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Raymond Blanc's Kitchen Secrets on BBC2


dougal
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Raymond Blanc's Kitchen Secrets

First episode last night.

Legendary chef Raymond Blanc returns to television with his first cooking programme in thirteen years. Filmed in the lively surroundings of his Oxfordshire restaurant kitchen, this programme features a range of achievable and inspirational recipes for cooks of all abilities.

In this programme Raymond focuses on chocolate, creating four mouthwatering recipes: the simplest mousse, an impressive and rich chocolate delice, a fondant with a melting middle, and his impressive signature dessert - cafe creme - a cup sculpted from chocolate filled with a mousse and coffee sabayon. Raymond also visits protege and champion chocolatier William Curley in his test kitchen in Richmond.

iPlayer for catchup (UK only). Links to the full recipes are on this page http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00qzh52#related-links

An intelligent food programme on BBC tv ... wow!

Was anybody else impressed?

When it comes to chocolate, perhaps I'm too easily impressed, but this was a straightforward demonstration and explanation of what was involved, from basics to very high end stuff.

It may be a while before I try welding chocolate, but hey, I now know how its done.

And what a blessed relief from the two cliché formats, travelogue and competition.

Thank you, BBC. (And can I have some more please?)

Part 2 (of just 4) next Monday (on Fish). Set your recorders!

ADDED - its 8.30 on Wednesday on BBC HD.

Edited by heidih
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"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Having watched M Blanc take the piss with the British viewing public over the last series of The Restaurant, I watched with some hesitation. Thought it was brill - and will be having a bash at the delice before too long.

John Hartley

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enjoyed this programme also.

like you i'm easily excited by the site of lovely big slabs of chocolate, melting chocolate and well...anything chocolate they want to show me!

While the mousse is a fairly simple dish he did a good job of showing ensure it looked as simple as it was for those that wouldn't normally attempt it.

The fondant and the delice both looked delicious and I'd be tempted to do either.

The camerawork on the delicately melting delice was beautiful.

he says voila and tre bon a bit too much but that's not a major complaint, it's not quite as bad as Ramsey's use of the word "Awesome".

I can't see him topping the chocolate one for delight on the screen but I shall be watching

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It was superb and what all TV food show should be like. Maybe someone has taken notice of all that moaning on the Beeb messageboards!

Take an amiable and charismatic master chef. Film him in his restaurant kitchen cooking firstly a simple dish and gradually finishing with a signature dish. What's not to like? It was edited well, no frantic cut-aways, there was none of that dodgy dramatic camera work that and i can't remember the voice-over annoying me either. Well done beeb.

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maybe monsoir Blanc needs to get more involved in the design of his own label equipment!

I've not seen a tv cooking programme with such a use of a bitched chef for supplying and cleaning equipment before!

I'm sure that's realistic to what he normally does whe he's in the kitchen!

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Having watched M Blanc take the piss with the British viewing public over the last series of The Restaurant, I watched with some hesitation.

Can you expand on this for us colonials? Not sure what you mean or what happened.

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Just adding my 5 oz worth so say I thought it was awesome. It was great that he didn't patronise us or try to dumb it down.

It's a shame there doesn't seem to be a book that accompanies the series - I'd be right on Amazon...

Can anyone recommend any books that cover similar 'advanced' concepts?

Thanks!

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Having watched M Blanc take the piss with the British viewing public over the last series of The Restaurant, I watched with some hesitation.

Can you expand on this for us colonials? Not sure what you mean or what happened.

Since Harters rarely ventures outside the UK forums, let me try to reply on his behalf.

The Restaurant: An example of a loathsome style of programme.

Take talent-light people, give them something to do beyond their abilities, and watch as they fail to accept, let alone address, the reality of their failings.

Something like The Apprentice, only with food.

The teams had to compete by (very briefly) running a restaurant.

M. Blanc helped a little, criticised a lot and judged their efforts.

Prize to be help in setting up their own restaurant.

So, kinda like The Apprentice, only ...

And, no, I didn't watch it. But there were so many trailers broadcast, that I felt I had.

Kitchen Secrets was a different world.

Edited by dougal (log)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Having watched M Blanc take the piss with the British viewing public over the last series of The Restaurant, I watched with some hesitation.

Can you expand on this for us colonials? Not sure what you mean or what happened.

I think that the comments in the Last Restaurant Standing thread here give you a flavour of what Harters was referring to. ("Last Restaurant Standing" seems to be the BBC America name for what is called "The Restaurant" in the UK).

Essentially, reality TV in the UK attracts (or maybe selects) contestants whose only qualifications are to make so-called "entertaining" television. In this case the prize is to run a restaurant owned by Raymond Blanc (and partners) so you might have expected skill to be an important selection criterion, but no this programme just went for the "personalities". In the first series of The Restaurant I think they actually got some skilled contestants, but by the third series they hardly had any who could actually cook or run a business.

I don't know about Harters' views, but what has angered a fair number of people is that the "chef" in the winning partnership effectively cannot cook, but Raymond Blanc apparently thinks that he has a decent palette and can be taught. During the series the judges also made comments fairly early on which seemed to indicate that the chef in question had to get his act together and show that he could cook, but despite his failure to do so he still stayed in the competition and won.

There are those on the Digital Spy forums who have declared that they were so disgusted with the result that they will boycott his restaurants, although my guess is that none of them would ever dream of going anywhere near Le Manoir, and quite possibly don't even live near any of his brasseries.

Personally I think that he has let himself get sucked in to a reality TV programme which has exhausted its potential (such as it was) and I much prefer to watch him cooking and showing about how things should be done, and I can't honestly get worked up about The Restaurant.

