Review: Bouchon Bakery cookbook

April 22, 2013

The night after this book was delivered, I SLEPT WITH IT.

This is the next level of baking. As many of the recipes stem from a more commercial and skilled working environment than the average home kitchen, equipment above and beyond the bog-standard bowl and wooden spoon is required. As the book’s primary market is American, a Kitchen-Aid/ stand mixer is used in many of the recipes. Adapt for whatever you have at home/ can afford to upgrade, the results will be worth it. Depending on the recipe, hand mixing/ kneading etc is possible, it just takes MUCH longer…

A necessity though will be jeweller’s/ drug dealer’s scales, as everything is measured, even eggs, usually to the accuracy of 1 gram, for which standard kitchen scales will not suffice.

There are recipes for every level of baking, from simple cookies to macarons to bread, and for me, who does not have the funds or space for silicone moulds/ piping equipment, there is still plenty to try out and heaps more to aspire to. As well as baked goods, there are confections, frostings, sauces, and numerous accompaniments such as streusel toppings, nougat. This is the type of recipe book to sit on the couch with on a Sunday afternoon and dream.

The cake in the pic above was made for my Ma, who requested a cake that ‘looks like chocolate’ but doesn’t contain chocolate (she is allergic to chocolate). So the Devil’s Food cake contains carob, not cocoa. This I would not normally do, as, to be quite frank, carob makes for satanically shaded ablutions, but it turned out well. The cake mix used mayonnaise instead of butter/ oil and was incredibly moist and light.

Please note that the book itself has far more advanced suggestions for cake constructions, this particular delight was cobbled together myself from various parts of the book mainly selecting elements that suited my skill level (slightly moronic) and the equipment available (eg too drunk to find sugar thermometer).

The french buttercream was incredible, it tasted like the most decadent, melt in the mouth, frosting I’d ever had, what angels would munch on if they wanted to up a couple of cup/butt sizes. And that was when I’d put in 1/3 of the butter….

The cheat I used that wasn’t from the book was using Bonne Maman Wild Blueberry compote to flavour the buttercream, which is (I’m guessing) why the buttercream looks kinda gloopy…. If you do this, use the book’s recipes for purees, and don’t get squiffy with the mixer (my elbows were running out of grease by that point), but, it still tasted AMAZING. And heaps better than anything bought in (in London, anyway, as Bouchon Bakery don’t deliver here :( )

If you have ever dreamed of clouds made of cookies, made friends smile with cake, strived for culinary empowerment…. BUY THIS BOOK!!!!.

New BFP (Best Food Program…) On the Table w/ Eric Ripert

April 2, 2013

Is this the new era of Internet TV? There’re a few quotes from this series which I’m sure wouldn’t be allowed on mainstream tv.

Basic premise is:
Eric Ripert is Chef and Co-owner of a very famous and expensive restaurant in New York and also features in numerous food related TV programs either as judge or knowledgeable contributor. Think sexy, well informed family friend. The kind you didn’t have a crush on but your friend did. Who would slip you whiskey, but not in a sleazy way. It would be single malt.

Each episode, a different guest comes to Eric Ripert’s kitchen, they get stinkingly drunk (sometimes making a cocktail as well) and talk shit. The ones with the chefs are the best, most notably (Episode 1, which features Anthony Bourdain, and Episode 2, which features Mario Batali. They get very blunt and rude (and talk about other famous-ish wanky people in a way that feels quite voyeuristic and naughty).

This program is like a BFF as there is an episode for any mood. And they make awesome looking food and cocktails, which is what I do with mine…

Watch the one above (Marcus Samuelsson) if you need a feel-good-pick-me-up (ie. want to feel like the world is amazing).
Watch Stanley Tucci if you feel a bit homesick, missing your ever-so-slightly senile uncle (in a good way).
Watch Chrissie Teigen if you’re feeling a bit slutty.

The latest episode has Elizabeth Olsen but this one makes me feel sad (she describes making ‘Starch’ as a ‘treat’). Half of me wants to be super nice to her in case she snaps in two, the other half of me wants to lock her in a dungeon made of Char Siu and Roast Duck and make her eat her way out (FOR HER OWN GOOD)… **breathe**

Make yourself something(s) intoxicating, sit back, watch, and be inspired.

