Tag Archives: heston blumenthal

Heston Blumenthal is not a classically trained chef. Having spent many years touring France and staging in kitchens as he went along, every night Heston would go home and try and recreate dishes as perfectly as he could. After taking a punt in opening a restaurant in Bray, it very quickly became a must-see destination, followed by three Michelin stars, and was at one point the best restaurant in the world. Heston has become known for his ‘wacky’ approach, but it’s one that is desperate to make the most of every ingredient he turns his attention to.

heston blumenthal kitchen wizz pro food processor review

heston blumenthal kitchen wizz pro

You may have noticed I rarely do full-on review posts like this. It’s just not my thing. I’d run out of things to say too quickly. But for this gadget I’m willing to make an exception.

You know how some kitchen gadgets get used once, and even if you like them you’ll shuffle them away to a back cupboard? Or give them away? That’s not the case with this one. This one has invaded my kitchen to the point where I’ve put others away in the loft. My beloved Kenwood Prospero has been boxed up and relegated. The Kitchen Wizz Pro is the new bad boy in town.

And “bad boy” is somewhat appropriate; as I unboxed it from it’s Heston-heavy packaging Mrs. Spud said: “it is a boy’s toy, isn’t it?” and she’s right. Finished in brushed aluminium and dark greys, heavy as hell and packed with mean looking accessories, this is not your Nan’s Moulinex. If you like your kitchen toys to have a feminine edge this is not for you. It does also weigh a ton which is extremely useful when in operation but you need to know it takes effort to get it out of the cupboard.

kitchen wizz pro accessoriesAs with many top-end gadgets, it’s the details that show you how well-crafted it is. It comes with a battery of chopping blades and attachments in their own neat box: grating blades, adjustable slicers, whisks, double choppers etc. plus a little spatula for scraping out and a cute brush for cleaning. One of my favourite gadgets is a chipper which turns potatoes into cute curved chips. Inside the chopping bowl itself is a smaller bowl you can use for working with smaller amounts of ingredients. The lid has a rubber seal so it really shuts fast. The hopper is huge (14cm!); you can fit a couple of potatoes widthways in it. The mixer also keeps a timer going as you use it so you can clock how long it’s been running.

I’ve road tested it on a whole bunch of different things: it’s taken on coleslaw, short pastry, whipping cream, cookies, whisking eggs, making onion and garlic puree, spice mixes… it’s made swift work of the lot. Pastry comes out the smoothest I’ve ever made it, all plasticine-soft. Biscuit crumbs for cheesecake bases come out like fine dust. And the sheer speed of it is terrifying. The weight keeps the gadget firmly on the counter, it’s not walking anywhere. It also cleans up as well as any other device of this nature; it is dishwasher-happy but I’d rather not put it in there to keep it as pristine as long as possible. That said water does get into the grip and I’ve no idea how to get it out of there, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem.

What are the downsides? I’d like to have variable speed on the mixing; it goes full whack (and scarily fast, but reasonably quietly) and comes with a pulse function, from time to time I’d prefer to use a slower speed. I can’t ignore the price: £399 RRP. It’s hardly the budget option but it really does feel like a Rolls Royce gadget and I can see it lasting for years (there is a generous 25 year warranty on the motor).

It’s fair to say I’m besotted with it and it’s one of the best kitchen gadgets I’ve ever used. Ask everyone to give you vouchers for birthday and Christmas and save up for one. It’s superb.

Thanks to Lindsey at MBA for sending me this to review. I’ve been road-testing it for about 7 weeks to give it a good going over. Read more about the Kitchen Wizz Pro at Sage Appliances. Buy online at Amazon

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heston blumenthal’s ultimate cheeseburger

heston blumenthal's ultimate cheeseburger

What is it with burgers? After spending the 2000s in the doldrums, they’re now elevated to greasy lunch treat du jour.

I was a little surprised to see this recipe from Heston pop up online; his In Search of Total Perfection Burger involves grinding different meat cuts together, the most laborious method for making a bun you’ve ever seen, and a quite detailed method of making cheese slices involving sodium citrate and other odd things (a recipe that’s in marked contrast to my ingredient infographic!).

But this version appears to mostly be a shill for his Heston burgers, with a much simplified cheese slice recipe. So I gave it a go. And being the arrogant sod I am, endeavoured to improve it.

