Monday, September 10, 2007

Masterfood Challenge

Saturday was my long anticipated turn for the Masterfood Challenge. There was no stress, great organisation, everything hot on the plate and achieved the goal of going beyond my usual repertoire.

Crispy Skin Snapper Over Mixed Mushrooms And Jerusalem Arthichokes, With Crispy Gnocchi And Leek Foam
1 snapper fillet, skin on, cut in half on the diagonal
1 bag, approx. of mixed mushrooms (I used portobello, Swiss brown and shitake)
1 Jerusalem artichoke, peeled
Small handful of parlsey
14 gnocchi
Half a leek, thinly sliced
250mL cream

For the fish: Wash and thoroughly dry the snapper on paper towel. Make sure the fish is completely dry as the skin will not crisp if there is any moisture. Lightly brush with oil, season well. Heat a little oil on medium-high in a frypan until the oil is very hot - if it's not very hot the skin will not crisp. Place the fish skin side down and press down gently with an egg lifter. Do not move the fish. After 30 seconds turns the heat down to medium and let cook for 3-4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet. You will see the fillet cook through the bottom up. Flip the fish gently over, then turn the heat down to low-medium. Let cook for 30 seconds and turn off the heat.
Have the rest of the dish ready to plate up at this point.

For the mushrooms and Jerusalem artichoke: Slice the large mushrooms into 1cm slices; for the smaller mushrooms slice into three or four. Slice the Jerusalem artichoke into 2mm slices. Heat a good lug of oil in a frypan and add the larger mushrooms; season. Cook over medium heat until they soften, and keep cooking after their moisture is released. When the moisture has cooked away, add the smaller slices and season again. Cook again until all the mushrooms are soft and the moisture cooked away. Add the Jerusalem artichoke and saute on low-medium for a few minutes. Add a handful of chopped parsley, warm through and take off the heat.

For the gnocchi: Cook gnocchi (never packet gnocchi, ever); drain. If preparing other parts of the dish cook the gnocchi first, drain, and set aside in a small bowl with a nob of butter so they don't dry out or stick together. When ready to cook, melt a nob of butter in a frypan and add the gnocchi in a single layer and do not move for 2-3 minutes or until golden on the bottom. Flip over and crisp on the other side for another minute or two. Don't overcook - you just want to crisp the outside and keep the gnocchi fluffy inside.

For the leek foam: Melt a good nob of butter and a little olive oil in a frypan and saute the leeks over low-medium heat for around 7 minutes, making sure the leeks do not start to caramalise. Season well (use white pepper). Add the cream and warm through. Puree until completely smooth; you can pass through a sieve for a finer, thinner cream. Plate up and when ready to pour, blend again with a milk frother until bubbly and frothy and pour in a thin stream around the centre.

Baked Donuts With Coffee Pannacotta (aka a twist on coffee and donuts)
I marvelled at the baked donut recipes doing the rounds and just had to try them for myself. And thought - why not do a twist on coffee and donuts? So, a coffee accompaniment - first I thought coffee jelly topped with a creme anglaise 'crema', but decided that creamy would be much more convivial with donuts than gelatinous and chose a coffee pannacotta.

I was apprehensive about the baked donuts - I've never used yeast in my life, and have baked only a handful of times - so did a trial run during the week, halving the quantities. It was a right royal mess and I only got to the dough stage. Sticky dough everywhere. However on the night I followed the recipe as described and it was flawless and completely easy.

Alright, but how did they taste? Oh. My. God. Almost exactly very much unbelievably like donuts. Yes. You take the little delights out of the oven and dip them in melted butter and a cinnamon sugar mix, and that smell is instant, that warming come-hither donut smell. And they are chewy and fluffy and as more-ish as the fried-in-the-same-oil-one-too-many-times kind. Except these are baked, so you can have you donuts and stuff yourself with them, too.

Recipe at the incredible Jen's blog.

And I was crossing my fingers for the pannacotta - just what is gelatine? I still think horses' hooves. Even if it's a ye olde thing, when these things get into my mind, they stay there. Plus it comes in sheets and powder. I'd made a pannacotta years ago using expensive-as-hell gelatine sheets and it didn't work, so it still had me spooked. Nevetheless it was beyond easy to make and tasted a dream. They looked cute-as-a-button in my Ikea espresso cups, bought a year ago and still in the wrapper. Ikea does that to you.

The photos aren't great - a quick snap for both dishes as I don't get
how my digicameras work at night, everything comes out darker.
For example the gnocchi and donuts were golden, not dark. Stupid digital.


Blogger Sarah said...




when i open up my little dream restaurant up in the hinterland somewhere will you come and be a guest chef once a month?

10:33 AM  
Blogger surfercam said...



(obviously copied and pasted from Sarah's comment above!)

I am a coffee and donut fiend!
I'm coming over for brekky.

12:56 PM  
Blogger The Late Bloomer said...

Julia, all that you do is so impressive! You are talented in the kitchen, girl. I couldn't even imagine trying to tackle a complicated recipe like that... And you pulled it off SO beautifully! No surprise there. The donuts and pannacotta look YUM.

8:18 PM  

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