Home Sweet Home

Recently I’ve been feeling very grown up as I have officially moved out of the family home. This of course means I have to pay bills, learn the colours of the recycling bins, keep the place clean….but more importantly stock the kitchen. After living for two days without a fridge (it was incredibly depressing) our kitchen is now so well stocked, it’s hard to believe there are three novice renters living in it. We have an extraordinarily large collection of glasses and sharp knives (all three of us seem to own them somehow..), very few saucepans and crockery and of course my contributions, the kitchen aid, magimix, and chocolate moulds. There’s the three piece tea set, the wine rack, the canapé spoons, in fact all the essentials for a first time home really… Some might say that I don’t have my priorities straight, they certainly won’t be invited round to dinner any time soon! To christen this little haven, I headed round to my new favourite place, our local Aldi, to gather supplies for a meal for the new inmates. It was only when I’d cooked half of it that we realised the kitchen table Claire Balding and Mark Francis had been trying to put up in the corner was missing two legs, so it was a feast, eaten off a mini chest of drawers….

I’m still going through the avocado obsession faze, so for the starter I decided to make tortilla baskets, salmon ceviche and guacamole.

For the ceviche, I chopped 1/2 red onion, 1/2 red chilli, seeds removed,1garlic clove,a handful of coriander, 1 fillet of salmon, skinned and mixed them together with 1tsp olive oil,a large pinch of salt,black pepper and 3-4tbsp lime juice, to taste. Then I set it aside for about 1/2 hour in the fridge, during this time, the salmon turned a pleasing light pink colour ‘cooked’ by the lime juice.
Meanwhile, for the tortilla baskets, I divided a tortilla wrap into 4 quarters, and shaped each into a basket shape in a muffin tray. I baked them in the oven for about 8-10mins on high until golden and stiffened, then left to cool.
For the guacamole, I mashed 1 avocado with salt,pepper, small handful of chopped corianderand 1-2tsp lime juice.
Salmon in the basket, topped with guacamole and a coriander sprig, hey presto.

IMG_0169-0.JPG

The main was slightly more complicated, I have never eaten Beef Wellington.

Now I’ve given you a moment to get over that terrible fact, I decided to make it for the main course of this dinner alongside braised carrots, baby gem lettuce and peas. There are many different ideas about the ideal beef Wellington, whether you add a layer of Parma ham, foie gras or pancakes. But owing to budget and craving for simplicity I stuck to a simple layer of mushroom duxelles. Besides, I believe adding anything that might mean more moisture around the meat will result in a soggy bottom for the pastry. Then of course there’s the pastry itself, again I went for the classic puff (shop bought, there’s no point in making your own except to learn how to do it). However I was recently informed that brioche pastry is even better so I will be trying that in the future. Finally there’s the meat, this I was very insistent should be rump. Aldi turned up trumps, 1 rump steak, easily enough to feed two people for under £5, sorted. Unfortunately I have waste not, want not attitude so used all the pastry resulting in a disastrously skewered pastry to meat ratio and the pastry was a little undercooked on the bottom (I decided to sacrifice this rather than a perfectly medium rare steak when push came to shove). However I was told that it tasted pretty good nonetheless so the recipe is below, just try to hold back on the pastry.

Individual Beef Wellingtons with braised lettuce
1 large rump steak, trimmed of fat and divided into two pieces
1 packet of ready rolled puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
300g mixed mushrooms, finely chopped
Fresh thyme
2tbsp brandy
Splash of truffle oil
1 bay leaf
Olive oil
Salt, pepper
3-4 garlic cloves
1/2 red onion, finely chopped

For the sauce
2tbsp flour
300ml stock
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1tbsp brandy
Fresh thyme, chopped

For the braised lettuce
1 baby gem lettuce, broken into leaves
Peas
Carrots, chopped into discs
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
100ml stock (but 1 stock cube)
1tbsp butter
1/2tsp dried mint

1. Sear the meat over a high heat (try not to set the fire alarm off) for about 1 min each side, set aside to rest in the fridge. Add brandy and garlic for the sauce to this pan immediately then turn off the heat, this will be used later. Nb it will bubble furiously but should die down, put into a cold oven to keep the smoke out of the kitchen.
2. Meanwhile put the mushrooms, garlic, thyme, pepper, bay leaf and onion into a saucepan with a drizzle of olive oil and a hefty pinch of salt. When hot, add brandy to the pan and allow to bubble furiously before turning down the heat, cook until most of the moisture has been drawn out of the mushrooms, add truffle oil at the end of cooking. Set aside in the fridge to cool down.
3. It is important at this point to make sure both the meat and the mushroom mix is cold, or the pastry will melt, ideally your kitchen should be cool as well so maybe make the first two steps earlier in the day. Take out the pastry and brush with a layer of beaten egg. Apply a layer of the mushroom mix leaving a circle around the edge. Place the meat on top and wrap the pastry around, sealing the edges by pinching the pastry together and moulding to the meat, try as hard as you can not to have any gaps at all. Repeat with the second one.

IMG_0196.JPG

IMG_0182.JPG

4. Brush with more beaten egg and refrigerate for 10mins.

.

IMG_0141-0.JPG

Preheat the oven to 200oC and bake for 25mins. Turn the heat down to 180oC and cook for a further 10mins till the pastry is golden.

5. Meanwhile add the flour to the saucepan with brandy in it from step 1, whisk furiously over a low heat to form a paste, gradually add the stock to the pan, whisking as you go to form a thin liquid, add the thyme and season to taste.
6. For the braised lettuce, Cook the carrots for 3-4mins with the stock, garlic, mint and butter. Add the peas, cook for a further 2mins, and finally the lettuce, cook for another 2mins.
7. Serve

IMG_0157-0.JPG

IMG_0324-0.JPG

For dessert I reached another blockage, I discovered at this point in the meal that I was missing a crucial attachment for the magimix, so had to make the magic ice cream below in the kitchen aid and somehow it didn’t work, but prior experience means I know this recipe will most definitely work if you have the right equipment. This also means I didn’t take a picture.

