Dark Chocolate Mousse

Valentine’s Day Chocolate Mousse

Valentines Cover

So, you have successfully shucked the oysters, the steak was cooked to perfection and you matched your meal with a perfect bottle of wine, Valentine’s Day is going according to plan now you need something simply stunning to finish the meal. I have chosen something stunningly simple to make, that can be kept in the fridge and will wow your dinner companion. And the bonus, there will be a couple left over for the morning.

Dark Chocolate Mousse

Dark Chocolate Liqueur Mousse

Many chocolate mousses are made with a mix of cream and eggs and often use gelatine as a setting agent so they can be quite heavy, this recipe is lightness itself relying on the flavour of the dark chocolate, the liqueur, and the airy whipped egg whites. The squeeze of lemon helps stabilise the egg whites when they are being whipped and prevent over whisking, if you over-whisk the egg whites they will collapse and separate and you will lose all the air that you have whisked in and the resulting mousse will be very heavy.  Follow the instructions carefully and be patient whilst folding in the whipped-up egg whites so that you lose as little volume as possible and you will be rewarded with light, fluffy chocolate mousse.

For your chocolate mousse, you can use a choice of liqueurs, but my favourites are orange or coffee based which are natural partners with dark chocolate.

Chocolate Liqueur Mousse     makes 4

200 gr premium Dark Chocolate ( a minimum 60 % cocoa solids )

7 free-range Egg Whites ( use the egg yolks in your Bearnaise Sauce )

50 gr Caster Sugar

4 tablespoons of Coffee or Orange Liqueur

A squeeze of fresh Lemon Juice

Place a medium glass or metal bowl over a pan of simmering water (do not allow the base of the bowl to touch the water) and add the chocolate. Melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally, meanwhile put the egg whites and lemon juice into a second large, clean bowl and whisk until they form soft peaks. Sprinkle over the sugar and continue to whisk until firm peaks form when the whisk is removed. Do not whisk beyond this stage.

When the chocolate has melted, remove the bowl from the heat and add one-third of the egg whites, and whisk them into the hot chocolate very quickly. This is important as the cool eggs can cause the chocolate to start to set if not mixed in speedily and the resulting mousse will be lumpy.

Using a spatula or the side of a large metal spoon fold the remaining egg whites and the liqueur into the chocolate mixture, the egg whites need to be totally incorporated but not over mixed as this will start to knock out the whisked in air bubbles. Carefully spoon the mousse mixture into four glasses or serving dishes and place in the fridge for at least a couple hours to set.

Wine and Beer

 

What to Drink? Chocolate mousse pairs well with sweet dessert wines and more unusually fruity Australian Barossa Valley Shirazes. For a beer why not try a Cherry or Raspberry Kriek beer.

Allergens in this recipe are;

     Milk   Eggs

Please see the Allergens Page

Valentines Cover

Valentine’s Day Oysters Blonde and Blue

Valentine’s Day Cooking the Perfect Steak

Valentine’s Day Bearnaise Sauce


Grilled Sirloin Steak

How to cook the Perfect Steak

Valentines Cover

What can be more romantic on Valentine’s Day than to cook and share a delicious steak with your partner, served with a rich buttery Bearnaise Sauce, some thick cut chips, and a crisp green salad? Here are the steps you need to prepare a fabulous steak just like a professional grill chef;

Grilled Sirloin Steak

Char-grilled Sirloin Steak

Buy the Best Meat You Can

You need to find a butcher who knows the provenance of his supplies, even better a farm shop or butcher who breeds his own cattle. Well hung ( matured ) grass fed beef is best. Good meat is expensive, but you are better buying less and better quality than more of an unknown piece of meat. The choice of cut will affect the flavour of your steak, rump and flank are very tasty but require perhaps a little more skill to cook correctly, a fillet is the most expensive cut and very tender but perversely not as flavoursome as the cheaper pieces of meat. I would settle in the middle for a piece of rib eye steak with some nice marbling of fat. The best ever Rib eye I have tasted is from the tiny island of Alderney and the grass-fed, twenty-eight day aged beef from Kiln Farm.

