Stretching My Cooking - "The Square"

Lately I've been spending quite a bit of time making cheese and exploring the craft of artisan cheesemaking. It's so interesting and fun but ultimately it means that I have been spending less time cooking and creating than I'd like. Recently, I had a shipment of new cookbooks arrive and I was ecstatic to get my hands on The Square Cookbook: Savoury. The Square is a two Michelin starred restaurant in London, led by Chef Philip Howard.

As I do every now and then, I tweeted a photo of the book cover to The Square crew, and to my complete and wonderful surprise they followed me! I was very flattered and honoured as they don't follow many people on Twitter. So when they responded asking for a photo of me recreating one of their dishes I had to follow through. It was a perfect way to stretch me out of my comfort zone and to try some new techniques and ingredients.

There are so many amazing dishes in the book and I was really tossed as to which one to try to cook. But after an extensive review of the options I landed on, "Saute of Scottish Langoustine Tails with Paremesan Gnocchi and an Emulsion of Potato and Truffle". Yep, I was in for quite an effort!

My first task was to find langoustine tails. I searched high and low at the Sydney Fish Markets but had to settle on Scampi. In the end they were a fine replacement option.

Now, I guess you could call this dish complex but I'd rather call it challenging. In the end, it took me three hours to cook but the result was fantastic! There were four primary components to the dish:

  • The scampi - blanched and then pan fried before service
  • Parmesan gnocchi - hand made and then sauteed to go with the scampi
  • Field mushroom and squash purees - slow cooked with sauteed onions and then blitzed and sieved
  • Potato and truffle emulsion - beautifully thick potato and truffles held together with arrowroot

The potato and truffle emulsion started with some sauteed leeks and mushrooms. To be honest, these alone would have been a great start to a different dish!

And what a better way to finally use the summer truffles that I picked up in Italy back in August of last year?!

In the end, it took far longer than I had planned. So when it was photo time I was tired and my good camera wasn't at hand. But in any case, the taste was sensational. It's definitely one dish that tested my skills and will certainly be one I will need to try again in the future.

I guess the point is, stretch your cooking! Don't keep cooking the dishes that you're good at and that you cook often. Buy a technical cookbook and see what you can accomplish. You might be surprised at the results.

And thanks to the team at The Square for laying down the challenge and inspiring me to have a go!