Your Bluebarry has been making googly-eyes at the iPad more than usual these days, having downloaded the drool-worthy app, Great British Chefs. Many of the recipes are of the New Year’s Eve, over-the-top variety, but there are some that aren’t that daunting. The first to send me to the kitchen was Martin Wishart’s Champagne and Citrus Terrine.
Obviously not my photo – click to view it in its original context.
Nice, huh? The squiggles and dots are passion fruit, btw. Not sure what the green material is – judging by the recipe, it might be super-thin strands of mint.
Keen readers will remember my checkered past with gelatinized terrines. Let’s see how this one turned out.
The first oddity in the recipe: it calls for 10 sheets of gelatine. Why, why, why do chefs not provide weights in recipes using gelatine? With some online research, I determined that 10 sheets of new-size British gelatine equals about 17 grams. That translated to 8 sheets of the gelatine I had on hand.
I soaked the gelatine in ice water for 5 minutes as I brought a cheap-but-drinkable bottle of prosecco to a boil with 450g of caster sugar (why it must be caster sugar when it’s going to be liquified, I don’t really know) and added the juice of 1 orange and one lemon. Off the heat, I stirred in the hydrated gelatine leaves and left the mixture to cool to room temperature.
The second recipe anomaly is the fact that it calls for 11 oranges and 10 pink grapefruits to 1 bottle of bubbly. Obviously, that wouldn’t produce the results pictured above. Instead, I brought home from the market: 2 blood oranges, 2 minneolas, and 1 pink grapefruit. I proceeded to suprême the citrus by cutting off the blossom and stem ends, standing each fruit upright, carefully cutting down along the contour to cut away the peel without losing too much flesh, and finally (!) cutting and gently peeling each segment away from the membrane.
The “chef’s treat” from this prep was a divine cocktail of citrus juice, funnelled from the flexible cutting mat into a glass. Yum. The minneolas were a surprise – they had a wonderful, peppery note atop their dominant tangerine flavour.
Assembly was straightforward from then on out. I poured 1 cm of the prosecco mixture into a terrine mold lined with plastic wrap (pro-tip: moistening the sides of the terrine pan helps the plastic move into all the corners) and put it in the fridge for half an hour to set. This was followed by a layer of citrus segments, topped with more liquid gel. I repeated this x3.
Here’s what the terrine looked like before being sliced. A lot like Aunt Bea’s canned-mandarin-orange-and Jell-O salad, amirite?
And… drumroll… here it is on the plate.
Nowhere near as pretty as the Chef’s, but not bad. The gel was set just enough to allow most (lolz) of the slabs to be plated without falling completely apart. Another half-sheet of gelatine would have helped them hold their shape. I definitely should have left more gel-space between the layers of citrus: the close layering produced fault lines. And for reasons I’m not yet clear on, my terrine had none of the effervescence that’s evident in the pro version. Next time, I’ll try using only 1/3 of the prosecco to dissolve the sugar, and adding the rest of it in just before the assembly stage.
The recipe as presented in the app had enough inaccuracies and omissions (is there a passion fruit syrup along with the seeds? how do I prepare the little green strands?) that I will be very cautious with future recipes. It’ll be interesting to see if it’s just this chef’s recipes that suffer from these shortcomings, or whether this is an app-wide phenomenon.
Quibbles aside, though, this was a fantastic dish. Bright and crystalline, both in flavour and visually. The real genius is found in the contrast provided by the passion fruit: its super-crunchy seeds and searing tartness alongside the sweet gel and citrus… gustatory fireworks.