Pineapple and chili soup with fromage blanc foam

I’m writing this blog post sitting in front of the TV watching the new Masterchef Australia series. I am a huge fan of the UK one, but have to say I’m a little disappointed with Channel 10s offering. I didn’t like the audition format, it reminded me of Australian Idol or So You Think You Can You Dance? and I really don’t like when they are split into teams and can vote someone out. 1) Stop being shit and cut to the chase with the cooking!  and 2) We want to find the master CHEF here people, not the master of influencing others into voting for the person you think is the strongest in the competition. Phew! Got that off  my chest.

So I thought I would start with an easy dessert. One that didn’t require heaps of ingredients, fancy moulds or an icecream maker. Reaaaaalllly naive of me, because seriously, ‘sif Gordon does easy desserts.

Here’s how it panned out, ingredients at the ready –

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I could just take the Moet & the Magic Dust & be done with it

What you probably cant make out in that fairly ordinary photo, is the words GOAT CURD on the white tub. The recipe called for 100g of Fromage Blanc and do you know I COULD NOT find any in Sydney. Not for want of trying, armed with my copy of  The Foodies’ Guide to Sydney 09 I either rang or went to every cheese shop, deli and providore listed in the book, plus others that weren’t and most of the places didn’t even know what Fromage Blanc was (not that I did either before this dish). So I settled for the goat curd and took this picture.

A few hours later, stressing about not having the right ingredient, I finally found a farm that makes it in NSW, rang them, cursed myself for leaving it so late as the stockists weren’t open on a Saturday then FINALLY found out that Wholefoods House on Danks St stocks the products. YEE HA! Made it there within an hour of closing and got the Fromage Blanc. Then forgot to take a picture of it. Sorry.

So on to the easy peasy lemon squeezy recipe right?

Chop pineapple, (which was a complete bitch I might add, picking out the eyes and stuff,  juice everywhere) then toss with sugar and place in a skillet on high heat until the chunks begin to soften and caremelise slightly.

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Smelt great but took ages to caremalise as it got really juicy. Once it was done, I tipped it into the food processor and blitzed it into a fine puree.

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I get a sick pleasure from using the food processor

Then I strained it through some muslin to extract the juice.

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Baby food anyone?

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Squeeze hard girl!

To this I added a splash of pineapple juice and a few splashes of champagne and that was the soup part of the dish finished. “Mmm cocktails.. so far so good”, I am thinking.

Next up was to prepare the chili syrup, which was super easy. It is just a stock syrup (sugar and water) infused with chili flakes, then strained (I couldn’t get all the bits out though). Sweet and hot! It was a great combo and would be interesting used in other desserts I think. This is what the end result looked like –

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Now comes the tricky part of the recipe. I have to say that anything with the word “foam” in it, is somewhat terrifying to me. Having never used fromage blanc and never made a foam, I was suitably shitting it, but hey, anyone can follow a recipe, right? Right?   I was a bit light on with the photos here, because I was concentrating so hard!

First you beat the fromage blanc and the milk together in a large bowl. In a saucepan reduce some stock syrup and lemon juice, take off heat and add the pre-soaked gelatin sheets. Allow to cool slightly then whisk it into the fromage blanc mixture. Done and done.

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Fromage blanc mixture.. soon to be FOAM

Then place that bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice water and whisk every now and then until it starts to set.

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AND LOOK FOLKS IT SET!! IT ACTUALLY SET!! *dances around kitchen*

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The last stage of the dish is to transform the jelly into foam and assemble it alltogether. The recipe clearly and plainly states “Whisk the fromage blanc foam with a balloon whisk or an electric mixer mixer until light and airy. (In the restaurant we use a soda siphon to make and apply the foam, but his method works too.)”

I was going to borrow a soda siphon, but my friends couldn’t make dinner (yes there were people present to witness this abomination) so I thought, “well the recipe says you can use a mixer and I trust the recipe”.

FAMOUS. LAST. WORDS.

Firstly, I would just like to say how amazingly quick the jelly like substance turned into a liquified mess when the mixer touched it. I don’t know if it was supposed to do that, but it did. And it made me kinda concerned.

Here is the first stages of the whipping, whipping whipping… “hmm yes a few little bubbles on the surface. It is going to be a foam any second now”.

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Whipping, whipping

Here is me about 5 minutes lates, still whipping…

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Whipping, whipping, whipping

And here’s a final shot of the whipping,  30 minutes later (I actually left it running and sat with my guests out on the balcony with the doors shut so we couldn’t hear the damn thing)… err  no change. It looked like a milkshake. A very, very thin milkshake.

Whipping whipping whipping

Whipping, whipping, whipping

At this point, I realised two things 1) after a test run with a bit of the “soup” the “foam” as it was, was never going to sit on top and 2) the fromage blanc foam was going to be fromage blanc milkshake and no amount of whipping would change it.

I will take this oppourtunity to thank my brave and courteous guests, who at this point had been waiting for over an hour for dessert, yet still encouraged me to continue. (I would also like to say that dinner up until this point had been devine).  It assembles in a chilled tall glass, half filled with pineapple soup, then a drizzle of chili syrup and a large pinch of the Magic Dust. Finish with a spoon of foam on top and pinch of dried chili.  I was kinda pissed off and sulky at this point so I refused to even clean the glass for a nice presentation.

Pineapple Soup + Fromage Blanc Milkshake =

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Foam fail

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One for each of us, how delightful

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mmm creamy pineapple

About the only thing I liked was the fat straws, that I pinched from the local Bubble Tea at Broadway.  It was a horrid wet creamy cocktail mess. The popping candy went all soggy and didn’t pop and you could barely taste the chili.  Aside from the foam not working, the rest of the dish wasn’t even that nice, it really didn’t taste like much more than milky pineapple juice. Suffice to say, nobody finished. Give me a pinacolada over that any day.

I don’t know where I went wrong though. Is Australian fromage blanc different to what they use in the UK? Could the soda siphon have made all the difference? If the latter was it, well then the instructions in the book are misleading. I guess I will never know then, because I sure as hell am not attempting this one again. I’d love to hear from anyone that does though.

Just so you know, here is what it was supposed to look like.

Gordon's version

Gordon's version

And lets see my mess one more time

Louise's version

Louise's version

Yep, don’t think I’m going to be a 3 Star Chef anytime soon.

To end on a somewhat happier note, here is a picture of my favourite part of the whole dish – the Stardust Candy!! I thought it would be hard to find but our local British Sweets Store had a variety of popping candy and I’m not at all ashamed to say that I bought a few extra packets to “test”. OH MY how much fun.. opening and closing your mouth to hear it crackle and pop!

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POP!

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4 Comments

  1. Toto
    Posted May 28, 2009 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    You’re amazing Lou! Foam or no foam.
    Well done!!!

    All that for a drink though? Come on now 😛

  2. Beebop
    Posted May 28, 2009 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    I had this in his Maze Restaurant in New York last year, it was very tasty but yours looks equally impressive.

    Any chance of a dinner invite when we move back to Sydney in the New Year?!

    • irritatinggordon
      Posted May 28, 2009 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

      equally impressive, haha, oh the shame.. people aren’t supposed to have ever seen the real thing to compare to my pictures! Tell me though, was it lovely?

      You guys are moving back to Sydney?! Fabulous news, I predict I’ll have at least half the cookbook left to cook at that stage.

  3. Lynda
    Posted June 3, 2009 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Hey Lou Lou – good try – what a shame it didn’t work – very entertaining though!!!


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