Week Six - Soufflé
So...soufflé... Go big or go home hey Team Kenwood...talk about a tough final challenge!
I am woman enough to admit I might have had a tiny (but very grown up and mature) meltdown when I realised I needed to make a soufflé...I mean, I have seen people on Master Chef cry over soufflés before and that is a tiny bit intimidating.
I spent my spare time this week (by spare time I mean the time I should be sleeping) being the geek I am and researching 'the soufflé' hoping that like an exam, studying would make all the difference (‘fool’ I hear you say!)
So with some sadness I watched Chef Raymond's last video and was slightly concerned that he made it look so easy. I think it actually looked the easiest of all the recipes we have done so far, which clearly means it can all go wrong with the cooking.
I measured all the ingredients out, then started my roux. Now I think previously I have proven I am not one with the foods and maybe it's the nurse in me but if I see mould in food, I feel it's a deadly threat so therefore I was a bit dubious about the Roquefort cheese.
The start of the roux came together nicely (I will be entering Miss Universe with the muscles I gained from mixing the roux in to submission!) I then added the cheese which melted beautifully. I was ever so slightly weirded out as I knew I had to taste it and the blue cheesiness of it all made me a little nervous, but I womaned up and tried it, it tasted AMAZING, pepper added then on to egg whites.
I am a dab hand at this now and can do it without trying to convince people that I put egg shell in the egg whites for texture. I would also like to point out I have finally managed to whip the eggs in the same amount of time the recipe said (go me!)
Pots all crumbed out, then came mixing it together....
I won't lie, after folding it in, it wasn't looking too pretty and my heart sank a little as I was worried something had gone wrong. I put the mixture in the pot, put the pot it in the oven, got a chair from the dining table and watched my soufflé through the window of the oven for nine minutes!
Nine minutes later annnndddddddddd....
I feel like Rocky Balboa at the top of the steps but instead of shouting 'ADRIAN' I am shouting 'BOOM' I made a damn soufflé, I can be found high fiving myself whilst simultaneously doing the running man.
I should point out that I have no idea of what they are supposed to taste like but it rose, it came out the pot in one piece and I have not died after eating it so 'Two points to Griffindor'
I have adored doing this challenge and am really proud of the last few weeks because:
A) I have made things I would have never tried before.
B) I have managed to fit this around children, work and procrastinating about doing my house work but not actually doing it
C) I have really enjoyed writing about my disasters and putting them out there on the interweb kindly forcing my family and friends to read it
D) I have been given the opportunity to learn something really valuable and new
(Roll on the highlights montage to Chumbawamba!)
Thank you Chefs and thank you Kenwood for taking time to realise how truly awful I am and sending Big Bertha, the ingredients and three wonderful chefs to make me less of a health hazard to those who like to eat.
See you in London Town 'Kenwood Crew'
Week Five - Cake
This week’s challenge has started out being a little bit like The Hunger Games because I am a wee bit allergic to walnuts. (Possibly should have thought about this before starting this week’s recipe) :-) I can make the recipe but not eat it, or I might be taking a nice trip to the Emergency Department à la violet from Charlie and the chocolate factory – large and blue! Which meant I would be hungry once I finished making the recipe! (There's book four for you Suzanne Collins).
For obvious reasons I have never cooked with nuts in a cake, so I wasn't too sure how much different this would be from a basic sponge cake (which I'm mediocre at making, at best)
Ingredients measured out and I slowly added everything to Big Bertha (my Kenwood Chef Sense), then came the nuts...
Never have I been so careful with an ingredient, although the crushing with the rolling pin was very therapeutic! I am starting to equally look forward to and fear the Kenwood Disaster Chef Final and not even an anaphylaxis will fend me off!
Once everything was mixed in they were popped in the oven whilst I watched thought the oven door window, willing them to rise. And rise they did.
Next comes the strawberries (yes I did google what hulling was!). Cream being whipped whilst I am multitasking, I always have to whisk it longer that it says (I must not turn the dial up high enough).
Strawberries ready and just before I added the balsamic I had a sniff and was very unconvinced this would make strawberries taste better, but as usual, I was wrong, they tasted lovely.
As I have said previously, my favourite part is putting it all together. It went together really well – it feels a bit like a summer cake and the left over ingredients would be great for Pimms! All good things end in Pimms.
The boys excitedly tried cake:
Child One: 'why’s there chewy stuff in my cake it's ruining it'
Child Two: 'I am not happy' walks off looking very disappointed.
