Sammy the Seal

Archive for December, 2011|Monthly archive page

Lime custard tart with poached apple slices

In delicious on Saturday, 31 December, 2011 at 23:30

lime custard apple tarts

(Subject to editing, I just wanted to get the gist of it up before forgetting what I did.)

I like my new tart pans. So I used a different dough, instead of the flaky pie one. I’ve made it before, but into cookies. The dough process is quicker and easier than with standard flaky pie dough, and, being sweeter, it’s supposed to go better with tart (in both senses) fillings, like lime.

10 T butter, cold but slightly softened
½ c superfine sugar
1 egg plus 1 yolk, beaten
½ t salt
2 c flour

I cut the butter into ½-inch slices, whipped a couple of minutes until fluffy, then added the sugar and creamed them both for a couple of minutes. Then I beat in the egg mix, switching to a whisk as the mixture became more liquid, another couple of minutes or so. Then I sifted the salt and flour into the eggs/sugar/butter and stirred just until the flour was completely incorporated, and I kneaded and shaped it together just a little, before flattening, flouring, wrapping in plastic wrap, then refrigerating for at least 30 minutes.

(While the dough chilled, I went shopping, then, upon taking it out to thaw for half an hour, I made lemon pudding, which I won’t talk about just yet.)

Once thawed, I rolled the dough out, about 1/8-1/4 inch thick, and carefully draped it over the large pan, fitting the dough from the center out. The edge of a pan is fine, which acts like a knife in removing the excess dough. I pressed on the edge, which cut off the overhanging dough, and ran the rolling pin over the edge to smooth it out. I re-formed the rest of the dough, rolled it out, and repeated for the two small pans, doing the simultaneously. (There was a lot of leftover dough, so I rolled it into a log to make cookies out of later.) I weighed down the shells with dry beans, baked them at 400° for 15 minutes, then removed the parchment paper with beans, and baked for another 10-15 minutes. Then I sat them all on a rack to cool.

While cooling, I made the lime custard filling:

5 eggs
¾ – 1 c sugar
1 c whipping cream
zest and juice of 3 limes (about 2/3 – 3/4 c)

I whisked together the eggs and sugar until combined, then added the cream, zest and juice until well combined. Then I poured the custard into the shells. (The shells should still be a little warm, which is fine. Being empty shells, they’ll cooled quickly enough.) Since the mixture was still thin and runny, I filled the shells only partially to prevent custard sloshing out during the transfer. Then, once on the rack inside the oven, I used a measuring cup to pour the rest in the shells, filling as close as I could to the rim. Then I baked at 300° for 40 minutes. (I left the shells in the pan, I don’t know what happens if you take them out and place them on a baking sheet.)

While that was baking I poached some apple slices in a sugar syrup bath, which I learned is better than just water. Water alone causes the fruit to plump up and lose some sweetness, as water diffuses into the fruit and sugar out of it, also risking mushiness. The sweeter the sugar syrup/water, the sweeter the fruit will turn out, so adjust accordingly. Anyway:

3 c water
1.5 c sugar
3 small-to-medium-sized apples, unpeeled

I whisked together the sugar and water in a saucepan and put on medium heat, until the sugar dissolved. Then, with the aid of an apple corer, I cut and cored one apple at a time (to minimize oxidation) into 8 wedges, and cut each wedge into four thin slices (since their time in the oven will be limited) and place them in the bath. I simmered them for 10-15 minutes, then fished them out with a slotted spoon into a colander. By the time 40 minutes was up, I took the tarts out (the custard should be mostly set) and arranged the apple slices, then returned the tarts to the oven for another 20-25 minutes. Then I set them out to cool on a rack for a couple of hours, then covered them with foil and sent them to the refrigerator. They’re so pretty, I don’t want to cut into them.

The mother:

lime custard apple tart mother
lime custard apple tart mother 2
lime custard apple tart mother 3
The babies:
lime custard apple tart baby
lime custard apple tart baby 2
lime custard apple tart baby close-up
It came out pretty well, the only thing I’ll second-guess is that maybe I should have poached the apple slices immediately after the filled tarts went in, as I waited about 20 minutes or so. I wanted to give them more time to release steam and dry out more, as the finished slices looked too moist for my liking. Or maybe I should have increased the oven temperature for the last 20 minutes, though altering temperature is always a big move. But what the hell, I’m never completely satisfied anyway. Based on taste, though, I am. I’m pretty proud of this one.
Okay, so much for not cutting. We were hungry, plus this way I can photograph the cross-section.
lime custard apple tart dissected
lime custard apple tart slice

“My strength is much greater than yours!”

