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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Warm Chocolate Fondant and a story of a little something that has bitten me badly........

Ok let me start off with a nice simple little recipe that is easy to make and will be a hit at any dinner party i originally started with blog to create recipes for people to cook at home and i have slightly gone off the beaten  track with it, but i will explain that i little later on in a little more detail,

i blogged this dessert earlier in the week as i like to make it, but here is a simple version of it that anybody can make at home with out stressing.


200g Dark Chocolate (min 60%cocoa solids)
180g butter
4 eggs separated
6 Chocolate Truffles (i use Lindor)
140g Castor Sugar
50ml Brandy
Butter for buttering moulds


  • Melt the chocolate and butter over a double boiler on the stove
Separate the eggs and whip the egg white until almost stiff, then
Slowly add half of the castor sugar until the egg whites are stiff.
  • Cream together the other half of the sugar and the egg yolks.
  • Then mix together the yolk mixture with the melted chocolate
Adding it slowly in the beginning and then faster towards the end
Add the brandy and then fold in the egg whites until incorporated.
·        Butter the ramekins pour the chocolate halfway up the ramekins, then place a chocolate truffle in the middle and then add more chocolate to fill the ramekin.
·        Bake in a pre heated oven at 165°c for 15 min.

Best served with berry coulis and vanilla ice-cream.

Well i have stumbled across something that i never really in-visioned myself to get into and that is the whole scientific approach to food and cookery, but i must say this in the defense of anybody who thinks it is taking away from the roots of cooking, no it isn't!!! it is giving so much to the world of cookery, it is opening so many new creative avenues it is breaking all "normal" perceptions of what food should be. i have starting playing with the science of food and the perception of flavour, and i can honestly say that in my life thus far in the kitchen i have never been so excited to get into my kitchen in the mornings and to start playing with all the things that i have been reasearching, the only problem is that i live in South Africa so alot of the chemicals needed are extremely difficult to get hold of like i am battling to find Gellan at the moment, i know it has to be here in the country i just can't seem to find it yet, i battled a bit to get hold of transglutaminase but i mailed an overseas company and they got me involved with a company here, awesome stuff that is i must say, i have just "butterflied" a whole beef fillet and stuffed it with the hard fat from a rump and wrapped it and put into the fridge, will take a look at it tomorrow, i have to try and "put" marbling into the fillet to give it the flavour that rump and fatter cuts have. and that is just the start of it, i have "glued" chicken skin onto hake fillets, i have just "glued" together a piece of rump with a piece of chicken breast with bacon in between, will blog about it when i have cooked it, it is a crazy exciting world of food to be explored.....

My next big flavour perception project is to glue chicken skin on to a piece of fish and create exactly the same flavour chicken vapour, and fish vapour, to manipulate the flavour of what you are eating, i have done it with Heston's famous vanilla and/or cinnamon ice-cream and it worked out a real treat so now going to start testing how far i can take the concept into practical foods.

I know i haven't exactly been blogging about the things i set out to blog about by my mind has gone a little stray with all these new idea's and concepts.

I have been doing the "old school" stuff to though don't get me wrong, this month alone i have learnt to make cheese, if fact i have made Feta, Haloumi, Ricotta, Parmesan, Pecorino, Blue Cheese and today i am trying a modification of a gruyere, only thing about the cheese is that i now have a year wait for most of the cheese, except the blue which should be ready in about 2 months.

I am also looking at cured meats now, would love to learn to make my own cured meats, we'll see if i can get the opportunity to do so, i will keep you posted on that.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Hungry Chef: Dark Chocolate Fondant with Strawberry Mille Feuil...

The Hungry Chef: Dark Chocolate Fondant with Strawberry Mille Feuil...: "This is a dessert that i have come up with starting to incorporate a couple things that i have been researching and doing i must stress thou..."

Dark Chocolate Fondant with Strawberry Mille Feuille and Blueberry caviar

This is a dessert that i have come up with starting to incorporate a couple things that i have been researching and doing i must stress though that this recipe is more for the seasoned professional than the average home cook because of the process involved in creating the dish, however it has all the WOW factor that you look for in a dessert. 

as the saying goes ....."the proof is in the pudding"

Dark Chocolate Fondant, Strawberry Mille Feuille and Blueberry Caviar (serves 8)

This recipe is not for the faint hearted as the process is quite involved. However, in my personal opinion, the end result is well worth all the effort.

