Cooking inspiration from MasterChef

MasterChef presenters Gregg Wallace and John Torode.
MasterChef presenters Gregg Wallace and John Torode.
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Blogger Trish Burgess writes for the Free Press

Did you watch the latest series of MasterChef? I was a keen follower and delighted when Ping came away as the winner, clinching the title with her Malaysian dishes. I liked Ping: such a warm personality and so organised, ticking off jobs on her To Do list as she went along.

Although I am mesmerised by the skills needed to create fine cuisine I rarely try them out. The evening after the final, however, I served up a plate of mince, diced carrots and a pile of mashed potatoes, announcing proudly to the boys, “This is deconstructed shepherd’s pie. Enjoy!” Not sure if they appreciated the joke but they ate it all up nonetheless.

I do love all these new-fangled cookery terms and methods. A foam is very fashionable, created by traditional whisking but even more nouvelle is an air which is made in a soda syphon. Quenelles are the in thing too: an awful lot of dexterity with spoons required to shape anything from potatoes to ice cream into a rugby ball. They need to invent quenelle scoops. I remember at school mashed potato was always doled out using a round scoop. Has anyone thought to just redesign this gadget?

Another strange machine the chefs are all starting to use is a cross between a steam press and a laminator: a sous vide. Not sure I’ve room for it on my kitchen bench, although I could move the Breville sandwich toaster and the George Formby (sorry, Foreman) grill which are gathering dust.

Sometimes the cleverness is all in the description. A humble dish can be transformed with some magical words. For instance, ‘Trish is serving a stack of vanilla ice cream with a column of chocolate strands, a tuile and a strawberry jus.’ Sounds posh. Not really, it’s just a 99 from the ice cream van.

Tough job being John Torode and Greg Wallace. I’d quite like to wander round the kitchen, ask pertinent questions “So, what are you cooking for us today?” then taste everything at the end, albeit when the food is no doubt cold and congealed.

I met John Torode a few years ago. He was staying with his family in a holiday resort in the Algarve. On our first day in the hotel, I excitedly told Dougie that I could see him across the other side of the pool. Dougie didn’t believe me, probably because five minutes earlier I had been convinced that James Corden had belly-flopped into the deep end. But it certainly was the MasterChef presenter and, you’ll be pleased to know, I didn’t embarrass myself by asking for photos or autographs. Instead I behaved as if I holidayed with celebrities all the time, then watched him surreptitiously over the top of my book.

One evening, the Torode family sat at the next table to us in the restaurant. When it came to ordering I asked the waitress to just bring me what John was having. Could I just check, does it come with chips?

n You can follow Trish on 
Twitter @mumsgoneto or visit her blog www.mums