Wednesday

Xanthippe and its Quasi, Quintessential, Consequential Delights




Always a trifle disconcerting when a precious memory comes at you when you are unprepared. Granted,  it's not quite as disconcerting as when the wonky Scarlet one comes at you, naked, valgus, slathering and me, totally unprepared of course. Tantamount to terebration. Nothing in life can prepare you for that particular dark night of horror. I digress. Returning to the house you grew up in only to find that is in the process of being demolished. A brief glimpse of forgotten, long covered over,  yet very familiar faded wallpaper hanging forlornly on brickwork that was once your parents bedroom wall. It was a strange experience standing in the rain, watching, half hoping, expecting my oul fella to come around the corner of the broken stairway in his thick woollen overcoat with a cup of tea for the mammy. He would trudge in from his work of a night, regardless of what his day had brought to him, be it good or nae, he would fetch the woman her cup of tea. The oul fella was a brawler in his day, that much is true, but he loved and doted on his good lady and we loved him even more for that. Mind you, she would be none too pleased now to see coarse looking workmen with bushy moustaches and mucky boots in what was once her parlour with its fine china cups and all. Oh how she loved those cups. Hated moustaches though. Hated them...

I have received numerous official letters from the Post Office, which was quite a result considering the following, informing me that they are unable to deliver any future mail due to the fact that we appear not to have a visible mailbox attached to either the gate, wall or suitable adjacent protrusions to the property. Their words, not mine. It seems that a backlog of mail has built up at the local office and because they can never get a response from the intercom on the gates they have been unable to proceed with the direction of Her Majesty's insistence that the carriage of mail must be delivered if it has been affixed with an official stamp. 'It is hereby recommended that you put forward a remedy to ensure that the current delivery system is improved forthwith before a handling/storage fee is produced.'
Which is all very well and proper in an intimidatory type of way, but considering that it was addressed to a Mr McBillicoddle, a mysterious gentleman who according to the address on the envelope lives in the next village and to the best of my knowledge, not at my actual address. I also pointed out in a rather eloquent way, that herself down there in the palace of Buckingham is the queen of England, not Scotland. Let's not point out the technicalities, feazings and politics involved here, why spoil a good yarn?  Of course, I have had to return the letters to the Post Office myself. Well, I didn't want them getting mislaid, eh?

It is not often that I am sent to the supermarket to get food messages for our household. Something to do with the flamboyant purchase of a Christmas goose back in 1983 if memory serves. I somehow managed to lose three days of memory, the little singing fella and one brown leather brogue. I was heartbroken to lose such an expensive companion. Good shoes are hard to find. Not to mention the contents of my stomach when I got peckish in the gutter, where I wound up rather merrier than what was intended and took a bite of raw goose. However, on this occasion I was dispatched to the supermarket specifically to purchase a suitable margarine to accompany my wife's penchant for small sheets of carpet underlay mistakenly labelled as dietary crisp-breads. Siobhan, waylaid at the gym and too busy ensuring a suppleness about her body continues to manifest itself, had decided that her rumbling belly required immediate sustenance on her return home.

I stood motionless for the best part of the mornings foray into the magnificence which is known locally as the ASDA. Before me was a vast, spectacular array of vegetable fats of all shapes and sizes. I counted 27 in total before I realised that I had strayed across to the full fat section. Silly me. It was an innocent moment, I meant no one any harm, my intentions were strictly honourable. I merely wished to satisfy my curiosity over the contents of something called 'Seedburst'. An item which was surrounded by many eco friendly shoppers in their Toyota Prius driving jackets, biodegradable sandals and strangely wispy beards. The packaging offered up all kinds of exciting promises about what lay inside. At no time did I see a sign that said 'please do not open the lid and dip your finger into the yellow creaminess of butter heaven.' The days of try before you buy ceased in 1972 I was rather curtly informed. Before I was asked to leave. By a sales assistant of no more than twenty three. And she was a girl too. Possibly Scarlet has a sister. Also with a beard.

Apple Charlotte with Cinnamon Sabayon

For the mixture:
1/2 tub of seedburst margarine or butter
4 Granny Smith apples
1 vanilla pod, scraped
1 fresh lemon, juiced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

For the batter:
2 large free range eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
2 tbs white sugar
1 tbs ground cinnamon
2 tbs unsalted butter to grease the ramekins
20 slices of good brioche, no crusts ladies, no crusts.

For the sabayon:
6 fresh egg yolks
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup of calvados
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 vanilla pod, again, scraped
dash of spring water

Make the filling. Put a large saute pan over a medium heat and add the butter. Peel and cut the apples into 1/2" chunks. Once butter has melted and just starting to foam, add apples, scraped vanilla pod, lemon juice cinnamon and brown sugar. Coat well by tossing the mix for 20 minutes until the apples are tender and the liquid has gone. Let the sauce caramelise until nicely rich and dark.

In a shallow dish, make the batter by combining the eggs, milk, sugar and cinnamon. Whisk well until combined. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and generously butter and sugar 4 ramekins. Invert a ramekin, or use a round cutter on half of the bread slices to use as a guide to cut out circles. These will be the bases and top of the charlottes. Cut the other slices into lengths half lengthwise.

