Continuing the Dessert Development, Vanilla Black and Oklava (2 Awesome Restaurants)

The continuing saga of dessert development goes on! The 1st bash had gone ok, but there is much work to do to get things to the point I would be happy, and make a completed version of Pistachio Dacquoise, Roasted Pineapple Jelly, Kerisik Mousse and Chocolate Glaze, for friends to try.

From the last session, I had been considering how to notch things up a bit so looking through the various components, Dacquoise, Mousse etc. I decided to focus on the Pineapple and see if I could improve things, so how do you make Pineapple special?The 1st version used Pineapple that had been roasted with some sugar in the oven, it was ok but quite sharp. I could add more sugar, like Muscovado to add more depth but decided I would try something new and make a ‘Spiced Caramel‘ to roast the Pineapple in, never done that before. Adding 2 parts Sugar to 1 part water and slowly bringing to the boil you can start to smell the Caramel aroma fill the kitchen. Looking through various books and posts there are loads of methods published explaining not to stir the mixture as its creates crystals and wiping the sides if the pot with a wet brush to ensure all the sugar is dissolved.The spicing would come from a range of aromats, added once the Caramel is made and cooled a bit to prevent burning the spices, the sugar mixture is EXTREMELY HOT. The Sugar/Water mixture started to boil rapidly and change colour from White, to Tan to Brown, job done. I source my herbs and spices from Steenbergs, my favourite supplier and they were to feature heavily in the added flavours. Organic Lemon and Orange Oil, Cinnamon, Cardamon, Star Anise, Sanscho Pepper (from Japan) and grated Tonka Bean. I did not use the Ginger as shown in the picture above in the end, I might try some fresh Ginger next time round.I let the Caramel cool for quite a while and then added the spices as you can see above, I used about 1/2 a grated Tonka Bean, the flavour is similar to Vanilla but subtly different, buy some to see what I mean. The Japanese Pepper adds a delicious bite to the Pineapple and an extra edge!I used two fresh Pineapples, removed the core and skin and cut into rough chunks as above. The oven was set to 180 deg, I poured the caramel over the apples and mixed well, removing the spices with a sieve beforehand and set the timer to 2 hours. I checked the Apples every 30 minutes and gave then a good mix up to make sure the Caramel was coating them well.It was noticeable that the moisture from the Pineapple had ‘diluted’ the Caramel so unlike last time, the cooking was extended to about 2 hours and 20 minutes, you can see the results above. I think in hindsight I could have taken the Caramel to a much deeper colour in the first stage to make it even richer but thats the point of experimentation in the kitchen.I didn’t go through the jelly stage this time round, we had the Pineapple warmed through with some clotted cream and it was really very tasty. Learnings for next time are:

  1. Take the Caramel much further to a deeper colour
  2. Let the spices steep for even longer to allow the flavours to infuse even more

Next time I will be focussing on getting the Pistachio Dacquoise into better shape, and then looking at the Kerisik Mousse but all this will be when I am back from Malaysia, a trip I am extremely excited about.

In the last few weeks I have had to spend some overnight time in London, and been lucky enough to try out a couple of new restaurants, Vanilla Black and Oklava, both at different ends of the foodie spectrum so here was my experience at both.

A Night at Vanilla Black!

Lets start by saying I am NOT a vegetarian, but Vanilla Black IS a Vegetarian and Vegan establishment situated in Tooks Court near Chancery Lane in London.

So why the hell did I, a meat eating carnivore who loves the finer side of Ox Cheek, Jacobs Ladder, Liver, Heart and who knows what else decide to pay very good money to try this ‘vegetarian’ place out? Because the food looked AMAZING, and other reviews had suggested this was not your run-of-the-mill place to eat Nut Roast, Stuffed Peppers, Vegetarian Lasagne and all the other variations of meat dishes, with the traditional protein replaced by ingredients like Quinoa, Cous Cous, Haloumi or other products that could be used in more imaginative ways, just like Yotam Ottolenghi is pretty damn good at!

So I sat at my table, a little earlier than planned as my 30 minute walk turned out to be only 15 minutes and perused the menu. I had already chosen to be honest, I was going for the Vegetarian Tasting menu with matching wine flight, might as well do things properly. The restaurant was already pretty full and buzzing, most of the eateries I has passed on the way were either empty or only had a very small clientele, a good sign I thought.I was presented with a glass of bubbles shortly after arrival which was a nice surprise, and some home made bread and butter to nibble on to get things going. The 1st of 2 amuse bouche was a delightful mouth cleanser as my waitress explained, a Carbonated Apple drink with small pieces of Celery and a dusting of Parsley powder it certainly did the trick, refreshing with some lovely texture it set me up for what was to come.Hmm, here we go, course number 1: Cucumber, Sticky Rice and Ginger Purée, Pickled Cucumber Ketchup and Seaweed, what the hell was going on in my mouth, it was just stunning. When you read the ingredients and think, sounds a bit, you know…The Sticky Rice was surrounded in a crumb so you got oodles of texture, all the other flavours just danced around, it was very good indeed, the ginger doing a really good job of reminding you it was ever present.  The wine that accompanied this dish the waitress explained was a Hattingly Sparkling Wine which really worked very well with the various flavours.So onto dish no.2: Baby Fennel, Creamed Lemon and Toast, Fennel Purée and Ice, Basil and Lime, served with a Tempranillo Blanc. I was writing notes in between each course on my iPhone, to remind me what I was tasting. I particularly remember this dish as the contrasts between the temperatures were a real hit, quite magical on the palate.Things were getting interesting, if not already exceeding all my expectations. The service from the young Hungarian waitress was impeccable, taking time to explain each course, and why the particular wine matched. I asked for a list of the wines as I had not taken detailed notes and she arrived back with a piece of paper with them all written down for me, she was very passionate about the food being served.

Annoyingly, I was so wrapped up in the ‘vegetarian’ experience I forgot to capture the 2nd Amuse Bouche which was based on Buratta, I’ve had the pleasure of a private trip to an artisan cheese producer in Puglia and tasted it fresh along with Mozzarella and Ricotta, still warm from the production process it’s fabulous.

