Focaccia

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Focaccia recipe is up there with my all time favourite breads. Light and airy yet simple to make there are so many flavour combinations you can use to enhance this loaf. Here I’ve gone traditional with rosemary and crunchy rock salt which works perfectly with Focaccia.

Focaccia
Yields 2
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
2 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
2 hr
Ingredients
  1. 500g Strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
  2. 7g Dried yeast
  3. 300ml Warm water
  4. 1 tsp Fine salt
  5. 2 tbsp Olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  6. 2-3 Sprigs rosemary, needles picked
  7. Pinch of sea salt crystals
Instructions
  1. Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other. Pour in the water and olive oil and mix to form a rough dough. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil onto a work surface and knead the dough for 5-10 minutes until smooth. If the dough is sticky and difficult to work with, add a light dusting of flour to bring the dough together.
  2. Place the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Put in a warm place for an hour or until the dough doubles in size.
  3. Preheat the oven to 220C. Dust an ovenproof baking tray with flour.
  4. Remove the cling film and place the dough onto the tray, handling gently to keep the air within. Stretch the dough out to reach all the corners of the tray. Drizzle a little olive oil over the dough and press your finger tips into the dough to create dimples. Cover the tray loosely with cling film and leave to rise again for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the cling film and sprinkle over the rosemary and salt crystals. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. The Focaccia should be golden brown and give a hollow sound when tapped at the base. Leave to cool completely and serve with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dip.
Artisan Traveller https://www.artisantraveller.com/

Puff Pastry Apple Tart with Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

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A bit of France meets South America in this instance. Thinly sliced apples are caramelised on top of a puff pastry disc and topped with a ball of dulce de leche ice cream. It’s an easy dessert to prepare, you could always substitute the ice cream for shop-bought dulce de leche or good quality vanilla ice cream.

 

Puff Pastry Apple Tart with Dulce de Leche Ice Cream
Serves 2
Print
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 Granny smith apples, peeled, cored and finely sliced on a mandolin
  2. 25g Unsalted butter
  3. 375g Puff pastry, ready made
  4. Icing sugar, for dusting
Dulce de leche ice cream
  1. 400g Dulce de leche
  2. 300ml Whole milk
  3. Pinch of salt
  4. 100g 70% Dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  5. 1 tbsp Vegetable oil
Ice Cream
  1. For the ice cream, combine the milk and dulce de leche in a bowl. Whisk until smooth and add a pinch of salt. Churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions.
  2. Melt the chocolate pieces in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water or in a microwave. Add the vegetable oil and stir. Just before the ice cream finishes churning, take a spoon and dip into the chocolate. Allow the chocolate to drip into the ice cream giving a chocolate chip effect. Decant the ice cream into an airtight container and store in the freezer.
Apple Tart
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Lay a sheet of non-stick baking parchment on an ovenproof baking tray. Roll out the pastry to a thickness of 5mm and cut out two circles using a saucer or cutter around 20cm in diameter. Prick the pastry using a fork to prevent it from rising and lay the apple slices on top in a decorative fan shape, overlapping as you go.
  3. Dust the tarts with icing sugar and dot a little butter around the top. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Dust the tarts with a little more icing sugar and using a blow torch or hot grill, caramelise the sugar to give a golden caramel appearance. Serve the tarts warm with a ball of the dulce de leche ice cream in the centre.
Artisan Traveller https://www.artisantraveller.com/

Oddies Foodies Hong Kong Egglets

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Feeling fit? We’re off to Gough street situated on the upper levels of central Hong Kong. We could have used the mid-escalators to take the easy route up but that’s just admitting defeat. Climbing the steep flights of stairs from Queen’s Road Central lead us to our mid-morning snack location, Oddies.

Oddies Hong Kong Egglets

Oddies is a gelato bar which specialises in egglets. The traditional pancake of Hong Kong, kind of like edible bubble wrap in appearance. We arrived early on location and decided to amuse ourselves by checking out the ridiculous line for Kau Kee restaurant. People were going mad for this place that serves Chinese noodle dishes, perhaps most notably brisket noodles. Tourists were even lining up with their suitcases which was odd bearing in mind the place is shared table shoulder to shoulder type dining.

