Stuck in the 70s?

1 March 2005

The BBC have been showing a programme called MasterChef Goes Large – it’s basically a big cooking competition for amateur cooks. Today’s winner was very impressive, but to be honest I don’t really think the average standard is very high (not that I can cook better than them – but I was a bit surprised that there was actually a contestant who cooks food without tasting it!). But it is still the qualifying stage and I’m sure lots of talented cooks will emerge as the programme goes on.

In yesterday’s round, one of the contestants made Tiramisu for dessert. I must admit that I’ve made this (in)famous Italian dessert literally hundreds of times – I knew it was the sort of thing you might shy away from if you like talking about fancy cooking, but I just love them.

There are two presenters – one is a grocer to many London restaurants and the other is an Aussie chef, John Torode, who runs Smiths of Smithfield (Smithfield is the largest wholesale meat market in London, the famous St. John Restaurant is just nearby).

Anyway, when they saw that the contestant made Tiramisu, they started needling her with comments like ‘Don’t you think that making something like this for this kind of opportunity is a bit unambitious?’ or ‘Are you still stuck in the 70s?’ I knew what they meant, but she was quite confident about what she did and in the end she won the round (she cooked other dishes as well)! I know that things like Tiramisu or Chilli Con Carne aren’t very ‘in’ any more, but people should cook what they like!

I like to make my own sponge for this recipe, which is lighter than shop-bought finger biscuits – I also add a little whipped double cream into the cheese mixture as well as meringue. I don’t think that’s entirely authentic, but I quite like it as it makes the whole texture very light.

Speaking of TV cookery programmes, a new Jamie Oliver series has started too – it’s called Jamie’s School Dinners. He visits some schools and tries to convince the kids – as well as the dinner ladies – that they should be eating better food.

They’ve only shown one episode so far, but it was really shocking – everything that the kids were eating was junk. All processed, deep fried and no sign of any vegetables whatsoever. I think I was aware of this fact and that these kind of things aren’t happening only in this country, but it was much worse than I had expected. How can you appreciate what good food really is if you just eat that junk all the time, every day!

Sorry, I’m getting a bit grumpy… I remember that the ‘chief’ dinner lady in that episode was quite bossy and she wasn’t at all happy with JO’s interference, because she had to run the kitchen (ie feeding kids on time – no matter what they eat), which seemed more important to her than the actual food. She and JO were arguing most of the time and I thought it was funny when he said ‘This woman harasses me more than my wife!’...

Food - Sweet        20 comments    Permalink

  • hi keiko! funny, i was going to make a type of tiramisu today. what kind of meringue do you add, and is it in the cheese mixture or as another layer along with the others?

    my gripe with jamie’s school dinners is that he’s already admitted that most schools couldn’t do this on the budget they’ve set; if that’s the case, why don’t they be more realistic in their quest? i suppose it’s "too" real for entertainment. anyway, as far as i can tell, the bossy dinner lady comes out fairly well at the end!

    Posted by santos | 2 March 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko! I just want to say that your photos are gorgeous!

    Too bad these cooking programs don’t make it to Japan until MUCH MUCH later. Right now they are showing that program where Jamie tried to teach a bunch of kids how to cook and open a restaurant. Otherwise I’ll have to keep myself entertained with Japanese cooking shows, which aren’t bad, but English programs are always welcome.

    Posted by Lynn | 2 March 2005 #
  • OooOOOhhh... I adore that picture! It’s lovely! If that doesn’t make me crave for tiramisu, I don’t know what does...

    Posted by Linda | 2 March 2005 #
  • I hope they show Jamie’s new show here in the states too. School food has always been atrocious.

    Posted by joyce | 2 March 2005 #
  • I just discovered your blog and I LOVE it! Two comments: I live in Madison, WI USA and we have a group here called Homegrown Lunch that is trying to get local, organic produce back in schools. There has been some success but it is definitely an uphill battle. I think it’s just important to keep cooking and spread the word. I’ve influenced many people in my life when they see that making delicious food is not as hard as they thought.
    I love making tiramisu too! It didn’t hit here until the 90’s so it’s not quite retro yet!

    Posted by lee | 2 March 2005 #
  • Hear hear! People really should cook what they like, and not cook something just because it’s trendy - what tastes good is trendy, that’s what I say!