In funny ha ha on Thursday, 29 December, 2011 at 13:56

Yeah, I’m late, but I still enjoyed this. It’s a Street Fighter version of that video from Australia of some incredibly stupid shrimp bullying a kid twice his size from earlier this year. (I’d call out the asshole kids who stood around and participated verbally, except without them there’d be no video.) I saw it originally on the (rather simple) website paying tribute to the “Zangief Kid”, with background of the incident). Not only is the addition of music hilarious, but it gives his exit an extra dose of bad-ass. Anyone who grew up with these games ought to love it:

Here are a couple of videos modifying the skirmish into video game mode. I like the original with only the music, but they’re still pretty good. The addition of the defeat screen (“my strength is much greater than yours!”) is a great touch.


My First Tart Pans™

In vinyl on Tuesday, 27 December, 2011 at 21:54

Once kitty stop drinking the tree water and get down off the box, I can finally open it. I made the tarts on Christmas Eve, for two discrete groups of people, but it would appear I may have made them prematurely. Who cares, the pans are so shiny!

tart pans

I'm aware that displaying a photo of tart pans is dorky, but any addition to my kitchen arsenal is exciting. Also, I'm just happy that someone not me got me a present.

Song: Thursday (acoustic)
Artist: Asobi Seksu
Album: Rewolf

I’ll be the first to admit those spoken-word en-français background vocals of the chorus is kinda cheesy, but I’m guessing they didn’t want to do a straight, by-the-book acoustic version, and so added something rather superfluous just because, or screwed around a little. Of course, the original reigns supreme, but it’s nice to have around when you just want something peaceful, soothing, or unassuming, even if it doesn’t add much to the song itself. But at least you can hear Yuki’s voice clearly and cleanly, and hell, it still sounds sweet.

Grapefruit lime curd tarts

In delicious, You're a kitty! on Sunday, 25 December, 2011 at 14:13

feline obstruction

Seeing as I can’t open my present yet, I’ll occupy myself here. So, the return of the muffin pan pie shells. The dough part is pretty standard, this recipe has yet to fail me. One whole batch of dough makes about sixteen shells, and one batch of curd makes 1-1.5 cups, so I doubled it, then, realizing how much I’d need to fill sixteen shells, made another single batch to add into it. (If a smaller batch is desired, one batch of curd fills five shells.) The double batch had beurre noisette added (I won’t go into it, I was just curious), and the single batch I added a tablespoon or so of butter, though next time I might not add any, as butter makes it richer but it also softens the citrus. Granted, lemons are far more tart and acidic than white grapefruit (used here) which can be eaten plain (sugar is for pansies), but I wish it were tangier. (I wonder if decreasing the sugar would affect the consistency adversely….) If you want tang, though, it’s pretty much lemon or lime, or passionfruit, if you can find it. I’m no authority, but I’d think one could use this basic outline for any citrus fruit.

2 eggs
1/3 c juice + 1 T zest of a citrus fruit
1/2 c sugar
2 T juice + zest of a lime (optional, I only added it to increase acidity)
a few T butter (optional, to mellow the tang)

First, I got the dough out of the fridge to thaw while I made the curd. A double boiler is a nice luxury to have, but if you don’t have one, whisk together the eggs, juice, and sugar in a heatproof bowl, then place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, i.e., you don’t want it touching. (Not a lot of water is needed anyway, as you’ll have the bowl sealing off the pan, which slows vaporization. I had maybe an inch and a half of water.) Add butter, if you’re using it, after the mixture is warm. If you have a thermometer, I’d recommend using it, as the temperature of the mixture should be kept between 150º-170ºF. It’ll take 15-20 minutes (I never timed it, to be honest) to cook under such low heat, but convection is crucial to keep the temperature low enough to minimize coagulation of egg proteins, which begins around 140º-150ºF, but high enough to pasteurize the egg, at least 140º, as I understand. (If you put the mixture in one pot on the stove, you have to keep an extremely close eye on things, as conduction will heat the mixture more quickly.) Of course, constant whisking is essential to the cause as well, though it should be said that, unless you’re a master/mistress, there will be bits of coagulated egg to strain out at the end. After about twenty minutes, I then strained the curd into another bowl, folded in the zest, then cooled it in the fridge.

As that all takes about half an hour, the dough should be thawed enough to roll out. Muffin pan tart shells time, that means cutting out 4.5 inch circles of dough (using a half-gallon jar lid), fitting thoroughly into the muffin cups, weighing down with dry beans, and baking at 425º for twenty minutes. I used a whole batch of dough, to be safe, and only had two shells left over with no more curd. An empty shell is quite delicious on its own. With the curd still in the fridge, I let the shells cool completely for two or three hours before filling then, upon which I closed them up in a container and returned them to the fridge for a few hours, overnight is best if you have the time. If you’re going to sift a bunch of powdered sugar on top as I did, I’d recommend doing it just before serving, or the sugar will melt into the curd over time and you’ll have to re-do it. Unless, of course, you just want the rims/crust dusted.

grapefruit curd tart plain, wide

grapefruit curd tart plain, c/u

grapefruit curd tart dusted, wide

grapefruit curd tart dusted, c/u

Except for the part where it’s more sweet than tart, these were pretty damn good. I’m proud to share them today.

