Sunday, 28 November 2010

So It Starts

Hello again, well what a week it’s been. Had our first Xmas party so the long haul of turkey has begun, the party did not go as smoothly as expected, but it happens and we will learn and get stronger from it. I’m sure there will be more from me about Xmas in the future but let’s try and stay away from it for a few more days at least. On another note we had some amazing Brill delivered this week and really enjoyed getting them on the specials menu.

We served them with a celeriac puree, sautéed wild mushrooms, truffle mashed potato & a red wine reduction, it was well received by those clever enough to order it and not the usual fish & chips. This Xmas is going to be interesting, it will be my first where the buck starts and finishes with me, should be fun, well I hope its fun or the last 14 years of training will be worth as much as a Tesco value mince pie!

 On a lighter note, I spent my spare time this week playing with chicken. It seems to be the meat that people who don’t really know what they like to eat order most of the time, so I am trying to play with the garnishes and hope that it broadens peoples palate enough to try something a little different and learn to enjoy food instead of using it as fuel.  I’m always looking for new ideas and love chatting to different chefs about what there up to.  I have been looking at current trend in food and restaurant culture, to the extent that I have started tweeting and conversing with chefs from all over the country and even a couple from overseas, its really pleasing to see that no matter how big the name chefs will answer your questions and queries (well most big names).

 Also i have found possibly the best website a young chef could wish for; its called the staff canteen the guys using this site are very forward with their advice and if you post a question or ask for some advice someone will reply to you and for young enthusiastic chefs that is the best thing you can ask for. So from me I would like to thank you to @alexw @benchef @chef1, @chefbennett01 & @chefzilla their advice has really helpful.

So where is this week’s recipe I hear you guys asking, well here it is. This soup is a real winter warmer and if you didn’t like Jerusalem artichokes before this soup could easily change your mind. To make it a bit more of a dinner party starter the addition of truffled crème fraiche goes a really long way. I really hope you guys try this and enjoy it, leave me some feedback if you do, I would love to see what you guys think.
So until next time have fun, stay safe in the cold weather and cook yourself some really tasty bits for you and the one you love.

Jerusalem artichoke soup

400g Jerusalem artichokes
100g chopped shallots
100ml dry white wine
1l vegetable nage/stock
150ml double cream
Salt and pepper
1 lemon

Fill a plastic container with 2l water and squeeze the lemon into the water. Peel the artichokes and place in the lemon water. Dry the artichoke and slice. Sauté the shallots in a pan for 3 mins until golden in colour, add the artichokes and cook for a further 5 mins. Add the wine and cook until all wine has evaporated, add the vegetable nage/stock and bring to the boil and cook until the artichokes are softened. Blend the soup and pass return to the stove and add the cream check the seasoning cook for 5 minutes and chill till needed.

But remember live to eat don’t eat to live

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

So Winter Is Here

Hello guys, welcome back to the wonderful world that is my blog! Hoping everyone is well and had a good few days. Right let’s get started, For the first time in my career I got to use monkfish cheeks which turned out to be amazingly versatile and delicious, we did the two dishes with them. The first dish was pan roasted monkfish cheeks, spinach, cauliflower puree, beer battered shallot rings & red wine jus.

The second was a lightly spiced beer battered monkfish cheek, crushed peas & tartar sauce, again it went down really well.

This week has been a bit of a trial really but we got though served some great food and also managed to have a smile and laugh though it all. Like the evening when our oven decided that it didn’t want to set at the temperature that we wanted it too. So thinking about the coming weeks we start our Christmas parties soon, so I’ve got a whole lot of turkey to look forward to not to mention the Brussels sprouts. This will be my first Christmas in charge of everything myself which I’m really looking forward to, having written the menus back in April we have had plenty of time to get a game plan into action. So got all my ducks in a row it seems just missing the vital ingredient of a great sous chef to work alongside me.

