Panda brand no less

In truth it has been something of a busy week.  I’m not exactly sure what it is that I have been doing but I have certainly been very busy doing it.  Consequently it has been rather a boring week in my kitchen with everything being very low key; a pasta bake, omelettes and other similar dishes.

I did have huge excitement though by going to a Thai Supermarket.  It was quite simply amazing and yes, I was thoroughly over-excited.  It was one of those occasions where I felt like I could buy anything and everything whether I knew it was or not.  You can imagine what a nightmare I am in any kind of market where I do feel a compulsion to part with all my money in order to purchase the most weird and wonderful items.  (I was nearly overcome by the urge the other week to buy a whole salmon for the very reasonable price of £15 despite having no need for/no hope of eating a whole salmon).  In the end my purchases were somewhat modest: a bottle of oyster sauce, Panda brand no less, a huge bag of dried chillies, (may have gone slightly overboard on these), a packet of citric acid because it can be “hard to find”, and a jar of tamarind paste.  The latter I am particularly pleased with.  A most excellent friend of my mind was kind enough to purchase Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey for me and a huge number of the recipes call for tamarind paste, an ingredient that has thus far eluded me.  But elude me no more and I intend to set about using it just as soon as I have the time.  So from looking at my diary that should be some time in oh, about February as I have an ambitious programme of works ahead of me between now and Christmas and then my birthday which, depending on my house situation at the time, may or may not be something of an extravaganza.

I did make some rather delicious cakes though, if I may be permitted to say so myself.  Lemon and poppy seed, unusual and yes, delicious.  Although as first glance when cut into they looked somewhat denser than my usual fluffy delights, they had the most incredibly light texture and although there was a huge amount of flavour, it was almost as though eating nothing.  The poppy seeds do not add masses in the flavour department; they do however make for a most unexpected texture which is not in any way unpleasant.  The icing was a lemon butter icing which is actually rather tricky to get just right.  The difficulty comes from not wanting to make it too sweet and from not wanting to ruin the consistency.  It is made very simply as these things so often are, (I believe there are those who refer to such things as frosting),  from butter, icing sugar and crucially, lemon juice.  I think that there are always two camps of people when it comes to icing, those who like it to be tart and those who like it to be sweet.  I prefer my icing, as with my crumbles, to be tart.  I wanted to really taste the lemon but at the same time I did not want the icing to be too runny so inevitably you end up compromising.  I compromised on the amount of icing sugar that I used leaving a curiously buttery, yet lemony icing which is not in the slightest bit unpleasant but probably rather unexpected.

Obviously I made them in some of my prettiest cake cases and then topped then off with some Sainsbury’s sugar-coated chocolate sprinkles in green, blue and yellow.  I felt the colours were appropriate and complemented the yellow of the icing (I added a few drops of yellow food colouring to achieve this) but I think that next time I would omit them because the quality of the chocolate, as I should have known, was exceedingly poor.  I hate cheap chocolate.  It just tastes so horrible and ultimately adds absolutely nothing to the end product.  Next time I think that I would probably go with an icing flower or maybe a raspberry or a strawberry if they are in season as either goes rather nicely with lemon.

I think that next week I will make a concerted effort not to talk about any citrus fruits.  It is developing into an unintentional theme…



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