RAYMOND BLANC AT JOHN LEWIS
When a renowned French chef offers to cook delicious seasonal recipes for you, how can you say no? We invited Michelin-starred pro Raymond Blanc to our flagship store to show us the best of the season’s ingredients in association with Kenwood, and he didn’t disappoint.
The importance of eggs
With autumn in full swing, Raymond chose to showcase some of the season’s best ingredients. His first recipe was a cheese and pumpkin tart, singing with seasonal flavours and bursts of bright orange reminiscent of the fallen leaves. But before any cooking, Raymond imparted some words of wisdom about eggs.
‘It’s important to get to know your eggs,’ he said. ‘The numbers printed on eggs tell you everything you need to know about them. For example, one means they’re from free range chickens, and zero means they’re organic. If an egg doesn’t have a number on it, don’t use it.’
Eggs, it turns out, can make or break a recipe. Things like size and freshness all impact on the end result, so it pays to use the best eggs when cooking.
It’s all in the seasons
In a world where all kinds of foods are grown at all times of the year, seasonality has slipped down the priority list. Head to your local supermarket and you’ll be able to pick up out-of-season produce whenever you like, but there’s a downside to this apparent convenience.
‘Seasonal food is cheaper because when something is grown in season, it requires less work,’ said Raymond. ‘On top of that, it also tastes better, because it’s grown at the time of year when nature intended it to be grown.’
Alongside seasonality, Raymond has a passion for provenance – particularly food that’s produced locally.
‘You don’t have to buy food from thousands of miles away,’ Raymond told our in-store audience. ‘Doing that means causing high levels of pollution, which you ultimately end up trying to clean up. If you buy locally, you don’t have to worry about damaging the environment, and you know exactly where your ingredients have come from.’
Tips for the perfect soufflé
‘I decided to cook some complicated recipes to show you some techniques you can use at home,’ said Raymond – and few are more daunting than soufflé.
His first tip when making soufflé was to coat the mould with melted butter to make sure it doesn’t stick and to help it rise. And when it comes to vanilla essence, ‘never use shop bought,’ he said. ‘Make your own by taking a whole vanilla pod and blitzing it with sugar syrup to create a puree with beautiful flavour.’
When adding the flavour to your soufflé base – which, in this case, was orange and a generous glug of Grand Marnier – fold rather than mix. That way, your light-as-air soufflé mix will remain just that.
After a brief trip to the oven, three perfectly risen soufflés emerged, filling the shop with gorgeously sweet smells.
The best tools for the job
Raymond used the Kenwood Chef Titanium stand mixer during his cooking demo, a mixer with high power and low noise levels.
‘I’ve worked with Kenwood appliances for a long time,’ he said. ‘Ever since I was a young chef with my first restaurant opening in 1977, I’ve tried and tested Kenwood in my own kitchens. They’re such high quality machines that I go back to them time and time again.’
For results like Raymond’s, you can buy a whole range of Kenwood appliances, including the mixer he used, online and in our shops.