So dish no.3? Tomato Shortbread, Sheep’s Milk and Brocoli, Gem Lettuce and Egg Yolk, served with a Sancerre. This was frustratingly good, warm Shortbread, sorry no, Tomato Shortbread it was warm and delish with the Sheeps Milk Centre (Cheese of course), again with different texture and flavours bouncing all over the place.It was all going very well, nothing to get the slightest bit ‘oh, not sure about that’, and before too long it was course no.4: Baked High Cross and Charred Spring Onions, Roasted Onion Purée served with a Rioja Promesa, very nice too. The only ‘minor’ challenge with this dish was the Spring Onions which were slightly stringy, but otherwise another amazing piece of food engineering.Unfortunately it was time for dessert, and I am Type 1 diabetic, but on occasions and this was to be one of the them (two actually, more in a moment) I thew caution to the wind as the Cep Mushroom Fudge, Roasted Cocoa and Honey Ice Cream, Salted Lavender Honeycomb and Brioche landed in front of me, complete with a Tokaji Dessert wine. Bugger, it was so so so delicious, I could argue at least one of my five a day was on the plate. Cep Mushroom Fudge WTF!! Just Brilliant, the sweet wine a perfect match that was me done for the evening, or that’s what I thought!Next thing I knew I was presented with another dessert, this one from the Vegan menu! Coconut Sorbet, Toasted Rice Mousse and Coffee Coconut Crumble and Coffee Sponge, thank-you Chef a really nice touch it was another stunner, but for me the Cep Mushroom Fudge is definitely the winner on this occasion.

So, I guess you can tell I am now a Vegetarian! No, not quite but the evening at Vanilla Black was beyond outstanding, why, because it was Vegetarian and everything I was served was amazing (spring onions excused), I went in with an open mind and came out astounded at how they could produce some of the best plates of food I have ever eaten, so thank-you Andrew, and your brilliant team.

If you fancy trying something a little different and prepared to have your mind messed with, I whole heartedly recommend the tasting menu for a whole new experience, it was awesome.

Now on to Oklava!

Selim Kiazim was on Saturday Kitchen this morning on BBC1, she is a fantastic Chef and I was lucky enough to get a place at her restaurant Oklava a few weeks back, with a book recently published of the same name it sits proudly on my shelf nestled amongst Yotam Ottolenghi, Sabrina Ghayour and Bethany Kehdy, to name a few middle eastern favourites.

Turkish Cypriot food is on the menu, with the option of a table or sitting at the ‘pass’ watching the food being prepared it’s a very warm and open environment.

This was my second night in London, and after Vanilla Black, was looking for something different, and Oklava hit the mark. I managed to get a booking the day before and also managed to arrive 45 mins early this time, the underground was running very well and walking distances on my side had been completely over estimated. The place was buzzing just like the previous evening which again bode well for a great night to come.

This evenings menu included meat and fish too but strangely, I did opt for a Vegetarian option for one of the courses, more of that in a moment.

I was given the option of sitting at the end of the bar and had a fantastic view of all that was going on, which was really great. Seeing Selim and her all female team in action was really interesting as the orders were placed, and the food prepared in front of me, the open fronted oven in the background used for roasting various menu items.

There is a nice menu selection which should cover most tastes, mine was to start with the Spiced Chicken Parfait, Cracker and Pickled Apricots which I watched being prepared before me.

Really very nice indeed the Parfait was very smooth and packed full of flavour, the spicing tickling the tastebuds enough to say ‘hello, i’m here’! The home made cracker was an interesting addition, replacing the usual heavy bread which can fill you up too much before a main course.I was being looked after by a lovely American lass, who had arrived in the UK about 3 months previously and certainly knew the menu well, making recommendations and suggestions as to what would work. To go with the food i picked a Turkish Wine from Northern Anatolia, Diren Collection 2015 which is made from a grape i had not heard of, Narince which was very tasty.

My next dish was a bit unusual, in that it was that ‘vegetarian’ feeling taking over me again, Chilli Roast Cauliflower, Red Onion, Parsley and Pistachios was ordered and arrived after getting the roasting treatment from the open oven. It’s in Selim’s book, also called Oklava so i am looking forward to having a go in the future myself. I reckon it could stand up as a main course all on it’s own with maybe some salad as a side. It was very rich and packed full of flavour, i am glad i picked a lighter main course.For the main even i went for Lahmacun, something i have wanted to try since seeing Rick Stein munch through one on his series Mediterranean Escapes in 2010! Spicy lamb mince on a home made wood fired flat bread, topped with a zesty salad and lemon juice then rolled and eaten it was very very nice indeed.

No dessert for me that evening as the night before had taken my quota for the month, it was a great evening with lovely food, the service was very good, attentive and unfussy Oklava deserves the positive accolades it receives, highly recommended and one to return too in the future.

Selim kindly signed a menu for me to take home during service to keep with the Oklava book I proudly own.

 

 

……………………………………….Until nest time…………………….L8ers………………………….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No, NOT Chocolate, it’s Couverture…. The Proper Stuff! A Day with Champion Chocolatier Mark Tilling at Season Cookery School.

photo-26-02-2017-16-02-24It’s been a tough couple of months with our little one taking up a lot of time through illness. The chance to ‘escape’ for a day was offered by the missus and searching for an interesting cooking course at the last minute, (my way of completely relaxing) was proving a challenge in itself.  My usual haunt was fully booked so an alternative was needed, a creature of habit, looking at the various descriptions and options available I finally remembered ‘Season’, The Exclusive Cookery School at Lainston House Hotel in Hampshire. I was in luck, a full day Chocolate Masterclass with an ‘expert’. Seconds’ later it was booked, only 4 days to go!photo-26-02-2017-11-17-28I have never worked with Chocolate before as I am more of a savoury person, there are a couple of sweet entries in the blog but my recent (last year) diagnoses of Type I Diabetes means I tend to keep away from such food, but I do like learning new skills and this was to be no exception. We started the day with drinks and pastries, the school can hold up to 24 people from memory but as there were only 5 of us it was quite intimate.

So in 2006 UK Chocolate Master, 2007, 12th in the WORLD Chocolate Master Championship in Paris, 2008, UK Chocolate Master, 2009 7TH in the WORLD Chocolate Masters Final in Paris, if there was a person to learn about the sweet stuff this guy Mark Tilling must know the odd trick and tip!! To top the lot, he and a couple of colleagues also won the 1st BBC Bake of Créme de la creme baking competition in 2016, I remember watching it on TV.photo-26-02-2017-11-19-29You would not believe what goes into producing the ‘callets’, tiny buttons of Chocolate used to make all sorts of sweet delights. Chocolate is very complex to produce and the 1st session introduced us all into where and how it grows, the pollination, harvesting, and each of the many stages it takes to produce a product you can work with.

