Food & Drink

Heston Blumenthal’s Unused Ideas

Heston Blumenthal has a new book out. It will surprise you not one jot to learn that it’s packed full of utterly bizarre concoctions, many based on medieval recipes. Having sampled a few delights from the book at an exclusive dinner, we asked the man himself to talk us through a few of his madder ideas that haven’t yet come to fruition…

Savoury candy floss

“About 10 years ago, I knew a guy who’d been a radiologist for BP, but was then later headhunted to work on yoghurts and jellies. He worked in a laboratory for ‘edible soft matter’, which I’ve always thought would make a brilliant name for a [brand of] jelly. Anyway, this guy was using maltodextrin, which is a sugar but also contains a high amount of carbohydrate bonds, so it’s less sweet. I then started to think of all the things you could make that looked like sugar, but were actually savoury. So, I got hold of a candy floss machine, and spun this maltodextrin in it – as well as some chilli – but it didn’t actually come out as fine as normal candy floss; I just got these thick, crunchy strands.”

Flaming sorbet

“I’ve managed to get a sorbet to ignite – to flame up, and not melt – but the texture’s not very nice. It’s very gummy. I have to make it work. Do I worry it would be unsafe? No, I mean, people light Christmas puddings, right? I don’t think anybody’s ever done themselves damage by lighting a Christmas pudding. Well, actually, there’s probably someone out there…”

Heat-resistant carrot puree

“I’ve made a heat-resistant jelly, which involves using carrageenan and agar, which are seaweed-based jellies used in classic Thai cooking. They can resist higher temperatures than gelatine, so they don’t melt, and instead go crunchy. Imagine you set this jelly into a rubbery block, put fresh carrot juice in, then get a hand blender and blitz it. You’d have this beautiful sort of fluid gel carrot purée.”

Our Thoughts After Sampling a Few Dishes From Heston's New Book...

Meat Fruit (c1500)

Silky chicken liver and foie gras parfait, offering sweet and savoury taste.

Spiced Pigeon (c1780)

Stacked high like a medieval platter, this unlocks more sweetness with every bite.

Tarte of Strawberries (c1591)

Masterful, and ably aided by a bonus strawberry sorbet.

Historic Heston is out now, priced £125 (Bloomsbury). He will sign copies at Selfridges, London on 10 October at 6pm; call 020-7318 3678 for details