I couldn’t believe that I made it from 20,000 applications to the TOP 10 of MasterChef UK!
But, as exciting, and amazing, as this is – words cannot describe the pressure and stress of MasterChef. The first episode already included:
- an application
- a casting (where I cooked a fig and walnut tart)
- a blind tasting (lamb and eucalyptus sauce)
- an ingredients test (lemon tart)
- a day in a kitchen (The Lounge, London: Filet of Pork with risotto and apple sauce)
- One course in 1 hr 30 (scallops with cauliflower puree and caramel)
My social life totally disappeared – to the point that friends started to think I was just being rude! And work – well that was becoming harder and harder. When I was not working, I was spending all my time trying to improve my cooking by reading recipes, trialling new recipes, and coming up with my own ideas. My poor flat mate! She was, as ever, extremely patient with me, and put up with my recipe books taking over the house, and a kitchen that was in constant full swing with my (at times weird) experiments.
I started to wish that I had been more prepared, and that I had more finished recipes in my repertoire. However, the chocolate cylinders is one recipe I created in the midst of all the madness. I’m quite proud of it, and from the comments aired on last night’s show, it seems that everyone enjoyed eating it – a bonus! I think it works, because it has drama, is delicious, and plays on the tongue with different sensations; the crunch of the chocolate crumb, the smoothness of the raspberry filling, the sweetness of the chocolate cylinder and the earthiness of the beetroot sorbet.
Part of the challenge of MasterChef is being original with your recipes, coming up with something that other people haven’t while at the same time making sure it is something you would enjoy eating!
So – how did I come up with the recipe?
My flatmate likes and eats quite a lot of beetroot but it is not something I generally cook with – and so she inspired me, and I wanted to create something with it. So one day I went to the supermarket and bought nothing but 30 beetroots – I think they thought I was mad! I tried smoking beetroot, roasting beetroot, juicing beetroot, you name it! I also started reading lots of recipes which included beetroot, and I read in The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit that beetroot and raspberry compliment each other, and I immediately thought of ‘sorbet’!
At the same time I also read a recipe for pineapple filled chocolate cylinders. I swapped the pineapple with spiced raspberries and the whole thing came together.
So how does one come up with new recipes? Like most recipes they are just an amalgamation of other recipes, with your own instinct thrown in. So, if you want to become a better cook, obviously the kitchen is where it is all at, but reading recipes and using your imagination and instinct to develop them, also helps. Finally think of the textures – this is an area we often forget – there should always be something crunchy and soft.
And for the recipe? Well, we will just need to wait and see if it appears in the MasterChef Book – I will let you know!
But for now, the big lesson I learned from this episode, was how to temper chocolate!
Tempering chocolate is really easy as long as you pay attention to it. The great thing about it is that it allows you to create the shapes you want with chocolate, as tempering helps to stabalize the chocolate and ensures it is smooth and shiny.
Ingredients and equipment:
1 x Bowl
300 g of chocolate (preferably couverture chocolate or cooking chocolate chips)
1 x thermometer
Place 200g of chocolate broken into small piece in the bowl. Place the bowl over a simmering pot of water to make a bain marie – making sure that the bowl does not touch the water. Allow the chocolate to melt, using the thermometer to check the temperature of the chocolate. Dark chocolate should reach 55 degrees celcius and for milk and white chocolate, 45 degrees celcius.
Remove the chocolate from the heat, and add the remaining 100g of broken chocolate, stirring continuously until the chocolate reaches the temperature of 32C for dark chocolate, 30C for milk and 29C for white.
You can use sheets of acetate to create shapes. For the chocolate cylinders cut a rectangle of acetate, using a palette knife cover the acetate with tempered chocolate, and let it set for a couple of minutes until it is nearly set, and then roll it into shape to completely set. Alternatively, another way of using tempered chocolate is to pour the chocolate over a cake you have made, and it will make a hard chocolate shell that will set with a glossy shine.