MasterChef: and that part of the journey is over….

Episode 8 of MasterChef UK, and we are down to the last 7. First up, an ingredients test, of scottish produce, judged not only by John Torode and Gregg Wallace, but also scottish chef Tom Kitchin.  After last week’s fiasco, my confidence was completely knocked, and cooking under the pressure of all things Scottish knocked my confidence even more.

I decided not to cook my traditional scottish dessert which did me so well when I was in Junior MasterChef : Cranachan Ice Cream with Shortbread Biscuits. Instead, I opted for Beef Fillet with a Pearl Barley Sauce, a Pumpkin Purée and Ceps.  Half way into cooking, everything was under control, and I was starting to think that maybe this dish was a little too easy.  Then I realised that I did not have anything crunchy (a cardinal mistake, and one which is essential for a complimentary dish!).  For some reason, I thought of pastry?!! Of course, with 40 minutes left, making a pastry tart was going to be a push – clearly I needed a challenge like that ?!  And, as a result, the tart did not work out, and the rest of the dish suffered.  Not surprising really, and definitely not my best cooking, and so it was only fair that my journey on MasterChef came to an end.

On the day Gregg Wallace did like my dish, he just wanted a Fondant Potato (something with a crunch!!). I, of course had not seen, and therefore had not picked up, the humble potato.  But I had pumpkin! Why, oh why, did I not make pumpkin crisps and/ or a pumpkin fondant to go with my dish ??? I will never know!

However, to become the 7th best amateur chef out of 20,000 people in 2012, is not that bad really! And something that I do think I can be proud of.  I made many mistakes which I think will haunt me for a very long time.  But, I also learned a lot!

So what did I learn?

I learned:

  • I need to have more confidence in myself, and my abilities!
  • I like experimenting with my food, and experimentation is good, but all experiments should be thoroughly tried and tested before cooking them on National TV!
  • I love a challenge, but that sometimes doing what you are good at (rather than always pushing yourself) yields more successes!

And in cooking, I learned:

    • That a good, rich stock is vitally important.  (Use ice to help bring the impurities to the surface when skimming, to help make a richer stock.)
    • How to make salmon en croute
    • How to temper chocolate
    • How to use bone marrow
    • How ridiculously hot it is in a kitchen!!!

My biggest regret? Just before I was elminated, I had achieved what I had set out to do. I had set out to see if my cooking was any good.  I realised that it was.  My only regret is that I had not gone into MasterChef wanting to win….

But I am on  a journey.  A journey to fulfil my dream of cooking for a living.  As much as MasterChef 2012 has been a wonderful first step in that journey. It is the next steps that are the most important.  Follow me, while I figure out what my next steps should be –  any suggestions/ comments are also gratefully welcome!!

As homage to good Scottish cooking, with good Scottish Ingredients, and the beginning of my passion for food so well represented in the photo of me on Junior MasterChef, below  is my recipe for Cranachan Ice Cream with Shortbread biscuits – it is definitely a winner!

Note: Cranachan is a traditional Scottish pudding made with cream, raspberries, whiskey, honey and oatmeal.

Cranachan Ice Cream with Shortbread Biscuits

For the Ice Cream

4 egg yolks

90g caster sugar

30ml honey

250ml Milk

250ml Cream

150g raspberries (you can also easily use frozen raspberries for this)

50g pinhead oatmeal

2tbsp whiskey

First, toast the oatmeal in a dry frying pan over a medium heat, tossing and watching it constantly (it will burn very quickly).  Leave the oatmeal to cool.  Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and honey until pale and creamy. Mix in the whiskey.  Slowly bring the milk and cream to boil.  Pour the milk and cream into the egg mixture, stirring constantly.  Then pour the mixture back into the pan, and over a low heat, continue stirring until it reaches 84oC on a thermometer.  Pass through a fine sieve, and add to an ice cream machine.  Half way through churning, add the rasperries and oatmeal.  Continue churning until ready.

For the Shortbread Biscuits

240g butter

110 g caster sugar

250g plain flour

30 g rice flour

A little more caster sugar for sprinkling

Beat the butter and caster sugar together until pale.  Sieve in the flours and beat until mixed. Wrap the mixture and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Roll until 5mm thick, and using a pastry cutter, cut into rounds.  Place onto a baking sheet with greaseproof paper, and bake at 140oC for 35-40 minutes.  Remove and sprinkle with sugar as soon as it leaves the oven.  Let the biscuits cool, and store in an air tight container.

To Serve

Scoop the Cranachan Ice Cream in a tall glass.  Pour over some Raspberry Coulis, add a a few fresh raspberries for decoration and the Shortbread Biscuits.