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. 

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Il Tricolore: Red, White and Green

Another one of my favourite courses of the fat duck menu was one of the few seasonally changing ones. Heston has developed an amazing idea for the presentation of this course. A white chocolate picnic blanket with a check transfer which just before serving is gently melted with a blow torch before serving and it looks so delicious. Not only this but it tastes delicious, I’ve already posted about olive oil shortbread which on its own is a really surprisingly good (I would say better than butter….tentatively) but combining it with the strawberry flavours and white chocolate it is even better. Here is my version of the dessert (warning it is addictive and very very sweet) edible flowers are not required for the home version.
Heston’s


Il Tricolore: Red, White and Green


 Ingredients (serves 2)
Freeze Dried Strawberries
400g strawberries
Olive Oil Ganache
150g white chocolate
100ml cream
100ml olive oil
Olive Oil Shortbread
50g butter
50g sugar
100g flour
50g ground almonds
vanilla extract
salt
½ egg yolk
1/2tsp baking powder
50ml olive oil
black pepper
Strawberry Syrup
50g sugar
1tbsp balsamic vinegar
Macerated Strawberries
2tsp Cardomon pods
1tbsp sugar
coriander seeds
To serve
50g shelled pistachios, chopped
micro herbs


1.     For the Ganache, line a 18cm/18cm square tin on the base. Heat the cream on a medium heat, to the cusp of boiling. Chop the chocolate into very fine pieces, mix the cream and oil together and pour over the chocolate, leave for 1 min then combine. Pourinto the tin and place in the freezer for 1-2hours till solid.
2.     For the shortbread, preheat the oven 150oC. Cream the butter and sugar together. Then add the vanilla, salt, flour, almonds, oil, baking powder, egg yolk and a pinch of black pepper. Mix to form a soft dough, adding more oil or more flour depending on the consistency. Line a baking tray wit baking parchment and place the dough on top, cover with a layer of clingfilm and roll the dough out, with the rolling pin above the cling film to approx. 6mm thick.  Bake in the oven for 15mins until hard and golden brown at the edges, place in the fridge.
3.     For the freeze dried strawberries, thinly slice 5 strawberries, removing the husks for a flat edge. Place in a preheated oven at 100oC and leave for 30-40mins.
4.     For the syrup, puree 6 strawberries from the 400g and combine with the balsamic and sugar over a high heat will the mixture reduces and becomes syrupy, drain if possible and pour into a sauce bottle, refrigerate.
5.     For the Macerated strawberries, shortly before serving, cut 5 strawberries in half lengthways, removing the husks so they can stand on a flat base. Crush the cardamom pods and sprinkle over the strawberries with the sugar and leave to macerate for 5mins. Meanwhile crush the pistachios and turn the ganache onto the shortbread. Cut the shortbread and ganache with a short knife into rectangular pieces.
6.     To serve, squeeze a line of strawberry syrup onto the centre of the plate to stick the shortbread. Place the shortbread on top. Lay three freeze dried strawberry pieces on top and sprinkle over the crushed pistachios, pressing into the ganache and place a spoonful of pistachios in the top LH corner just above the shortbread. On the top RH corner above the shortbread position 3 macerated strawberry halves curling around the biscuit and different angles. Squeeze a line of strawberry syrup from the bottom strawberry to the edge of the plate downwards. Position 2 more strawberries along this line. Place a coriander seed on the tip of each strawberry and garnish with microherbs.

saumon de mon père (Dad’s Dinner)

This is another interpretation from The Fat Duck. The original is slightly better – liquorice poached salmon, individual grapefruit cells, caviar……. But budget and time allowing this is my version – my dad likes it so much, he requested that I named it after him when I made it one evening for supper

Saumon de mon père (Dad’s Dinner)


Ingredients (serves 2)
Balsamic Glaze
100ml balsamic vinegar
half a fish stock cube
50ml water
Vanilla Mayonnaise
[290ml/½ pint groundnut oil
2 eggs, yolks only
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 heaped tsp powdered mustard
1 level tsp salt
freshly milled black pepper
1 tsp white wine vinegar ] – or 3tbsp Helmanns
1tsp vanilla extract
½ vanilla pod
Salmon
2 Salmon fillets, boneless
Braised leeks
1 leek
black pepper
butter
Fennel Chips
3 potatoes
2tsp fennel seeds
500ml sunflower oil
To serve
½ lemon
Sorrel leaves, picked


