Thursday, June 2, 2011

Stages that take ages

A lot of people told me when we move to New York I won't cook anymore. We won't even need a kitchen, apparently. We'll mostly be eating in some hip hotspot. Or if that's too much effort, we'll have take out delivered.

To quote Liz Lemon, my second favourite New Yorker, 'opposite!'. Eating isn't always about instant gratification (or hipness).

Sometimes, I want to make something oldschool and comforting, in many separate stages which take ages to prepare and then assemble. Something which takes about twenty times as long to make as it does to eat.

The return of TLOML after five days away was such a time.

I made posh fish pie. My method involves ten different steps, five pans, and two hours of conference calls.
  1. Boiling potatoes.
  2. Making cheesy spring onion mash.
  3. Boiling eggs.
  4. Softening some leeks.
  5. Poaching the fish in lemony, peppery milk.
  6. Taking the smoked salmon out of its package.
  7. Plunging the eggs in ice cold water so they don't get green edges (a little tip I picked up on that crazy devilled eggs site). Slicing them up.
  8.  Fishing capers out of the jar.
  9. Making a white sauce with the fishy lemony peppery milk.
  10. Assembling. Licking fingers.

Okay, I might be pushing it a bit with the smoked salmon and the capers steps. But you get the point. It takes a while.

For pudding I made a special banoffee pie. Special because TLOML does not like cream, but does like custard. Which takes way longer to make than whipping up some cream. Banofee pie only involves five steps, but oh, it's hours and hours in the making:

  1. Graham cracker base (suddenly missing digestives!) - ten minutes to make, thirty minutes to set
  2. Sliced bananas - five minutes flat. I'm handy with a knife.
  3. Dulce de leche - three hours of boiling that little can, topping up the water every twenty minutes. And overnight to chill and set.
  4. Proper English custard - thirty minutes to make. And a couple of hours to chill and set.
  5. Topping the dulce deliciousness with the chilled custard and some sliced banana.
I loved spending all that calming, satisfying time in the kitchen.

A good store of patience is the key to enjoying such a job. Patience and an appreciation of the deep satisfaction that comes from making things in many different pots and pans, lots of stages, with waiting gaps in between for things to chill, set or otherwise.

It was a very happy 24 hours - elapsed time, silly - of cooking. And a very happy few minutes of eating. Worth every dirty pan.

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