Thursday, 28 June 2012

Goat Cheese & Pear Tempura with Reduced Balsamic: Starter

Having created two mains and a dessert for the Capricorn challenge, it was time to consider a starter. I've always loved tempura, and have coveted deep-fried camembert which is not suitable for vegetarians. Also wanted to work out how to make the famous 'balsamic reduction' so beloved of modern chefs as a drizzle. So I've created my versions of all three of these for this recipe, and of the seven ingredients (excluding frying oil), four came from Ethel the Goat's very lovely hamper.

It does need constant attention for the (approximate) 25 minutes needed from start to serving. The tempura should be served as soon as it's ready. Or, if this has to be fried in two batches, the first when ready should be kept hot in the oven, and the balsamic should be drizzled over at the last moment. These quantities serve two. The recipe uses cider, but you could use sparkling water or lager. I garnished with land cress leaves from the garden, and walnuts (I'd have toasted the walnuts but forgot until it was too late).

Goat Cheese & Pear Tempura with Reduced Balsamic
50ml dark balsamic vinegar
1 tsp soft dark brown sugar
1 Capricorn goat cheese, cut into 8 wedges
1 firm pear, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 slices
3 tbsp plain flour
2 tsp cornflour
Half a lightly beaten egg
30ml cider
Oil (vegetable type), enough to cover the tempura.

1  For the 'reduction', bring the vinegar and sugar to the boil in a very small pan, and 
          simmer gently for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.
2  Prepare the goat cheese and the pear as above.  
3  For the batter, place the flour, cornflour and egg in a bowl and use a whisk to blend 
4  Add the cider and whisk briefly again - don't worry if there is still the odd lump of flour.
5  Heat the oil to very hot. Test that it's ready by dripping in a drop of batter; it should
          sizzle and rise straight to the top.
6  Coat the cheese and pear wedges individually in the batter and place in the hot oil.
          Fry for 4-5 minutes until each piece is browned, stirring from time to time with a
          heatproof slotted spoon to keep them separate.
7  When the tempura is nearly ready, heat the balsamic gently so that it's ready to pour.
8  Serve the tempura on a hot plate, drizzle with the balsamic and serve toute suite!

Have to say, this was scrumptious. The reduction worked well, the pears retained their flavour, and the cheese was quietly starting to ooze out from the batter as it was served. This dish could arguably be garnished as a dessert, say with my salted caramel drizzle instead of balsamic and with a couple of small fresh fruits on the side. Still, I liked it as a starter, not least because it needs attention and diners would have to talk among themselves for a while if the tempura were to be their dessert.

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