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Cooking with "Heston Blumenthal at Home"

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#1 ChrisZ

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 03:12 AM

I tried the pumpkin soup, the recipe is listed in the FT article that was linked on page 1 (but I do have the book). I make pumpkin soup regularly and was interested to know how Heston's version would compare.

Making the soup base is straightforward, but before the seasoning stage it tasted very sweet and fairly bland (I used kabocha, thinking the roasted half would caramelise well). I then made the big mistake of adding the two main seasoning ingredients - 40g balsamic and 40g sesame oil - all at once and without tasting in between. Maybe I have unusually potent sesame oil but the end result just tasted like sesame. I appreciated the tang from the balsamic but overall it didn't taste like pumpkin at all. It needed quite a lot of salt to get it even vaguely balanced. I thought that the extras - the hazelnuts and red pepper - might bring the balance back but nope. Just a big bowl of very smooth, buttery but unmistakably sesame soup. I got through half a bowl. My wife had one spoonful and declared it disgusting.

I followed the recipe pretty much to the letter (weighing everything on a gram-accurate digital scale) but I obviously messed up somewhere. I'm tempted to try the recipe again because I can't believe it turned out so badly. Next time I will definitely, definitely, add the sesame oil and balsamic a little at a time and will taste it as I go! Schoolboy error...

I would love to hear from others who have tried the soup to see what they think. It's a simple recipe and as it's listed in the FT article, you don't even need the book...

#2 ChrisTaylor

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 03:37 AM

40 grams is a lot of seasame oil.

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#3 Mjx

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 03:53 AM

I tried the pumpkin soup, the recipe is listed in the FT article that was linked on page 1 (but I do have the book). I make pumpkin soup regularly and was interested to know how Heston's version would compare.

Making the soup base is straightforward, but before the seasoning stage it tasted very sweet and fairly bland (I used kabocha, thinking the roasted half would caramelise well). I then made the big mistake of adding the two main seasoning ingredients - 40g balsamic and 40g sesame oil - all at once and without tasting in between. Maybe I have unusually potent sesame oil but the end result just tasted like sesame. I appreciated the tang from the balsamic but overall it didn't taste like pumpkin at all. It needed quite a lot of salt to get it even vaguely balanced. I thought that the extras - the hazelnuts and red pepper - might bring the balance back but nope. Just a big bowl of very smooth, buttery but unmistakably sesame soup. I got through half a bowl. My wife had one spoonful and declared it disgusting.

I followed the recipe pretty much to the letter (weighing everything on a gram-accurate digital scale) but I obviously messed up somewhere. I'm tempted to try the recipe again because I can't believe it turned out so badly. Next time I will definitely, definitely, add the sesame oil and balsamic a little at a time and will taste it as I go! Schoolboy error...

. . . .



'Liquidise'?! You've got to be kidding me... Sorry, my first reaction on reading the recipe just wasn't culinary.

My original reaction, and the reason I took a look at the pumpkin soup recipe, is that sesame oil and balsamic vinegar strike me as a slightly odd combination. I've never tried it, it could be great, but I do have doubts.

Is your sesame oil toasted? If it is, that may be the problem. I've noticed that even a couple of drops of toasted sesame oil have a really strong presence in something as mildly-flavoured as a winter squash. The amount of oil seems a bit much, too: 40g is nearly 50ml, or over three US tablespoons, which seems like rather a lot for an 'or to taste' quantity. In combination with an entire block of butter, I can understand your wife's reaction (I'm by no means anti-fat, but it's just not so pleasant to drink).

I've also heard that kabochas need to mature after harvesting, so that some of the starch breaks down to sugar; perhaps it just hadn't been held long enough?

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#4 Jenni

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 05:12 AM

40 grams is a lot of seasame oil.


Not necessarily if it is untoasted sesame oil. What did the recipe specify?


Also, what's wrong with liquidising? There are plenty of blended soups, some very very nice ones. Fair enough if the recipe is crap but I don't understand this particular criticism.

#5 Anna N

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 05:16 AM


40 grams is a lot of seasame oil.


Not necessarily if it is untoasted sesame oil. What did the recipe specify?


Also, what's wrong with liquidising? There are plenty of blended soups, some very very nice ones. Fair enough if the recipe is crap but I don't understand this particular criticism.