Oddies Hong Kong Egglets Oddies Hong Kong Egglets

The line almost stretched back to where we were outside Oddies. Fortunately the doors opened and we walked into a bright white bar-type place with a simple counter and bar seating. Having consulted the menu outside we settled on the large size Night Wolf consisting of chocolate and caramel ice cream and an apple and cinnamon version with salted caramel and raisins. Both large pots came in at $85HKD (£8.50).

The service was friendly and English was spoken but there was only one lady seemingly running the entire shop when we walked in. Lucky we got our order in first as she disappeared into the back and left the next group of American tourists wondering if anyone was around. We took our seats on the bar stools and awaited the much talked about ice cream indulgence.

One slight criticism of the place has to be the volume of the music within the shop, even too loud for the Americans who got theirs to go. Down to personal preference of course but if a relaxing, quiet gelato experience is your thing then maybe don’t eat in.

Our pots of ice cream and egglets arrived and large really did mean just that. These were huge. However, they were very very tasty. The Night Wolf is one of the most popular across the range of around 6 different flavour combinations. The rich chocolate ice cream and pieces of brownie were fantastic along with the large egglet waffle. Everything went together and featured ice cream of high quality.

Oddies Hong Kong Egglets Oddies Hong Kong Egglets

The favourite though had to be the apple and cinnamon egglet. It was like delving into apple pie and ice cream with a hit of salted caramel and fruit from the raisins. The egglets had a pistachio flavour to them which completed a very good, rich ice cream dessert. Excellent flavour and well thought out.

Oddies Hong Kong Egglets

Oddies is a casual place that serves very good ice cream. We would recommend that if you are looking for a place to try the famous egglets of Hong Kong then look in the direction of Oddies. Really high quality ice cream with spot on flavour combinations, what’s not to like?

Opening Times: Daily 1230-2230

Nearest Metro: Central

Chocolab So Sofitel Bangkok

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Sitting in a corner just beyond the reception area of the So Sofitel,Bangkok is a small chillout spot with chocolatiers working away behind a glass screen. This is Chocolab, a dessert bar and one that’s beginning to put its stamp on Bangkok’s food scene. Popular Bangkok blogger Mark Wiens paid a visit not long before our trip and loved it so being guests in the hotel, we had to try it.

Chocolab So Sofitel Bangkok

Chocolab So Sofitel Bangkok

Chocolab So Sofitel Bangkok

On our visit and throughout the duration of our stay Chocolab wasn’t particularly busy. With the wealth of food choices in the city that’s perhaps understandable or maybe there’s a dedicated ‘dessert time’? Either way we got a seat no problem and as always in Thailand, the service comes with a smile.

The menu reads like a magazine dedicated to their finest works in both chocolate and cakes with some savoury options such as paninis.We opted for a chocoburger at 250 Baht (£5.65) and a chocolab cracking ball at 350 Baht (£7.91) along with a couple of frappes, one vanilla and one passionfruit. Both at 180 Baht (£4.06).

It’s definitely the kind of place to treat like a starbucks. Take a laptop, order a coffee and take advantage of the free wifi whilst eating something sweet. Lucky for us we didn’t have laptops with us as the chocoburger landed on the table…and it was huge! A round wedges of caramelised brioche, similar to french toast topped with a chocolate fondant, tempered chocolate dome filled with ice cream and surrounded by whipped cream and caramel. The sphere soon followed complete with an edible chocolate hammer on a beautiful stone plate.

Chocolab So Sofitel Bangkok Chocolab So Sofitel Bangkok

The sphere was a lot of fun. Picking up the hammer to crack your way into the dome unveiling the ice cream and raspberry inside makes for an exciting start. The flavours though are very well judged. The freshness of the fruit tones down the richness of the ice cream, chocolate and caramel perfectly. It’s a decent size as well in comparison to the burger.

Speaking of the burger it’s the kind of dessert that sets you well on the road to diabetes. All things good are on this plate, like a who’s who of favourite dessert components, brioche tick, chocolate tick, fondant tick. All together? Not for one person, it’s simply too much and too rich. We ended up sharing the ‘burger’ as it was just sugar overload. I could feel my teeth dissolving as the bites went down but it really is an indulgence with the stand out element undoubtedly the brioche. We must do that sometime back at home.

Chocolab So Sofitel Bangkok

The drinks, which we somehow found room for, are very good also. Almost ice cream like in texture and the flavours stand out. The passion fruit frappe was a little sickly after a while but the vanilla you really could drink all day, much lighter by comparison.

