Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Serious Meal Two, Part One: Soup & Entree

Okay, so I'm definitely going to have to break up this meal into separate blog posts, as there was a lot going on. This was a dinner party for friends, and went well - good company, good food, that sort of thing.

The menu was: (Heston dishes are indicated by an asterisk (*))
  • Chicken Consommé*
  • Goat's Cheese Tarts
  • Braised Chicken with Sherry and Cream*
    • Glazed carrots* (as per previously)
    • Steamed sugar snap peas
    • Pommes boulangere*
  • Tiramisu*
In this post, I'm covering the Chicken Consommé and the Goat's Cheese Tarts.


Chicken Consommé

This is an interesting one, because at it's heart you take stock you've frozen previously and defrost it, heat it up and call it soup.

You'll possibly recall I made a big batch of the Brown Chicken Stock a while back, so for this I was planning on using the rest of that as my starter.

So you take the big pile of frozen stock cubes... this is my extra huge bowl... And place it over a sieve, lined with wet muslin.

After two and a bit days, mine looked like this...

Yeah, still frosty. At that point we decided to leave it on the bench (it was a cool day) covered by a clingfilm.

That was a bit more successful. It actually melted.

What I hadn't been expecting was the huge reduction in volume. That pile of gel stuff above? That's what's left over. The volume of the actual consommé was small, much smaller than I'd expected from about one litre and a half of stock that I started with. 

The technical explanation is that all that gelatine in the stock acts as a filter for impurities. Really, I wonder if given the volume loss, whether it might be overkill.

That said, what was left looked good. Clear and a deep colour. Which lead to my idea of how to creatively serve a small quantity of consommé!

 Anyway, serving is simple - simply gently warm it.

And place in your serving receptacle. In my case, inspired by the colour, I chose brandy balloons.

Things I learned from this recipe:

  • The reduction in volume using this method is substantial. I'd expect in order to serve this as a soup, you'd need a double batch of stock to start (around 4L). It's all that gelitine - it really hangs onto the bulk of the stock.


The end result... well.... not as great as I'd hoped. One guest (husband) didn't like it, and felt it tasted like KFC. The rest of the guests were more openly polite, but my own opinion was that it was OK, but certainly not the earth-shattering flavour I'd anticipated from the filtration process.

To be honest, I feel there are better uses for the stock!

Goats cheese tarts

So these are an old favourite - my husband's all time favourite entree. Goat's cheese tarts from an old (1999) issue of Vogue Entertaining and Travel. This is the quick recap for menu completeness.

For this, you do the following:
  • Slowly caramelise a pile of thinly sliced onion, thyme and olive oil.
  • Cut circles of excellent quality puff pastry
  • Place piles of cooked onion in centre, top with a slice of goat cheese
  • Bake the tarts in oven while you toast some hazelnuts
  • Serve tarts on a bed of greens with a scattering of hazelnuts and a drizzle of lemon juice and hazelnut oil.

So, you  thinly slice that onion and then pick all the little tiny leaves off your thyme. This takes ages, and is very fiddly. Get a nine year old to help if you have one.

 Slow cook the onion and thyme in olive oil until caramelised and soft (this takes about 30 mins)

 Assemble your tarts...
 Bake for 8 minutes, until puffy and golden. Then put them on their bed of greenery, scatter with toasted chopped hazelnuts, lemon juice and hazelnut oil.
Delicious. Very well recieved as usual, though husband thought they should have been bigger. (But I had a pretty good idea (I thought...) how rich the rest of the dinner was going to be, so little ones were good. If you are going to do this, I'd recommend go easy on the goat cheese, it can be very strong and overpowering if you use too much.

Next: Pomme Boulangere, a side dish.

1 comment:

  1. The consommé recipe calls for jasmine flowers!