Saturday, 17 October 2009

Matthew Wren Society Lunch

I normally work Monday thru Friday, and spend weekends running my two kids to gymnastics, football practice and then swimming every Sunday morning. However, with every rule there comes an exception; case in point being today.

The Matthew Wren Society Lunch is an annual event at Pembroke and is hosted by the development office. Such an important lunch is the exception to my normal working pattern and so I found myself rushing into College around lunchtime today with my six year old son in tow (and still wearing his Liverpool Football Kit).

To begin today's lunch we served a crab tian dressed with grain mustard and creme fraiche. The tian was set on a light cucumber jelly garnished with dill and cucumber concasse. This is one visual dish! The cucumber juice is beautiful to look at and set's up lovely when gelled.

Our main course was fillet of beef cooked sous vide to 58 degrees C for three hours; very, very tender. The beef is quickly pan-fried to add flavour moments before being sliced and served. To accompany the beef we served puree of pumpkin, spinach, fondant potato and a red wine jus. I was very, very happy with this dish and felt that the large plate showed the meat off very well; lots of autumnal colours and flavours!

To complete the beautiful lunch we served pistachio cake with blackberries and apple sorbet. We were lucky to catch the end of the blackberry season and sourced the fruit locally. The combination of blackberries, apples and pistachios was truly delicious!

I consider myself extremely lucky to not only love cooking, but to work at such a great college. One where good food is both welcomed and appreciated!

Friday, 16 October 2009

When we're not under so much pressure

On the rare occasions when we are not busy we like to relax by filming a few videos. We've made videos on environmental issues such as recycling and energy reduction, as well as videos promoting Emperor's Take-Away Pizza and sustainable food. Below is a video I made using the outakes from the Emperor's video series; as you can see, we don't always get it right the first time!

Five Star Kitchen

Recently we were inspected by the Environmental Health Department. All food businesses are inspected from time to time and given a Scores on Doors star rating. Businesses are judged on the following three criteria:
  1. Confidence in Management
  2. Hygiene and Safety
  3. Structural

For the second time in a row we have been awarded 5-Star Status. Our certificate is available to view in the catering display case in the screens.

Formal Hall Menus for October 19th to 25th

Feast Night Formal Hall
Monday 19th October

Amuse Bouche
Green tea with asparagus
Warm Goat’s Cheese and Beet Salad
With hazelnuts, winter leaves and Dijon Vinaigrette
Mediterranean Bass with Squid, Fennel and Tomatoes
Steamed new potatoes

(V) Risotto of Fennel, saffron, Tomatoes and Pernod
Finished with aged Parmesan
Marquis au Chocolat
Crème Anglaise et pistaces

Feast Night Formal Hall
Tuesday 20th October
Amuse Bouche
Pumpkin, caviar and orange
Butternut Squash Soup
With brown butter, sage and nutmeg crème fraîche
Slow Braised Beef Steak-Sous Vide 55C
Caramelized shallots, red wine jus, gratin potatoes and sweet parsnip puree

(V) Winter Vegetable Hotpot
Warm Chocolate Bouchons
Clotted cream ice cream and Griotte Cherries in Kirsch

Feast Night Formal Hall
Wednesday 21st October
Amuse Bouche
Fried Gruyere cheese with herb and orange vinaigrette
Moules Marinières with Soffritto
Tapanade crouton

(V) Black Olive Tapenade- warm Pan Con Tomate
Roast Gressingham Duck Breast
Honey glazed baby onions, minted peas Madeira sauce and pomme de terre puree

(V) Pan-fried bubble and Squeak with pea puree and honey glazed onions
Green Apple Sorbet
Warm Pear Batter Cake and hazelnut cream

Formal Hall
Thursday 22nd October
Sweet Potato Soup
With vanilla and verjus
Paprika and Garlic Rubbed Fillet of Pork-sous vide
Anna Potatoes, cauliflower puree with Masala and spinach cream sauce

(V) Paprika and Garlic Marinated Tofu
Anna Potatoes, cauliflower puree with Masala and spinach cream sauce
Sauvignon Blanc Braised Pineapple
White chocolate sorbet and cilantro coulis

Formal Hall
Friday 23rd October
Smoked salmon tartare, tomato consommé, compressed cucumber
Lemon oil

(V) Tomato tartare, tomato consommé, compressed cucumber
Lemon oil
Pan-Roasted Fresh Cod
Braised spring onions, chestnut mushrooms, turnip puree and baby fondants
Jus gras

(V) Vegetable and Potato Cakes
Chocolate Pavé

Formal Hall
Saturday 24th October
French Onion soup
With Gruyere Crouton
Roasted Free-Range Chicken
Wild mushroom ragout and rosti potato
Chicken jus