1.     For the balsamic glaze, place the Balsamic, stock cube and water in a pan and whisk until stock cube is dissolved over a high heat until bubbling, simmer for a minute then remove from the heat
2.    For the Mayonnaise, put the egg yolks into the basin, add the crushed garlic, mustard powder, salt and a little freshly milled black pepper. Mix all of these together well. Then, holding the groundnut oil in a jug in one hand and an electric hand whisk in the other, add drop of oil to the egg mixture and whisk this in. Continue this process ONE DROP AT A TIME- the mixture will begin to thicken and go very stiff and lumpy. When it gets to this stage you need to add a teaspoon of vinegar, which will thin the mixture down. Now the critical point has passed, you can then begin pouring the oil in a very, very thin but steady stream, keeping the beaters going all the time. When all the oil has been added, taste and add more salt and pepper if it needs it. Measure out 3tbsp of the mayonnaise, to this add the vanilla extract and the vanilla pod seeds, scraped out and mix, pour into a piping bag and chill *(see tip)
3.    For the chips Slice the potatoes lengthways into oblong rings, then slice into thin chips, approximately 1cm-1.5cm thick. Place in water with the fennel seeds and bing to the boil, boil for 2mins then drain and leave to steam.
4.    Meanwhile for the leeks, gently score the leek down the side to enable you to peel off the first layer, remove the top section and you should be left with a piece which flattened forms a large rectangle. Repeat with the next layer. Then slice the rest at an angle and place face downwards in a shallow frying pan, add a knob of butter and the black pepper and place on a low heat and cover, do not stir. Cook for 4mins then turn off the heat leaving them covered.
5.    For the salmon, cover in warm (not boiling) water and leave for 6mins changing the water twice, until the salmon feels firmer but hasn’t changed color.  Gently peel off the skin using a sharp knife and pat dry. Paint on the glaze thickly reserving half.
6.    For the chips, heat the oil in a deep pan until a piece of bread sizzles when dropped in. Fry the chips in two batches until golden brown, turning carefully with a spoon with holes.  Drain and keep warm in the oven till serving.
7.    To Serve, slice the lemon and peel fully, you should be left with 6 segment sections for each slice. Place the two leek rectangles in the microwave with 1tbsp water for 1min on high. Put the salmon in the oven for 4-5mins 250oC. Boil the balsamic glaze for 2mins on high, until the mixture is thick and syrupy, immediately place in pipette bottle.
8.     Lay the two leek rectangles on two square plates in the center and place the lemon segments artistically dotted around on top. Place a line of the braised leeks at an angle, face down, on the right side of the plate, leaving a 2cm gap between the leeks and rectangle. Pipe dots of the mayonnaise at 1cm intervals down both sides of the rectangle, then dot drops of the glaze in between. Gently remove the salmon and place on top of the lemon segments, and garnish with the sorrel. Serve with the chips in a bowl alongside.
*TIP turn the ends of the bag over on itself and hold the tip open with your fist, fill then squeeze mixture to the tip, twist the bag at the open end and leave. Keep the pressure of the twist all the time while using the bag.

Hestons Version

My Version

Snail Porridge (My version) -YOU MUST TRY THIS DISH

One of the best things about working in the fat duck was the things I learnt and what I picked up which I could then transfer into my everyday cooking. For example, you try going to the shops and buying a sous vide machine on a student budget, let alone find the time to individually separate grapefruit cells while trying to meet a deadline. But the brilliant thing about the fat duck is it isn’t just a show of conjuring tricks (hot and cold tea – just wow), foam for foams sake. It also has some of the most inspired texture, flavour and smell combination. While creating a dish, Heston thinks about every aspect and the overall sensation, no sense is more important than another, the dish should look aesthetically pleasing, it should impress with its innovation, but it should also taste pretty damn good. So I decided to spin a few of the recipes I saw being created to make them easier to create fast and easily, while maintaining the amazing flavours. Even if you are not a fan of snails (the snails are actually not essential in my version) YOU MUST TRY THIS DISH, think the warming sensation of porridge mixed with the flavour comfort garlic bread. 
Snail Porridge (My version)
Ingredients (serves 3 as a starter)
Snails
12 snails, shelled
butter
2 cloves garlic
Parsley Butter
3 cloves garlic
large bunch of parsley
200g butter
5 baby mushrooms
Fennel Salad
1 fennel head
1tbsp walnut oil
1tbsp white wine vinegar
Seasoning
To serve
150ml stock
100g oats
shavings of parma ham (optional`)
1.     For the butter, finely dice the garlic and mushrooms. Fry the garlic in 25g butter for 1min then add the mushrooms and cook for a further minute. Meanwhile pick the parsley from its stalks, puree in a food processor. Mix (using a electric whisk) the remaining butter, garlic mix and parsley and refrigerate.
2.     For the snails, melt the butter in a pan with 100ml water. Add the garlic cloves whole and bring to the boil. Add the snails for 2-3mins each. Remove and set aside.
3.     For the fennel salad, finely slice the fennel with a mandolin, toss in the oil and vinegar and season.
4.     To serve, heat the butter in a pan till melted. Add the oats, then the stock in two batches, whisking with a fork throughout. Cook for 2-3mins then place in small dishes. Carefully place the parma ham on top then top with a handful of fennel salad and serve. 

