La Fourchette Brasserie, Totnes, Devon

La Fourchette is a little French brasserie in Totnes, Devon.
It’s a wine bar, cafe and brasserie all rolled into one with offerings throughout the day and into the night.

I had heard mixed reviews about this place so thought I would give it a go.

Being a chef and all that , I’m gonna just cut to the chase…the food!

The menu had typical French style to it with a good mix of brasserie classics, seafood and steak and frites.

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I skipped the starters and went straight to the mains, ordering the lamb rump served pink with a herb crust haricot vert and Provençal tomato.

The dish arrived, it smelt fantastic, the lamb was lovely and pink and the portion size was just right. The presentation was very simple and lacked any sort of finesse but the flavours made up for that. The lamb was incredibly tender and succulent with an intensely flavoured crust . The dish came with crushed potatoes which were ok and the Provençal tomato tasted similar to the crust on the lamb. It was a good hearty dish that just about left space for dessert!

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I finished the meal with a chocolate fondant and orange sorbet. There was a 15 minute wait for this dessert as stated on the menu. It took quite a bit longer than that to arrive. Again the presentation was very simple and could be improved but the fondant was pretty good. It a had a good crust going into a gooey chocolate centre and was rich and warming. The sorbet was refreshing but not homemade and worked well with the fondant .

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So all in all not a bad meal but the price is quite steep for what you actually receive. The bill came to £67 for myself and my wife. We both had two courses and shared a bottle of wine!

Oven Baked Turbot with a Walnut Crust

Having recently taught the dinner parties course at the cookery school i was left a with a little bit of walnut crust, in which i utilised for my dinner!

Its a bit extravagant but i had some turbot fillets to use up in the freezer, those combined with the crust and simply baked were delicious.

You can use any meaty white fish and is a great way to make some space in the freezer. i served mine with a good squeeze of lemon and some wilted greens. Anyway, here is the recipe.

Walnut Crust

Ingredients

  • 2 x 180-200g portion’s of white fish, skinned and deboned
  • 90g panko breadcrumbs
  • 60g Fresh brown breadcrumbs
  • 2 Cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 90g Walnuts (chopped)
  • Walnut oil or olive oil can be used
  • Sea salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • A good squeeze of lemon juice

Method

  1. Lay the fish onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper.Season the fish on both sides.
  2. Mix the breadcrumbs, crushed garlic, walnuts, walnut oil and seasoning together.
  3. You will need enough walnut oil to moisten the breadcrumbs so they stick together when pressed between your thumb and forefinger.
  4. Add a drizzle of olive oil on top of the fish ,press down a liberal amount of breadcrumbs over the the fish.
  5. Place in a hot oven at 190°C for approximately 6-8 minutes or until the fish is just cooked. Finish with a good squeeze of lemon juice.

Top Tips:

if using fish from the freezer, make sure it is defrosted fully.

Any leftover crust can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Try adding fresh herbs to the crust such as dill, thyme, parsley, and rosemary.

The crust is also delicious with pork, chicken and oily fish.

Can be used as a binding agent in stuffings, sausage meat and burgers/meatballs

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Roasted Mauritian spiced cauliflower with coconut and lime

I was recently given a roasted Mauritian spice blend by the wonderful Selina Periampillai.

I’ve got an obsession with cauliflower at the moment so thought this would be the perfect combination. I decided to roast the cauliflower whole with the Mauritian spices, coconut and lime giving a sweet, sour, salty and hot taste sensation that is completely addictive.

This dish can be eaten outright as a main course with some wilted greens and cous cous or to accompany a meat heavy main course.

Recipe:

1 medium cauliflower
200ml coconut cream
2 tsp cooking oil
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 tablespoon Mauritian curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Method
1. Trim the cauliflower removing any green leaves and woody stem.
2. In a large bowl mix the coconut, lime zest and juice, curry powder, salt and
pepper.
3. Brush the marinade all over the head of cauliflower.
4. Place on a lined baking tray and roast at 180°C for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.
5. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, carve and serve.

Top tips:

Chilli powder can be added for extra zing .

Standard curry paste will still work if you can’t get the Mauritian blend.

Pickled raisins make a great accompaniment

The cauliflower is great to eat hot or cold.

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Finger limes and citrus pearls

As a chef or Cook you never stop learning. This is why I love my job!

I was recently introduced to the finger lime by the pastry chef Colin. I had never seen or even heard of this before and was intrigued. I couldn’t wait to break it open, let alone taste it.

The lime is cylindrical in shape and has the same skin complex as a standard lime. Upon opening up the skin it bursts out with these amazing little citrus pearls, very similar to caviar.

