We asked culinary queen Alla Wolf-Tasker about the current foodie scene – and of course, convinced her to share her most delicious (and utterly tempting) dessert recipe.
Are shared plates still a thing?
I’ve heard it said that we’re moving on from shared plates and banquets – as though this style of eating is a temporary a fad. And if you aren’t moving on, well you’re very quickly going to be more passé than a lace doily. Yes there may be the ‘adopt and then move on’ practitioners out there, but shared banquets will always be in demand.
What’s the best way to do shared food?
Witness the success of our beautiful new Waterfront pavilion with its seasonal banquet menus. For many occasions this is simply the best way to eat. Just be sensible about the way you do things. Four items on a plate won’t work if you have six wanting to share. If you avoid those sorts of pitfalls you’ll have a happy crowd of party-goers, chatting as platters and bowls are passed around. It’s a great way to break the ice. Sharing a banquet is one of my favourite ways of eating. Besides, 1.4 billion Chinese people can’t be wrong.
Any more tips?
Always adjust the size of any recipes to suit your number of guests and the position in the meal where the dish is likely to be served.
Floating Islands with Caramel & Apple
This is one of our most popular banquet desserts especially in late summer and early autumn when our local trees are laden with apples. Cox’s Orange Pippin apples are always my choice for cooking.
Share between 4
125g egg whites
200g castor sugar
Milk for poaching (about 500ml)
1. Put the milk in a suitably sized pan and bring to the boil
2. Meanwhile, whip the egg whites to 90% firmness and start adding the sugar
3. Continue to whisk to 100% firmness
4. Turn the milk down to a shimmer (approx. 70°C)
5. Quenelle (make into an oval shape) the meringue using two dessert spoons and place in the milk
6. Poach the meringue for 2 minutes on each side before draining and chilling
(Makes considerably more than you will need, but they’re delicious!)
25g ground almonds
1. Heat a pan over high heat
2. Sprinkle sugar in the bottom of a pan to make a dry caramel; keep adding sugar until it’s all caramel
3. Pour the caramel onto a tray lined with greaseproof paper and allow to set
4. In a processor, blend broken pieces of the caramel with the ground almonds to a powder
5. To finish the shards, sieve the caramel powder onto a silpat mat and bake at 180°C so the caramel re-melts. Allow to set and break into pieces when set and cooled
6. Store shards in a well-sealed container
Additional butter for greasing tray
1. Preheat oven to 180°C
2. Butter a lipped oven tray
3. Peel and quarter the apples and then remove the cores
4. Place the apples (3 quarters per person) onto the buttered tray
5. Place the sugar and enough water to form a ‘wet sand’ into a heavy saucepan and cook over a high heat to achieve a dark caramel
6. Whisk in the butter and then pour the caramel over the apples
7. Cover the tray with tin foil and bake at 180°C for 25 minutes
3 granny smith apples
100g castor sugar
5g citric acid
1. Make a simple syrup – by bringing the sugar and water to the boil and adding the citric acid
2. Thinly slice the apples on a mandolin
3. Soak the apples in the stock syrup
4. Drain the slices and place them onto a silpat mat
5. Dry out over night at 65°C until crisp
6. Store in a well-sealed container
Vanilla sauce anglaise
½ vanilla bean
3 medium egg yolks
1. Put the milk, cream and vanilla into a suitable pan and bring to the boil
2. Whisk the sugar and eggs
3. Pour the hot milk onto the eggs and whisk together
4. Return to a clean pan and cook to 78°C
5. Cool over ice
Select a beautiful dish/platter suitable for serving to share. Place the number of floating islands in as desired. ‘Float’ with the vanilla sauce and decorate with quartered apples, caramel shards and chips.