Sunday 30 September 2012

Week three - party of eight... no seven.

An unfortunate incident for some of our guests en route reduces our numbers to seven. Get well soon SL. This also means we start a good 40 mins later than anticipated. No matter, the potatoes en papillote are very forgiving. Reduce the oven temp to 120°C and leave them in.

The soft polenta and mushrooms are good and, I think, my most accomplished dish to date. The polenta is cooked for (it turns out) 90 minutes. Anthony Demetre (of Arbutus) recommends cooking polenta for at least an hour to develop the grain's flavour. For the first time EVER, I get lumps. This is quickly resolved by Belinda remembering that we have a huge sieve hanging up in the utility room with a fairly coarse mesh (from our Thai cooking days - can't remember what we used it for - maybe draining vast quantities of jasmine rice). Polenta passes through sieve and meal is saved. I add lots of Jersey butter, parmesan, smoked salt and, at the last minute, white truffle oil.

The mushrooms were simple chestnuts, dry fried. I added a glass each of sweet Madeira and then nutty Manzanilla sherry and reduce this liquid to a glaze. Finally a little butter and a teaspoon of cep and truffle paste.

I piped the hot polenta (Ow!) in a ring on each plate and filled with the mushroom mix. Into the middle was pushed a roast shallot (30 mins on 180°C). These were wonderfully sweet Roscoff shallots; bought from Borough Market. The polenta was then sprinkled with fresh marjoram and parsley from the garden.

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