I never thought I would be pissed off after having an afternoon to play around with making some chocolate dishes. I love chocolate! Turns out I love eating chocolate and that doing anything with chocolate (other than scoff it infront of the TV) without a cook book is a bitch.
Let me bring you to speed, on Tuesday I’ve got my first turn at a food club night. A pub, a bunch of foodies, everyone bring something along, sounds great, sounds fun. Apart from the bringing something a long bit. The theme for my first meeting is chocolate, and I need to take along a starter containing chocolate. It may not sound like such a chore to you, in which case fine Sherlock, what the hell are you going to make? Because some kind of cocoa-spice rubbed meat or something is just going to be a mini main course, not a starter. Most of my ideas have been rubbished by those I bounced them off, only for me to go and try out their ideas which I have now rubbished myself. I have ruled out a cocoa rubbed venison carpaccio due to financial restrictions and the unpredictable nature of how many people feel about raw meat. I’ve also thrown out the idea of a goats cheese and chocolate dip because well, that’s not really a started either it’s a nibble. Yes, I have considered that I am taking this entirely too seriously but it’s food, dammit!
After exhausting several lines of reearch I had a chat with the older male sibling and I found myself with some crab. Think about it- chocolate goes with sweet, hot, citrus or salty tones. A crab salad goes lovely with some ginger, fresh chilli and plenty of salt and/or citrus in the dressing. Surely something can work out here.
You’d think so anyway. On a crab salad base of white meat, fresh ginger, chilli jam and lime I made two chocolatey variants. One white, one dark. I didn’t use a lot, grated and applied more as a heavy seasoning than a full constituent ingredient. The white somehow managed to destroy every other flavour in there, including it’s own, it was a just a flavourless texture that was pleasing on a toast point but might as well have been a seafood stick. The dark came through far too strongly, despite only a small amount being in there and just didn’t work, it tasted confused and sickly. It was like a dessert being eaten off a soup spoon that hadn’t been washed up from dinner properly.
So, out with the crab, but let’s stick with the salt. Salted chocolate is very cool at the moment , still riding on the back of the salted caramel trend of recent years. Chocolate also goes with cheese so how about that. I thought about some kind of tart- salted chocolate, soft french cheese and maybe some kind of hot fruit chutney? Yeah, maybe. I hit the cheese aisle in Sainsbury’s this morning for inspiration. There was Camembert and brie, cheddar and Chester and I just didn’t feel it. Actually I’d rather just get a nice lump of halloumi for my lunch and forget this stupid challenge completely. Now, hang on a minute. Halloumi. Solid and pleasing in texture, goes well in salady type things, wonderfully salty. That might just do it. I have found a lot of people on the interweb who like to cover a cheese in chocolate then slice and serve simply with a big chunk of bread. I’ll bet none of these people have a healthy blood cholesterol level but hey, it’s a one off. Why not? After the general crab disaster I had a go at cutting up some halloumi sticks and got to work with bain marie. I tried it coated with dark, dark and chilli jam, dark and sea salt, white, white and lime, white and chilli jam. Slightly more pleasing results, apart from the dark and salt which was like chewing clotted sea water. I’m not sure I could tell the difference between the white and white and lime either. I was surprised to find the white varients generally more palatable, as the white oozes past the taste of the cheese in a creamy compliment, where the dark was a definite and separate taste. Not bad necessarily, but not easy to eat. Hmmmm.
So now, as I sit to document this astounding lack of culinary success I am awaiting the success of a cocoa based halloumi marinade which if successful may become involved in some kind of beetroot and cheese salad. I had wanted to avoid going with a cocoa dressing, it seemed like cheating somehow but I feel oddly worn out by it all at this stage and will just go with whatever. I’m not used to struggling to prepare a tasty dish, in this case I will happily settle with satisfactory. If nothing else comes up I’m thinking some kind of stack of tomato slices or beetroot with a wedge of halloumi with a very thin white chocolate outer layer and some kind of sticky dressing or sauce.
So let’s talk people, let us become friends through the power of blogging and the like. Talk to me. Ever made a successful chocolate savoury dish that wasn’t a mole or chilli? Ever really struggled with a prescribed food challenge? Come in, share your story and if you like, share your recipe.
And stay tuned for stories of the first food club meeting. If I don’t chicken out of going due to having a distinct lack of suitable offering.