Chocolab So Sofitel Bangkok

The total bill came to 960 Baht (£21.70) and given that this is high class chocolate in a smart setting that’s good value wherever you come from. The chocolab also offer classes on dessert making with sessions in the morning and afternoons costing 800 Baht (£18) per person and covering two recipes a time across a two hour session.

Chocolab So Sofitel Bangkok

We really enjoyed chocolab and whenever we next appear in Bangkok we will definitely drop by for our sweet fix. If a chilled out dessert experience in a classy setting is your thing then chocolab fits the bill.There’s even an ice cream bar outside to cool you down on those sweaty Bangkok days. For burgers though, we’ll stick to Mcdonalds…

Metro: Lumphini

Opening times: Daily 7am-8pm

Halloumi Fries

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We recently visited Oli Baba’s, part of the street food elite based at Camden Lock. They specialise in halloumi fries dressed with spices, yogurt dressing and finished with pomegranate. This is a nod to the guys at Oli baba’s with our version which is quick and easy to make and might save you a tube fair.

Halloumi Fries
Serves 2
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
3 min
Total Time
13 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
3 min
Total Time
13 min
Ingredients
  1. 250g Halloumi
  2. 75g Plain Flour
  3. 2 tbsp Zaatar
  4. 3 tbsp Natural Yogurt
  5. Pomegranate Molasses, to drizzle
  6. 1 tbsp Pomegranate seeds
  7. 1 tbsp Fresh Mint, chopped, plus 1 small sprig
  8. Vegetable oil, for shallow frying
Instructions
  1. Add the flour and zaatar into a large bowl and add a generous pinch of salt. Mix well.Cut the halloumi lengthways into fries around 2cm thick. Toss the fries in the flour mixture and set aside.
  2. Pour enough oil to come halfway up a deep frying pan and heat until around 180C. Once hot, dust the excess flour off the fries and add to the oil. Cook for 2-3mins until golden and crispy. Drain the fries on kitchen paper.
  3. In a bowl, mix together the yogurt and add a little water bit by bit until a loose dressing consistency is achieved. Drizzle a little of this over the fries and top with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses, seeds and the chopped mint. Garnish with the remaining mint sprig and serve.
Artisan Traveller https://www.artisantraveller.com/

Tim Ho Wan

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Tim Ho Wan Michel Star IFC Mall Hong Kong

“It’s got to be down here” “but this isn’t the IFC mall” “the man definitely said down the third escalator and to the right didn’t he?”. Finding Tim Ho Wan was undoubtedly a challenge. It would appear that we are not alone as tourists in search of some of Hong Kong’s best dim sum have taken to review sites in frustration at the task of finding the restaurant. The best part is that technically it’s not even in the IFC mall itself! Head down the escalators in the direction of central metro station from within the IFC mall and there are a small collection of restaurants just before the ticket barriers. One of which is Tim Ho Wan.

Tim Ho Wan Michel Star IFC Mall Hong Kong

Normally there would be a queue of people eagerly waiting for a seat at this branch of the world’s cheapest Michelin star restaurant where at the flagship site in Mong Kok people would wait in line for up to three hours. Madness. Thankfully we didn’t even top three seconds as we were shown to a large communal table to nestle in between our new neighbours. It’s very snug at Tim Ho Wan so if you’re hoping for a candlelit dim sum experience for that special occasion this ain’t it.

The menu is like a betting slip, choices listed in both Chinese and English complete with a pencil for marking off what takes your fancy. Tim Ho Wan is famous for pork buns, not the steamed type you find at most dim sum places, these bad boys are baked. Near enough everyone who comes here will include pork buns on their order and deciding not to buck the trend we did just that along with some siu mai pork and prawn dumplings and char siu pork rice noodle rolls.

Tim Ho Wan Michel Star IFC Mall Hong Kong

As soon as the order went away our bill arrived and the figure was quite amazing. Just $107 HKD (£10.70) inclusive of two soft drinks. It’s at this point that they could miss the filling out of the bun and I feel that would still be value for money. Fortunately the buns were filled and came in a set of three with the idea possibly being that you fight over the last one.

