Before I get back into food blogging as usual, I just have to say a huge thanks to everyone who’s supported me on the MasterChef rollercoaster ride. When I auditioned in December last year I wasn’t looking for my 15 seconds of fame, I just went with the intention of seeing where I stood in the pack of ‘best ever’ home cooks.
I’ve been humbled by the messages people have been sending through – I think many of you realised what I was going through even before the news piece came out and for that I am hugely grateful. I know that in the happy-happy narrative of MasterChef, my side of the story was never going to be told but never in a million years did I expect to get such a huge outpouring of support, especially as I was continually reminded by the powers that be that no one was going to like me because I was a ‘closed book’ (which I suspect is code for not crying enough).
There is a lot I have to say, and yet a lot I cannot say. I just want to send a heartfelt thank you to anyone who left a comment on the blog, messaged me via Facebook or stood up for me on various forums or social media. It has meant so much to me to have people, some whom I haven’t met yet, believe in me.
But, now onto a recipe that many of you have asked me for – the one from Taxi Dining Rooms and the infamous Marco Pierre White service challenge. I don’t drink Earl Grey tea, but I remembered my sister telling me about an Earl Grey dessert she’d had some time back – and this dessert was born. Like they say, necessity is the mother of invention! I’m pretty sure you’ll like it even if you’re not a tea fiend (I did when I tried it just then). It’s light, floral and pairs well with the berries, very reminiscent of traditional English high tea.
Just a couple of tips – frozen berries are fine to use. They’re not quite as nice, but it is the middle of winter now. This is a soft set jelly which means it’s deliciously wobbly, so if you’re in a rush and need the jelly to set faster, just add a tiny bit more gelatin (around 2g). I’ve substituted powder gelatin for leaf, as I find it’s a lot easier to get at supermarkets. If you have it on hand, leaf gelatin gives a much clearer set – use 2g per 100ml of liquid.
- 700ml water
- 7g powdered gelatin (approx 2 tsp)
- 2 Earl Grey teabags, or 2 tsp loose leaf Earl Grey
- 3 tbsp sugar
- mixed berries, frozen or fresh
- 350ml cream
- 50g icing sugar
- ½ vanilla bean, seeds only
- 25g melted butter
- 25g flour
- 25g icing sugar, sifted
- 25g egg white
- mixed berries
- splash of Grand Marnier/ Cointreau (or other alcohol, I used white wine in the challenge)
- Bloom the gelatin powder in 100ml of cold water.
- Heat remaining 600ml water in a small saucepan until just below boiling, then turn off. Add tea/tea bags and sugar and stir to dissolve sugar. Allow to steep for 2 minutes - not too long, you just want a mild bergamot flavour. Strain, reserving the liquid.
- Add the bloomed gelatin and stir to combine. Strain again to remove any tiny bits of undiluted gelatin.
- Divide between 6 glasses and scatter in the mixed berries, then allow to set in the fridge for at least 3 hours. If you want the berries to be perfectly suspended in the middle of the jelly, you'll need to pour in half the jelly mixture, scatter with berries, allow to set for half and hour in the fridge, then top with remaining jelly mixture.
- Whisk the cream to soft peaks, then add the icing sufar and vanilla seeds. Put into a piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe onto the set jelly.
- Preheat oven to 180C. Reverse a baking sheet (it's easier to use the underside as it doesn't have the lip around the edges) and line with baking paper.
- Combine all ingredients into a small bowl, then spread onto the parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 3-4 minutes until lightly golden. When cool, snap into long shards and store in an airtight container.
- Combine the mixed berries with just a dash of Grand Marnier. Actually, who am I kidding, go nuts. Make yourself a cocktail while you've got the bottle out. Place the macerated berries in the glass next to the cream, then top with the tuille.