Tuesday, 26 June 2012

New look Julie Le Clerc range available now!





I have created my own range of chutneys, relishes and savoury sauces in conjunction with Sabato. This unique and versatile selection of condiments has been re-launched with a new look - and a new product!
My latest creation, Arabian Date Chutney, is a well-balanced blend of fruits and fragrant spices with wonderful sticky texture (from the dates) and a ginger kick. I'm thrilled with this new combination and think it fits well into my exhisting popular range. The new-look labels are pretty cool, too. Call into Sabato for a taste and to purchase - also available from good food stores nationwide.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

My last supper request...

Inspired by the UK newspaper story (see my post, below) I've been thinking about all my favourite foods and what I would order for my very last supper.  Here's my short-list, but I'm sure this isn't my complete menu, so I may add to it over time. Lucky I'm not on death row, that's all I can say.

My last meal could not take place without me having to travel to the homelands of all my favourite foods. Yes, I know this would mean my last meal would take a long time to complete, but that's one way of avoiding the inevitable ending that comes with a last meal. To be worthwhile, food has to be authentic - that's my excuse for prolonging my final meal, and I'm sticking to it! This way I get to stall for time, stretch out my last meal and truly enjoy every last taste, texture and aroma!

Okay, I would have to start off with a Fattoush salad in my ancestral homeland: Syria. In Syria, Fattoush is tossed with a Pomegranate Molasses dressing, which I think is far superior to the lemon juice versions used in other Middle Eastern lands. I would of course have to be in Syria to eat this wonderful dish, as this amazing stringy cheese they put on top is only available there.

It might seem crazy to go for soup, following a summery salad, but hey, this is my last meal, so I'm allowed to be contrary! Okay, now I'm in a classic bistro in Paris eating the best ever French Onion Soup, topped with the finest gruyere cheese melted lovingly onto thick slices of crusty baguette. 


I would go to Sicily next, to feast on most the tasty little black mussels (only found in Europe, so I just have to be there, naturally). Cooked with a light touch and delicately dressed with the cooking broth and some lemon juice, there's nothing quiet as tender, sweet and juicy as these small mussels.
Next up, I'd be off to India to enjoy this amazing vegetarian curry meal, with all the trimmings. I enjoyed this incredible feast some years back and I really want to repeat it one more time. My dining experience would of course have to include a table strewn with rose petals, as their fragrance adds to the sensual delight of the evening.




I think it's time for another salad now, something light and fresh in the middle of the meal is always good. So I'm off to a Greek island for an authentic Greek Village Salad. The simplicity of salty feta and olives mixed with crisp cucumber and deeply flavoursome ripe tomatoes is hard to beat. Oh and don't forget the oregano to season and top it all off to perfection.
Back to Italy now for some fresh ricotta cheese. I might just have this spread on some local bread almost as a sort of palate cleanser, you understand.

Real ricotta in Italy is sweet and soft, like creamy, cheesy clouds. The stuff we have here is all grainy and nothing like the real thing at all. I would require fresh authentic ricotta so I could also have some wonderful chocolate cannoli (filled with sweet ricotta) as part of my final and most delicious dessert.





 And speaking of dessert, I would of course have to have a plate full of all the many different flavoured French Macarons available from Laduree, in Paris, no less!
I'm sure there's a awful lot more I would need to eat if this was indeed my final meal of a lifetime. Let me ponder this further and I will add the essentials as they come to me. In the meantime, I'd love to hear about the final meal of your dreams. Leave a comment and savour the notion of enjoying all your favourite foods in one meal!
                                                                                         

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

What would you eat for your last supper?

I read this article where the UK Guardian newspaper asked top chefs and food writers what they would choose to eat for their last meal. This got me thinking about my most favourite foods and how I would combine these to create a worthy final meal of a lifetime (more to come on that soon). Meanwhile, here's what the famous foodies have to say but I'd love to know what you would choose to enjoy for your last supper, too. Feel free to leave your comments and definitive menus here.