…..for the chocolate fondant


200g 70% Dark Chocolate
4 eggs separated
150g castor sugar
180g unsalted farm butter
1 TBSP corn flour
1 tot brandy
8 chocolate truffles (see recipe below)
Butter for buttering ramekins
50g grated dark chocolate for dusting ramekins
8x 125ml ramekins


Melt the chocolate and butter over a double boiler.
Cream together the egg yolks and half the sugar.
Whisk the egg whites with remaining half of the sugar until stiff.
Mix together the brandy and corn flour until ingredients are incorporated.
Butter the ramekins and sprinkle them with the grated chocolate and leave them in the freezer for 5 minutes.
Add the melted chocolate to the egg yolk and mix thoroughly, then add in the brandy mixture (it may seem at this point that the mixture looks like it wants to seize, however do not stress yet).
Add 1/3 of the stiff egg whites and whisk it into this mixture until all incorporated (you will see the mixture loosen up again)
Add in the rest of the whisked egg whites and soft fold them into the mixture until it is all incorporated.
Spoon mixture into ramekins until they are just under half full, then place one chocolate truffle (see recipe below) in the middle and top up the ramekin until  full.
Place the ready made desserts in the fridge for 30mins to and hour
Preheat the oven to 180˚C (very important that the oven is at this temperature before you put the fondants in), place dessert in oven and drop the temperature to 165˚C and bake for 12 minutes.

The mixture will rise like a soufflé over the top of the ramekin; this is what you are looking for, however once you take them out of the oven serve immediately as they will drop.

If you have a gluten allergy you can use this mixture to make a flourless chocolate cake. Bake at 150˚c for 45 minutes and let it cool in the oven for 3 hours

…..for the chocolate truffles


400g 70% Dark Chocolate
1 cup Cream or Crème Fraisch
Cocoa powder for dusting
100g melted chocolate for dusting

Heat the cream until just below boiling and pour it over the chocolate, mix together thoroughly.
Leave it to cool down either on the counter or in the fridge, now take a melon baller and scoop out balls of chocolate.
Dip into the melted chocolate and roll in cocoa powder to coat.
Place on grease proof paper and leave in the fridge until ready to use.

…..for the Strawberry Mille Feuille


500g frozen strawberries
125g castor sugar
50ml brandy
Puff pastry as per recipe below
250ml cream
Icing sugar for dusting

In a small pot, put strawberries, castor sugar and brandy, over a very low heat (the sugar must melt but it should not be bubbling), leave for about 45min (this process is called macerating the strawberries).
Roll out the puff pastry (see recipe below) and cut into strips about 3cm x 6cm, it is important that the pastry is not rolled out to thin.
Cut out 16 strips, place them onto a baking tray and dust the top with icing sugar and bake in a pre-heated oven at 200˚c for 8-10 minutes until golden on the top. Remove from oven and let cool before using it further.
Whip the cream until soft peaks appear and add half of the strawberries, blend it further until the cream is stiff and the strawberries are puréed into the cream (it goes a beautiful soft pink colour).
Cut the baked puff pastry in half horizontally, as if to open them to be stuffed, spread the bottom piece with the cream, place 3 macerated strawberries on top, place another piece of pastry on top and repeat the process, place the piece dusted with icing sugar right on top of the last layer of strawberries.

…..for the puff pastry


300g Flour
½ tsp castor sugar
1 tsp salt
30g melted butter
150-170ml tap water
200g cold butter (kept aside for later use)

The principle behind the pastry is to create many layers of dough and
butter by folding and turning the two together. (Unlike short pastry, the butter is not incorporated into the dough but rather folded into the layers).

1) Sift the flour into a mound on a cool work surface and make a well in the centre. Add the salt, sugar, water and melted butter to the well.
2) Mix with four fingers until the salt dissolves.
3) Use a plastic pastry scraper to pull the flour into the well and mix until blended, adding the remaining water if the pastry is dry.  
4) Work the pastry into a sticky ball with the pastry scraper.
5) Make an X-shaped incision on top of the dough, wrap in lightly floured baking parchment or tea towel, then refrigerate for about 30 minutes. This is the détrempe.)
6) Sandwich the remaining 200 g butter between 2 sheets of greaseproof paper and tap with a rolling pin until softened to the same consistency as the détrempe. Form the butter into a square about 2 cm thick. Place the ball of pastry on a lightly floured work surface and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Press the rolling pin into the top edge of the pastry and roll out an "arm". Give the dough a quarter turn and roll out another "arm". Continue to turn and roll twice more until the pastry is in the shape of a cross. It should be mounded in the centre, tapering out the 4 arms. 
7) Place the square of butter on the mounded centre of the pastry and fold in the arms, stretching the pastry slightly to seal in the butter. (The 4 thicknesses of pastry on the top should be approximately the same thickness as the mound of pastry under the butter.)
8) Lightly tap the top of the pastry with a rolling pin to seal the edges and to enlarge and flatten the square a little. (This is the pâton) Then roll out the pastry to a long rectangle about 17.5 cm wide and 52.5 long.
9) The edges of the rectangle should be even and straight.  
10) Fold the bottom third of the rectangle up toward the centre, carefully aligning the edges. Brush off any flour.
11) Fold the top third down to make a neat square and brush off any flour.
12) You will have a neat square of pastry with the fold on the bottom.  
13) Give the square a quarter turn to the left for maximum rising. It is important that you always rotate the pastry in the same direction so the seam is always on the same side.
14) The fold should then be at the side.
15) Roll out the pastry into a long rectangle. 
16) Fold into thirds. Gently press 2 fingertips into the pastry to indicate that 2 turns have been completed.
17) Wrap the pastry and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Give the pastry 2 more turns. Mark it with 4 fingerprints to indicate a total of 4 turns have been completed. Rewrap and return it to the refrigerator for another 30 minutes. (After 4 turns the pastry may be refrigerated for 2 days or frozen.) Give the pastry another 2 turns and mark it with 6 fingerprints. Then wrap and refrigerate it for 10 minutes more before rolling out for shaping and baking.

