Thursday, October 22, 2009

Meringues aren't for breakfast

I’ve been eyeing a meringue recipe for days now. Finally, yesterday, when I felt my hands were steady enough to separate the whites without a speck of yolk, I dove in.

I made them with lemon zest, and they were beautiful in the oven. Their outsides puffed up crispy, while their insides caved in.

When they finally came out, I was unsure. Too soft? Now, too dry? I tested, sampled, and stuffed myself until I was miserable, full of sugar and immensely cranky (Andrew will attest). Worse, I had lost all perspective, and I couldn’t tell anymore if they were any good.

This morning, after yoga, and before eating anything else, I tested them again, with fresh eyes and a fresh stomach. Now I’m sure. These are good! Crunchy on the outside, slightly gooey on the inside, only interrupted by little zesty bursts of lemon.

This isn’t much of a recipe, because I’m sure you’ll find a meringue recipe in any basic cookbook. But here is what I learned:
-Be sure there isn’t any yolk or eggshell in your whites. The best way not to become insane is to use three bowls: one for your whites, one for your yolks, and one that you use to break and separate the egg into. Just slide the whites into to the larger bowl as you go. That way, if you screw up one egg, you won’t ruin the rest.
-Before you add the sugar, be sure your eggs are so stiff you could hold the bowl upside down, over your head.
-Before you fold in any flavouring, make sure the sugar has completely dissolved. The meringue should feel perfectly smooth between two fingers.
-Parchment paper works very nicely.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mr Trout pleads not guilty

Yes, this little fish looks like he’s done something wrong.

He looks guilty, ashamed. This is a terrible photograph. To this tasty little trout, I owe an apology. I’m sorry your picture looks like a mug shot. It doesn’t do you justice. You were delightful, not a criminal. You were moist, buttery, and you got along really well with the parsley.

That being said, you didn’t photograph well.

This trout recipe is so simple, so quick, and rather quite perfect. The real treat is the hot lemon juice, which practically pours out of the broiled lemons. It’s from my recipe book crush of the week, Jamie Oliver’s Cook with Jamie.

Crispy Trout with lemon and Parsley
Adapted from a recipe in Cook with Jamie, by Jamie Oliver

For 2 people:

1 whole trout (1 to ½ lb), gutted, scaled and cleaned
a drizzle of olive oil
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
a bunch of fresh parsley (enough to stuff the fish’s cavity)
1 lemon (zest one half and slice it and leave the other half intact)
10 small knobs of butter

Preheat the broiler as high as it will go. With a sharp knife, slash the fish about ten times on each of its side, about a quarter of an inch deep. Rub the fish with olive oil, salt and pepper. Stuff it with the parsley and the lemon slices. Place Mr Trout on a broiling rack or on a baking rack set over a roasting pan. Put half the lemon zest and 5 knobs of butter on the upside of the fish. Place the intact half of the lemon on the rack beside the fish.

Place the fish in the oven, about 6 inches from the heat. Cook for about 6 minutes, or until the skin is crispy and golden. Take the fish out, carefully flip him over and put the rest of the lemon zest and butter on his uncooked side. Place him back on the rack for another 6 minutes.

Squeeze some hot lemon juice on the trout and serve immediately.