Nicola Reading, from Scarborough

Posted by Nicola Reading on 15/10/2015

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Week Six - Soufflé

Week 6 already - I have really enjoyed following all the recipes and learning new techniques - it's quite sad to think that this week is the last one. On a happy note though, my wish of last week has been granted and Monsieur Blanc is again helping me in the kitchen! 

Sadly, even Raymond's expertise could not help me with these soufflés - they were a total disaster - my first absolute failure of the competition. I did not have the little soufflé dishes that Raymond used so I had to substitute them with ramekins. The egg whites seemed to whisk well and the roux looked right - even when all the components were lovingly folded together it looked as it should - they rose nicely in the oven and I was feeling quietly confident.

Then, for some reason I cannot fathom they all went wrong. I could not get them to tip out onto the plate at all. In the end I resorted to scooping them out and the best description I could give the end result is 'slop'. They tasted alright but I think that's mainly me putting a brave face on! I can only give my opinion as once the rest of my family stopped laughing they all disappeared without trying them.......harsh! 

Where did I go wrong!! Oh well - onto next week and the final - looking forward to meeting all my fellow disaster chefs - and hoping fervently that Soufflé is not on the menu.....! 

Week Five - Walnut Cake

As before with the meringue cake, Miranda's instructions were very easy to follow. I was a little bit concerned before I added the flour as my mixture looked a lot runnier than Miranda's but it all went well. I had fun bashing the walnuts to smithereens with a rolling pin as I really don't like them! The rolling pin wasn't doing the job as well as I wanted so after remembering the food processor attachment, in they went. They were blitzed to perfection in no time! 

The cakes came out of the oven looking as they should - almost - there was a slight sunken look to one! But they looked good when they were assembled and all the pretty decorations added. 

The family verdict was sceptical initially. My daughter was suspicious as they looked as though wholemeal flour was involved. Never a good thing in her eyes! Once she had been convinced that it was the walnuts making it look darker she was happy to indulge.  We all liked the cake immensely - a great hit and I've learnt new tricks and become more of a walnut fan too - thanks Miranda :-) 

Week Four  - Pastry

My first thought after watching this week’s video was "Why can't Raymond send me a video every night to follow?” I challenge anyone not to feel confidant and inspired in the kitchen when following his instructions - he makes it look so easy and the way he explains things can't fail but to fill you with his enthusiasm. I definitely cook better with his help!

Desperate to have my very own sandy South of France pastry mix I followed his instructions to the letter - et voila! My pastry was a doddle to make - no more shop bought ready-made stuff for me. It really did take hardly any time to make and the end result was very tasty. I went a bit wrong with the filling sadly, mine was a bit soggy - I don't think I ensured that all the moisture was out of the chard before putting it in my pastry case. Other than the dreaded soggy bottom this was a success - I think I know where I went wrong so hopefully my next attempt will look more like Raymond's and not be quite so sloppy!


Week Three - Dim Sum

After a hellish week at work I have really struggled to find the time to do this week’s challenge - despite the fact that I've been desperate to try out the pasta attachment! I was slightly hindered as the video would not play so I had to soldier on using just the written recipe. Hopefully it hasn't scuppered me too much!

I measured all the ingredients out and got cracking. The K-Beater made short shrift of beating the egg and flour into shape and then on to the fun part. The pasta attachment is simply the best invention ever! The perfect stress buster - if I had known I would have made pasta every night this week - I loved it! It was simple to make and great fun - just what the doctor ordered - thanks Martin!

The filling was also quite straightforward and the food processor made light work of mincing it all together. The fiddly part was the assembling of the wontons as I had no idea how to do it. Overall I think they looked ok - if a little diverse in size!

The sauce was a bit of a disaster. I did not chop the coriander up very well so it went a bit slimy and the dried chillies had a naughty tendency to skitter around the kitchen when I tried to chop them. Nevertheless I served it up regardless to my poor family.

My 13 year old really enjoyed them and wanted more, my husband was not impressed and wanted less and my 18 year old went out......tough crowd! Overall these were not a success but I really enjoyed the pasta making part and will make good use of it in the future!


Week Two - Meringue Cake

I was really looking forward to this week’s challenge. I adore meringue and after attempting to make it once, a few years back, and failing miserably at it, I never bothered to try it again. I now wish that I had persevered. Miranda's recipe and video were a dream to follow - no mishaps at all this week. My meringue was gooey in the middle and crispy everywhere else. Perhaps I have the Kenwood Chef Sense to thank - it is fast becoming my new best friend in the kitchen! 

Overall I was extremely happy with the meringue - it assembled well with the chocolate and caramel and looked impressive (I thought!) on the plate. I even found a use for my leftover egg yolks and chocolate and followed Raymond's recipe from last week to make a chocolate brioche - I am on a culinary mission! 

Sadly though the meringue cake proved to be too sickly to eat too much of (even for my 13 year old!) and it was a nightmare to cut - It's not for the faint hearted.....but I will definitely never purchase shop bought meringues again......thanks Kenwood and Miranda! 






Week One - Brioche

I must admit to not knowing what Brioche was, up until this challenge. However, after watching Raymond's video and how easy he made it look and, armed with my shiny new Kenwood Chef Sense, I had none of my usual trepidations.

How wrong I was! It all went exactly as planned up until the point where I took the dough out of the fridge. Raymond's dough was perfect and easy to manoeuvre. Mine was a sticky, gooey substance. Not to be deterred I put it back into the fridge to cool for a little longer. When I took it out the second time it was still very sticky but I moulded it as shown and popped it into its tin to wait for the magic to happen! After an hour it did not look much different, which was disheartening, so I turned the heating up, covered it with a tea towel and placed it in the warmest spot I could find. My husband thought I was mad wandering around the house and checking on my tin as it got hotter and hotter!

It worked though - after about half an hour my sticky little brioche did double in size and I proudly put it into the oven. Twenty minutes later out came a lovely little loaf. We ate it with some jam and butter and the verdict was that it tasted a mix of a croissant, a cake and bread. All in all it was a success - who knew! I am going to try it again tomorrow to see if I can master it properly. I would never have attempted this without Raymond and Kenwood nudging me along - now I can't wait for next week’s recipe! 



Nicola Reading

Nursery school owner and mum of two, Nicola, manages to whip up concoctions that even make her dog turn its nose up. Her most momentous kitchen disaster came in the form of her daughter’s birthday cake, where, having run out of butter, she suddenly had a healthy moment of madness – why not use avocado instead?! Needless to say, the resulting flavourless green Frisbee bore little resemblance, in neither taste nor appearance, to the birthday cake she’d envisaged. Luckily, Nicola’s daughter has now forgiven her, but she hopes Kenwood can offer her a helping hand and teach her a skill or two when it comes to the kitchen.

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