There’s a new cooking series on the telly; Raymond Blanc’s Kitchen Secrets, and I’ve already worked out what his secret is – get yourself dozens of lackeys to do all the boring jobs and clean up after you.
His first programme, conveniently screened just before we had John and Linda over for dinner a couple of weeks ago, featured chocolate recipes, one of which I thought was just perfect to serve to our guests.
His chocolate panice (??) or tart seemed quite easy to make and off I went to our local supermarket with the list of ingredients:
Cream (by the bucket load)
Full cream milk
Praline paste (couldn’t get any)
And on and on and on……..
After making just the base (I’ll spare you the details) I’d used just about every dish and utensil in the kitchen and then I realized what Blanc did. Every boring job he had to do, such as scrunching up the cornflakes, he got one of his sous chefs to do it, and every time a dish was dirtied, a sous chef appeared with a clean one. If the knife wasn’t sharp enough he got a lackey do sharpen it for him. On the other night’s show he had one of his chefs climbing trees (‘go to zee very top’) to get some apples for a dish he was making.
At one stage he was complaining bitterly about the design of a hand whisk which wouldn’t rest in a bowl without falling out (strangely I have also thought about this problem) and then when the commentator asked who had designed it – he looked at it and found out that it was Raymond Blanc! Cue hysterical laughter from the production team and total embarrassment from Monsieur Blanc! I’m sure I saw some of his lackeys chuckling in the background as well.
Anyway, back to the cooking of the chocolate tart.
One of the problems in France is that you just cannot get double (i.e. whisking) cream. They’ve all sorts of other types of cream but not the sort you can whisk into those fluffy ‘clouds’ and so I bought a variety of cartons and jars and tried a few before settling on the Créme Normandie. The chocolate filling seemed ok –ish until I chilled it in the fridge for a couple of days whereupon it turned into breeze-block. Nevertheless our guests were very kind and were quite complimentary about my culinary efforts but as it was so incredibly rich, they refused a second portion – well I think that’s why they refused!
So for the rest of the week, Kitty and I had chocolate tart each night and do you know, slightly warmed up in the microwave it was absolutely amazing. Clever Thomas! I might even make it again.