May 13, 2012

What to cook for a cook?

Quite a while ago, a friend of mine called me for a chatter after a long and exhausting day . I was very tired, had no interest in talking on phone with anyone. I thought "darn, what  does he want now, I have to get rid of him quickly". So  I just answered with a deep "sigh" and a rude "what can I do for you", to warn him that it is not the right time for phonecalls. Not quite friendly is it?

Anyway, he started with some blabla, I honestly did not even pay much attention, but then he threw in the "I have a new girlfriend" subject, and that got me immediately interested. I am a woman afterall, and which female would not have thousands of questions regarding other females!?  All in all the conversation took an interesting curve, and after I knew her name (which I forgot on the spot of course), the color of her hair and eyes, her size, and where they met, I invited them for a dinner on the weekend. I just started to plan the menu in my head when he said something that cleared my mind. She is a cook. A COOK. A chef in a restaurant.

Have you ever had to cook for a cook? I was shocked, had only one question in mind, what should I prepare? The menu had to be excellent, not because she is a cook, but because she is a woman and a cook, who will judge an other woman, me. After days of consideration I decided to go for a slow roasted veal with pasta, but the main focus was on the dessert. And guess what, she liked it. No no, it had to me more than that she must have LOVED it because she even asked for the recipe. I was flattered, walking in clouds. A cook, a professional cook has liked something that I created. Of course she is the nicest and prettiest girlfriend my friend ever had :)
What would You cook for a professional cook?

Rhubarb, Strawberry and Tonka Bean meringue pie

200g flour
120g caster sugar
120g cold butter
2 egg yolks
For pastry, combine caster sugar and flour. Add the butter in small cubes and mix it with the flour mixture. Stir in egg yolks and beat until just combined, turn onto a lightly floured work surface, form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.               
Preheat oven to 200C. Roll pastry on a lightly floured surface to few mm thick and use to line a 26cm cakepan. Line pastry-lined pan with baking paper, weigh down with pastry weights or beans and bake blind for 15 minutes, then remove paper and pastry weights and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden and crisp.

1/2 kg rhubarb and strawberry
sugar according to taste
agar agar for half a kilo juice (see packaging)

Cut fruits into small cubes and transfer to a saucepan. Over medium heat cook until tender. Crush the fruits, stir in sugar and agar agar, bring to boil and set aside to cool.
Fill the bottom of the pastry with the jam

3 egg yolks
300ml milk
20g butter
180g sugar (or according to taste)
2 Tbsp corn starch
half of a tonka bean

Combine milk, corn starch, grounded tonka bean and eggs in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until cream thickens. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in sugar and butter. Set aside to cool.
Spoon the cold custard over the jam.

Italian Meringue:
3 eggwhites
180g caster sugar
100ml water

Combine sugar and  water in a heavy-based saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and cook until syrup reaches 115C on a sugar thermometer, then remove from heat. Whisk eggwhites until soft peaks form, then, with motor running, slowly add hot syrup and whisk for a few minutes.
Spoon the meringue over custard, forming into peaks. Bake for a few minutes until meringue starts to brown.


  1. The pie looks delicious Vera..
    Really loved how you described about not wanting to take calls. I find myself wanting that sometimes too..
    Never heard of Tonka beans, what do they look like?
    Also, interesting use of agar agar in a jam.. Eyes are so trained to read pectin in that place!

  2. Like Radhika, I've never heard of tonka beans. Googling revealed some interesting details about the spice, especially in relation to its mythological propensities. I suppose, for a less woodoo effect, it could be replaced with vanilla :-). I like your pictures, as always.

  3. Radhika, Lakshmi
    Thanks, I really have my way when I'm in a bad mood :)
    Never heard of tonka beans before? You should definitely try it. It is so unique cannot compare it to anything. They look similar to nutmeg, but rather shaped like a bean. And you also have to use it the same way, just a pinch because the taste is quite strong and dominant.
    Sure you can substitue it with vanille, but to really have the kick, get some tonka beans and I'm telling you, you will be hooked forever :)

  4. I have heard of Tonka beans but never used them (yet). I have to see where I can get some and try cooking with them. I really want to try the custard recipe!

    Loved how you described that you didn't want to take the call and then got curious about your friend's new girlfriend!

    I have never cooked for a cook! A few years ago we have been friends with a Michelin-starred cook and thank god I never had to cook for him. I'm pretty sure I would have messed everything up just because! But no surprise she loved your looks soooo good!

    1. Corinna,
      Wow, it is so interesting. Did that Michelin starred cook ever cook for you? I would have had thousands of questions to him :)
      I think you can get tonka beans in any big supermarkts. I have a friend living next to Nürnberg, I can ask him.

    2. I have a good info where to buy tonka beans in Nürnberg. First try it at the Wurzelsepp on the Hauptmarkt. If not, then in the DelikatEssen a few steps from Essigbrätlein.
      Hope it helps :)

  5. I just saw this picture on Foodgawker and couldn’t stop appreciating the clicks!! The recipe sounds delish!!!

    1. This is so nice of you, thank you :)

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  7. This tart is just amazing! Meringue topping make such a beautiful landscape)
    Didn´t know you have a blog, Vera.

    1. Thanks Svetlana :) The English blog is quite new, only 6 months old or so.

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  9. It's my first time on your blog Veronica. And I must say that I am simply floored. The photography, write ups and the recipes are all wonderful. Very happy to follow you :)

    1. Thanks so much, I'm flattered and welcome to my little space. :)

  10. What a beautiful pie, I love your photos!