These baked buns were delicious, really light with a sugar crust and a slightly sweet pork filling. Almost a take on a filled pineapple bun, native of course to Hong Kong.The noodle rolls that followed were really good as well with a slightly smokier taste of barbecue pork. Siu Mai dumplings were deceptively packed with prawn giving a meaty texture and flavour burst that doesn’t seem possible through the process of steaming.

Tim Ho Wan Michel Star IFC Mall Hong Kong

Our close quarter seating arrangements though were a bit of an irritation. Trying to pick up slippery food with chopsticks while sat on a primary school chair was a challenge in itself but to do it in a confined space upped the ante. The lingering threat of a chopstick in the eye was very real throughout.

Tim Ho Wan Michel Star IFC Mall Hong Kong

Thankfully the meal ended quickly due to the food being delicious and the need to get out from the table while no one sat behind me.  The bill in hand we approached a rather miserable cashier who threw my change back at me as if I was a fountain in a shopping centre.

Still another Michelin star place done and I was beginning to suss the way Michelin rate their places in Hong Kong. It’s definitely all about the food as Tim Ho Wan’s unquestionably is right up there with the best at what they do. The service also, up until the cashier, was decent and friendly with value for money a big plus. The conditions however leave a lot to be desired. If you wish to train in advance of a meal here try locking yourself in a broom cupboard with your dinner and a pair of chopsticks for company. Tim Ho Wan might just be the best dim sum in Hong Kong, provided you can find it that is…

Opening Hours: Daily 9am-9pm

Metro: Central

Chuen Moon Kee

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Chuen-Moon-Kee-Hong-Kong-Mongkok

Claypot rice was on our hit list during the Hong Kong trip and a couple of places stood out that specialise in it. Four Seasons Claypot rice and Hing Kee are both in Mong Kok and both have had great exposure on blogs and across social media. Looking at the recent reviews and prices of the two places plus the chances of standing in line for a while didn’t fill us with hope. Instead we went on a hidden gem search for quality clay pot rice that wouldn’t break the bank.

Chuen-Moon-Kee-Hong-Kong-Mongkok Claypot restaurant

Step forward Chuen Moon Kee conveniently located beside our hotel at the Cordis in Mong Kok and with a handful of reviews praising the quality of their claypot rice. We made our way out of our door and through theirs and it didn’t take them long to win us over, they gave us a booth! A whole booth and table to ourselves, such a luxury in Hong Kong.

Chuen Moon Kee kept on racking up the points. The husband and wife team who own the place both spoke decent English and were very friendly and accommodating, offering English menu’s and a free starter of a soup made from pork bones. “This will make you strong and healthy” declared the lady. It tasted decent I must say.

Chuen-Moon-Kee-Hong-Kong-Mongkok Claypot restaurant

We ordered three dishes, sweet and sour pork (has to be done), stir fried pork ribs with garlic and chilli along with the famous clay pot rice. We decided to go traditional and have the claypot with chicken and Chinese sausage but the variety was decent if you fancy something different. Mainly based around meat and seafood.

Most of the people in the restaurant appeared to be locals which is always a promising sign and many of them had also opted for the clay pot’s. As we got stuck into the sweet and sour pork it was more of a taste of home as versions both in Hong Kong and the U.K are virtually identical. The ribs were encrusted with a mixture of garlic, chilli and spring onions with the texture of breadcrumbs. The kind of coating used on chilli crab on Hong Kong island. Fiery yet very tasty.

Chuen-Moon-Kee-Hong-Kong-Mongkok Claypot restaurant

Chuen-Moon-Kee-Hong-Kong-Mongkok Claypot restaurant

The star of the show arrived at our table.  A clay pot full of steaming fragrant rice, chicken and sausage with a side of steamed chinese leaf greens. At this point the husband came over and opened the lid, poured a little soy sauce over the rice and divided it into two bowls. He then added “I’ll be back in 10 minutes” leaving us wondering. True to his word back he came armed with a spoon. Somehow managing to prise the entire crust off the base and sides of the pan in one fluid movement to resemble some sort of rice basket. Incredible. “That’s the best part” his wife leaned in to tell us.

The rice was delicious. Perfectly cooked and just the right amount of seasoning. The chicken had been left on the bone and added immense flavour to the dish. Chinese sausage has a certain sweet fermented flavour about it which was a worthy addition, it’s a real classic. The crust though was excellent with a toasted flavour, not charred as we had seen while walking past a few of the pot washes on Temple Street.