Mark is a very friendly engaging and excellent tutor, ably assisted on the day by Sylvain, the Manager of the Cookery School, We were shown how to ‘temper’ Chocolate, this is critical and prevents ‘blooming’ where the surface goes white and ensures a really good ‘snap’! Heating, lowering the temperature, adding some magic ingredient and lowering the temperature even more and you are done. Damn, guess who forgot to add the magic ingredient. You have to start all over again !! We used the lovely little Digital Thermometer all day to check  as it has to be very precise to get the good and bad crystals ( the result of the process) sorted properly. Oh, and it takes time, you HAVE to be patient.photo-26-02-2017-13-47-09As we went about making bars of flavoured Chocolate, Champagne Ganache, filled moulds to make the shells for the Ganache, learned how to used Chocolate transfers………. we learnt LOADS, and had fun getting covered in the stuff at the same time. Stopping for a really delicious lunch we carried on debating, asking questions and generally chatting about food and …… Chocolate, it was really very good.photo-26-02-2017-12-46-54Making the Shells for the Ganache was really tricky, and messy for those of us that had not done this before,  ladling the warm, sweet, sticky delicious liquid into the Mould the right way, inverting the mould, tapping to release enough, and then laying to set before going in the fridge so as to not ‘shock’ the Chocolate, my attempt above was ok, the results came out quite well for a beginner!photo-26-02-2017-14-17-08We used quite a few piping bags during the day too, the Cookery School is VERY well equipped with everything needed, and there was no washing up required, all the clearing and cleaning was done for us as we did use quite a few bowls. Tea’s and Coffees, Water and Soft Drinks were all available as and when you needed a quick respite!photo-26-02-2017-17-08-22Mark is the UK Ambassador for Callebaut Chocolate, we used lots of it during the sessions and my order for 3Kg is just about to be placed. It’s DELICIOUS, says the wife!! We had lots of quality ingredients to play with, one of my bars of Chocolate was Sea Salt and Pistachio, they were the best Pistachio’s I have ever seen and tasted!! I would recommend shopping around if you want to have a go, I found an internet wholesale site that can provide Callebaut White, Milk and Dark a Kilo of each for just under £20, which will last for ages, they sell to non-trade and it has a great shelf life.photo-26-02-2017-17-07-26This is an AMAZING course, I did have my doubts initially as I had never been to this Cookery School before, but we learnt so much during the day it was EXCELLENT value for money. I did pay full price and the comments are my own personal reflection of the experience. The morsels above are the Champagne Ganache filled Chocolate Shells, with a Gold Dust effect on the top and one side, I was well chuffed with them considering how ‘challenging’ they are to make.

If you fancy doing something a bit different and learning from a true champion Mark Tilling at Season Cookery School is more than highly recommended, I am going to be spending some more time with Mark later in the year if diary and wallet allows, it was brilliant.

…………………………………Until next time L8er’s…………………………

La Cuisine Bertinet with Dhruv Baker (MasterChef 2010 Winner)

P1030441It has been a while since my last post, a combination of busy and tired has eaten up much of my spare time so it was really exciting to be joining a class at Richard Bertinets’ Cookery School in Bath, and spending a few hours with Dhruv Baker, who won Masterchef in 2010.  The course was booked some time ago, just after I had suffered a seizure and woke up in an Ambulance so I though transport was going to be a problem, but in the end it was very easy and after an hour on the train and a short Taxi, there I was.

P1030434I usually arrive on cooking courses as the only ‘bloke’, which can be both enjoyable and frustrating (I really wish more men would have a go at cooking), this time there were 4 of us, equally balanced by 4 lovely ladies. As we arrived we were provided with Richards’ famous Bread, freshly toasted, with Butter and Jam, and Tea and Coffee and we started to introduce ourselves and get to know each other. Dhruv and Richards’ team of helpers were finalising the preparation and we were good to go.

P1030435The menu we were going to prepare was really interesting, Sweet Chilli Squid with Samphire, Chennai Spiced Poussin, Cumin & Chilli Potatoes with Curry Leaf and Coconut Cavalo Nero. As we looked through the menu Dhruv went about explaining the dishes and the order we would use to create each one. The Spiced Butter for the Poussin was going to take the longest so we set about toasting coconut and spices which would be ground into a paste (by hand) later on.

P1030436We were given many words of wisdom and encouragement by Dhruv, one of the participants said he could not cook (his wife also present agreed!), but comments like ‘T.V. Chefs like to make things look more complicated’ helped relax everyone as we all settled down to preparing each of the dishes. I won’t go though the detail of each dish, just book a course yourself and learn from a master and have some fun at the same time.

P1030442At the beginning of the day we were grouped together in ‘teams’, I was lucky enough to join Claire and Jin, who both had been on previous courses (Claire had been on 16), as we prepared each part of the recipe we laughed and joked as if we had known each other for years. It’s amazing how when individuals are thrown together with a common interest it seems to break down barriers in seconds. The other ‘students’ were from Belgium and there was a real friendship developing (call it a competitive bond if you will), this turned out to raise even more laughter towards the end of the day.

P1030440Because of time, there were a couple of ‘hiccups’ which in reality did not cause issue. The Spice Paste is made of hot ingredients, Tomatoes, Red Onions etc. and we could have done with a bit more time to let it cool, add cold Butter and…………It Melts! We ended up stuffing the Poussin with a semi Liquid mix but it worked fine in the end. We served up the starter as the Poussin roasted in the oven, the Sweet Chilli Squid with Samphire was a delight, tender, delicate and the slight saltiness of the Samphire negated the need for seasoning, amazing.File 26-10-2015, 11 35 01Mid morning we had a quick break, Tea and Coffee and some delicious Almond Croissants, and the owner turned up to greet us, Richard Bertinet. Richard started the school about 9 years ago, and takes some of the Bread making courses as well as  inviting guest Chef’s to come a teach their specialist skills. Richards Bread is VERY good, and if you are lucky enough to live West of Windsor, you maybe able to find some in your local Waitrose, I get mine in Newbury if I fancy a treat.File 26-10-2015, 11 34 07We prepared all the dishes to the point where we could eat the starter whilst the main was cooking, finish off the Vegetables then serve the main etc. In between copious amounts of Red and White Wine flowed, the generosity and spirit was certainly in abundance, and I was glad it was a train home, and not the car!!

