A few weeks ago I was approached by Blue Ribbon to take part in a challenge campaign they had put together. It involved sending 3 food bloggers mystery baskets filled with ingredients and challenging us to create an awesome dish from them.
My rather fancy looking basket arrived on a Friday morning. I didn’t open it until the Monday morning. When you go for an interview as a chef or when you’re doing an exam, we are often presented with mystery baskets like this. I’ve found over the years that overthinking it and spending too much time planning what you’re going to make is actually detrimental to your final product. Anyway, I opened the box and this is what I found…
– A loaf of Blue Ribbon High Fibre Low GI white bread (yep, seems like white bread is getting healthier)
– 3 sweet peppers
– Fresh basil
– A tub of Créme Fraîche
– 6 organic eggs
– Can of artichoke hearts
That was it. From this I was expected to come up with a starter dish (or entrée as the French and Americans call it). Mind you, I was being filmed the entire time as I racked my brain around what to make with these rather difficult ingredients. I asked if I could add a few base ingredients like seasoning, herbs, oils and condiments. They said it was cool. So in my head a crazy plan started brewing…and this is what I came up with using just those rather simple ingredients.
What is it? I actually couldn’t think of a name, its a play on a bruschetta but its not an open sandwich since it has two layers of bread in it. It’s more of a stack. So how did I get to what it looks like in the pic above? This is how…
1. I started by slicing the red pepper in half and drizzling it with oil and then roasting it in the oven at 200°C
2. Whilst the red pepper was roasting I took 3 slices (including the crust) of Blue Ribbon Fuel bread and using a cookie cutter I cut 3 discs out of the bread and placed them on a wire rack in the oven to toast for about 3 minutes. I didn’t throw the offcuts away though, I cut the crusts off the slices of bread and cut up the remaining pieces of bread into smaller pieces. I placed them in a bowl and mixed in about 3 spoons of Créme fraîche with the bread. This was left to soak on the side whilst I continued.
3. Whilst that was going on in the oven I made a basil mayonnaise with
– 3 egg yolks
– 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
– 1 tablespoon lemon juice
– 1 cup olive oil
– salt and pepper
– handful chopped up fresh basil
I made the mayonnaise by whisking the first 3 ingredients until they became frothy and then slowly streaming in the olive oil whilst still whisking constantly. I than seasoned it and added the chopped basil.
4. I then removed the red pepper from the oven and peeled the skin off the pepper. If you roast a pepper for about 6 minutes in a high heat the pepper will go black, don’t worry, that’s the effect you want. The black layer is just the skin of the pepper. Place the pepper in a bowl and tightly seal the bowl with cling wrap. Let it rest for about 10 minutes to sweat. This loosens the skin on the pepper. Slowly peel the skin off and voila, you now have a skinned pepper.
I took the skinned roast peppers and I cut out 2 discs using the same cookie cutter I had used for the bread earlier. Putting the offcut red pepper aside
5. I now had soaked the bread pieces in the Créme Fraîche for about 15 minutes, I would use this to make a Romesco Sauce. Usually a romesco sauce has more ingredients such as almonds and herbs but as I was working what I was given I had to wing it. I used…
– 1 cup of cut up crust-free white bread
– 1 cup skinned roast pepper
– 3 spoons Créme Fraîche
– 1/2 teaspoon paprika
– 1/2 teaspoon mixed herbs
– 1/2 cup olive oil
– salt and pepper
Using a hand blender I blended it all up to make a rather thick paste. A romesco sauce is a thick sauce. Awesome as a dip or on burgers and tacos.
6. The next element in my mystery box was the can of artichoke hearts. I took 3 artichokes out the can, placed them in a pestle and mortar, drizzled them with about 1/2 a cup of extra virgin olive oil and grinded them down until they became a paste. I add a spoon of dijon mustard to the paste and seasoned with salt and pepper to make an artichoke puree.
7. Lady I placed a pot of water in the stove and allowed it to heat up until simmering point. I separated 1 egg and used the egg yolk. I placed the yolk in the pot and poached it for about 30 seconds.
Taking all these elements I began stacking them up, beginning with the crusty Blue Ribbon Fuel toast at the bottom (I used the crust part for the bottom because it absorbs more liquid and doesn’t go soggy). I spread Créme fraîche on the toast and then placed a roast pepper disc on top. I followed this up by spreading more Créme fraîche on the next toast and placing it on top of the pepper. On top of this I spoon some of the artichoke puree and then finished it off by placing the poached egg yolk on top and drizzling the entire dish with my basil mayonnaise.
Voilà. All from a bunch of rather rudimentary ingredients and some awesome bread.