Working with the circles, lightly coat in the batter and place in the bottom of each ramekin. Lightly dip the other rectangles of bread in batter as well, then use them to line the walls of each ramekin. Stand them upright around the edges, but leave an overhang. Use the overhang to seal the charlottes. Bake for 25 minutes and allow to cool.

Pour the sabayon on top of the charlottes and demolish with a nice cup of tea and a read of the Daily Mail.

46 comments:

  1. The last thing my Oul Fella did every morning before the walk across town to his work was to bring a cup of tea up to Ma. He even did it on Saturday morning, though Sunday was his lie-in.

    Now, 1983, we were but two youngfellas and a 'couple of pints' often turned into a lost weekend (in a hotel in Amsterdam?) The search for a goose often ended in a dander.

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    1. Did we not agree that we would never speak of that particular weekend ever again?

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    2. Oh yes, like we agreed to never mention the tray incident ever again.

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    3. What tray would that be? You mean the one you dropped? I'd forgotten all about it. And all the whisky that was lost. I hardly think about it at all.

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  2. It does get confusing sometimes but I'm guessing you are back in Spain.
    Presumably ASDA allowed you to take your tampered -with- marge else Siobhan would know the universal truth that the male species never buy what they are asked to buy. Bless 'em.

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    1. Gin consumption can be confusing my dear, especially the making of. The ASDA in question is located in Bearsden, just across the Erskine bridge, a ten minute drive from Clydebank. They were most insistent that I left the store without the offending article. We had a small debate about my willingness to purchase the seedy goodness, I was scolded by a very small man with a large name badge. His hair amused me, I nearly lost concentration in regard to the conversation half way through, but he humoured me, so I remained polite. We agreed that I would be allowed to return at a later date as long as I am accompanied by a suitable adult.

      I shall overlook your rather pugnacious and sexist remark at the end there dear lady, although it did make me a tad tearful.

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  3. That photo. It is the definition of "food porn". Oh, and stay out of my kitchen - i found giant fingerprints in the peanut butter last week....

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    1. Pornographic reference, or the insinuation of, is not tolerated on this blog Ms Fae. Please take yourself off into my bedroom and prostrate yourself in readiness for a rather stiff talking to.

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  4. Fantastic. Watching your boyhood home being demolished must have been a wild sensation. It's something that I'll be not many get to experience. I don't know how I'd react if I saw the same thing. I might have asked for a sledgehammer to lend a hand. It might have been cathartic.

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    1. Along with the broken brick came many happy memories tumbling down to earth to reacquaint themselves with my heartstrings. It was quite tough to watch, especially the sight of the wallpaper that the oul fella put up himself with a great deal of pride. I donned a hard hat and collected a large scrap of the paper, of which I am in the midst of framing for the wall of my study. For the first time in many years I feel as though my parents and I are together again in the same room.

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    2. a very beautiful idea... wish i'd saved a chunk of the pine flooring from mom's house during the demolition...

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    3. It's in front of me now hen, a silver frame and a backlight to give it life, I'm rather pleased with the way that it makes me feel.

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  5. Can you see Socrates running the messages....?

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    1. I take your point dear lady.

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  6. Your best one yet Jimbo especially the joke that goes by the name of the royal mail. They couldnt find themselves in the dark with a torch. The domolition job, was it the high flats on the corner up from the new school in Clydebank?

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    1. No, they are still there opposite the new builds on the roundabout across from Drumchapel.

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  7. Mr Billicoddle9:39 pm GMT+5

    Erm, just wondering like, you haven't seen my mail have you? Only, I'm expecting a delivery of a good 12 yr old malt and it hasn't arrived.

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    1. Indeed... Anthony or wee Martin I'm presuming here?

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    2. No problem, tray man.

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  8. You might be careful Mr Chef. Treason is a punishable offence.

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  9. In Scotland, section 51 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 abolished the common law criminal offences of sedition and "leasing-making". The latter offence, also known as "lease making", was considered an offence of lese-majesty or making remarks critical of the Monarch of the United Kingdom. It had not been prosecuted since 1715.

    Perhaps you should read up on the subject of ultracrepidarian fidimplicitary emunction instead. I believe they do a large print with pictures for those with low brows and high foreheads. A Christmas gift idea for the dim-witted my friend.

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    1. Know the law do you Jocko? Why am i not surprised. I'm just surprised you lot can read and write up there in the badlands.

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    2. Jock O. Are you referring to a good friend of mine, Jock O'Connell, or is it Jock O'Dowd from the four feathers in Sunderland you are confusing me with? Perhaps it is because you are part of the great unwashed from Byker that increases your cacestogenous behaviour.

      Knowing the law is far better than knowing hee-haw, would you not agree my scruffy Geordie friend?

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  10. We kept getting mail addressed to a gentleman we'd never heard of...which was especially odd as our address had just gone from a rural route and box number to a "proper" street address, meaning we were the first people in 100 years to have had that address.

