Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Birthday Baking Disasters (BBD)

The boy's birthday was the epitome of the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The good intentions being dinner and dessert.

The hell being dinner and dessert.

Ok. Let's review, shall we?

1. Check with boy what he wants for birthday dinner

Done - Korean kimchi pork stew

2. Think up something to make the boy as birthday cake

I know! FLAN! The boy has a fondness for custard and since arrival in Paris, best format for eating out of hand has been flan.

3. Find recipe for French flan

Great! Found one here! Ignore fact that blog's name is garlic breath and I am about to embark on making something I've NEVER EVER made before.

4. Assemble ingredients

Go to Chinatown, cannot find kimchi in the 3 big supermarkets I look in. Go get fresh tofu from Rue Rampal. Get soaked during sudden thunderstorm, retreat to metro where I proceed to slip and fall on the pee-smelling floor of disgusting metro station. Pick up now crushed tofu and what little dignity I have to stumble onto packed metro where people push their bodies into ever smaller spaces to get away from me. Hooligans throw piece of trash through the open window of train as it pulls out of the station. It hits me on the side of the head. I pretend it didn't happen.

5. Start prep and bake flan

After a long, scaldingly hot shower, cut up huge side of pork into three portions, two of which go in the freezer, while painstakingly cut off all fat to please the boy, marinate meat for stew in Dou Ban Jiang (chilli bean paste) and turn my attention to the flan. Read directions and Susan's addtional tips over and over again and proceed with caution. Custard looked great after 20 minutes of constant motion. Hand feels like its about to fall off. Coats back of spoon nicely, holds even after finger is swiped across (Susan's tip!). Pour carefully into the pastry. Looks great. Just a tiny bit of splash as it goes into the hot oven. Proceed to clean up disaster area (kitchen).


The flan is bubbling... THE FLAN IS FREAKING BUBBLING!!! Which means all that careful mixing so it doesn't turn into scrambled eggs is all for naught. Check recipe obsessively to see if there's anything about putting it at a lower temp. Nope. Check other recipes to see if they require cooling down custard before pouring into pie. Nope. Tear out hair. Have a short cry. Frantically search other recipes for something which can be made, preferably with 5 egg whites.

7. Shop for ingredients... again

Settle for David Lebovitz' Coconut Chocolate Macaroons, run out to buy shredded coconut. Run in to see if local tiny Chinese supermarket has kimchi. Score!!! Run home with stuff to find message from the boy saying he'll be home in an hour.


Rush to make stew, rice, part 1 of the macaroons, clean up house, set up table with his birthday cards, presents, durian wafers (ick), dried mango, cold beer.

9. Enjoy Result of Long Hard Day

Rice was undercooked, stew was about 4 times as much as we could possibly eat, flan was as thin as a bad crepe and tasted like sweet scrambled eggs and the smell of the durian wafers lingered heavily in our apartment, which, mixed with the smell of kimchi and flan made us the most popular people in our building.
However, the important thing is, the boy enjoyed it. Or so he said!!


Susan said...

JESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh my god, i'm laughing but also feeling so bad for you!! God, what an awful day. I'm so sorry the flan didn't turn out - damn, I've never eaten it (or made it) before so I don't know exactly what it's supposed to be like - i hope I didn't steer you wrong!
I'm sure The Boy appreciated your efforts.

Mumpleweed said...

Ha ha! Sounds like the disasters that occur every time I try to do anything for a birthday. You should have seen the disaster I made of mars bar cornflake cakes.

Sui Mai said...

Susan... it was awful!

I actually let out a piercing shriek when it bubbled!! I was so angry! Hahaha... I'm sure it wasn't your fault. I'm not sure whose it was (I suspect mine) but whomever it was, I'm going to go smash my flan in their faces! It's now in the garbage where it belongs!

Mumpleweed, what's this you say about Mars bar cornflake cakes? You must tell me more! My ears are perked!

Anonymous said...

Maybe you had to use a bain-marie? I was laughing too, and kimchi tofu chi-gae is always a good thing, so you'll always remember this day with great fondness, way after the trauma fades of the memory of bubbling flan and slipping on pee floor of metro stations...oh dear.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about the flan, though it sounds like the boy appreciated your efforts. i checked out the recipe you followed, and I have never seen a flan or custard recipe where you did not have to place the dish in a pan filled half-way up with water. Take a roasting pan, put a dish towel on the bottom (this prevents slipping), put the flan in, and fill the pan with boiling water, to about halfway up the flan dish. I promise your flan will look professional!

Susan said...

The problem with this recipe is that it's custard baked in a puff pastry-lined pan. The two elements need entirely different temperatures: custard should be baked at a low temp, puff pastry needs to be baked at higher temp. Baking in a bain marie won't work for the puff pastry.
I wonder how it's done for Chinese and Portuguese egg tarts? Must look this up in one of my books.

Sui Mai said...

Thanks for the tip about bain marie.

Susan, I can tell that the pastry and the custard is really bugging you! Hahaha, let me go buy a slice and photograph it.... maybe it's not puff pastry and it's pate brisee? I do get these things messed up a lot!

Susan said...

No, I believe you that it's puff pastry - that's what they use for Chinese and Portuguese egg tarts, too. But I'm almost postive the Chinese and Portuguese versions don't start with creme anglaise.
Oh dear. think I'll have to make a trip to France to try this mysterious dessert!