As promised another little recipe for you guys to try out

Goats cheese crème brulee

Half a bunch of thyme
400ml double cream
150ml milk
6 egg yolk
250g goat’s cheese
50g parmesan grated
White pepper to taste
A pinch of paprika

Break up the goat’s cheese with no rind
Bring the milk and cream to the boil with the thyme
Take of the stove cover and leave to in fuse for ten minutes then strain in to a new pan
Put back on the stove and bring to a simmer
Pour over the egg yolk and stir return to the stove and cook to thicken slightly
Take off the stove and gently whisk the goat’s cheese and parmesan in
Season with pepper and paprika (the parmesan should have enough salt in it already
Pour into ramekins and chill

To finish and serve make some caramel glazed hazelnuts and when cold blitz into a fine powder to put on top the brulee to act as the crunchy sweet crust.
I like to serve this with really good sour dough and red onion chutney.

Right hope you enjoyed this short post and hopefully will be back soon with another recipe and a few words about the life of a chef.
But remember live to eat don’t eat to live

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

My Day Out Up In The Smoke

Hello everyone, well the four of you guys following anyway (cheers for that). So what’s been going on in my life the past couple of week? Well last week I had lunch at l’autre pied in London; the food at l’autre was so good I thought I should share it with as many people as possible. Set on Blandford Street London W1U 3DB, the restaurant is really cosy and the welcome is warm. I was dining on my own but was immediately set at ease by the host and staff which set the tone for a really good lunch.
 Feeling like I wanted to see as much of what the boys & girls out the back under the guidance of Marcus Eaves get up to and what makes this restaurant special.

So I opted for the tasting menu and away we went the first dish to hit the table was an amuse bouche of “warm celeriac mousse with puffed rice, crispy quail egg”, great clean flavours.

Next course to hit the table was” Jerusalem artichoke veloute, chanterelle mushrooms, hazelnut oil”, again wicked flavours and a nice surprise of fresh pasta sheet hiding in the soup to give a different texture.

The two fish courses where next, first up were “line caught Cornish mackerel, organic ginger carrots, shaved fennel salad, coriander cress”. The mackerel tasted like it had been caught that day and giving a brief bath in a picking liquid of some kind, but was not overly strong with vinegar but was really fresh and sweet.

Second up in the fish courses was the highlight of the meal for me, “pan fried cod, roscoff onions, ragout of sweetcorn, girolle mushrooms, and lightly smoked sabayon”. This dish was so well executed that I was generally gutted when I finished it, the cod was just cooked to the point, the sweetcorn ragout out of this world, girolle mushrooms need I say more and the most delicate smoked sabayon which was a completely new idea for me.

My meat course came next which did not disappoint, “roasted breast of Gressingham duck, shallot fondant, slow cooked figs, pistachio jus”. The duck was cooked perfectly and as with all the other dishes it was perfectly seasoned, the garnish with the duck where beautiful and complemented the dish really well.

Cheese came after the duck and six choices were presented to me to chose from, I chose two chesses which where
Brillat-Savarin which is a triple cream cow’s milk cheese from Normandy, this is a cheese that I love and have had on many a cheese trolley at work and always have if its available on a cheese course whilst out.
The other was if my memories serve me was buchette d’anjou which is a raw goats milk cheese from pays de la Loire. I enjoyed my cheese plate so much and the theatre of having the basket shown and explained to me that I forgot to take a picture; they served the cheese with lovely homemade biscuit and a cumin crisp bread, stunning.
Then started the sweet courses, first up were “vanilla panacotta, blackberry puree, pear and star anise”. This was a really amazing little dessert packed full of flavours and lots of textures. It also acted as a palate cleanser for the last course.

The last course was “caramel parfait, chocolate streusel, black treacle ice cream”. After seven courses I sometimes feel jaded and ready for a long lie down but at l’autre I was still ready and willing to be feed, this dish was a great way to finish the meal, sweet but also a little bitter from the black treacle ice cream which played nicely of the caramel parfait and the chocolate streusel.

