Months ago we went to Brittany to stay in a family member’s house (there are 3 apartments for holiday lets. Highly recommended). I was going through a big Instagram phase at the time, and found my pics lurking in a folder this afternoon. Not much else to report, it rained, it was sunny, we had lots of nice (albeit slightly beige) food. And at one point the English Channel (OK, from the French side) looked like Mauritius.
Actually we did have an horrendous time going over there, involving Ryanair (no comment), an emergency purchase of a suitcase at the airport as I hadn’t quite believed that 1 piece of hand luggage really meant just 1, the car hire guy driving off to St Malo without giving us the car seats, DS2 falling over in the back of the car as we were waiting for the car seats to come back and cutting his lip, and DH failing to remember a map meaning that we spent hours driving around a small peninsula trying to find our destination village. Anyway, once we got there it was lovely.
One of the loveliest things about this wedding business is that it means you start talking to all sorts of local people offering various goods and services of the nuptial variety. At the barn we’re having our reception at, I picked up a postcard with some beautiful photos of sugar flowers that were actually good enough to eat. Short and Sweet’s stuff looked fab – but there was no website.
As I’ve got lots of spare time with just two young children, I got in touch with the cake maker extraordinaire, artist and baker Terry Wilson, and we’ve done a lovely deal: I’ve put together a WordPress site for her (shortandsweetstuff.wordpress.com), and she’s going to make me some flowery cupcakes for the wedding. Today I officially handed the blog over, with instructions as to how to post new blog entries, update photos etc. So Terry’s it is, and I hope that it’ll evolve and grow as she bakes, paints and blogs. In the meantime if you’re looking for some gorgeous cakes, or are just surfing over coffee, do have a browse. Yummylicious!
This was the starter from our Waitrose Cookery School Michelin-starred (style) meal. Reluctant as I am to think about Christmas in the middle of July (OK, reluctant-ish), it’s going to be our Official Starter on 25th December. At least that’s the plan now… It feeds 8. You need to get going the day before. It’s basically
a savoury trifle really lovely and refreshing.
For the gazpacho jelly (layer #1) – make the day before:
- 250g tomatos: peeled, deseeded, chopped
- 1/4 large cucumber: peeled & roughly chopped
- 1 red pepper: deseeded & roughly chopped
- 1 red chilli: deseeded & roughly chopped
- 1/4 small red onion: roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic: crushed
- 2-3 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 x 25g pack of fresh basil
- 1/2 tbsp tomato ketchup
- 100ml tomato juice [I’d use good quality stuff; I think the one I tried was too runny]
- 2.5 leaves bronze leaf gelatine
- Put everything except the gelatine into a food processor [NOT a liquidiser; I used that and it got whizzed up too much v quickly] & blend to consistency of coarse soup. Taste & adjust if necessary with salt and vinegar. This is your gazpacho, and you could just eat it as it is…
- Pour it into 2 layers of muslin and hang to strain into a bowl or jug in the fridge overnight. You should have 175ml of clear ‘gazpacho consomme’ at the end. [Mine was not clear I think because it was too runny – though the taste was still great]
- NEXT DAY: Soak the gelatine in cold water until softened. Warm the consomme gently in pan over medium heat until it ‘steams’ – do not boil. Remove from heat.
- Squeeze the soaked gelatine leaves to remove excess liquid and whisk the softened sheets into the warmed consomme until they’re completely dissolved.
- Divide the consomme between 8 (cocktail) glasses [or something that’ll allow you to get your spoon in to the bottom]; place in the fridge to chill and set (about 6 hours).
For the crab (layer #2):
- 200g picked fresh white crab meat [I bought mine from Waitrose fish counter but it was a mix of white and brown; gave up trying to separate it eventually #whyIwontwinaMichelinstar]
- 2-3 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 Baby Gem lettuce: very finely shredded
- Salt, lemon juice & Tabasco sauce for seasoning
- Mix together crab, mayonnaise & lettuce. Season with salt, lemon juice, and Tabasco to taste. Refrigerate.
For the avocado garnish (dolloped #3)
- 1 avocado
- Salt, lemon juice & Tabasco sauce for seasoning
- drizzle of olive oil
- 1-2 ice cubes
- Mix up the avocado and seasoning in a food processor (pinch of the salt, squeeze of the lemon, dash of tabasco), with a little olive oil and the ice cube. Blend to a smooth consistency.
- Taste, taste and taste again for seasoning and acidity. Add another ice cube if the puree is too thick; blend it until its smooth and silky.
- Spoon it into a piping bag with a plain nozzle (or a plastic bag, from which you can cut the corner) and refrigerate.
For the melba toast on top:
- 1 – 2 slices of white bread (packet bread is fine for this)
- salt and olive oil for drizzling
- Preheat the oven to 170C GM3 [or I’d go a bit hotter, as long as you’re around to keep an eye on things]
- Roll the bread out with a rolling pin under a piece of clingfilm so it’s nice and thin. Cut off the crusts, and cut out shapes such as triangles or squares (large or small).
- Put the shapes carefully on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil and salt; put another baking tray on top to stop them curling.
- Bake for 8-10mins until crisp and golden; drain of any excess oil on kitchen paper and put to one side.
The other garnishes:
- 40 pieces of red pepper: skinned (if you like), and diced
- 40 pieces of cucumber: peeled and diced to the same size
- 1 punnet of salad cress
- Take out your jelly so the glasses are at room temperature. Spoon a layer of crab mixture on top, then pipe 5 mounds of avocado puree on top of each dish. [You’ll probably have some spare, so just eat it.]
- Place your pepper and cucumber pieces Very Carefully around the puree. Garnish with few sprigs of cress. Apparently the trend is now to have the cress sitting upside down (ie on their leaves with their stalks waving in the air. You heard it here first…)
- Drizzle over a little olive oil, and serve with your toast.