    I kept adding "Return to Sender/Not at this Address" on the envelopes, which appeared every couple of months. A year or so later I found the old fellow...in the church cemetery behind our house. According to the stone, he'd been there for quite a while. Evidently whoever was sending the mail never got the message. But the postman did: on the last one I merely wrote, "Deceased". The letters stopped. :)

    Must go and wipe the drool off my keyboard after reading that recipe. We did Thanksgiving for the seniors yesterday, a week early, and I was certain I didn't want to even look at food for a month. Thanks for changing that. I will swear that recipe is good for you because it has apples...and you can never have enough fruit. ;)

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  11. That cup of tea that your dad never failed a single day to bring your mum is a genuine evidence of love and care. Interpretation of these small signs meaning "I love you" is always rewarding.

    Sorry about the incident at the supermarket's fat section. Scarlet's sister? Nah, they broke the mould when they made her! ;)

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    1. They didn't so much break the mould Leni, it was more along the lines of it was so old it merely turned to dust. Not many people realise that the Scarlet one is pushing sixty if she is a day. As we speak, I have kindly agreed to let her work off some of the debt she owes me from her dalliance with the windscreen washing venture over there in the wee village of Muckyminger, by mucking out my winter donkey corral. I'll let her go home a wee bit earlier than usual tonight, after all, it is her birthday.

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  12. Whoever invented those carpet underlays should be shot.

    Siobhan is a brave woman deciding on those over your cooking.

    Tell Lizzy the ex colonies have, against all odds, survived without her.

    xxx

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    1. Siobhan was a sparrow in a previous life. of that I am convinced. Unfortunately for her, her desire to look good constantly has meant that she cannot and will not consume any more than 3 calories a week. More for me then, eh?

      Will I sit her down, comfort her with words of reassurance and declare my undying love for her should her rear end ever look big in an item of clothing? Of course not. If I had wanted a beefer on my arm I would have married her mother.

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  13. Who is this Cheesus chump? He's starting to get on my tits with all this "Jock" shite.

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    1. Calm yourself Anthony, Mr Crust is an old friend and acquaintance from my past. He is from the educational black hole that is Newcastle and therefore does not realise that niceties are not a fancy cake that middle-aged ladies consume with their afternoon tea. Underneath his belligerence is actually a very witty, but somewhat ugly, fool.

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  14. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth, from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.

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    1. I thought for a minute that this was the one about a taxi driver, Celine Dion and a bucket full of seagulls urine, but then I realised you were actually deadly serious.

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  15. Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.

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    1. It would seem that it is easier to preach ten sanctimonious sermons to me every day than it is for you my friend, to live one.

      Please excuse me, my taxi is waiting and I am off out to sin a whole lot more before the cock crows and the dawn breaks outside of your asylum barred window.

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    2. Pick me up on the way? I'm buying... the first one anyway.

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  16. You were missed last night my friend. We had to go to the bar ourselves. Tonights plans are as usual, only we are going all the way through. If you feel up to it then come along. I'll ask Jonjo to put some Fanta on ice...

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    1. I'm seriously on for the stretch (see what I did there?) the night. The usual so.

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    2. Mon then, we start off at the Lovat at 8pm, a few more at Jonjo's before we all meet up in Macsorley's, then upstairs at Jinty's for a curry. After that there's big Davies party to turn up at before we cross the road and wind down with a few back at Jonjo's. After a bit of bacon and eggs at Stumpies cafe, its all across town to the Gallowgate for a good drink and then kick off at Parkhead is 3pm.

      Put your coat on, I'll send a taxi for yis the noo. Remember, please DO NOT wear that spangly shirt this time, eh?

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  17. Strange how most women have a horror of all things natural and wholesome in food (butter, cream, chips, beer, etc.) but have a limitless appetite for mono- and di-glyceride esters of fatty acids, hydrogenated vegetable fat, emulsifiers and sorbitol.

    Even giving the option for marg to be used in your Charlotte is taking tolerance too far, Chef.

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    1. Ahh my friend, but what can a man do when facing the prospect of a cold bed and no hot dinner when he returns from a hard day's drinking?

      Rule #1 - Always humour the pretty ones in your life, it pays dividends in all the right places.

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  18. Cheesus chump? That's not very friendly towards your nearest English cousins now. Relax Mr Mexican, I take it the whole Movember thing has created the yard brush on yer mush, but who knows with you lovely Scottish lads from up the way. Xmas night out soon Jimbo I take it you will be partaking in something somewhere but if not let us know. Bring your Mexican friend he needs a laff.

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  19. Chump suits you perfectly in my book. Try not to antagonise my regulars Mr Crust, especially not one as hot headed as Mr Anthony over there. What that man can do with a whisk is frightening. As for the invite, yes, I can see myself slumming it down there on Monday 2nd for the day, if that suits. We can catch up on just how bad your poor excuse for a fitba team really is.

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  20. Thats no bother ill get in some bigger chairs and some cheap cans ready for your arrival then.

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  21. Same as last year then. You'll spend a small fortune in Farm Foods. No doubt you still have the turkey legs hidden away in the freezer too. I'll eat on the train methinks.

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Thank you, the chef is currently preparing an answer for you in the kitchen. Do help yourself to more bread.