Maybe it's more of a grown up cake...
Looking forward to meeting the other nine of the 'Kenwood crew' one more challenge to go BOOM!!!
Week Four - Pastry
So going into this week like last, I was at a slight disadvantage in that I have never heard of Swiss Chard (I presume it's a more neutral version of the well-known, very aggressive standard chard known the world over!), and don't get me started on the Comte cheese.
Pastry is something I have never made BUT I am feeling a little more comfortable about this than the futon/wonton creation from last week.
Deciding to wait until the weekend to create Chef RB's latest creation, I watch the video on Friday evening mentally preparing myself for a soggy bottom.... Realising I can effectively do this in two parts, I decide to attempt to not cyber or sugar parent the mini beasts this weekend whilst I try to get the recipe done!
Now the pastry was really easy to get together (despite the fact I did have to make it twice as it helps when you read the recipe properly and don't put two eggs in instead of one!)
Being the Queen of preparation I realised I had no cling film, so I improvised. Now here's where I considered a bin bag but decided to use grease proof paper instead (much more socially acceptable, Bear Grills eat your heart out - I have great survival instincts!)
So pastry rolled out I put it in the tin, all being well this might actually work.
Pastry in the fridge, warning to all family/friends/postman/cat/dog that if anyone touches it they may get a high five in face with a chair, and phase two planned for the evening when mini beast number three is sleeping…
Ingredients chopped up and ready and Swiss Chard cooking away but why is it starting to go a little tantastic?
Oh, must be the lack of water that it clearly needed...(on top of being a questionable cook, I am dyslexic as well so I just need to find a competition to teach me to read a recipe properly... Maybe I need to rename myself Dyslexic Chef instead!)
Eggy mixture put together and it looks like a calorific heart attack in a bowl. Nevertheless, here comes my favourite bit - putting it together. It was a simple affair to put together but nothing spilt out the bottom before I put it into the oven so I'm on to a winner.
I felt this was a really straight forward recipe that would not have me bursting in to flames if I walked into a church due to the complexity/swearing combo that normally happens with unfamiliar or familiar recipes I attempt.
I was the only one to try this recipe; I did offer this to the boys but with such statements as:
Child One: 'Is it a cake?'
Child One 'Disappointing' off walks Child One
Me: 'Do you want to try some of this tart I made'
Child Two: 'It smells like feet'
(Disclaimer: I would like to point out that we all have very nice smelling feet, child two has experienced this from somewhere else entirely!)
I on the other hand adored it, I expected the cheese to be like a punch in the face of flavour but it wasn't all, it was subtitle and beautiful!
On the home straight sliding in to week five, double BOOM!
Week Three - Dim Sum
It is never good going in to a competition thinking a wonton is a piece of furniture...thanks to the power of Google it turns out that's a futon.
And I am still of the frame of mind the only place ginger should be is in a cake and in my tummy so this recipe did throw me a little.
First things first ...Prep time
Oh dear god...8 minutes 5 seconds of video have made me realise this recipe is going to end up in a lot of swearing, a potential hospital admission due to chilli in the eye and crying...either by me trying to multitask or the testers of the (not furniture related) wonton.
I have a genuine fear of this recipe due to how many components there are to it. I pick the best time ever to make it: 9pm after spending a busy day at work Anneka Rice-ing it over Wiltshire. Never the less, work clothes off hair tied up, glasses on comfy t-shirt and yoga pants (which have never seen a day of yoga in their life) on...I am ready!
First, getting Big Bessie (my Kenwood Chef Sense) ready for her pasta making debut. Everything was very simple to attach throughout, speaking as someone who should not be allowed to operate ANY machinery, that’s quite a feat (well done Kenwood for idiot proofing the chef for people like me!) I find that she is like a grown up’s version of a transformer toy (much like my dishwasher is like a grown up’s Tetris!)
I normally like to measure out all the ingredients before I start, but I found this difficult because of all the elements involved.
Never the less, I got the pasta ready with relative ease but found out I don't have enough hands to feed it through the pasta maker so at some point elbows, wrists and feet were considered, thankfully I just used the baking tray to settle it on as it came out the pasta maker.
Next was the filling, now all those ingredients thrown together in a food processor that's my type of cooking, no glaring issues made on this bit, although did consider drinking the rice wine at this point.
