Last night's Formal and BA dinners started off with a Verrine of Mediterranean Prawn salad. The recipe came from the now legendary Franck Pontais and his beautifully illustrated tome Terrines and Verrines.
This great starter combines char-grilled red onions, aubergines, courgettes and tomatoes marinated in olive oil and soy. These lovely Mediterranean vegetables are topped with char-grilled king prawns and a creme fraiche and honey dressing.
Our chefs are becoming quite accomplished photographers!
For the main course we served a marinated flank of beef cooked sous vide for 8 hours at 57C. The Flank steak comes from the abdominal muscle of the cow and is a tough cut of meat. The French are quite partial to this cut, known as bavette. It is quickly seared in a hot pan and eaten rare to maintain its tenderness. Bavette is frequently served in Parisian bistros with shallots - "Bavette a l'échalotte". The texture is the obvious drawback to using a cut of meat such as this, however this is somewhat outweighted by the lovely taste and flavour. By cooking sous vide we are able to maintain the medium-rare temperature and at the same time cook the meat long enough to create a tender finish. With the beef we served roasted root vegetables, dauphinoise potatoes and wild mushroom jus.
Our VIP vegetarian guests were served spinach and ricotta ravioli with sage butter, root vegetables and Parmesan cheese.
To round off the dinners we found a gem of a recipe in The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller. Those of you in the know will appreciate the complexity and beauty of Mr Kellers cuisine. His restaurant empire includes The French Laundry, Ad Hoc, Per Se, Bouchon Bakery and Bouchon restaurants and are located in California, Las Vegas and New York.
The Cappuccino Semifreddo with Cinnamon-Sugar Doughnuts is a delicious treat. A semi-frozen cappuccino mousse is topped with semi-whipped cream and served with warm doughnuts.....I'm sure all the colleges are doing this simple kinda sweet;-))