Saturday, 7 November 2009

The University of Cambridge Culinary Competition

The Guild Hall was the location for Thursday's University of Cambridge Culinary Competition. Over sixty chefs from the University's Colleges entered this years event, as well as eight front of house staff who competed in a table setting contest.

The contest is mainly based around the presentation of food; the contestants cook a dish and when chilled, they garnish and glaze the food with aspic.
Most of the entries are not tasted (which I don't really agree with) and the decision on a winner is based mainly on appearance and creativity of ingredients.
To boost this years event several new categories were included; petit fours, canapes and afternoon tea cakes, as well as the table setting contest. Also included was the live cook-off event held the previous week at Cambridge Regional College (of which I wrote about previously).
Pembroke, being the college with the best food in Cambridge, entered 18 dishes, with Becky Warren competing in the table setting contest and Sasa Williams entering the live cook-off.
Nine of our eleven chefs were involved this year and each was awarded a bottle of Champagne (from me) for their efforts.

The judging has taken place and the results will be revealed at an awards ceremony at Magdalene College on November 26th. Below are our Chefs and their dishes.
Nick Rose- Head Chef

Strawberries and Chocolate by Nick Rose
Chocolate terrine, chocolate biscuit, chocolate torte with strawberry cream

Citrus Cured Salmon by Nick Rose
Fresh salmon cured with citrus zest and salt and then confited in olive oil.
Served with orange segments, pea shoot coulis and beluga caviar

Ioana Cozma- Sous Chef

Loin of Tuna by Ioana Cozma
Fresh tuna, pearl barley risotto, cannelloni of capsicum,
red pepper filled with fennel mousse and balsamic reduction

Selection of Risotto by Ioana Cozma
beetroot risotto, Parmesan and Black Truffle Risotto, Broad Bean Risotto,
Vanilla and Saffron Risotto, White and Green Asparagus Risotto

Shane Miller- Chef de Partie

Poached Pear by Shane Miller
Poached pear in red wine, cherry clafoutis and white chocolate mousse

Selection of Tea Cakes by Shane Miller
Traditional fruit cake, special fruit cake and fruit bread, scones and shortbread

Tomasz Kowal- Chef de Partie

Venison by Tomasz Kowal
Loin of Venison sous vide, blueberry mash, redcurrants and cherry tomatoes

Assiette of Seafood by Tomasz Kowal
Smoked salmon, Crab pancake, shrimp and caviar

Darina Stoyanova- Chef de Partie

Loin of Venison wrapped in Parma Ham by Darina Stoyanova
Venison cooked sous vide with winter vegetables- absolutely stunning!

Assiette of Chocolate by Darina Stoyanova
White chocolate torte, dark chocolate and pistachio torte and strawberries

Seb Little
Junior Sous Chef

Roulade of Duck by Seb Little
Breast of duck sous vide with Maxim potato, glazed cranberries and celery

Elvis 'Sasa' Williams- Chef de Partie

Selection of Lamb by Sasa Williams
Shank, loin and cutlet of Lamb

Tuna Nicoise by Sasa Williams
Loin of tuna, tomatoes, anchovies, black olives and French beans

Piotr Babiak- Trainee Chef

Lobster by Piotr Babiak
Tail and claw of lobster with orange, artichokes and petit herbs

Chocolate Mousse and Fruit by Piotr Babiak
Three layer chocolate mousse with melon and strawberries

Victoria Mayhew- Commis Chef

Creme Brulee by Victoria Mayhew
Chocolate creme brulee on a chocolate crust, Financier cake with cherries and yogurt sorbet

Becky Warren- Cafeteria Supervisor

Becky's table decorated for the University's 800th Anniversary

Our wonderful chefs were in the kitchen as early as 4am finishing off their dishes. Below are a few photos showing them walking to the Guild Hall at 7.30am; they looked confident and committed!

