So, (she says casually), I made mascarpone. There’s something about creating one’s own dairy product that is monumentally pleasing, and makes me feel like a one-woman, fully functional, to-scale fromagerie. I’ve made creme fraiche before and mascarpone isn’t too far removed in terms of method. I heated a litre of cream, till small bubbles appeared round the edge, then stirred in just under 1/2 a teaspoon of cream of tartar, and let it bubble away merrily for about 5 minutes. I then allowed it to cool, and lined a sieve with a couple of coffee filters that Tim had mysteriously acquired for me from Starbucks. This bit is a little cumbersome but not complicated: Sit the lined sieve over a bowl, then pour the cream mixture carefully into the sieve, and leave overnight in the fridge to slowly drain. Or, if your abode is as cold as my flat, you can leave it on the bench.
Seriously, our kitchen is so cold that the olive oil on the shelf by the window has solidified in its bottle. Which is what happens if you put it in the fridge.
Et voila! Mascarpone!
Above: The mound of mascarpone, with the strainer, coffee filters, and drained liquid.
I love how the mascarpone took on the folds and curves of the filters and sieve so it resembles a plump, billowy pillow.
As I said in my last post, I planned on making tiramisu this weekend. I realise this Italian specialty is fairly unexciting and run-of-the-mill these days, but – gasp – I’ve never tasted it in my life. Let alone made one in my own kitchen. I used a recipe from Cuisine.co.nz but just realised there was a perfectly serviceable one in my Claudia Roden “Food of Italy” book. The two recipes are very similar though, and it would seem that the greatest discrepancy between any of the various recipes I’ve seen for this occurs in the number of eggs used. The Cuisine recipe only used three eggs, which was a nice, small, non-frightening amount.
Above: Making the zabaglione, rich with Marsala wine.
I am, if nothing else, forever indebted to Nigella for introducing me to the heavenly liquor that is Marsala, and I was very pleased to see that the Cuisine recipe called for it. The whole process of making tiramisu isn’t terribly difficult, and I did the whole thing in about an hour. The fiddliest thing is the zabaglione part, which involves all sorts of things that I tend to avoid – separating eggs, fitting a bowl over a pan of simmering water (don’t let the base of the bowl touch the water or a kitten dies!) and endless whisking. Despite the pain, it is pleasing to watch the eggy, sugary mixture come together. Into this, I folded the mascarpone, and whisked-till-stiff eggwhites (another thing I dislike – recipes that use lots of bowls. Such is life though.)
Above: Freshly brewed coffee, made capably by Tim, plus the Savoiardi biscuits and the Marsala (I added a splash to the coffee as well. It belongs in everything.)
Slightly untraditionally, I put a layer of grated chocolate in each layer, basically because I had some bitter dark chocolate that needed using up. I also ended up – aided by some judicious spatula work – with three layers of biscuits, which used up exactly one packet, in a regular sized loaf tin.
Above: The biscuits soaked up the coffee very quickly – a deft hand is required. I usually err on the side of undeft, but it’s not difficult or anything. The only thing I found taxing was trying not to get crumbs of the biscuits caught up in the cream mixture.
Then of course, the moment of truth – the eating. Not that I flatter myself that my own personal tiramisu is the definitive article, the ur-pudding, but I followed the recipe and everything went to plan, so I’m guessing what I created is more or less what it should have been. And it was delicious. The texture is just…mad. Damp biscuits which crunch hollowly against the most voluptuous, rich cream…oh yum. More please.
The snap of the darkest dark chocolate against the cream is, I think, my favourite part. Oh, and the coffee was perfect – of course!
Yesterday afternoon Tim, Paul and I went to see the Wellington Phoenix play some Melbourne team. We got trounced resoundedly, and to add insult to injury it utterly, without reservation, bucketed with rain on the walk home. I was glad that I’d had the foresight to bake a casserole earlier in the day – using a recipe from my delightful Supercooks Supersavers Cookbook from 1980 – and it was basically the nicest thing in the world to come home to. I had the crock pot ticking away overnight making vegetable soup into which I biffed a lamb shank, it smells heavenly and we are going to have it for dinner tonight along with the leftover casserole (made very cheaply with gravy beef)…much as I absolutely cannot wait for summer to arrive, I do love winter comfort food wholeheartedly.
After eating our delicious casserole last night, Tim and I managed to stay up till 1.30am to watch the closing ceremony of the Olympics. I guess it’s really saying something if, comparitively at least – it seemed fairly low-key. The reason we persisted in staying bleary-eyedly awake is because Jimmy Page of Led Zep was supposed to be playing, little did we know it was going to be alongside British songstress Leona Lewis, she of the particularly awful song “Bleeding Love.” We could not, however, deny that she has an excellent voice…nor that Page seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself as she gyrated beside him. The whole London bit seemed altogether bizarre – here’s a bus! And a celebration of our awful weather! And a child descended of multiple ethnicities! And now the bus is turning into a…hey, there’s David Beckham!
I’ll definitely miss the Olympics, it’s astounding to think of all that buildup just for two short weeks. The New Zealand team certainly were amazing, I will not, however, at all miss the pitiful New Zealand reporting/commentating team. Finally, and speaking of rock music, my title refers to the 1967 Cream song, but you know, brew…coffee…cream…tiramisu…a little forced, I know, but it made me chuckle.