What is it about wrapping things in pastry that seems to be a universal constant? Whether it's spring rolls in China, samosas in India, patties in Jamaica or those weird grim things that sit sweating in chippies throughout the land, pastry is where it's at.
I love a good pie, but I can't think of the last time I made one. The last time I ate one, however, was when I was having a lazy day and decided to dig out a Clive's Pies aloo gobi number.
I'm not gluten-free, but a lot of Clive's Pies stuff is - a bonus for coeliacs, but I wonder if it might have been behind the structural failure of the pie, which sort of collapsed when I fished it out of the oven. It was actually a pretty decent pie despite that - I love aloo, I love gobi, I love aloo and gobi together, and I love them all wrapped in pastry. I'm only human after all.
But don't worry, I've been making a few things that would have eluded the cooking skills that I managed to amass at university last time around - I've been making some dessert too. After saying how much I liked Livia's Kitchen's raw millionaire bites recently - and how expensive they were - I thought I'd have a go at making my own. Happily, the eponymous Olivia of Livia's Kitchen occasionally publishes recipes on her blog, and I used this one for chocolate hazelnut slice to knock up a slightly cheaper version of the raw millionaire bites at home.
It's not a massively complex recipe: it's more 'blend some stuff, press it into a dish, blend some more stuff, press it on top, cover with melted chocolate'. Despite that rather underwhelming summary I've just given you, it was pretty great.
What do you think about best before dates? I tend to view them mainly as a challenge than as a guide to when to chuck away the stuff in your fridge.
Case in point: I realised that I moved into my current home a couple of years ago, and I took with me a bunch of yuba sheets. Those yuba have remained tucked away since then, waiting for the day I finally plucked up the courage to attempt making yuba rolls.
Turns out that the time I plucked up enough courage to use them was about 18 months after their best before date. Still, I wasn't going to let a little thing like that stop me - how wrong could dried yuba go in a sealed packet, I thought. I was about to find out.
I made these yuba rolls by adapting a recipe from Mari Fujii's book on shojin ryori cuisine, The Englightened Kitchen: Fresh Vegetable Dishes from the Temples of Japan. Inside the magical yuba were carrots, shiitakes and spare bits of yuba that had crumbled off the sheets I was using. I cooked them both by steaming and by baking, and enjoyed both. For what it's worth, I had no ill effects after eating the ancient yuba. Half a packet remains - perhaps I'll get around to using them some time in 2019!