(V) Wild Mushroom and Asparagus Ragout with Puff Pastry
Rosti potato
Cheesecake Tart with Blueberries

Formal Hall
Sunday 25th October
Salmon Pastrami with Toasted sourdough

(V) Beef Tomato and Whipped Brie Quenelle
Reduced balsamico
Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding
Traditional condiments

(V) Chestnut and Vegetable Roast
Glazed Lemon Tart
Raspberry syllabub

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Tonight's Fairtrade, Local and Sustainable Formal Hall

Tonight was busy, busy, busy! Undergrads in the Hall, BA's in the Old Library, Fellows on High Table, Dinner in the Outer Parlour and a small dinner in the Christopher Smart Room! In the kitchen we had only four chefs to cook all five functions. Tonight we were lucky and every dinner had the same menu (this is not always the case) making life easier for the kitchen. In total we served 120, hopefully happy diners.
Tonight's starter was a winter salad of locally grown figs, roasted peppers and shaved fennel. The figs and roasted peppers were seasoned with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced shallots and gray salt. This recipe came from The French Laundry Cookbook.

I tasted one of the salads and was very happy with the finished flavour. Visually, this dish is a little light in colour but it makes up for this in taste.

Tonight's main course of Suffolk duck confit is an old favourite here at Pembroke, if I had a pound for every duck we have confited I would retire early! The combination of rosti potato, Cambridgeshire red cabbage and duck works very well and is fairly simple to prepare, this came in very handy tonight.

To finish tonight's meal we served Dark Fairtrade Chocolate Crémeux in a Tuile Basket with Fairtrade banana Anglaise, very simple but tasty! I hope everyone enjoyed their dinner and appreciated the ethical theme.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Tonight's Formal Hall Wednesday 14/10

Below is a picture of tonight's Amuse Bouche, salmon tartare served in a tuile biscuit cornet. This recipe was created by Thomas Keller, owner of The French Laundry in Nappa Valley California. The French Laundry is widely recognised as one of the best restaurants in the world.

The rest of tonight's Formal Hall was influenced by a special cookbook called Essence. Le Champignon Sauvage, located in Cheltenham and owned by David Everitt-Matthias has been open for 20 years and has two Michelin stars. Essence, published in 2006 is a real insight into David's commitment to British produce and was the influence behind tonight's menu. The English pea soup with Parmesan crisp is simple yet homely, a real British soup based on locally sourced vegetables.

Tonight's main course, braising steak, was cooked sous vide for 10 hours at 55C. I was very happy with the colour of the meat, but felt that a longer cooking temp will result in a more tender finish. To accompany the beef we served a spinach risotto, blanced spring onions and a red wine jus.

Tonight's sweet of brie sorbet, berry consomme and balsamic foam was an ambitious undertaking. Sorbet is normally made with fruit, sugar and water; adding fat i.e. cheese is a challenge to get right. I will await your feedback before labelling this a success!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Formal Hall Menus October 12th to 18th

Feast Night Formal Hall
Tuesday 13th October

Amuse Bouche
Petit Gougères
Warm puffs of air with Gruyère cheese, Parmesan, rosemary and fleur de sel
Spiced Split Pea Soup
Seared Fillet of Mackerel
Celeriac and pear remoulade, sardine dressing
Sautéed potatoes and French Beans

(V) Roasted Vegetable and Stilton Crumble
Pistachio and Olive Oil Cake
Roasted strawberries and rhubarb sorbet

Feast Night Formal Hall
Wednesday 14th October

Amuse Bouche
Cornet of salmon tartare and crème fraiche

(V) Cornet of red pepper and aubergine caviar confit
Puree of English Pea Soup
With Truffle Oil and Parmesan Crisps
Braised Beef steak
Spinach risotto and spring onions

(V) Spinach and Wild Mushroom Risotto with gruyere cheese
Winter Berry Consommé with Brie Sorbet
Mixed berries and white balsamic foam

Fairtrade, Local and Sustainable Formal Hall
Thursday 15th October

Salad of Figs, Roasted Sweet Peppers and Shaved Fennel
All locally sourced
Slow Roasted Confit of Suffolk Duck
Rosti potato, caramelised Cambridgeshire red cabbage
Roasted duck and thyme jus

(V) Falafel Medallions
Rosti potato, caramelised Cambridgeshire red cabbage
Dark Fairtrade Chocolate Crémeux
Tuile Basket and Fairtrade banana Anglaise
Fairtrade Coffee and Chocolate

Formal Hall
Saturday 17th October

Goat’s Cheese Mousse
Toasted brioche, grilled pear, honey, balsamic reduction and Tellicherry Pepper
Chicken and Spinach Roulade
Poached prunes, sweet potato mash and broccoli

