Thursday, 12 January 2012

DE = 564 x = bellissimo x 100 ( todays blog) 

 So, it's all about the deliciousness!

The fifth taste, now we know as umami.

We nicked it from the Japanese, and it's one of the five basic tastes, along with sweet, sour, hot and salt.

Translated it means delicious, or "pleasant savory taste".

I think the best way to describe it is when you eat something, it makes you want to smack your lips together with all that lovely savoriness.

It's found in lots of things, like dried seaweed, mushrooms, truffles, meats, oily fish and shellfish, fermented sauces and cheese.

So, last week, in memory of Tom, who was always trying to find that big hit of umami, I made this pie.

So while Tom is spreading the East Lodge good vibes all around Europe, I was coming up with this light weekday supper!

2012 is the year that I'm going to make all my pastry at home, and I'm going to use the tried and trusted half fat to flour.

So I used half suet and half butter, just rubbed in and mixed with a little cold water.

I'll start using lard in the spring, but I will always split it with half butter. It's a forgiving pastry to use as well, and if you work quickly, it should not break up.

So, back to seeing how much umami I could pack into my pie.

A couple of days earlier I made a sofrito, using lots of garlic, onions, thyme and tomato passata. It was dark, thick and intense. I used it in a duck paella, an unusual, but, amazing dish, that I got from the new "el bulli" cookbook.

Anyway, I though that the sofrito would add a certain something to the meat filling.

So, I fried some more onions in duck fat, then added some beef mince, then the sofrito, a bottle of dark English beer, beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, a tin of beef consomme and a good blob of my new umami paste

I cooked the filling so it was quite dry, as I wanted to be able to slice the pie cleanly, and anyway, I made a gravy with some more beer and consomme to serve on the side.

And, honestly, have you seen a more beautiful looking pie!

I also thought that such a full flavored pie would benefit from a massive red wine, so I opened a bottle of 2007 Ben Marco, an absolute delight!

Decanted, to let it open up, I knew it would be perfect with all that mouth filling umami!

And can you see you light and flaky the pastry is?

So we managed about half of it, and for ages after we could still taste it.

That's what umami means to me, having the ability to still taste something, after you have finished eating it.

I'm not sure if they do pies quite like this France though!

Anyway, back to the tasting menu that I still have not got around to waffle on about, but here's a little preview.

This was one of the starters we did at Christmas.

It's pressed confit duck livers, topped with a jellied beef consomme, air dried beef fillet, fried ox tongue, croutons and truffle cream.

As all you classical music lovers will realise, its a modern take on the classic "Rossini", where the original dish uses a fried fillet steak, served on a brioche crouton with sauteed duck livers and a black truffle sauce.

And, as we are starting 2012 with our new tasting menus at East Lodge, this is going to stay on as a bouche on the eight course menu.

Oh, and I'm going to be doing a risotto topped with lardo and grated pork crackling, to go with some pork belly that has been cooking for the past thirty hours in the water bath.

I can't wait!

It's going to be mad.

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