Gordon Ramsay
What would you eat for your last supper?
I would start with golden caviar from the albino sturgeon served with an ice-cold bowl of tomato consomme. I cant think of a more exquisite way to start a meal. To follow, a wonderful fillet of Aberdeen Angus beef, studded with black Perigord truffles and perfectly roasted, served with the ultimate indulgence pomme puree de Joel Robuchon, with grated white Alba truffle. Dessert would be a chocolate fondant with white milk ice cream.
Who would cook it?
Starter by Alain Ducasse, main course by Joel Robuchon and dessert by Tana Ramsay, so we could eat it together.
Where would you eat it?
Location-wise I would rather have it at a villa on the Reethi Rah island in the Maldives.
What would you drink?
I would start with vintage Dom Perignon. Then an amazing 1966 Cheval Blanc. 1966 being a great year for wine, food and football my birth year! The dessert wine would have to be a bottle of 1898 Chateau dYquem.
Who would you share it with?
My wonderful wife and kids.
Nigella Lawson
What would you eat for your last supper?
Linguine alle vongole, made al bianco, thats to say, no tomatoes, just pasta, oil, a little chilli, garlic, clams, white wine and parsley. Followed by lemony roast chicken, creamed spinach, petits pois la franaise and a fennel salad, with chips, roast potatoes and mash (last meal - why worry about the carbs?) then a wodge of gorgonzola so ripe its about to walk. And the worlds best toffees, Salvators from Fouquet, Paris (Rue Francoise 1er).
Who would cook it?
I would cook it, with my children.
Where would you eat it?
At home of course.
What would you drink?
I'd go for some Gavi di Gavi with the pasta, Brunello di Montalcino with the chicken, some deep, dark Pedro Ximinez sherry with the gorgonzola and tea with the salvators.
Who would you share it with?
My family: this scene is set in the distant future and I see myself surrounded by my children, their children, and even their childrens children, with me, the blue-haired elderly matriarch at the head of it.
Heston Blumenthal
What would you eat for your last supper?
Originally I thought of a huge banquet so it would last a very long time. You know, Charles II once had a banquet for five people, which consisted of 173 courses. One course comprised 15 desserts and another seven puffins, or something like that. It would probably take a lifetime to finish so realistically, if it was my last ever supper, it would probably be Sunday lunch with roast potatoes.
Who would cook it?
We all would - my family and I - all together.
Where would you eat it?
I think my place of choice for my last Sunday lunch would be at home.
What would you drink?
I would drink a 1985 Grand Echezeaux by Henri Jaillet, Zanna (my wife) loves nice shiraz and she'd probably have that.
Who would you share it with?
Just Zanna and the kids, Jack, Jessie and Joy. Traditionally, we eat after service at the Fat Duck, and so I would keep it at that time. That is our routine.
Ferran Adria
What would you eat for your last supper?
Bamboo poles filled with sashimi, prawn with tuzu, clam soup, fried blowfish, miso shells, giant radish with abalone ...
Who would cook it?
For my last supper I would like to go back a century and ask Monsieur Escoffier to prepare a feast for me.
Where would you eat it?
In Kyoto.
What would you drink?
A selection of mythical champagnes, for example, a Salon S from Mesnil 1947, Krug vintage 1938 or Bollinger Vieilles Vignes 1985, and a more recent Gosset Millsime 1996.
Who would you share it with?
With my family.

