Gastronomixs

Comté, pear jelly, roasted endive, fried walnuts, plum, and celery

This month's guest chef is Martin Benn, who was born in England in 1974. He started his career in London, where he learned the classic cooking techniques of French cuisine. After several years he moved to Australia, where he discovered the Japanese style of cooking. At the age of 25 he became a head chef, which allowed him to develop his own particular culinary style.

In 2009, Martin opened his restaurant ‘Sepia’ in Sydney. This was a joint venture with George Costi, the owner of the seafood wholesaler Claudio's Seafoods. Martin opened this restaurant with sustainability as the central goal. He has combined this with top-quality products and light cooking techniques. French techniques meet Japanese influences in this refined cuisine, with fish as the central ingredient on the menu.

Creation by Martin Benn, Sepia restaurant, Sydney, Australia.

Comté, pear jelly, roasted endive, fried walnuts, plum, and celery

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Ingredients

600

g

pear juice from Corella and nashi pears

½

tsp

ascorbic acid

300

g

sugar syrup, 2:1 (1000ml water, 500g sugar)

105

g

Poire Williams

5.5

leaves

gelatin, gold strength

5.5

g

agar agar

300

g

pear juice from Corella and nashi pears

½

tsp

ascorbic acid

375

g

Corella pears (skinned and diced in ascorbic acid or lemon juice)

113

g

butter, diced

2.5

g

malic acid

25

g

fructose

 

 

salt

1

g

xanthan gum

75

g

sheep’s milk yoghurt, drained

500

g

caramelised endives (from above)

500

g

sugar syrup (20% sugar)

 

 

sea salt to taste

2

g

xanthan gum

10

g

freeze-dried plum powder

5

g

macha tea powder

200

g

grated Comté

10

g

aonori

20

g

baby celery cress

200

g

milk

200

g

cream

25

g

kuzu starch

200

g

Comté, grated

1

 

salt

600

g

chicory (Belgian endive)

100

g

butter

5

g

salt

5

g

sugar

2

g

ground white pepper

100

g

butter

250

g

flour

137

g

water, 37°C

2

g

yeast

25

g

honey

15

g

olive oil

5

g

malt powder

5

g

cocoa powder

40

 

walnut halves

1600

ml

sugar syrup, 1:1 (1000ml water, 500g sugar)

 

 

salt

Preparation method: caramelised chicory shell
  • Cut the endives in half and place into a vacuum bag.
  • Add the butter, salt, sugar, and pepper and pull vacuum.
  • Cook on steam at 85°C for 45 minutes until soft.
  • Once the endive is cooked, strain off the liquid and discard.
  • Heat a fry pan and add the butter, then roast the cooked endive until golden brown.
  • Set aside until required.
Preparation method: chicory shell
  • Place the endive into a thermo blender and blend on full to break down.
  • Add in the sugar syrup, salt, and xanthan and blend on full for 1 minute.
  • Strain the entire liquid through a filter bag to remove all the fibres.
  • Place 30ml of the mix into a water balloon and blow up into the shape of a pear.
  • Roll the balloon in liquid nitrogen to freeze the chicory puree to the inside of the balloon evenly, then place in the freezer and allow the chicory to return to the temperature of -18°C.
  • Repeat seven more times to give you eight balloons in total.
  • Remove the plastic balloon from the outside of the chicory shelland then heat an apple corer with a blow torch and cut a hole from the bottom of the chicory shell.
  • Repeat with the remaining balloons.
  • Dust each shell with plum powder using a pastry brush to give a blush effect.
  • Place back into the freezer.
  • Dilute the matcha tea with hot water and allow to infuse, then strain through a filter.
  • Fill an air compressor gun with the matcha and then spray each of the chicory shells.
  • Place back into the freeze to hold until required.
Preparation method: fried walnuts
  • Divide the sugar syrup into four batches.
  • Add the walnuts to the first batch of sugar syrup and bring to the boil.
  • Turn off the heat and allow the walnuts to completely cool in the syrup.
  • Once cold, remove the walnuts from the sugar syrup and place into a clean pot with the second batch of sugar syrup.
  • Bring to the boil, and then turn off the heat and allow the syrup to cool completely.
  • Repeat the process until you have boiled the walnuts four times and used all the syrup.
  • Once the fourth boil is completed, allow the walnuts to cool.
  • Remove the walnuts from the syrup and place on a wire rack and allow to dry at room temperature for 4 hours.
  • Heat vegetable oil to 190°C.
  • Add the walnuts and fry lightly until golden and crisp.
  • Remove the walnuts and place on a paper towel to drain and season with salt.
  • Store in a warm place until required.
Preparation method: pear jelly
  • Mix the first batch of pear juice and ascorbic acid together.
  • Bring the syrup to the boil with the Poire Williams and then whisk through the agar and bring to the boil again.
  • Soak the gelatin in ice water until softened and then stir through the syrup until dissolved.
  • Mix the syrup with the pear juice and pour into a container to set.
  • Mix the second amount of pear juice and ascorbic acid together.
  • Once set, remove the jelly and cut into 1cm cubes, and then store in pear juice and ascorbic acid until required.
Preparation method: sheep’s yoghurt sorbet
  • Drain the pear from the ascorbic acid water and place into a vacuum bag.
  • Add the butter, malic acid, and fructose to the bag and add a little salt.
  • Pull vacuum.
  • Place the vacuumed pears into the oven at 95°C steam for 45 minutes or until the pears are very tender.
  • Remove and allow to cool in the bag.
  • Drain off the butter and reserve it, and place the cooked pears in a Vita-Prep blender.
  • Whisk the drained butter to emulsify and then add 50g of it to the pears.
  • Blend the pears on full, adding in the xanthan gum to help bind the pears.
  • Pour the puree into a clean bowl and whisk through the sheep’s yoghurt.
  • Store in a refrigerator until required. 
Preparation method: Comté mousse
  • Pour the milk into a bowl and dilute the kuzu starch.
  • Mix together the kuzu starch milk and cream in a heavy pan and bring to the boil.
  • Cook the kuzu cream mixture until it thickens and then add in the grated cheese.
  • Whisk until the cheese is completely melted.
  • Season well with sea salt.
  • Pour the mixture into a siphon and charge it twice. Store it at 50°C.
Preparation method: grissini stems
  • Sieve the flour into a bowl.
  • Add the yeast to the warm water and dissolve.
  • Mix the water into the flour along with the honey and oil.
  • Knead together to form a dough.
  • Allow to prove for 1 hour in a warm place, then knock back the dough.
  • Mix the malt and cocoa powder in a bowl.
  • Roll out the grissini dough into stem shapes. dusting with the malt mixture.
  • Bake at 160°C for 10-12 minutes.
  • Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.
Finishing & presentation
  • Spoon the yoghurt and pear cream onto the centre of the plate.
  • Drain the pear jellies and place onto the yoghurt cream.
  • Add a few of the fried walnuts to the plate.
  • Next, cover the nuts and pear with grated Comté cheese and dust with the aonori powder.
  • Remove the chicory shells from the freezer and fill with the warm Comté mousse through the hole in the bottom.
  • Place the chicory shell onto the Comte and press down slightly so that it sits in place.
  • Heat a metal skewer so that it is very hot, and use it to pierce the top part of the chicory shell.
  • Place one of the grissini stems into the hole so that it sticks out of the top of the shell.
  • Add the celery cress around the shell.
  • Repeat with the remaining shells and serve immediately.

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