Flour, Yeast, Water, Salt & Some Asparagus!

File 24-04-2016, 10 42 32It was finally here! The date of a ‘Bread Baking’ course I had booked many months ago, getting in a class with Richard Bertinet seems to require at least 6 months planning, which in many ways says that this guy is in demand, and he could be very good!

Some people might call me a bit of a food snob, but I don’t think I am. I just want to eat food that does not contain anything I don’t recognise as food. When you look on the labels of sandwiches in shops, it’s like a list from a chemistry set, yuch!  This was one of the reasons for booking this course, I like bread but whenever I eat it I generally feel cr@p afterwards, so wanted to see If I could start to find a method to make my own using 4 basic ingredients.

The course was full, ladies and gents as far as Cambridge had traveled to Bath to learn from a French Master Baker, author of several books including Dough his 1st book, which is now available in 9 languages and has sold over 200,000 copies (200,001 if you include my autographed copy)!

The day was awesome, learning the history of bread making and baking, handcrafting a variety of different breads from a single starting mix.

File 24-04-2016, 10 40 56This is not a course for the fainthearted, it’s hard work but we were continually refreshed by his team of excellent helpers, on hand to make Tea/Coffee and provide nibbles during the break, which was were well received.

This is the 3rd course I have taken at Richards’ cookery school, it met all expectations and the knowledge and skills that everyone gained surpassed the cost in bounds, like the previous courses what you learn with experts in their craft does NOT appear in books, it has to been seen, heard, felt and smelt!

File 24-04-2016, 10 43 32If you want to learn the techniques of a master and fancy bread then book this course, it’s a must do for anyone keen on understanding and practising how to produce awesome loaves, time after time. I am looking forward to my next time at Richards’ cookery school, with my nine year old at a class for youngsters.

AND Now!!!!!! (Drum Roll) Asparagus Done Differently!!20160423_200050-1I wasn’t going to blog this dish, I was battling with it, as maybe it was too simple. After the taste test it had to be done, it was delicious and involves a few techniques and VERY good timing.

This weeks organic veg box delivery included a bunch of Asparagus, I’ve had this vegetable before, but the missus and junior opp had not so maybe a chance to introduce a new taste into the repertoire. Also in the box was Purple Sprouting Broccoli which I also wanted to incorporate into the dish.

20160423_193413The ingredients are for two hungry adults (and a spare spear or two for junior opp to try!). Thinking of presentation, having a triangular pattern on the plate seemed a nice idea, so 3 bundles of 3 asparagus spears, tightly wrapped in Pancetta started this feast off.

Previously I had roasted 6 (organic) tomatoes, quartered and seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground pepper at 100 deg for about 2 hours, and left to cool. These would get 10-15 minutes with the Asparagus seasoned with pepper only.

Researching Hollandaise both in the cookery books on the shelf, and on the internet, produced lots of options. I thought I would gamble and try an ‘all in one’ method, 2 egg yolks, 125grm butter 1/4 lemon juice is needed for 2 people along with 2 tbs of water, just chuck it all into a saucepan and get your whisk ready.

So TIMING…..  The Hollandaise will take 12-15 minutes from scratch, the Asparagus about the same at 180 deg (fan oven) depending on thickness, the Broccoli about 2 mins in a pot of boiling lightly salted water.

To add some texture and another flavour punch you can also pre-prepare some crispy crumb. Take a couple of handfuls of PANKO breadcrumbs, in a frying pan with butter and Oil. Grate in a clove of garlic and keep stirring until the crumb is brown and crispy.

Add some picked fresh Thyme leaves (about 2 tsp) leaving the woody stalks behind. Put into a bowl to cool and grate in (small Microban works well) some Parmesan cheese, about 50 grms in my case. This is the seasoning for the crumb texture.

20160423_201834_001-1Earlier in the afternoon I had made some Dough with my son, and although it had not worked out quite as planned, we got it into the oven and baked some bread, this was to go with the Asparagus, it’s a French passion, bread is part of the meal not a course to start things off!! (it was delicious ;-))

If you have a Split oven, put your plates in to warm, along with the crumb mixture. Put your main oven onto 180 deg (fan). Bring a pan of water to the boil, add some salt and keep ready for the Broccoli.

Here we go…. Oven is hot at 180 Deg, in goes the Asparagus, Hollandaise ingredients on a low heat to melt the butter, whisk, whisk and keep whisking. When the butter has melted, turn the heat up a bit (not too hot, I never went above 3.5 on a scale of 1-9 on my hob) and keep whisking. After 10 minutes (quickly) check Asparagus, keep whisking the Hollandaise. If you see steam coming off the Hollandaise mixture at any time, turn down slightly, keep whisking.

When the Hollandaise starts to thicken, turn the water up to boil and add the Purple Sprouting Broccoli, keep whisking the Hollandaise.

You get the message I hope. The Hollandaise turned out perfectly, but you have to focus, and KEEP whisking all the time, I did almost solid for about 12 minutes.  When the lovely silky sauce starts to thicken you can start to taste and season. Its needs some salt, keep tasting and adding small amounts until it seems right (and keep whisking!). The consistency was in between single and double cream.

20160423_200050-1

I put the Asparagus Spears in a triangle, the Purple Sprouting Broccoli was drizzled with Olive Oil, mixed through and placed in the centre and the roast tomatoes around the outside. Add the Hollandaise liberally and then sprinkle the punchy crumb on top.

It was superb, the crumb adds a real punch, the tomatoes are sweet and acidic which cut through the rich Hollandaise sauce.

Have a go at this one, you won’t be disappointed.

…………………..Until next time, L8ers…………………

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2 thoughts on “Flour, Yeast, Water, Salt & Some Asparagus!

  1. Sounds absolutely delicious and as asparagus is one of my favourite vegetables I will definitely give this recipe a go .
    Your bread making course sounds amazing and so pleased that you are introducing your son to the kitchen .

    • Hello Di, hope you and Helly are both well and enjoying that aussie sunshine 😉 I surprised myself with this one, bit of a figjam moment I suppose. I am back with David and Vicky in Gramont in June on a fish and crustacean course, really looking forward to it. Junior Rolfe has been messing in the kitchen for a while, the course is a birthday present. We made the bread together at the weekend and trying to get him thinking about food and trying different things. Really nice to hear from you, love to you and Helen. Jules

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