A couple of weeks ago, I went to the Raymond Blanc Cookery School at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire to spend the day on the “Autumn Dinner Party Menu” course. It was an incredible experience learning from the Director of the Cookery School, Mark Peregrine, who has over 30 years experience.
We started off the day with coffee while we watched Mark demonstrate how to make the perfect Tarte Tatin. The recipe by Raymond Blanc is based on the original recipe by the Tatin sisters – two elderly sisters who inadvertently created one of the world’s most famous and beloved desserts.
The dark caramel combined with the sweetness and acidity of the apple together with the crispy puff pastry, well, it is just absolutely delicious and the perfect autumnal dessert.
One of the things I really took away from the course was the importance of using the very best ingredients you can find. These apples are braeburn, but you could also use Worcester or a Cox’ Orange pippin apple instead.
While the oven was pre-heating to 180C, Mark cooked the sugar on the Gaggenau Vario gas cooktop 400 seriesp. Just on it’s own! This was a bit of revelation to everyone on the course.
Once the sugar had melted, he added the butter to make the caramel.
While it was cooling he prepared the apples by peeling them and cutting them into perfect quarters before arranging them in the dish.
He arranged the apples really tightly into the Emile Henry tatin dish and then added even more on top.
Then the dish went into the oven for 30 minutes to allow the moisture to evaporate from the apples. Again, this was a bit of a revelation to everyone on the course as we assumed he would just add the pastry on top.
Which he did do, once it had come out of the oven.
As you can see from the photo above, the tatin cooks perfectly in the Gaggenau 400 series oven. That is one of the things our customers love about Gaggenau – the consistency. There is no need to turn the tatin around, it cooks evenly across the entire surface.
The tatin needs to cook in the oven for 40 minutes – and that is exactly 40 minutes in the Gaggenau 400 Series on the 3rd rack down. Needless to say it was cooked perfectly.
Turned out 10 minutes later. Mark advised that it’s actually best to make the tarte tatin a day ahead to really let the pectin in the apples set.
This is the fricassee of wild mushrooms which we prepared using the Gaggenau Vario Gas Cooktop 400 Series. The success of this dish really depends on the quality and freshness of the produce. The best time for wild mushrooms is between July and October so we were really lucky to visit Le Manoir during this time. The dish is so simple to make but has such marvellous, heady flavours you’d imagine that it had taken hours to prepare – instead it took just 5 minutes.
One of the most interesting dishes we cooked was the pork chop “Maman Blanc” using the most important basic technique of pan-frying meat in such a way as to create the most delectable juices with the most simple medium – water!
First of all we steamed the desiree potatoes in the Gaggenau Combi-Steam oven at 100C and 100% humidity. Steaming the potatoes for the potato puree “mousseline” is really important because it ensures they do not overcook and lose their freshness.
After we seasoned the pork chops, we heated the butter in a 30cm saucepan with a heavy base. Once the butter was foaming, we added the chops and cooked for 4 minutes on either side. After that we transfered the chops to a plate warmed in the Gaggenau warming drawer and covered in cling film to rest.
Again, needless to say lunch was absolutely delicious. After lunch we took a tour with Mark of the beautiful ground and vegetable gardens at Le Manoir. Even though it was late in the year, it all still looked absolutely stunning.
The vegetable garden was so beautifully maintained, it was amazing to see how much they grow there, and yet they still have to rely heavily on outside suppliers because of the volume of produce they go through at Le Manoir.
A real treat was wandering through the Japanese garden which was something of an unexpected surprise.
After being hard at work (!) in the kitchen all morning, it was lovely to get out into the fresh air.
After our walk, we returned to the kitchen to watch Mark prepare the pan-fried salmon with champagne sauce. Again he used the Gaggenau Vario Gas Cooktop to pan fry the salmon in butter. The champagne sauce was prepared in a small pan and took just minutes to prepare.
That was one of the big surprises of the day actually – lots of things that you might think were really complicated, are actually really simple. You just need really excellent quality ingredients and accurate cooking appliances.
Another delicious dish.
For the last dish of the day we made grand marnier soufflés – a dessert that has a sort of awe and wonderment about it. Again we were astounded to see how simple they were to prepare. You can even prepare the soufflé mix up to 4 hours ahead of putting them into the oven.
They were cooked in the Gaggenau 400 series oven at 180C. When I asked Mark what he liked about cooking Gaggenau, he replied “the consistency”. It was really incredible to see the Gaggenau appliances in action during the day and see just how consistency reliable they are.
Starting to rise and almost ready to come out… the suspense was killing us!
Of course as the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding… another success! Absolutely mind-blowingly delicious dish that amazed us in both simplicity and taste.
For more information about Gaggenau visit their website. Please note the Gaggenau London Showroom will be closed for refurbishment from 11th December reopening in March 2016. The official opening date will be announced on their website at the start of 2016.