Banana Ice Cream, salted caramel rum sauce, dark chocolate, coconut shortbread

For the Shortbread
60g room temperature coconut oil
80g flour
Vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
25g sugar

For the rest
2 bananas
200g caster sugar
2tbsp rum
50g butter
Vanilla extract
Large pinch of salt
2 squares of 85% dark chocolate

1. Mix the flour, vanilla, salt, sugar and coconut oil together to form a dough. Roll into a thick oblong shape and refrigerate for 30mins or more. Slice the oblong and lay on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 180oC for 10-15mins until golden brown, leave to harden on the tray.
2. Freeze the bananas, peeled and sliced. Just before serving, remove from the freezer and whizz up in a magimix for your own soft serve ice cream.
3. For the sauce, leave the butter, salt and sugar with 2tbsp water over a medium heat, do not stir but you may swirl. When just beginning to turn golden (nb this must be watched or it will be a hard gooey mess -toffee) take off the heat and add the rum and vanilla extract, stir as it bubbles furiously.
4. Serve the ice cream, topped with the sauce and a square of dark chocolate with the shortbread on the side.

Advertisements

Pillows of Heaven: Macaroons

photo 3-5

You may or may not have noticed that I am a little bit obsessed with macaroons. The macaroon tour of Paris may have given you a hint. While in Berlin recently I detoured into the nearest Galerie Lafayette to the Macaroon counter to taste the ‘Brazil’ macaroon (Curacao, lime and mint).  My next challenge will be savoury macaroons, watch this space.

This could be the reason why I’ve shied away from making macaroons, I always worry that I would fail to live up to my expectation. But given the time on my hands (and the excuse of family friends coming over for a drink in the 24hours my parents are here), plus it would be an excuse to use the pretty cake stand, I’ve bitten the bullet. The greatest compliment I got was ‘I thought they were from Maison Blanc, take that Raymond.

The most important things seem to be:

a) The consistency, how long you mix, exact measurements etc

b) Not adding anything that will change the ratios e.g NO extra liquid

c) Baking for the correct length of time

 

Makes a lot (I split into two different flavoured batches)

4 large egg whites

70g caster sugar

230g icing sugar

120g ground almonds

pinch of salt

gel food colouring (or paste – DO NOT USE LIQUID)

1. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, I found using a kitchen aid mixer the easiest. You should be able to turn them upside down on your head without them falling out. Beat in the sugar to shiny thick peaks, then beat for 2-3mins more. They should be really really stiff. Add the gel food colouring and beat for 40sec more.

IMG_2097

IMG_2107

2. Sift the ground almonds, icing sugar and salt into the bowl and fold into the mix with a spatula gently. This should take 30-50 folds, actually count. Too little and the macaroons will be to meringue like and crumble, too much and they will be too dense, I took about 40 folds. The mixture should be thick and shiny but still light and not liquid.

IMG_2098

3. Put into a piping bag (see Baking tips) and pipe small blobs onto a lined baking tray. They should be about the size of a 2p coin. The best way to do this is slowly and gently and pull the piping bag to the side of the macaroon to try and avoid a peak. Drop the macaroon tray from a small height onto the kitchen worktop to get rid of any bubbles, and prevent cracking.

IMG_2104

IMG_2099

IMG_2108

4. Leave for 20mins to develop a skin on top (make sure the kitchen isn’t too warm). Bake in a preheated oven for 20mins at 150oC, turning halfway through to ensure an even bake. They should easily come off the tray, if not they need to be baked more.

IMG_2105

IMG_2106

IMG_2109

5. If you can wait that long, the shells work even better if left in an airtight box overnight.

Flavourings and Fillings

photo 3-6

– This time round I made Raspberry, Popping candy and White Chocolate and Pistachio and Dark Chocolate, but you can experiment with buttercream fillings, jam fillings, cream fillings or other nuts in the shell.

– Mostly it is best to leave the shells flavourless and just add colour, leaving the flavour in the filling. However you can flavour with other nuts, or citrus zest or intense powder flavours, as long as you don’t alter the ingredient ratios too much.

– For Pistachio macaroons replace half the ground almonds with finely ground pistachios (I just ground them myself in a food processor).

Chocolate and Pistachio Ganache

Pistachio Paste

60g pistachios (weight without shells)

15g ground almonds

30g granulated sugar

1tbsp water

2tbsp sunflower oil (I experimented and added a drop of truffle oil as well)

pinch of salt

Chocolate Ganache

150g dark chocolate

75g cream (or half cream, half alcohol)

30g butter

vanilla extract, pinch of salt

1. Toast the pistachios at 200oC for 8mins. Meanwhile heat the sugar and water to about 120oC then toss in the pistachios, coat and leave to cool.

2. Place in a food processor with the almonds and salt. Grind to a fine powder, add the oil so the mixture forms a paste.

3. Heat the cream, vanilla and salt to boil. Meanwhile chop the chocolate finely. Pour over the cream as soon as it reaches the boil. Leave for 1min then stir till chocolate is completely melted. Stir in the butter till melted.

4. Combine the paste and the ganache, put into a piping bag and refrigerate till needed. Bring to room temperature before piping.

IMG_2100

photo 1-6

photo 2-7

White Chocolate and Raspberry Ganache

150g white chocolate

75g cream

2-3 drops raspberry extract

vanilla extract

pieces of freeze dried raspberries

popping candy

IMG_2101

1. Heat cream, raspberry extract and vanilla to boiling. Finely chop the white chocolate. Pour over the cream as soon as it reaches boiling point and stir till chocolate is completely melted. Fold through the raspberries and put in a piping bag.