Aged Rib eye Steaks

Well marbled Kiln Farm Rib eye Steak

Fat is your Friend

Marbling is the small specks of white to yellow fat you can see in some cuts of meat they will render down during cooking and help keep the meat moist. Most importantly remember fat adds flavour to any cut, this is why beef joints such as silverside are often wrapped in fat by the butcher for a roasting joint.

Buy a Big Steak

For maximum flavour we want to get a good char on the outside of your steak while keeping the meat juicy and tender inside and this can be difficult with a thin cut for even an expert. The solution is one supersized steak to share, instead of two 350 gr steaks get one thick cut 750 gr steak.

Thick Steak

Cook from Room Temperature

It can be difficult to cook a steak and raise the temperature in the center if it comes straight out of your fridge at three to five degrees. Take your steak out of the fridge at least an hour before you want to cook it.

Hot, Hot, Hot

This is very important if you are barbecuing, using a griddle pan or just a big old heavy-bottomed cast iron frying pan, the choice of award-winning steakhouse Hawksmoor, it needs to be hot. Very hot. You don’t want to be able to hold your hand close to the grill or pan. Barbecuing over charcoal will give the steak a lovely smoky finish.

Charcole

Seasoning

If your steak is in a plastic bag or container, remove and pat it dry with kitchen paper.  Immediately before serving generously season with sea salt and pepper. Chef’s season meat exceedingly well it is probably the biggest difference between them and a home cook so don’t be afraid. I would use about a four to one ratio sea salt to fresh roughly ground black pepper. You don’t need to add anything else unless you want to add a little freshly ground coriander or smoked sea salt for a little extra flavour.

Oil and Butter

You don’t need any oil in the pan but if you want you can add butter towards the end of cooking and turn the heat down to stop burning. You can add a few thyme sprigs and a crushed clove of garlic for extra flavour if you desire. This will give your steak a buttery, creamy finish but you can finish the steak without the butter maintaining the extra crisp finish.

Cooking

Carefully place the steak on the grill or in the pan and leave it for a couple of minutes and then using a pair of tongues turn over. As long as the pan or grill is hot enough you should have no problem with sticking. WARNING you may get some smoke so open a window the pan needs to be hot enough for your steak to develop a delicious crust, so don’t overcrowd the grill or pan. Carry on turning the steak to prevent burning. If there is a thick layer of fat on your steak, hold it vertically, with tongs, to brown the fat. For cooking times follow this link, remember your steak will continue to cook after you remove it from the heat.

Resting

When the steak is ready it is vitally important to let it rest, at home place it on a warm plate cover with foil and wrap in a couple of T-towels and leave for at least five minutes this allows the meat to finish cooking and suck all the juices back, otherwise they will leak as soon as the meat is cut, and it will be dry.

 Steak 3

Slice the meat against the grain, rather than parallel to the fibers in the meat and serve with Bearnaise Sauce.

Wine and Beer

What to Drink? Steak and Bearnaise Sauce requires some out of the box choices to match the richness and slight acidity of the sauce try a bold, slightly acidic Chilean Cabernet or a big, bold in your face oaked Californian Chardonnay if you prefer beer try a hoppy English IPA beer.

Allergens in this recipe are;

 Milk    If you use butter

Please see the Allergens Page

Valentines Cover

Valentine’s Day Oysters Blonde and Blue

Valentine’s Day Bearnaise Sauce

Valentine’s Day Chocolate Mousse


Whisking Bearnaise Sauce

How to make a great Bearnaise Sauce

Valentines Cover

A Bearnaise sauce is simply an egg yolk, a shallot, a little tarragon vinegar, and butter, but it takes years of practice for the result to be perfect.”

Fernand Point, French chef, and restaurateur

Bearnaise is a classic accompaniment for a Valentine’s Day steak particularly a Côte de bœuf or Chateaubriand, the rich luxurious sauce pairing excellently with the meat, it can also be served with fish such as Brill and Turbot. Bearnaise was most likely created by chef Collinet who also graced the culinary world with pommes de terre soufflées. The sauce is believed to have first been served at the 1836 opening of a restaurant near Paris, named after King Henry IV of France, who was born in the Béarn region, hence the name.