I used Comté cheese and cheddar for a more interesting blend, and whisked it with Chardonnay over ale as I don’t like the taste of beer. I included my own touch that I usually use of a drip of oyster sauce to act as a glaze. It provides a tantalising umami layer in your burger that you can’t quite place but makes it irresistible. The cheese slice was very tasty and really not a lot of work so well worth doing again. You could probably come up with a bunch of interesting ingredients to add into it too.

Looking for a tasty burger recipe this bank holiday weekend? You could do a lot worse than this recipe.

The original Heston recipe without me mucking about with it can be found here. And read In Search of Heston having a go too.

Heston’s ultimate cheeseburger (serves 2):

For the cheese slices:

50g mature cheddar, grated

50g Comté cheese, grated

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

10g cornflour

¼ teaspoon dried yeast

¼ teaspoon Marmite

¼ teaspoon English mustard

80ml white wine

For the burger sauce:

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1 teaspoon tomato ketchup

½ teaspoon burger mustard

Everything else:

2 quarter pounder burgers

2 sesame seed buns, split and toasted

½ teaspoon oyster sauce

Handful of crisp lettuce leaves (I like lollo rosso)

  1. Combine the cheeses, mustard, Marmite, cornflour, yeast and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours (I’m not sure what this refrigeration achieves. Do the flour / yeast expand in the fridge? I’d try this again without the fridge step to see what happens).
  2. Line a shallow tray with baking parchment, and get the wine on to a simmer. Add the cheese mix a handful at a time whisking merrily until all dissolved and smooth. Pour into your tray and chill for at least 30 minutes or until needed.
  3. Mix the ketchup, mayo and mustard together to make a smooth sauce and set aside until you’re ready to serve.
  4. Heat a drop of oil in a pan and add the burgers. Cook for 30 seconds on each side, turning until they’re done to your liking (anywhere from 5 – 10 minutes depending on thickness and how done you like them). 2 minutes before the end, smear the oyster sauce over the patties to make a thin glaze, and after a minute cut out a cheese rectangle and plonk on top to heat through for the final 60 seconds.
  5. Serve in a bun with the sauce and lettuce, plus gherkins and onions if you like.

black forest trifle

black forest trifle

When making this, I had to search my blog in case I’d made something like this before. I have a severe weakness for ‘black forest’-flavoured things and I appear to have 4 separate choc-cherry desserts in my collection!

This one has been back and forth with In Search of Heston and me, we’ve noticed how obsessed Heston Blumenthal is with both Black Forest things. and trifle. There was one made for Waitrose but to be honest it sounded weird (lime?). This version is not likely one that Heston would make – not quite enough genius touches – but a tribute nonetheless. A Heston version would no doubt spherify intense cherry compote into cherry shapes and impale them with a stick of dark chocolate for the stem. This version is dead easy to do, kid-friendly (if you skip the Kirsch) and great fun to assemble.

I also hadn’t planned on sticking a biscuit in the top, but a friend had brought these smashing things from Border and they were tremendous. I could’ve skipped making this and just eaten the biscuits instead, they were that good.

Black forest trifle (serves 4):

1 chocolate swiss roll

1 jar black cherry jam

12 cherries

Kirsch (a couple of tablespoons I guess)

500g chocolate custard

1 meringue nest

Squirty cream

Dark chocolate (for grating)

  1. Put swiss roll slices at the bottom of your trifle bowl or individual serving dishes. Douse with Kirsch. Slather the swiss roll with jam.
  2. Halve nine of the cherries and stone them. Bury the cherries in the jam. Steep the remaining 4 cherries in a little Kirsch until time to serve.
  3. Top the jammy cherries with chocolate custard and refrigerate until serving. Top with crumbled meringue nest, squirty cream, a grating of chocolate and a final boozy whole cherry.

which ingredients does heston blumenthal use?

heston blumenthal ingredient cloud infographic

click the image to see a larger version

This word cloud gives a flavour of what Heston Blumenthal puts in his recipes. Phrases in a larger font are used more often (yum, butter).

It’s been made by pulling all the ingredient text from his four major domestic cookery books and firing it into the excellent Wordle engine.