…..for the Blueberry Caviar


400g blueberries
1 cup of white sugar
½ cup good dry white wine
1g Sodium Alginate
¼ tsp sodium nitrate
6,5g Calcium Chloride
1lt of water

In a small pot, place blueberries, white sugar and white wine, over a very low heat and “cook” for and hour (this process is called macerating the blueberries)
Remove from heat and puree, and drain over a container in a muslin cloth over night so that all the juice extracts.
Place juice in freezer until frozen,
Remove ice block from container and place on a muslin cloth again over a clean container and let “defrost” in the fridge, you will be left with a block of clear ice on the muslin cloth and half the amount of juice in the container.
Take this juice and add in the sodium nitrate, mix it in with a stick blender, once that is mixed in add the sodium alginate and blend thoroughly with a stick blender leave this mixture for an hour at room temperature to let all the bubbles settle,
Add the calcium chloride to the water and stir until it has dissolved.
With a surgical syringe, suck up the berry juice and drop it in small drops into the calcium chloride bath and leave them for about 2 minutes. Gently spoon them out and rinse with fresh water and serve immediately as the longer they stand the more they will form into gel balls and loose liquid and flavor.
Enjoy the fruits of your hard labor

Thursday, June 2, 2011

okay here it is my opinion of the good food and wine show cape town 2011

This is the second good food and wine show that i have been to, the first being in Durban, but this one had a special little something that was a little closer to my heart than the last one and that is the fact that Heston Blumenthal was doing his first public appearance in south Africa, he has been here before many years ago as he almost opened his first restaurant here in Franshoek but things changes and he opened the fat duck instead, that's a whole long separate story on it's own. Anyway i went to the show armed with my new fat duck cook book and VIP tickets to the show, as we walked in and were seated it was announced that he would not being doing a cooking demo as his food takes to long to prepare and he would not be able to do it in the allotted time, i understood this, however that does not mean that it didn't come with it's own set of disappointments, i wanted to see the man in action, now all i was getting was an hour long talk.

Heston came onto the stage and starter his hour long talk, and let me tell you anybody who is as interested in food as i am would have found that that hour long talk was far better and informative as a chef than any cooking demo could have been, he explained how he got to do what he does, how he came about with his unique style of cooking and where he is going, i am quite sure after that talk that my food and approach to cooking is going to be totally different, and boy oh boy is it just, all i am doing now with any spare that i have is studying, trying to obtain as much knowledge i can about it comes ........... the science of food, flavour perception and eating habits further more i have now got a couple of my own little experiments going on, i am going to try to recreate a couple of his classic dishes as well as use the techniques and science behind those to create my own, i have started on the basics such as spherification and will be researching the science of ice-creams over the next few weeks and play with them as well.

all in all that could possibly have been the best and most inspirational talk i have ever been to, i would like to describe the rest of the good food and wine show but i cannot as i get so excited and worked up talking about this new outlook on food that i just want to run into my kitchen and pick up some chemicals and play and play and play...........

so i am off now to go and do just that, when i get back to the blog at some point i will go a little into the art of cheese making which is also something new that i am starting to play a little more with, i have already made feta, Parmesan, yoghurt and going to try halloumi this afternoon,
so cheers for now........

sorry no recipes at the moment i am working on a mind blowing 3 course menu to enter the unilever chef of the year with as well as for a little interview with the weekend post next week, so maybe i will blog those once i have perfected them.