Adriano Zumbo – that is all

Today I plan on making my first attempt at macarons using Adriano Zumbo’s recipe from this book:

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I was introduced to the sheer brilliance of Adriano when fostering an addiction to Australian Masterchef. Having since purchased the above, magical, brightly coloured book, I have flicked through and it’s an education.

There are a bewildering number of ingredients, I’ve not heard of nor do I know where to buy them.

Still, I feel a determination to attempt everything in the book. And today is the start; probably with the simplest recipe in the book.

Check back for a post on the success or failure of the macarons soon.

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White wine, saffron and cardamom poached pears

We cooked this dessert at an Ottolenghi course at The Leith School of Food and Wine and it was cracking and easy as well. It rocks my world.

Ingredients:

  • 4 firm pears, peeled and kept whole
  • 700ml white wine or in other words one bottle
  • 12 cardamon pods
  • 150g caster sugar
  • Pinch saffron
  • 2 tbsps lemon juice
  • Yogurt or creme fraiche to serve

Recipe:

  1. Add the wine, caster sugar, cardamon, saffron and lemon juice to a saucepan. Dissolve sugar and simmer.
  2. Have a circle of parchment paper cut out just a little bit bigger than the circumference of the saucepan. We crumpled the paper and ran it under the tap, that’s what Ottolenghi told us to do and it works because you can push the paper down around the pears when they’re cooking.
  3. When the liquid is simmering, add the pears (ensuring they are fully submerged – add a bit of water if they aren’t) and put the cartouche over the pears to help keep them under the liqueur.
  4. Simmer the pears for 15 – 20 minutes or until you can push a butter knife easily into the flesh.
  5. When the pears are cooked, remove and put into the dish you want to serve in. Keep the leftover liquid in the saucepan and start to reduce.
  6. When it’s reduced by about a third – it’ll look noticeably thicker – it’s ready to use.

Serve the pear with a good helping of the liquid sauce and add a good dollop of creme fraiche or yogurt.

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And these are the ones we made it with Ottolenghi

Wet garlic pasta with spinach sauce

We finally christened the pasta machine and now there’s no going back. Aside from a small mishap with over-cooking the egg yolk ravioli (and boiled yolks weren’t too bad) it’s been a successful endeavour.

And now for what you’re really here for:

(Enough for 3 dinners and leftovers for lunch)

For the pasta:

  • Handful of the green stalks from a bunch of wet garlic (about 100g)
  • 250g white pasta flour
  • 2 eggs
  • Tbsp olive oil
  • Pinch salt

For the sauce:

  • 300g spinach
  • Little double cream or whatever cream you have to hand
  • Lemon juice
  • Vegetable stock

Instructions:

  1. Blend the eggs, olive oil and green garlic stalks together. If you don’t have a blender, you could chop the garlic stalks really finely and whisk together – just make sure the garlic is almost minced.
  2. Sieve the flour into a bowl and make a well in the middle, pour the egg/oil/garlic mixture into the middle and begin to work together until it starts to form a ball of dough.
  3. Clear down a work surface so it’s clean enough to work from. Make sure it’s dry and then flour and turn the dough out.
  4. Work the dough until smooth and springs back to the touch, cling film and leave in the fridge to rest for around 30 minutes.
  5. After it’s rested, get it out of the fridge and let it return to room temperature. Set up your pasta machine and prepare for fun.
  6. Either divide up the dough evenly, or just break off a chunk of dough at your whim and start to pass it through the machine set at the thickest setting.
  7. Continue working through the machine reducing the thickness each time – we went to the second thinness setting on our machine.
  8. Then we added the machine part for cutting the pasta in order to make the linguini. Pass the sheets of pasta through the cutter and flour and layout carefully so they don’t stick together. What we realised is that the wet garlic needs to be cut really fine, otherwise it’s hard to get it to cut cleanly through the machine.
  9. Once you have enough for your meal, pop a pan of boiling water on the stove and cook the pasta in batches. It should only take around 3 minutes for the pasta to cook, keep an eye on and test to check your cooking time (it will depend on how thin you’ve rolled it).

Served with spinach cooked down in a little vegetable stock, onions with a sauce of 2 tbsp of double cream and seasoned with salt, pepper and a little lemon juice squeezed in for good measure.

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Today we are mostly making a Mexican feast and drinking ale

On the menu tonight:

Marinaded chicken breasts
Homemade guacamole
Homemade tomato salsa
Grilled halloumi
Boiled and fried broad beans with sweet potato

All the above wrapped in tortilla wraps and served with sour cream, cheese and a lime on the side. And of course:

Mojitos!

Finishing, a little left-field with:

Mum’s baked Alaska.

In pictures so far:

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We’re also drinking this:

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Ginger Pig restaurant in Hove

We spent the afternoon attending a whisky tasting at the Hilton on Brighton sea front as part of the food festival.

After such a hearty start to the day we decided at least a three course meal was required. One of our party had previously been to the Ginger Pig and recommended it – straight away we booked a table and polished off our whiskeys from the tasting. The Peat Monster from Compass Box Whiskey was my favourite new whiskey from the event, just as an aside.

We got our table for 6:30pm and kicked off with bread on the table and before long the starters had arrived and we knew we were in for a treat.

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I got started with the Crispy Polenta and mozzarella and a very tasty accompaniment of olives and anchovy. Suffice to say it didn’t stick around long. Highlights also were the duck heart salad and endives and the octopus carpaccio (the latter was unanimously the favourite starter of the group – we were all trying each other’s dishes).

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Main up next – I went from the specials board and ordered bream with pea gnocchi. It was lovely – I love to get seafood when near the sea, it just seems right, and they executed this one perfectly. The braised rabbit with chickpeas and chorizo from the specials was good, and the teriyaki mullet was also lovely (but not as good as the bream which was definitely a winner).

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Dessert, again off the specials board, was the chef’s take on a peanut butter sarnie. I think that’s all I need to say on that one.

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Total for 4 of us with a selection of drinks (beers, cocktails and coffees) came to £44 per person including drinks. Would definitely do the £6 taxi ride from Brighton centre to do dinner there again.

Leftover marshmallows

Tonight I fulfilled a long-held ambition to make marshmallows.

The leftover meringue from the baked rhubarb and apple pie was simply put in a small, ceramic dish which had been greased and dusted with corn flour and icing sugar.

I set the oven to 170 degrees C and baked for 15 minutes. The mixture rose like a cake would and lightly browned on top.

As soon as it was out of the oven, I carefully cut into squares and left to cool a bit.

I popped some baking parchment on a wire rack and dusted it with corn flour and icing sugar and carefully eased the marshmallows out of the oven dish using a palette knife.

Then I generously dusted again with corn flour and icing sugar – turning the squares so they were fully coated.

I stored them in a lock-and-lock Tupperware container, lined with parchment. They taste delicious and would definitely benefit from being dipped in melted chocolate.

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