When I have a half-meal (think: a hearty salad, a nice soup, or a simple noodle dish) a soft boiled egg on top usually makes it feel more complete. The egg adds something to really chew on and the yolk provides an amazing sauce-like addition. I always make the egg simply topped with some salt and pepper. But, I was recently watching the new season of Masterchef Australia and saw one of the contestants make a soft boiled egg covered in spices. I instantly wrote the idea down on my to-make list. Why can’t every bite of the egg include a burst of flavour? The possibilities in my mind were endless: crushed nuts, herbs, spices.
Sometimes a recipe is so tightly tied to its meaty roots that making a vegetarian version seems like an unforgivable bastardization of the dish. For me, pho is one of those dishes. Vegetarian pho is something that I have thought about making ever since we went to Vietnam four years ago. Whenever I found a vegetarian version during our travels, I savoured that hearty bowl of soup like you wouldn’t imagine. Even in 40C heat and 100% humidity, the soup was worth it (is it ever too hot for soup?). However, I always suspected that my bowl of pho was nothing like the meaty broth that my travel partner was eating across from me.
I have had many cookie disasters in my day. There are a number of things that normally trip me up.
1- Cookie recipes normally call for creaming the butter and sugar. I only got an electric mixer a couple of years ago, so before that, this was a major problem for me. I am not strong (or determined?) enough to do this properly by hand, so it never quite worked out.
2- I always keep my butter in the freezer and am never patient enough to get it to room temperature when I am making my cookies. This results in cold butter being whisked with the sugar. Don’t do this! Your cookies will be the completely wrong texture and you will regret it in the long run.
3- I usually cook them too long. Cookies often firm up quite a bit once they are taken out of the oven. I never realized that and just thought that baking times were completely off and cooked them until they were cooked through, which resulted in horribly overcooked cookies.
4- I drop entire trays of hot cookies on (the relatively clean) floor where they break into a million pieces (because they are still mushy and hot) and I have to salvage them by making a ‘trifle’ as the potluck dessert.