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!

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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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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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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