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!

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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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Wild mushroom powder

With a recent glut of foraged wild mushrooms i decided to dry them out and make a powder.

It is so simple to do and a great store cupboard ingredient to add a robust, meaty flavour to sauces, stews, gravy’s, marinades, roasted meats and risotto’s.

You can use any mushrooms but I find wild mushrooms give you the most incredible intense flavour.

All you need to do spread the mushrooms out on a cooling rack lined with muslin cloth. Place them in a low oven at 90 degrees or in an airing cupboard and dry out over night.

Then blend the dried mushrooms up in a spice grinder until a fine powder is achieved.

Store in an airtight container or Kilner jar for up to a year.

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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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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