Wednesday, 25 September 2013


One of my three nephews is hooked on macaroni and cheese. In his defense it isn't the Kraft boxed stuff; it’s the creamy, delicious baked macaroni and cheese his grandma (my mother) makes. He’s now just about seven years old, but over the years every Christmas as I head home to visit family, I’m curious to see if his tastes have changed at all. Time after time, his request has been the same. I suppose we all tend to be that way as children. I was at a wedding recently where one charming toddler expressed her love for seafood and cauliflower. Needless to say, she baffled me and I couldn't help think about my nephew. Poor guy, will he be able to survive on a date with a sophisticated cauliflower loving girl one day? I hope so, but it got me to thinking, what makes taste evolve? Was there anything I didn't like as a kid as I do now? The answer is a definite yes. This thought process inspired the recipe we have now.

I was never a fan of licorice growing up, I mean, the plant that’s used to make licorice is the same plant used to flavor NyQuil.  How’s that for negative reinforcement? Funnily as an adult though, I love all things fennel. It’s not botanically related to the plant used to make licorice but some investigation has led me to learn that the two have many overlapping flavoring compounds. I wanted to create something that paid homage to my changing taste and more importantly, highlight the fact that we should never rule an ingredient or food out simply because of a decision we made in a different life stage. As with second chance relationships, perhaps, the timing just wasn't right before. I choose to believe that my nephew will be able to adjust to eat at the same table with a cauliflower loving girl one day, I choose to give him a fighting chance, and this recipe is my proof.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4):

·         32 ounce fillet of beef
·         4 cloves garlic
·         1 sprig rosemary
·         1 bay leaf
·         250 ml chicken stock
·         Sea salt and pepper to taste
·         2 tbsp olive oil

·         400 g bakery fresh corn bread
·         150 g butter
·         500 g heavy cream
·         1 ½ tsp sea salt

·         1 bulb fennel (fronds reserved)
·         100 g water
·         30 g butter
·         10 g sugar
·         6 g sea salt

·         1 seedless orange
·         150 g orange juice
·         3 g citric acid
·         Pinch of sea salt

·         3 large egg yolks
·         Splash of lemon juice
·         Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
·         ¾ cup olive oil
·         ½ handful chopped tarragon

      TO SERVE
·         Few fennel fronds

-          Season the steaks well with salt and pepper.
-          In a hot pan add the olive oil and add the rosemary and garlic.
-          When the steak is seared, after about 3 minutes, remove excess oil and add ¼ of the stock to the pan.
-          Roll the steaks in the stock and slowly add the rest of the stock as it evaporates to braise the fillet.
-          Remove the pan from the heat after about six minutes and allow the steaks to rest.
-          For the cornbread purée, heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan and combine with the cornbread in a food processor or blender.
-          Purée until very smooth, adding salt and passing through a chinois at the end.
-          For the caramelized fennel simply cut the fennel bulb length ways into 8 even slices.
-          Bring all ingredients to a boil in a shallow pan and cook till all the water has evaporated and the butter and sugar have formed a shiny glaze.
-          Remove from the heat, season with the salt and dry on paper towels.
-          To prepare the orange sauce simply peel and puree the orange and combine with the juice and citric acid and set aside .
-          Finally prepare the tarragon hollandaise sauce by beating the egg yolks with a squeeze of lemon juice and salt and pepper over a bain-marie beating vigorously until the mixture thickens.
-          Add the olive oil slowly to the egg mixture, whisking until all the oil is incorporated and the sauce is a thick consistency.
-          Season with salt and pepper and lemon juice to taste, adding a little warm water to give a pouring consistency.
-          Add the tarragon to the hollandaise and mix through.
-          To serve, spoon a little hollandaise on the plate at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions.
-          Spoon a quenelle of the cornbread purée in the center of the plate.
-          Horizontally slice the beef fillets and place ½ over the cornbread purée.
-          Place 2 caramelized fennel slices, one on each side of the plate.

-          Squeeze a little orange sauce in dots around the plate and place a fennel frond in each dot.


  1. I'm trying to convince my girlfriend to eat new things all the time, but she seems to be stuck with the same tastes she had when she was a kid. Any suggestions to help me to open her mind in terms of new flavours/tastes?

    1. Man I'm very surprised. You don't expect the French to not want to eat everything under the sun. .haha. Tell Chloé that the only way she is going to have that dinner party is if she commits to trying some new things. . . I bet she will agree