Fate must have aligned our paths once again as I returned to Artisan du Chocolat’s production ‘Atelier’ just in time for the Sloe Season. These wild plums grow abundantly in the ‘bush’ behind the fences and last year, they escaped me, as it was late October when I noticed these sloes and it was the season’s end.
This year, in mid-September, they tasted awful, with a mouth puckering astringency and bitterness that laid “eat ‘em all” dares and bets around the lunch table. Tasting them every other day, it wasn’t until now, early October that they tasted ‘right’. The astringency was there, but tamer, the plum flavour more pronounced and most importantly, the previously starchy centre bits have now turned into plump, juicy flesh.
40 minutes of picking during the lunch break yielded 4kgs worth of tiny sloes and probably 200g of assorted spiders, wood lice and other creepy crawlies that probably now inhabit my kitchen! So, how do you tell a sloe from a damson from a bullace and from a plum?
It was birthday time again, which means a good time to experiment on recipes on other peoples’ dollar! This raspberry charlotte has its design roots in Spain, Pasteleria Totel to be exact, and the idea behind it was to:
Create a mousse cake with different textures
Play around on the theme of acidity, for sprightly flavours full of zing as summer gave way to autumn
Use ingredients that can be purchased at the Supermarket
Try to show off by making the most bling bling damn cake my friends had ever seen
Mille Feuille (French) or Milhoja (Spanish) basically just means 1000 Leaves in English, a reference to the layers of flakey puff pastry that make up this iconic pastry. Mille Feuille, sadly, is oftentimes assembled waaaay too ahead of time and ends up with flaccid pastry layers.
I shall hereby make a statement bordering on ignorance and extreme bias based on very limited experience in eating Mille Feuille in Europe. It seems that Mille Feuille in France uses a lighter, flakier pastry than in Spain, where it is more crunchy and ‘tight’.
Having tried a few MF’s in France and Japan, my favourite version is still the Spanish one. However, I have to say Jacques Genin’s MF is the best I’ve had so far, but can only be made a la minute, or it will lose its amazing lightness and texture. This version here is the one we did at Pasteleria Totel in Spain, using an inverted puff pastry base. Here is the recipe:
Gerry from Artisan du Chocolat was a pastry chef before going wonkers on chocolate, and he keeps his stash of pastry molds up high above one of the walk-ins. Imagine the delight when I found old skool copper canele molds up there!
Now, at Pages on Shaftesbury avenue in London, these molds cost an upwards of 6 pounds a piece, crazy high prices for molds, which makes it an investment outside my budget. However, these babies were mine for a weekend of chocolatey fun.
Had a request from a friend for her sis-in-law’s birthday and the only rule was, do anything, but no fruits, as her bro doesn’t really eat fruits. Bummer…..because I had some awesome PX Sherry macerated apricots in the fridge.
Rummaged through my kitchen cupboard, fretted over it for a week or two and decided to make something a bit different and experimental. How did I know if they tasted alright? An extremely sophisticated testing procedure was applied to ensure all ingredients matched on a fundamental level.
Spoon of extra virgin olive oil
Sprinkle some matcha on
One vanilla pod
A few whole pistachios
Instructions for Test:
Shove oil + matcha into mouth
Pop pistachios in and chew
Sniff on vanilla pod
If you do not puke, they will go well togather
Actually, some prior research was done to ensure that these ingredients all shared similar flavour components, therefore, increasing the likelihood that they would go well togather. Its kinda like trying to understand how peanut butter and jelly are a match made in obesity heaven. However, you’ll never know how they would taste overall in balance until its done.