The chefs now face an agonising wait until the results are announced on the 26th. However, you could ease their anxiety by helping to choose the best dish from the Pembroke Chefs. Post a comment below with the name of your favourite dish and the winner, as chosen by you will receive a second bottle of Champagne and an award certificate. Voting is open until Friday 13th November.
Please vote for your favourite dish now!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Formal Hall Menus November 9th to 15th

Feast Night Formal Hall
Monday 9th November

Amuse Bouche
Chilled Tomato with Ginger
Salmon Terrine
Horseradish, lemon and frisee

(V) Pressed tomato terrine with basil
Confit of Free-Range Chicken filled with Sausage and Cranberries
Rosemary potatoes, fine beans and Calvados jus

(V) Aubergine Steak
Goat’s Cheese Panna Cotta
Raspberries and vanilla

Feast Night Formal Hall
Tuesday 10th November

Baked Salmon in Filo Pastry
Fresh salmon with sweet peppers and tomato

(V) Tomato, Red Pepper and Mozzarella en Croute
Roast Sirloin of Beef sous vide
Wild mushroom jus, chateau potatoes and broccoli

(V) Stilton, Almond and Lentil Croquettes
Fig Tarte Tatin
Burnt orange syrup and almond ice cream

There will be NO formal dinner on the 11th November due to a College function

Formal Hall
Thursday 12th November

Duck Confit Rillettes
French Baguette and Whole Grain Honey Mustard

(V) Aubergine Caviar
Grilled Trout with a prawn mousse
Wild rice timbale, carrot puree and Hollandaise

(V) Ale and Mushroom Puff Pastry Pie with Champ
Warm Chocolate Brownie
Vanilla Ice Cream

Formal hall
Friday 13th November

Winter Chestnut Soup
Grilled Sea Bream
Bouillabaisse Risotto-mussels, prawns, fennel and saffron
Spinach cream sauce

(V) Brie and Beetroot Layered Yorkshire Pudding
With Sliced Potatoes and spinach
Raspberry Crème Brulee
Fresh raspberries and biscuit

Formal Hall
Saturday 14th November

Heirloom Tomato Tart
Nicoise olive tapanade, mixed leaves and basil vinaigrette
Pork Steak sous vide with Garlic and Rosemary
Celeriac puree, rosti potato and mint jus

(V) Smoked Tofu Wrapped in Cabbage
With ratatouille-tomato and basil salsa
Carrot Cake with Cinnamon Ice Cream

Formal Hall
Sunday 15th November

Baked Trout Almondine
Béarnaise Sauce

(V) Grilled Asparagus
     Béarnaise sauce
Roast Leg of Lamb
Roast potatoes, minted peas and carrots, roasted parsnips -rosemary and redcurrant jus

(V) Minced Quorn and Vegetable Cottage Pie
Spotted Dick Pudding
Brandied Custard

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Last Night's iCUSU International Formal Hall

On Monday Night we hosted the International Cambridge University Student Union Formal Hall.
One hundred and sixty one students from most of the Cambridge Colleges gathered together for a Feast Night Formal.
 As we were serving an incredible number of guests we settled on a nice, fairly simple menu; one we could do well and quickly, but would also reflect the high standards expected of Pembroke Food!
For a starter we served an organic carrot soup garnished with a cilantro (coriander) coulis. The cilantro is blanched quickly in boiling water before being plunched into ice; this method results in a vibrant green colour that is then blended with a stock syrup (sugar and water).

The carrot crop is Britain's major root vegetable, producing over 700,000 tonnes of sold carrots each year from 9,000 hectares.
Each year 22 billion carrot seeds are sown in Britain, producing around 100 carrots per year for every member of the population.
The sales value of British carrots is around £290 million.
Freshly harvested carrots are washed, packed and distributed to nearly every shop in the whole of Britain almost every day of the year.
Convenience carrot products, such as batons, shaped carrots and salad shred, are becoming increasingly popular.
So, as you can see, the humble carrot soup is big news in the UK!

To follow the now legendary carrot soup we served an intermezzo of lemon sorbet. Unfortunately, the chef on duty forgot to take a photo of the aforementioned sorbet. However, I did manage to find the picture below to help wet your appetite!

For a main course we served free-range Pouisson Royale (baby chicken) locally sourced from our friends at Charnwood Fayre. CF have been supplying Pembroke with free-range chicken for the last two years. To accompany the Pouisson we served caramelised red cabbage (yes, locally sourced-again), Boulangere potatoes and a thyme jus.

To complete another great Feast Night at Pembroke we served pistachio cake with dark chocolate ice cream and a cherry coulis. The cake is made with 'super green pistachios', great colour, no shells and £25.00 per kilo. Ouch! However, they do make a fantastic cake and the colour is stunning.