    Posted by Zarah Maria | 2 March 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    I love Tiramisu, but I’ve never made it myself- I’ll have to give it a go soon.

    I watched Jamie’s show tonight- he went into a classroom of small children and quizzed them on fresh veggies...holding up leeks and rhubarb, was so horrifying when the little kids didn’t know what any of the vegetables were...what are they eating at home?!?!?

    Great photo, as ever, Keiko!

    P.S. I got my pasta machine this week, and I can’t wait to try it out!

    Posted by Moira | 2 March 2005 #
  • Ohhh, Tiramisu! I didn’t think that it was associated with the 70’s! I’m thinking more like the 90’s. My favorite local version is made with chocolate cake instead of ladyfingers or sponge. It may be a bastardization, but oh well!

    Thanks for the virtual taste bud tingle!

    Posted by McAuliflower | 3 March 2005 #
  • Hi Santos - I just add ’normal’ meringue (egg white and sugar) in the cheese mixture. Although I like to lick the mixing bowl (cheese, egg yolk and sugar) before you add anything else too!

    They showed the second episode of the JSD last night and actually there was a follow-up of the bossy dinner lady! She and J got on fairly well eventually and she helped out the other dinner ladies!

    This time, J could manage to cook the meals within the budget and therefore he could argue with the agent who supplies (horrible) meals to schools that they should be supplying nice nutritious meals (In the first episode, he was really struggling to make the budget).

    Hi Lynn - Thank you for visiting. I’m sure you won’t have to wait too long before you can watch the series - he is more popular there than here, isn’t he? Meanwhile, enjoy Jamie’s Kitchen! (I’ve been to Fifteen - that was all right, but not so good that I’d like to go back) Having looked back, I think Japanese cookery programmes were quite *boring*, but I haven’t gone back for a while so I don’t know what they are like now... I can say that they are much tidier - no one makes a mess like they do here!

    Hi Linda - Thank you for visiting, I can tell how much you love this dessert...

    Hi Joyce - I’m sure you’ll be watching this soon in the States. In last night’s episode, Bill Clinton came to Fifteen, but because he was on the South Beach Diet (Has this anything to do with Atkins?) he made them change all the menus they had planned!

    Hi Lee - Thank you for sharing the wonderful story, that makes me feel so relieved! I can imagine how difficult it must be, but that’s not something you can achieve in a short period and like you said, it’s important to keep going. I’m 100% sure your hard work will pay off one day! I totally agree with you that making delicious food is not as hard as people think. Can we follow the progress of your group somewhere? If so, please let me know.

    Hi Zarah Maria - Absolutely!

    Hi Moira - I thought you may have been watching as well! I was literally crying when the most stubborn boy tried eating salad... I was in tears in a different sense when one of their mums went to the supermarket, saw basil for the first time and said ’I’m sure you don’t eat these leaves...’

    I can’t quite figure out why people here can eat that junk (I’d like to eat it occasionally, but not every day!) - maybe it’s because I’m Japanese and our diet is very different from here... I don’t know enough about this issue as I haven’t got children, but if I had, I’m sure I’d at least like to know what they were eating.

    Sorry, I’m getting grumpy again... but I’m looking forward to seeing your gorgeous pasta (and tiramisu)!

    Hi Jocelyn - I thought tiramisu was more like an 80s thing, but I guess it depends on where you live... I’ve seen the chocolate cake version, would love to try it sometime!

    By the way, I read your JO’s ’selling his soul’ post - I think I have to agree with Clarissa as his too-frequent appearances on Sainsbury’s adverts really irritate me... I mean, there are many other so-called ’TV chefs’ who make money when they don’t cook and I still like his (old) recipes, but he’s really getting on my nerves now (and my husband has plenty of other words for him too!).

    Posted by keiko | 4 March 2005 #
  • what i want to know is, how does he fit his ginormous tongue into his mouth?

    Posted by santos. | 4 March 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    This photo is delectable -- as all of yours are! If you love tiramisu, have I got a cake for you! In Nigella Lawson’s newest cookbook, Feast, there’s a recipe for something called "Rococoa Cake". It’s layers of chocolate sponge, soaked in espresso-rum syrup, filled with a luscious mascarpone rum filling, and iced with a dark chocolate-coffee glaze. It’s sort of a chocolate cake lovers’ spin on tiramisu. I made it for a party a couple of months ago and it was a huge, huge hit.