Chuen-Moon-Kee-Hong-Kong-Mongkok Claypot restaurant Chuen-Moon-Kee-Hong-Kong-Mongkok Claypot restaurant

We were stuffed by this point and thoughts turned to just how much we had actually spent. Well the good news is that all this came to a modest $250 HKD (£25) for two which is tremendous value for what was a great meal. We thanked the husband and wife duo and had a brief chat about where we were from and where we were heading next on our tour.

Location wise Chuen Moon Kee is easy to reach by metro from Mong Kok station and is close to the Canton Road street market where more cheap eats can be found from roast meat shops and fresh food vendors. If friendly service and delicious clay pot rice is what you are after then as far as we’re concerned look no further.

Opening hours: Daily 7am-11pm

Metro: Mong Kok (Exit E – Langham Place)

Yat Lok – Roast Goose Restaurant

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Yat Lok Michelin Star Roast Goose Central Hong Kong

“It’s all about the goose” said Anthony Bourdain on a visit to Yat Lok restaurant. He’s right, it really is.

Walking up an ever increasing gradient on Stanley Street in a part of Hong Kong that just begins to get hilly sits Yat Lok. A small, unassuming place that if you hadn’t read about it you would walk straight past it. Amongst the chinese written menu’s and information stands a sticker ‘Michelin Guide 2015’ and a star next to it. Yes that’s right, this humble roast meat shop is the proud owner of one Michelin star.

Yat Lok Michelin Star Roast Goose Central Hong Kong

Pleasantly, the staff speak a decent degree of English and were smiling. Something that had been criticised in many reviews of this restaurant citing poor service and a desperation to kick you out of the door before having finished your last bite. We found the staff to be friendly and welcoming into their small restaurant and believe me, it’s tiny!

Seating is at a premium during peak hours but spaces were free during our visit just before the busy lunch rush. Sitting down on a tiny seat at a shared table, something very common in Hong Kong, we looked over the menu which comes in both English and Chinese. Eyeing up the roasted geese behind the counter it was a no-brainer for what to go for. One half goose please!

Yat Lok Michelin Star Roast Goose Central Hong Kong

The clientele here were mostly tourists, to be expected really given the exposure that this place has had across social media and review sites due to its fame. The goose arrived accompanied by two little dishes of plum sauce with skin resembling glass and the scent of roasted spices. No fancy filleting needed as the chefs in the back just smash through the carcass, bones ‘n’ all.

The goose had me at the first bite, wow. What a flavour and yes it’s all about the skin. Some pieces even are just skin but what meat there is tastes succulent and melts in the mouth, it’s very very good. The advantage of having a half goose is that you get both the leg and the breast so it’s a real chance to sample the best of everything. For me the skin on the breast was phenomenal but the flavour of the leg meat was perfect so the half goose was definitely the way to go.

One thing to bear in mind is that the dish gets incredibly rich after a while. As well as being addictive with the plum sauce,meat and skin providing a taste of heaven there is a lot of it. I would advise coming before lunchtime, around 11am or after the rush around 2pm to enjoy the food here and the space on your table.

The bill arrived at $314 HKD (£31.49) for half a goose and two drinks. The half goose was probably the second or third most expensive item on the menu but there are drumstick portions with rice for $88 HKD (£8.80) with soft drinks coming in at $18 HKD (£1.80). Simply take your bill to the cashier by the exit to pay.

Yat Lok Michelin Star Roast Goose Central Hong Kong

Does Yat Lok deserve a Michelin star? There’s no doubt that the food is very good here but is it a Michelin standard setting? Not for me. Saying that it should be on your to-do list for eating in Hong Kong with the location being ideal for central station and the goose tasting damn good.

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 10am-9pm
                         Sunday 10am-5.30pm

Metro: Central

Floyd on France – Whole Duck Terrine

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floyd on france

I recently purchased another of Keith Floyd’s top ranked works, ‘Floyd on France’. This edition, much like ‘Floyd on Italy’ cost more to post it to me than I paid to purchase. I was a little surprised when it landed on the doormat to discover that i’d ordered a paperback edition without pictures. This didn’t detract from what is a fantastic book on classic French cuisine with many dishes from the series of the same name that can be found on YouTube for your viewing pleasure. This also makes up for the lack of pictures.

