Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bavarois A La Framboise, Fruit Coulis, Panna Cotta Au Lait Battu, Salsa D'ananas, Fraises Et Menthe

Chef's Plated Islands

Today's class was not particularly exciting, but important nonetheless, as we go international to learn a different method of making desserts: setting with gelatin.

Bavarois, or Bavarian Cream, is a Swiss creation popular in early 19th century haute cuisine. A rich base of milk, egg yolks and sugar is scalded, sometimes flavored with fruit puree, before the addition of gelatin to help it set in the fridge.

Panna Cotta, Italian for cooked cream, is made in a similar fashion by simmering milk and sugar together before adding buttermilk and gelatin and set as above mentioned.

Mixing Raspberry Bavarois, Cooling Panna Cotta

 Pouring Creams Into Dariole Moulds

Salsa & Coulis On The Stove, Brunoised Fruits For The Salsa

For added color and flavor, a rich coulis and fruity salsa is cooked to accompany the rather plain creams, alongside some sugar and chocolate work for a more complete presentation.

For the coulis, we boiled raspberry puree and sugar syrup  until thick and set that aside to cool. The salsa is a lime and sugar syrup solution mixed with brunoised, or very finely chopped pineapple and strawberry pieces and mint leaves chiffonades (very very fine juliennes).

The Boys At Work, Chiffonading Mint Leaves

Chef Karen Rolling Chocolate Cigars

Piping Chocolate

 Sweet Sugar Angel

 Chocolate Cake From Cuisine

By Yours Truly

I like the clean look of my plated panna cotta. As for my bavarois, well, I would have liked to deviate more from my usual presentation style. More researching to do I guess.

The panna cotta was light with a twang from the buttercream, and so silky smooth it melts in the mouth. The bavarois was more robust and mousse-like in texture, though light in flavor it went beautifully with the sweeter, stronger coulis.

Erica's Amazing Work

 Now that girl comes up with some of the most amazing work in class, in my opinion.

Hellooo Sunshine

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Savarin Aux Fruits, Crepes Suzette

Chef's Savarin Aux Fruits & Crepes Suzette

Savarin, or Rum Baba, is a traditional Polish yeast cake which the French modernized in the 19th century with the addition of rum. And in keeping with tradition, they named it after after one of the world's first and and foremost gastronomes, Brillat-Savarin.

Crepe Suzettes, on the other hand, is the result of a fortunate mishap when a young waiter accidentally set fire to an order of the popular french crepe. It was no ordinary order, mind you, but that of Prince Edward VII of England. Loving the booze, the young prince spared the waiter's neck and in his God given rights as royalty thus named the dish Crepe Suzette.

 Chef Michael Piping Into Savarin Mould

Chef Michael taught demo today; informative and patient, he shared generously from his vast experience tips and tricks of the trade, always with a sense of humor and a smile on his face.

Savarin After Proving

With yeast as the leavening agent, the dough was left to prove till not double in size, but 3/4 increase in volume, to allow for oven spring, i.e. further expansion in the oven. This is a common misstep of many a home baker; over-proving stretches the gluten in the dough to the point it loses its elasticity that results in a tough crumb when baked.

Pre & Post Dunk

The baked savarins, still warm, are left to soak in an orange and spice syrup bath and this time, to double in size as the porous crumb drink up the liquid like a thirsty alcoholic sponge.

Finishing Touches: A Shiny Coat Of Apricot Jam & A Splash Of Rum

Flipping Crepes, Cooking In The Golden Liquor

I love crepes. Being thinner than pancakes just means I can eat more of them, and that is always a good thing. The crepe batter is thinned down with milk, to make it easier to pour into and spread around a lightly greased pan. Then a straight-forward sauce of butter, sugar and OJ is caramelized and the crepes thrown back in for a good soak.

Watch Those Eyebrows!

Finally, the mistake that, according to the young waiter "...would reform a cannibal into a civilized gentleman", Grand Marnier is added to the pan and ignited in a blazing glory. More than mere showmanship, this cooks out the strong alcohol and softens the flavor which marries the water, sugar and alcohol together for a smoother finish.