Now the dip, here where things went quite wrong...
I put everything in but think I didn't chop up the coriander as much as should have as it looked more like a salad with a dressing than a dip! I think half of this came down to an interesting take on knife skills (I can fence with a butter knife like no one else!) and the fact my knives are sooo blunt they protested cutting coriander.
Putting it all together felt like the last hurdle, I was not too sure how they were supposed to look so mine ended up looking a bit like tortellini.
Water boiled, a prayer to the pasta gods that they wouldn't come apart and bam.... I MADE DIM SUM!
I can honestly say I'm really proud of myself for being able to make these but realise my cooking lingo is more Gordon Ramsey than Mary Berry, all the more reason to not open a children's cookery school :-) Week three down BOOM!
Week Two - Meringue Cake
You know what they say, never work with animals, children...and in my case chocolate.
Dealing with chocolate during cooking for me is like superman handling kyroptonite, we all know it's a bad idea but we have a crack at it anyway!
Once again I like to do the prep before the work begins so I watch Cake Genius Gore Brown make a recipe look like the most natural thing in the world (11.30 pm is never a good time to watch a near impossible feat!).
First thing that was a challenge was finding three hours to cook something, I don't have five minutes let alone three hours! I considered selling the children but thought that might be frowned upon so I went for nap time and sweet bribery.
Ingredients measured out, eggs separated (I high fived myself with eggy hands for that one!) Reading the method it said it would take two minutes to whisk the eggs...two minutes later, eggs not white, small swearathon later (minus small ears I hasten to add!) cranking up Big Bertha (my Chef Sense) and soon my egg whites look fluffier than a fluffy thing!
In went the sugar. I had to pull myself back from trying to eat raw egg mixture, my inner child wanted to lick the whisk, but my outer child does not enjoy potential salmonella (outer child won!). I was amazed it looked like the stuff on the video (yay me!)
I did test its ability to stay in the bowl over the kids’ heads (once again, excellent parenting – clearly I need to write a book!)
Whacking the meringue in the oven I just hoped:
A) I remembered why my alarm went off
B) My oven didn't decide to incinerate the contents
Outer child did not win when the chocolate melting happened:
1) Nothing smelt like it was bonfire night
2) I managed to make something that was not a bio hazard to man and beast
The bit I loved was putting it all together at the end.
I did try to get some feedback from the boys, so I can develop my lack of skills for next time!
Me: 'Do you like the cake boys?'
Child one: 'it's not the worst thing you have cooked'
Child two: 'I have a spoon'
Me: 'what does it taste like?'
Child One with a confused look on his face: 'a cake'
Well I think we can see who’s going to grow up and be a food critic!
Week Two done BOOM!
Week One - Brioche
It all started out so well...
Child one out with the Beaver Scouts all day, child two being cyber babysat so I can bake (excellent parenting) and child three ten minutes into her two hour nap...
A prayer to the Baking Gods and hoping for Big Bertha to be on top form (Big Bertha is what we have named our Kenwood Chef Sense, like hurricanes, mixers should always be given a woman's name!)
So after watching the video the night before, I have an understanding of the recipe but also cannot stop saying 'Oui bien', not quite as cool with a Wiltshire accent.
After getting all the ingredients ready, I followed the recipe to the letter (I even used an actual timer, rather relying on the fire alarm as a sure sign the food’s cooked).
As I said, it was all going so well until I realised that I had bought a tin that was too small, oh well time to toughen up princess and improvise (always an awful idea if you’re a ropey cook!) I decided to use what I had and remove some of the dough and make brioche buns too (pretty sure that's a thing!).
Then came the proving or ‘shouting at your bread to rise like you’re in a Frankenstein movie’ is what I’ve renamed it.
After a nervous hour the dough had risen, although not as much as I think it should have, and it did look a bit squiffy.
One 25 minute bake later and it was not only edible but child number three decided she didn't want to launch half of her food at the dog (pretty sure that's a Michelin star in her eyes…)
Ready and raring...week two here I come BOOM!
When she’s not setting fire to spaghetti or leaving bouts of food poisoning in her wake, Krystle works as a nurse and is a busy mum of three. From overcooking seafood to such an extent that it bounced, to scorching chocolate on the hob so badly that the smell lingered in her home for months on end, Krystle was in need of a culinary intervention. Entering the competition in a plea for help, Krystle appeals to Kenwood to put a stop to her long string of culinary catastrophes.