CHEF JP MELTS HEARTS ON WOMEN’S DAY
By the end of this read, you’ll see chocolate in a whole different light. As for that prized box of chocolates, enjoy that snaky treat, happy in the knowledge that you will be confident to utilise this age-old decadent food element to produce an array of different taste sensations.
Stepping out of that chocolate box, we are going back to the eighties, when strawberry fountains were in vogue. Preparing a basic chocolate fondue is fairly easy with a combination of your favourite chocolate, some cream and a pinch of salt. then you can dip everything from strawberries and bananas to marshmallows.
But, as you’ve probably guessed, we can’t do the easy way out. Fondues have come a long way and the recipe below will show how this dessert can become an unexpectedly flavoursome meal in its own right.
FROM THE PANTRY
200 grams New Zealand white cheddar – this cheese has a high melting point, so it’s perfect for a cheesy affair
75 grams melted chocolate of your choice, but I prefer a 40% dark, it is a tad bitter, but far healthier
2 Tablespoons salted butter
a few red pepper corns
some chilli if you want to turn up the volume
salt and pepper
one cinnamon stick
100 grams fresh cream
150 grams lean beef fillet, cut into bite sized portion and cooked to your taste
For, this phantasmagorical dish, you only need a few ingredients, but the taste sensation is overwhelming.
Melt all your staples and stir slowly in a medium saucepan. Cut your fillet into bite size portions and season them well. Now, its time to ignite your fondue. On a medium flame, let your mixture slowly simmer, then dip your fillet (for me, medium is the way to go) and fondue away.
OH SO WELLINGTON
Now that women’s rugby is also back on the fields of gold, I thought it would be quite apt to do a Beef Wellington with a chocolate sauce. Sweet and savoury collide in this classic dish, but with an edgy outcome.
Melt your portion of chocolate of your fancy and keep in on low heat.
Cook your fillet to medium rare and let it rest on the side. Puff up your pastry and roll your fillet in the pastry rolled out in a very thin layer to cover the meat completely. Rub the pastry with mayonnaise.
A quick chef’s tip aside, I’ve found that this has a far better effect than an egg wash which often burns in the oven.
Once you’ve applied the mayonnaise, slip your Wellington into the oven for 12-15 minutes. When your pastry is crispy, you can be ready for the whistle blow. Delicately cut the roll, and you are ready to serve.
Whilst we were in Wellington (the city that is), we found that a nice side dish was some grilled aubergine with a bit of a kiwi twist – believe it or not, fresh kiwi fruit goes down a treat when served with eggplant.
To end this delightful meal, pour your hot chocolate over the beef, and you have magic.
CHOCWORK ORANGE CAKE
Time to crack that pre-heated oven to 180ºC.
FROM THE PANTRY
500 grams flour
20 grams baking powder
100 grams cacao powder
300 grams brown sugar
50 grams grated chocolate
rind of an orange
120 grams melted butter
250ml hot water
250 ml fresh orange juice
10ml vanilla extract
Mix the flour, baking powder, a pinch of salt, sugar, chocolate and rind. Add the melted butter and continue to mix. Spoon the resulting mixture into a baking tray.
Make your sauce on the side – sprinkle the cacao powder, then mix together the 250ml hot water and 250 orange juice and pour over the mix. Bake for 45 minutes and serve with some caster sugar and fresh orange slices.
Now for another unexpected delight – chocolate pasta. Although the pasta has a strong chocolaty aroma during preparation, it has a subtle flavour. This, as other dishes here have shown, is perfect for teaming up with savoury flavours.
HASTA LA PASTA BABY
I have created two pasta dishes using homemade tagliatelle.
If you don’t have a pasta maker in your kitchen, you can use your woman’s intuition (or practical know-how if you are cooking this for your lady) and buy chocolate pasta from a delicatessen.
But I would like to show you how to make it at home anyway. After all, home is where the heart is…and where the best pasta comes from (after Italy, of course).
Mix your basic pasta dough using 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 3 large eggs, 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt.
Then add a touch of the exotic – 25 grams of activated charcoal powder (this charcoal is basically positively charged coconut shells) and 25 grams of cocoa powder. Grind it into the mix and let it rest in the fridge for half an hour.
If you have not managed to go online and get your Woolies order (for that pasta maker) delivered, you’ll have to cut your own pasta sheet with a paring knife into thin strips.
Boil some water in a medium pot, add a crack of salt and boil away until the chocolate pasta is al dente. To know if it is, (this is my little secret), take a twirl of pasta and throw it against the kitchen tiles – if it sticks, it’s ready – okay, that’s an old wives’ tale and makes for plenty of unnecessary mess. Rather, do a taste test.
You can serve this pasta one of two ways – with crème fraiche, chocolate shavings and a red wine rue – plus some coffee beans for garnish.
Alternatively, add a creamy grilled mushroom sauce with shaves of dark chocolate, fresh cream and thyme.
On that note, it’s probably “thyme” to wrap this up… after all, who wants to spend too long in the kitchen on Women’s Day. Instead, retreat for a bubble bath with some bubbly – or even that chocolate strawberry fondue.
On a more serious note…it’s great to have a day to celebrate all things feminine. I have only three words for the special women in my life on this lovely day which, as you know is VERY UNLIKE ME…
SACRED, SAVVY AND SPECIAL !