The potato dish seemed to cause a bit of competition, one of our Belgian colleagues was a bit heavy with the Chilli, and the double doors at the back of the school had to be opened to let the ‘hot’ steam out. We then realised during tasting that that team had also forgotten to season, and not quite par boiled long enough. It seems Team Claire, Jules and Jin had won the ‘best potato dish’ competition. Yay.P1030446The Poussin were smelling delicious as they rested whilst we finished of the Vegetables and put the desert on to cook. Ah yes, forgot to mention the Chocolate Brownie with Cassia Custard,and hints of Cardamom!P1030448All the dishes were very clever, you can find several of them in Dhruvs’ Book Spice: Layers Of Flavour I am very proud to have a signed copy. Dhruv carefully explained the reason behind each component, acidity, saltness, sweetness, etc. and the smells and aroma’s circulating the kitchen were amazing.P1030450It was One of our Belgian friends birthday so as the Chocolate Brownies were served complete with candles we all sang Happy Birthday. Richard treated us to some more ‘specials’ as we ate our fill, Prunes Steeped in Rum, perfect served in Coffee or just eaten on their own, and the ‘old’ bottle of Vanilla Vodka, which was so full of Vanilla pods there was not much room for Vodka!File 26-10-2015, 11 35 24So after quite a few hours cooking, much laughter, a few glasses of Wine we had accomplished what one of our Belgians friends had not seemed possible, knocked up a pretty decent (I would probably say cooked a high quality!) 3 course dinner delicately spiced, packed full of flavour and learnt quite a few more cookery skills. Using Lemon as a ‘condiment’ featured quite a lot and worked REALLY well, even on the Potatoes which was quite a suprise.

Richards Cookery School website can be found HERE and Dhruvs’ Gastro Pub The Jolly Gardeners HERE,

Just to be clear, I paid full price for this course and have received no incentives etc. in order to write this review, its my own experience and one that I will not forget, a truly wonderful time. There is no doubt I will be returning to Richards School in the future to learn new skills and share a great time with new friends.

Till Next Time………………..l8ers……………………

 

Kouign Amann, well Breton Kouignettes, and a couple of restaurant reviews

WP_20150201_19_33_46_ProTwitter is an interesting tool that can inspire cooking at a instant. A case in point happened to me recently when a very good cook I ‘follow’ Sabrina Ghayour, tweeted a picture from a trip to Paris. The picture was of a variant of Kouign Amann, a Breton pastry from Northern France.

Photo 08-02-2015 10 40 27The sticky buttery rich pastry just looked amazing, and as I had a team meeting coming up after the weekend, an excuse to do some research and find a suitable recipe set me going online and attacking the keyboard. My initial concern was time, having made puff pastry by hand before it was a lengthy process taking up to 3 days (allowing plenty of rest time makes it very special), and this was based on a similar process.

I found the answer here; http://eatthelove.com/2014/03/kouign-amann/

A ‘speedy’ way to make a version of the pastry, I set about gathering the ingredients and digging out the food processor from under the cupboard.

The basic premise of this recipe is to incorporate loads of salty Breton Butter (readily available from Waitrose and probably larger Tesco’s) into flour using the method described on the web link above. Once it has had some time to rest and cool down in the fridge, a series of folds to create the layers that puff up and expand when cooking. This is a yeast based dough so the final result is croissant like in its texture.

WP_20150201_17_56_23_ProThe last stage requires dusting your work top with sugar instead of flour, which will create the lovely sticky, crispy, caramelised outside after cooking is completed. It was surprisingly straightforward to do, following the steps carefully. I changed one element of the recipe, which was to use vanilla infused sugar to add an extra dimension to the dish.

WP_20150201_18_05_44_ProI couldn’t work out a way to easily get the shape from the original ‘tweeted’ picture so continued to follow the instructions on the website which requires you to cut the final dough into squares, and bring together from the centre, placing into a well oiled muffin tray as above.

They need about 40 – 45 minutes, I had some extra dough left, had some placed on an oven tray beneath the one above and a couple of them went to far! Keep and eye on them for the last 10 or so minutes as you want them dark and sticky, but they can soon burn.

Give them a go, they were bloomin’ delicious!

This week involved a lot of travelling, Newbury to Solihull, then Leeds, then Norwich, then back to Newbury so a couple of overnights would be needed.

My stomach dictates when away from home and gives me the chance to experience new food and restaurants, this week it was to be Tharavadu in Leeds and The House of Thai in Norwich.

Tharavadu is a Kerelan restaurant, a style of cuisine I had not tried before, rich in coconut and spices, and absolutely delicious.

Photo 04-02-2015 20 37 09The starter I chose was Adipose Chemmeen, marinated Prawns served with a Lemon Chutney it was amazing, tingling the palate with lots of flavour, it set the scene quite nicely.

Mains were Kerala Khozi Curry, Mambazha Pulisshery, and a Paratha. I was too busy eating this delicious meal to take a picture, but it was very very tasty indeed.

Photo 04-02-2015 21 43 20Desert was a Semolina based dish, Pineapple Kesari, studded with raisins and cashew nuts it finished the meal nicely.

The wine choice was very good and reasonably priced, I went for a Trimbach Gerwurztraminer which countered the spicy meal perfectly. The service was excellent, attentive but not overbearing, and the restaurant was busy, busy busy, so book ahead if you fancy a culinary trip to Kerala, well recommended, please give it a go.

After Kerala, my next stop was Thailand, via House of Thai in Norwich!

I had been late arriving at both restaurants as traffic had been particular bad, but have to say VERY impressed at how accommodating both places were.

Starters at House of Thai were Tung Tong, or Golden Parcels, again an amazing starter, getting the taste buds ready for the main course.

Photo 05-02-2015 20 51 11The parcels are filled with a herb marinaded chicken and vegetable mixture, wrapped in a thin pastry and fried until crispy. Great starter…….yumm

Photo 05-02-2015 21 03 59I struggled picking a main, I have eaten Thai a few times and wanted to try and find something a bit different, so Pla Kra Pao was my choice of crispy Sea Bass with stir fried oyster sauce, served with fresh Thai Red Chillies, Coriander and Basil leaves. Thai Jasmine Rice worked with the Bass nicely it was very good value for money.

Desert was interesting as an iPad was used to show pictures of each of the dishes, a really good idea. Photo 05-02-2015 21 38 43Dessert was Banana based, and studded with Coconut, not too sweet but something I had not eaten before, very tasty and I forgot the write down the name. Wine to accompany was a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

The whole meal was very tasty, service was very good and unhurried (considering I was 45 minutes late!), another cracking experience, well worth a look out if you are venturing to Norwich add this to your must do list.

Thats it for now, until next time……….L8ers……..

 

Celebrating 25 Years, Pain D’Épice, Babi kecap & Foie Gras

WP_20140824_13_22_45_Pro25 Years ago today I got married to a wonderful lady, 25 years later I am proud to say we are still together and everything is fantastic. We had planned a few days on the south coast, but cancelled at the last minute when we saw the weather forecast!! Instead, we have booked a trip to Tunisia in October, where I celebrated by 21st birthday MANY years ago!