So at the end of the meal I was so happy to have found this lovely restaurant to add to a small list of places that I love and recommend to friends and colleges. I will be back very soon, a little note about what I’ve missed out. The bread was absolutely superb a selection of four types of which I tried the poppy seed and the wholemeal; it kept coming out the kitchen throughout lunch so was warm at all times a small thing but something most places over look. Also when asked to pair a wine with my main the sommelier picked a lovely merlot and at £4.90 it was amazing value which is hard to beat at this level of restaurant anywhere in the country not just London.
A top meal served by well informed but unfussy staff with incredible cooking and flawless food.
L,autre pied thank you very much.

Normal blogging will be back next time with a recipe or two, well unless I go out for lunch again.

But Remember live to eat don’t eat to live 

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Just the way it goes

So what happened in the wonderful world of mine this week, well off the subject of food I said goodbye to a good mate whose off home to marry the love of his life and enjoy the weather in sunny south Africa (good luck mate have a great wedding, me and lizzie will miss u both). Right on to the part of my life that I’m meant to be blogging about.

We have had the busiest week restaurant wise at the hotel since I started which is a massive plus, food went down well and sold a good few specials which is really cool. Using the specials a way of trying out new ideas for the ala carte menu has worked out really well. I had some amazing halibut steaks delivered for the weekend and they were so good I’m thinking about putting them on the next menu. Decided that was going to do a simple pan roasted halibut steak, buttered new potatoes & sauce vierge very very simple but when the fish is that good why hide it behind some elaborate garnish.

Thinking about going into London this week for some lunch somewhere but cant decide if it should be the Ledbury or Hibiscus, but knowing me as I’m will be going solo (missus will be working) it will probably be Arbutus the best value Michelin starred restaurant in London. If anyone has any ideas you can send me a message on twitter @chefaj82.

Right time for a recipe and its going to be Sauce vierge as its a sauce that not many home cooks will know but is a really nice sauce to use on grilled or roasted fish.

100ml good virgin olive oil, I’ve been using extra virgin English rapeseed oil which I love but up to you
2 plum tomatoes (peeled, seeded & chopped)
1 tsp shredded basil
1tsp chopped tarragon
Maldon sea salt
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbs red wine vinegar
Black pepper

Mix the tomato, salt, herbs & pepper and let sit for 15 minutes to infuse flavours into the tomato, and then add the lemon juice add vinegar. Give it a good mix and the slowly incorporate the oil.
Don’t serve this sauce to cold or the oil is to thick and the flavours dull.

I hope a few of you try this it think that you will be really pleased with the results.
Right next update in the near future having had a nice lunch somewhere up town, review and pictures to follow.

But remember live to eat don’t eat to live

Friday, 22 October 2010

A recipe at last

Well hello and welcome to the 4th edition of my blog, this week has mostly been about trying to get my head back in the game as far as the new menu is concerned and try out some of the dishes on the specials. As it happens this week’s best seller was the beef braised in London pride, root vegetables & creamed potato, really simple but it’s been so cold I think people where crying out for something rich & sumptuous. It was nice showing my young Thai commis this proper British food instead of the usual smears and drizzles that we normally do. 

Well the weekend is upon us once more so as normal that means functions and Sunday lunch to contend with but at least there is the Korean gran prix to look forward to after I finish work Sunday. So what does the next week have in store for me, well got a busy week of functions and dinners at work so at won’t get much time to play with the menu but make a few quid for the boss and maybe just maybe that thermomix I want so badly might make to my kitchen.

I know I said I was going to put some recipes up but struggling to decide which ones you guys might actually use, well here goes.