Reprinted from http://www.guardian.co.uk/

Monday, 11 June 2012

BAKING BLIND 101:
Ever wondered what to do when a recipe tells you to blind bake a pastry case? Here are all the tips and tricks and chef’s secrets you need to know to produce perfect golden pastry cases for quiches and savoury and sweet tarts.
COOK’S NOTES:
  • Make your pastry following the recipe given. Once the ingredients are combined, take care to only knead the pastry briefly at this stage, as overworking the pastry will make it tough.
  • It is important for the pastry to rest for at least 30 minutes before rolling out. This allows the pastry to relax and it will be less likely to shrink when cooked.
  • Roll the pastry out quite thickly, lift the pastry into the tin using the rolling pin, and then gently ease it into the tart tin, pressing it into the corners of the tin with your fingertips. Press any cracks together with your fingertips.
  • Trim the pastry around the top edge of the tart tin, leaving a little extra pastry height to allow for shrinkage when the pastry cooks.
  • Lightly prick the base of each tart shell with a fork (this is called 'docking' the pastry) to eliminate pockets of air, which can cause the pastry to rise up and set in a bubbled shape.
  • Chill the pastry case for at least 30 minutes.
  • To bake blind, place the tart tin on an oven tray. Cut a piece of foil or nonstick baking paper larger than the size of the tart and press this into the pastry case. Fill the case with baking – the beans sure up the sides of the pastry as it bakes.
  • Use old rice or pulses (such as dried chickpeas or kidney beans), or you can purchase ceramic baking beans. These can all be cooled and then reused time and time again.
  • Bake the tart with it’s filling of paper and beans (that is, to ‘bake blind’) for 15 to 20 minutes. This will cook the tart case and set the pastry into shape.
  • Remove the tart tin from the oven, remove the foil or paper containing the baking beans and set the beans aside to cool.
  • After baking blind, check the pastry case for any cracks, which will cause any liquid filling (such as custard) to seep out.  Patch up any cracks or holes with little dabs of raw pastry.
  •  Return the tart shell to the oven for a further 5 minutes until the pastry is no longer moist but dry and golden brown.
  • The tart shell is now ready to fill with your choice of ingredients, such as berries and mascarpone, or filled with for example a savoury custard quiche mixture, and then baked again to set the filling.  
SIMPLE RICH SHORTCRUST PASTRY RECIPE
Makes 500g / 1 lb
225g (1 3/4 cups / 8 oz) plain flour
Pinch salt
2 tbsp caster sugar (if making sweet shortcrust pastry)
180g (6 oz) cold butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp ice cold water
1 Place flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to sift. Add the caster sugar at this stage if you want to make sweet shortcrust pastry (for dessert pies and tarts), otherwise omit the sugar for savoury shortcrust pastry.
2 Add cubed butter and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Alternatively, place flour and salt in a bowl and using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
3 Add the egg yolk and water and process just enough to bring the mixture together (do no over process at this stage or the pastry will be tough). Remove pastry from the bowl and knead lightly on a surface lightly dusted with flour.
4 Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes before using as the recipe directs.

YUMMY THINGS TO DO WITH PASTRY CASES...
  • Fill baked pastry cases with vanilla custard and top with sliced fresh peaches.
  • Pack pitted summer cherries into a baked tart shell and drizzle with melted dark chocolate. Serve with whipped cream on the side.
  • Make a classic French quiche, which is a savoury egg custard mixed (3 eggs beaten with 1 cup of milk) with flavours of your choice. Try grated Cheddar and spring onion; summer tomato and basil; or smoked salmon and chives.
  • Make sweet custard tarts. Bake the pastry blind then fill with vanilla custard and bake in a gentle oven until the custard is set. Dust with grated nutmeg and serve.
GLAZED BERRY MASCARPONE TARTLETS
Makes 8
8 individual blind baked tart shells
200g mascarpone
1 punnet strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 punnet raspberries
1/2 cup red currant jelly, to glaze
2 tbsp cold water
1 Spread some mascarpone over the base of each tart shell. Arrange a mixture of berries to cover mascarpone.
2 Heat red currant jelly with the water in a saucepan until the jam melts and a glaze mixture is formed. Brush the berries with a little hot glaze and leave to set.

Text, recipes, food and styling ©Julie Le Clerc 2012