I must confess that I have already made a couple of things from this book but sadly didn’t photograph them. Needless to say I will be making them again and photo’s will follow. The two dishes were the Piperade, during the making of which famously Keith gets schooled by an elderly Basque native who slates his attempt before she produces a flawless one, having re-created it I can honestly say it was delicious. Chicken with apples was the other dish and definitely ranks as more of a West Country style dish but apparently its native of Normandy. Either way it’s tasty.

So today’s attempt is no mean feat. A whole duck terrine which is encased in the duck’s actual skin, crikey! Michel Roux Jr can take a whole duck off it’s bones making the process look relatively straightforward, I guess that’s what 40 odd years in top level catering will do for you. Me on the other hand, I’ve butchered duck before but never in this way. Gradually teasing the skin away from the flesh being careful not to pierce it was a mission, the legs and wings are a nightmare. 30 minutes and one cut finger later though I had the skin off in one piece (kind of) and the meat removed.

whole-duck-terrine-floyd-on-france

whole-duck-terrine-floyd-on-france

The breast meat then gets sliced into strips and placed into a bowl with a glass of brandy. As I had Calvedos knocking around I used that. I also placed the skin in with the fillets to take on the flavour of the brandy.

The next job is to make a duck stock from the bones and a few herbs and vegetables. I added a touch of olive oil to a large stockpot and then roasted the duck bones before adding diced carrot, onion and a homemade bouquet garni consisting of thyme, parsley and bay leaf wrapped in a sheet of leek and tied with string. Much better than the ones you find dried in packets. The smell at this point was amazing. I left the stock to simmer for an hour.

floyd on france duck terrine

floyd on france duck terrine

While the stock was bubbling away I made a start on prepping the meat. 600g of mixed smoked bacon and pork belly had to be chopped into fine cubes but fortunately I had got smoked bacon lardons so half the work was done. I’d definitely recommend a sharp knife and a lot of patience for this task.

floyd on france duck terrine

floyd on france duck terrine

I reduced the stock to 150ml as instructed and it tasted delicious, seriously they should start selling this in my local supermarket, they’d make a killing. I then drained the brandy marinade into the stock and added a little salt and pepper before leaving to cool. We’re almost there people!

After shelling some pistachios I finely diced the marinated fillet meat and added it all to the pork and bacon mix. Adding in an egg, reduction, pistachios and good helping of extra seasoning the stuffing was ready to go.

floyd on france duck terrine

floyd on france duck terrine

The next part amazed me. I never thought by looking at the duck skin that I would ever have enough to line the terrine. I bashed out the skin, which was thick in parts, to give me more surface area.I draped the skin in long pieces into the terrine and things were looking good. Adding the duck mix and then draping the skin over I was stunned, this actually looks like it’s going to work….

Floyd doesn’t instruct the bain-marie method but whenever i’ve used it it’s given me an even cook so I placed the terrine into the water-filled roasting tray to bake for 2 hours. One problem during the cooking time was that the skin at the top parted and exposed the filling, nevertheless I carried on until the terrine was cooked.

DUCK-TERRINE-FLOYD-ON-FRANCE

DUCK-TERRINE-FLOYD-ON-FRANCE

DUCK-TERRINE-FLOYD-ON-FRANCE

The only remaining process is to let the terrine cool and weigh the top down with the heaviest rectangular object that you can lay your hands on. In my case, this was a house brick wrapped in foil. Very effective!

After leaving the terrine in the fridge overnight the time came to unmold the terrine and slice ready to serve. The terrine gave some resistance before running a knife around and gradually easing it from the base of the dish. I was quite impressed with the shape particularly once the uneven edges were trimmed, the duck skin had rendered to become tight to the filling and a layer of meat jelly had formed on the top.

duck-terrine-floyd-on-france

duck-terrine-floyd-on-france

Slicing into the terrine revealed a decent mosaic two-thirds of the way down but where the skin had parted the meat was slightly loose, again though, this could be trimmed. I finished the terrine by brushing with a little olive and truffle oil and garnished the plate with dressed salad leaves

duck-terrine-floyd-on-france

The seasoning for the dish is critical and in hindsight I would have added more. Flavour-wise the terrine was decent but the texture was a little dry. Making it though was a real experience and a rewarding moment when you slice into the terrine and your hard work is revealed. It’s an involved dish but a good one if you’re cooking for a large group.

