Kouign Amann, well Breton Kouignettes, and a couple of restaurant reviews

WP_20150201_19_33_46_ProTwitter is an interesting tool that can inspire cooking at a instant. A case in point happened to me recently when a very good cook I ‘follow’ Sabrina Ghayour, tweeted a picture from a trip to Paris. The picture was of a variant of Kouign Amann, a Breton pastry from Northern France.

Photo 08-02-2015 10 40 27The sticky buttery rich pastry just looked amazing, and as I had a team meeting coming up after the weekend, an excuse to do some research and find a suitable recipe set me going online and attacking the keyboard. My initial concern was time, having made puff pastry by hand before it was a lengthy process taking up to 3 days (allowing plenty of rest time makes it very special), and this was based on a similar process.

I found the answer here; http://eatthelove.com/2014/03/kouign-amann/

A ‘speedy’ way to make a version of the pastry, I set about gathering the ingredients and digging out the food processor from under the cupboard.

The basic premise of this recipe is to incorporate loads of salty Breton Butter (readily available from Waitrose and probably larger Tesco’s) into flour using the method described on the web link above. Once it has had some time to rest and cool down in the fridge, a series of folds to create the layers that puff up and expand when cooking. This is a yeast based dough so the final result is croissant like in its texture.

WP_20150201_17_56_23_ProThe last stage requires dusting your work top with sugar instead of flour, which will create the lovely sticky, crispy, caramelised outside after cooking is completed. It was surprisingly straightforward to do, following the steps carefully. I changed one element of the recipe, which was to use vanilla infused sugar to add an extra dimension to the dish.

WP_20150201_18_05_44_ProI couldn’t work out a way to easily get the shape from the original ‘tweeted’ picture so continued to follow the instructions on the website which requires you to cut the final dough into squares, and bring together from the centre, placing into a well oiled muffin tray as above.

They need about 40 – 45 minutes, I had some extra dough left, had some placed on an oven tray beneath the one above and a couple of them went to far! Keep and eye on them for the last 10 or so minutes as you want them dark and sticky, but they can soon burn.

Give them a go, they were bloomin’ delicious!

This week involved a lot of travelling, Newbury to Solihull, then Leeds, then Norwich, then back to Newbury so a couple of overnights would be needed.

My stomach dictates when away from home and gives me the chance to experience new food and restaurants, this week it was to be Tharavadu in Leeds and The House of Thai in Norwich.

Tharavadu is a Kerelan restaurant, a style of cuisine I had not tried before, rich in coconut and spices, and absolutely delicious.

Photo 04-02-2015 20 37 09The starter I chose was Adipose Chemmeen, marinated Prawns served with a Lemon Chutney it was amazing, tingling the palate with lots of flavour, it set the scene quite nicely.

Mains were Kerala Khozi Curry, Mambazha Pulisshery, and a Paratha. I was too busy eating this delicious meal to take a picture, but it was very very tasty indeed.

Photo 04-02-2015 21 43 20Desert was a Semolina based dish, Pineapple Kesari, studded with raisins and cashew nuts it finished the meal nicely.

The wine choice was very good and reasonably priced, I went for a Trimbach Gerwurztraminer which countered the spicy meal perfectly. The service was excellent, attentive but not overbearing, and the restaurant was busy, busy busy, so book ahead if you fancy a culinary trip to Kerala, well recommended, please give it a go.

After Kerala, my next stop was Thailand, via House of Thai in Norwich!

I had been late arriving at both restaurants as traffic had been particular bad, but have to say VERY impressed at how accommodating both places were.

Starters at House of Thai were Tung Tong, or Golden Parcels, again an amazing starter, getting the taste buds ready for the main course.

Photo 05-02-2015 20 51 11The parcels are filled with a herb marinaded chicken and vegetable mixture, wrapped in a thin pastry and fried until crispy. Great starter…….yumm

Photo 05-02-2015 21 03 59I struggled picking a main, I have eaten Thai a few times and wanted to try and find something a bit different, so Pla Kra Pao was my choice of crispy Sea Bass with stir fried oyster sauce, served with fresh Thai Red Chillies, Coriander and Basil leaves. Thai Jasmine Rice worked with the Bass nicely it was very good value for money.

Desert was interesting as an iPad was used to show pictures of each of the dishes, a really good idea. Photo 05-02-2015 21 38 43Dessert was Banana based, and studded with Coconut, not too sweet but something I had not eaten before, very tasty and I forgot the write down the name. Wine to accompany was a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

The whole meal was very tasty, service was very good and unhurried (considering I was 45 minutes late!), another cracking experience, well worth a look out if you are venturing to Norwich add this to your must do list.

Thats it for now, until next time……….L8ers……..

 

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