Cantonese Crab and Sweetcorn Soup

For the first of our cookery school Chinese Masterclass recipes, I am giving you a personal favourite of mine, a classic Chinese recipe, Crab and Sweetcorn Soup. This soup is found in Chinese restaurants in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and some Southeast Asian nations such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. It is best to view most authentic Chinese soups as highly flavoured, aromatic broths and it is important to note that in Chinese kitchens they take as much care in their cooking as we in western kitchens devote to good stocks and much-celebrated consommés. This does not mean however that this is a complicated or indeed difficult dish. In fact, this is an incredibly easy recipe resulting in a fantastically tasty soup using brilliant local seafood. Enjoy.

Crab and Sweetcorn Soup 15-03-2017

The recipe calls for a fish or chicken stock which you can make yourself, you can, however, achieve excellent results with a good quality stock purchased from your local Deli or supermarket, try to source one that is jelly like in consistency as this will add body to the fished soup.

Cantonese Crab and Sweetcorn Soup                           serves 4

500 ml good quality Fish or Chicken Stock

300 gr cooked Sweetcorn Nibs

100 gr picked White Crab Meat

100 gr Brown Crab Meat, mashed with a fork

A small bunch of Spring Onions, finely shredded

75 ml Rice Wine or Dry Sherry

1 free-range Egg White

40 gr Ginger, peeled weight, cut into very fine strips or finely grated

2 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed

½ small Red Chilli, de-seeded and finely sliced ( optional )

1 Star Anise pod

Juice of one fresh Lemon

2 tablespoons cornflour

2 tablespoons light Soy Sauce

1 tablespoon Fish Sauce

Small bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Place the stock, sherry, soy, star anise, garlic, chilli and ginger into a medium sized, heavy bottomed pan and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and very gently simmer for at twenty minutes. This will allow the aromatic flavours to infuse into the stock. Do not simmer longer as the stock may go bitter.

Remove from the heat and strain. Return to the pan, bring back to a simmer and thicken with the cornflour mixed with a little water. Add the sweetcorn and cook for five minutes before adding the crab and spring onions. Using a fork or two chopsticks beat the egg white in a small bowl. Stirring the soup with the fork or chopsticks slowly pour in the egg white in a thin stream. Gently heat for a further couple of minutes to thoroughly warm the crab, then correct seasoning with the fish sauce and lemon, add the coriander and serve.

 

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New England Chowder

As with so many dishes, everyone has their favourite version of today’s recipe post and my favourite is a classic, The New England Chowder, with mussels or clams and potatoes and finished with cream, there is the Manhattan Chowder is a rich tomato based soup with more than a hint of spice and many people like Corn Chowder. There are a myriad of recipes and extra ingredients including but not exclusive to, seafood, broad beans, salami and even rum.* The chowder is thought to have started life in in French fishing boats plying their trade on the Atlantic coast and was thickened with Ships Biscuits. This tradition is still carried on as chowders are often garnished with salted crackers.

Chowder.jpg

In fact, in the sixteenth century, in southwest England, chowder was a term used for a fishmonger and by the eighteenth-century cookbooks included chowder recipes. So which ever seafarers brought the recipe to New England the original dish was more likely to be a stew of freshly caught fish and ships rations, potatoes and salt pork all boiled in sea water.

By the time the dish was eaten in Moby Dick, ‘ small juicy clams, scarcely bigger than hazelnuts, mixed with pounded ships biscuit, salted pork ….the whole enriched with butter ’, it seems to be altogether more refined and something we could put on a table today. By 1894 a recipe published by Charles Ranhofer, a chef at the famous Delmonico’s** restaurant could be used now containing clams, pork, potato, tomatoes, and onion, flavoured with parsley and thyme and garnished with crackers. Delmonico’s is the home of the New York or Spicy Manhattan Chowder.

*Rum is an ingredient in Bermuda Fish Chowder the national dish of Bermuda

**Delmonico’s is actually the name used by a number of restaurants that have given us the Delmonico Steak, a cut of rib eye, the wedge salad and possibly invented Chicken a la king and Lobster Newberg.