Floyd on France is available to purchase from Amazon
 

Quay: Jerusalem Artichoke with Toma Della Roca and Rosemary Flowers

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jerusalem artichoke

Peter Gilmore’s stunning book from his Sydney restaurant, Quay, made a reappearance this week as I came across Jerusalem artichokes while out and about. I searched frantically through my collection to find a recipe to do them justice. Fortunately this is a far simpler recipe than I’m used to when it comes to Gilmore’s cooking with artichokes stuffed with Toma Della Roca cheese simply finished with toasted almonds, pine nuts, sunflower seeds and a rosemary foam, an exciting sounding vegetarian starter.

Toma Della Roca unfortunately is a tricky cheese to get hold of. Made in the Piedmont area and seemingly only available from that region at £20 per 250g. In the interest of money saving without compromising on quality I opted for a cornish goats cheese. It is deliciously soft and with similar flavour characteristics to Toma Della Roca.

rosemaryI placed the artichokes in a steamer to cook for 15-20 minutes as they were quite large. After steaming there’s virtually no chance of oxidisation so take your time peeling the skin away. Most of the skin simply pulled away leaving a white artichoke similar to a ratte potato in appearance. I cut the artichokes into bite-sized pieces and heated a pan of olive oil ready for shallow frying.

Frying the artichokes results in a beautiful golden appearance. At this point though the artichokes were still slightly underdone in the centre. I placed the pieces into a hot oven wrapped in foil to steam through.

jerusalem artichokeMeanwhile almonds and pine nuts sizzled away in clarified butter, I didn’t bother with the sunflower seeds.

almonds and pine nutsThe rosemary foam is basically a vegetable stock infused with rosemary and blended with lecite powder helping to achieve a stable foam creating both a visual aspect and a light flavour to compliment the cheese and nut combination. I had run out of lecite powder so decided to add a little double cream to the stock and placed it in a foam gun.

After making slits in each artichoke and inserting a slice of cheese the dish was good to go…

goats cheese

quay jerusalem artichokeI had a moment of panic as my foam decided not to alter from a liquid state so in the end I had to place it in a pan and foam it up just enough with a hand blender to hold for the final dish. The artichokes and nuts complete the dish.

jerusalem artichoke quay

It’s a simple plate of food but striking in presentation. I loved the flavours completely. Rosemary, goats cheese and artichoke go perfectly together with the nuts adding texture and richness. Simple it may be but it’s an enjoyable starter using quality ingredients.

Quay by Peter Gilmore is available to purchase here.

Floyd on France – Chicken with Prawns

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floyd on france - chicken with prawns

Flicking open Floyd on France again is becoming easy, there’s so many great and simple recipes from the classic background of French cooking. This version is a loose approximation of a dish of Chicken and Crayfish prepared by a grumpy chef in the Perigord region to which Keith and director David Pritchard did a humorous running commentary as the chef prepared the dish. The food itself looks pretty good even for the 80’s and the recipe in the book reads very similarly other than prawns being used instead of crayfish.

 I began by preparing the chicken, breaking down the bird into breasts, legs, thighs and drums. Not a problem thus far apart from another cut finger, be careful with knives children! Sautéing the pieces in butter and a little olive oil to brown the skin gives the chicken a lovely colour and adds flavour. The chicken then goes into the oven to cook through.

floyd on france - chicken with prawns

chicken floyd on france

The focus then shifts onto the sauce. Savouring the fragrant scent of prawn heads and shells sizzling in hot oil was a joy and then increasing the scent and flavour by adding carrots, onions and white wine reducing until almost evaporated. I then added a combination of chicken stock and heavy veal stock (in an attempt to replicate the chef’s demi-glace or fumet) and finally a fresh bouquet garni and diced fresh tomato.

floyd on france chicken with prawns

prawns floyd on france

I then poured the sauce over the chicken and left the chicken to cook through for a further 5-10 minutes before straining the sauce through a sieve.

To finish the dish I added a knob of butter to the slightly more reduced sauce and seasoned a little. I then added the prawns into the sauce to heat through before pouring over the chicken and garnishing with the tarragon. I have to say this looked inviting……

chicken and prawns floyd on france

The dish is amazing, such a strange way the two powerful flavours of shellfish and meat come together in the sauce. The fresh tarragon really completes this, far from just a visual garnish there’s the freshness and flavour that ties the whole dish together. Along with perfectly cooked chicken it’s a cracking dish.

