Mandarin Cooking Challenge: don’t try this at homeSeptember 10, 2012
It can’t be because I’m missing the themed parties we used to attend. The ones where you had to come dressed as a fruit starting with ‘M’. Whatever the reason, I obviously needed a challenge.
I consider myself quite handy in the kitchen, but this attempt at a grand mandarin themed meal with an Italian twist delivered an ‘F’ for fail. I wouldn’t have minded so much had the fruit not been harvested in our garden with my own sweat and tears (see past blogpost). Here’s the results:
ENTREE: COUSCOUS, MANDARIN, FENNEL and TREVISO RADICCHIO SALAD
Verdict: These ingredients do not want to be on the plate simultaneously. All wonderful by themselves, but ask them to mingle and it’s like the party where no-one has a good time.
MAIN: ANATRA AL MANDARINO – my mandarin version of Duck a l’Orange (that some Italians claim was brought to France from Florence by Catherine de Medici in the 16th century).
Verdict: Fairly successful, if a little sweet for my taste. However, substituting the only liqueur I had in the cupboard – Drambuie – for Grand Marnier worked a treat, but I’m really here to rant aren’t I…
DESSERT: MANDARIN AND COCONUT JELLY
Verdict: Gelatin recipes can be quite tricky, so follow them accurately. First attempt – a runny mess – couldn’t be rescued. Second attempt (while the Calypso dancers waited patiently) produced a stiffer wobble, but the mandarin marmalade topping (and blood orange sauce) I added quickly dissolved the two layers of jelly.
CAKE: MANDARIN and ALMOND TORTE with CHOCOLATE GANACHE (a variation of Claudia Roden’s flourless Orange and Almond Cake using mandarin marmalade)
Verdict: BELIEVE what you read. If you don’t follow the recipe and substitute enough marmalade for two oranges you get dry cake. And don’t drop the cake icing-side down after adding the almonds. Any attempt at re-arranging will resemble Bugs Bunny’s two front teeth poking out under the ganache.
I see that Heston Blumenthal took the challenge to put the duck INSIDE l’orange. Quel smartypants.
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