Keep your e-mails pouring in, it's good to know that there are lots of you out there with views and opinions.
To help you work out what is what, are now little icons to help you see biscuit related themes. And now you can see at a glance which are the most contested subjects via this graph (requires Flash 6.0 plugin).
Please keep your mails coming in to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you like, you can use this search thingy to find stuff that matches with any of the icons you pick, or use the fantastic free text search, Yay!
There is nothing on earth to compare with Bird's Custard Powder! Home-made apple tart or plum crumble just does not taste the same without it. I have been living in Germany for over 30 years now and every year when I go back to my home town in Hampshire, I stock up on Bird's Custard Powder. There is a similar powder in Germany, made by Dr. Oetker, but it just doesn't taste the same. We love it over bananas, stewed rhubarb, mincemeat tarts and of course, over Christmas pudding. If there's any left over, it gets eaten cold the next day, or heated up in the microwave. My German friend makes her custard using the German powder mixed with half milk and half cream. I tried this with Bird's Custard Powder, but it just didn't seem right somehow. I suppose it's what you get used to over the years. My German children (adults now), won't touch the German stuff, as they have been brought up on Bird's. So keep the flag flying for the original Bird's Custard Powder!!
As a representant of the French in GB, I would like to add my view on the "proper custard made from powder" Vs "nonsence custard made with eggs and other fresh ingredients".
First of all: " Apparently classically trained French chefs refuse to acknowledge the existence of custard"
Well, I disagree! We have "Creme Anglaise", it is the receipe of the traditional custard (i.e. the noncense one as it appear to be).... For the "Proper Custard", one should look under "Bechamel Sauce" and simply replace the salt and pepper by some vanilla flavouring and sugar.... and here you go, custard as you know it... (using corn flour to have that nice creamy texture). :P
So, here you go, simply a difference in the naming convention for "proper custard". Call that "vanilla flavoured bechamel sauce", and you French Chef will imediately answer "Ah, mais bien sure!" (Ah, of course!) before grabbing his butcher knife and start chassing after you :) (just kidding... I think)
Have a nice day
||My Northern partner thought she didn't like custard - "disgusting custard" in a W Yorks accent - and sure enough, when I had apple pie and custard in Harrogate, it was a pale, watery concoction.|
She was converted by southern custard, Bird's, made from powder, but now, we're hooked on the stuff in cardboard bricks (Ambrosia) which cuts out the faffing around factor, and tastes not bad really.
Could there be a regional divide in custard, similar to the regional differences over "buns"?
|Nicey replies: That's a slice of my homemade Apple Pie and Custard of course. As for Ambrosia their parent company Premier foods according to press reports acquired the Birds custard brand from Kraft at the end of 2004 and promised to invest literally millions in the brand reviving it. However, last year there were stories about the brand being in crisis. On top of this the Custard Powder I bought in Asda only two weeks ago was still branded Kraft and is good till 2007. So all fairly mysterious as we look deeply into custard.|
Apparently classically trained French chefs refuse to acknowledge the existence of custard, and when pressed, tend to fall back on using the euphemism “crème anglais”. Maybe this is what Queenie calls it.
I once saw custard defined in a gastronomical dictionary as “a malevolent conspiracy of the hen, the cow and the cook”.
Off to Romania next week to check out the tea and biscuits topology – do you have any recommendations for that part of the world?
Keep up the good work!
|Nicey replies: Nick,
We are largely clueless about Romania, so consider yourself on a bold journey of discovery. We had some Russian biscuits last year which were not ever so massed produced and sold loose in little plastic trays. They were the sort of thing that needed to eaten very fresh sort of like a semi sweet Viennese finger. Perhaps you'll find something like that?
||The Queen has never had Custard...|
My Dad (sadly, departed and much missed) was a master chef and cooked for the Queen (gawd bless 'er), Heads of State and the odd American President... His cookery books which are THE final word on cuisine have come into my hands. I've just checked - no custard. Well, except Baked Custard which is just the same as the classic baked custard tart but without the pastry case. There are variations on Creme and Creams which have the basis of classical custard (such as milk, eggs, sugar) but not one recipe for custard as we know it (a la mode de Messr. Bird, which is to say side dish to a pie, tart or some such).
All of which leads me to suggest, that the Queen (gawd bless 'er) has probably never known the gastronomic delights of Swiss roll and custard, Arctic Roll and Custard (a 70s thing I admit) and my favourite, ice cream and custard. I really think after a hard day's reigning her Majesty should have the culinary delights my Dad bestowed on his kids!!! Actually most of Queenie's pudding recipes are milky, eggy and cholesterol enhancing... In case you were wondering - one recognizable recipe for biscuits - the good old ginger nut (its an ethnic English food apparently, the next entry along is aniseed cake which is an ethnic Israeli biscuit by all accounts). All other biscuity recipes are petit fours and more like baked edible trays to carry buttercream and fruit/nut combos into the Royal gob.
|Nicey replies: Of course there is the possibility that the Queen demands lashings of proper Custard over all her puddings as a matter of course, and given that the instructions are on the side of the tin your Dad never felt the need to write them down.|