Cooking for restaurant critics, would have to be the scariest task yet on MasterChef UK. Why? Because, even if you do not win MasterChef, the critics are your potential future guests, and they can make or break your career in cooking, even before it has started. Therefore it is even more vital that you impress them.
In addition, the task is made harder, because it is not just about cooking one dish, but more about preparing a menu. This is quite different. You have to ensure, not only, that all three dishes are immaculately cooked and presented, but that all three dishes follow on from the other AND the dishes have to represent you, as a chef, and your style of cooking.
I think one thing that let me down as a contestant in MasterChef UK, was that I started to loose my ‘style’, and cooked food that I would not necessarily have eaten. I know that sounds crazy now that I say it, but I was up against amazing cooks, and I am someone who likes to push my boundaries… inevitably I pushed them so much, that I lost my way.
So what would I have cooked for this round? And why would I have choosen these recipes?
For the Starter I would have cooked Beetroot Gazpacho with Wasabi Ice Cream. Okay, so I know this is another weird Ice Cream – you must be thinking’ what is it with this girl and her weird Ice Creams’! However, I was fortunate enough, that for my 30th Birthday I was taken to Heston Blumenthal’s; The Fat Duck. An amazing experience, and for a foodie like me, I was in heaven! One of the dishes we had there was a Red Cabbage Gazpacho with Mustard Ice Cream, and that inspired me. Within a couple of weeks of going to the restaurant, I had created this dish, and I have friends who rave about it!
For the Main I would have cooked Liquorice Lamb with Apricot and Fennel. I have been cooking a Lamb, Apricot and Fennel tagine since I was a teenager. I first got the recipe from Delia Smith‘s Food Aid Cookery Book. And over the years, I have refined the dish, so that it still had the elements and flavours, but was less of a tagine, and more fine dining. I recently added the Liquorice, having seen Glyn Purnell cook a Fillet of Beef with Liquorice on The Great British Menu, and I think that Liquorice, Apricot and Fennel complement each other beautifully.
For the Dessert I would have cooked Pistachio Cake with Orange Sorbet. I would have chosen this recipe because I know it is delicious, and light, and would cleanse the mouth nicely after the spicy main course. However, I would have also have chosen this dessert because of timing as it has less processes involved. Therefore, in theory, it would have allowed me to concentrate more on the other dishes, and ensure that I produced three excellent meals.
Beetroot Gazpacho with Wasabi Ice Cream
(Unfortunately I have not got a photo of this recipe, and I have not had the chance to make it this week – I will add the photo the next time I make it! However, the above photo, is that of Heston Blumenthal’s, which inspired the recipe. It looks extremely similar – although without the grains in the ice cream – it tastes different, but I can assure you, it tastes just as delicious!)
INGREDIENTS (serves 8)
For the Wasabi Ice Cream
4 egg yolks
4 tbsp wasabi (clearspring wasabi Japanese horseradish powder)
For the Beetroot Gazpacho
300 ml apple juice from a juicer
500ml of beetroot juice from a juicer
1 tbsp sherry
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Caster sugar for season
Flaked Salt for seasoning
1 x large cucumber
For the Wasabi Ice Cream:
Bring milk and cream up to boil. Whisk egg yolks, glucose and wasabi, slowly add milk mixture, return to heat, and stir constantly until it reaches 84C. Place in an Ice-Cream machine and churn as per machine’s instructions. Generally this is for an hour. Once ready, place in an air-tight container and leave in the freezer until ready to serve.
For the Beetroot Gazpacho
Cook the beetroot in foil, placed on a tray lined with rock salt, and cook in 160C for 1 hour. Leave to sweat in the foil for 10 mins, and peel. Place all the beetroot into a blender, add the apple juice and the beetroot juice and mix. Pass through a sieve. Put the liquid in a bowl over a bowl of iced water. Season the Gazpacho with salt to your taste, adding a small amount at a time. Add the sherry and vinegar and a touch of sugar. Refrigerate. Check seasoning again when fully chilled.
For the Garnish:
Peel and seed the cucumber. Chop into small cubes.
Take out the Ice-Cream at least 10 minutes before serving time to ensure it is easy to scoop. Place a small amount of cucumber onto the middle of a low bowl, and place a quenelle of ice cream on top of the cucumber. Pour the Beetroot Gazpacho into a small serving jug. When serving pour the Beetroot Gazpacho into the serving bowl at the table – it will add a little drama to the dish!