Week Six - Soufflé
Well, I’ve survived up to the final week and remarkably feel less of a ‘disaster chef’ than I did six weeks ago but, although I am really excited, the thought of cooking in London next weekend still terrifies me.
As usual, the video blog from Raymond makes the Roquefort Cheese Soufflé look like child’s play, even though my friends and family all seemed to think differently. Their only words of advice were –‘take a picture quickly before they sink’.
Ignoring the doubters, I lined up all the correctly measured ingredients and made the Béchamel sauce without any problems. I was very pleased with my efforts so far until my five year old son walked in and shouted “YUK – what’s that smell’, obviously blue cheese is not his thing just yet.
Once again the Kenwood Chef Sense made quick work of the egg whites, with no added shell and beautifully formed peaks – so far so good. I managed to find some similar sized moulds and lined them with melted butter and breadcrumbs, but, unfortunately on my first attempt, this is where Raymond and I parted company as I don’t think I mixed the first third of the meringue properly and then over mixed the rest to compensate.
I did manage to take a picture before this batch deflated (just!) and struggled to get them out of the moulds. However, the second batch mixed properly this time, came out looking and smelling amazing. They only deflated when cooled and were light, fluffy and tasted great.
Finally a result!
I guess it’s safe to say that my husband and friends will miss the weekly challenges as they are now used to getting three course dinners.
Week Five - Walnut Cake
Still on a high from two weeks of edible and presentable food, I was looking forward to this week’s recipe. I have to confess to making a few sponges with the kids in the past, although we generally threw all the ingredients into a bowl, without sight of a sieve and mixed the ingredients together while hoping for the best.
I was a little dubious of strawberries with balsamic vinegar in a cake and was going to substitute the walnuts as they remind me of coffee cake, which for me is not a good thing - sorry Miranda. But I finally decided to give it all a go.
So with my Kenwood Chef Sense at the ready I creamed the sugar and butter together. This mix was supposed to appear lighter in colour, which didn't happen as I think I used the wrong sugar, but after adding the eggs, walnuts and sieving the flour it was all looking good.
I soon had the cakes in the oven, cream whipped and strawberries in the balsamic vinegar, although I only just managed to rescue the strawberry sauce from my chief taste testers!
A little distracted by the noise of the kids playing next door, I took the cakes out of the oven without testing them with a skewer. They were springy to touch but as you can see from the photos, one disappeared before my eyes into the shape of a doughnut, so perhaps a few more minutes would have helped! Without the time to attempt the recipe a second time, I simply turned it over to hide the hole and set to work decorating.
Final verdict - it tasted great and I'm a convert to both adding walnuts and soaking strawberries in balsamic vinegar. Family and friends were all happy too, so I will definitely make another one and try to perfect it.
Week Four - Pastry
Week 4 and I can't believe we’re over half way through. I felt confident to make Raymond's tart this week after last week’s lack of disaster. I’m pretty sure I've never concentration so much while cooking; I read and constantly checked the video. Maybe if I did this more regularly I wouldn't need to take part in the Disaster Chef competition in the first place!
Once I’d started I got a bit carried away and tried cracking eggs with one hand, which is not as easy as it looks and not to be tried unless you enjoy chasing shell round the bowl. The rest of the pastry making was quick and easy in the Kenwood Chef Sense. Thanks to Raymond's top tips of using cling film to roll out and line the dish, and a rolling pin to take the excess off, they almost had me looking like I knew what I was doing.
I had a slight issue with the chard as it didn’t look anything like Raymond's, in fact it was more like slimy mush and not evenly distributed but once covered in cheese I didn't think anyone would notice.
Once out of the oven it looked and smelled amazing and apart from my youngest taste testers, who can sense and avoid anything green in food from a mile away, (they preferred the jam tarts I made with the left over pastry) there were clean plates all round. Success!! Looking forward to next weeks Layer Cake…
Week Three - Dim Sum
Week three and with lesson learnt from last week, I started without help from the children. Having watched Martin’s video countless times I still couldn't see how I would achieve this week with anywhere near the relaxed and effortless way he produced perfect home-made pasta.
I have to admit after opening all the Kenwood boxes when they arrived like one of my kids at Christmas, I put the pasta making attachment back in the box as I had no idea what to do with it.
However, dough made and filling whizzed up in the food processor with ease I started to put the dough through the pasta maker. This is apparently a spectator sport as the kitchen filled up with 'helpful' supporters who made moustaches, hats and worms(!) out of the excess dough.
Disappointingly for them it was easy to use and quite therapeutic, I made the first batch with the pasta a bit too thick but was a great excuse to roll some more which worked out well and the filling tasted amazing with just the right amount of heat.
I'm definitely a convert. Thanks Martin and Kenwood.
Week Two - Meringue Cake
Week 2 and I was hoping to nail this one on my first attempt. I've always avoided making meringue as it looked too tricky but no hiding today. So, armed with my still shiny Kenwood and an ever helpful three year old, I learnt a couple of things.
First by accident I discovered that separating eggs is easier done in your hands and secondly, avoid making meringues with a three year old assistant as I now have a kitchen covered in sugar. Easy enough to whisk into stiff peaks with a glossy finish and they looked good after cooking until I tried to take them off the tray (the photo shows the before version). The top crumbled to dust and the bottom was stuck like glue.
According to my sister I managed to under and over bake them! She did explain why through the laughter and I'm too embarrassed to show the evidence (not pretty) so I now have meringues everywhere in my efforts to perfect them.
The final result with the second batch of meringue and toasted nuts, as I burnt the first ones, was very tasty and will definitely be tried again.
Week One - Brioche
Week 1, 6 ingredients and full instructions along with a beautifully shiny, new Kenwood Chef Sense – easy right? Apparently not. I’d never even considered making my own brioche (in our house they come from a packet) but my kids love it and were very excited about tasting. I started with the ingredients, measuring them into bowls to calm the nerves and followed the recipe. It was going well until mixing in the eggs, at which point I forgot I had to pick my son up from school, so had to leave the mix for about 40 minutes before then mixing in the butter. The dough looked like Raymond's until I put it on the tray to cool in the fridge, although one and a half hours later it was still very sticky and clung to the grease proof paper. I scraped the goo off the tray and put it into the tin (shaping on a lightly floured surface wasn't an option) to sit at room temperature where it was meant to double in size, hmmm I will just gloss over that.
Twenty minutes later, by some miracle, out came a beautiful smelling, light and fluffy brioche (as long as you overlook the small tough bit in the corner). Attempt number 2 still didn't come off the tray very well, but it did rise and my taste testers wanted more, so it seems like it tasted ok. I’m still not sure what I'm doing wrong, so it looks like there will be a lot of brioche making this week, but I’m happy with the results so far and looking forward to next week’s challenge.
From rubber pancakes and cardboard cookies to cremated oven dishes and suspicious looking chocolate fondants, Sally, stay at home mum of two, is on a quest to don her apron and become a true culinary supermum. Although brutally honest and openly critical, her kids remain loyal fans whatever the dish of the day. However, dinner party guests are another matter. Sally’s most notable dinner party disaster was her paleo-friendly chocolate cheesecake, which wouldn’t make it onto any colour chart and could only be described as a ‘grainy sludge’ – as it turns out, coconut cream, avocado, dates and maple syrup don’t make the best combination. Sally hopes the Kenwood Disaster Chef competition will help impress her kids and save her from further dinner party embarrassment.