Oi Fat Duck!

Oi! Fat Duck
            The first thing people tend to ask me about with my cooking is the Fat Duck association. It is quite a claim to fame to have worked for that restaurant (so far pretty much my only one so I am holding on to this one). But how I got there in the first place is the real story.
            After I finished A levels I was bored. It seems to be a condition of my family that we can never sit still for long (I blame my mum for the workaholic genetics). So I wanted a project. My sister came across a competition in the back of a British airways magazine and pointed it out to me. It was the British Airway’s Olympic’s mentoring competition. There were three strands; film, with Richard E. Grant, art, with Tracey Emin, and food with Heston Blumenthal. At this point I was still reeling from the Alice in Wonderland boys dinner inspired by him (see Shrinking and Shrinking), my sister had –at great expense – bought me his book for my birthday and I couldn’t think of anything more amazing than being mentored by him. However the competition was open to people all over the country, including people who actually cooked for a living/ had proper training for it….. But I was bored, had nothing to lose and had actually already been doodling menu ideas while I meant to be revising. Plus it was asking for a menu based around British produce, an idea I love and try to bring into all my dinner party cooking.  I wrote up an entry (see Competition Entry) and promptly forgot about it, distracted by my ‘ladettes’ trip to Turkey with school friends.
           

It was only when we were into the final days of our family holiday to New York that I was reminded of my entry.  I had an answerphone message left at 3 in the morning from an unknown number. Assuming it was a university related message confused by the time difference I listened to it tentatively.

‘ Hello, I am calling to inform you that your entry to the British Airways Olympic Mentor Competition was successful in reaching the final 16. If possible could you give us a call back to confirm your availability to come to London in 3 days to cook a three course, locally sourced menu for under £15 to be judged by Heston Blumenthal’
To be honest the best part of this was the utter shock on my parents face…. I had forgotten to even mention entering the competition to them what with all the excitement of Turkey…
            So while my parents stayed on in the states, my sister and I spent the 6-hour return journey (ironically on a British Airway flight) planning this menu. Luckily we had the assistance of the lovely gay opera director who as a nervous flyer revelled in a distraction as random as this. When back home I scoured the local market for ingredients, even tasting many different types of local beer, which for someone who strongly dislikes Beer is a feat. I timed myself cooking in the hour allocated with the ingredients for my sister and her then-boyfriend that evening then we headed down to London the next day.
            In London there was a photo shoot with the man himself before getting down to the actual cooking. I was remarkably calm cooking in the masterchef style kitchen, followed by a TV camera and a man who cleaned up after me. I even finished before time, so headed out first for judgement. The starter was a local beer welsh rarebit with a Bloody Mary coulis on the side. The main, Garam Masala lamb chops, garlic infused mash potatoes (thank you Le Manoir), sautéed spinach and a mint and yoghurt pesto (a sort of Raita made with almonds). Finally in a nod to seasonal strawberries I ended with a strawberry and almond crumble with a black pepper infused cream, a la Blumenthal. This was the crowning glory, he liked this a lot (it’s here I admit it was meant to be whipped cream but it didn’t whip…). Following a short interview where he asked me why I started cooking (my culinary challenged mother), where my love of food came from (greed) and whether I would be willing to defer a year of Cambridge for this mentoring opportunity (negotiable) he asked if I had any questions.  So I asked for work experience in his kitchen and he said yes.
            In the end I didn’t win the competition (apparently some Michelin starred chef did http://craftguildofchefs.org/simon-hulstone-serve-treat-35000ft-british-airways-great-briton…) But I got the work experience and more importantly mentioned in that weeks column in The Times (well my food did…..) Plus I had the experience of being greeted for the next couple of months by friends as ‘OI FAT DUCK’!