My better half has recently had an operation and is still suffering with back pains so when I offered to book a nice place to eat, the answer I got was ‘please can YOU cook me something nice, I would prefer it’! Its a double celebration this week as it’s her birthday so I sat surrounded with cookbooks and my trusty Mac, and scoured for something nice to prepare.

WP_20140824_15_55_31_ProDavid Lebovitz is well known in the food blogging world, an accomplished Chef and writer, I recently got hold of his latest book, My Paris Kitchen. Its a brilliant piece of work and contains some really good recipes, two of which caught my eye.

As previously blogged, I spent a week in Gascony earlier this year and learned some new skills and recipes. One was preparing Foie Gras using something called Pain D’Épice, a spicy bread like cake and very tasty. The one we used was purchased, I had found a recipe to make it myself  In David’s book, you can see the end result above.

The reason I picked this was that it is also a component of Carbonnade Flamande, a delicious Beef dish from Belgium which I am cooking on our anniversary today, I will be posting the results later this week. You may wonder why I picked a dish that does not seem s0 special, a beef stew! Well our son Justin was conceived in Brussels on my 40th Birthday, and so the trip holds MANY fond memories for both of us including trying my first Carbonnade Flamande.

The big Red bag of Spice above is something quite special, Piment d’EspeletteIt has AOC status, the origins of AOC date to the year 1411, when Roquefort was regulated by a parliamentary decree. In practise this means its production, marketing and sales are tightly controlled. You CAN get it mail order from ‘The Spicery”, I ordered it Friday last week and it arrived Saturday!!!!

Piment d’Espelette is a component of preparing a particular style of Foie Gras, hence my purchase. i also plan to experiment with some Basque cooking, I have just ordered a new cookery book which focusses on this particular cuisine, more on that later.

WP_20140824_17_55_48_ProSo for the Birthday treat I turned to Rick Steins Far Eastern Odyssey and Babi Kecap, you can see the ingredients above, along with those for Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad), which I have described before. Both were to be served with Coconut Rice to balance and join the flavours and textures.

WP_20140824_13_48_46_ProTo Start Babi kecap you need an ‘Asian Chicken Broth’, essentially a spiced Chicken Stock. Mine was made with a whole Organic Chicken, the flavour enhancers included Star Anise, Spring Onions, loads of Garlic and Galangal and Red Kampot Pepper from Cambodia, (I had recently re-stocked my spice cupboard using Steenbergs mail order and added this to the list as something new to try). You can find the recipe at the back for Rick Steins book, its needs bringing to the boil, skimming to remove the sludge and gently simmering for 1 1/2 hours, job done!

The next stage is to fry loads of shallots until golden brown, then add more Garlic and Ginger, some pork shoulder and colour. Then add the stock and all the other ingredients including the Kecap Manis, a sweet Soy Sauce from Indonesia. After 1 1/2 hours I removed the meat to a warm covered dish, sieved the remaining sauce and hard reduced until shiny, sticky and unctuous!

WP_20140824_20_25_57_ProServed with the Som Tum salad and Coconut Rice it was absolutely stunning, well worth the effort in finding the Sweet Soy Sauce which is available mail order, (just google the name) or, from Asian Supermarkets. I got mine from See Woo in Reading who seem to have all the unusual and difficult to get ingredients including Fresh Turmeric and Green Papaya.

The missus had a great birthday, some food cooked with love, and very tasty too. Watch out for the followup later this week as I have more cooking to do.

Until next time…. L8ers……

 

 

Kringle Version 1 (Not a complete Failure) – Danish Pastry Bliss

The last couple of weeks have been challenging and being struck down with flu has just added to the frustration, not feeling particularly inspired to get into the kitchen. Until recently I have not been a fan of Twitter, my Facebook account was deleted some time ago as it became too distracting, Twitter, due to its limited message size, seems to provide a source of inspiration on the foodie front and is the reason for this latest post.

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I am a massive fan of Yotam Ottolenghi, and Middle Eastern inspired food in general. Yotam recently ‘tweeted’ from Copenhagen a picture of an interesting looking pastry called KRINGLE, I saw this post and decided to do a bit of detective work, and see what this treat was all about.

The word originates from the Old Norse kringla, meaning ring or circle and denotes the traditional shape of this pastry, made using either Puff or a Yeast based dough. Trying to find some recipes and guidance for making Kringle I looked to Google and found a number of different approaches and shapes to this tasty pastry, mostly by clicking through the ‘images’ search results, rather than web which did not seem to have so much too offer.

If you decide to investigate as I did, you will find variations from many countries including Denmark, Estonia, Holland & Wisconsin (home to many Danish people apparently), here is my 1st attempt which did not go quite to plan!!

The recipe I used is HERE, and is based on a combination of Puff Pastry but INCLUDES yeast, be prepared to be patient as it will take 3 days to make, most of this is resting time and should not be hurried if you are to get the best results. You might note an extra spice in the heading picture, Mahleb, an aromatic spice made from the seeds of a species of cherry, Prunus mahaleb the St Lucie cherry, which I added to the pastry mix.

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I must have been tired when I started the construction element of my 1st Kringle as I go it completely wrong! You follow a similar method to making Puff Pastry, flattening Butter and folding it into the Dough mix, and leaving it to rest in-between folds in the fridge overnight. This is where I made my 1st mistake and things went downhill from here. If you compare mine, to the instructions on the web links on this page you will see where I went wrong.

There are a number of interesting variations on preparing Kringle, I used one HERE to get an idea on the techniques to create interesting shapes.

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You need to treat this beast with respect, and timing/resting is important. You can see the butter beneath the surface after the third day, but you will also notice ‘islands’ of butter which is not what you are looking for.  This happened as a result of not doing the folding correctly and trying to fix the problem in a hurry!!!!

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After the resting and rolling you can cover the centre of the Kringle with whatever you wish, I opted for a Butterscotch, Sultana and Pecan Nut mixture. I had originally intended to add some Apple, but it was getting late in the day and decided to omit this ingredient at the last minute. The Butterscotch was made from Egg Whites, Light & Dark Muscovado Sugar and Butter.

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Now for my next mistake, this was not going to plan at all!

My Butterscotch mixture was way to0 wet, and I should have chilled the pastry further to make it less pliable. Once you have applied the filling you roll lengthways (front to back looking at the picture above), and then cut down the middle to create two tales. Don’t cut all the way as the next stage is to plait the two ends top to bottom and then join together. The technique is in the link above and should create a ring of Pastry, with the cut sides facing upward.

