Eggs. Sometimes they can be the irritating couple of the food world. Most of the time you want them in your life; they make wonderful company, playing off each other as if they have known one another for an eternity.
But now and then you want them alone: to enjoy the rich personality of Mr Yolk or the frothy giddiness of Ms White. They come as a pair and separation is a complete pain. Not only does one have to endure the nail biting extraction procedure (one drop of yolk and it is game over) but unless you are a wasteful cook, wantonly throwing perfectly good ingredients away, you have to find another recipe for the leftovers.
I was left with this Herculean task the other week after V made macarons. Finding different treats to use four yolks was no easy task. With this in mind, here is my (….the BBC’s) recipe for lemon curd:
4 unwaxed lemons zest and juice
200g unrefined caster sugar
100g unsalted cubed butter
3 free-range eggs, plus 1 free-range egg-yolk
- Introduce the lemon zest and juice, the sugar and the butter to a heatproof bowl. Sit the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl. Watch the mixture and stir occasionally. Wait until all the butter has melted and not a moment sooner.
- Tenderly and lightly whisk the eggs and egg yolk and stir them into the lemony mixture. Mix the ingredients using the whisk and then leave to cook for 10-13 minutes, stirring every now and again until the mixture is creamy and thick enough to coat the back of a fork.
- Take the lemon curd off the heat and let it stand, stirring occasionally as it cools. Once rested, spoon the lemon curd into sterilised jars and seal. Keep in the fridge until ready to use. Then use judiciously.
Billed as the ‘fastest gameshow in the known universe’, Reflex’s running time of 45 minutes is therefore a perpetual disappointment and from watching it, a slap in the face to literalism. Failing in only the way that BBC gameshows can, it strikes an uneasy and unwise balance between the futuristic severity of The Cube and raucous family fun of The Generation Game; a dystopian hellscape with Radio 2 on in the background *shudder*.
The show hangs it’s hat on the use of slow motion cameras to capture the super quick tasks the teams are set. Sadly, it is in this that the problems lie, as there is about 1 minute of actual action stretched beyond breaking point with replays replaying ad infinitum. One task involved the contestants lying on a large balloon which is then popped and upon landing on a crash mat they have to hit out a light; in real time, that would last 2 seconds but with Reflex it was:
Slow motion balloon popping *cut* slow motion balloon popping *cut* slow motion balloon popping *cut* slow motion balloon popping *cut* person falling *cut* person falling *cut* person falling *cut* person falling and on for three more minutes.
I was trying so hard to stop myself from screaming that I burst a blood vessel in my eye, so desperate was I to be rescued from the tyranny of slow motion (those who have walked behind tourists on London streets will know exactly the problem). Effects like these are meant to accentuate the details of the games rather than provide the context of it; viewers need to get a sense of how quickly these games are over to appreciate the use of the slow motion cameras as opposed to be given blunt force trauma by them.
Then there is Shane Richie, who doesn’t need to have a ‘slo-mo’ camera to make time feel like it is standing still. His jokes are older than the tired polo shirts they make the teams wear and all delivered with the cheeky insouciance of that person in the pub who you wish would choke on a pork scratching.
In all, Reflex is like a man on a rack being slowly pulled apart. And when it happens, I’d love to see it in slow-motion.
“Whoever wins, it will change their loife”
“Cooking doesn’t get taffer than this” beam John Torrode and Gregg Wallace, ushering us into another episode of TVs best cookery show. You cannot fault their go-get’em attitude though, you almost start to believe that this is the cooking equivalent of the Roman Gladiatorial Games, with contestants dodging a hurtling mace in order to reach the mace (word play. Boom).
But this programme offers dual pleasures: 1) watching genuinely talented cooks showcase their talents. The skill, the attention and joy they conjure up these culinary masterpieces is just phenomenal, and it leaves you wanting to cheer when John and Gregg give their seal of approval. Gregg can do some of the best *amazed* looks known to man. The depth of expression he manages to put across is masterful: “Mate. That. Is. Heaven…..Heaven” whispers Gregg with just enough emphasis to realise he meant it. He bloody meant it.
But then….2) You want to see the fuck ups. The ones who think they are all that but serve tasteless slop. Ha! Was that a jus you tried to create? As it didn’t look reduced enough to me. Pah. Amateurs. (I forgot to mention, like most shows of a similar ilk MasterChef turns you into an armchair expert. I now can spot a dish that John and Gregg will give a mournful shake of the head to a mile off. Yoghurt? With fish? Are you mental?!?!!?)
But worst of all is the stage the cheffettes go through where they are given a choice of two possible dishes, and forced (I think I saw a set of manacles once) to cook it under the piercing glare of John and Gregg. But it is here that the two presenters come into their own; the high-camp looks they give each other or the food is top quality theatrics. Predominately they fall into a few main camps: the glance at each other with a bemused shake of the head; the raised eyebrow with a slight approving nod; or the ‘break glass in case of emergency’: the holding the head in hands. These little vignettes are one of the most real links to the silent movie era that we are lucky to have today. Treasure them.