Better than visions of sugarplums

In You're a kitty! on Saturday, 24 December, 2011 at 23:58

I envy her sometimes. Wouldn’t it be nice and cozy-like to just lie down in a pile of warm, clean laundry?

laundry cat 1

laundry cat 2

(Again with the damn reddish tint….)

laundry cat 3

laundry cat 4

laundry cat 5

laundry cat 7

laundry cat 8

“Lie down, you fake ninja turtle!”

In funny ha ha on Thursday, 22 December, 2011 at 20:49

Ah, PC games of youth. My brother was the one who had all the money from working, so I just watched him play most of the time, though . This was from Gobliins 2, which succeeded Gobliiins and preceded Goblins 3. This was a really interesting and ingenious/bizarre series of puzzle games, each set to a different storyline– basically, a quest consisting of puzzles, not adventure. In the first game, you control three goblins, the second, two, and the last, one. The purple one, Winkle, is the irreverent, bull-headed wacko. The other is more polite when speaking to other characters, but what fun is “Excuse me, sir…”? when you can have “What are you waiting for, smelly, some medals?” and the titular insult, which is cryptic yet effective. Try it out and see for yourself.

I love all the character flourishes: the laughing, the shrugging, the whistling, the exasperation, “no-no”, “yippee” plus backflip, the thumbs-up, and overall animation of the characters. The weird noise that signifies speech is perfect. It fits the oblique, off-center tone of the game.  Here’s the first part of the game, with some good examples of the aforementioned:

“It’s so cold in this house….in this bed….”

In vinyl on Wednesday, 21 December, 2011 at 23:27

Song: Like Eating Glass
Artist: Bloc Party
Album: Silent Alarm

No hating here, but I’ve always been baffled at all hoopla that’s surrounded these guys, even more so for bands such as Vampire Weekend and Phoenix. While each has songs I genuinely enjoy, the volume of adulation I saw confounded and annoyed a little. Of course, if I didn’t think this a decent song, it wouldn’t be here, though I admit merely being cold prompted me to think of this song, which became doubly appropriate, as I remembered that I have to endure sleeping alone for another week and a half. Yeah, boo hoo, eh?

“How can Monday be alright, then, on Tuesday, lose my mind?”

In music videos, vinyl on Tuesday, 20 December, 2011 at 17:48

Song: The Neighbors; Actor Out Of Work
Artist: St. Vincent
Album: Actor

I couldn’t resist. I lose a song for later doing two-for-one, but, being adjacent tracks on the album, “Neighbors” just sounds unfinished when it ends by itself. (That “Actor” was the single is incidental.) It’s not a thematic issue, and the songs don’t bleed into each other, the latter just feels like a logical conclusion to the former, much like how notes and chord progressions resolve and make sense– they just do. Good sequencing, eh?

I quite like the dynamics of “Neighbors”. Much of it could appropriately characterized as “pretty” but the thump, buzz, and rattle of the chorus vaguely hints at something twisted beneath the surface. And sometimes, it just sounds cool, like the clapping/snapping/whatever that starts at 0:18, or when the beat comes in at the first “oh no” of the first chorus. And then, back into “pretty” mode, which I say comparatively, not disparagingly. I must admit I’m a sucker for a well-placed drum fill, like at the end of the first chorus and moments later at the end of the “headlights” line– clean, simple, not too showy, but quite enjoyable, like a good harmony. My favorite part though starts at 2:03 with the instrumental iteration of the chorus (I really should make mention of the melody, which sneaks up on you with its strength) followed by an awesome key change at 2:19 on the “Monday” line, which, to me, highlights how good the main melody melody is. I can’t think of how to describe it, so I’ll just make a reference to the sound of Annie Clark’s voice on the word “supposed” in the next line and say that it sounds really nice.

I won’t say much about “Actor”, because I want to stop writing, but also because it’s rather up front with its goodness (“Neighbors” is far more subtle). It’s has the tone of the chorus of “Neighbors”, raved up and with a good bit of stomp to it (twinkle too, if you listen close). I love the ooh’s that briefly ascend, then cascade as far down as her voice will go, great for fun sing-along times. The video seems a bit redundant, as if you go by the chug of the guitar, and the vocals, it’s rather obvious who’s in control. I guess they want to cement it. For someone who is the quintessence of doe-eyed, I find her a little intimidating at 1:42. Everything about her face is trying to devour you whole, so be careful.