While many of the chowders I’ve tried have been made with clams ( you can use tinned or frozen cockles make a good alternative ) mussels are just as good. I like to spoil my guests add some juicy prawns for good measure.

 Mussel, Salt Cod and Prawn Chowder                 serves 4 to 6

500 g firm waxy Potatoes, washed, peeled and diced

2 large pieces of Salt Cod, skinned

200 gr Pancetta lardons

500 ml pouring Cream

350 ml of quality Fish Stock

125 ml quality Dry White Wine

1 White Onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 large Carrots, peeled and finely diced

2 Leeks, washed and finely diced

2 sticks of Celery, washed and finely diced

A good pinch of freshly ground white Pepper

Bouquet garni; Celery stick, Bay leaf, Parsley, Thyme and Tarragon

50 gr unsalted Butter

Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon

To finish

125 gr cooked peeled cocktail Prawns

1 kg scrubbed Mussels

Salted Crackers

Freshly chopped Parsley

Soak the cod overnight, changing the water at least a couple of times, remove any skin and dice. Place the pancetta into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and sauté in the butter until cooked through and just starting to brown. Add all the vegetables, excluding the potatoes, and cook, without colouring, for five to ten minutes. Pour in the wine and the fish stock and add the pre-soaked salt cod and bouquet garni tied with string.

Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cook on a gently simmer for thirty minutes then add the chunky diced potatoes and the cream to the pan and simmer for twenty more minutes until potatoes are soft. Stir regularly to prevent the chowder sticking. Remove bouquet garni, add the lemon juice and correct seasoning ( the soup is likely to be sufficiently salty because of the salt cod ).

In a little water steam the mussels for two to three minutes until open, remove and cool. Strain out the cooking liquor and add to chowder. You can shell the mussels in you prefer them that way. To serve reheat with cocktail prawns and mussels, cooking for three to four minutes to totally reheat the seafood, stirring to prevent the chowder sticking to the pan. Ladle carefully into a bowl and top with broken salted crackers and chopped parsley.

Bread Sauce

Bread sauce has a long pedigree stretching back to medieval spiced sauces thickened with bread and almonds. It is usually served warm as an accompaniment to roast chicken and turkey and game birds You can buy bread sauce mixes but the recipe is very simple and far nicerBread sauce is made with milk or milk and cream, butter and stale bread crumbs, flavoured with onion, cloves, bay leaf and mace or nutmeg.

Bread Sauce

Bread Sauce sufficient for a large Roast Bird

½ day-old Loaf of unsliced White Bread

500 ml Full Fat Milk

1 Small Onion, peeled

2 Cloves

1 Bay Leaf

2 Blades of Mace

6 White Peppercorns

½ teaspoon Sea Salt

30 gr Butter

2 tablespoon Double Cream

¼ teaspoon freshly grated Nutmeg

Remove the crust from the bread and cut the bread into half inch cubes. Set a medium sized, heavy bottomed saucepan over a moderate heat and add the milk. Make a cloute from the onion, bay leaves and cloves and place in the milk with the peppercorns, mace, and salt. Bring up to the boil and remove from the heat. Cover the pan with a lid and let the ingredients infuse for at least half an hour. You can infuse the milk for several hours so this stage can be prepared well in advance of the actual serving time.

After the milk has infused, strain into a second pan and place back on a very low heat. Add the bread to the saucepan and cook for about fifteen minutes, stirring every now and then, by which time the sauce should have become thick and warm. Immediately before serving add the butter to the saucepan and stir until the butter has melted and combined with the sauce. Add the cream,nutmeg and correct the seasoning if required and serve in a warm sauce boat.