FILM: Peking Restaurant aka The Great Chef

January 5, 2012

Peking Restaurant aka The Great Chef is a 1999 movie about a Chinese chef who goes to Korea to meet a chef there who was a childhood friend of his (now deceased) father. I first saw this movie in Beijing where we used to buy bag loads of pirate DVDs whilst drunk and noodles were our favourite pastime.

Like most Asian movies there are ups, there are downs, there’s some semi-slapstick comedy moments typical of Korean movies. There’re heaps of very cute Korean boys and girls :) Not wanting to give any spoilers but the movie culminates in a quest to make the ultimate Jja Jang Myun, a traditional Korean black bean sauce based noodle dish. (very similar to the Chinese Zha Jiang Mian). Please excuse any spelling errors.

Maybe due to the age/ obscurity of the movie I couldn’t find any links to the movie itself on Youtube (hence the Jja Jang Myun link above) but track it down on Amazon etc. It’s a feel good foodie movie and definitely one for rewatching.

Warning: Will need munchies

Hapi Wasabi Peas -Happy Happy!!!!

April 30, 2010
Hapi Wasabi Peas - can view

Hapi Wasabi Peas - can view

Hapi Wasabi Peas are very very yummy (although quite expensive – £4.50 a can…)

They’re not super hot but have a definite wasabi kick, just enough to be totally addictive :)

MMMMmmmmmmm…… Munchie munchie XXXXXX


March 19, 2010

Hell’s Pizza are a popular New Zealand pizza chain famous there for their ‘controversial’ (i.e. racist) advertising campaigns, who have spent the last few years trying to ingratiate themselves with the Antipodean community in London, currently now with 4 branches based around West London and Clapham.

Hell's Pizza


Having been to New Zealand and had food prepared with excellent ingredients, great technique and friendly service in even the most remote of locations, and also being a huge fan of the Kiwi owned Green Room (which also has a Kiwi chef who produces simple but consistently impressive fayre), I can say that Hell’s Pizza stays true to the urban stereotype of Antipodean travellers as couch surfing blaggards.

To be fair, there are plenty of very positive reviews bandied all over the internet but few are from within the last year, so maybe they’ve expanded too fast, and I’m not denying that maybe, long ago, in a former existence, Hell’s Pizza used to produce passable food, it’s just now, they can only be relied on to cause frustration and disappointment, as well as self hatred when you realise that they have TOTALLY AND TRULY RIPPED YOU OFF.

First, the good stuff, which ain’t a lot. The pizza boxes fold into little coffins to keep leftovers. This is amusing. And they have an online ordering system, which comes up with a lot of their items as unavailable. This is a big favour they’re doing for their customers as to be honest the food’s shit. I really want to say something else nice about them so I don’t seem like a total bitch but really, that’s it.

Anyway, so what’s it really like? Well, we ordered delivery from HP twice in a week, the first time ordering online, the second by telephone. Ordering online, paid online, the pizza arrived in just over half an hour, was the wrong side of warm, but passable. We tried to order kumara chips but got lemon pepper wedges instead, which were also mediocre but edible (like if you arrived for dinner late at your mate’s house). Overall quality of ingredients was average but we put this down to the lower quality of produce available in London in comparison to NZ. Tasted better as leftovers cos at least after microwaving it was properly hot.

The second time, we order by telephone, my Kiwi mate making the call to see if we could order the elusive sides, and also in the hope that with a Kiwi placing the order we could maybe get some special compatriot’s service. Turns out the experience is significantly more unpleasant than ordering anonymously online.

The pizza – less warm than before, ingredients of a similar mediocre quality
Kumara chips – flabby
Ribs – tiny portion of 4 small ribs, not meaty at all, and an overly sweet, watery marinade.

And here comes the kicker…. as well as charging above average (for London) prices for their pizzas, they also charge £2.50 delivery. This is well above the standard for deliveries in London; most place charge a maximum of £1, with free delivery if ordering more than £10 of food. We ordered a total of £15 worth of food, and were charged, including the delivery charge, £20. We received a dubious receipt which listed higher than advertised prices for each item. When we questioned this we were told that prices had increased which is why we were charged this amount, however the menu which they sent out accompanying our order still listed the OLD prices, and, though it warned that prices may increase without notice, it had not been amended at all to indicate that the prices were obsolete.

So we paid £20 for £15 worth of food – a 33% markup, which would make even good food have a bitter aftertaste, and made this bad food into a truly awful experience.

Overall, the opinion on Hell’s Pizza – Over priced, over rated, and over here…. avoid avoid avoid.

Hell Pizza on Urbanspoon