IMG_2102

IMG_2103

2. After piping into macaroons, sprinkle with a little popping candy before putting shell lid on top.

 

photo 4-4

photo 1-5

Continental Breakfast

My parents have always been obsessed with croissants, so much so that when my father couldn’t work out where the cereal was kept on his house and left alone for breakfast, there was no question of sending his secretary out to the corner shop to buy him none other than a croissant. What’s not to love? A buttery, flaky pastry that melts in the mouth, a crisp exterior best served warm with lashings of jam. Even the famous ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat Diet’ recommends a small croissant for breakfast as the only way to start the day. Marie-Antoinette is said to have brought these delicate pastries over from Vienna to Paris. Virtually the only thing she would eat, they are even said to have inspired the notorious ‘Let them eat cake’ quotation. Definitely not an everyday bake, rather time consuming, they are nonetheless exceptionally satisfying to make, and make the house smell amazing, making my parents’ only 24 hours in the house in my 2 weeks at home, special.

Makes 13 small croissants

250g plain flour

70g water

70g whole milk

25g sugar

20g unsalted butter

7g yeast

large pinch salt

drop vanilla essence

To Laminate

140g cold butter

1 egg, beaten to wash

 

1. Mix all the ingredients together ( I used a dough hook on my kitchen aid). When combined knead for 3mins so there is moderate gluten development, too much will cause too much fight back from the dough while ‘laminating’ (adding the butter). The best way to tell is when the dough has turned shiny and doesn’t leave any traces on the side of the bowl. Shape the dough like a disc (so it can be easily shaped into a square later) and leave in the fridge overnight.

2. To Laminate, start by slicing the butter and filling a 7.5cm square on a larger piece of baking parchment. Place another baking parchment piece on top and roll out to 9.5cm square. Trim the uneven edges to 8.5cm square and place the trimmings on top, gently even out the thickness. Then refrigerate. To get an even thickness, roll from the middle to each side, rotating

IMG_2095

3. Take out the dough. Roll out to 20x30cm rectangle using the same method as above. BUT this time sprinkle both pieces of paper with flour. Take your butter out of the fridge and place in the centre so that a corner is facing an edge. fold each corner of the dough into the centre like an envelope. Roll out using the method above to a 20x30cm square. Fold the edges in like an envelope again and refrigerate for 30mins. Repeat this process 4 times. On the last time roll the dough out to 20x70cm, dust with flour, carefully fold and refrigerate overnight. Alternatively you can leave in the freezer for a couple of hours then the fridge for another couple of hours.

IMG_2096

4. Take the dough out and trim any curved edges. Using a pizza cutter/knife and a tape measure, mark 10cm intervals along the top. Mark 5cm along the bottom then continue in 10cm intervals. Using a ruler, cut diagonally towards the firs 5cm notch from the top left corner and then diagonally up to the first 10cm notch on the top, this will form a triangle. Continue. You should have 13 triangles and a few extra pieces for make into pain au chocolate’s (by filling with a square of good quality dark chocolate) or just odd shaped croissants.

5. Take a triangle, make a cut in the middle of the bottom and roll up to the point. Continue with the remaining triangles. Place on a lined baking sheet and brush with egg wash. Leave for 2 hours at room temperature to prove. .

6. Bake at 180oC fan for 6mins. Then turn the oven down to 150oC and bake for a further 8-9mins. They can be reheated, not as good as freshly baked, but almost.

IMG_2110 IMG_2111

A Night at the Opera

Next on tour of French Patisserie is a classic combination of coffee, chocolate and cream (the French Tiramisu) and a homage to my other passion, the Opera cake. This cake is technically difficult but melts in the mouth, when made correctly, and is almost as tasty as Tenor Jonas Kauffmann (Exhibit A https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzLR1OuDaKY&list=PL4_Y5duTlUpkLbLPRZ16uNo1Xxo_Fcr8Z). It was made famous in the 19th century by French Patissierie Dalloyau, which just so happens to be in the shadow of the Opera Garnier the building on which the pastry is based on. I assume that the many decadent layers of the cake are meant to mirror the decadent layers of the Opera Garnier. I should hopefully end up with perfect contrasting cream and brown layers with a smooth, shiny chocolate ganache on top.

Garnier Opera 5operacake

The First Challenge is the Almond sponge, I found the key here was to be very gentle with the mix, especially folding the egg whites, be very accurate with the measurements and trust your oven (i.e don’t open the door too early during cooking or the cake will sink). I also made this sponge mix in two batches (I only had one tin and didn’t want the mixture to deflate too much between cooking, of course if you happen to have 4 swiss roll tins lying around handy, you’re fine.)

Almond Sponge (serves 10)

150g icing sugar

5 tbsp flour

pinch of salt

140g ground almonds

1tsp vanilla extract

6 eggs

30g butter, melted and cooled

6 egg whites

2tbsp caster sugar

1. Mix the icing sugar, flour, salt and almonds together. Whisk in the eggs one at a time slowly before adding the vanilla. Then add the butter.

2. Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, (you should be able to turn the bowl upside down on your head without the eggs falling out – I greatly enjoy doing this to other people). Add the sugar carefully and whisk to shiny peaks. Mix 1/3 into the almond mix, whisking together. Fold (using a metal spoon in a folding action) the remainder of the egg whites into the mix.

3. Spread a thin layer onto a lined swiss roll tin (34.5x 24.4cm). Make sure to use a palate knife to spread the mix to the ages, but try not to overwork it or it will lose the rise. Bake at 220oC for 6-8mins, until golden brown. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Repeat 4 times.

IMG_2066

For the Coffee Syrup

300ml water

150g sugar

3tsp expresso powder (I also like to add a drop of vanilla extract)

1. Stir the ingredients together until dissolved over a low heat, bring to the boil, boil for 1-2mins, remove from the heat.