Tomato Concassé

Tomato concassé is the flesh from fresh tomatoes that have been peeled, de-seeded and chopped into a dice. It is a staple of many professional kitchens used in sauces, omelettes, with olive oil, garlic and basil as a topping for bruschetta and when added to Béarnaise sauce to make Choron sauce, served with fish and seafood. Tomato seeds and skin in large quantities can be tough, do not soften during cooking and leave a bitter flavour which is why we remove them. If you can get hold of a moderate amount of ice it is very useful when cooling off the blanched tomatoes. Use fully ripe but firm tomatoes for the best results. The process may seem to be quite an effort but the results are very pleasing and worthwhile.

To make tomato concassé

 Bring a large pot of water, deep enough to generously cover your tomatoes, to a rolling boil.Take each tomato and using the tip of a small sharp knife or paring knife ( see picture ) remove the pith or tough part of the tomato where the stem used to be cutting out a circular hole.

Turn the tomato over and on the other end mark a small cross in the skin with the knife.

When all your tomatoes are prepared, place a four or five at a time into the pan the boiling water. As soon as the water returns to a boil cook for one-minute longer and then remove them using a slotted spoon or spider.

Immediately plunge the blanched tomatoes into a large bowl of very cold water to arrest the cooking process. If you have ice, use iced water. The cooking process depends on the size of tomatoes you are using, small tomatoes may only require thirty seconds simmering. A good rule of thumb is if you see the tomato skin beginning to peel off then take out and cool.

The next step will take a little practice. Drain the blanched tomatoes then using the sharp knife again gentle tease and peel off the skin. Start by slowly sliding the tip of the knife under the cross you made in the skin earlier and work down. When peeled quarter the tomatoes and remove the seed with a small spoon or the back of the knife. Chop the quartered tomatoes into large or small dice as required.

Tartare Sauce

Tartare sauce is a mayonnaise-based sauce traditionally served to accompany deep fried breaded or battered fish and in traditional English cooking lamb cutlets and sweetbreads. It is prepared with the addition of roughly chopped capers, gherkins, a squeeze of lemon juice and chopped herbs. The sharp, pungent and tangy flavours cut through the fatty fried food. It is an almost obligatory accompaniment the classic British Fish and Chips. The addition of Crème Fraiche, in the recipe below, produces a lighter result than the pure mayonnaise base.

Tartare Sauce

English Tartare Sauce

300 ml homemade Mayonnaise

100 ml Crème Fraiche

1 Large Shallot, peeled and very finely chopped

3 teaspoons Capers, finely chopped

2 teaspoons finely chopped Gherkins

2 teaspoons finely chopped Curly-leaf Parsley

2 teaspoons finely chopped Dill

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed Lemon Juice

Sea Salt and White Pepper

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. (Allow the flavours to infuse for at least an hour before serving and check the seasoning). Place in an airtight jar or container and store in the fridge for up to one week.

Tartare sauce in the U.S. is similar but more robust, made from mayonnaise, finely chopped pickles, capers, onions, chopped hard-boiled eggs and parsley. Chopped olives may also be added.

American Tartare Sauce

300 ml homemade Mayonnaise

100 ml Whipping Cream

1 hard-boiled Egg, finely chopped or grated

1 finely chopped Caper Berries

1 finely chopped medium-sized Sweet Pickled Gherkin

2 Anchovies, finely chopped

2 teaspoons finely chopped Parsley

1 teaspoon finely chopped Chives

Combine the hard-boiled egg, capers, gherkin, anchovies, chives and parsley with the mayonnaise. Lightly whisk the cream and fold into the mayonnaise mixture.

Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is what a chef calls a base sauce and it is used to make many, many derivate sauces that you will recognise. The classic mayonnaise recipe is essentially an emulsion with vinegar and sometimes lemon juice carried in olive oil. The mix is bound together with egg yolk. It can be made slowly using plenty of elbow grease to whisk the ingredients together or at high speed in a food processor. The mayonnaise can be flavoured with additional added herbs or spices or by using flavoured oils and vinegar.

mayonnaise.jpg

Commercially produced mayonnaise is made from pasteurised egg yolks and sometimes the whole egg. The olive oil is content is often quite low or totally substituted by cheaper alternatives such as sunflower or soya bean oils. Quite often if you study the label of the mayonnaise container water is a major ingredient and the texture is created by the addition of extra emulsifiers and stabilisers. Mustard is added as an emulsifier and flavour enhancer.