Baby Babas


My Crepe Cigars

The genius that I am decided that 1 recipe of 4 anorexic pancakes wouldn't be enough to feed me, my Mum, cousin and Simon, so I made not 2, not 4, but 8 times the recipe!

So 2 hours into class, I was still slaving over the stove, flipping them flippin' crepes, watching the world go by... Chef Michael and Chef Keith would stop for a visit every 1/2 hour or so, each time inquiring about the large family I was apparently trying to feed. O_o

Plain Jane

With most of my youth spent cooking the crepes, I was left with just enough time to quickly and pathetically garnish my baby savarin, no whipped cream, no fuss, no flourish.

The Motherload

In the words of the great Brillat-Savarin:

"Those persons who suffer from indigestion, or who become drunk, are utterly ignorant of the true principles of eating and drinking.

But stuff that.

"The pleasure of the table belongs to all ages, to all conditions, to all countries, and to all aeras; it mingles with all other pleasures, and remains at last to console us for their departure."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pouding Chaud Au Sauce Chocolat, Chocolate Sauce, Fruits Grilles Avec Sabayon Au Cointreau

Chef's Fruit Sabayon, Self Saucing Chocolate Pudding

My Mum's coming to visit this Friday, which is exciting, but it is also a school day - yikes! Rather than miss any lesson we pay so dearly for, I switched my classes to the first half of the week, which meant working with different classmates and possibly different chefs.

The planets must have been aligned in my favor, for we had Chef Keith for demo, which made my day; I've been really disappointed to have him for just 1 class this term. Then again, no amount of face time will ever be enough, will it? 
Chef Keith & His Toys

For today we made some easy chocolate puddings and grilled fruits sabayon. I know I always say that but trust me, it usually is a lot easier than than you think, so long as you pay attention in class and not just stare at your darling Chef Keith the entire time like I was. 

Good thing the class was easy to follow, or I would've been totally his blue eyes...

Grilling The Fruits & Pouring The Sabayon

Sliced fruits were macerated in a gallon of kirsch (really just 10g but who's counting??) before being arranged on a plate, sprinkled with icing sugar and blasted with the fire power of a handheld blowtorch till the sugar caramelised and colored the fruits. Next up the sabayon.

Sounds French and fancy? It probably is. Only with most things French, it's about a few basic ingredients, a bit of skill and a whole lot of love. Egg yolk and sugar are whipped over a bain marie till light and fluffy before being poured over the fruits and blasted on again.

Sabayon is traditionally grilled under a salamander, but a blowtorch works just as fine and twice as fast, and is the preferred choice of many in the industry these days.

Making Cocoa Sugar & Bubbled Glass

This being a rather quick class, Chef Keith also showed us some tricks to making decorative sugar work. He made it look so easy that I decided to put aside my disdain for sugar (St Honore was a painful class) and give it a go today.

Cocoa On Cocoa On Cocoa

For the chocolate pudding we mixed butter, eggs, sugar and flour, your basic cupcake recipe, essentially. For some self saucing magic, just bake the pud for half the time and you will have an uncooked centre that when cut into, flows into a lovely pudding at the bottom of the cake.

As the uncooked center contains raw flour which may not be all that good for you, we baked the cake through and made some chocolate sauce to serve alongside the pud.

Fruit Sabayon & Pud With Some Bubbled Glass

The pud was dense and slightly springy. Drizzled with chocolate sauce it was a very satisfying desert, so good that for once I made it without adding any booze (rum would have been my choice in the matter). If you do want to make self saucing pudding like you know it, place some good quality chocolate pieces in the centre of the mix before baking it through.

Chef Keith In Sugar - Can He Be Any Sweeter?

Plated Grilled Fruits & Brochette

As usual I macerated my fruits in way too much kirsch, which had me all red-faced after tasting it. They did go well with the light and sweet sayabon. Putting the fruits on a skewer, or brochette in French, makes them easier to handle as well.

I like working with plated desserts, the change is welcoming after weeks baking heavy duty cakes, and I get to try out various ideas on the plate. I think I did pretty well today, you think?

Chocolate Eruption