IMG_2074

For the Coffee Buttercream

4 egg yolks

150g sugar

40ml water

pinch of salt

300g butter

2tsp expresso powder dissolved into 2 tsp boiling water

1. For this recipe you really need a kitchen aid (no-hand mixer) or a hand held electric whisk (but you may need help). It’s quite hard to do it without… Whisk the 4 egg yolks on high for 5mins until light and creamy.

IMG_20692. Meanwhile heat the sugar, water and salt in a pan until boiling. Boil until you get a clear syrupy consistency (roughly 115oC).

3. Immediately pour into the egg yolks little by little, like making mayonnaise, while the mix is still mixing. Add a bit then whisk some more and repeat. You should end up with a lighter pale mousse consistency. Keep whisking until cooled to room temperature (feel the sides of the bowl, if it is too warm the butter will melt into the mix and you won’t get the desired consistency.)

IMG_2070

4. Add the butter bit by bit and whisk until you get a white creamy mix. Add the expresso, cooled.

IMG_2071        IMG_2073

For the Ganache

100g dark chocolate 

15ml cream

60ml whole milk

(optional: 20ml white rum)

50g butter

1. Chop the dark chocolate finely and pour into a bowl. Heat the cream, (rum) and milk together and bring to the boil. Immediately pour over the chocolate and leave for 2-3mins. The chocolate should have melted. Mix to a smooth melted chocolate consistency if need be add more dark chocolate to achieve desired consistency and blast for 5-10secs in the microwave at a time to heat a little, before beating to melt. When chocolate is melted add the butter and mix till melted. Leave to cool to a spreadable consistency.

IMG_2077

For the Chocolate Glaze

200g dark chocolate

60g butter

1. Melt chocolate and butter together. Reserve some in a piping bag to pipe.

To Construct

1. Take 1 of the sponges. Lay down with the non-parchment side facing up. Temper 150g chocolate. (Melt at 20 sec intervals until almost all is melted – there should be a few lumps, take out and stir till all the lumps have melted = easy tempered chocolate). Spread this over the sponge in a thin layer, then leave to set in the fridge for 5mins (you don’t want it completely hard). Flip onto a cake board/whatever you want to serve the cake off. The chocolate bottom will make it easier to take the slices off the board later.

IMG_2075      IMG_2067IMG_2068

2. Soak the first sponge with coffee syrup, the more the better, but make sure to dab not pour the syrup over or you will just end up with a disintegrated sponge. Apply your first layer of buttercream, using a palate knife to smooth it down to about 1/2 cm thick.

IMG_2076

3. Top with the next sponge, parchment paper up. Remove the parchment paper and soak with coffee syrup. (NB you may want to refrigerate the cake between layers if your kitchen is very hot. But the buttercream will have to sit out a little so it can be spread.

4. Spread with chocolate ganache, then top with the next sponge and soak with syrup. Spread with more buttercream, top with the final sponge and soak with syrup.

5. Finally spread one more layer of buttercream, thinner than the others. This is mostly just to make the top smooth and fill in the cracks.

6. Finally pour over the glaze, spread evenly and quickly (mine wasn’t as even as I would’ve liked and the key is speed.)

IMG_2079

7. Let set for a little, then take a serrated knife and cut down each side to trim the edges. Keep refrigerated till served.

IMG_2085IMG_2084

Peas Please Louise: Mummy had a little lamb….

Peas Please Louise: Mummy had a little lamb….

Loosely based on a Fat Duck this is dedicated to my mum – Happy Mothers Day.

Ingredients (serves 2)
Lamb
2tsp fennel seeds
1 dried bay leaf
salt and pepper
3 juniper berries
dash lemon juice
800g rolled, boned lamb breast, cut in half widthways to make two pieces
Pea Puree
300g frozen peas
½ garlic stock cube (or 2 cloves crushed garlic)
pinch of salt
60g butter
dash of cream
dash lemon juice
4 sprigs dill
Caramelised Onion Gel
1 large white onion
1 large red onion
knob of butter
1 leaf gelatine
Pickled Cucumber
¼ cucumber stick
100ml olive oil
100ml white wine vinegar
black pepper
splash of lemon juice
3 sprigs dill
pinch of salt (3g)
pinch of sugar (5g)
Lamb Jus
Reserved caramel onions
Reserved lamb juice
Spelt Poppadoms
200g flour
water
oil
1tsp fennel seeds
50g spelt
pinch of salt


1.     For the Pickled Cucumber, peel and halve the cucumber lengthways. Halve lengthways again then halve widthways. Mix the oil, vinegar, pepper, lemon juice, salt, sugar and cucumber. Leave to marinate.
2.     For the Caramelised Onion Gel, peel the onions and slice into rings thinly. Put in a frying pan with the butter and cover, leaving over a low heat for 30mins. When the onions are golden and caramelised, remove from the heat and pour over 150ml water immediately, then cover. Leave for 5mins, and then drain the onions, reserving the liquid. Soak the gelatine in cold water for 1min then mix into the onion liquid. Place in the fridge for 1-2hrs until set*. Puree the remaining onions and reserve.
3.     For the Puree, Pour boiling water over the peas with the garlic. Leave for 3-5mins, topping up with boiling water if the water goes cold, until the peas are a bright green and do not feel frozen but feel a little tender. Drain and puree wit the butter and cream, leave aside.
4.     For the lamb, place in a shallow dish and pour over the spices. Then pour over boiling water and leave for 7mins.
5.     For the Poppadoms’, mix the flour, salt, fennel seeds, 2tbsp oil and spelt with water, adding until it forms a firm dough (roughly 100ml-200ml water). Split into 3 pieces and roll out thinly. Heat up 3tbsp oil in a pan till hot, fry each piece for 4mins until crispy, turning halfway.
6.     For the lamb, drain and reserve the liquid. Heat 1tbsp oil in a large pan and sear the lamb for 2-3mins on each side. Meanwhile mix the onions and 300ml reserved lamb liquid and heat to boiling, simmering for 5mins until it forms a jammy gravy.
7.     To serve, warm the pea puree and spoon a large teardrop onto the right side of the plate. Delicately place four cucumber pieces on the left of the tear drop on each plate at different angles. Chop each lamb piece into four slices and lay on top of the teardrop. Gently spoon over the gravy on the lamb. Spoon out dabs of the Caramelised onion gel and dot between the cucumber Finally break up the poppadum and place a shard between each lamb slice facing upwards, finish with dill sprigs.

