in my kitchen | flamming french failure

I had been looking forward to the Jacksons coming over for dinner at our new place for weeks! I spent a good portion of what should have been working hours thinking about what I’d make; tossing up back and forth between Italian and French (my two favourite cuisines). I decided on French because Jay bought me a crème brûlée set for Christmas (a cool kitchen blow torch and four Gordon Ramsey dishes) and I hadn’t ever attempted making one myself (although I eat it at any restaurant I visit!). I should have gone with Italian.

The Menu

Entree: Cauliflower soup with crispy bacon, porcini mushrooms & bread crumbs
Main: chicken braised with white wine, cream & thyme served with green beans and roast herbed potatoes
Dessert:  crème brûlée with icecream

Monday was a public holiday, so I got up early and while watching the ANZAC remembrance on TV, I started making the crème brûlée. I made 6 in total (2 for testing) and they were progressing perfectly (cream custard mix was divine and the cooking and cooling went well) and the test brûlées tasted amazing! It was only when dinner came around and the blow torch broke down and I had to cook them under the grill that it all fell apart. I burnt them, then scraped off the burnt top, re-chilled them and grilled the them again but the custard had warmed too much and although they tasted nice, they became a warm custard pudding with toffee tops…..

Crème Brûlée – recipe by Donna Hay

  • 1 ltr single pouring cream
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 vanilla bean, sliced length ways and seeds scraped
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • extra caster sugar for the top (2 tsp per brûlée)
crème brûlée - ready to set
crème brûlée ready for torching
the disastrous crème brûlée

I love warm soup on a cold day. Its rained every year on memory over Easter and this year was the same. Actually, it’s still raining now!

I didn’t follow a recipe for this Cauliflower soup, but here are the ingredients:

Cauliflower Soup with crispy bacon, croutons & porcini

  • 1 head of cauliflower, stems removed & cut into florets
  • 1 large brown onion, diced
  • 1 litre of chicken stock
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup single pouring cream
  • 1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms; rehydrated
  • 4 slices lean bacon, diced
  • 2 slices bread (sour dough preferred), finely diced or blitzed in the food processor
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • salt & pepper

*tip: you’ll require a big saucepan for this

Cook onion over medium heat til translucent (careful not to brown), add in garlic and cook for a 30 seconds (or until fragrant). Add the cauliflower, stock and water and simmer for 20 mins (or until cauliflower is tender).

Meanwhile, over medium heat fry off bacon for a few minutes then add in bread and porcini and fry til crispy (about 3-5 mins). Take off heat and put to the side til ready for serving.

Pour soup into a blender or use a handheld blender with a heat attachment to blitz directly in the pot. Add in cream, season to taste. Serve in a bowl garnished with bacon mixture!

cauliflower soup with crispy bacon, croutons & porcini bits

This soup was tasty and turned out well, unlike my main & dessert….

Chicken braised with white wine, cream & thyme served with green beans and roast herbed potatoes

Chicken recipe from Delicious Magazine

  • 4 large chicken marylands, bone attached, trimmed of excess fat & skin
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 carrots, cut into 4cm lengths, quartered
  • 8 eschalots, halved
  • 1/2 small bunch thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled & crushed
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup pure thin cream
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp plain flour
  • 10g unsalted butter, softened


  • 12 baby chat potatoes, par-boiled
  • mixed herbs
  • 2tbs olive oil
  • 500g green beans

For the chicken; place in large deep frypan over medium heat. Add olive oil and fry chicken skin-side down til golden brown (3-4 mins). Turn over and continue for 2 mins. Remove and stand on paper towel to soak up excess oil. Carefully pour off fat from pan, clean with paper towel. Return chicken to the pan with carrot, eschalot, thyme, garlic and wine. Place over high heat and bring to the boil, then reduce to low heat, cover and braise for 30 mins. This can also be cooked in a 180°C oven. After 30 mins, add cream, cayenne pepper and season with salt & pepper. Continue to cook for 15-20 mins until chicken is succulent and falling off the bone. Remove chicken & veggies with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Bring the sauce to a simmer.
Combine flour & butter in a small bowl to form a paste (called a rue) then whisk into sauce. Simmer for 1-2 mins to cook out the flour taste. Serve over chicken & veggies.

This would have all worked out well if I didn’t add in a purple carrot….I just wasn’t thinking!

looks good now...the purple bastard carrots haven't ruined me yet!

For the roast potatoes and green beans, take the par-boiled potatoes and crush with your thumb*, toss in a bowl with olive oil and mixed herbs. Bake in a 200° oven for 20-30 mins til crispy & golden. (*you smash with your thumb to create more edges for crispiness. A Jamie Oliver tip!)

5 mins before serving, add green beans to salted boiling water for 2 minutes.

the disappointment! the chicken is purple!

So as you can see, purple chicken and warm custard = disaster!  At least Ian and Janine didn’t seem overly phased. After they left Jay gave me a big cuddle and reassured me it all tasted nice. It just didn’t look that good!

I knew I should have gone with Italian….but at least the wine was good!


5 thoughts on “in my kitchen | flamming french failure

  1. Melly, don’t beat yourself over what you may feel was a disaster, I’m sure it tasted just perfectly. You cooked with love and I’m sure that came thru in the dish. xox

  2. I can’t stop laughing at “purple bastard carrots”! Well, everything looked good save for the effect said carrots had on the chicken. I couldn’t help but think of the blue soup from Bridget Jones’ Diary. Rest assured, we’ve all been in your shoes. I once ruined a French veggie dish with too much wine and red bastard cabbage, which turned all the other vegetables…purple.

  3. I thought of the blue soup too. Jay should have whipped you up some omelettes. My sister did the same with dahl. If there’s a lesson to be learned: a purple carrot is the culinary equivalent of a pink sock in the wash.

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