Annual Starfish Greathearts Foundation Charity Dinner

Rather late than never, I’ve decided to post some pics of the dishes from this year’s Starfish charity dinner that Tiron Eloff and I created.

Every year we donate our services and a multi-course dinner gets auctioned at a gala event.

This year we planned a rather special menu with our wonderful hosts loosely based on a “classics-with-a-twist” theme.

After the guests had some oysters and champagne in the foyer, we started the dinner off with a Beet Tartare

Beet Tartare

and followed up with a Heston classic Chicken Consommé poured at the table of a jasmine flower.

Chicken Consomme

The salad course was a Duck and Smoked Cherry salad with Mano purèe.

Duck and Smoked Cherry Salad with Mango Puree

A quick palate cleanser of Champagne Sorbet preceded the main events.

Champagne Sorbet

These were a fillet of Sea Bass on Jet-black purèe (made with lentils and squid ink) with seared endive.

Sea Bass with Jet-black Puree

This was followed by the most decadent Beef Wellington ever, made with prosciutto and foie gras (Get the recipe here) and plated with some inspiration from Dexter .

Beef Wellington

The composed cheese plate consisted of whipped ricotta, aged Gouda, Saint André, gorgonzola, grilled nectarines, fresh figs, baguette crisps and candied walnuts.

Composed Cheese Plate

The lovely, sweet end to the night consisted of a silky-smooth Crème Brûlée (cooked sous-vide at 80C for an hour).

Creme Brulee

It was a marvellous evening and we can’t wait to do it all over again.

Salmon Mi Cuit

Talk about a pressure test! I invited the series director and head of content of MasterChef SA for dinner last night.

After bubbles on the deck (thanks guys), we settled down to a four-course dinner skipping helter-skelter over that rustic/refined line.

The prize for the most photogenic dish of the evening goes to (drum roll please)… Salmon Mi Cuit. This consisted of a piece of half cooked (that’s what mi cuit means) salmon, a ginger and ponzu fluid gel, radishes pickled in rice vinegar, wasabi aioli and salmon roe. The dish is inspired by sashimi and salmon roses.

Salmon Mi Cuit

I unabashedly adore ChefSteps. I’ve made their 104F Salmon dish a few times, but this time decided to make it my own. I followed the technique for Salmon Mi Cuit (, which renders the most delicious and succulent salmon imaginable, and dressed it with a few garnishes to invoke that sushi vibe.

What on earth is a fluid gel?

I recently saw a HarvardX lecture on iTunesU in which Dave Arnold – a total rock star by the way – makes and explains a fluid gel. He explains: “Fluid gels have the properties of both a fluid and a gel. Agar fluid gels can look like hair gel on the plate but feel like a smooth, creamy sauce in the mouth.”

I decided to put this to the test. I whizzed up some sushi ginger, fresh ginger, ponzu sauce and about 0.8% agar-agar. Heated it to the boil and filtered it through an Aeropress. (Couldn’t find my muslin, works a treat.) I let the gel cool and set, and then blended it. Voila! Fluid gel. The soy in the ponzu with the particular texture of a fluid gel gives it that lovely silkiness and deep flavour of a good jus.

To complete the sushi effect I made a wasabi aioli and added some salmon roe. I loved the idea of making a modernist dish and having real ‘caviar’ on the plate instead of something spherified.

Equipment required:
Sous Vide circulator or bath or thermometer
Immersion blender

Difficulty: moderate

Salmon Mi Cuit close up

Some handy products for this dish


AeroPress Coffee Maker

Finding good coffee when travelling is an expensive and sometimes impossible task. The Aeropress is a wonderful travelling companion. I also found it great at straining liquids quickly and effectively.






Benedict with No-whisk (sous vide) Hollandaise

A Hollandaise can be quite a temperamental sauce, as some of you might have seen on MasterChef SA last night when I had to whisk and emulsify to save my skin. The flurry of activity on the screen was also testament to the fact that it is quite labour intensive.

It is very easy to overcook the eggs and split the sauce, or turn it into oily scrambled eggs. You could throw money at the problem and buy a Kenwood Titanium Cooking Chef which stirs and heats at the same time, and I must admit that this is as good an excuse as any to get it, or you could go the trusty sous vide route.

I recently, when I didn’t have the inclination to whisk, made breakfast for 9 people and served them Eggs Benedict with a slow poached sous vide egg, either smoked trout or prosciutto crudo and the lightest fluffiest sous vide hollandaise on top.

Eggs Benedict

Here’s how to make the sauce:


Recipe adapted from Modernist Cuisine at Home.