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!

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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#Gloop Popcorn!

I was fortunate enough to receive a jar of Gloop from the mesmerisingly amazing Frandie Macaron Team . A little jar of salty,sweet, caramel dessert sauce, it tastes that good I could have eaten the whole lot with just my fingers.

It arrived to me via Ally ( goddess of buns, uglibuns in particular) who passed it onto mike the veg man from plough to plate. Mike then snuck it in a veg box and the Gloop miraculously arrived! *deep breath*

So with the above being three of my food heroes this Gloop stuff had to be good.

I popped the lid off and dived in, the rest is history!

With all the flavour sensations going on, textures and even the smell my mind started working overtime.

I came up with a Gloop popcorn recipe , the real “once you pop, you can’t stop”

So here it is!

Ingredients:

200g popcorn, cooked
Half a jar of Gloop, approx 100g
Half a teaspoon baking powder

Method:
1, place the gloop in a large sauce pan and heat until it starts to bubble.

2, Add the baking powder and whisk vigorously. It will bubble up so be careful. Add the popcorn and stir off the heat until the popcorn is evenly coated.

3, Place the glooped popcorn in a bowl and allow to cool, it should become crisp. Then enjoy!

Top tips:

The baking powder will help the gloop to go crispy as it sets on the popcorn.

Add the popcorn accordingly, if you like a thick coating then out less in.

A little pinch of sea salt will give it that salty sweet contrast.

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It would be great to see your creations, if posting on twitter or Instagram please use the #Gloop hashtag and join the addiction ! : )

Blackberry, almond and raisin Pasty

After picking kilo upon kilo of blackberries, my little girls wanted a blackberry pasty!

So here it is.

Ingredients:
300g blackberries, rinsed
Sugar, to taste
Handful of raisins
50g ground almonds, approx
Puff pastry
Splash of milk
Flour to dust

Method:
1, Place the blackberries in a saucepan with a good spoon of sugar and bring up to the boil . The blackberries will release their natural juice as they heat up.

2, strain the blackberries through a sieve, capturing the juice. Place the juice back in the pan and reduce by half. The blackberries can now be added back to this to create a compote. Leave to cool.

3, Roll the puff pastry out to the size of a large dinner plate. Brush with a little milk and sprinkle one half with ground almonds and raisins. Place the blackberry compote on top. Now fold the empty half of the pastry over the filling to create a pasty . Press the edges down with a fork .

4, place on a baking tray and refrigerate for 15 minutes to relax and firm the pastry up.

5, Pre heat the to 200C. Brush the chilled pasty with a little milk and liberally sprinkle with castor sugar. Cut an air vent in the top. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until crisp and golden.

I served mine with a simple no churn vanilla ice cream. Delicious hot or cold !

Top Tips:
sprinkling the pastry with ground almonds will absorb any juice that comes out of the blackberries. Helping to avoid a soggy bottom.

Using milk as a wash allows to pastry to be cooked longer in the oven without it caramelising to quickly.

Allowing the pastry to rest in the fridge will prevent it from shrinking when cooking.

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The fundamentals of Thai Cuisine !

Having just finished teaching the 2 day Thai course at Ashburton Cookery School
I thought it would be great to share some pictures of the dishes but also the fundamentals of Thai Cuisine.

The main thing for me, to create that authenticity within Thai food is the seasoning.

To achieve this you will need to throw salt and pepper out the window and think sweet, sour, salty, hot !

sweet is generally In the form of sugar or anything sweet. We used a lot of Palm sugar over the weekend course.

Sour can be lemon or lime juice, rice vinegars and tamarind

Salty is never salt directly but fish sauce, soy sauce, shrimp paste etc

The hot element is generally chillies but things like white pepper, ginger and green peppercorns can add this as well.

So therefore when you come to season or finish a thai dish just think is it sweet, sour, salty and hot. Then add those elements to create this.

Just adding this thought process to a simple stir fry will completely develop it and make it taste incredible!

Here are a few of the dishes created using this simple process.

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We run a fun and inspirational 1 and 2 day course at Ashburton Cookery School