Monday, 31 January 2011

Forman's Love Cook Off (Win a Hamper Competition!)

If you happened to be a passing my basement kitchen last night, and stopped to listen closely. You might have heard the torrent of filthy curses, screams of rage and incredulous swearing emanating from my normally cultured mouth.
I thought I’d left that behaviour behind. Guests at our supper club often comment on how calm and serene the kitchen appears to be. But the blind cooking rage returned last night as I wrestled and sweated, trying to create something from a pretty random selection of produce sent to me by Forman & Field of London.

I’d somewhat naively agreed to participate in a Valentine’s Cook Off using a box of mystery ingredients with the aim of creating the best Valentine menu. I would be competing against a cunning and notoriously evil group of my fellow food bloggers.
‘I will crush them’. (Said in an Ivan Drago style voice)…

Tearing open and unpacking the mystery box, my excitement turned to puzzlement and then finally to panic I was confronted with the following luxurious, but utterly disparate selection of items…

H. Forman & Son Royal Fillet of Smoked Scottish Salmon
Formans Marinated Anchovies with Garlic
Mrs Kirkham's Lancashire Cheese
Moniack Castle Horseradish Sauce
Plantation Cottage Tarragon Jelly
Formans Brandied Cherries
Regent’s Park London Honey

What the hell could I do with this lot?

Sitting down to sob inconsolably and bang my head upon the table, I thought…and thought…and then, after about half an hour, ideas started to come to me, tumbling forth in an unconscious stream….

…It’s a Valentines menu, so it seemed obvious that it should be quite indulgent but also light, (so as to facilitate any après meal fumbling that might possibly result).
The Royal Fillet of Salmon was too good an ingredient to do anything with other than serve it sliced…
I could make a dessert out of the Honey and the Brandied Cherries…and I could incorporate the tarragon and the horseradish somehow…the anchovies, I had no frigging idea what to do with these, so…. errr…thought the best option was to pretend they didn’t exist and kicked them under the sofa.

There, a plan of sorts…now to refine, and tweak, cook, scream and swear as it all goes utterly tits up and finally force ‘E’ to eat the resulting mess…

Here’s the finished menu and recipes….

All recipes serve 2.

Sliced Salmon, Scrambled Egg Tart with a Tarragon Jelly glaze.

Salmon and scrambled eggs are a classic match, I thought it would look more impressive and elegant in a tartlet case, with the tarragon jelly brushed inside to glaze and give an interesting contrasting flavour.

For the Shortcrust Pastry: -

200g plain flour
Pinch of salt
75g cold butter, chopped
1 small egg
12ml water

Sift the flour with the salt. Rub the flour and butter together till it’s a crumble consistency. Add the egg and water and mix to form a smooth dough. Cling film and refrigerate for 30mins before using.

Roll out the pastry and line 2 greased tartlet tins, leaving the pastry overhanging to be trimmed later.
Line with greaseproof paper and baking beans, and bake at 180C for 15 mins.
Remove the beans and using a pastry brush coat the inside of the tarts with the Tarragon Jelly.
Return to the oven and bake for a further 10 mins.
Remove and put to one side to cool.

For the Scrambled Eggs: -

4x Large Eggs
Large Knob Butter
1 Tbs Double Cream
Salt and Pepper

I shouldn’t really have to give a scrambled egg recipe, but in the interests of completeness…

Add the knob of butter to a saucepan over a low heat and melt until foaming.
Beat the eggs with a fork, season and then pour into the saucepan. Stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the double cream and turn the heat down low, stirring regularly. The idea is too cook slowly until just set and creamy. Remove the eggs from the heat just before they seem ready.

Spoon into the tartlet cases.

Drape with sliced Salmon (Be generous).

Beetroot Jelly, Salmon and Horseradish Cream.

I’d made a Beetroot Jelly before, and knew that this flavour partnered with Horseradish and Salmon is an absolute classic. I pictured how it would look and how simple it should be, but the whole thing turned out to be quite fiddly to assemble and get right. I used Agar Flakes to make the jelly as ‘E’ is a Pescetarian but if you’re not bothered about such things, you could swap for Gelatine, as it’s much cheaper.

First make the Beetroot Jelly

You’ll Need: -
250g Cooked Beetroot
375ml Vegetable Stock
½ Tsp Caster Sugar
3 Heaped Tsp Agar Flakes

Grate the beetroot into a saucepan and add 250ml of the stock. Simmer, covered for 10 minutes.
Pour the remaining 125ml of stock into another saucepan and sprinkle over the agar flakes, leave for a couple of mins and then warm through stirring now and again until all the flakes have dissolved. This should take about 10 mins.
Pour into the beetroot pan and stir together.

