Have you ever started to make a recipe and then had it go sideways?
Sometimes all that is left to do is order pizza. But many times I have decided to “wing it” and salvage the ingredients and the results have resulted in a whole new dish. Sometimes, those dishes even turned into new family favourites.
One of my best-kept secrets from working on a movie catering truck was how I invented my recipe for what I call Lemon Cloud Tarts. It is perhaps my most infamous accident in a kitchen.
My original plan that day was to make Lemon Curd Tarts for the cast and crew. However, our fridge went on the blink and the lemon curd I put in to set was turned into a slurry – not a curd.
I’m sure you know the saying— necessity is the mother of invention.
I had to have something to serve and there was no time to start from scratch. My tart shells were baked off, I just had to come up with a filling. So, I whipped the cream that was to be for the top of the tarts to within an inch of its life. Then I mustered all my bravado and boldly folded some into a bit of the lemon slurry.
As a very dear foodie friend of mine likes to say sarcastically to disguise her delight, it wasn’t horrible. Not at all.
So, away I went, making a huge bowl of this wonderfully fluffy and rich sort of mousse filling. In a fit of inspiration, I decided it felt like clouds might if one jumped into them. That’s what I wrote on the menu board – Lemon Cloud Tarts. You can find the recipe here.
I was thrilled (and yes, lucky) that the cast and crew thought they were divine. (The link is for my adapted intentional recipe if you want to see how good they are for yourself.)
I was heartened to learn today as I looked through the food geek news, I am not alone in my lucky innovations.
Did you know that Tiramisu is also the product of a recipe gone wrong?
The reason I know this is that the father of this Italian dessert classic died this week. Adol Campeol was 93. He took over his family restaurant, Le Beccherie in Treviso, just after World War II. (I don’t know about you, but I think we should have tiramisu in his honour this weekend.)
Mr. Campeol’s chef, Roberto Linguinotto, was working on making vanilla ice cream. He dropped some mascarpone cheese into a bowl with eggs and sugar and when he tasted his error, he found it to be delicious.
Chef Linguinotto went to work with Mrs. Campeol, who also worked in the restaurant. They expanded on this new flavour combination by including ladyfinger biscuits soaked in (what else?) espresso coffee.
I don’t know if Signora Campeol liked to dunk her biscuits or if one fell in her coffee, but this aspect just adds to the spontaneous nature of this recipe’s heritage.
They called it Tiramisu. It was a hit with the patrons. People asked for it again on future visits. Mr. Campeol promoted tiramisu as a signature dessert from then on in his restaurant and it is now an Italian classic. You can find the recipe here.
The English translation for the name they chose is “pick me up”. I have read that is believed to connect with the coffee - and the rum or Marsala - included in many versions of the recipe. But the original recipe recorded for posterity in the Italian Academy of Cuisine is alcohol-free. This makes it kid-friendly, something that seems logical for a dessert being served at a family restaurant.
I choose to believe that “pick me up” was more of a tongue-in-cheek reference to the way Mr. Campeol’s wife and chef managed to save the day by incorporating ingredients to create a new dish.
An indominable human spirit is capable of all kinds of things – some of them are even delicious
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.