*alternatively place in freezer for 30-40mins

Welsh Turbot, Laver puree and Potato wrapped Langoustine

Welsh Turbot, Laver puree and Potato wrapped Langoustine
 Random Competition Entry
My dish is based upon seasonal produce for January from around Britain, with the key ingredient being the little known Laver, also known as the ‘Welsh man’s Caviar’. This is a type of seaweed found on the rocks around the coastal areas of Britain, traditionally served for breakfast in Wales. Here it is accompanied by a welsh turbot fillet, as homage to it’s origins, seasonal English leeks and carrots, Irish Dublin Bay prawns and Scottish cockles, making it a dish from all corners of Britain. Paying homage to the strong British fishing industry, using all sustainable, seasonal produce.
For the Turbot:
2 x 150g fillet of welsh turbot, skin attached, bones removed
2tbsp olive oil
15g unsalted butter
For the Laver puree:
15g dried laver seaweed
15g butter
1tsp brown sugar
For the Deep fried cockles:
250g cockles
50g well seasoned flour
500ml corn oil
For the white wine sauce:
1kg/2¼lb fish bones and skin
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
6 black peppercorns
1 dried bay leaf
3 fresh parsley stalks
20g butter
4 shallots, finely chopped
1/4 fennel bulb, finely chopped
125ml white wine
125ml dry vermouth
2 cloves garlic, halved
250ml double cream
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
For the potato wrapped Dublin Bay Prawns or Langoustines:
2 langoustines/ Dublin Bay Prawns
300g floury potato, peeled
50g plain flour, mixed with a pinch of salt
80ml sesame oil
1tbsp unsalted butter
For the Garnish:
6 spears baby leeks
6 baby carrots
45g unsalted butter
Parsley to garnish
For the Laver puree: Cover the laver with salted water and bring to the boil. Cook for 5-7mins, until the laver begins to break down. Drain and transfer to a blender. Blend until smooth. Add the butter and sugar and blend again. For the White Wine Sauce: Put the fish bones, carrot, celery, peppercorns, bay leaf and parsley into a large pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and skim off any scum that has formed. Cover and simmer very gently for 20-30 minutes. Strain into a large bowl and allow to cool. Reserve for later. Meanwhile gently sweat the fennel and shallots in the butter and a pinch of salt until soft. Add the wine, vermouth and garlic and reduce by half. Add 250ml of the reserved fish stock and reduce again by half. Pour in the cream and boil to a thicker sauce-consistency. Strain to remove the shallots, garlic and fennel. Stir through the mustard and season to taste. For the Cockles: Wash the cockles carefully under cold water to remove any excess sand, leave to soak for 10minutes then rinse again, draining out as much excess water as possible.  Lightly dust the cockles with the well-seasoned flour, shaking off any excess. Heat the oil to 190oC and immerse the cockles for about 1minute until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain. For the Langoustines: Clean the langoustine leaving the tails attached. Shred the potato thinly, Julienne style. Roll the prawns in a little flour to help the potato stick. Tightly wrap the langoustines in the potato threads until completely covered with the tail sticking out. Heat the oil in a pan to 190 oC and add butter. Fry the prawns until the potato is golden brown, remove and drain excess oil. For the Turbot: Heat the oil in a pan and then fry the fish for 3–4 minutes on skin side down, so skin is crispy before carefully flipping to cook for a further 3-4 minutes on the other side, basting throughout. Then adding the butter to finish off. Sprinkle with sea salt. For the Garnish: Heat 20g butter in a pan, add the carrots and 100ml water, cover and cook gently for 5mins. Uncover and cook for a further 3-5mins stirring occasionally until cooked through, season. Meanwhile heat 25g butter in a pan, add the leeks and cook over a medium heat for 5mins, ensuring they still retain their shape, season. Place 3 baby leeks and 3 carrots in a line along the centre of each plate. Spoon small circles of the laverbread puree around the vegetables. Scatter the deep fried cockles over and either side of the veg. Place the pan-fried turbot fillet on top of the carrots and leeks and lean the potato wrapped langoustine against the fish. Spoon over the white wine sauce and garnish with parsley sprigs.  

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – The Highlights

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – The Highlights
Considering I decided it was a wise idea to make 11 side dishes alongside our christmas Turkey this year, as well as a three course meal on Christmas Eve, I suspect even my most dedicated readers would get a little bored reading all of the recipes so here are some of my Christmas season highlights.

