Pretty in pink

Vanilla marinated scallops with beetroot emulsion

Do you remember the other day when I said I had to come up with my own dish and to cook it during the final exam? The main element was red mullet. Today’s the day. I get to cook the first version of my dish and have feedback from chef. I get another chance at feedback during the mock exam later in August. Obviously between now and then I’ll be tinkering and refining the dish.

So, this is a short entry to share the dishes cooked by chef in this morning’s demo. I’ll post again later to let you know how my dish went.

First up was St Jacques Marinées aux Graines de Vanille, Émulsion de Betterave. Scallops marinated in vanilla and served with a beetroot emulsion. Who’d have thought, shellfish and vanilla? Works a treat. Next, Double Côte de Veau Sous Vide avec Pommes Soufflées. A double rib of veal cooked sous vide with soufflé potatoes. I always wanted to try Pommes Soufflées.

A split vanilla pod was added to oil. In went the scallops. A quick stir with the finger tips to get everything coated and to encourage the vanilla beans to come out to play. Then into the fridge. They were cooked later on the griddle.

Meanwhile one beetroot was roasted in the oven like a jacket potato—in foil, with a squirt of olive oil, thyme and salt. Another beetroot was boiled in salted water with a splash of red wine vinegar, thyme and bay. Chef said he likes to use fennel seeds at home. That’s something to try. The last beetroot was sliced on a mandolin. Small disks were cut out and then put into iced water to crisp up in the fridge along with beetroot leaves and sprouts.

The emulsion was made by warming beetroot juice, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Cold butter was added and with the hand blender held at an angle the mix was whizzed into bubbles. To stabilise the emulsion a small amount of lecithin was added. Then another good whizz. Done. It can be messy. It was messy.

The scallops were the dish of the day, visually at least. Pink, yellow, green and purple contrasting against the charcoal plate. It’s the most restaurant quality dish I’ve seen plated up at Le Cordon Bleu to date. A real stunner! Of course, you know me. Taste wise, the veal really won. It occurred to me that I really need to start thinking of veal being available in all the usual beef cuts—like this one, rib. For some reason I’m still programmed to think escalopes. Must cook more veal. Must cook more veal.

The rib of veal was cooked sous vide. Huzzah. A modern technique. I’m sad that we don’t get to use such modern techniques during the Diplôme de Cuisine. I’d have to enrol in the Diploma in Culinary Management, which is worth thinking about—I think. But I have to pass Superior Cuisine to qualify. Anyway for all you sous-viders out there—when cooking meat on the bone either wrap the bone in foil as best you can or double-bag before vacuum packing. This helps prevent blood vessels being pulled out of the bones. This effect will discolour the bones and they look ugly on the plate. The veal was cooked at 65C for 90 minutes.

The veal came out beautifully. Rose veal and rosey pink. Lovely. The Pommes Soufflées didn’t fare so well. The result was crisps, not puff balls. I felt chef’s pain. Some types of potato are better than others. Russets are apparently right for Pommes Soufflées. Reds too. There must be others. Seasons play a part but I’d like to think that chefs could be given exactly the right types of ingredient for the recipe.

Parsnips, carrots, spring onion and asparagus were cooked in different ways and served as garniture. Girolle mushrooms were simply fried in butter. More interestingly, Swiss chard stalks were incorporated into a duxelles which was then wrapped in the blanched leaves and roasted in the oven. Nice. Different.

Double rib of veal cooked sous vide