When you bite down on the pearls they pop I your mouth release a citrus burst very similar to lime with a sharp bite. Then flavour lingers for moments after. It’s incredibly fresh.

My mind was working on over drive trying to think of all the recipes that this could be used, both sweet and savoury. It would making an amazing garnish for canapés and petit fours, giving diners a good surprise of flavour but a brilliant textural experience.

So here they are:

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Beetroot and chocolate brownies

So, I finally cracked. Having heard and seen so many variants of beetroot brownies I gave in and created a batch.

I understand the reasons for putting vegetables into cakes and I believe it can add moisture and longevity to a cake, but carrot cake has always been my limit!

@LoveBeetroot passed on their recipe for me to try via Twitter .

So I gave it a go. The results were a deliciously moist brownie with a subtle hint of beetroot but not to overpowering. What I also love about the recipe is that it’s gluten free.

The recipe can be found here on the love beetroot website:

http://www.lovebeetroot.co.uk/recipes/detail.asp?ItemID=355#.VGcUBKbfXCT

Give it a go, I would love to see your feedback and any other creations with beetroot.

Tweet them to me @JoechefBartlett

Here was my beetroot brownie

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Roasted Chicken Stock

The key to a good sauce, stew or gravy is a decent home made stock.

Check out my recipe for a roasted chicken stock. By roasting the bones it gives you a much deeper flavour and colour to the stock.

I used my stock to make a Madeira sauce but would be an amazing base for a chicken stew.

Recipe

Ingredients:

3 chicken carcasses
6 chicken wings
2 carrots
1 leek
2 white onions
4 sticks of celery
1 bay leaf
4 springs of thyme
4 parsley stalks
6 black peppercorns
Dry white or dry cider to deglaze

Method:

1. Place the chicken carcasses and wings in a roasting tin. Roast in a pre heated oven at 220C until well caramelised and crisp.

2. Place the roasted bones in a stock pot and cover with double the amount of cold water. Bring to the boil, skim and simmer gently.

3. In the mean time roughly chop the vegetables and add them to the roasting tin. Don’t worry if there is some roasted on cooking juices from the chicken. Toss the vegetables around in the chicken fat and roast until well coloured. Deglaze the roasting tin and vegetables with a splash of alcohol to retain as much flavour as possible.

4. Add the roasted vegetables and deglazed liquor to the stock pot along with the herbs, bay leaf and peppercorns. Simmer the stock for a couple of hours, skimming at regular intervals.

5. The stock should smell of roast chicken. Strain through a fine sieve into a suitable container. It can be stored in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for 3 to 6 months.

Top tips

Skimming the stock will prevent any fats or impurities boiling into the stock and making it go greasy.

Always replace any stock skimming’s with cold water to keep the stock level the same.

Once you have strained the stock it can be boiled down to concentrate it but also make it easier to store. I usually reduce 5 litres down to 500ml and then divide it into small containers and freeze.

A brown stock is when you roast the ingredients giving a richer and darker stock.

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Smoked garlic and thyme bread sauce

I was excited to see freshly smoked garlic in the super market and with roast chicken for dinner there was only one thing for it!

I decided to make a smokey but sweet bread sauce using simple ingredients with a big impact of flavour.

We all generally have leftover bread, milk and maybe some woody herbs from the garden so making this sauce was a no brainer.

It’s fantastic with roast chicken but also this time of year, GAME!

Ingredients:

4 sliced of day old or stale white bread, crusts removed
300ml milk , I used semi skimmed
3 clove smoked garlic
2 sprigs of thyme
1 Clove
1/2 an onion, skin removed
Salt, pepper

Method:

1. Roast the garlic cloves in the oven at 200C for about ten minutes or until tender.

2. Meanwhile, put the milk, thyme, onion and clove in a pan and warm gently to infuse . Be careful not to scald the milk. I added the outer garlic paper also to give an extra smokey flavour.

3 , Once the milk has infused, strain it into a clean pan. Add the bread and stir to break up. Remove the roasted garlic cloves from the oven and squeeze into the bread sauce. Taste and season. A knob of butter can be added to enrich the sauce . Enjoy !

Top tips:

Place the thyme over the onion and stud with the clove to keep everything in one place.

Use any smoked garlic skins/paper to Infuse into the milk.

Sweet smoked paprika can be added for a richer flavour but works incredibly well with game.

A splash of double cream, creme fraiche or knob of butter can be stirred in at the end to give a luxurious finish

When roasted the garlic, pierce them first with a sharp knife. This will stop them from exploding and help them to roast quicker .

You can use any woody herbs such as rosemary, sage, oregano

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