Homemade mayonnaise can approach an 85% fat content before the emulsion breaks down, commercial mayonnaise has typically a 70-80% fat content. ‘ Low fat ‘ mayonnaise products contain starches, cellulose gel and other ingredients to simulate the texture of real mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is the base for many other chilled sauces and salad dressings such as Tartare, traditional Rémoulade, Marie Rose, Thousand Island dressing and Fry sauce. Ranch dressing is made of mayonnaise with buttermilk or sour cream and minced spring onions, garlic and herbs.

Mayonnaise Recipe

In the posthumous collection of essays by Elizabeth David ‘ Is there a Nutmeg in the House ‘ she strongly advocates the simple recipe outlined in the opening paragraph, relying on the peppery, green flavours of different olive oils to flavour the mayonnaise. Today we are perhaps even luckier with numerous oils from many different countries and regions available.

However, tastes change and many people prefer a slightly more uniform, stable product so the recipe below reflects that. One yolk is sufficient to hold the oil in the recipe but two yolks help reduce the chances of the mayonnaise splitting. The recipe below is an excellent neutral base for the many mayonnaise-based sauces you can experiment with in your cooking.

Mayonnaise

100 ml Virgin Olive Oil

100 ml Sunflower Oil

2 free range Egg Yolks*

2 tablespoons good White Wine Vinegar

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed Lemon juice

½ teaspoon fine Salt

½ teaspoon English Mustard powder

A pinch of Caster Sugar

Place a glass bowl on a damp cloth to prevent slipping. Whisk together egg yolk and the dry ingredients. Combine lemon juice and vinegar in a small jug then thoroughly whisk half into the yolk mixture. Whisking briskly add the oil a few drops at a time until the liquid starts to thicken (you have formed an emulsion). Increase the flow of oil to a constant, thin stream. Once half of the oil is in add the rest of the lemon juice mixture. Continue whisking until all of the oil is incorporated. Store in the refrigerator.

If your mayonnaise separates or curdles you can recover the mix by whisking in a tablespoon of boiling water to the mayonnaise which should combine the mixture together. If this does not recombine the mixture start the process again with a further egg yolk in a clean bowl and whisk in the curdled mixture a tablespoon at a time.

*There is a slight risk of salmonella and other food-borne illnesses from using raw unpasteurised egg, use only unbroken fresh eggs and do not consume if pregnant or feed to infants.

 

Here are some top chef tips I have found that will help you make a really good mayonnaise.

Using the freshest eggs available will speed up the incorporation of the ingredients to form your mayonnaise.

Room temperature eggs will whisk up faster.

Don’t over egg the mixture you will be really surprised how much oil one egg yolk will accommodate.

 

Some Tasty Mayonnaise Sauces for you to Try.

 For each recipe add the ingredients to eight heaped tablespoons of mayonnaise

Andalusian Sauce – add one heaped tablespoon of tomato purée, half a teaspoon of finely chopped tarragon, the juice of half a freshly squeezed lemon, a pinch of cayenne pepper and one ounce of thinly sliced pimento pepper. Serve with fish such as salmon or as a barbeque condiment.

Pesto Mayonnaise – add a heaped tablespoon of freshly made pesto sauce, the juice of half a freshly squeezed lemon and season as necessary. Serve with prawns, scallops and char grilled vegetables.

Watercress Mayonnaise – wash, pick and very finely chop one bunch of watercress. Stir into the mayonnaise with the juice of half a freshly squeezed lemon and season as necessary. Serve with hot and cold roast beef, Bresaola and smoked and oily fish such as salmon, trout and herring.

