Monday, January 7, 2013

Mains: Salmon with Bois Boudran Sauce, crushed potatoes and salad

Which should be subtitled to: The sauce with the unpronounceable name makes its way onto my dinner party roster.

To recap, this is the main course dish from my mother's special birthday lunch.
There were six courses...
  1. Beetroot lollies (*)
  2. Red cabbage gazpacho with mustard ice cream (*)
  3. Goat cheese tarts
  4. Salmon with Bois Boudran Sauce (*), green salad
  5. Tiramisu (*)
  6. Chocolate biscuits (*), tea and coffee
So I made the salmon, only without the sous vide - but really for me, the sauce in this dish was the star of the show.

But let's back up a bit. Observant readers might complain I'm skipping ahead, missing out the actual entree that came after the soup. It's not a Heston dish, so I'll give it only a little coverage .

So the salmon main was preceded by a dish I have made so many times I've lost count: Goat's cheese tarts.

This is not a Heston dish, as it predates my awareness of him by about a decade or so. I was actually embarrassed when I realised just how old this recipe is, and just how long I've been making it... Vogue Entertaining and Travel, August 1999 (Australian edition, naturally). It is a seriously good-but-easy dish of slow cooked onion and handfuls of thyme, on excellent puff pastry, topped with fresh goat's cheese, a scattering of hazelnuts and a wave of hazelnut oil. Oh, and served with a few green leaves which give them impression of freshness and make the dish look healthy without actually getting in the way or anything.

It's a dish that is good enough that I can forgive myself for making it .. now for nearly a decade and a half. Ah.. the young new-to-dinner-parties me, all keen as mustard to make proper adult swanky dishes, and wanting to impress while still surviving on minimum part-time wage as a poor student...

but now on to the real deal..

Salmon with Bois Boudran sauce and crushed potatoes

*there was also a green salad, but let's not pretend you don't know what a green salad looks like. On second thoughts, if your green salad has tomatoes in it, you are doing it wrong. Nevermind.

Process (the way I did it anyway)

  1. Mix up the sauce and chill it
  2. Make the potatoes.
  3. Ignore the stuff about sous vide and pan fry your salmon as usual
  4. Assemble & serve

Step one: Make Bois Boudran sauce.

So this is the kind of sneaky Heston Blumenthal dish, that turns out not to be a Heston dish at all. It's by some other guy entirely. You might have heard of him - he used to cook for rich people. His name was Michel Roux (Senior). What gets me his how the uber rich Rothschilds ended up being such a fan of something made from such pedestrian ingredients. Most of this stuff I have in my cupboard at home, except the tarragon. But then I tasted it and it all makes sense. 

Also, despite listening to Michel Roux talk about it online, I still can't pronounce it properly, despite repeated attempts. Yes, this bugs me. You want a go? Try this.

There's not a a whole lot to this in truth beyond - soften some shallots, then mix in with a bunch of bottled sauces, and add a pile of tarragon and parsley and leave it sit for a few hours.  Don't believe me?

Assemble your bottles.

Chop all your shallots in a food processor.

Soften them in oil, and then realise they are mushy and no good. Be sad, put them to one side.

Then, chop the extra shallots your mum bought (yay!) by hand, cook them and be much happier.

Then mix this sauce...
 to this one...
 and this one...
whisk it...

chop up your herb mountain... add in (the tarragon, parsley) and the finely hand-diced, softened shallots.

Stir and let it sit for a couple of hours.
 Truly that's it.. oh then plate it up.

Crushed potatoes

Really, another easy one.
Cook your potatoes with a few hunks of garlic.

Remember that really-too-fine-and-slightly mushy shallot? Use that because it is conveniently quite close to what you needed for this dish anyway.  I was glad, I don't like wasting stuff.
Drain your potatoes, discard the garlic, mix in the shallots plus some mustard and vinegar.
Realise, again, that Heston has no good idea of quantities and this is way more than you need.