(V) Spinach and Ricotta Crepes
Sable Breton with raspberries, vanilla cream and vanilla ice cream (GR)
Candied pistachios and chocolate

Formal Hall
Sunday 18th October

Homemade Smoked Haddock Fish Cakes
Hollandaise sauce and lemon

(V) Warm cauliflower Puree with Toasted Sourdough, toasted almonds and gremolata
Roast Leg of Lamb
Chateau potatoes, panache, mint sauce

(V) White Bean Cassoulet with dumplings
Apple and Blackberry Crumble
Crème Anglaise

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Feast Night Formal Hall Wednesday Oct. 7th

Monday through Wednesday we serve special 'Feast Night' Formal Hall's. These special dinners include the additions of a fourth course, tableclothes, silver plated cutlery and best China. We normally limit capacity to 50 covers on these evenings and strive for an 'exclusive' ambiance. Formal Hall has traditionally been served seven nights a week at Pembroke, with Friday through Sunday being the most popular nights. About two years ago we introduced the Feast Night dinners in order to boost attendance early in the week; it's been a big success!

Wednesday's Feast Night was the first of Michealmas Term and followed on from the Undergraduate Matriculation dinner the night before. We started the dinner with a warm Amuse Bouche of pea and coconut veloute topped with a coconut foam....mmm, delicious!

We followed the Amuse Bouche with citrus cured salmon confited in olive oil at 38C for twelve minutes. The salmon is topped with finely sliced chives and avrouga caviar. The salmon is set on warm orange segments steeped in stock syrup and white wine. The salmon confit is finished with a coriander coulee. This dish is from Thomas Keller's famous 'French Laundry' cookbook.

Next came a dish from 'Sous Vide' by Joan Roca and Salvador Brugués. This groundbreaking cookbook was the first to focus entirely on sous vide cooking, and is considered by many as a text book reference guide for under pressure cooking. The dish consists of a chicken breast cooked sous vide at 65C for 60 minutes and then briefly pan-fried in olive oil and butter. With the chicken we served a black olive jus, mango sauce and champ potato.

To finish we served a variation of a recipe from Thomas Keller's 'Under Pressure' cookbook. Carrot cake is served with cinnamon ice cream, cream cheese frosting and carrot powder. In hindsight the dish lacked a contrasting colour element to 'lift' the presentation, next time we will do this slightly differently. Nevertheless this sweet tasted great and the plates all came back empty!

BA's Dinner last Thursday

On Thursday we hosted this terms first BA's (graduate students) Dinner in the main hall at Pembroke. The dinner for 120 students and guests began with an Amuse Bouche. We served compressed watermelon topped with Keta caviar, lemon oil, fleur de sel and lime zest. We rubbed a little fish sauce onto the watermelon before we vacuum packed the fruit; the fish sauce added a nice savoury contrast to the sweet fruit.

We followed the Amuse Bouche with:

Baked Trout Fillet
White beans, scallion and radish salad, soy & orange glaze

The fresh trout was topped and tailed prior to being cooked in a 200C oven for 4 minutes. Underneath the trout we served cannellini beans with finely diced leeks, onions and carrots warmed through with butter and white wine. On top we served a chilled salad of radish, scallion and carrot. To accompany the dish we served a warm orange and soy glaze.

For our vegetarian guests we offered heart of palm pan fried in butter, lemon oil and white wine. Heart of palm, also called palm heart, palmito, burglar's thigh, chonta or swamp cabbage, is a vegetable harvested from the inner core and growing bud of certain palm trees (notably the coconut (Cocos nucifera), Palmito Juçara (Euterpe edulis), Açaí palm (Euterpe oleracea), sabal (Sabal spp.) and pejibaye (Bactris gasipaes) palms). Heart of palm is often eaten in a salad, sometimes called "millionaire's salad".

For the main course we served:

Roulade of Duck with Swiss Chard
Wild mushrooms, creamed corn and fondant potato

To make the roulade we skinned two duck breasts and seasoned them with 4-spice and salt. Next we sprinkled them with transglutaminase (British chef Heston Blumenthal is credited with the introduction of "meat glue" AKA transglutaminase into modern cooking.) and wrapped them in plastic wrap to form a barrel shape. The duck is left in the fridge for six hours allowing the two breasts to bind together. Next we un-wrap the duck, re-wrap in blanched Swiss Chard and then vacuum pack on high. We cook the roulades Sous Vide at 58C for 90 minutes, the finished duck is a lovely pink throughout and incredibly tender!

To finish this amazing meal that only cost £7.25 per person, we served:

Hazelnut and Cherry Cake, Yoghurt Sorbet
Cherry coulis and dark chocolate crème brulee

The yoghurt sorbet works very well with the dark chocolate of the brulee, and when combined with cherries and hazlenuts the result is fantastic.

Another 'school dinner' is served!