The recipe does not specify toasted sesame oil. Liquidise, I suspect, is only annoying because it is a different way of saying "puree" or "blend". I say tomayto, you say tomarto! :laugh:
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#6 ChrisZ

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 05:17 AM

40 grams is a lot of seasame oil.


Yep! The silly thing is that I use sesame oil enough to know how potent it is, and although I was following the recipe from the book I actually booted my computer and checked the FT article to see if the recipe was the same, in case it was a misprint. So I'm annoyed I went to the trouble of doing that but then just poured it all in without thinking...

I don't think the pumpkin was too young, and it certainly roasted OK. But I would normally use butternut squash for soup.

My sesame oil doesn't say anything on it about being toasted or untoasted, but it's from China - a typical asian grocery purchase. So it possibly is toasted, and I can imagine how different it must taste to untoasted. Not that I've ever seen untoasted sesame oil, or even knew there were different types!

I actually didn't mind it, it just wasn't recognisably pumpkin. I think that if I got a 30ml shot glass in a restaurant as an amuse, with the hazelnuts dusted around the rim, I'd be suitably confused and intrigued and possibly enjoy it. But working through an entire bowl is different :)

Edited by ChrisZ, 11 October 2011 - 05:24 AM.


#7 Jenni

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 05:37 AM

My sesame oil doesn't say anything on it about being toasted or untoasted, but it's from China - a typical asian grocery purchase. So it possibly is toasted, and I can imagine how different it must taste to untoasted. Not that I've ever seen untoasted sesame oil, or even knew there were different types!


Sesame oil is a common cooking oil in South India. It is not toasted, and 3 tablespoons (which is what I'm guessing 40g approximates to) would not necessarily be a lot of oil in some dishes. I've also seen sesame oil in health food shops, again untoasted.

By the way, all the sesame oil I have ever bought has been unrefined and has had a golden colour and pleasant (but not toasted) sesame smell. It is very different from the toasted oil. I have also seen fairly colourless sesame oil for sale, presumably it was more refined.

#8 Jenni

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 05:39 AM

Liquidise, I suspect, is only annoying because it is a different way of saying "puree" or "blend". I say tomayto, you say tomarto! :laugh:


I kind of think of liquidise and blend as interchangeable, so I guess this went over my head! Now if it had said "puree the soup" I might have sniggered because of some reason I think of puree as the word to be used for less liquid-y things than soup. This may just be my own craziness.

#9 OliverB

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 03:30 PM

this sesame oil always has me baffled, I have recipes that are either misprinted or written by a sesame addict, no matter which kind of oil is used. I also find it hard to find the non toasted sesame oil - meaning the kind that doesn't come in tiny bottles like tabasco - in stores for some reason, even in the asian stores.

4tbsp of that oil in the tiny bottles would render a dish completely inedible, it's kind of a one drop per bowl thing. But even the regular sesame oil, when you can find it, is pretty strong. Maybe they sell a different kind in the UK? That's really the only way I can explain (to myself) the excessive amounts of sesame oil used in some recipes.
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#10 Honkman

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 03:34 PM

Most Ranch99 shops have a large selection of different kinds of sesame oils and the not toasted ones are quite mild in taste

#11 turtleboom

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Posted 22 October 2011 - 09:18 PM

I recently bought this booked based on the discussion in this thread. The book is definitely a bit of a stretch for my abilities but there are a lot of achievable recipes.
The only thing we've cooked so far is the salmon with bois boudran sauce. This was only the second time that I've cooked fish sous vide, and the first for salmon. Generally I don't pay too much attention to how long something has been in the water bath for - provided the centre has been brought up to temperature. I took the same approach with the Salmon. Heston says 50 degrees for 15 minutes. We did 51 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. The salmon was still moist and not overcooked, however it was falling apart which made searing the skin very difficult. In the end, our skin wasn't at all crispy. Next time I'll follow the instructions a bit closer.

The sauce is pretty intense. By itself, I was really worried that we had wasted our time with it. However, it matched wonderfully with the salmon. Heston suggests 2 tablespoons of sauce per serve and I would definitely not exceed that.

