Monday, March 12, 2012

the travails of miss burgess

the most important member of the canteen community is leanne. she does the bookings, often correcting mistakes made by yours truly, orders wine, beers, cleans, cooks and keeps us all in check. every now and again, life throws up something that test even her. last week we had to get the electrics upgraded to satisfy new regulations. this meant the pulling up of floorboards in the derelict flat above to do some re-wiring and earthing and sometimes things get knocked that should not. leanne is usually first in on thursday and puts on the heating and the lights, cooks some cakes and does a little cleaning; i'm usually not that far behind. last thursday my daughters were ill off school with a cold that i have now, so i was looking after them. at 11.30 the telephone rang. leanne had turned on the lights, gone to the kitchen and turned on the heating. she came back to find water streaming through the ceiling above the bar and over table one; she turned off the lights and the heating and water stream turned into a trickle. she telephoned me, panicked by imminent electrocution. we agreed that she should go to the kitchen and do all of my work and wait for tony to come in. an houir or so later the problem had been identified but not solved. the electrician had knocked two pipes which had come apart and these were part of the heating system. as this was off, only a little water came out and he assumed that they were redundant. when leanne turned the heating on, the system started up and water was pumped straight out of the open pipe. a pain but one which was sorted by 4 and the place could be mopped and cleaned. well done to leanne, above and beyond as usual.

a recipe

as you know i don't do measuring exactly but i have to for you and for the recipe book. i took the time to measure the ingredients for the roulade, so this is it.

70g butter
90g cornflour (you can use plain flour if not making coeliac and i'd use 65g)
1 pint of milk
5 eggs, separated
salt, pepper and mixed fresh herbs (i use a mix of basil, tarragon, chives and mint)

melt the butter and add the cornflour to make a roux. cook out for a couple of minutes and then throw in the milk. cook on a medium heat, whisking all the while, until the cornflour thickens the milk and it becomes quite stiff. turn off the heat and whisk for two minutes to reduce the temperature.

separate the eggs and place the whites in a clean bowl. take the yolks and whisk them in to the cornflour mixture while it is still warm. this will give a glossy look and will stop the mix from breaking up. season and add the mixed herbs. (4 small packs from the supermarket is probably about 2 times the amount that you want, so add half and then make another to chop and freeze)

whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks and then fold into the other mix, being careful to keep as much air in as possible.

you will need a baking tray, about 16" by 11". cover this with reusable baking parchment or good baking paper. pour the mix on this and move so that it is a uniform depth. cook in a 180C oven for 20 minutes until well risen and browned. if you don't cook it enough, you'll have trouble rolling, as it will stick to the parchment.

take off the tray and allow to cool.

we spread ours with Moroccan onion jam (ras el hanout, onions, vinegar and sugar) but you can put goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, mexican stuff, or anything you fancy.

the hard part is rolling. once you have filled the roulade, starting at one end, release the roulade and roll to form a swiss roll. keep it tightly rolled and place in the fridge for 2 hours minimum.

once cold, unwrap and cut in to portions. you will have enough for 6-8 main course or 10-12 starters. place these in a pre-heated oven for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned but souffled. this is a twice baked souffle essentially. serve with anything you fancy.