Sauce Verte – blanch fifty grammes each of picked washed baby spinach and watercress leaves, fifty grammes of chives and two tablespoons each of tarragon, dill and chervil leaves. Thoroughly squeeze out any water and blitz in a food processor. Work resulting purée through a very fine sieve. Add resulting liquid to mayonnaise with the juice of half a freshly squeezed lemon, season as required. Serve with any barbecued meat, grilled pork and fish dishes.

Smoked Bacon and Tarragon Mayonnaise – fry one hundred grammes of smoked streaky bacon cut into very fine strips until crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and allow to cool add to mayonnaise with one tablespoon of finely chopped fresh tarragon and freshly ground black pepper. Serve with tomato salad, cheese or lentils.

Grain Mustard and Tarragon Mayonnaise – add two tablespoons of finely chopped tarragon, two tablespoons of grain mustard and one tablespoon of honey. Serve with chicken, guinea fowl, ham and broad beans.

Sweet Red Pepper and Chilli Mayonnaise – add fifty grammes of finely chopped pimento peppers, one medium heat red chilli pepper, very finely sliced, half a teaspoon of tabasco sauce and one peeled puréed clove of garlic with the juice of half a freshly squeezed lemon and season as required. Serve with char-grilled vegetables such as artichokes, peppers and aubergines, grilled steaks, prawns and sausages.

Horseradish and Chive – add two tablespoons of prepared horseradish sauce, two tablespoons of finely chopped chives with the juice of half a freshly squeezed lemon, season as required. Serve with smoked trout, mackerel and salmon and cold roast beef sandwiches.

Balsamic and Cracked Black Pepper – add two tablespoons of reduced balsamic vinegar or prepared balsamic syrup and one-half teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Serve with cold meats, fries and with crusty bread as an appetiser.

 

Brining

Putting meat into a salt-water solution or brine is an age-old method of preserving and flavouring food, pork is cured in brine to make bacon and ham, inhibiting bacterial spoiling . Other food stuff can also be brined, Feta and halloumi cheeses are both aged in brine for flavour. Brining is increasingly popular with professional chefs to help chicken, other poultry and pork stay juicy and moist during cooking and is used a lot in American home cooking especially preparing meat for barbecuing and grilling. There are slight risks in home curing but using the brine to add flavour and moisture and not preserve the meat is perfectly safe.

Using a brine is simple and economical. Just follow the steps below bearing in mind the following, you don’t have to salt brined meat before cooking. Once brined, pork, beef and chicken cooks faster so be careful and use a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat, check the temperature and do not overcook. Brining any meat will add a significant amount of liquid to it before cooking, you can actually increase the total weight of a cut of pork by 15% or more. Therefore, the amount of water that remains in a piece of meat during cooking can increase greatly and the resulting cuts and joints will be juicier and more tender.

The Science Bit

The process by which additional moisture, salt (and flavourings) are added to the meat is called osmosis. Osmosis happens under laboratory conditions when water flows from a lower concentration of a solution to a higher concentration through a semipermeable membrane. In your piece of meat, this is the membrane that surrounds the individual pork, beef or chicken cells. When the meat is placed in a brine solution, the fluids in each meat cell are less concentrated than the salt water in the brining solution. Water flows out of the cells in the meat and salt is absorbed. The salt then dissolves some of the fibre proteins, and the meat cell fluids become more concentrated. Water is now absorbed back into the cell. Brining adds salt and water to the cells so that when the meat is cooked and water is squeezed out, there is still water left in the cells because more water was added before the cooking process.

Preparing the Brine

You can use sea salt and some people believe the mineral content is beneficial to the end flavour, it is, however, expensive. Americans use Kosher salt which is also used in manufacturing and commercial meat processing and has a large flat crystal shape. For our basic brine recipe table salt, preferably without iodine is absolutely fine. We want to achieve a five per cent solution, sea water, by comparison, is around 3.5%, and to do this we need to add 50g of salt per litre of water. The solution should be salty to the taste but not thick with salt. If you follow this ratio you have an ideal brine for pork and chicken, as you experiment you can find further information on different strengths of brine to use but be careful, too much salt or leaving the meat in the brine for too long will leave you with salty meat.