Whisking Bearnaise Sauce

Bearnaise Sauce

Bearnaise is a derivate of the master sauce Hollandaise, an emulsion of beaten egg yolks and warm butter and distinctively flavoured with the aniseed like Tarragon ( some recipes also contain Chervil ). You can use a good quality white wine vinegar, Champagne vinegar for fish or for an extra hit of tarragon use some homemade tarragon vinegar.

Bearnaise Sauce                     for 4 to 6

300 gr Unsalted Clarified Butter

4 fresh free-range Egg Yolks

2 largish Banana Shallot, peeled and finely sliced

5 tablespoons White Wine, Champagne or Tarragon Vinegar

3 tablespoons fresh chopped Tarragon, reserve the stems

1 Bay Leaf

3 of 4 crushed White Peppercorns

Sea Salt and Cayenne Pepper

First clarify the butter by gently warming it in a small, heavy-bottomed pan. When the butter starts to foam, remove from the heat and leave it on the side to cool and for the buttermilk and impurities to sink to the bottom of the pan. Carefully ladle out the butterfat and pass through a fine sieve and discard the solids.

Clarifying Butter

Clarified Butter

Pour the vinegar into a small aluminium saucepan and add the shallots, tarragon stems, bay leaf and crushed peppercorns. Place on a medium heat and bring up to a gentle simmer and reduce the amount of liquid by half. Remove from the heat and allow to completely cool then strain.

Reduced White Wine

Tarragon infused White Wine Reduction

Lightly beat the egg yolks with a splash of cold water in a medium glass or metal bowl, then whisk in the infused vinegar. Carefully suspend the bowl over a pan of simmering water ( do not allow base of the bowl to touch the water as this will overcook the eggs and cause them to quickly scramble). Whisk the egg yolks continuously until they have thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon and they have tripled in volume.

Remove the pan from the heat leaving the bowl suspended over the hot water and slowly pour in the clarified butter in a thin stream, whilst whisking continuously until the mixture is thick and smooth. Fold in the tarragon leaves and season, to taste, with salt and a pinch of Cayenne pepper.

Whisking Bearnaise Sauce

Bearnaise Sauce

Your Bearnaise will keep warm set above the warm water covered lightly with tin foil for fifteen to twenty minutes. If your sauce splits or curdles you have probably tried to add the butter too quickly, a couple of teaspoons of freshly boiled water whisked vigorously into the split sauce may help retrieve it. If this does not work, you can whisk up a further egg yolk in a fresh clean bowl then slowly add the split hollandaise whisking all the time.

Allergens in this recipe are;

 Milk Eggs   There may be Sulphites in Vinegar

Please see the Allergens Page

Valentines Cover

Valentine’s Day Oysters Blonde and Blue

Valentine’s Day How to Cook the Perfect Steak

Valentine’s Day Chocolate Mousse


Grilled Oysters

Oysters Blue and Blonde – A Valentine’s Day Recipe

Valentines Cover

Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14th and it is a religious feast day honouring an early Christian martyr Saint Valentine of Rome. Valentine’s Day first became associated with a medieval ideal of romance, armour clad knights, perilous quests, beautiful maidens, the Arthur and Guinevere ‘ please honour me with a token of thy affection sweet lady and I shall boldly go forth and slay the curmudgeonly dragon ’ in the fourteenth century but fortunately by the eighteenth century it had become a much more civilised and lets face it safer occasion marked by people in love sending cards know as ‘valentines’. Obviously, we would all go kill a murderous mythical creature for our loved ones it’s just sometimes popping to Paperchase for a card is easier. Other gifts for the romantically inclined included flowers, confectionary, and St. Valentine’s Keys to unlock the recipient’s heart. The Victorians as ever over-egged the pudding and are responsible for the surfeit of hearts, doves, lacy frills ( on the cards at least ) and flocks of winged Cupids.

