Episode 2 on Britain’s Best Home Cook proved to be something of a particular challenge for me, with a few elements in my earlier dishes being not quite right: schoolboy errors mainly! But that was part of the entire delicious learning experience.
My not-quite-there fish dish and a distinctly over-salted soup proved to be something of an issue for me.
I was pleased that my brown butter and shrimp hollandaise worked well, but how embarrassing to slightly under-cook the potatoes! And the salmon split the judges, with Mary and Chris feeling it was slightly under, whereas Dan felt it was just as he likes it. But I quite like that difference of opinion.
For the soup I had that daft spur-of-the-moment thought just as time is about to be called: “I know, why don’t I just chuck in a few more crisp pancetta pieces”……only to immediately realise that I had already put some pancetta in there……too late to fish out the excess!
But in that episode were some exciting triumphs among my fellow cooks: Tobi’s butternut squash tarte tatin will live long in my memory. And the recipe for it can be found in the accompanying book of Britain’s Best Home Cook.
The elimination round
Being put into the elimination round challenge to make a strawberry and almond meringue roulade was exactly what was deserved in my case.
I was actually looking forward to it: a clean slate and an opportunity to prove to Mary, Chris and Dan (and not least to myself) that I can bounce back.
And that is what I loved about the elimination round: regardless of what has gone on before, it was a chance to redeem yourself by following a detailed recipe, while incorporating a good sprinkling of intuition.
The meringue roulade
I must confess that I had not made a meringue roulade in well over a decade, and despite this being the opportunity to cook for my place in the competition, it was nonetheless a joy to get to make one of Mary’s recipes.
And what a classic dessert this is: I do have a fondness for somewhat retro food so for me, this added to the excitement of making it.
Now 45 minutes meant no dilly-dallying (and I do have a habit of dilly-dallying!): not least the cooling of it – one of the critical parts of proceedings. But how I love a challenge! And the time went so quickly.
For those of you who tuned in to watch the episode, I got in quite a bit of wafting, desperate to cool the meringue down before putting on the cream. Actually, there was some serious wafting going on in the kitchens during that challenge!
Mary Berry – right there, standing by and watching me like a hawk! No pressure, then…
To have the queen of baking standing by me as I was turning out the baked meringue and then later when I was rolling it up (the critical bit) was more than nerve-wracking!
Yet there was a voice in my head saying “Philip, what a thrill to have THE Mary Berry standing right there….”.
And it was genuinely a great moment that I will cherish forever.
I must say that I loved every moment of that challenge. Seriously, cooking under pressure was really fun: tense, but fun.
While I was pleased that my roulade was fine, I was very sad that the wonderful Q left the competition: a very good cook indeed, and a true inspiration (her food knowledge was stunning), Q left a gap in the house and was sorely missed as we went into Week 3.
I made a roulade again the other night for a Eurovision party (well, why on earth not?): and did I make this one in 45 minutes? No way! This took me about an hour and a quarter – although to be fair, I was faffing about and doing other things at the same time!
The recipe for this fabulous roulade can be found on the BBC Food website: Strawberry and almond roulade
I am certainly going to be making more roulades as it went down a storm as a dessert the other day: and when the fruit on the allotment is ready to be picked, there is much scope for varying the filling.
Episode 3 of Britain’s Best Home Cook is on Thursday 17th May on BBC1 at 8pm, repeated again on Sunday afternoon.