Chef's tips

CHEF'S TIPS


TIPS FROM THE HEAD CHEF

BOOK A TABLE

HEAD CHEF - PATRICK BRANDAO


La Barbe in Reigate has been serving the Francophiles of Surrey for more than 35 years.

Our new head chef Patrick Brandao hails from Biarritz in South West France.

Having worked with celebrated chefs such as Alain Ducasse and Pierre Gagnaire at L’Ecole Hoteliere de Biarritz, he spent two years in Switzerland at acclaimed restaurant Auberge Aux 2 Sapins in Montricher.

Within 10 months of becoming pastry chef and then sous chef at new restaurant L’Impertinent in Biarritz, the establishment achieved their first Michelin Star. This was his last post before La Barbe.

He promises exquisite French flavour in the relaxed and welcoming setting of La Barbe.
My vision is to take the very best of traditional French cooking while also adding a modern twist.

“I BELIEVE IN USING THE FINEST INGREDIENTS POSSIBLE AND, IN ORDER TO DO THIS, IT’S VERY IMPORTANT TO WORK CLOSELY WITH OUR SUPPLIERS AND TO BE IN CONSTANT CONTACT WITH THEM.

“In addition, I like to try and source locally whenever possible – for example, our meat comes from Ye Village Butchers in Walton-on-the-Hill – and, as I get to know the area better, I am looking forward to sourcing more of our ingredients from around Surrey.”

OUR TIPS


We are always pleased to hear of any tips you may have, so please share them with us if you wish!
Adding flavours and storing them!
If you use fresh herbs on a regular basis, save the measuring cups from medicine bottles; they can be used to measure spices and herbs
  • To keep chopped herbs fresh, store them in a container that doesn’t let the light in and keep the container refrigerated.
  • When a recipe tells you to fry onions and garlic, always add the garlic last to prevent burning.
  • For garlic popcorn, just add a couple of peeled cloves to the popping oil.
  • Tomato paste doesn’t keep well once open so freeze the remainder in an ice cube tray for handy sized blocks. This technique can also be used for chopped fresh herbs!
USEFUL NEW TIPS FROM LA BARBE KITCHEN
  • To loosen a tight jar lid, wind an elastic band around it to form a great grip.
  • To peel garlic easily, peel down the stem of the clove and soak in very hot water for ten minutes and the skin will come straight off.
  • To get the maximum juice out of a lemon you can roll it hard on the chopping board or place it in the microwave for a few seconds.
  • When chopping, put a damp towel under the board to give a firm grip on the table.
  • An over salted casserole can be saved by adding fizzy water or by placing a potato in the casserole for 20 minutes and then remove.
  • If there’s too much fat on top of your casserole or sauce, gently float a piece of kitchen paper across the top and it will soak up the excess.
  • Keep brown sugar soft by storing with a couple of marshmallows
  • Use a large muffin tin to cook stuffed peppers in the oven - it will help keep them upright.
  • Add half a teaspoon of baking soda to the water when hard-boiling eggs to make the shells incredibly easy to peel off
FROM THE FISHMONGERS
  • To ensure that you get the best range and quality of fish, choose a fishmonger that supplies your local restaurant. (Give the chef a ring!)
  • Fresh fish should have a firm texture. Push your fingers into the flesh; if your indentation stays there, the fish is not really fresh.
  • The tail of a truly fresh fish will be stiff. A fresh fish should have bright scales and pink gills, the eyes must be clear, bright and not sunken.
OOOH TOO MUCH GARLIC
  • If you have put too much garlic in a stew or a sauce you can neutralise the flavour with parsley (this will work with your breath as well).
MAGIC PEELING TOMATO
  • To skin a tomato: with the tip of the blade cut a shallow “X” in the bottom of the tomato and drop in boiling water for a few seconds and pop into a bowl of icy water. Leave until cool and it will peel off like magic
CREME BRULEE
  • When making Crème Brulée add one whole egg to the yolks to make sure it sets properly. 
MEATY TIPS
  • To make your own marinade for pork, use a tablespoon of honey mixed with grated ginger ( sweet and spicy)
  • Try placing a layer of cream crackers or Pringles on top of the sauce in a shepherd’s pie or cottage pie; they’ll absorb the juices from the sauce and keep the mashed potato fluffy
  • To tenderise meat, cover it with slices of kiwi or pineapple for 10 to 15 minutes ( remove fruit before cooking)
LOW FAT CASSEROLE
  • To soak up the excess of fat on a sauce or casserole just float a piece of kitchen paper on the top
PERFECT SHELLFISH
  • When you prepare shellfish it must be very fresh and should be cooked the day you buy it. The cooking process needs to be quick and stopped at the right time to prevent it from becoming tough.
ROAST LEG OF LAMB
  • If you like garlic and want to bring up the taste of the lamb, rub in some garlic cloves and baste with vinegar halfway through cooking time.
A PERFECT RED WINE CASSEROLE
  • At the end of the cooking process of a red wine casserole i.e. coq au vin or boeuf bourguignon, add a few grams of dark chocolate to remove the bitterness and give a shiny finish to the sauce. On the other hand if the sauce is too sweet just add a few drops of kirsch alcohol
GARLIC BREATH?
  • After eating too much garlic, forget the Chewing Gum, just eat a little bit of fresh parsley and your bad breath will disappear (nearly)!
SUCCULENT HAM
  • When using ham in a recipe make sure to use ham carved off the bone which has a succulent and dry texture infinitely superior to the flabby sliced ham found in packets and it can be cut into thick slices for any special dish.
PROPER PAN-FRIED STEAK
  • To pan-fry a steak properly, preheat a flat or ridged frying pan over a high heat, then add a small amount of olive or sunflower oil. Pat the meat dry and place in the frying pan. Cook for an equal amount of time on each side until done as desired. Salt after cooking to avoid drawing out juices; and add a noisette of butter during the last minute of cooking.
NO NEED TO SHED TEARS WHILE PREPARING ONIONS
  • Peeling them off in water should do the trick.
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