Waiting for Agnes

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Missing my inner schadenfreude September 19, 2010

Night two of Junior MasterChef and I’m still waiting for the addictive rush to kick in – you know, the thrill of abandoning the pretense of only watching the televisual equivalent of proper literature and letting yourself slide into the saccharine embrace of trashy reality TV. There are some good things about JMC: the kids seem genuinely excited about cooking, the age bracket is smart – not too young to be absurd, young enough to still be cute and remarkable -, the parents don’t get any screen time (other than cheering from the sidelines) so you don’t end up pitying any of the kids for having hideously pushy stage parents, George and Gary and Matt are still mildly entertaining, and some of the food looks super tasty – anyone making poached egg and truffle on smashed potato or orange and almond syrup cakes is welcome at my house anytime. But somehow it’s not enough. It’s not truly terrible, although the addition of the fourth judge is curious. Did they feel three judges weren’t enough, or was it to have a female screen presence, or did they include her because the panel would be judging children? And if it’s for the last reason, what does that say about the production? Even if it is unintentional, there’s a spooky kind of underlying message that children are safer around women. Ironically, of the four judges, the woman in question, Anna Gare, seems the least comfortable around the kids and comes across as kind of patronising alongside Gary’s joviality, George’s encouragement and Matt’s jibing at the pair of them. Regardless, I think my main complaint with JMC says more about my relationship with reality TV than it does about the show itself – it’s just too nice. Oh it’s not that I want the judges to be mean to the wannabe JMCs, and all the crying the senior MasterChef contestants did got right on my goat, but I do miss the snarky comments and biting criticism by the judges, the bitching and the backstabbing from the contestants. I miss seeing the disillusioned lawyers, musicians and IT consultants overwork their pastry, set fire to the oven, split sauces, undercook fish, commit the heinous crime of leaving a bone in fish and declare their ineptitude with mashing a potato. There’s not nearly so much fun to be had in watching small, happy people succeeding under a shower of praise.

Anyway, to assuage any feelings of inadequacy that may have popped up whilst witnessing a toddler temper white chocolate, I made some ice-cream:

Feathered Lady Salted Caramel Ice-Cream*

*so called as six hens each contributed an egg to the making of this tasty delight – thank you ladies

150 grams of caster sugar

50 mls of water

6 egg yolks

50 grams of butter, chopped

1 teaspoon of salt

350 mls of pure cream (not thickened)

150 mls of full fat milk

Prepare a sieve over a medium bowl, resting in a large bowl with iced water.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 50 grams of the sugar. Set aside.

Combine the milk and cream in a jug or small saucepan. Heat very gently to room temperature. Set aside.

Combine the remaining 100 grams of the sugar with the 50 mls of water in a medium saucepan. Over medium heat, stir until the sugar dissolves then continue to cook, swirling regularly, until caramel in colour. This will take about ten minutes. Don’t walk away from it – once the colour changes it will darken very quickly. I took it from the heat as soon as it was golden, as the heat from the pan will keep it going.

Remove from the heat and add the butter and salt, stirring until well combined.

Then add the cream and milk mixture, stirring until well combined. Voila! Caramel!

Pour the caramel mixture into the egg yolk mixture in a thin stream, whisking constantly until completely incorporated.

Pour it all back into a clean, medium saucepan and return to the stove over a medium-low heat. Stir continuously until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon, or until a thermometer reaches 85 degrees. This will take 7-10 minutes. I kept the heat a little lower and took a little longer to reduce any chance of scrambling the eggs.

Pour through the sieve into the prepared double-bowl set-up. Leave to cool to room temperature.

Churn in an ice-cream machine and then freeze until firm (2-3 hours). If you don’t have an ice-cream machine, you can just freeze the mixture, taking it out and stirring regularly.

Makes about 700 mls or so.

This is like the ice-cream version of eating a Werther’s Original. Sweet, salty, caramelly and without sticking annoyingly to your teeth. We had it with peanut butter chocolate fondant puddings. Need I say more?

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