Sweet Brandy Glazed Strawberries, Pain Perdu, Chocolate Soup & Vanilla Cappucino

When my sister and I were children, my mother would serve us French toast as a rare and special treat. My sister learned the technique and we feasted many more times on them. It is a luxury I enjoy sharing with my dinner party guests and have here served it with two other luxurious flavours of chocolate and macerated strawberries. Chocolate as a soup is as delicious as it sounds and quite easy to prepare.


The earliest reference to frying bread that has been dipped in milk comes from the 4th century Roman text of ‘De Re Coquinaria’ compiled at the decline of the Roman empire but romantically attributed to the celebrated Roman gastrophile Marcus Gavius Apicius from the reign of emperor Tiberius in the 1st century AD. The bread is described as being decrusted, dipped in milk, then fried in olive oil and topped with honey.


The term ‘pain perdu’ is French for ‘lost bread’ and refers to the way that bread that has been dried out can be revived by dipping it into milk and eggs and then fried.


I have been generous with the recipe quantities for the chocolate soup in case there are demands for more from your guests. Prepare all the ingredients on the day. The warm strawberries, warm soup and vanilla cappuccino are prepared just prior to serving the guests.


For the pain perdu


10 thick slices brioche cut into 4 inch (10 cm) discs

8 eggs

1 cup (250 gms) caster sugar

1 1/2 cups (350 mls) milk

1 tbsp cognac

3 tbsp unsalted butter


First create the batter by whipping the eggs, sugar, milk and Cognac. Soak the brioche discs in the batter for about 5 minutes. Heat the butter in a skillet and fry each coated disc for about 2 minutes each side. keep the pain perdu dry.


For the macerated strawberries


30 strawberries, quartered

1/2 cup (100 gms) caster sugar

1/2 cup (125 mls) Cognac

1 tbsp butter


Coat the strawberries in the sugar and Cognac then let them rest in a bowl for 5 minutes. Heat a skillet with butter then fry the strawberry quarters for 30 seconds or until they begin to caramelize.


For the chocolate soup


3/4 cup (125 gms) 75% cocoa dark chocolate

1/2 cup (125 mls) milk

1 1/2 cups (350 mls) double cream


Combine the milk, cream and sugar in a pan and heat gently, whisking until the chocolate has melted


For the vanilla cappuccino


3/4 cup (125 mls) milk

Seeds of 1 vanilla pod

1 tsp lecithin granules


Place the milk and vanilla seeds into a pan then warm it gently to about 120 F (50 Celsius) stirring all the time. Overheating the milk will prevent the froth from forming. Add the lecithin granules and froth the flavoured milk using a stick blender, holding the blender in such a way as to incorporate as much air as possible. Wait a few moments for the froth to form.


Constructing the dish


Icing sugar

Young mint leaves


Arrange the pain perdu disc eccentrically on a rectangular or oval dish and add layers of the macerated strawberries in the centre. Arrange the mint leaves and dust over with icing sugar through a tea strainer. Pour the warm chocolate so it reaches about 4/5 of the way up a shot glass. Layer the vanilla cappuccino froth to the top of the glass. place the glass next to the pain perdu and serve.

Seafood Lasagne with Prawn Infused Beurre Nantaise


Elegant, piquant flavours and perfect textures characterise this dish. Not only does it look impressive on the plate but tastes divine. Strictly speaking a “lasagne” refers to layers of pasta with ragout and sauce. This dish utilises wonton wrappers which, in my opinion, offers a perfectly soft texture to the dish. The wrappers are available frozen in most oriental supermarkets. Make sure they are defrosted thoroughly else they will shatter. They degrade quickly so you can only use them on the same day of defrosting. This recipe serves 2 people as a main course. It makes for an exceptional fish hors d’oeuvres in which case it can serve 4 people although you will need to use smaller cooking rings. Serve this with a Puligny-Montrachet, Australasian Reisling, Trocken German Reisling or Soave.

For the Lasagne

10 large scallops, coral removed

400 gms fine white crab meat

2 tbsp double cream

cayenne pepper

1 pack of wonton wrappers, defrosted and cut into circles using a 9cm food ring

Cool a small food processor and a mixing bowl in a freezer for at least an hour. Blend the scallops into a smooth paste and add the cream and pepper then blend again. Place the contents into the cooled mixing bowl and fold in the crab meat. Place a double layer of the wonton circles into the bottom of 2 9cm food rings. Add a 1 cm layer of the crab mixture evenly on top of the wrappers. Layer another wrapper and crab mixture and keep layeringuntil you have reached the full height of the food rings then finish the top with a further double layer of wonton wrap. Carefully transfer the filled rings to a steamer and steam for 10 minutes.

For the Beurre Nantaise

2 shallots or 1 banana shallot, finely chopped

4 raw tiger prawns, shells and flesh separated and sliced

100 gms unsalted butter

200 mls sauvignon blanc wine

50 mls white wine vinegar

150 mls fish or chicken stock

2 tbsp double cream

pinch cayenne pepper

2 tbsp finely chopped chives

In a pan, sauté the shallots in 25 gms of the butter until they are soft but not browned. Add the prawn shells and sauté until they turn from grey to orange-red. Remove the shells and add the shelled prawn slices. Continue sautéing until they turn orange. Deglaze the pan with the wine and reduce by about 1/3. Add the vinegar and stock and reduce a little. Add the cream and pepper and reduce the sauce further. Mix in the the chives.

To finish the dish

Carefully extrude the lasagnes into the centre of bowls. Carefully pour the Sauce over the lasagnes. Garnish the lasagnes with micro herbs or pea shoots.