21 Nov 2012

Competition Final

After 4 weeks of practise and chestnut and heather tartlet overload (my partner got completely fed up with it!), it was finally the big day of the Martin Wishart Cook School Challenge. Martin welcomed all finalists with his big smile and a trophy up for grab! The pressure was on ...

Martin and Kevin tasting the winning grouse dish, which looked amazing.
They pretty much polished off my plate (middle)!
Martin and Kevin seemed to take forever with judging. Finally, the verdict: I was given the 2nd prize: Two tasting menus with matching wines in his restaurant! So delighted!

the 2nd prize

More details and pictures about the cool school challenge can be found here. And a small article with a great picture of all finalists was published in the local newspaper!
I've booked us in to redeem my prize on the 21st December. I can't wait! 

4 Nov 2012

Two crabs - Two dishes for Two

The Edinburgh Farmer's market is always a great place to find new produce and get inspired. One Saturday morning, we saw some velvet crabs sold by the incredibly comical fish monger from Creelers. The crabs are - as their name suggests - really velvety on their back, and with 80p per crab a bargain!
fresh velvet crabs from the Farmer's market
I cooked them for 5 minutes in salted boiling water and served them with homemade mayonnaise flavoured with capers and herbs.

Mayonnaise with rapeseed oil, capers and herbs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 100ml rapeseed oil
  • splash of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 1tbsp of parsley (or whatever herb you prefer)
 Add the egg yolk and mustard to a bowl and mix (I use an electric mixer) and slowly pour the oil until thick and creamy. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Finely chop capers and herbs or whatever you fancy (I would have loved some cornichons if I had had some in my cupboard!) and add to your mayonnaise.
It's so easy to make your own mayonnaise and so good! I like the nutty taste of rapeseed oil and it's really good for you, but of course you can substitute it with any oil you like.

Velvet crabs are tiny, so getting the meat our of the crab shell was actually quite challenging and messy!  The next time I'd probably follow the fish monger's wife's advice and make soup with it. However, we really enjoyed digging into the crabs and trying to get out every last bit of meat, which was really tasty.

Crab massacre

Though messy, the shells were far too precious to be thrown straight into the bin. I made a stock by boiling them in water for about 30 minutes with a few parsley stalks that I've always got lying in my fridge. I strained the liqueur and reduced it down to about 100ml. My idea was to use the concentrated stock instead of milk in a béchamel sauce for a soufflé.

Ingredients for four small ramequin:
  • 20g butter
  • 20g plain flour
  • 100ml of crab stock
  • 2 eggs, separated 
  • Seasoning (salt, pepper, nutmeg)
  • Parsley chopped
Start by preparing your moulds to ensure an even rise: Butter the ramequins well and cover the entire inner surface with flour. Shake off any excess flour. Make a béchamel sauce using the butter, flour and stock and season to taste. Incorporate first the egg yolks to the béchamel and then fold in the egg whites whisked to stiff peaks. Pour the the mixture into the prepared moulds and bake for 15-20 minutes in a preheated oven at 200°C until well risen. Whatch them for the last few minutes but don't open the oven unless they're ready!

The soufflés rose nicely, but I have to say that nothing beats a traditional cheese soufflé with a proper béchamel sauce made with milk!