Its hard to write the reason for my lack of blog posts recently. My beloved grandmother passed away two weeks ago following several months in hospital. I can’t even begin to find the right words to express my grief, but I can talk about the impact that the past few months have had on my creativity. I became very self critical of both my writing and photography, to the extent that I began to dread posting. When we go through difficult periods in our life, it is easy to feel that we are alone, but I started to see posts from bloggers that I have long admired expressing similar sentiments. Then the other day I came across this quote by Ira Glass, an American radio & tv host, which helped put my crisis of confidence into perspective…
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple of years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, you quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is so a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” Ira Glass.
I realised that I had been finding excuses to delay posting. I wanted to share this recipe inspired by Chris & James Tanner’s roulade from The Tanner Brother’s Masterclass at The Kentish Hare, but I kept re-making it, trying various different fruits and flavour variations, not entirely happy with any of the results. One afternoon, I decided to pick some roses from the garden and make sugared rose petals to decorate it with, but that was as far as I got. Yesterday, I decided that I had procrastinated enough. I had to ‘fight my way through’. So finally, here it is, my pistachio meringue roulade with raspberries, cardamon and rose cream. As with my life recently, its been work in progress, I hope you like it.
- 4 egg whites (free range or organic)
- 200g caster sugar
- 100g pistachios, chopped
- 300ml double or whipping cream
- 250g fresh raspberries
- ½ teaspoon rose extract
- 6-10 cardamom pods (according to taste)
- To decorate
- A few reserved raspberries
- icing sugar
- sugared rose petals (see above)
- mint leaves
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4
- Line a baking sheet approximately 23cm x 30cm with a silicone baking mat or with non stick baking paper.
- Place the egg whites in a scrupulously clean bowl and whisk until whites are stiff
- Slowly add the caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time, whisking between each tablespoon until the whites are glossy and thick. This can take 5-8 minutes.
- Gently fold in the chopped pistachios into the egg white mixture.
- Tip the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread out in an even layer.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until crisp on the outside. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
- Meanwhile crush the cardamom seeds in a pestle and mortar, remove the papery pods and grind the remaining seeds to a powder. How many pods you use is entirely dependant on taste, I usually use 8 because I love cardamon but you don't want it to be too overpowering.
- Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks, taking care not to over whip, it shouldn't be too stiff.
- Fold in the ground cardamom seeds and the rosewater into the cream.
- Place a large piece of baking paper on the work surface, place the meringue upside down on top and carefully peel away the silicone mat or baking paper.
- Spread the cream evenly over the top of the meringue and top with raspberries, reserving a few to decorate if you wish.
- Starting at one of the short ends roll up the meringue, using the baking paper to help fold it over.
- Dust with icing sugar and decorate with raspberries, sugared rose petals and mint