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