Pour the mixture through a sieve into a bowl, do not force the mixture through.
Set the bowl over a larger bowl filled with ice, and stir slowly with a metal spoon until a gel begins to form. Spoon the jelly into a small flat-bottomed bowl lined with Clingfilm. Ideally you want the beetroot mixture to be at least 1cm thick.
Refrigerate until firm. This should take a couple of hours.

Next, make the Horseradish Cream.

You’ll need: -
100ml Crème Fraiche
2 Heaped Teaspoons Moniack Castle Horseradish Sauce
1 Tsp finely chopped Chervil or parsley

Mix all of these ingredients together.

To Assemble: -

Using a square cookie cutter, or sharp knife cut an 8cm x 4cm oblong out of the Salmon Fillet and place in the centre of the plate.

Cut a piece with the same dimensions from the beetroot jelly, and place on top of the Salmon.

Finally top with the horseradish crème, and garnish with some finely chopped parsley or chervil.

Regents Park Honey Parfait, with Ginger Crumb and Cherry Coulis

This is a bit of a cack handed homage to the beautiful Regents Park Honey Ice Cream Sandwich they serve at The Restaurant at St Pauls. It’s awesome, truly one of the best things I’ve eaten anywhere. For this, I made my own gingerbread and blitzed it up, but you could save time by blitzing some bought gingerbread biscuits, I doubt anyone would notice.

For the Honey Parfait
You’ll Need:-
3 Egg Yolks
90g Caster Sugar
225ml Double Cream
75g Regent’s Park London Honey

Line two small (6cm across, 4cm deep) ring moulds with Clingfilm.

Break the eggs into a bowl and add the sugar.
Heat the honey in a saucepan until melted then pour over the egg and sugar mix.
Whisk the eggs, sugar and honey over a saucepan of simmering water until doubled in volume.
Remove from the heat and whisk until cool.

Whip the Double Cream until at the soft peak stage, and then fold into the honey mixture.

Pour into the lined moulds (you’ll have some extra, so pour that into a tub), and freeze until set (at least 3 hours).

For the Gingerbread Crumb
You’ll Need:-
110g Plain Flour
Pinch salt
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
½ heaped Tsp ground ginger
¼ heaped Tsp ground cinnamon
25g unsalted butter
50g soft brown sugar
50g golden syrup
1 tsp treacle

Sift the flour, salt, soda and spices.
Heat the butter, sugar, syrup and treacle until melted and then cool.
When ready, pour into the dry ingredients and mix to form a dough.
Refrigerate for 30 mins.

Pre-heat the oven to 190C, and grease a baking sheet.

Roll out the dough to about 5mm thick, and cut out biscuit shapes.
Bake in the oven for about 7 mins, but keep an eye on it. Gingerbread although seemingly soft, hardens as it cools – it’s very easy to overcook, so be cautious.

Cool on a wire rack.

To Assemble: -

Blitz a couple of the gingerbread biscuits to a fine crumb and sprinkle onto a small plate.

Stone and Blitz a handful of brandied cherries to make the coulis.

Un-mould the Honey Parfait, and dip each end into the gingerbread crumb.
Top each with a whole brandied cherry and spoon cherry coulis around the plate.

Honey Oatcakes served with Mrs Kirkham’s Cheese.

I wanted to use as many of the ingredients as possible, but still had some of the excellent Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire Cheese left (Lets forget about the anchovies yeah?). In the end I decided to use some more of the Regents Park Honey to make some honey oat biscuits and to serve these simply with the cheese at the end.

You’ll Need: -
90g Rolled Oats
60g Butter
60g Regents Park Honey
Small pinch of salt

Melt the butter, add the salt, honey and oats and mix until combined.
Pour into a greased baking tin and bake at 170C around 25-30mins or until golden.
Remove from the oven and leave a few mins to cool, then cut into squares.

So that’s that. ‘The stuff that I cooked’.
I think that the tartlets and the honey parfait dishes worked best. Overall I was fairly pleased with how most of it turned out.

*Needle skidding across Queen's ‘We are the Champions’*

But, what’s this?
You think I’m an incompetent fool who doesn’t know his arse from his elbow and you could rustle up something far more impressive with the same ingredients?


Leave a comment telling me what you’d have made with the same ingredients, or failing that; utterly berate me for being a culinary clown and ruining such beautiful produce. The best and most entertaining replies will be entered into a prize draw to win a Forman & Field Hamper worth £60.

PS: Make sure to leave an email address or Twitter name so you can be contacted. The competition closes on the 10th February.


aforkfulofspaghetti said...


The anchovies - one of your end-of-meal savouries, perhaps? Or make a mini-Jansson's Temptation?

The Grubworm said...

Wow. That is an awesome selection of food. I particularly like the sound of the beetroot and salmon course. Yum. Good job (damn you...)

Pavel said...

