Friday, 7 January 2011

Tom's Anniversaire Gastronomique - the prep begins!

Love cooking, love eating, love taking pics, so have combined all three.   Tom's bday dinner is going to take some prep.  His menu is:

Scallops and pancetta on a minted pea puree with a balsamic jus
Lobster Thermidor
Coffee Panna Cotta
They taught us the squiggly bits in college back in the middle ages when I learned to type on a manual type writer.  Bash.  Bash. Bash.  Return - my god its a bit like writing with a quill compared to what we do now!

So yes as you can see Tom seriously has idea's above his station.  Clearly being raised on filet mignon and not fish fingers has had an impact and it has been his lifes ambition to try lobster, since he was about 10!  He first tried fois gras aged 4 and was an instant convert.  Think Mr Creosote but small and cute!!

So this evening I began preparing the bechamel for the lobster thermidor.

The one item no serious cook should ever be without
First things first.  Any cooking that doesn't involve one of these will be seriously crap.  If you cook with love people can tell, they can taste it in the food, it is the nicest gift you can give someone; to cook for them.  If you cook with love AND a hossing great glass of wine then you can't fail to be awesome.  Its the law in my house.

 Raw stuff
Raw ingredients, all of which were to be added to 2 pints of full fat milk.  The carrots, celery and onion were to be grated.  You bring the milk to the boil, simmer for a while and then allow to infuse.  Then strain the milk and use to make your bechamel sauce.  Shimples.

Grate the celery 
Having grated in the carrot you then grate in the celery.  So far so good.

Never.  Grate.  An. Onion.
At  this stage you are supposed to grate in the onion.  People.  Never.  Grate.  An.  Onion.  Unless your eyes hanging on your cheeks, dangling by their optic nerves is a look you think might suit you.  There are not words for this level of pain.  Waterboarding - pretty awful, grating onions, I'll tell you anything you want to know.  I grated 1/4 and then lobbed the rest in whole.  And downed another glass of wine.

So then this lot, with the cloves and bay leaves is boiled, simmered and infused.  

Next up was this evenings dinner, just call me that sweary scottish cook bloke - what the hell's his name?? Early on-set dementia and several glasses of wine have knackered me this eve.  Gordon Ramsey thats the bloke, thank you.  Bloody hate him, hate the way he does that breathless "I'm talking really fast because that way you will think I am running barefoot over coals away from savage lions, not sauteeing a freaking onion" or whatever.

So, dinner.  Did make a new years resolution that lasted one whole evening "eat what I am eating or cook for yourself".  This evening I was having pumpkin ravioli with a mushroom sauce.  Steve wasn't' he was having lamb with fusilli and mushroom sauce and Tom was having steak but thank god he agreed to pasta and mushroom sauce and didn't insist on some other culinary extravaganza to go with.

Brace yourselves.  Most difficult photo challenge of the year to date.  Make a plate of raw meat look nice. Looks like something Lady Gaga might wear.
Lady Gaga's next outfit?
How'd I do?  Please note the one steak is for Tom, the lamb chops are all for Steve.  Many years ago he was restaurant manager of a very fancy Michelin starred restaurant where his nickname amongst the staff was "meat" which sounds sort of homo-erotic but was apparently coined the evening he ate TWO ROAST CHICKENS!!  Or so he tells me.  Moving on.

To make the mushroom sauce I softenend chopped onion and celery, added sherry and reduced.  Then I added rich beef stock and reduced further.  Seived to remove onion and celery and put the stock to one side.  Sauteed mushrooms in butter, no salt  - the stock was salty enough - and then once they were done, with all the water evaporated off,  added the stock and some cream and poured over my ravioli.

Pumpkin ravioli with mushroom sauce
It was fantastic, if I do say so myself!  Pumpkin ravioli (Tesoc finest - I'm not THAT good!) was heavenly too btw.

And finally, I decided that whilst my eyes were chilling on my cheeks I should chop a third onion and get the minted pea puree ready for the scallops.  Softened onion, without browning - add salt if you don't want them to colour, dont if you want them all nice and dark and caramelly (thank you for that tip Nigella).  Add some veg stock to the soften onions and frozen peas and some chopped fresh mint.  Boil to reduce the stock and then blitz the whole lot to make a smooth pea puree. 
Minted pea puree

Friday nights prep and dinner done and dusted.  Thank you and good night x



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