Sunday, 8 January 2012

Nutmeg and Custard Cookbook Review

After a couple of months off I thought it was time to come back to my blog. My library cookbook habit never abated so it was time to actually make use of them again!

A book I've wanted to try for a while is Marcus Wareing's Nutmeg & Custard. The recipes are really unusual but most look possible to make without having restaurant standard equipment and skills. There are a lot of recipes, sorted into chapters such as Weekends, Orient, Bakery, Popcorn and Ice Cream Parlour. The mix between sweet and savoury recipes I'd say is about half and half which is great, I do like my dessert chapters! There aren't photos for all recipes but what is there is well presented and looks delicious. I checked out the reviews on Amazon before I started to use the book myself and was actually put off a little. Quite a few people thought the book was poorly tested and the recipes were quite hit and miss. I had to admit this put me off a little but as there were so many things I fancied making I carried on regardless!

The first dish I tried was the Blackened Chilli Belly of Pork. The list of ingredients was pretty small which is always inviting. It was easy to prepare and had a really lovely flavour. So far, so good.
I served the pork with fried shredded sprouts and braised baby gem lettuce which I'd never tried before but thought it was lovely.

The second recipe which was calling out to be made was the Turkish Delight Cheesecake. There is a recipe to make your own turkish delight in the book but I cheated and bought some. I made individual portions as I knew I was going to be the only person eating it in the house. Again, the ingredients list was pretty reasonable and it didn't take too long to make. I added more butter to the base as there was no way it was combining otherwise. The topping I have to say was very strange and I ended up throwing away most of what I'd made. There was just too much gelatine and it was more like a cream cheese jelly that a cheesecake, not really want you want for a cheesecake. I was looking forward to a rich, soft mixture. So not a great success, I was starting to see what the Amazon reviewers were on about. It's actually put me off cheesecake for a bit, my waistline is probably thanking me!

The recipe I tried was the Lemon Shortbread. I'm not used to making shortbread with icing sugar but after researching a little I found that a few recipes do. This mixture however was a complete nightmare to work with. Yes it was very short and crumbly, but even after letting the mixture firm up in the fridge it just could not be rolled out. So we had to make tiny, bite-sized biscuits which looked pretty cute but I wasn't happy with them. I think they lacked a little flavour too, I'll stick with a recipe that uses caster sugar next time.

So all in all I agree that the book perhaps hasn't been properly tested and the results just aren't impressive enough for such a competent chef. It's such a shame as the recipes are so inviting: Nutmeg and Custard Cream Yo-Yo biscuits, Chinese Spiced Pork Buns, Black Forest Fudge and Chorizo-Stuffed French Toast all sound great but I don't think I'd dare make anything time consuming or anything with expensive ingredients just in case it didn't turn out. Ah well, on to the next book! Luckily I didn't buy this one and can return it to the library with a happy (but disappointed) heart.

Though it feels like months ago here is what our Christmas lunch looked like. There is trukey hiding out underneath! The sweet potato and carrot mash was a really nice way of eating carrots, I'm not too keen on just slices of carrot. It was the first year I'd actually enjoyed eating parsnips too, with a good glug of maple syrup.

It was the first time I'd made my own cranberry sauce too, and wow, if I'd known how ruddy easy it was to make I'd have abandoned shop-bought jars years ago! Fresh cranberries, sugar, a little water and some orange juice - done! It's cool to see it thicken as it cools too. Will have to make sure I have some frozen cranberries in the freezer now for a quick, cranberry sauce fix.

And here was is what we ate for days and days on end! And I never got bored of it! Pickles, selection of cheeses, stuffing, a few crisps, mini sausages and the star of the show - cold meats. We got a really lovely reduced beef joint from Marks and Spencer which cooked beautifully and made the most amazing beef, horseradish and watercress sandwiches. We also had 3 hams!! We just roasted a pork loin, then boiled one ham in cola and one ham in ginger beer. I think I liked the ginger ham the best, it was a subtle flavour but absolutely delicious. And we could not have done without our Lakeland slicer, made the thinest slices and I felt like I was working on a deli counter!! Not a machine you'd use everyday but you'll definitely be glad you own it when you need it.


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