I had not been excited about a cookbook for a long time until I found Ottolenghi Simple. I have to be honest, I didn’t even know who he was, but his vegetable and dessert recipes were so good that they won me instantly. To think of it, I was quite sceptical with ‘simple’ recipes and cookbooks, especially when many posts short cooking videos, mostly under 60 seconds long, promising good food with minimum efforts and ingredients. It sounded promising, but a lot of them use pre-packed food as the main ingredients and they just don’t look appealing to me. I think simple cooking is different from these cooking hacks. I mean, hacks are just novelty anyway.
I absolutely love this Ottolenghi Simple book. I did a quick research and I found Yotam Ottolenghi very charming. Juliet bought the book too, I’m interested to see what she thinks of it.
Anyway, Kelvin invited me to his New Year’s Eve party, and I was thinking of bringing some spiked iced tea, but Tam told me to bring a dessert instead. So I chose a recipe from this book, Vanilla Custard with Roasted Strawberries and Rhubarb. It was really easy to make, very simple ingredients, and it looks great too. I thought it would be perfect especially cause I felt like I needed to impress people. I thought, bringing a dessert to a party also would help my social anxiety, although later on, I found out that this was not true.
- 200g rhubarb, cut into small chunks
- 200g strawberries, hulled and halved
- 90g caster sugar
For the custard;
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1tsp cornflour
- 2tsp vanilla extract
- 600ml double cream
Start with preheating the oven to 200C. Mix the rhubarbs, strawberries, and sugar. Bake for 13 minutes in a small dish until they soften and the sugar creates a bright red syrup. set aside to cool. Lower the oven temperature to 170C. Whisk egg yolks, sugar, vanilla extract, and cornflour until smooth. Gradually add in and whisk the double cream until combined. Pour the mixture into a high-sided ovenproof dish. Place the dish inside a larger dish or a tray, then fill the larger dish with boiling water so it rises about 1 cm up the side. Bake for 25 minutes until it sets and is starting to brown on top. Set aside to chill, then transfer to the fridge to chill. Once chilled, serve with the fruit and juice on top.
I was already drunk by the time I served it. It was around 10pm, two hours before the countdown. It was probably one of the best things I have ever made; it was not too sweet, the vanilla extract was gentle, the rhubarb and strawberries still had the sour taste and it cuts the velvety rich custard perfectly. I was sitting there enjoying my own dessert. It was perfect, yet for a moment I was still slightly worried that people didn’t like it.
But they did. Then some of them started complimenting me. And being socially anxious was hard because you never knew how to react to compliments.