I’ve always wished that I had a brother. Mostly cooking for 3 small women, 2 old people and my dad (who valiantly attempted to eat with the same gusto as a teenage boy, but was eventually overwhelmed) is a bit disappointing when you’ve cooked for the 3 thousand and have over 3 quarters left over, no matter how much they enjoyed the meal. Ot doesn’t help that my Grandma has a fear of whole nuts, peas and alcohol in her food, and my Grandpa and Dad refuse to eat onions, celery, cabbage, spicy food and Brussel sprouts and my Aunt, Dad and Grandpa tend to just fill up on Cheese Footballs (I think it runs on the family, it’s an addiction that only comes round once a year….. (this wasn’t helped on christmas eve that we had drinks while watching Carols from Kings pre dinner, amazing as always, but as it is already an hour and we had the addition of my father pausing the TV to try and spot him and I in the congregation, we managed to get through a lot of cheese footballs)

Only available at Christmas


 I of course took the stance this year that I was going to completely ignore all of this and just make what I wanted to anyway. It went down surprisingly well, although my Moroccan christmas eve meal was viewed with a little suspicion (my grandma enquired as to what ‘quas-quas’ was) and the leeks were left mostly untouched by the male members of the dinner table ( are these onions? was asked), but a good effort was made all round, despite the spice in the Harissa glaze for the mackerel and the whole pistachio nuts in the baklava. The biggest success of the night was the light and delicious lemon and rosewater mousse

500g greek yoghurt
2 egg whites
75g sugar
1-2 lemons zested
3tbsp lemon juice
2tsp rosewater

Whisk the egg whites and sugar over a pan of boiling water until the sugar is dissolved.
Take off the heat and whisk until you get soft peaks.
In a separate bowl, combine the lemon zest, lemon juice and rosewater.
Fold the mixtures into each other and then place in the fridge for 1-2 hours

TIP This also works as a cheesecake topping, with orange juice or as a side dish for xmas pudding

Christmas day begins with Champagne, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon (see the Ultimate brunch for my recipe). Possibly the only day of the year that you’re allowed to drink before 9am in the morning, but only if it sparkles. Luckily my dad is well supplied with champagne and red wine by pupils from the school giving christmas presents and supplemented by buying cases from the Cellars of his affiliated college so we were unlikely to run out. He even managed to get a special 2003 burgundy which was incredibly smooth when we drunk it for christmas lunch (I am still learning about wine but apparently this was a good harvest and so hence a good vintage).

However my christmas day begins with the turkey. I am assiduous about prepping everything in advance and the kitchen is full of assorted zip lock bags filled with chopped vegetables, seasoned, which luckily means that all I have to do is place the turkey in the oven and set a timer at breakfast time. This year we got a wonderful turkey from http://www.sandylanefarm.net – possibly the most juicy turkey we’ve every had (shameless plug here but this and the veg – once scrubbed – was absolutely delicious).

                        THIS                                 TO                       THIS


When we all got back from blaring out christmas carols at the top of our lungs at church, I was relegated to the kitchen to put everything (as I said fully prepped) in the oven while everyone else went off to open stockings (this still goes on despite the fact that at 21, I am the youngest ) and drink champagne and eat more cheese footballs. As I said before 11 side dishes are probably a bit much but the highlights from this year were probably…

No-Sausagemeat but still meaty Stuffing
http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2744665/chestnut-stuffing-roll

Impulse created Truffle and Thyme Potatoes
1kg Potatoes
2 tbsp truffle oil
3 tbsp olive oil
good sprig of thyme
1-2tbsp flour
salt
peppercorns
bay leaf

Par Boil (boil until just piercable) in water with salt, peppercorns and a bay leaf – this can be done the day before – . Dust in flour. Heat the oils in a large roasting tin for about 10mins. Toss the potatoes in and cook in the oven at 200OC for 30-40mins until golden

Dijon Braised Brussel Sprouts (somehow even my grandpa ate these – good for unwilling sprout consumers)
http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2011/11/dijon-braised-brussels-sprouts/

Brandy and Clementine Custard (we didn’t tell my grandma about the brandy – yet this was possibly her favourite bit of the meal…. oops)

4 egg yolks
900ml milk
100ml cream
vanilla extract
100g golden caster sugar
2 dried bay leafs
1 clementine
a good slug of fresh brandy (not the stuff left in your cupboard from last christmas…)

Heat the cream and milk in a pan until almost boiling. Add a good swig of vanilla extract, the bay leaves and the clementine, squashed. Leave for at least an hour. Heat again until boiling and set aside. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until frothy. Make sure the milk is lukewarm, removing the clementine and bay leaves and pour over the egg yolk mix whisking steadily. Pour back into the pan and place over a low heat whisking slowly. Heat until the mixture has thickened to coat the back of a spoon and take of the heat bearing in mind you should keep whisking until the mixture has cooled slightly as the bottom of the pan will still be hot. Add the brandy and leave to cool. Serve hot or cold

Gin and Juniper Cured Salmon served with creme fraiche and pickled cucumber
Inspired by my sister who discovered this combination while working for the events company Rocket to finance her new extravagant lifestyle in London – she tried one canapé and requested I make ‘as much of this as i could’ – once you’ve tried this you will never go back to smoked salmon – it is so much better! – also dedicated to my aunt who was badgering me for the recipe all through her stay with us

Skinned and boned 1kg Salmon Fillet
3-4tbsp gin (don’t use the good stuff – save that for the Gin and Tonic’s)
1tbsp juniper berries
300g salt (basics will do)
200g sugar
1tbsp peppercorns
1tbsp lemon zest

1 cucumber
150g caster sugar
200ml white wine vinegar
1tsp juniper berries
1tsp peppercorns

Low fat creme fraiche
chopped dill

2-3days before –
Mix the sugar, salt, juniper berries, peppercorns, lemon zest in a bowl. Pour the gin over the salmon fillet, turning to coat both sides. Lay on a cling film covered tray and pat the sugar/salt mix onto the top. Tightly wrap in cling film and place in the fridge with a heavy weight/roast potatoes/ turkey etc on top (you’re looking to weigh it down)
Leave for 2-3days pouring off the liquid every day, until the salmon feels more firm and has turned a deeper shade of orange. Wash and re-wrap, leave till needed.
The night before, use a peeler or mandolin to create strips of cucumber ignoring the seeds as much as possible. Boil the caster sugar, vinegar, berries and peppercorns in a pan until boiling. Pour over the cucumber, cling film the bowl and leave in the fridge
To serve Thinly slice the salmon with a sharp knife. Strain the cucumber and place a little in the centre of the plate. Top with 3 salmon slices and then a quenelle of creme fraiche (use two spoons to shape into a peaked oval, passing it between the two and then softly push off the spoon onto the plate) Sprinkle with chopped dill and serve


                                
TRY THIS RECIPE IT IS AMAZING AND EASY AND CHEAPER THAN BUYING SMOKED SALMON

Things I learnt this Christmas
1. Always wish while stirring the Christmas pudding and force all members of your family to do it too – I find snapchat is effective to include members of the family who might still be in London when you make the pudding, I’m superstitious and while your wish may not come true, nothing will go right in the kitchen over christmas if you don’t


                                                                                                 Mum stirring the Xmas Pudding

   I made a bit too much….

