Monday, April 9, 2012

...and the Worst

Making up a list of the bottom 10 recipes is in some ways even harder than the top 10 - this time it wasn't that I had too many to choose from: in fact, I had the opposite problem.

Not every recipe I have done out of the Edmonds book has been a spectacular success. Quite a few have been extremely ordinary, and a number have been a bit disastrous. The difficulty is, in which cases can I blame the recipe for the poor result, and in which can the blame be laid entirely at my own feet? I hesitate to roundly condemn a recipe if it only came out badly because I didn't follow the recipe correctly.

Nevertheless, I have compiled the below list. Some were truly terrible, others just disappointing, difficult or overly bland. Let's not forget that this is a list reflecting only my opinion and tastes - some of the recipes listed below might even be favourites for some people. Then again, 'some people' aren't writing this list; I am. So here it is:

I have no qualms in including this recipe in my current list, even though it was already listed in my previous 'worst recipe' list. I am certain I followed the recipe precisely, but it came out like raw onion and rice stirred through straight tomato paste.

Interestingly, I've come across at least one person willing to hotly defend this recipe. The argument centred on tomato paste vs tomato puree. Using tomato puree would certainly improve the sharp, overwhelmingly tomatoey flavour, but the recipe says paste. I even checked my older Edmonds books (I'm getting quite a collection) in case the paste was a misprint, but this recipe doesn't seem to feature in any of them.

In short, when I made it (adhering strictly to the recipe) it came out dreadful. I'm not really prepared to try for a better result - why don't you give it a go and prove me wrong?

It seems I'm not the only one to be disappointed in this recipe. It sounds so good, doesn't it: A hokey pokey flavoured biscuit. In reality, they're very bland, and there's not much hint of hokey pokey flavour.

Since a couple of people commented that they remembered these biscuits being much nicer, I checked the recipe against an older version. Oddly enough, my 1998 version has double the sugar of the 1976 recipe. I would have expected that if the older version was nicer and more 'hokey-pokeyish', that would be the one with more sugar. So maybe these lovely hokey pokey biscuits everyone remembers were not made to the Edmonds recipe? Who knows. All I know is these ones are not much good.

This one is definitely a personal dislike, so don't take offence if you happen to like cream soups. So far, I've only made two of the five different cream soups in the Edmonds book, mostly because I've yet to convince myself to try another one. The versions still to be completed show no promise of being any less bland than those I've already done.

The problem is, I think of a soup as a meal. A big bowl of thick, chunky soup is something I really love on a cool evening. I suspect these mild, textureless cream soups are more meant as a starter, so you only have a small bowl of it before you get to the actual meal. Starters are not something you generally have when you're cooking for one, but maybe I'll have to start if I want to get the rest of these cream soups under my belt.

Here's an example of a recipe that's outlived its relevance. I'm certain that once upon a time, tinned apricots (and fresh) used to be bigger than the ones we get today. This theory is borne out by the apricot islands recipe, which charges you to "spoon a tablespoonful of mixture into the cavity of each apricot". Since the apricots in my can had a diameter not much larger than a $2 coin, even a teaspoon of mixture overflowed the cavity. A tablespoon? Not likely.

Setting apricot sizes aside, it wasn't a very good dish anyway - the 'islands' were just soggy little blobs with  almond on them. They didn't taste that bad, but texture and appearance-wise, not good at all.

The other thing I take exception to is that it's one of these 'buy our cake mixes and make this dish' recipes. As you know, I don't like using cake mixes, but this recipe adds insult to injury by using only a few spoonfuls of it in the actual dish, then airily telling you to use the leftover mixture to make cup cakes. So I guess you've got no choice but to make cupcakes, even if you don't want to.

Here's another survivor from the original bottom five - and another quirky result of Edmonds trying to make us buy their cake mixes. In this case it's supposedly a 'quiche' made with the usual eggs and whatnot - and with pancake mix.

At first glance, there doesn't seem anything wrong with that, until you realise that what you are actually making is a savoury cake. Not a quiche, a cheese, bacon and onion flavoured cake. And while it doesn't actually taste too bad, it's just a very odd sensation to be eating something with the flavours of a quiche, but the appearance and texture of a cake.

I mentioned in my top 10 list that I hadn't expected a decent curry from the Edmonds book. What I did expect was something like this. A watery, bland sort of curry, containing dry chunks of chicken breast, curry powder, and not much else. I was only surprised it didn't have sultanas in it.

As it happens, I don't actually mind an old-school curry-powder-and-sultanas kind of curry. If it's done right, it can be quite nice. Unfortunately, this one doesn't come anywhere near that standard, instead being insipid, flavourless and entirely unappealing.

I've had a disastrous history with sponges, so I really had to include at least one sponge recipe on this list. Then again, being well aware of my lack of sponge ability, you'll take my denouncement of this recipe with a grain of salt.

This one is perhaps the most technical of the sponge recipes I have tried. All sponge recipes are based on beaten eggs to some extent, but this one achieves its 'light as air' status by relying on a meringue-like egg white and sugar mixture. Needless to say, mine was not light as air. I had difficulty folding further ingredients through the meringuey mixture without losing any air, and the resulting sponge was shrivelled and had lumps in the bottom.

I'm not saying "this is a terrible recipe, don't make it". I'm saying I don't think it's an easy one to get right. If you're new to sponge making, try a three-minute sponge instead.

I don't have a problem with blue cheese. Actually, it's quite tasty, but I prefer it crumbled and scattered throughout a salad or something. On its own, blue cheese can be a bit overpowering.

Such is the case with this spread. It has a very strong flavour, not only of blue cheese but of raw onion as well. It should be noted that the big blue cheese fans in our gathering felt it was ok, but I found it pretty much inedible.

If you're majorly into blue cheese, don't mind raw onion, and if whoever you share a bed with is not going to kill you for having that on the breath, by all means have a go at this one. Otherwise, steer well clear.

Yet another survivor from my first bottom five, the tasty-sounding oaty apple loaf that should really be renamed soggy apple loaf. Possibly, different sizes of apple might result in a certain amount of extra liquid in the recipe, but so much that the loaf is still wet through well beyond the designated cooking time? I don't think so.

I was quite sure that I'd followed the recipe with this one, yet the result was so bad that either I'm wrong about that or the recipe is in some way faulty. As far as I can tell, it's the recipe.

Curried eggs: they don't sound appealing. They don't look appealing. Sadly, they don't taste much good either.

To be fair, I didn't follow the recipe on this one very well. I allowed the sauce to thicken too much, and forgot to season until after I'd sat down to eat it. That said, the sauce was always going to be a bit lumpy, because of the bits of onion in it, and any dish that needs that much salt to make it merely edible is not really a winner.

So that's my bottom 10, at the current count of 400 completed recipes. I wonder what else I'll come across in the remaining 176?

1 comment:

  1. I've done the eggs Robs and they weren't any better than yours. I ended up adding all sorts of spices etc to improve the taste and made some curried white sauce to add as well. Not a great recipe. c


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