As everything was too soft and wet, my effort to create a beautiful masterpiece failed miserable and I ended up creating what looks like a pair of trousers!

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Despite the odd shape and bungled folding the end result tasted absolutely fantastic which was a relief, considering the multiple mistakes I had managed to accrue over the weekend!

This pastry is well worth having a go it, you can play around with the flavours to your hearts content, or go for some simpler shapes to start off with, just put Kringle into Google and select the images to find loads of information on how to make them.

Till next time,

L8ers

Pistachio Cardamom & Polenta Cake – Cooking for Coeliac’s (Gluten Intolerance)

2014 has arrived and there is much excitement in my world. Last year I drove miles, thousands of them and it meant having to stay away more often than I preferred, which reduced both family and kitchen time. This year I am looking after a another team based in the south, so less travelling and some more excuses to adventure with food (and spend time with the family!).

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I met the southern team last week, and decided to treat them to some home made baking, BUT one of them is a Coeliac which is an intolerance to Gluten. The only known treatment for this is a Gluten-free diet which is a bit of a challenge, if you check the packets of many ingredients the number that claim Gluten free is not massive especially if baking cakes and desserts!

I did some research and found a suitable replacement for flour was Polenta, which is Maize (Corn) ground into a meal (course Flour). Its not the same as conventional Flour so baking with Polenta requires some thinking. You have to be careful with other ingredients too, Baking Powder which is used as as raising agent can contain Gluten so check your packets 1st before embarking on this particular cake.

I made this in between customer meetings and conference calls so apologies as there are not too many photographs in this particular post (2 to be precise)!

I decided to bake a Pistachio and Cardamom Polenta Cake with a hint of Rose Water & Lime Butter Frosting, Middle Eastern inspired and something which was an ongoing development during the cooking process, here’s the final version, which was AMAZING, your will need the following ingredients!

Cake Ingredients

  1. 8 cardamom pods, seeds only
  2. 150g pistachios, shelled
  3. 100g ground almonds
  4. 1 tsp rose water
  5. 175g polenta
  6. 1¼ tsp baking powder
  7. 300g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  8. 325g caster sugar
  9. 4 medium eggs, lightly beaten
  10. 1 unwaxed lime, grated zest, plus ½ lime juice
  11. ½ tsp vanilla EXTRACT

Soaking Syrup

  1. 120g Castor Sugar (Mine has Vanilla Pods in it to infuse)
  2. 1tsp Rose Water
  3. 80ml Lemon Juice
  4. 30ml Lime Juice
  5. 1tbsp Pomegranate Molasses (This is critical as it provides a unique Middle Eastern Flavour)

The basis of the recipe were a couple of cakes I found on the Internet which had Semolina as the base and quite a lot of Rose Water, but could not be used as Semolina contains Gluten, hence the Polenta replacement.

I was a bit nervous about introducing too much Rose Water into the cake, as I think its definitely an acquired taste. I decided to add some further adaptions and significantly reduced the Rose Water component, but introduced some more Middle Eastern flavour in the form of Pomegranate Molasses. I also increased the Cardamon and added Lime reducing the quantity of Lemon, which I prefer……….. YUMMMMMM…!

Lime Butter Frosting

  1. 250g Unsalted Butter
  2. 256g Icing Sugar
  3. 2 Limes Zested
  4. ½ Lime Juice

The Cake Process

  1. Grease a round, 23cm, loose-bottomed cake tin and line with baking parchment.
  2. Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas 3 (If using a FAN oven, drop the temperature a bit).
  3. Extract the Cardamom seeds from their pods and grind to a powder in a pestle & Mortar.
  4. Put Pistachios in a food processor and grind for a few seconds, you don’t want a powder but pieces around 2-3mm so there is still texture.
  5. Add the ground Almonds, Cardamom, Polenta, Baking Powder and 2/3rds of the Pistachios and mix briefly. The remaining Pistachios are sprinkled on the Lime Butter Frosting to finish.
  6. Beat the Butter and Sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the Egg in small amounts, incorporating it well. (A Kenwood is good for this with the beater).
  7. Fold in the mixed dry ingredients, then the Lime Zest and Juice, Rose Water and Vanilla extract.
  8. Put it into the lined tin, level and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour until a skewer comes out oily but dry. (Mine took slightly longer, about 1 hr 10 mins)

The trusty Kenwood Chef was used to beat the Sugar/Butter, and also used to mix in the eggs. You might find the mixtures splits during this process, adding a small amount of Polenta will bring it all together.

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Put all the ingredients for the Syrup in a small saucepan; bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar, then remove from the heat.Remove the cake from the oven; while it is still hot, spoon the Syrup over the cake, I used about 4 Tbsp, judge with the eye.

Allow the cake to cool, then take out of the tin. Coat the top of the cake with the frosting, sprinkle with the remaining Pistachios and gentle press in to fix.

I had one challenge whilst trying to find the Polenta in the shops, a large chain had some Corn Meal, but looking on the side of the Packet, there was the label ‘May Contain Traces of Gluten’. This brand was very cheap and obviously processed in a factory grinding flour and other Gluten laden products. Another higher end shop had Polenta, but it was Organic and very expensive. Eventually I gambled and went for Polenta Express, Gluten Free but apparently the dry grains had been pre-cooked in some way, it still looked and felt like flour/meal and worked a treat.

The cake is quite (well very actually) moist and sticky,  great on its own (as my new friends found out), but also goes really well with a serving of Crème Fraiche or Double Cream.

Feedback from my new team was VERY encouraging, a couple of them have vowed to make it themselves, they loved it so much. Its definitely an ADULT cake, the Pomegranate Molasses used in the Syrup really adds an amazing flavour dimension, the Rose Water is very subtle, and tends to stimulate the nose rather than the taste buds which is what I was hoping for. The Lime Butter Frosting adds another texture and all the flavours work together really well.

Pomegranate Molasses and Rose Water is readily available, I use Steenbergs and Ottolenghi’s to source mine along with the Cardamom.

So there we go, if you know someone with a Gluten Intolerance, and Dairy is not an issue, have a go at this, you will be pleased you did.

L8ers……

Kookaburra Almonds & Tart! (Dessert Recipe Challenge No. 3)

One of the fantastic teams I support at work clubbed together and gave me £100 in John Lewis vouchers as a thank-you last week, they know I like cooking but were not sure what to get.  I have now added some baking  stuff to my cooking cupboard and was inspired to try some more recipes ready for the Christmas break over the weekend.