Dissolve the salt thoroughly in potable, freshly boiled water and leave to totally cool . For the amount of brine, you will need, consider the size of the container you are going to use and the size of the meat you want to brine. A brine solution should be enough to completely submerge the meat you want to brine. For larger quantities of brine dissolve the salt in a third of the water then when cool add it to the remaining amount of cold water.

You can add a variety of flavours such as herbs and spices, sugars, beers, wines, fruit and vegetables. Experiment with flavour combinations as they are almost infinite. The most basic are sugars, some sweetness tends to offset a saltiness the brine might otherwise impart to the meat and is a popular flavouring, think of Black Forest hams and sticky barbecue ribs. Add approximately 20g per litre of brine to give a sweet base flavour and to encourage browning during cooking. You can use cane sugar, brown sugar, honey, molasses and maple syrup as sweeteners.

Additional flavours should not overpower the meat but add subtle notes to the cooked result. Vegetables such as onions, celery, carrots and garlic should be chopped to increase the amount of surface area of the vegetables in use in the brine solution. You can replace some of the water with apple juice, cider, orange juice, beer, wine, rice wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar and tea. Both pork and chicken are ideal partners with Oriental flavourings such as Mirin or Japanese rice wine and soy sauce, use a little less salt if you substitute a large amount of soy sauce as it is quite a salty condiment. Finally, consider ginger, fresh herbs, juniper berries, cloves, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, mustard seed, coriander seed, star anise, hot pepper flakes or Sichuan peppercorns.

How to Brine

When your prepared brine is cold you can brine, your pork or chicken. This needs to be done in a non-reactive glass, stainless steel or plastic container. You can also purchase heavy duty bags specifically for the purpose, including turkey size from American on-line food equipment suppliers. Make sure the container is thoroughly cleaned in very hot soapy water before use. Fill with your brine solution, immerse your meat and weigh it down with a clean heavy plate to make sure no chicken, beef or pork is exposed to the air and cover the container. Place in the bottom of your refrigerator. Refrigeration is absolutely required during brining. The meat and brine solution must be kept below 40 degrees F / / 4 1/2 C at all times.

When it comes to the amount of time you want to brine something it is more important not to brine too long than not long enough. While some cuts of meat can use days in a brine, even a relatively small amount of time can be helpful. The size, cut and grain will also affect the time required for immersion.

Pork Chops – 2.5 cm to 4 cm thick – 12 to 24 hours

Whole Pork Loin  – 2 to 4 days

Whole Pork Tenderloin  – 6 to 12 hours

Whole Chicken – 1.8 kg ( 4 lbs ) – 4 to 12 hours

Chicken Pieces (thighs and drumsticks) – 1 to 2 hours

Whole Turkey – 5.5 kg ( 12 lbs ) – 1 to 2 days

 

Cooking the Meat

Remove the chicken or pork from the brine and dispose of the used brine. Rinse twice after removing it from the solution and pat dry on kitchen paper. If you are not ready to cook at the end of the brining time, remove from brine, rinse the meat and refrigerate until ready to use. Do not salt brined meat before cooking. Cook according to your favourite recipe adjusting the cooking time as the meat may cook a little quicker and brown faster if you use a sweetened brine.

Emulsions

In the kitchen, an emulsion is normally the combination of fat and water (or water-based) ingredients. We first encounter natural emulsions when we drink milk and then use cream. We make emulsions when we create a Hollandaise or mayonnaise sauce or a vinaigrette to dress a salad. The result of emulsifying is twofold, dispersing a strong flavour in a usually blander medium, think of the taste of shallot, tarragon and white wine vinegar in the classic Béarnaise and the resulting mouthfeel, the smooth, glossy experience of eating mayonnaise.

So how do cooks combine fat and water even though they don’t like to mix? By using shearing power, that is shaking, stirring, whisking and blending. The physical action disperses one ingredient throughout the other. Emulsions are unstable by nature, your fresh hollandaise splits and your vinaigrette separates but this can be prevented by using emulsifiers and stabilizers. Egg yolks, mustard and garlic all act as emulsifiers which chemically bind fat and water molecules together. In commercial food production and molecular gastronomy gums, starches and plant particles all act as emulsifiers.