Floyd on France is available from Amazon

Le Champignon Sauvage Dessert : Tanzanian Chocolate Ganache with White Chocolate Mousse

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le champignon sauvage dessert

Le Champignon Sauvage, based in Cheltenham, is a restaurant that I’ve been meaning to visit for some time. What with holidays, cooking and life in general it just hasn’t happened yet but luckily David Everitt-Matthias’s book on dessert from the restaurant has slipped into my collection with ease.

It’s a beautiful array of recipes from a chef with no formal pastry training who has collected awards for exactly that, along with two Michelin stars for the restaurant. What makes David’s cooking different seems to be his love for combining foraged ingredients with classic recipes. Throughout the book there are sections of pretty regular desserts, tarts, cakes etc but then sections using vegetables, roots, pods, seed’s and bark and also wild ingredients. It certainly feeds the mind and the imagination.

I decided to stay relatively safe and opt for a chocolate dessert striking in appearance and light on ingredients. Tanzanian chocolate wasn’t available so I went for Dominican for the ganache element of the dish sticking with 62% Ghanaian chocolate for the chocolate triangles which sandwich the ganache before finishing with a white chocolate mousse.

white chocolate le champignon sauvage dessert

The mousse is the first job as ideally it needs to set overnight. White chocolate ( a lot of it,half a kilo to be precise) is melted and then mixed with a sabayon of egg yolks and sugar and finally cream and double cream. White chocolate is a pain in the arse in general for seizing and giving you a heart attack thinking of how much money you’ve spent to get this far but fortunately once the cream was added it slackened off a bit but was by no means perfect. Gelatine is also part of the mix which helps the texture somewhat. I was considering halving the recipe but it’s tricky with the quantities with the downside being you end up with a hell of a lot of mousse.

With the mousse chilling, day two began with the hunt for acetate sheets. I have ordered these previously from online suppliers but it’s far easier to nip down to your local stationers and pick up some plastic covering which is the same stuff for a much cheaper price. Onto these sheets you smear over a combo of melted chocolate and walnut oil, the mix of which looked too loose to begin with but set in no time, don’t be scared to do a slightly thicker layer as the chocolate isn’t as strong as the tempered stuff.

chocolate le champignon sauvage

chocolate le champignon sauvage

chocolate triangles le champignon sauvage

Once the chocolate set firm I set about cutting out triangles. Using a sharp knife I scored out a few equilateral triangles and carefully prised them away from the sheet with the acetate still on to stop them sticking in the airtight container. This wasn’t easy but gradually you get into a rhythm.

Finally it’s the turn of the all-important ganache. A simple case of chucking hot cream and butter over a bowl of chopped chocolate which then gets mixed to become a smooth chocolate cream, delicious. The ganache only needs 10 minutes in the fridge to firm enough to pipe onto the triangles once you begin the assembly.

 

chocolate cream le champignon sauvage

chocolate le champignon sauvage dessert

I painted a swipe of ganache on the serving plates as the mix came together while still fairly liquid to create a striking decoration. Immediately I placed a base triangle on the ganache which held it in place once it set. Beating the chilled ganache before piping helps the texture no end which guarantees that your tower will stay standing.

ganache

I was delighted to actually achieve a one-handed quenelle of mousse by dipping a spoon into hot water and using a forward-backward motion with the spoon, excitement was building as the elements came together….

Nervously piping the ganache on in mounds rather than lines seemed a better idea and gave a better finish. Delicately placing the quenelle and final chocolate decoration on the top was a joyous moment after all the disappointments of the past with chocolate, a stunning plate was the reward…

Tanzanian Chocolate Ganache

The dish is striking and almost seems a shame to stick a spoon through it but after a brief hesitation I went for it. It’s quite handy that it’s a small plate of food because it’s incredibly rich. The mousse and varying cocoa contents of the chocolate provide interesting flavour but for me the dessert lacked something cold or acidic, maybe yoghurt sorbet or something. Otherwise it’s pure heaven for any chocoholic.

Le Champignon Sauvage: Dessert is available to purchase from Amazon.