Maybe because it’s Saturday, or because I can’t seem to sleep past early morning these days, but the oven’s fired up at 375 and cranberry shortbread is a-baking. The shortbread marks the second time baking today. It’s some sort of compulsion lately. I should be getting paid to bake this much, but instead, I have to figure out new things to bake each time. (The popover incident seems to have been a minor crave-until-you-can’t-eat-anotheroneitis.)
This morning’s jaunt in the kitchen was inspired by last night’s experiment with Julia Child’s hollandaise sauce recipe. That, in turn, was inspired by two lovely artichokes ripe for the steaming. Despite some unclear direction on Julia’s part (sorry Julia) regarding whether or not to whisk eggs in a sauce pot (with or without heat?) while adding cold then melted butter (this is no small matter when it comes to hollandaise sauce), the sauce was a success. Of course, due to the fact that I had nearly no idea what I was doing, I almost destroyed the sauce. Luckily, Julia adds a section on troubleshooting (and here you thought troubleshooting only involved computers). Once my sauce started curdling, yes curdling, I realized I probably 1) added the butter too quickly and/or 2) heated the mixture above its emulsion point. The way to fix this is to take out a tablespoon of the mixture and add a teaspoon of lemon. You whisk this, then slowly add the mixture again, whisking all the while until you see the consistency is creamy once again.
I woke up this morning with what amounts to enough hollandaise sauce for four brunch plates and thought, “I should make biscuits and poached eggs for the sauce.” I turned to the handy Better Homes and Gardens and found an easy recipe for biscuits. On my first try, they were pretty delectable. Another mystery uncovered: biscuits do not have to come from the Pillsbury factory! Unfortunately, the biscuits were so good that I ate them with butter straight from the oven and had no time to make poached eggs for the hollandaise sauce. (Is it weird to eat hollandaise sauce and eggs biscuits for dinner?)
And here we are at a quarter to nine on a Saturday night. I needed to figure out something to do while Jeremy was working out. I guess the only way to successfully combat his uphill battle is to make the hill into a mountain. Tonight, this mountain involves cranberry shortbread thanks to the Joy of Cooking. So far, the sauce may have suffered a temporary setback as I had dried sweetened cranberries rather than fresh. Why is this an issue? After adding the 1/3 cup of sugar and 3 tablespoons of water to roughly 2 1/4 cups of the cranberries on the stove, nothing resembling boiling was happening. When you have fresh cranberries, the liquid from the cranberries releases from the fruit when you heat it up. The starch in the berries mixes with the water and sugar to form a syrup. Lacking its own berry juice, I added extra water and when this didn’t thicken, I added about 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. This seems to have formed a cranberry sauce that is more fruit than sauce, but tastes good, so how bad can the result be? We’ve got about 15 minutes before I find out, so stay tuned for pictures and an update.
Happy Saturday. Enjoy the good eats.