Bertinet pastryRichard Bertinet is one of my french food heroes, along with Stephane Renaud, the Roux’s, Daniel Galmiche and Raymond Blanc.  A while back I got hold of  Stephanes’ book ‘Pastry’, and thought it was about time I  had a go at re-creating one of  the recipes and attempting to improve my pastry skills, which are at best lacking in finesse. You can order the book HERE.

This fine volume has over 50 recipes, but more importantly some hints and tips on how to get the best from your pastry by resting, cooling etc.  Thumbing through the pages I found several ideas to inspire an adaption,  Sweet Pastry Amandine & Frangipane Mince Pies.

My version of this tart was to include Caramelised Apples, Sultanas, Ginger, Chopped Hazlenuts and Allspice as a base layer, with the ‘Frangipane’ as a topping.

When doing some research on Frangipane there is also a reference known as frangipani, a Plumeria tree as in John Vanderslice‘s song Kookaburra, hence the title of this post.

So onto the baking, the recipe list is quite simple with only a few ingredients needed to create a delicious and impressive dessert.

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For the Pastry I used the following quantities;

  • 125 grms unsalted Butter
  • 100 grms icing Sugar
  • 250 grms plain Flour
  • zest 1/2 Lemon
  • 2 Eggs and 1 Egg Yolk
  • Pinch Salt

Following the process in the book, the pastry was prepared in stages, crumbing, bringing together gentle kneading and resting.

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A fluted loose bottom tin was buttered and lined with the pastry once rested and blind baked at 165 deg (fan), I used my newly acquired oven thermometer to check the temperature and followed one of Richards tips, you will have to buy the book to find out what the tip is! It took approximately 25 mins to get the pastry to the dry stage, and a further 15 with the baking parchment and ceramic beans removed and brushing the base with egg wash to create a seal.

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The first filling was going to be Caramelised Apples, for this I took 4 – 5 Braeburn’s, cored, peeled and put them in some Lemon juice to stop them going brown, and added about 2 Tbs Kirsch, a teaspoon each of Ginger and Allspice. They were then fried in unsalted butter and liberally sprinkled with Vanilla infused Castor Sugar, you can see the result above. I added a small amount of cracked Black Pepper to gives the Apples some ‘Edge’!

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The Frangipane cream comprised the following Ingredients;

  • 200 grms Castor Sugar
  • 200 grms Ground Almonds
  • 200 grms unsalted Butter
  • 40 grms Plain Flour
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Tbs Almond Liquor

Soften the butter and cream with the sugar until pale, fold in the Almonds and Flour then add the Eggs and Liquor mixing well. Before adding this to the Apples, I added a further texture of chopped Hazlenuts and Sultanas, and then topped the Frangipane with flakes Almonds, you can see the Tart before cooking in the picture above.

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After 20 – 25 minutes in a 165 deg (fan) this was the result, a lovely smell filled in the Kitchen. So there you have my dessert recipe challenge No. 3, with No.4 as work in progress but here is a sneak preview of my prototype home made Jaffa Cake Dessert!

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#getcooking,

L8ers……..

The Christmas Challenge Part Deux – KugelHopf My Way

The last couple of weeks have been challenging, lots of travelling and fighting a virus which is not very pleasant, and particularly hideous when its your birthday. I had planned another baking session but did not feel up to it, so postponed the event for a week hoping the virus would have started to clear. I had already starting preparing by putting Raisins and Kirsch In a bowl and covered with cling film, which would macerate for 1 week in the fridge to seriously plump up! So back to the Christmas challenge and another recipe, this time modelled on the ‘Alsacian Kugelhopf‘, an enriched cake made with yeast and butter, and in my case a number of spices and fruits.  I have recently acquired a ‘Bundt’ baking tin, a round tin with a hole in the centre and fluted edges, and intended to put it to good use with this recipe. You can see it in the picture below, with most of the ingredients.

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The process to make this recipe is quite long, you will ideally need to prove the dough mixture 3 times so allow plenty of time, the 1st proving stage can take 2 – 3 hours, with the 2nd and 3rd another 1 1/2 – 2 hours each. For this recipe you will need the following ingredients:

  • 3 Cups Plain Flour
  • 120 Grams Butter
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1/4 Cup Warm Water
  • 1/2 Cup Warm Full Fat Milk
  • I Sachet Dried Fast Acting Yeast (7 Grams)
  • 1/2 Cup Castor Sugar (preferably Vanilla infused)
  • 1/2 Tsp Vanilla EXTRACT
  • 3/4 Cup Raisins (Preferable Soaked for a week in 1/4 Cup of Kirsch)
  • 1 Teaspoon Maldon Sea Salt
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • Zest of 1 Lime
  • Zest of 1 Orange
  • 75 Grams mixed Peel (Orange & Lemon)
  • 2 Cloves ground in pestle & mortar
  • 1/2  heaped Tsp Ginger
  • 1/2 heaped Tsp Ground Allspice
  • 1/4 Grated Fresh Nutmeg
  • 30 Grams chopped Hazelnuts
  • 30 Grams flaked Almonds

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Firstly, put the Milk and Water into a jug, add the Yeast and stir. Leave in a warm place for 10-15 minutes until a froth starts to develop on the surface.

Put the Butter, Orange, Lemon, Lime Zest, and Sugar in the bowl of a Kenwood Chef with the Dough Hook attached and mix on a medium speed until pale in colour. It takes between 5 & 10 minutes depending on how cold the butter is.

Now add the Eggs, Vanilla and Yeast mixture and mix thoroughly, then add about half the flour, with the Kenwood set to medium speed. Don’t forget to add the ground Cloves, Ginger, Ground Nutmeg and Ground Allspice at this stage.

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It should resemble something like above at this stage, once combined, wipe the side of the bowl down with a spatula and add the rest of the flour, and thoroughly mix for a good 10 minutes, you should end up with a soft sticky dough like the picture below.

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Now the mixture needs to be left in a warm place covered, until doubled in size, this takes 2 – 3 hours. I put mine by the fire to help the process along.

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After the 1st rise, your should end up with silky smooth mixture that looks like the picture above. You can just see flecks of zest dotted about. The next stage is to ‘knock back’ the mixture to get rid of some of the air, I used a spatula to assist with the process. The mixture will deflate and look like the next picture.

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Now repeat the process, covering the mixture with a tea towel and again, the rise should double in size just like before.

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Whilst the rising is happening, heavily butter the Bundt Pan, and sprinkle with the flaked Almonds, once the 2nd rise has completed, you need to knock back the mixture and add the Hazelnuts and Fruits making sure they are evenly distributed.

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The Mixture needs covering again, and left in a warm place to rise for the 3rd time.  It should look like the picture above.

