Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Being on holidays this week while the restaurant is having the floor revamped, and after watching MasterChef masterclass on Friday with Peter Gilmore demonstrating how to make garlic custard, I thought I'd head back into the kitchen to give his recipe a whirl.
Peter Gilmore is an AMAZING chef (that's AMAZING in capitals!). He's my biggest industry idol and his incredible food is reflective of his unbounded depth of knowledge.
Unfortunately I don't have squid growing in a tank out on the back porch and there's not much in the fridge aside from corn milk, a jar of my hot cucumber pickles, middle-rasher bacon and hokkien noodles. I have a little walk around the garden to see what I might be able to throw together and I decide to combine the bacon with a simple salad of red mustard leaves and pickled onion.
My mum owns a nifty machine that makes soy milk. It works basically the same way as a thermomix, ie. it cooks and blends at the same time. This morning she used it to blend up the corn milk that's sitting in the fridge which is actually quite tasty. Sweetcorn kernels, water and a little dehydrated milk powder goes into the machine and 15 minutes later.. Voila! Corn milk! It's surprisingly sweet and I can imagine this being the base for some kind of Mexican dessert though I might have to figure that one out later.
The first thing I do is turn the oven on to preheat at 160ºC. A sprinkle of salt goes into the corn milk to maximise flavour and enhance the natural sweetness. Garlic is sweated away in a knob of butter before joining the milk. The steamer goes onto the stove to boil while the milk is infusing. I temper the eggs with the milk, strain the mixture into 3 small serving bowls, cover and steam.
Meanwhile I lay out a sheet of baking paper onto a heavy steel baking tray and spread out a few thin slices of bacon. I lay another sheet of baking paper over the top and weigh it down with another tray. Into the oven it goes. Ten minutes later the top tray comes off and the slices of bacon are cooking without a kink to be seen. I leave the paper on top to stop the grease from splattering all over the inside of my oven and give it another 10 minutes. I pour away all the delicious fat that's rendered out of the bacon and keep it aside to make the dressing. The bacon's not quite done yet so I throw it back in for a few minutes more until it's 100% crispy.
The custards are done so they're sitting on a rack, cooling. The bacon is nice and crispy so it's out cooling also. I heat up the rendered bacon fat in a small pot and throw in a few small sprigs of thyme to infuse all of those lovely thyme-y essential oils. A quarter of a brown onion, brunoise, goes in next to sweat slowly with a tiny pinch of salt. A splash of white wine vinegar and a teaspoon of castor sugar join the mess and I let it simmer for just a few minutes. It comes off the heat and a few drops of olive oil completes this vinaigrette.
All I have to do now is spoon a little custard onto the plate, arrange a few bits of crispy bacon in an aesthetically pleasing manner, toss a few freshly picked baby red mustard leaves in the vinaigrette, spoon a little more around the plate and just to be fancy, I toss in a few chilli flowers as well.
And there you have it: Corn custard, garlic, mustard, bacon!
Has anyone else tried a recipe that they've seen on the show?