Mayonnaise

100 ml Virgin Olive Oil

100 ml Sunflower Oil

2 free range Egg Yolks*

2 tablespoons good White Wine Vinegar

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed Lemon juice

½ teaspoon fine Salt

½ teaspoon English Mustard powder

A pinch of Caster Sugar

Place a glass bowl on a damp cloth to prevent slipping. Whisk together egg yolk and the dry ingredients. Combine lemon juice and vinegar in a small jug then thoroughly whisk half into the yolk mixture. Whisking briskly add the oil a few drops at a time until the liquid starts to thicken (you have formed an emulsion). Increase the flow of oil to a constant, thin stream. Once half of the oil is in add the rest of the lemon juice mixture. Continue whisking until all of the oil is incorporated. Store in the refrigerator.

If your mayonnaise separates or curdles you can recover the mix by whisking in a tablespoon of boiling water to the mayonnaise which should combine the mixture together. If this does not recombine the mixture start the process again with a further egg yolk in a clean bowl and whisk in the curdled mixture a tablespoon at a time.

*There is a slight risk of salmonella and other food-borne illnesses from using raw unpasteurised egg, use only unbroken fresh eggs and do not consume if pregnant or feed to infants.

 

Hollandaise Sauce

3 free range Egg yolks

200 gr Unsalted Butter

2 teaspoons fresh Lemon juice

2 teaspoons warm Water

A pinch Cayenne Pepper

Sea Salt

Place the butter in a small pan and set on the back of your stove or hob. The pan does not need to be heated directly just placed somewhere warm enough to melt the butter. Allow the milk solids to sink to the bottom of the pan and decant off the clarified butter. Set aside and keep warm. Place a medium glass or stainless steel bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, being careful not to let the bowl touch the water. In the bowl whisk the egg yolks until they are pale yellow and the resulting mixture has a thick creamy texture. Switch off the heat.

Using a small ladle pour in a thin stream of the warm butter fat while continuously whisking. Continue until all the liquid is incorporated. If the resulting sauce becomes too thick, thin with a little warm water. Add the lemon juice, season to taste and serve. The Hollandaise will keep warm set above the warm water covered lightly with tin foil for fifteen to twenty minutes.

If your Hollandaise splits or curdles you have probably tried to add the butter too quickly, a couple of teaspoons of freshly boiled water whisked vigorously into the split sauce may help retrieve it. If this does not work, you can whisk up a further egg yolk in a fresh clean bowl then slowly add the split hollandaise whisking all the time.

Melba Toast

Melba toast is completely dry, crisp, thinly sliced, toasted bread and most often served with soup or pâté. History has it that the name was given to the toast by the world’s most famous hotel manager César Ritz. Melba toast was created by his equally famous chef Auguste Escoffier for the Australian opera singer Dame Nellie Melba, around 1897. During a stay in London, the singer was taken ill and when she requested something light to eat Escoffier delivered Melba toast.

Melba Toast

Melba toast is available commercially but is not difficult to make and a great way to use up excess sliced bread and you will find the results much better. It can be made up to a couple of days before you need it and stored it in an airtight container, then crisp it up for a short time in the oven.

Melba Toast

Sliced white or brown bread as required

Preheat the grill to high and toast the bread lightly on both sides. Cut off the crusts, then holding the toast flat, slide the knife between the toasted edges to split the bread.

Slicing Toast

Place the toast cut side down onto a food preparation board and gently rub it over the board surface. This removes any loose crumbs and snags of dough which will burn when you toast the underside and produces a professional finish.

Melba Toast Tray

Place on a baking tray untoasted sides uppermost, then toast under a moderate grill until golden and the edges curl.

When required crisp for a short time in the oven at 170 °C / 325 °F / Gas 3 before serving.