It shows that despite his reputation for off-the-wall, odd ingredients, the base of his cooking is comforting and familiar. Over and over the combination of thyme, rosemary and bay occur. Parsley abounds.  A typical soffrito of carrot, onion, celery and / or leek is very common. And look what else: butter, sugar, milk, cream, flour, eggs… it takes a long time to get to anything obscure. He definitely has specific favourites: banana shallots, fructose, sherry vinegar, button mushrooms crop up again and again.

This infographic props up the vision of the chef that I have in my head: looking to the future with a head firmly rooted in tradition.

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Browse the books featured in this infographic at Amazon

heston blumenthal’s perfect pizza

heston blumenthal's perfect pizza

Let me be clear: this isn’t Heston’s recipe for perfect pizza. But it is my approximation of it.

Driven on by In Search of Heston’s go at the pizza, I felt it was about time I tried it. As they had gone boldly before I took their suggestions and incorporated into this pizza recipe. I was particularly drawn to recommendations to skip the pre-ferment stage (which involves making a proto pizza dough a day before) and avoiding his fiddly and salty tomato sauce.

In tribute to In Search of Heston’s write-up, this post will be written in their style, with photos aplenty and the obligatory ingredients hero shot. So without further ado…

heston-pizzas-ingredients

The ingredients shot. For the base, anyway. Heston’s recipe calls for malt extract. ISOH liked the malt extract but you need half a teaspoon (!) for this one recipe. And is really obscure. So a little research down the baking sites led me to believe that malt extract gives a malty / yeasty flavour, with a little sweetness thrown in. So why not Horlicks and black treacle?

And surprisingly Tesco’s bread flour has exactly the protein count Heston requests, 12%.

heston-dough-mixerInto the mixer on a low setting they go. Confusingly the recipe mixes everything with water, it’s left to prove, and then the yeast is incorporated. I have no idea why it’s done in this order. I wouldn’t bother next time and just bung it all in. I also used the Paul Hollywood idea of leaving the water cold to let it expand slowly and naturally to develop the flavour.
heston-pizza-bases

After kneading, rising, proving and shaping I’d made 4 9 inch pizzas of varying roundness. I’ve done this a lot so I’ve got a bit of a knack for pinching and stretching until there’s a neat shape.

While they proved, I could get on with the tomato sauce. I have a version of Gennaro Contaldo’s I really like, but this time I had a secret weapon: San Marzano tomatoes. Heston has banged on about these a few times, but finally I’ve found that Tesco do them. For £1 a tin. Brilliant! A quick simmer gives them a volcanic red colour (ironic, as they are harvested from Vesuvian soil).

san-marzano-tomato-sauce

And here are the pizzas ready for the oven. I let people roll their own, I went fairly minimalist at the back there. Look at that goat’s cheese mountain on the left!

heston-pizzas-ready-to-bakeStill the issue of cooking them remains a problem. Heston suggests a pan on the hob, followed by a grilling, but electric grills run off a thermostat which will cut out every so often. So I just went for an roasting oven with a pizza stone and upturned cast iron pan in. I could also only fit two in at a time, so cooked them in shifts. My oven got to 255°C, but after taking two out and putting the next two in, it plummeted to 220°C. It told in cooking the next two, as cooking time went from about 4 mins to 6 mins.

So how was it? The base was certainly just right: chewy, bready and with a pleasing crisp. And the tomato paste was great – San Marzanos are worth the hype. But the oven temperature just can’t get that puffiness that great pizza demands. I’ve dreamed of building a pizza oven in the garden for a couple of years now but just kinda lacking the vision to go and do it. That would be the perfect way.

Until then, this recipe it pretty darned good.

Thanks to In Search of Heston for the inspiration.

Want to know more about Heston and his recipes? Check out my Heston ingredient infographic.

Perfect pizza (serves 4):

For the dough:

500g bread flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 7g sachet yeast

1 teaspoon Horlicks

1 teaspoon black treacle

250ml water

For the tomato sauce:

2 tins San Marzano tomatoes

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Balsamic vinegar

Toppings as required (I went for mozzarella, olive, anchovy and red onion but your call)

