Night 1: Pastry

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Welcome to my first post of my kitchen adventure at the Waterhouse restaurant!
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I was posted at the Pastry corner with Chef Timoney who taught me a great recipe to make foccacia bread, and also how to make Tuiles, mango ice-cream, mango panacotta, and how to cook the perfect chocolate fondant! I did not get all the recipes for you but my favourite of the night can be found below: the focaccia!

I have made foccacia once at home, and it took me the whole day. Timoney showed me how to make this light and fluffy bread in 2h. I was gobsmacked! I will try to repeat this at home and will keep you posted on how I am getting on without their amazing equipment. What helped us the most was to be able to proof this bread on top of a really hot oven. It was so hot that I could just about put my hand on it to feel how hot it was: I would say about 45/50C.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg bread flour
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 3 tbsp fast action yeast
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 handful chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 handful chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp on dried oregano
  • 450ml tepid water
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 100ml pomace olive oil

Place all the dry ingredients in a standing mixer with a dough hook and add the oil and water mixed together slowly until you have a dough that comes together. We needed to add a few more drops of water to have the perfect consistency. You need a dough quite moist but that can be held without sticking all over your hands. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead it for a few minute.

IMG_1492Place the dough in a super large tray covered with baking paper and leave to proof on top of a super hot oven. We left it for 1h and it looked amazing! You could tell the dough was fragile and has risen too quickly because as I was taking the picture one of the corner already started to collapse (as you can see on the picture on the right). We quickly put the tray in the oven at 170C for 20minutes until golden. The top crust should feel firm to the touch and the bread should feel soft, springy and hollow inside. I just couldn’t wait to taste this focaccia! I was surprised the chef didn’t brush olive oil on top of the bread before cooking to give it a good shine. They said some customers complained it was too oily so they now decided to leave the bread as it is and serve it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. So soft, fluffy and herby. I didn’t need to be dipped in oil to me!

I will try this recipe as soon as I get my kitchen dust-free from the renovation work we’ve been doing and I will keep you posted! Although I might try a smaller version first…

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So many things were going on that it was hard to keep up with the camera but I thought I would focus on the chef who was in charge of the kitchen that night: Daniel. A very calm and brilliant young chef who just got a new chef position at the Duck&Waffle. He showed me his presentation on their beetroot and gin-cured salmon and how he prepares my old time favourite scallops. Loved it!

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Making french tuiles seemed so scary to the contestants during the Great British Bake Off this summer that I thought it would be very hard. Well it isn’t really, not when you have Timoney watching your palette knife skills and making sure you don’t overcook them so they dry too quickly. I also “helped” preparing the dessert. By helping I mean taking the home-made hazelnut ice-cream tub out of the freezer and decorating the plate with the crystallised rose. Hard work, I know. The whole night went by far too quickly and I really hope I behaved myself well enough to be allowed to come again!

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Introduction to the Waterhouse Restaurant

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It seems that my life keeps having restaurants as main landmarks. The Waterhouse Restaurant became one of my homes when we chose it for our wedding dinner party. I know I am going on and on about doing everything yourself for your wedding, but after making lunch, cakes, flower arrangements and all the rest I thought I did deserve to relax and enjoy a good meal.

Since we got engaged and married within 3 months, there was no time to waste to find a restaurant for our dinner party. We wanted a place we could rent for the whole night, with a friendly relaxed atmosphere and an amazing menu. The Waterhouse ticked all the boxes and the cherry on the cake was the location: across the road from our flat! We first went there on a sunny summer evening for dinner and had a lovely meal on their balcony overlooking the canal. Their menu offered enough to please everybody and each course was beautifully presented and executed. It really sounds like the perfect place, I know…but there is more!

The Waterhouse restaurant is owned by the Shoreditch Trust, a Hackney based charity which supports and gives opportunities to young people with difficulties to find employment. The restaurant offers kitchen and service training to a large group of talented young chefs and waitresses (and waiters) who just need a little push on their CV to gain access to a big London restaurant. Their head chef, Amrit, is full of energy and love for his job and  has a real passion to transmit to all these people everything he knows about cooking. He told us what an amazing challenge and opportunity it would be for his team to cook and look after us for the most important day of our life. Some people might see this as a drawback, since nothing is ever perfect when you deal with a team in training, but we saw it as our chance to do something good and not waste our money in a restaurant that would consider our big day as a way to make money.

Our wedding dinner was perfect, they spoiled us with a 5 course meal that was carefully designed in advance and each of our guest could pick their own dishes. The quantity and quality was more than I could ever expect from any restaurant catering for 20 people. From the original and freshly-made canapés, delicious savoury dishes with a palate cleanser in between to incredible desserts, everyone was impressed and I will never repeat it enough, the scallops were the best I’ve ever had! Their wine list was perfect as it was and we picked what we wanted to match our food.

We went back a few times during the past 6 months and I kept thinking how much I would love to be involved in such a fantastic organisation. After our latest meal there for Valentine’s night, I finally got the courage to ask Amit if I could be of any help in his kitchen. He was delighted to see that I would be interested to learn and share tips with him and his team and I was on their kitchen rota 10 days later!

I want to write everything I learn in this kitchen and share it all with you! Having a full time job means I can only do one night a week but I am sure I will still be learning plenty of tricks and hopefully some of my recipes might end up on their menu one day. Check out here for posts covering my kitchen adventure!