Mock cheese platter pair, a cheddar foam with a thin short crust cracker, a poached pear with a blue cheese cream.

 

Another one of those starters where I shoot for the moon with creativity but get let down somewhat with execution. This was one of the tastiest starters I have done, the cheddar foam was amazing, kind of like cheese whizz but all natural, along with the cookies and the almond crumble that component was delicious. But I was let down by the runniness of the foam, it needed to be cooler before I stuck it in the foamer… as for the pear with the blue cheese cream, well there’s very little to screw up there, and you know that the flavours are gonna be right on! As usual, I’ve incorporated corrections to my mistakes in the recipe below. The recipe is after the jump:

Serves about 4

For the cheddar foam:

250g of finely grated mature cheddar

1 cup of water

1 tsp of Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon of gelatine powder

2 tbsp of cooking cream

In a small pan, heat the water for a few minutes; make sure the heat is quite low, because it shouldn’t boil. Add the gelatine and dissolve it, then add the cheddar cheese and keep on the heat until all the cheese has melted. Stir in the mustard and cream and whisk gently together to form a homogenous mixture. Remove off the heat and set aside to cool down a bit, you don’t want it to re-solidify. Once it’s cooled down a bit (3-5mins) place in a foamer and dispense the foam onto a bowl on the side.

For the short crust crisp:

Preheat oven to 180degrees C

125g of all purpose flour

50g of butter cold, and cut into small cubes

1-2 tsp of ice cold water

½ tsp of salt

Generally a short crust pastry should be worked very quickly and handled lightly so that it doesn’t turn greasy and then turns hard in cooking. For our purposes here, because we want achieve isn’t a traditional pastry base but more of a cookie or biscuit. Put all the dry ingredients into a food processor, and pulse a few times, add the water in single teaspoon portions and pulse until all the butter is incorporated into the flour and you’re left with a sandy crumbly mixture. On a clean work surface, bring the crumbs together and then combine to form a ball of dough which you’ll wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for about 15-30mins. Remove the dough from the fridge, and on a non stick baking tray, roll out as thin as you dare (1mm if you can), and using a cookie cutter, cut out into the shape you desire. Remove the excess dough and place in the oven for about 10-15mins. Usually thicker crust requires about 20min, so you’ll have to use your judgement here. It needs to be nice and golden brown and solid.

For the almond crumble:

Use same 180 degree oven

Toast a small handful of almonds in the oven until they turn a deep golden brown and start to release their oil. Once toasted remove from the oven and set aside to cool down. Once cooled, place in a thick plastic bag and beat with a rolling pin to the desired consistency.

For the pear:

1 Large pear peeled and cored but otherwise whole

2 cups of red wine

1 stick of cinnamon

1 fresh sprout of thyme

1 red chilli chopped

In a small pot, heat up the wine and herbs and spices with the chilli, and bring to a simmer. Add the pear (make sure it’s covered with the wine) and simmer, covered for about 20 minutes. Remove the pear and set aside to cool down (make sure to serve slightly warm). Quarter the pear and serve a single quarter per plate.

For the blue cheese cream:

About 100g of good quality blue cheese, cubed

About 100g of ricotta

1 tbsp of cooking cream

Basically just through everything into a stand mixer and mix until homogenous.

Plate as shown in the picture and hope you enjoy!

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