  1. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl, stir the treacle into the water then combine in a food mixer on it’s lowest speed until it comes together. On a work surface knead for 10 minutes until elastic and pliable. Leave in the bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and cover. Leave for 2 – 3 hours until at least doubled in size.
  2. While the dough rises, make the tomato sauce. Get a frying pan very hot and add a splash of oil. Crush in the garlic and them immediately add the tomatoes (caution: there will be spitting and sputtering). Add a dash of balsamic, and a pinch each of salt, sugar and pepper. Reduce over a fast heat until you can leave a trail through the thick sauce. Check for seasoning, pass through a sieve and put aside until needed.
  3. Put the oven on top whack, and put a pizza stone or cast iron pan in to warm up – you should allow at last 45 mins for this. Beat the dough back down, divide into 4 and stretch and press into rounds. Cover and leave for another 30 minutes. (I dusted my chopping board with polenta so it would slide off easily).
  4. Smear tomato paste over the pizzas, then top as required. Place into the oven until puffed up and brown, about 4 mins. Eat immediately.

full english breakfast cookies

full english breakfast bacon cookies

I love the Great British Menu. There’s plenty wrong with it – enforced friction between the chefs, pointless “out and about” sections, and we all know it should be 1 x 1 hour show a week but the chance to see the top tier of British chefs cooking their guts out is always fascinating. This year’s show has a Comic Relief theme.

One chef was new to my radar this year, Mary-Ellen McTague. A Fat Duck graduate, her influences were clear to see. I found her bath of beans particularly amusing, and am sad to see it won’t feature at the final banquet.

When Sainsbury’s asked me to come up with a Red Nose Day cookie, this playful starter was at the forefront of my mind. Picking up a recipe for “bacon and banana cookies” from her mentor’s book Heston Blumenthal at Home the idea of a play on a Full English was there.

Topped with sweets this is a silly biscuit – that’s the point – but the bacon element is genuinely interesting. Go for a sweet cure bacon and it’s not so jarring, but it’s really worth a go.

Full English breakfast cookies (makes about 20):

5 rashers smoked bacon

120g butter, diced

260g caster sugar

220g plain flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

2 large eggs

Fried egg sweets and orange jelly beans, for decoration

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper and lay the bacon on top. Bake for 10 minutes, then pat dry with kitchen paper. When cool cut into tiny pieces.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Sift in the flour, baking powder and soda with a pinch of salt until mix until a smooth dough is formed. Mix in 1 egg at a time, then stir in the bacon pieces.
  3. On a greased tray spoon out small blobs 10cm apart and bake for 8 – 10mins or until the the cookies are browned. As soon as they are out of the oven press a fried egg and a few jelly beans into the surface to melt in. Leave to firm up on the tray for a couple of minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.

potted duck

heston blumenthal's potted duck

It’s been something of a duck week. I nearly picked up two duck breasts at the weekend, but when they cost £7 and a whole duck cost £8, it seemed a false economy (as buying meat portions almost always is). So after enjoying some lovely roasted duck breasts with red wine sauce and sauté potatoes, what to do with the rest of the duck?

Heston had a bloomin’ good suggestion in Heston at Home: potted duck. Being a Heston recipe, it has quite a few stages of curing and confiting, and I got bored waiting for it so tossed aside the smoking stage at the end. I can’t say I miss it; there’s mountains of flavours rolling along in waves as you munch down through rich, soft meat.

If you have some duck legs knocking about – and let’s face it, who hasn’t… – you could do much worse than piling this into a nearby kilner jar. So here’s what I did based on Heston’s recipe, smoking stage removed and all.

Potted duck (can serve about 8, depending on how generous you are – it’s pretty rich):

9 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

5 black peppercorns

2 bay leaves

Zest of 1 orange

60g salt

2 duck legs

500g duck fat

2 sprigs of rosemary

2 cloves of garlic

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put the star anise, cinnamon, peppercorns and bay leaves on a baking tray and roast for 5 minutes. Tip the lot into a pestle and mortar with the salt and orange and pound to dust. Rub all over the duck legs, store in a sealed container and refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next day, put your slow cooker on low. Add the duck fat, rosemary and garlic and allow to melt. Thoroughly rinse the duck legs and pat dry. Add to the slow cooker and top up with oil if required to cover the legs. Slow cook for 18 hours.
  3. Remove the duck legs from the fat and shred with two forks. Pack into a ramekin or kilner jar, and pour over a little of the cooking fat (save the rest for roast potatoes or pork belly). Refrigerate for a couple of hours then serve with your best toast, pickles and chutney (I used a fig chutney like this).