2. On the christmas pudding front, I tend to not use suet or really any fat, but up the fruit, nut and booze content for the perfect xmas pudding, often it’s better if you have last years this year etc….
3. Always use fresh brandy (thank you Giles Coren 12 drinks of Christmas), normally it won’t light, this year we almost couldn’t get the pudding to stop burning
4. Make everything on christmas day, champagne won’t help your knife work…
5. If your sister brings you port to use in the madeira gravy because she can’t open the madeira it still works just as well if not better
6. On that note leave all alcohol out of the names of dishes no matter how high the booze content, I find it makes for happier grandparents (so this year that was the cranberry sauce, brussel sprouts, salmon, gravy, christmas pudding, custard, mince pies and brandy butter……)

                Mince Pies (Thank you Nigella)
7. Mothers make exceedingly good vegetable scrubbers (aided by Kings College choir on the radio) ….
8. And delegate your sister to decorate the tree and table, she’ll do a better job and you will be far too busy.
9. The cronut (croissant-donut hybrid) fad trend of 2013 actually lives up to the hype, especially if homemade

10. Leftover cabbage makes amazing coleslaw (try it with mayonnaise, horseradish, raisins, pumpkin seeds, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, salt, pepper and grated apple)
11. Cousins are useful for finishing off the salmon and brie
12. Homemade dry roasted moroccan chickpeas are an addictive drinks accompaniment although cheese footballs are worse (seriously how did we manage 5 boxes in 3 days between 8 people….)
13. chestnuts must be cut with a cross before roasting or they will explode over your oven (our open fire is a bit too gas light blue to consider doing these the proper way)
14. Don’t try and learn a whole new board game post – christmas dinner, mulled sloe gin and present time
                                   
15. My family are trying to hint that I should move out – they bought me an entire matching kitchen set (kitchen aid, food processor and blender combo, matching kettle and toaster with heating toast rack) as a combined birthday christmas present – on the other hand my staircase are going to love me next year and my degree is going down the drain.

                                                               Stuffing
                                                My Stocking Photo – Christmases past….
                                                        Eggs for the week
                                                         Baba Ganoush Prep
                                                             Chipolatas
                                                            Tzatziki
                                                         Pitta Bread
                                           Salting the cucumber (to draw out the excess moisture) for the tzatziki
For the full menu see Octobers Blog
HAPPY NEW YEAR 
*New year menu to follow

Chocolates: The Christmas Collection

Chocolates: The Christmas Collection

Brazil Nut Brandy Butter A milk chocolate shell with a brazil nut butter ganache filling garnished with gold
Mexican Hot Chocolate Dark chocolate encasing a cinnamon, cayenne pepper, vanilla and salty centre
Orange Meringue Pie Orange and basil ganache surrounded by white chocolate and rolled in meringue
Gingerbread Milk chocolate, studded with biscuits, with a centre infused with the classic flavours of gingerbread
Olive Oil and Strawberry Olive oil ganache, smothered in white chocolate and studded with freeze dried strawberries

Green Tea and Lime A green tea and lime centre with a dark chocolate shell streaked with white chocolate


Brined, Braised, Belly Up

Brined, Braised, Belly Up
Ingredients (serves 3)
For the Pork
3 pork belly slices
500ml water
1tbsp salt
1tsp sugar
1tbsp sherry vinegar
1 bay leaf
4 peppercorns
2 cardamom pods
1tbsp thyme
1 nutmeg clove
1 clove garlic
3 juniper berries
For the Ebly risotto
2tbsp butter
1tbsp marmite
150g ebly
½ large onion
1 garlic clove
1tsp thyme
2tbsp pine nuts
For the Jelly
150ml Brining liquid
3 gelatine leaves
For the ceps
9 baby mushrooms
2tbsp olive oil
2tsp salt
2tsp thyme
For the jus
200ml brining liquid
½ vegetable stock cube
2tsp marmite
For the cabbage
½ savoy cabbage
25g butter
1tsp salt
3 juniper berries
To serve
4 tbsp puffed rice
2tbsp brown sugar
1tsp salt
sage leaves
1.     For the pork, boil the water then pour over the pork with all the ingredients. Leave for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the pork and bring the liquid back to the boil, reserve 150ml, remove from the heat, replace the pork and leave for a further 1-2 hours.
2.     For the jelly, with the 150ml of brining liquid reserved, heat till boiling. Meanwhile soak the gelatine leaves in cold water, then squeeze dry and mix into brining liquid till it melts. Line 3 ramekins with clingfilm and pour in jelly in a thin layer. Place in the fridge to set.
3.     For the risotto, chop the onions and garlic into small squares and fry in the butter and marmite for 5mins over a medium heat. Add the ebly and thyme and stir, gradually add up to 250ml water, cooking slowly till the mixture is thick and the water is absorbed into the ebly but it is still al dente. Meanwhile heat the pine nuts in a dry pan till toasted light brown. Add to the risotto and place aside.
4.     For the ceps, Marinade the ceps in the oil, thyme and salt for 30mins. Then cut in half and place the halves face down in a frying pan and fry over a high heat without touching them for 2-3mins.  Remove and set aside.
5.     For the Pork, heat 1tbsp walnut oil in a pan, and place the pork skin side down, searing for 6mins, until skin is brown and crispy. Sear each side 2-3mins on each side, then place to one side under foil.
6.     For the cabbage, cut the stem out and shred into wide strips. Place in a saucepan with the juniper, salt, butter and 1tbsp butter. Cook for 2-3 mins covered over a medium heat.
7.     For the jus, place 200ml brining liquid in a pan with the marmite, stock cube and 200ml water, reduce until a thick consistency (approx. 7-10mins)