Undoubtedly one of the worlds great romantics was the Italian Giacomo Girolamo Casanova who when he wasn’t gambling, fighting, spying, studying the occult and generally hanging around with Voltaire, Mozart, Goethe, Madame de Pompadour, Rousseau and innumerable aristocrats was something of a lady’s man. The stories, many told it has to be said by himself, recount numerous amorous adventures and this probably explains why it is said he would consume up to fifty oysters for breakfast as an aphrodisiac. *

Traditional Oysters

Oysters served chilled

The reason oysters were considered an aphrodisiac had been put down to the zinc levels which handily for you lusty feeling folk are highest in early spring. Then in March 2005, a group of American and Italian researchers presented a paper to the American Chemical Society following a study into molluscs such as clams and mussels that were rich in a series of rare amino acids that triggered increased levels of hormones in mice. There was a huge interest in the research but really no proof of the effect from eating oysters directly, in fact, Nancy Amy, a nutritionist, and toxicologist at the University of California provided another theory “There’s an amazing placebo effect with aphrodisiacs,” she said. “It’s very culturally specific and there’s no scientific evidence, but if you think it’s going to work, then there’s already a 50 percent chance that it will.” Enough said.

*Casanova retired from adventuring and took up the position of librarian to a Bohemian Count, perhaps he relished a quieter life but it somewhat dispels the image we have of shy, retiring bookworms.

Oysters are eaten raw traditionally with lemon, Tabasco or a spoon of Migonette, a mix of very finely diced shallots, cracked black pepper and wine vinegar or they can be lightly baked or grilled. There are a number of classic grilled oyster recipes such as with garlic butter, oysters Rockefeller with spinach and pastis, oysters Kilpatrick with Worcestershire sauce and crisp bacon or glazed with buttery, tangy Bearnaise sauce. Alternatively, oysters can be deep-fried in in tempura batter or covered in breadcrumbs for the Southern favourite oyster Po’boy.

Baked Oysters

Grilled Oysters

So, while I cannot guarantee that this recipe will have you swinging from the lampshade in leopard skin briefs it’s really rather nice and tasty and uses some really nice Jersey ingredients ( you kind use your own local alternatives ). The oysters are gratinated with a crisp mix of fresh herbs, savoury biscuit crumbs, and Jersey Blue soft cheese which creamy and slightly tangy taste accentuates the salty ozone flavour of the Jersey oysters. The very light continental style beer, Liberation Blonde provides the base for a refreshing dressing to the baked oysters and chilled is an ideal accompaniment. You can substitute these with a local cheese and beer of your choice and you won’t be disappointed.

Grilled Oysters

Grilled Oysters Blonde and Blue

Grilled Jersey Oysters ‘Blonde and Blue’           serves 2 or 3

12 Jersey Oysters

Classic Herd organic Jersey Blue cheese or similar such as organic blue veined Brie

50 ml Liberation Blonde Ale

25 ml quality White Wine Vinegar

80 gr crushed Water Biscuits or plain Cheese Crackers

2 medium Shallots, peeled and finely chopped

2 generous pinches of Cayenne Pepper

1 teaspoon each of the following, finely chopped Chives, Chervil and Parsley

If you have a friendly fishmonger you can ask him to shuck or open your oysters for you before taking them home to cook and serve. If not, you first need to open your oysters and loosen them from their shells. Set each opened oyster down on a small mound of rock salt, on a baking tray. Remove the rind from your cheese and finely dice, divide evenly onto the oysters. Mix the herbs with the finely crushed biscuit crumbs and sprinkle over the cheese-topped oysters.

For the dressing simmer the chopped shallots with the white wine vinegar, cayenne, and a little water until the shallots start to soften but retain a little bite. Evaporate almost all of the liquid. Chill. When cold add the Blonde beer. Grill the oysters for 3 to 4 minutes under a medium grill until the cheese starts to bubble and the crumb mix browns. Serve topped with a little dressing, extra chopped herbs and the remaining dressing as a side.

Wine and Beer

What to Drink? Oysters are classically matched with flinty, Chablis or dry Champagne but why not try a Fino Sherry or hoppy Continental-style lagers and light fruity beers.

Allergens in this recipe are;

  Flour   Milk Oyster Traces of sulphites in the beer

Please see the Allergens Page

valentines-cover.jpg

Valentine’s Day Chocolate Mousse

Valentine’s Day How to Cook the Perfect Steak

Valentine’s Day Bearnaise Sauce