When  its done, it should be close to the surface of the tin. You need to bake the Kugelhopf for approximately 35 Minutes at 160 deg (Fan Oven), or 180 deg (Convection Oven). After 15 Minutes cover the top with some tin foil to prevent it from browning too quickly, a side effect of the quantity of butter in the mixture.

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When its cooked, leave to rest for 5 – 10 minutes, it should ease away from the sides of the tin, then release from the mould and allow to cool on a wire rack. You can see the effect of putting the flaked Almonds on the tin before adding the mixture in the picture above.

You can decorate the Kugelhopf with plain icing sugar, or make a icing drizzle by adding Icing Sugar to Orange or Lemon Juice, depending on your preferences.

You can find out what it tastes like by having a go at making one yourself, Now I have tested the recipe I will be making another one for my colleagues at work later this week, I hope they enjoy it As I much as I enjoyed creating my own version of this spectacular cake.

Freaky Freekeh & A Dessert Invention

This week saw the arrival of some new cookery books, Pitt Cue Co, based on an up and coming restaurant in Soho, London, and focussing on barbecue, My Vietnamese Kitchen by Uyen Luu and Dos Caminos, Mexican Street Food by Ivy Stark and Joanna Pruess. Flicking through the pages has whet the appetite even more to experiment with different textures and flavours.

So into the kitchen and this week we are going to be trying some new grains, Freekeh (or farik)  and Mograbieh. Freekeh is a green wheat that is roasted and Mograbieh, a giant cous cous that has a soft chewy texture.

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Both are available in the UK from Ottolenghi’s online store and are being served as an accompaniment to Lamb Shanks, slowed cooked in Vegetable stock with Shallots, Aleppo Pepper,  Allspice, Bay Leaves, Coriander Seeds, Garlic, Ginger, Almonds, pine nuts, Coriander, Pomegranate Molasses and Barberries.

The recipe is a subtle variation on Bethany Kehdy’s Freekeh with Lamb & Rhubarb, in her fantastic book ‘The Jewelled Kitchen’. I could not get any fresh Rhubarb so substituted dried Barberries which I had in the store cupboard.

Lamb Shanks

The process is quite straight forward, rub Lamb with Aleppo Pepper, Allspice, Salt & Pepper, brown some button onions or shallots, remove from pan, add lamb, brown all over, remove from pan, add spices and cook till the aroma fills the room, add the lamb and onions back and Vegetable stock, cover and cook long and slow.

cooked shanks

I cooked mine at 130 degrees for 4 1/2 hours.  The Freekeh is boiled in stock for about 45 minutes, it has a delicious nutty texture when cooked and is completely different from any other grain I have tasted. The Mograbhieh is steamed initially for about 30 minutes and then simmered in stock and a tablespoon of pomegranate molasses. The Mograbhieh and Barberries were to provide the sour note that the rhubarb would have provided, along with some different textures.

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The dish is finished with some toasted Pine Nuts, Almonds and fresh Coriander, it was awesome, the boss loved it a lot as it tasted so different from anything either of us has eaten before.  Its not a difficult dish to prepare, the ingredients are available from Ottolenghi’s and Steenbergs, go buy Bethany’s book and create some masterpieces to set your taste buds on fire..

Christmas Dessert No.1

Dessert No

I have been set a challenge by the boss, create some desserts of your own for Christmas! Not one to turn such challenges down here is my 1st attempt, Its Mango with Lime, Cardamom Panna Cotta, Pistachio Dust and Super Short Shortbread!

Its relatively easy to make and I can honestly say, its original as anything can be these days. A couple of you that know me have asked why I don’t publish prescriptive detailed ingredient lists, this is mostly due to copyright infringement, and the fact I am trying to encourage people to have a go, like many other food bloggers.  As this is my invention, I will list the Ingredients and process.

You will need.

  • 1 Can Mango (I could not get fresh at the time, the supermarket had sold out)
  • 1/2 Cup Pistachios, ground in a blender
  • 330 ml Double Cream
  • 2 Sheets Gelatine
  • 200 grm Plain Flour
  • 170 grm unsalted butter
  • 140 grm Castor Sugar (Mine is infused with Vanilla pods and a Jar is always in the cupboard)
  • 1 Lime
  • Maldon Sea Salt
  • 12 cardamom pods

To make the Mango base

1. Put 4 Martini Glasses in the fridge to cool down

2. Put the Mango in  a saucepan with Half a Squeezed Lime and the Zest.

3.  Add a couple of good tablespoons of water and bring to a gentle heat.

4. After approximately 15 minutes, using a hand blender puree till smooth.

5. Add 1/2 sheet of Gelatine, soaked in cold water and squeesed.

6. Split the puree across the 4 Martini glasses, put a 5 mm layer of Pistachio dust in each glass and put back in the fridge. It should look something like this.

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To make the Panna Cotta

1. Pound the Cardamom in a pestle & mortar and add to the Cream to infuse for at least an hour.

2. Put 1 1/2 sheets of Gelatine in cold water.

3. Strain the cream after an hour and put into a saucepan with 55 grm of castor sugar and bring to the boil, remove from heat.

4. Squeeze the Gelatine, add to Cream and stir.

5. Put the saucepan in a larger pan with some cold water and continue to stir to cool the cream, about 5 minutes and then transfer the cream to a pouring jug.

6. Take each glass and VERY slowly pour in the cream mixture, taking care not to dislodge the Pistachio too much, and then return to the fridge for at least two hours.

To make the Super Short Shortbread

1. Stick a block of butter in the freezer for about an hour to harden.

2. Sift Flour, grate in Zest of 1/2 Lime 75 grm Sugar and mix, put in fridge.

3. After an hour, grate the Butter into the Flour mixing gentle as you go, the gentle squeeze the butter and flour bringing it together into a dough, press gentle into a baking tray, it should look like this after 40 minutes at 140 deg (fan), and a dusting of castor sugar.

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Leave the short bread to cool for a couple of minutes, then take a sharp knife and cut into pieces whilst in the tin, and leave to cool for a couple of hours before carefully removing. Don’t be tempted to try some at this stage, honestly it will all be gone before you can serve with the rest of the dish its so tasty. I made a variation of this the other day, with Pistachio Nuts and Lime Zest, slightly less butter and cut into biscuit rounds, also worth a go.

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So here is dessert No.1 Mango, Lime, Pistachio with Cardamom Panna Cotta and Super Short Shortbread, what’s really strange and unusual when you combine the layers, is that there is a distinct taste of Mint, quite unusual and I guess a combination of the different ingredients.

Till next time, happy cooking.