went wrong. When a courgette is so big that it has become a marrow and left it's courgette essence behind, it no longer acts like a courgette. Surprise surprise. Anyway. I got this beast from my friend's dad's allotment, which for the record was one of the best kept pieces of horticulture I've ever seen. (Curses for not taking my camera) Anyway he gave me the beast and suggested a courgette cake, which sounded like just the job. One online search later and I had these two recipes to try and amazingly they weren't from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall but my other all time favourite Nigel Slater. One was for a courgette cake and the other was for a courgette bake.

Well both efforts were pretty much pants. I don't think it was the recipe's fault, more the fact that I used marrow instead of courgette but made no allowances for this. The cake was supposed to be in the oven for an hour, at which point I checked it and it was still liquid inside. I left it in for another half hour but it still didn't seem right. When it came to cutting it was very crumbly and quick to fall apart. I may have been a little impatient in not letting it cool fully but it seemed to punish me excessively for this.

The bake, which looked delicious in the recipe was disappointing to say the least. I added a bit of lasagna to make it a bit more substantial for my dinner but no matter how long I left it in the oven, the marrow wouldn't soften properly and the sauce just dried out. I stupidly left the skins on the marrow thinking they would soften on cooking but they didn't. The flavours were yum so I'll probably try it again with softer courgettes and a few adjustments. Anyway, one disappointing dinner later and I'd learned my lessons. I hate learning.

What a difference a day makes......

So it was with a heavy heart that I looked forward to today's, what is turning into a very regular, bake date with Rory. This week Gyoza.....and, thank God, they worked.....brilliantly.

...so I haven't given up on it all just yet. One bad day won't get me down...etc.....

This was the recipe. We cheated and bought our own wrappers. Making your own seemed very time consuming and I wasn't up to another failure. The filling is dead easy to make and allows you to do lots of fun chopping!
The actual cooking is the hardest part and just takes a bit of getting used to as I found out. After last week's deep frying success I was totally blaze and unprepared for the gyoza cooking. Sure, the recipe says throw the water in on top of the hot oil, grand, no bother, nothing could possibly go wrong there! Right. So after a gentle reminder that oil and water don't mix so well, we got the hang of it and it was plain sailing from there. The results were delicious and we scoffed about 15 of them in about 30 seconds.

Thanks Rory for another great bake date. Whatever next?

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