Because she's a considerate kind of Mum, she was happy to include some Heston Blumenthal dishes (*marked liked this below) in her selections.
There were six courses...
- Beetroot lollies (*)
- Red cabbage gazpacho with mustard ice cream (*)
- Goat cheese tarts
- Salmon with Bois Boudran Sauce (*), green salad
- Tiramisu (*)
- Chocolate biscuits (*), tea and coffee
Okay.. time to start with the least successful dish..
Beetroot lolliesSo I thought these would be an interesting appetiser to set the tone for the adventurous meal to follow.
While not quite a "throw it out altogether and forget it"... it wasn't a long way from being there.
The picture in Heston Blumenthal at Home was quite promising - showing clear glass-like lollies on sticks. This is not (as you would note from the sneak preview above) what I served. Let's look at it, shall we?
- Make candied orange zest
- Prep juice and thickening agent (agar agar)
- Using stencil, make lolly smears
- Bake in oven, cool and serve.
Step one: Make candied orange zestThis was kind of fun - you take a whole orange, then boil it in sugar syrup to candy it for a few hours.
Afterwards, it looks like this...
A giant bright orange lolly. Then you stick it in the freezer to freeze solid.
I thought grating a frozen orange would be hard, but no, this was easy. I guess all the oils in the orange keep it fairly soft though. It was (of course) very cold to hold while doing it though!
So then you take all your little gratings.. and pop them in the oven to dry for a couple of hours. Not a speedy recipe this one, you'll note.
Once that is all done you'll have what seems like the most tiny results for a big amount of time. It does taste nice though.. sweet and slightly crisp.
Prep juice and thickening agent (agar agar)So, the recipe originally calls for carrots, with beetroot as an alternative. I'm not much of a carrot fan, so here I am peeling beetroot for juicing.
PuréeNow.. it's thoroughly cool. It's also... completely set - hard jelly consistency. See those marks? That was my attempt at blending it.
Using stencil, make lolly smearsNext we "Using a stencil and a palette knife, drag some of the puréed mixture evenly across the stencil..." This was a nightmare, and I nearly gave up. In the end I got some down, and hoped that the stint in the oven would melt all the little jelly bits into the nice glass effect in the book.
Bake in oven, cool and serve.So they go in the oven for a bit, get taken out and have toothpicks put in. I was nearly despairing at this point, as they really weren't coming together...
Things I learned.I have two thoughts on this. I wonder about one of two things...
- There was too much agar agar. I wonder if there is different "strengths" of agar agar, and mine was simply stronger. Or, of course, there is a typo or mistake in the recipe - 5 teaspoons seemed like a lot.
- You can't let it "cool thoroughly" When it was hot, the consistency was much better. So much so I was really happy with it before it cools. I wonder if cooling it only slightly then putting it straight into the over may have given a totally different outcome.
Verdict:Okay the good first... the flavour was good - sweet with a touch of earthiness from the beetroot. The guests were intrigued, (we didn't tell them what it was at first.) They were so close to being great, it was just disappointing..
The bad.. well.. they weren't even close to usable as lollies and looked nothing like the photo. They were a lot of pain and work for such a small outcome.
Guest opinionsThese ranged from intrigued through delighted through unconvinced (the latter wasn't a fan of beetroot). They did work well for their intended use - to set the tone for the lunch as something a bit different and special.
Next time a much more positive experience - Red cabbage gazpacho with mustard ice cream!