We were also a bit concerned about the crushed potato side. You boil the potatoes with garlic until they are quite soft, then crush them, then mix with a whole pile of herbs, a mustard and vinegar dressing and some lightly sautéed shallots. Our concern was that it would have the texture of lumpy mashed potato. We thought about popping it under the grill for a few minutes to give it a bit of crunch. In the end, the texture was a bit weird, but the flavours were amazing. Probably one of the best potato dishes we've ever made.

The whole thing was probably one of the best dishes to come out of our kitchen!

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#12 FoodMan

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 09:06 AM

Salmon Boi Boudran

Salmon-Boi Boudran.jpg

Salmon cooked at 50C for 20 minutes or so makes for an amazingly textured fish. It's succulent, rich and tender. The skin crisped up with no problem, but I can see it being a problem trying to do that with larger peices of fillet. The sauce is very easy to make and went great with the fish. We ate the rest of the sauce over the next week with deviled eggs and with cheese sandwiches. I did not do the potatoes exactly like the recipe. I had some spinach and mushrooms I needed to use, so I sauteed those and added them into the potatoes with the dressing


Mushroom Soup

Blumenthal Mushroom Soup.jpg

This was an easy weekday dinner. I used mostly cremini mushrooms that I had. That's why it looks a bit darker than the book picture that uses 100% white button mushrooms. I had made the vegetable stock from the book a couple of weeks back for a risotto and froze the rest. It's flavorful and just "rich" enough. So I used that as a base for the soup. It tasted great and simple, but in hindsight, I should've made it a touch looser so that it might've "frothed" a bit better.

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#13 Xilimmns

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 06:40 PM

Did the mushroom soup today. Very flavorful and earthy. The mushroom powder really quick in with a strong note of taste. It will be on my shortlist of easy/tasty soups to make again :-)

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#14 inductioncook

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 11:07 PM

Looks great!

#15 Robert Jueneman

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 11:41 AM

In addition to the Whiskey Ice Cream, I made the Beef Stock, using my big All-American Sterilizer pressure cooker, controlled by a Sous Vide Magic for high altitude use.

The recipe called for 500g of peeled and thinly sliced carrots, which he says amounts of 6-7 large carrots. I don't know how big his "large" carrots are, but 500g was around 15 carrots.

The recipe also called for diced shin of beef, and my local butcher had never heard of it (and neither had I). Maybe it is one of those UK vs. US language issues? The butcher recommended using beef short ribs, which gave me both the meat and some extra bones. The bones I got were beef marrow bones, so I scooped out the marrow and froze it in a SV bag.

The process was a fair amount of work, and to my taste the result was a bit too sweet -- probably because of an excess of carrots. Next time I would cut the amount of carrots in half.

But I don't understand the complaint that the recipes in the book require a lot of equipment. Yes, the sous vide recipes assume you have a sous vide machine and a vacuum sealer, but neither are absolutely necessary. You can get by just fine using a Ziploc bag and the Archimedes principle to get most of the air out by holding the bag under water except for the very tip, and then sealing it. Likewise, you could fill up the sink or a beer cooler with 50-55C water, and occasionally top it off. Only one recipe calls for an extended time (18 hours) -- most of the rest take around an hour. Other than the somewhat skimpy sous vide chapter, I didn't see anything that was at all out of the ordinary, other than a scale and perhaps a pressure cooker. No Thermomix, no chamber vacuum, no combi oven, and certainly no Rotovap, centrifuge, or Pakojet!

This certainly won't replace Modernist Cuisine for state of the art cooking techniques, nor will it replace the new Volt, Ink book by the Voltagio brothers for extravagant, over-the-top stunning creations. But at least in my case, it may inspire me to stretch just a little bit more than I normally do when cooking for my wife and I.

#16 olicollett

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 12:03 PM

In addition to the Whiskey Ice Cream, I made the Beef Stock, using my big All-American Sterilizer pressure cooker, controlled by a Sous Vide Magic for high altitude use.

The recipe called for 500g of peeled and thinly sliced carrots, which he says amounts of 6-7 large carrots. I don't know how big his "large" carrots are, but 500g was around 15 carrots.

The recipe also called for diced shin of beef, and my local butcher had never heard of it (and neither had I). Maybe it is one of those UK vs. US language issues? The butcher recommended using beef short ribs, which gave me both the meat and some extra bones. The bones I got were beef marrow bones, so I scooped out the marrow and froze it in a SV bag.

