Thursday, November 3, 2016

Mascarpone Orange Streusel Slice from Burnt

I'm hosting Food 'n' Flix this month and the film I have chosen is Burnt. (If you haven't seen the film - spoiler alert!). There are so many wonderful scenes that centre around food - at the beginning when Adam has gone to work in obscurity in New Orleans, as a self-imposed punishment for his bad behaviour, he is shucking oysters and only once he has done 1,000 will he stop.

When he returns to London there's a great sequence where he's eating different foods including a lamb wrap and another where he is cooking food late at night in a friend's flat where he is staying. His friend and the guy's girlfriend are surprised to find him cooking in the middle of the night but happily tuck into mussels, summer veg on a bed of ricotta, and smoked mackerel on duck egg.

When Adam is trying to persuade Sienna Miller's character Helene to work for him, he arranges to meet her in a Burger King; she refuses to eat there and there is a conversation around the consistency you get in a Burger King which they hate.

Adam meets Uma Thurman, a top restaurant critic, over a cooked breakfast in a café and when he takes over the restaurant, there are beautiful montages of cooking and food being plated up.

I thought about making turbot for my Food 'n' Flix recipe as in one scene, Helene messes up cooking a piece of turbot and Adam humiliates her by making her apologise to the fish; we then see a sequence where she is repeatedly cooking the fish for her daughter at home (even for breakfast) in an effort to perfect it. I did look at the major supermarkets to see if they had turbot but none of them did. There's also a scene later with Adam at Billingsgate fish market but I wasn't going to go there to buy fish!

Ultimately it's Helene's idea to bring in a sous-vide cooker that changes the way the restaurant cooks food, to great acclaim. A sous-vide seals food in a packet and poaches it slowly at a low temperature to seal in the flavour - you can buy the cookers from Lakeland but I don't have the space or think I would use it that much.

While I was trying to decide what to make, I googled the film to see what recipes were already out there and found an official site for the movie, that actually had recipes on it! Needless to say they were really complicated recipes, sometimes involving things I'd never even heard of (trimolene, anyone?) - but as I'm not one to shy away from a challenge, and I was at the start of a whole week off work, I decided to have a go at this recipe for mascarpone blood orange streusel.

I'm not going to re-post the recipe so do have a look at the link. It was very time consuming and complicated involving four different elements - not including the ice cream which I decided not to make. I had varying degrees of success with each one!

I started by making the mascarpone mousse which should have been fairly straightforward. I mixed the mascarpone, cream cheese, crème fraiche, sugar, vanilla, orange and lemon zest and juice and slowly added the Cointreau, which I already had in the cupboard. I softened the gelatine in water, but when I melted in the pan I had a slight concern that I couldn't get it all out of the pan. I added it to the mousse and blended it but when I strained the mousse, I could see that some bits of the gelatine were left behind in the sieve where it had already congealed. I suspected that the mousse might not set and I was right, so after a couple of hours in the fridge I put it in the freezer to harden. Failure number one.

The blood orange gel was easy enough, other than the fact that I couldn't get hold of blood orange juice and had to use regular OJ. I actually had some agar agar powder - it's a vegetarian alternative to gelatine and was part of a molecular gastronomy kit I was given once, similar to this:
Molecule R-Evolution Cuisine Kit plus Molecular Gastronomy Book with 40 Recipes Introductory Package
I simmered the juice and added the gelling agent, and spread the resulting liquid onto some clingfilm. It set quite quickly and I was able to slice it into strips easily. Success!

I was excited about making the honeycomb as it's something that I love to eat and the recipe didn't look too complicated. I put the honey, sugar, liquid glucose (which I already had from making marshmallows) and water into a pan and let it caramelize, then whisked in baking soda which made the whole pan froth up. Apparently all I needed to do was 'pour onto a baking sheet.

Allow to set and then break into pieces'. I ended up putting it in the fridge and even then didn't set - it firmed up a bit, but I had to scrape it up with a spoon and it looked nothing like honeycomb! Another failure.

Finally for the streusel layer which is somewhere between a crumble and a biscuit - I mixed the flour, ground almonds, sugar, salt and butter, moulded it into a block and put it in the fridge. But even after two hours it was still really crumbly and difficult to roll out without breaking. I baked it in the oven for longer than the given time, since after 10 minutes it was still soft and crumbly, but I ended up over-baking it and when it came to cutting up, the strips I cut broke into a couple of pieces. Partial success.

So when it came to assembling the dessert, I laid pieces of the broken streusel on the bottom, a thick slice of the semi-frozen mousse, then a slice of the gel, and a few pieces of the sticky in-set honeycomb on top. I added some crumbled streusel on the side and a few dots of the gel layer on the plate.


And how did it taste? The streusel was nice but a bit overcooked; the mousse had a delicate flavour and didn't come out too badly from the freezing (it had the consistency of soft scoop ice cream) but I didn't like the gel layer - the texture was just a bit strange. The amount of effort this took meant it is definitely not something I will be making again - it also shows me how skilled chefs in places like the Langham actually are!

If you want to join in Food 'n' Flix you don't have to make anything this complicated - there are lots of ideas you can take from the film! Find out how to take part here.
Food 'n Flix 



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