8.     To serve, mix the puffed rice, salt and sugar, place on a baking tray and place in a preheated oven at 180oC for 5mins until golden brown. Place the risotto in ramekins and top with jelly then place some puffed rice on top. Place the ramekin in the top RH corner of the plate. Place the cabbage in bottom LH corner of the plate. Cut each piece of pork in half diagonally, and lay on the cabbage. Lead a trail in an L shape from each side of the cabbage with the mushrooms.  Spoon jus over the pork and garnish with sage leaves. Serve

BFG (black forest gateaux)

Another Fat Duck Recipe that is absolutely amazing is the BFG (black forest gateaux not big friendly giant FYI). This is the piece de resistance of the tasting menu and it is beautiful. It probably takes around 8hrs to make start to finish and involves some of the most wonderful fat duck techniques, the aerator, chocolate spray gun, liquid nitrogen ice cream plus a few more classical ones, maceration, chocolate sponge, cut vanilla pod…… unusually Heston uses quite a few classic flavours, essential a black forest gateaux inside out. So you have a core of aerated dark chocolate and a macerated cherry and a layer of chocolate sponge doused in kirsch liqueur.  Then surrounding that you have dark chocolate mousse, around that you have a white chocolate mousse, and then the base is the most amazing praline crunch. This is then all sprayed with tiny particles of dark chocolate for a furry effect (better than it sounds) and then topped with a second macerated cherry with a vanilla pod slice stuck in the top to look like a stalk (I know attention to detail) all served with a heavenly unsweetened kick of kirsch ice cream to cut through that amazing richness. All the flavours of a BFG without that I think I may throw up clogginess you get after eating it. On top of all this there is a trail of chocolate ‘soil’ and cherry sauce. J

HESTON’S VERSION

It is intricately amazing and when you chop into it you can’t imagine the effect of all the different textures and flavours – so goooood. Interesting fact about Michelin dessert techniques – they tend to freeze everything (mousses, chocolates, biscuits ) until serving so that you can get the shape right and get it neatly onto the plate plus ensure nothing melts

BFG (my version)


Ingredients (serves 6)
Macerated Cherries
10  cherries, de stoned
200g sugar
150ml kirsch
Almond base
60g blanched almonds
100g 75% dark chocolate
50g white chocolate
25g butter
35g ground almonds
Kirsch Ganache
100g 75% dark chocolate
100ml double cream
50ml kirsch
Chocolate sponge
3 eggs
60g sugar
20g cornflour
20g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
White Chocolate Mousse
150ml double cream
1 egg yolk
45g sugar
100g white chocolate
50ml kirsch
Dark Chocolate Mousse
75ml double cream
½ egg yolk
20g sugar
50g dark 60% chocolate
To Serve
Dark chocolate aero
Cocoa powder
50g 100% dark chocolate
20g ground almonds
1 vanilla pod
Kirsch ice cream (if poss)


1.     For the macerated cherries, heat the sugar in a pan with 150ml water and reduce to a thin syrup consistency. Leave the cherries steeping in it for at least 5hours.
2.     For the base, roast the almonds in a dry frying pan over a high heat till toasted. Then chop to small pieces.  Melt the chocolates and butter in a microwave. Meanwhile place the ground almonds on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 3mins at 200oC, making sure not to burn. Mix the almonds into the chocolate mix and spread on a baking sheet, place in the fridge to set.
3.     For the ganache, chop the chocolate into very fine pieces. Heat the cream in a pan to the point of boiling but don’t boil. pour over the chocolate and leave for 1min then combine with the kirsch. Pour into a shallow lined pan and place in the freezer.
4.     For the sponge, whisk the eggs together, and then whisk in the sugar till light and frothy. Fold in the flours and cocoa and place in a ined baking tray, bake at 170oC (150oC fan) for 15mins. When removed from the oven, soak using a little of the syrup the cherries have been soaking in.
5.     When the Ganache has frozen, cut out squares of the almond base and place in square individual moulds. Cut out smaller squares of the ganache, sponge and dark chocolate aero (all same size) place in centre of almond base, top with a cherry and refrigerate.
6.     For the mousse, whip the cream and kirsch to soft peaks and set aside. Then whisk the egg yolks and sugar together. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave, then fold in the egg mix and cream mix, pour into the square moulds so it encases the ganache, cake, aero and cherry, freeze.
7.     For the dark mousse, whip the cream to soft peaks and set aside. Then whisk the egg yolks and sugar together. Melt the chocolate in the microwave, then fold in the egg mix and cream mix. Layer on top of the frozen white chocolate mousse, freexe, placing a lollipop stick in the centre.
8.     To serve, remove the BFGs from the moulds then freeze again. Meanwhile grate the 100%chocolate and toast the ground almonds as before. Leave the almonds to cool completely, then mix with the chocolate. Remove the BFGs then dust with cocoa powder, sieved. Freeze again. When ready to serve, remove from the freezer 5-10mins before, remove the lollipop stick. Put the remaining cherry syrup in a piping bag. Dust a little of the 100% chocolate almond mix onto the place like soil and top with the BFG, on the left side. Squeeze a little syrup into the central hole and squeeze a little more down one corner (if need be, thicken the syrup by reducing further). Slice the vanilla pod finely to resemble cherry stalks. Place a cherry on top of the hole on the BFG and stick a cherry vanilla stalk in. Serve with a quenelle of kirsch ice cream on the right side.