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JudyB pretty much summarises my views (the wording of my post was, perhaps, more meaningful to the original readers on the UK board).It seemed to me, as many contributors to the Digital Spy forum and other UK TV boards, that a decision on the "winner" must have been taken prior to the programme starting and it was, therefore, a complete sham.I'm certainly one who has written to the BBC suggesting that they not commission another series.

The two previous series had contestants who could actually make an attempt at running a restaurant and were seen to improve week on week. Interestingly, the winners of Series 2 have indeed opened a restaurant, which appears to be struggling and seemingly has minimal support from Blanc. On the other hand, the couple who were the runners-up have had several months training at Le Manoir and are just about to start their own TV series. Go figure that one.

I'm aware that Series 3 is still underway in America (as Last Restaurant Standing)

John Hartley

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  • 2 weeks later...

I note that the BBC website is now saying that this is to be an 8 programme series. (I'm sure it said 4 previously.)

Programme 2 on fish was a bit more ho-hum than the stunning first one on chocolate.

Interesting points for me included

- the prep on the cucumber. Skinning, slicing longways, salting and chilling (changing texture and colour), before cooking ...

- "use cheap wine for cooking" (well, I do actually, but I'll feel less guilty about it now). It was a Vin de Pays de l'Oc (Chardonnay) that he was using in his fish soup. And reducing slightly (on its own) before adding to the soup.

- seeing the importance of saffron in that soup

- pickling his mackerel before grilling ...

- for his 'mise' on the steamed turbot and scallop, he filleted and portioned the turbot, shelled, cleaned and sliced his scallops, and then brushed every piece with a mix of salt, lemon juice and melted butter before sticking in the fridge (strangely uncovered) for a few hours until cooking started. That was all the salting he gave it.

- I think the wine that he was steaming his turbot over was Gewürztraminer!

There was lots of sound, but slightly basic advice. Use the herb stalks for marinades, bouquet garni, etc - reserve the leaves for finishing and garnishing. After pan-frying, put the fish into the oven for a few minutes, etc. Perfectly sound, but hardly eye-opening.

Frankly, I didn't think that his 'cheffy presentational touches' on the fish were anywhere near as transformational as they were with the chocolate. Thus, rather bland looking, white on white.

Next week (tomorrow) its "Apples". And the 'day out' is to learn about grafting different varieties onto the same tree.

In retrospect, one of the things that so distinguished the first programme in this series was that the 'intermission' (Raymond's day-trip) was actually about another aspect of working with chocolate. Maybe its because I know where fish (and apples) come from in enough detail, that the day out on a fishing boat seemed so much less relevant.

I can understand that the programme makers think that our span of attention wouldn't last the full half hour without a dramatic 'change of gear' - but that segment is looking more and more like a breather between classes. (Which the chocolate visit wasn't.) An unfortunate hint of an underestimation of the interest of the audience in the subject of the title - Raymond Blanc's Kitchen Secrets. Fishing and apple-growing are clearly NOT areas of M Blanc's expertise -- so they ought not to be in these programmes!

But I DO really like the odd snatches of kitchen life being shown as 'incidentals'.

Loved Blanc telling his man, who was cutting up cheese, (Parmesan I think), not to throw away the rinds!

There is however one secret being kept.

His kitchen garden is very impressive indeed. (I've visited.)

But its supposedly entirely organically managed and pesticide-free.

The secret is in how it can be so astoundingly pest-free, and yet pesticide-free, without even any sign of any 'organic' control measures, like slug traps, bio-controls, companion planting and the like.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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I'm not worried by the voiceover.

I'd rather it was delivered 'straight' without too much emoting!

And the music isn't obvious either - again that's just fine by me.

Though I've visited Raymond's garden, I've not visited his table. Bankruptcy could indeed be an option.

Lunched on the mackerel.

Quick, simple and very nice indeed. (Though this time I just used a simple salad, rather than his fennel.)

His 'light pickle' works wonders to tame and yet harness the flavour of that fish.

A definite 'keeper' that recipe!

BUT, the website (written) recipe has its variations in the details from what was demonstrated.

White Wine vinegar on tv, Cider vinegar written down. Rocket vs Mizuna. Coriander stems vs root! Lime juice quantity, etc ...

But the major deviation is that the web recipe calls for only half the fish to be pickled - so that one pickled and one un-pickled fillet can be served to each diner ...

The neat method of pin-boning does work brilliantly. Its so OBVIOUS, yet it was new to me. Or maybe its my memory going!

Edited by dougal (log)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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- for his 'mise' on the steamed turbot and scallop, he filleted and portioned the turbot, shelled, cleaned and sliced his scallops, and then brushed every piece with a mix of salt, lemon juice and melted butter before sticking in the fridge (strangely uncovered) for a few hours until cooking started. That was all the salting he gave it.

Yes, that was a nice little trick. I think the purpose of that was not only to season but to protect the cut flesh of the prepared fish. A thin barrier of cold butter will keep it fresher in the fridge. I did that yesterday with some sea bass, it worked a treat.

As for the mackerel pin-boning technique that is common in Japanese cooking as is lightly curing it before eating. Another excellent show. Tres Bon Raymond.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Really fantastic series so far, we've not had anything this good to watch in the U.K. for some time, this weeks episode was very interesting, I particularly liked the last dish, looked fantastic.

On a related note, I hope I wasn't the only one to catch 'Fat Man In A White Hat' on BBC4, Bill Buford of the New Yorker doing a two part (1 hour each) in depth look at French cooking, I really enjoyed it.

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