That looks BLOODY fantastic *wiping the tears away* Love the Beetroot jelly idea but no Anchovies... There is hope :^)

Dom at Belleau Kitchen said...

Dan, all the dishes look bloody beautiful, you should be so proud, really stunning... could you have used the cheese in the tartlets as well?... and you could have made some mini honey scones to serve the salmon on?... but anyway, you've done a stunning job! x

Dan said...

Helen - Thanks. The Anchovies, I think we'll just pick at them.

The Grubworm - Thanks dude. The Beetroot and Salmon thing was appallingly stressful to make hahaha. Good Luck dude, your menu looks awesome.

Pavel - Thanks Fella. Gahhhh the anchovies! Good luck to you also fella! I really like what you did too. Nailbiting eh?

Dan said...

Dom - Thanks very much. I did think about using the cheese in the tartlets. Honey scones sound good too. Nice idea.

meemalee said...

That honey parfait is pure secks. Damn you.

Food Urchin said...

You have upped your game sir, I applaud and salute your fantastic efforts...........

*makes obscene gestures with his hand when Dan's back is turned*

fran39 said...

Wonderful, Dan. Particularly impressed by the beet jelly but the one I really want to devour is the eggy tart.

Dan said...

Meemalee - Thanks Madam...I think!

Food Urchin - Thank you very much sir, you are most gracious.

Fran39 - Hey thanks Fran, I think the egg tart was the best thing actually, the pastry was lovely and the tarragon jelly glaze gave it an unusual sweetness.

Michael Toa said...

Hi Dan. I came across your blog from Dom's blog and I really enjoyed reading your posts.
What wonderful creations you created there. I am well impressed. I particularly love the beetroot jelly. Have a great day. Michael

LexEat! said...

This looks seriously seriously good. Just as I was oggling the scrambled egg tart, I see that beautiful beetroot jelly number! I am SO impressed!

Sharmila said...

That looks gorgeous and I'm particularly taken with the beetroot jelly. Mmm, beetroot.

I'd be lazy and add in a little munchables course at the start and use the anchovies to make bagna cauda.

Would also be quite fun to use the lovely Lancashire to make a cheese and thyme souffle as a starter (I say fun - what would probably happen would involve me flinging unrisen, part cooked souffles across the kitchen in a fit of rage). Alternatively, I would go for making some potted salmon (if you could sacrifice the gorgeousness of that salmon in its pure state), with some lovely, really chargrilled sourdough on the side. Yum.

For the dessert, I don't think I could improve on that gorgeous looking parfait, but I would have a go at making a honey semi-freddo, maybe scattered with the cherries, and a syrup of some sort made out of that tarragon jelly.

I'm hungry now.

Dan said...

Michael Toa - Thanks for saying so Micheal :)

Lex - Hey, Thank you. As a matter of fact, we liked the scrambled egg tart so much, we're having it again for dinner tonight to finish off the Salmon.

Sharmila - Thanks and ooooh Superb, a real entry to the competition to win a hamper.
Got to say your odds of winning are looking good right now! Hahahaha
Lovely ideas, especially the souffle.

Kavey said...

I have noooo idea what I'd have made with those ingredients - much relief I didn't enter, I almost did when I first saw it tweeted!

I like to cook but I'm not an advanced cook and not so talented at inventing stuff.

I think you did a smashing job there, Mr Brizzle.

Anonymous said...

What? No wine?!?! How can it be a Valentine's Day menu? *mind boggles* With the salmon, how about Billecart Salmon NV Rose (entirely coincidental), with the beetroot, I'd move onto say Dom Perignon 2002 (sticking with champagne since it IS for Valentine's Day) and for dessert, how about the '01 Chateau d'Yquem. Almost forgot the cheese course, hmmm... maybe, Cheval Blanc 1989? That should do nicely but I'd have the cheese before the dessert(as they do in France), otherwise the d'Yquem most likely will overwhelm the claret...

ps. insanely jealous that you can whip up food like that!

miss south said...

Oooh, that's a fab menu. Although for Valentine's I'd be quite happy to have been fed the anchovies by the hand of some young man whilst I recline...

It may not therefore surprise you to hear that I'm single since my idea of romanticism is to combine garlic and fish. I think I should bookmark this page just in case I need help in the future instead!

Anonymous said...

I think I’d have to make a fantastic bed picnic. Not for the reason you think: we need to maximise our sleep time before our little love child arrives.

With that lovely Smoked Scottish Salmon I would definitely make blinis as they are a favourite of both of ours, topped with crème fraiche mixed with the horseradish of course.

The marinated anchovies would make a beautiful crostini, either just on their own, or made into an olive and anchovy tapenade.
The Lancashire cheese I’d serve on toasted brioche, drizzled with the Regent’s Park honey. And finally, the brandied cherries would be lovingly fed to each other whole (perhaps with some light meringues for company).
(I'm ignoring the tarragon jelly)

Everything in the picnic is pretty easy to prepare and light too, so after some bubbles, we might find some time for something a bit more active (wink wink).