The process was a fair amount of work, and to my taste the result was a bit too sweet -- probably because of an excess of carrots. Next time I would cut the amount of carrots in half.

But I don't understand the complaint that the recipes in the book require a lot of equipment. Yes, the sous vide recipes assume you have a sous vide machine and a vacuum sealer, but neither are absolutely necessary. You can get by just fine using a Ziploc bag and the Archimedes principle to get most of the air out by holding the bag under water except for the very tip, and then sealing it. Likewise, you could fill up the sink or a beer cooler with 50-55C water, and occasionally top it off. Only one recipe calls for an extended time (18 hours) -- most of the rest take around an hour. Other than the somewhat skimpy sous vide chapter, I didn't see anything that was at all out of the ordinary, other than a scale and perhaps a pressure cooker. No Thermomix, no chamber vacuum, no combi oven, and certainly no Rotovap, centrifuge, or Pakojet!

This certainly won't replace Modernist Cuisine for state of the art cooking techniques, nor will it replace the new Volt, Ink book by the Voltagio brothers for extravagant, over-the-top stunning creations. But at least in my case, it may inspire me to stretch just a little bit more than I normally do when cooking for my wife and I.


Beef shin is certainly a common ingredient in the UK, you can get it from most supermarkets - you would probably know it as shank :) It might be worth checking the back with regards to carrots, there's a section on using the book that explains when 500g carrots is pre/post cutting. 15 carrots is a lot!

I've yet to try any recipes but I think it's a great book. I'm going to try the pea and ham soup, the pork belly and lemon tart over christmas time.

#17 Robert Jueneman

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 04:27 PM

Beef shin is certainly a common ingredient in the UK, you can get it from most supermarkets - you would probably know it as shank :) It might be worth checking the back with regards to carrots, there's a section on using the book that explains when 500g carrots is pre/post cutting. 15 carrots is a lot!


Beef shank I've head of, but the store didn't have any. Like a lot of other cuts, the name seems to vary depending on your location -- e.g., tri-tip.

In my case, I weighed the carrots before peeling and slicing them (contrary to what the book suggests), or it would have required even more!

I suspect a typo -- maybe it should have been 50g?

Has anyone seen any kind of an errata listing? These days, an on-line errata listing ought to be a minimum standard for ANY reference book!

#18 Xilimmns

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 06:08 AM

Braised Chicken with Sherry and Cream & Roasted Potato Stacks

This is quickly becoming a really popular book in my kitchen ☺. This time my wife and I decided to try the braised chicken. She was tempted to try this recipe since she saw the picture in the book for the first time. The result was amazing, given the ingredients selection that the author developed for this recipe. You can’t go wrong when you mix sherry, cream, leek, pancetta, truffle oil, chicken broth made from scratch and a couple of other tasty ingredients.

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#19 Phaz

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 08:06 PM

The recipe called for 500g of peeled and thinly sliced carrots, which he says amounts of 6-7 large carrots. I don't know how big his "large" carrots are, but 500g was around 15 carrots.


I ran into the same kind of thing with the bacon & banana cookies. It calls for 40g of bacon, which it says is about 5 slices. One slice for me weighed 46g. I know my bacon was thick, but not that thick.

The cookies were pretty good but not one of my favorites. The flavor combination was interesting, I might try with some fresh banana mixed in instead of the dried to give more banana flavor.

#20 OliverB

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 06:50 PM

not having the book I'd suspect those are typos, I can't imagine any recipe asking for 500gr of carrots, except if you make carrot soup or something like that. That's a LOT of carrots.

I'm getting a bit tired of typos in expensive books (hear me, MC?) that should be very easy to catch. And recipes in a cookbook should be checked extra carefully. And then checked again.
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#21 FoodMan

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 08:14 PM



Beef shin is certainly a common ingredient in the UK, you can get it from most supermarkets - you would probably know it as shank :) It might be worth checking the back with regards to carrots, there's a section on using the book that explains when 500g carrots is pre/post cutting. 15 carrots is a lot!


Beef shank I've head of, but the store didn't have any. Like a lot of other cuts, the name seems to vary depending on your location -- e.g., tri-tip.

In my case, I weighed the carrots before peeling and slicing them (contrary to what the book suggests), or it would have required even more!

I suspect a typo -- maybe it should have been 50g?

Has anyone seen any kind of an errata listing? These days, an on-line errata listing ought to be a minimum standard for ANY reference book!


