20 week Patisserie Course at Ashburton Chefs Academy

The new Patisserie course is officially up and running as the students delve into week 6 at the Ashburton Chefs Academy.

Headed by our in house pastry chef Colin Bennett. Colin has worked in leading hotels, including The Grovesnor and Dorchester, Michelin starred restaurants such as Pied a Terre, The Orrery and Viajante and alongside many of todays celebrity chefs including Simon Hopkinson, Nuno Mendez and Tom Aitkin. He also helped Jamie Oliver set-up his Barbecoa restaurant near St Paul’s, but probably the highlight of his professional career was the 4 and a half years spent as Hilton’s specialist patisserie, created as part of a £30m refit.

The first term has seen the students produce a whole range of sweet and savoury delights that have ranged from Gruyere gougeres to gateaux frasier, chocolate centre pieces to Danish pastries.

I was fortunate enough to always be in the right place at the right time, generally just as Colin was presenting his dessert!. So not only did they look amazing but tasted even better.

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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!

Traditional rice pudding with vanilla and loads of nutmeg

It’s that time of year again, with a drop in temperature I thought it would be great to share a classic!

Creamy,warming, flavoursome and extremely moorish, good old rice pudding.

This is a very simple recipe with minimal fuss but big flavour. I prefer to bake the rice pudding as the milk reduces down and thickens, the rice becomes absorbent, sucking up any flavour you throw at it but most of all you get the best skin/crust ever!

The rice pudding can be eaten hot or cold and is delicious for breakfast with poached fruits or prunes.

Recipe:

200g pudding rice
1.2 litres of whole milk or semi skimmed
3 table spoons of sugar
1 vanilla pod split in half
Nutmeg to taste (optional)

Method:

1. Place all of the ingredients, apart from the nutmeg in a heat proof bowl or dish and stir to separate the rice.

2. Pop into a pre heated oven at 190C. Bake for 1 hour stirring occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking together.

3. One the rice is cooked and a nice caramelised skin has form on top add a good great of nutmeg. Pop back into the oven and cook for another 10-15 minutes .

4. Remove from the oven and leave to rest and thicken for 5 minutes or so before serving. This will allow the rice to settle and absorb any remaining flavour from the milk.

Top tips:

The pudding can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.

It taste great served with poached rhubarb or just a dollop of jam.

Try putting some pudding in a ramekin, sprinkle with sugar and glaze under a hot grill to give you that brûlée top.

The cold pudding can be formed into little balls. Pipe jam in the centre. Egg and bread crumb. Deep fry them at 190C until crisp and golden. Then roll in cinnamon sugar to create rice pudding doughnuts!

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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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Easy oaty granola bars

This recipe is more wholesome than healthy but a great way to use up any odds and ends of dried fruit and nuts.

I used some dried apple, sultana’s, dried cherries and flaked almonds

Recipe
Ingredients:

115g butter
4 tbsp clear honey or golden syrup
25g castor sugar
Pinch of sea salt
250g porridge oats
75g dried fruit of your choice
70g nuts, I used flaked almonds

1. Pre heat the oven to 190C. Grease a 20cm square baking tin and line with baking parchment.

2. Place the butter, sugar and honey in a saucepan and melt over a low heat. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

3. Spoon the mixture into the tin and firmly press into place. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.

4. Once cooked, leave to cool in the tin before cutting. The bars will last for 5 days in an airtight container.

Top tips:

You can use any dried fruit or nuts that you like.

Alternative sweeteners can be used.

When the granola bars are cooked, press them whilst warm to give you a nice flat and smooth top. This makes them easier to cut. Use a rolling or a potato masher!

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Chocolate Fudge Cake Recipe

I was recently asked to take a cake up to my mothers for a spot of tea, it ended up being like the great British bake off with the family contributing and becoming highly competitive!

This was my effort, very deep chocolate flavour,gooey chocolate filling finished with praline and toasted flaked almonds for added texture.

recipe:
Cake
175g soft butter
175g wholemeal self raising flour
1 rounded tbsp cocoa powder
1 rounded tsp baking powder
175g light soft brown sugar
3 large eggs

For the filling and topping:
125g light soft brown sugar
170g tin of evaporated milk
125g dark chocolate, (50-55% cocoa solids)
50g butter, softened
Vanilla extract to taste
Toasted flaked almonds to decorate

Method:

Pre heat the oven to 170C. Lightly grease a 20cm square or round cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.

Place all the cake ingredients in a bowl and mix them together. You should end up with a mix that drops of the spoon when you tap it on the side if the bowl.

Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes or until springy in the centre.

Remove from the oven, carefully turn out of the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack. Cut the cake in half down the centre. So you have two brick like slabs.

For the filing combine the sugar and the evaporated milk in a heavy sauce pan. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar . Bring to the boil and simmer for 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate, followed by the butter and vanilla extract.

Place the mixture in a bowl and allow to chill for about 30 minutes for it to thicken. Remove for the fridge, give it a good mix . Spread half on the sponge , place the other sponge on top. Use the remaining chocolate mix to cover the cake using a spatula. decorate the top with flaked almonds.

Top tips:
When making the cake, have all your ingredients at room temperature . They will mix better all at the same temperature.

If the cake mix is to thick, add a little water to loosen.

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