Heston has this lovely write up and very impressive picture of how he cooks salmon sous vide. (Helpful tip: Sous vide: That's food cooked slow in warm water while ensconced in little plastic baggies. Not an endorsed definition)

I disregarded all of Heston's lovely notes. Mostly because I don't have a sous vide machine (or realistically, space to store one) and after the scrambled egg sous vide issues, I wasn't willing to gamble on my mother's birthday lunch.
Thusly, I did what I normally do, which is to pan fry, ensuring the skin gets nice and crisp.


Uh... so I'd like to claim it's especially fancy but really..

Sauce, then potatoes then salmon.
(*Sunglasses not required as side dish)


Things I learned.

  • Really, some things just don't need to be complicated.
  • Heston really can't be trusted on any line that starts "Serves.."
  • I need more excuses to make this, and a source of cheap, good-quality tarragon.


Working our way down... salmon was nice, slightly underdone (the way my mother likes it) which was too underdone for some guests. (I actually recooked one for one guest who was very apologetic but couldn't cope with it even slightly undercooked).

Crushed potatoes were ok, but rather ordinary. In hindsight, I'd say you need to only just cook the poatoes - they really need to hold their shape well for "crushing". Also, go easy on the oil and vinegar - it was a little too wet for my tastes.

The Bois Boudran Sauce was wonderful. Flavour was amazing, complex yet simple in a savoury tomato-y kind of way. I thought it might overwhelm the salmon, but I felt it didn't at all. Maybe it was too delicious for me to care. Either way.

Guest opinions

Other than some variability (which I tried to account for, but didn't quite match) in preferred levels of doneness on the salmon, this was very well received. Several guest commented on how much they enjoyed it.

I'd say I woudl add this to my dinner party standards, though it will need to fight off my husbands preferred Buerre blanc with salmon!

Next time -  a brief analysis of tiramisu, mark 2.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Entree: Red cabbage gazpacho with mustard icecream

I'll admit that for this dish, I was definitely drawn in by the wow factor - bright purple soup, tiny pale green cubes and pale yellow ball of ice cream. Also, since it was a December lunch, a better reason for this soup I could not imagine.

It was fairly straightforward, with a few steps, but nothing complicated.

To recap, this is the entree dish from my mother's special birthday lunch.
There were six courses...

  1. Beetroot lollies (*)
  2. Red cabbage gazpacho with mustard ice cream (*)
  3. Goat cheese tarts
  4. Salmon with Bois Boudran Sauce (*), green salad
  5. Tiramisu (*)
  6. Chocolate biscuits (*), tea and coffee

Red cabbage gazpacho with mustard ice cream


  1. Make mustard ice cream
  2. Make mayonaise
  3. Prepare soup
  4. Assemble & serve

Step one: Make mustard ice cream

Yes, this would definitely be my first time making and eating a savoury ice cream. 

Assemble your ingredients. I was quite surprised that it has sugar in it, and no eggs. It also has powdered milk - this was tough to find. Heston recommends semi-skinned powdered milk, but I could only get full cream, so that's what I used. It supposed to allow you to add extra protein while managing the fat levels (which may not have been ideal since I was using full cream, but I work with what I have!

Okay, normal ice cream process, milk & cream components get heated. That lumpy stuff is the powdered milk pre whisking and heating.
 Then you chill it.
 Then in goes the huge quantity of mustard.

Based on the instructions, clearly Heston is assuming you have a refrigerated unit. Sadly, I don't. (Though it is on my wish list.)

So the ice cream goes into the ice cream maker for churning. what you might notice at this point is... it makes at least twice as much ice cream as you could possibly want. Firstly, I don't think mustard ice cream is something you sit down and eat bowls of - unlike vanilla or whatever. And you only need one scoop per person for the dish so I'd say the quantity given would feed more than 20 people. It make 2 litres or so. Double what I can fit in my ice cream maker, meaning I had to do it in batches. Grrr.
So it goes in to freeze. Except... it didn't freeze properly. It was still really sloppy and not frozen enough.