I like to use this with cold meats, terrines & cheese but it’s also really nice warm with roasted pork fillet & crushed new potatoes

Spiced apple chutney

225g onions (finely diced)
900g apples (chopped)
100g peeled deseeded tomatoes (finely chopped)
110g raisins
15g ground coriander
15g paprika
15g mixed spice
15g salt
340g caster sugar
750ml white wine vinegar

Put the sugar, vinegar, spices and salt into a pan and cook until the sugar has dissolved and started to become thick and syrupy this should take about 10 minutes on a medium heat,
Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the apple, tomatoes and raisins and cook until soft and all liquid is gone.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The difficult 3rd post

Hi it’s been a busy few days, going to the restaurant show on Monday was good fun. Got to see Claude bosi cooking demo wicked food as always, he did a pork pie sauce which is something I had never even considered but even he says it came from a mistake but then some of the best things have come that way like the tart Tatin.
A little story of a great dessert
At the Hotel Tatin Caroline Tatin (1847-1911) greeted the customers and ran the business side of the establishment.  Her older sister Stephanie Tatin (1838-1917) worked in the kitchen and her apple tart was noted for its caramel flavour and texture.  According to legend, one day in 1898 when the hotel was especially busy during the hunting season, Stephanie absent-mindedly put the peeled apple quarters, butter and sugar in the pan without first lining it with pastry. Realizing her mistake, she then put the pastry on top of the simmering apples, popped it in the oven, inverted it and served the new concoction warm.
There is no news on the new menu front yet as the owners are still away and I’m waiting on the all clear before we put it on.  Thought I might put a picture of our current smoked salmon starter which is still selling well considering its getting colder.

I still find writing this blog is a bit scary which is strange considering as chefs we put food out to be criticised every day, a sous chef when I was an apprentice said to me a kitchens only as good as its weakest member and you’re only as good as your last meal. I know they are well known old sayings but as I take my first steps as head chef, managing people and trying to keep a tight but interesting and rewarding kitchen to be in. Those sayings hit home and I hope that I can do him proud and train my guys in the informative and interesting way that I was trained.
So I’m going to take this chance to thank the guys that trained me as I don’t think I ever did this a young over confident commis

So Mr Andrew Farrow I thank you and Mr Gary Thompson I thank you too

                    But remember live to eat don’t eat to live

Saturday, 9 October 2010

2nd post

Well what can I say about the past few days apart from I’m glad there over, firstly it’s been a long but quiet week at work but next week is looking really good so shall enjoy the hours a bit more, secondly one of my chefs decided to pack his bags last night and leg it in the middle of the night dropping me right in it this weekend but play the hand your dealt and will raise not fold this hand.

On more interesting news the new menu is coming along nicely been trying dishes out to gain peoples reactions and so far so good (pics to follow). Spent a few hours today making profiteroles for Sunday lunch tomorrow, I know all the gourmets out there will stick their noses up but there is nothing more relaxing for me anyway than making a few profiteroles or éclairs.

So looking towards next week I’ve got another six day week at work but hey ho more importantly Monday is the start of this year’s restaurant show. Ticket in hand will be off to earls court on Monday to see some of the demos, watch a little of the chef of the year competition good luck to all those that made the final, hopefully meet some people and maybe buy some little bits for work.

But remember live to eat don’t eat to live

Thursday, 7 October 2010

first post

well today i decieded to join the millions of people already blogging about there lives. 

well first off my name is alex and im a chef living and working in surrey, i love what i do but sometimes wish it gave me more time for other things(im sure most chefs feel that way). im going to use this blog as a way to discuss various things but mostly food, recipes and restaurants so please follow and get involed. 

today has been my day for sitting around trying to come up with menu ideas for my upcoming new menu and trying to chosethings i love to cook and eat but also stuff that our custourmers want to eat, as its there money and sometime i think we chefs forget that, they vote with there wallets and there feet therefore im trying to work out what to give them but stay true to the way i was trained and feel about food.
It has been an intersting day as i have relised its not the expensive foods i used to cook with at other jobs that i really love it seems to be the more inexpensive food that i truley love and order when out or pick up at markets. so have i got the balance right only time will tell but i will keep you updated with progres and put some recipes/pics up to.

but remember live to eat dont eat to live