Good Food Blog
Stuck in the middlePosted at 3:00PM, 02 March 2009 by Gregor Shepherd - Chief sub-editor, olive magazine
The most delicious meal I have ever eaten was at Tom Aikens (sorry Mum). So, when I was given Tom Aikens' recipe book to try for the 'Do try this at home' story in the latest issue of olive, I was chuffed. The idea is to take a Michelin-starred chef's book and to try to cook a meal worthy of their restaurant.
But there was a problem (some cynics might even say it was entirely of my own making), in that I hadn't really read the recipes in any great detail before I started cooking. This caused particular difficulty when it came to my attempt at grapefruit parfait . First, I was dissolving sugar in grapefruit juice, and it said to get it to the 'soft ball stage'. I had, on skim-reading it earlier, thought it said to bring it to a soft boil. Now I was in trouble. My girlfriend hadn't brought her laptop home (selfish) so I couldn't find out on the internet, and I was too flustered to go through the whole dessert section of the book until I found out what it meant. I tried looking it up in my own, idiot-level cookery books to no avail. This was followed by a similar impasse over the term 'sabayon'. I've been told since what this means, but I've already forgotten.
The none-too-pink meat was the result of the kind of mental arithmetic that always ensured teachers saw the funny side of my homework
The meal was good though, despite my far from perfect parfait, the batter-retardant beignets and the none-too-pink meat that was the result of the kind of mental arithmetic that always ensured teachers saw the funny side of my homework. But I think I'll stick to olive recipes from now on, and keep saving up for a return visit to Tom Aikens.
I think this may be a fairly common problem with such high-level books - they assume a level of knowledge in the reader that can leave said reader (if you're a bit of a tardy one like me, that is) somewhat stranded. Either that or they expect you to revere their cooking so much that you'll read the book from cover to cover like a novel before you try to tackle any recipes - thereby obviating any chance of soft-ball style mishaps. Not me Mr Aikens, I'm hungry.
Have you ever been marooned in the middle of a recipe by terms you don't know?