So, I resorted to my last ditch attempt... put the whole unit in the freezer.
That worked better!
Then, you take it out and blitz it with a stab blender and then re-freeze. This is supposed to break up the bigger ice crystals into smaller ones, but frankly I don't think this did anything.
Except make it slushy again.
Okay back to the freezer for about an hour, and now it's looking like normal ice cream, pre final freezing stage.

Then it comes out looking quite nice. I tried some. This blew my mind a bit - I really couldn't decide if I liked it or not. I could tell on first taste it didn't take bad, but couldn't get my head around it.  I eventually decided it was nice - quite like eating frozen home made coleslaw dressing. But definitely unusual.

Step two: Make mayonnaise

So, at it's heart, the gazpacho is mostly red cabbage juice thickened with mayonnaise. Luckily, it doesn't taste the way that reads. I've not made a lot of mayonnaisese, having had a bad experience previously. This one worked fine, and tasted good, but not amazing.

Mustard and egg yolk are whisked...
 Then drip in a little grape seed oil at a time and whisk it in. (Incidentally, I now suspect that my previous bad experience may have come from using a too strongly tasting olive oil, which just swamped all the flavour).

Okay, nice and thick looking.

 Whisk in the red wine and the red wine vinegar.

Well done, you've made pink mayonnaise! It's pretty tasty, but not too overpowering for the red wine. The photo doesn't show it well, but it was a kind of pale baby pink colour.

Step three: Prepare the soup

This step was so easy I kept feeling like I was missing something.
Take big amazing purple red cabbage.

Juice it.
Be surprised just how much juice there is in a cabbage. This was another case of Heston's quantities being out of whack - twice as much cabbage as needed to get the quantity of juice required. Maybe we just have superior cabbages here in Aus.. :)
Weight out the appropriate quantity of juice. As you can see the juice is this amazing royal purple colour. Also, having tasted some I was surprise the flavour was much lighter and not as strongly cabbage-y as I thought it would be.
Put in a piece of white bread. This is supposed to thicken the juice using the proteins in the bread.
My bread and cabbage juice, ready for straining. I have to say i could tell absolutely no difference in the thickness of the soup from the bread. So much so, I think you could skip that step entirely.

Strain your soup through muslin, squishing out all the liquid from the bread. (Two hand job and a tad messy, thus no photo.)

Whisk in your mayonnaise to taste, thereby making the most garish naturally coloured thing you may ever make. Possible reason enough in itself to make it!
This is the big jug ready for serving.

Step four: Assemble

I finely diced the cucumber, being very anal detail oriented about getting perfect equal sized tiny cubes.
Place one scoop of mustard ice cream on top of each pile of cubes. Serve these to guests, and bring in the giant jug of purple to the table. (It's epic!) Pour out some soup for each guest.


Things I learned.

  • Watch those ice cream volumes for future recipes, as they likely will need to be halved to fit in my 1L ice cream maker. I really wonder about who recipe tested this book sometimes. Flavours etc are all fine, but the quantities are all over the place, typically with way more than you need.
  • Cabbage juice is much nicer than I would have thought. 
  • The at the table theatre of the serving is definitely part of the fun.


This was nice, but not amazing. Kind of a refreshing salady-thing in flavour. It was easy to make and was very dramatic in a food theatre kind of way. I wish the flavour was equal to the presentation. (Again, flavour was nice, but I wasn't floored, the way I have been with some dishes).

Guest opinions

Guests were hard to gauge (they are my mother's friends, and all had their "being polite" hats on). Generally though, most enjoyed it. All I think were fascinated by it. I know at least one person really loved it (as she's mentioned so several times to mum since).

I did take another batch of soup (partly to use up the leftover mass of ice cream) to a BBQ. There, most who tried it weren't fans. I'm not sure whether that was just the wrong forum, the wrong crowd (they mostly just thought it was odd) or just a general dislike. It certainly lost something in translation to a casual dish!

Next time-  the star of the show : Salmon with Bois Boudran Sauce