    As far as JO, I’ll say this: as someone who spends a good portion of work days in (poor) public schools, anyone who does ANYTHING to reform school food has to be doing something right...despite their other foibles.

    Posted by Julie | 4 March 2005 #
  • Hi there- I have just discovered your site- it rocks!

    I saw the Masterchef episode with the tiramisu you posted on- after all the concern they seemed to like it though. New masterchef is interesting- I am not sure whether I prefer the new format to the old one, although it is certainly more accessiable for the masses.

    I missed the first episode of Jamie’s Dinners, but the second one made me cry, when all the kids starting chanting "rosie, we love you" to their dinner lady after they had the Jamie inspired healthy food- it was priceless!

    Posted by Aisling | 4 March 2005 #
  • Keiko, Here’s the link to WI Home Grown Lunch that you requested. Let me know if it works.

    Posted by Lee | 4 March 2005 #
  • Kiekoさん♪
    2回目もご覧になりました? Jamieが昨日の夕飯何食べたの?と小学生に質問したときに君たちChipsが主食かと突っ込みいれたくなるくらいChips食べてた子が圧倒的に多くて、ある子はポットヌードルとかいってて、本当にあきれました・・・
    去年、John Burton RaceのFrench Leave見てたときに彼の息子の小学校の給食のシーンでデザートのチーズを選んでいた映像にとてもびっくりしましたが、イギリスってやっぱり・・・mmm

    Posted by Sagami | 5 March 2005 #
  • Oh my god!!! For the sake of THAT photo, I will drool and gush on about tiramisu’....but don’t even let me get started on the subject. Let’s say that I’ve had to make more than enough of that stuff in a lifetime!

    Posted by rowena | 5 March 2005 #
  • Hi Santos - I’d like to know as well...

    Hi Julie - Thanks for the tempting info on Nigella’s cake; I have to say that I’m quite suspicious about her recipes (especially the quantities of the ingredients) but this one sounds delicious! I’ll try to borrow a copy from one of my friends. BTW, I went to her book signing at our local bookshop when this book came out, but I didn’t buy it!

    I totally agree with you that ’doing something’ is important!

    Hi Aisling - Thank you for visiting, I’m glad that I can talk to someone who knows about the old Masterchef as I haven’t seen it (I didn’t know who Lloyd Grossman was when he was making pasta sauce!) As you said, the new series seems to challenge the contestants more, though.

    In JSD, Rosie was totally opposite to Nora (the bossy lady from the first episode), and yes, that was quite an emotional moment...

    Hi Lee - Thank you for letting us know about the project, it seems that you have achieved so much already! That’s brilliant! I look forward to reading about your progress.

    Hi Sagami san - Thanks for your comment, in my experience, raw eggs in the UK seem to be fine. I’ve made so many desserts using raw eggs since I came here, but have never had any problems. If you buy eggs at supermarkets, you should find a red lion logo on eggs which means they have been pasteurised and you can eat them raw... although you shouldn’t eat them if you are pregnant, or if you prepare food for small children or elderly people.

    As you said, it was interesting in JBR’s French Leave to see how French people take food much more seriously than British people. How is the food in your sons’ school? Are you going to the new JBR restaurant some time?

    Hi Rowena - Oh, I’m sure you can eat a bit more...

    Posted by keiko | 6 March 2005 #
  • WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA it’s my favorite dessert ! Great shot !


    Posted by Sakana | 18 August 2005 #
  • Hi Sakana - thank you, everyone loves tiramisu, don’t they? ;)

    Posted by keiko | 19 August 2005 #
  • This photo is wonderful. Wow! I loved your idea of using your own sponge instead of the biscuits. I will give it a go myself.

    Posted by valentina | 19 February 2006 #
  • OHHHHH my favourite dessert ever… I love tiramisu… I just made few glasses few days ago, it was my birthday. I like to prepare tiramisus on birthdays, I find it an exquisite dessert suitable for such occasions. Your photos are amazing, mouthwatering, all your posts photos.

    Posted by Fragolina | 13 December 2010 #

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