Attempted popovers, mostly successful

In delicious on Monday, 19 December, 2011 at 23:58

So I’d never heard of a popover before, but I wanted a quick roll-type bread product to go with soup,  as yeast baking is too time-consuming to attempt at 11 at night. Having read my science book, I thought it pretty interesting too, as these things are leavened entirely with steam, as you can see by the ingredients (the recipe is lifted from James Peterson’s Baking):

2 c flour
3/4 t salt
4 eggs
2 2/3 c milk
1/2 c butter, melted
a few T vegetable oil

As far as pans go, I don’t have a popover pan (which are heavy, from what I understand), so I used to muffin pans nestled together. Combine flour, salt, eggs, and about half the milk, whisking until smooth, then whisk in the butter and the rest of the milk. The batter will be very thin. Pour into a pitcher, as filling the molds on the pan will require efficiency, and let the batter sit at room temperature about half an hour. While waiting, heat the oven to 500º (yes, that’s right). Put the pan(s) in the oven to heat for ten minutes before pouring in the batter. Not surprisingly, chunks of butter float to the top, so just stir before use. After the ten minutes, quickly (to keep the oven hot) take out the pan(s) and brush the molds with oil, let the oil heat before pouring in the batter to 3/4 full in each cup. Then bake for 20 minutes or until desired brownness is reached, then turn down heat to 300º for ten minutes. (Note: beware of fire alarms, as this produces lots of steam. My alarm went off several times, even with the vent running high.)

The “rolls” or whatever are light, tender, moist, and flaky, with a big poofy, amorphous shape for fun.  Since a popover is somewhat hollow, it doesn’t retain heat well, and can be eaten hot, and are best that way. (I ate three just before bed.). However, it’s fine cold. I nixed the soup idea, as it was fairly egg-y (and therefore breakfast-y), as you can see by the recipe, but if I’m ever someplace more well-ventilated or devoid of fire alarms, I’d like to try adding cheese, possibly some kind of breakfast meat. Honestly, it’s fine on its own, for something with no sugar nor flavoring, and barely any salt. But jam goes without saying, of course.

I thought it was kinda cool, as all leavening is due to steam/evaporation, which is why the batter is thin (lots of water = lots of steam) and the temperature is so high and the pans are heated before filling– to get all that water into vapor quickly, which expands the dough and helps it give it shape before escaping, leaving it somewhat hollow inside. (From what I understand, choux pastry works similarly.) Aside from going by time rather than the color of the bread (tsk tsk, shame on me, though in my defense, I was busy guarding the detector from going off), I overcooked them slightly, as you will see. Also, I filled the muffin cups nearly full, instead of 3/4, leaving me to clean out the oven floor afterwards. If I hadn’t filled them so full, I could’ve made maybe a half dozen more. Even after erring, I had enough batter left for say, three more. Though, I wasn’t about to go through this again for a mere three more, as it was already midnight.

Anyway, here they are, plus a close up of one, showcasing a neato, cavern-like tunnel, not unlike a seashell, in one of them. (You can actually see the holes in others too, in the wide shot.) They tasted great, though if only I had kept an eye on the color, they could’ve been visually as well as gustatorily satisfying, though I see this as far from failure. Sure, I was disappointed, but considering my lady likes breads that are dark/overly carbonized, I quickly mellowed and refrained from beating myself up:


I ate one.

popover inner sanctum 1

popover inner sanctum 2

“You’ll never fool me again”

In vinyl, You're a kitty! on Saturday, 17 December, 2011 at 22:47

Song: Last Christmas (cover)
Artist: Sarge
Album: Distant

kitty under the tree

Of what covers I have heard of this song, I am most impressed with this interpolation, not just because I like the band, but because it takes something of such concentrated schmaltz (the Wham! original) and charges it with something resembling sincere emotion. Most Christmas music is predicated on calculated warm fuzziness, so the original is hardly a crime, and the 80s sound is forgivable, as it’s merely a product of its time. It’s still pablum, though. And hell, I’ve heard a couple of rock covers that still sound toothless, so it’s not necessarily the rock approach.

Rather, it’s the execution of said approach. Working against the simplistic lyrical conceits of the song, the fuzz of the guitar (most notable on the chorus), bass (Ms. Elmore’s doing, if I’m not mistaken), and drums take a straight-ahead, no-frills approach which lends a real degree of gravity. To an extent, it kinda “rocks”, even. Despite Elizabeth Elmore’s innocent vocal style, she is able to project an understated, conversational tone. (High, loud, earnest, “pretty” emotion, I don’t care how popular music trends.) This sounds like a regular song, with an incidental holiday theme. I never completely buy in– it is “Last Christmas”, for Frith’s sake– but it manages to be affecting, rather than eye-roll-inducing. I say take heart from modest surprises.

I’ll put the original song up, but not the official video. I draw the line there: