Menu Languedoc: Cannelloni de Chèvre au Pesto et Coulis de Tomate

After a ball-busting week over poultry I was eagerly looking forward to the Regional Menu Friday where we create a five-course meal, all lavish with paired wines, sit-down, unwind, gorge. I was especially looking forward to this menu as the Chef had allowed my recipe, my very own baby, onto the menu. How fun!

I never thought I was too much of a creative. I’ve had to blag my way through the hackneyed milk-rounds throughout university: “I’m a self-starting, attention-to-detailing, self-motivating, great-under-pressure-working creative individual”. My creativity during my analyst years was practised on colour schemes for buyers lists and font styles for pitch books. I’ve enjoyed dabbling in choreographing little dances on stage for my high school but fancy colourful costumes usually detracts simple prepubescent minds from simple dance routines. So when it came to dreaming up a recipe to feed a class of cuisine kids I surprised myself. They were obvious ingredients to stick together: goats cheese, red onions, roasted mediterranean vegetables, tomatoes, basil. I’d applied techniques learnt over the past few months: crumbling the goats cheese with the red onions, slicing the courgettes and aubergines really thinly and rolling it into a cannelloni of the same thickness, brunoise yellow peppers as a garnish. Wow! Shmii! Where’d that come from?? *Smugness*

Was it delicious? I can’t say I wasn’t super relieved when I found out it was. Imagine the embarrassment if it wasn’t?

Petits Pâtés de Pézenas

Petits Pâtés de Pézenas

Pretty bite-sized pastry filled with meat. Cuteness.

Cannelloni de Chèvre au Pesto et Coulis de Tomate

Pasta making

Who knew pasta-making was easily done? Just need a machine. And if I do get myself one, I can pretty much guarantee it’ll be collecting dust in some corner as store-bought is so convenient. It wouldn’t be as light and tasty as this though since we’d used eleven egg yolks for the dough (when usually it’s about two or three).

Pelardons and red onion compote ready to be rolled into layers of courgette, aubergine, pesto and pasta

Canneloni with pelardons, mediterranean vegetables, pesto and tomato coulis

Even if the recipe was my brainchild, I found myself lost at times during execution. Easy enough to blurt “Tomato coulis”, but how do I make it Chef? Do I crumble the cheese? Can I get rid of the rind? I was so scared to mess up that I had to ask the most banal questions. I was so scared of asking too many questions, lest I be deemed incompetent I fluked it on a lot of stuff. The seasoning of the coulis was a massive gamble which paid off very well. Just a little tang, a little sweetness, a little savoury. The plate was vibrant. This dish makes me want to go on holiday.

Encornets farcis, écume de Bouillabaisse

Stuffed squid with fish soup jelly

This was kinda grim. I hate jellified stuff (unless it’s sweet). Fish soup on its own is pretty gross. I have a feeling fish is only ever blended into a soup if it’s on the verge of putrefying. In this case it was. And then jellified with agar agar. Gross.

The stuffed squid was its saving grace. Not a star on its own either but definitely the only palatable thing on the plate for my common taste buds.

Cassoulet

Cassoulet and confit de canard

Sausages, bacon, confit de canard, broad beans. Traditionally a heavy and hearty dish, but this was Chef’s modern representation. It looks deceptively lighter on the plate than it is. The duck leg was marinated in salt overnight. When cooked it had a crisp skin and the meat tender.

Crème brûlée, Nougat Glacé aux Fruits Secs, Sorbet au Muscat

Lots of dessert

I love sorbets. After heavy butter laden food, sorbet is the perfect elevating elixir. With alcohol, it’s even better.
I wasn’t expecting to love the nougat. Egg whites and dried fruit generally don’t excite me but this was surprisingly non-eggy, ice-creamish, and nice.
And a very good crème brûlée too.

Cannelloni de Chèvre au Pesto et Coulis de Tomate

Cannelloni dough
250g flour
11 egg yolks
Small dash of water
1. In an electric mixer, combine the flour and egg yolks with a dough hook over medium speed. Add water if dough seems too dry. Roll into a fat sausage shape, cut in two and reserve in fridge for an hour.
2. When the vegetables are prepared and roasted, onions caramelised, goats cheese prepared and tomato coulis is on the go, flatten the dough balls into rectangles and roll out to 2mm thickness gradually using a pasta rolling machine. Dust with flour.
3. Cut into rectangles of 15cm x 8cm. Cook in salted boiling water, 5 slices at a time, for 4 minutes. Plunge in ice water once cooked to stop further over cooking, pat dry and reserve flat (do not stack or they’ll stick). The pasta is now ready to be rolled with the rest.

Coulis de Tomate
2 shallots, emincer
1 onion, emincer
10 tomatoes, quartered
Thyme
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
Half cup tomato paste
Dash of olive oil
Salt, pepper, sugar
1. Sautee the onions and shallots in a little olive oil in a big saucepan. Add in the tomatoes, paste and thyme. Cook for 25 minutes.
2. Add a little chicken stock if too thick. Pass through a sieve. Bring back to the boil and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and sugar (don’t be shy with the sugar if the coulis is a bit too tart). Reserve warm.

Cannelloni farce
6 goats cheese portions, rind off, cubed or crumbled
2 red onions, finely sliced, caramelised and then chopped finely
20g pesto
Salt and pepper
1. Marinate the goats cheese with the red onion compote, salt, pepper, and pesto. Reserve.

Cannelloni lining
2 aubergines, sliced thinly
4 courgettes, sliced thinly
200g sundried tomatoes, chopped
100g pesto
Olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Thyme
Salt
1. Brush the roasting pans with olive oil. Place the sliced aubergines on the pans and brush each slice with olive oil. Season with salt, thyme and chopped garlic. Roast at 180C for 3-4 minutes. Reserve covered.
2. Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Roast slices of courgette seasoned with salt, garlic and thyme for a few minutes. Reserve covered.

Finition
Parmesan shavings
Cherry tomatoes on the vine, roasted lightly for 5 minutes in the oven
Pesto
1 yellow pepper, brunoise, sauteed lightly in olive oil
1. Layer the courgette and aubergine slices over a slice of canneloni. Brush with pesto.
2. Place the goats cheese / red onion mix and sundried tomatoes on one end of the cross-section of the sliced vegetables as in the photo above. Roll up.
3. Bake for 3-4 minutes in the oven at 160C. Trim off the ends if a bit dry. Ladle over coulis, sprinkle parmesan shavings and yellow pepper brunoise, serve with roasted tomato on the side and pesto.

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