Becci (@feedetgastro)

Anonymous said...

Amazing menu!!

Anonymous said...

Your salmon and beetroot jelly with the horseradish cream looks and sounds amazing. I'm seriously impressed! I can never think what to cook with anchovies, I've had a tin waiting in my fridge to be used up for four months now! I guess with the garlic marinade I would use them in pasta or a salad dressing, nor very romanitc or exciting!

Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours said...

I would be using the anchovies somewhere. Even if just eating them whilst I cook?

Great effort Dan! said...

Beetroot jelly sounds soooo adorable. I'm anticipating the taste already!

What a flavourful contrast to Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire Cheese! I feel the chesee is too smooth to use as fingers so grated Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire Cheese sprinkled on the beet jelly on a bed of grated carrot and chopped anchovies

I like the idea of the eggy tarts but why not chop the smoked salmon and add that to the scrambled eggs and eat it with honey oat fingers?

Francesca said...

It all looks so pretty! (are you a food stylist??) The scrambled egg and smoked salmon tart would be such a great brunch - I'm intrigued by the jelly glaze, I can't imagine what that would be like so clearly I'm going to have to try it. Your pudding also looks bloody lovely. Good work.

Lucy said...

Hi Dan
Here are my suggestions .

Tarragon and anchovy foccacia

Seared  Salmon , potato rosti, kale,horseradish and shallot dressing  lemon confit

Lancashire  cheese rarebit

Honey pannecotta , cherries , anglaise , tuille

Pss I did like your salmon dish !


Deanna said...

Yours definitely looks 'fanceh!' It would take me a while to work out whether to leave the smoked salmon raw or to sear it off a little.
I may have used the honey to make some tuille biscuits to top a cherry frangipane tart.
Nice use of the beetroot but you've not convinced me to give the agar a go.

Choclette said...

Amazed is what I am - you've come up with a stunning selection of dishes and a Valentine's meal I would love to have served to me - assuming I wasn't vegetarian that is. And because of that last fact, I have no advice as to the anchovies.

Niamh said...

FAB menu, Dan! I especially love the tartlet and the salmon with beetroot jelly & horseradish. YUM!

scandilicious said...

Sweet! Love the dishes you crafted from such a disparate range of goodies from Formans Dan, felicitations :) Such fun playing around witb great ingredients, must try some Regent's Park honey...

Dan said...

Kavey - Thanks very much madam!

Winesleuth - No wine here, hahaha superb suggestions though. Great comment.

Miss South - Indeed, Garlic and Fish combined are not the most suitable of foodstuffs where it comes to an evening of lurve. You should certainly bookmark this page, it is obvious that you need guidance.

Feedetgastro - oooh a serious comment and entry to the competition! Nice work Becci. Sounds awesome.

Sally - Thanks very much :)

Rhisfoodieworld - Thank you. Anchovies, to be honest I'm not a massive fan. I like them in sauces etc, but not so keen on their own.

Helen@ Fuss Free Flavours - Thanks Helen, and good on you. See previous reply for my feelings about anchovies. - Nice alternative ideas there.

Francesca - Nope, not a food stylist but thanks for the compliment! The jelly glaze is in the tart case, when it's baked off it dries out so it gave the tarts a sweet, slight apple/tarragon taste.

Lucy - Nice suggestions Lucy, especially the rarebit (Love rarebit). Glad you like the Salmon dish.

Deanna - Fanceh oooh good word. Thanks. Nice ideas too. The Agar Agar, well - it's suitable for veggies (or Pescatarians) otherwise, I'd have used Gelatine as it's far cheaper.

Choclette - Amazed, why thank you very much!

Niamh - Hey, thank you madam, thank you. x

Scandilicious - Sig, thanks very much for saying so. It was a disparate range of goodies indeed. Oh, the Regents Park Honey is frigging awesome.

jennyp19 said...

I like the look of the sliced Salmon, Scrambled Egg Tart with a Tarragon Jelly glaze - I would not have a clue where to start with the ingredients, but would love to win them all the same.

Anonymous said...


I'd use the anchovies to make a black olive tapenade, served on crostini to nibble on at the start.

Starter: Lancashire cheese and apple puff tarts, served with the tarragon jelly.

Main would be a simple salmon and horseradish frittata, served with a green salad.

For dessert...a brandied cherry clafoutis.

Good work on the ideas Dan - tough ingredients to work with!

Nicisme said...

Oh great entry, love the tart and dessert.
I would have made a cherry trifle with the cherries, they sound divine!

Dan said...

Ok - Thanks for all the comments and suggestions, the F&F Hamper competiton is now closed and the winner has been announced on Twitter. Well done all :)