Not sure that is a typo actually. I just weighed a random carrot from a bag I have in the fridge, 98 grams. It's not particularly that large either, measuring 7 inches long and about an inch in diameter at the largest end. So, 6-7 carrots to make 500 grams is about right.

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#22 jamesglu

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 07:04 PM

My copy of this book just arrived today, and since its arrival more-or-less coincided with my acquisition of a new chamber vacuum sealer, I am giving the salmon with bois boudran sauce a go. Unfortunately, it seems that what I thought was tarragon in my garden is actually summer savory (I should point out I'm in New Zealand, where it's summer now), but I don't think that will be too much of a problem. Also, since this is the first time I'm using the vacuum sealer with uncooked food in it, it'll be a bit of an experiment to see how the salmon turns out.

#23 jamesglu

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 02:53 AM

Salmon.jpg
The salmon was delicious, and went great with the potatoes and the bois bourdan sauce. Definitely will make again!

#24 jamesglu

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Posted 20 December 2011 - 06:24 PM

Been at it again with HB's book. Just finished a (small) batch of tea-smoked salmon and the crisp-skinned pork belly is in the oven for its 18-hour cooking process. Also a batch of lamb stock is on the stove. The salmon is good, but I think it has too much smoke flavour; perhaps when using a small piece of fish I should have smoked it for less time. The lamb stock smells fantastic, even though it's in a pressure cooker, and it's too early to tell anything about the pork belly.

One question though; he uses a lot of banana shallots in the book, which cursory internet research reveals is a hip new thing in the UK. That means we in New Zealand won't see them for another 15-20 years, so is there any compelling reason for me not to just continue my current practice of using regular shallots? Seems to work fine to me.

#25 nickrey

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Posted 20 December 2011 - 08:40 PM

I found some banana shallots in my local store here in Sydney. Of course, at the time I didn't know what they were but they looked interesting enough to try.

Would have to say that they are much easier to chop than regular shallots. Can't see much other difference. If you can't get them,just used regular: if you can, you'll see what I mean about peeling and chopping being easier.

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#26 olicollett

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 09:06 AM

jamesglu - do keep us posted on the pork belly, i'm planning on doing that recipe next week! Not sure what i'll be doing as sides with it yet though

#27 jamesglu

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 12:35 PM

@Nickrey, I doubt I'll be seeing the banana shallots anytime soon here but I find that if I dip regular shallots for a few seconds in boiling water and then refresh in cold water they peel easily enough. @Olicollett, the first 13 hours of the cooking process ended about an hour ago, so now the skin is in the oven for the last five hours. It's certainly a long process to get this recipe finished! I plan to serve it with the Szechuan consomme (which I made a few days ago, and which is now in day two of its two-day ice-filtration process) and duck dumplings as a starter, and possibly the crushed potatoes as a side. Those potatoes were stellar with the sous vide salmon, and I think they'd go with the pork belly nicely.

#28 jamesglu

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 12:51 AM

The pork belly was fantastic! I ended up serving it with roasted potatoes instead of the crushed ones, and with some of the choucroute as a side dish. It was definitely a do-again-sometime-when-I-have-a-spare-18-hours recipe...

#29 olicollett

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 04:50 AM

Good to hear :) I'll be reporting on what I'll be doing next week!

#30 jamesglu

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Posted 26 December 2011 - 08:06 PM

OK, I have now got a few more HB recipes under my belt (in more ways than one). The Slow Roasted Rib Roast was delicious, but took closer to 8 hours than 6 to cook (and it was a three-bone roast, just like in his book), and, while it was picture-perfect when I sliced it, five minutes later the beautiful pink had turned almost completely grey. I had cooked it to 55C (as determined by not one but two digital probe thermometers that remained in the meat during cooking), and while resting it had climbed to 60C. I covered the greyness with sauce (made without bone marrow as my butcher gave my bone marrow to someone else to give to their dogs!!), and no one was the wiser.

Today I am making the red cabbage gazpacho with mustard ice cream, which looks like it will be gorgeous (the i/c is not nearly as strongly mustardy as I had expected) which I'm following with the sous vide salmon with crushed potatoes and choucroute. The salmon, potatoes and choucroute are repeats for me, but will be a new one for guests, so we'll see how they respond.





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