31 August 2011

Recipe: Polenta cake with aubergine, portobello mushroom and mozzarella

This dish was spawned out of a college dinner service where myself, my lecturer Scott and team mate Robert had to come up with a vegetarian dish from what we had going spare in the fridge.  It totally changed my outlook on vegetarian food from bland and boring as this dish was so tasty.  It goes to show that vegetarian food is often passed off on menus where you'd prbably be pleasantly surprised.  Try it next time you're out for dinner; i'm converted, why can't you be?

Serves 2


500g Polenta
4 shallots, finely diced and sweated until soft
Handful parsley, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped and sweated
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Portobello mushrooms
1 pack of Mozzarella
1 Aubergine, thin half sliced, thick half diced into cubes
Rapeseed oil for frying
100g grated parmesan


1)      Add the polenta in a steady stream to a pot with 2 litres of boiling water adding the sweated shallots, half the parsley and garlic. Whisking constantly until it comes away from the pan.  Then add the parmesan.  Reduce heat and cook until thick and creamy
2)      Spread evenly onto a rectangular plate lined with cling film (About one inch deep is ideal).  Cover and place in the fridge for 2 hours until set.  Then slice into rectangles  roughly the size of the mushroom and reserve.
3)      Lightly oil the mushooms and add the chopped garlic and place under a pre-heated grill and grill until soft with slight golden colour. Then add with the mozzarella until it slightly browns
4)      Meanwhile, heat a frying pan with the rapeseed oil and when hot, fry both the sliced and diced aubergine until golden. 
5)      Place a piece of the polenta cake in the centre of the plate and layer the slices of aubergine on top.  The place the mushroom on top.  Place pieces of the diced aubergine around the plate and sprinkle with parsley.    

     Peter suggests...
        Here we are off to Italy, and picking a Barbera.  Barbera is the third most planted variety in Italy, and due to its low tannin and high acid, it makes it the perfect grape for drinking young, and with food.  You do get bigger, chunkier versions from producers like Roberto Voerzio, but these tend to be more pricy.  I'd stay cheap and go with the lighter flavours of raspberry and cherries with hints of vanilla.  These will go so well with the musty mushroom flavours.  If you really wanted to push the boat out, try really old vintage Bollinger Champagne, as that tastes of mushrooms when it hits about 30 years old, but they are very expensive.
        2008 Ca' Del Matt Barbera d'Asti (Italy, Asti) £8.00 (Widely available)
        2009 Prunotto Fiulot Barbera d'Asti (Italy, Asti) £12.00 (Independent Wine Stores)




22 August 2011

Review: Dark and white chocolate mousse with milk chocolate shavings and raspberries

This is one of my favourite desserts.  I love the bitterness of dark chocolate and the contrast of the white chocolate.  The raspberries cut through it all nicely.  It's visually stunning and can be made the day before, so ideal for having guests.  If you have a few extra quid lying around, splash out on a really top chocolate such as Amedei chocolates; a must for any chocaholic.


170g dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa solids)
100g white chocolate
6 eggs, separated
1 shot Cointreu
few raspberries
milk chocolate for shaving.

1) Melt the dark chocolate in a glass bowl over some boiling water.  Meanwhile whip 4 of the egg whites to soft peaks and beat the 4 yolks.
2) Add the Cointreu to the chocolate and mix in.  Then quickly whisk in the egg yolks.
3) Gradually fold in the egg white and fill a piping bag with the mixture.
4) pipe into a martini glass until about 3/4s full.  Place in chiller for 3/4 hours.
5) Repeat same process for the white chocolate and pipe to top of the glass.
6) Run the back of a knife over the milk chocolate for shavings and scatter in the middle, whilst placing a raspberry on top.

Peter suggests...
White and Dark Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry
Chocolate is always a pain to pair with, as there is very little that goes well with it.  Things like dark chocolate brownies, go well with Pedro Ximinez, but here we have a light texture, and a pairing of both dark, bittersweet chocolate and it's polar opposite, white chocolate.  But a failsafe with this is Moscato.  A low alcohol, sweet, sparkling wine from Italy will cope with both of these superbly, without overloading the palate with weight, and will also work very well with the raspberries.  I'm also going to go very left field and suggest that, if you can find one, a dessert wine that has been infused with berries.  These will be in specialist shops only, and I'm not talking about the fruit wines from the likes of Cairn O'Mohr, but are quite tricky to find.

2009 Michele Chiarlo Moscato d'Asti (Asti,Italy) 37.5cl £7.99 (Widely available)
2010 Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato (Yarra Valley, Australia) 37.5cl £6.99 (Widely Available)