I hope that everyone who attended the dinner had a great time, and thank you for choosing Pembroke!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Formal Hall Friday 30th October

On Friday night whilst the Fellows enjoyed their Parlour Evening Dinner the students were not forgotten. Formal Hall was pretty full on Friday with 100 Pembroke students and their guests joining Fellows in the hall for dinner. Whilst the Formal menu was different from the Fellows menu, they both enjoyed French Onion soup as a starter. The lovely rich soup was topped with a large crouton of melted Gruyere Cheese. At Pembroke we love our vegetarians so much that we made a second 'veggie friendly' version; the original being made with beef stock.

For a main course we served confit of duck with roasted sweet potato, pak choi and plum jus. The duck legs are liberally salted and left for up to six hours to draw the moisture out of the skin; this results in a crispier finish. The duck legs are rinsed and dried then covered with goose fat and slow roasted for 6 hours. At this point the legs are allowed to cool in the fat and will keep well in a fridge for several weeks. Duck Confit is seen as a speciality of Gascony and is a centuries-old process of preservation.
Pak Choi (also known as bok choi or Peking cabbage) is a Chinese cabbage commonly used in Asian cooking and is in season between October and March. We combined the flavours of duck, pak choi and plums in this Asian inspired dish which we finished with the sweet potato.

For the sweet we served a Bailey's dark Chocolate Mousse with shortbread biscuits. The mousse was made by melting dark chocolate and mixing with meringued egg whites. The egg white/chocolate mixture is then folded into semi-whipped cream flavoured with Bailey's and sugar. The mousse is then refridgerated until it sets up. We topped the mousse with whipped cream and a chocolate coffee bean

I hope everyone enjoyed their dinner.
Coming next: saturday's Halloween Formal Hall.

Parlour Evening on Friday 30th October

Parlour Evening is an opportunity for the Fellowship of the College to dine with guests at High Table. The dinner takes place six times a year on a Friday, and consists of a four-course meal followed by dessert in The Senior Parlour. As only 46 places are available the special dinner fills quickly!
On this occasion we served an amuse bouche of salmon tartare in a tuile biscuit cornet. The raw salmon in finely minced with shallots and lemon- the cornet is filled with creme fraiche and chives. The cornets are tricky as they're baked flat and then wrapped around a cornet mould whilst very hot, lots of burned fingers! Ouch!

We followed the cornet with a classic French Onion Soup topped with a Gruyere cheese crouton. The sliced onions are slow cooked for six hours until caramelised before adding beef stock and simmering. This soup is best made a day in advance and reheated prior to service, allowing the soup to sit overnight helps to develop the lovely flavour of the soup.

Following the soup we served a fillet of sea bass with sweet parsnip puree, wilted spinach and a saffron and vanilla cream sauce. The parsnips are cooked sous vide with milk, cream, sugar and salt for one hour at 82 degrees C. Whilst still hot the parsnips are pureed until smooth in our Vita Prep Blender.
This has to be one of the best fish dishes I have ever tasted! The sauce was wonderful, the fish was cooked to perfection, and when combined with the parsnip and spinach it was truely sublime.....I could eat this every day!

As we are now into game season we settled on fillet of Venison for the main course. The Venison was cooked sous vide for three hours at 57 degrees C and served with Dauphinoise potatoes and a panache of winter vegetables. We served a redcurrant and thyme jus to finish the plate.

The Venison is incredibly tender and has the most fantastic colour and flavour-it simply melts in the mouth!

To follow the Venison we served warm chocolate Bouchons with clotted cream ice cream, cherry coulis and cherry's marinated in Kirsh. The warm Bouchon is similar to a chocolate brownie and went well with the very alcoholic cherries and clotted cream ice cream.
After the sweet the fellows retire to the Senior Parlour for cheese, dessert fruit, petite fours and coffee.

I received an e-mail on Saturday morning from a fellow who dined on Parlour Evening:

'A quick note to thank you very much for all the hard work that went
into such an excellent dinner last evening. I was fielding compliments
all night long, both for the food and for the excellent presentation
and service.'

A good night had by all.
Very best, and thank you again,

Good feedback makes all the hard work worthwhile, thank you!