Saturday, November 20, 2010
Chef's Roundabout Strudel
After 2 intensive days of making Gateau Opéra & Tiramisu with brain-surgery precision, we caught a break with today's strudel and quiches, quick, easy-peasy throw-togethers with hardly any scales, speed or stress required - just the way I like to cook when I feel like unwinding in the kitchen.
Strudel is an Austrian dessert consisting of a light pastry dough wrapped around an assortment of fillings, most popular being apple and cinnamon, so popular in fact, some even consider it to be Austria's national dish.
Chef's Spinach & Lorraine: Grab 'Em While They're Hot!
Quiche is a French open-faced pie of sorts made with a rich egg-and-cream custard known as royale, and any filling of your choice. We made spinach and bacon-and-onion, aka Lorraine, but if you don't fancy spinach, try roasted pumpkin and pine nuts instead, or your favorite ham and cheese combo. Whatever strokes your Buddha.
Sweating Bacon & Spinach
We first sweat the onions and bacon for the Lorraine, and replaced the bacon with spinach leaves for the vegetarian version. I browned the bacon bits a little longer for the smokey flavor to come through, and seasoned with extra pepper and paprika for a spicy kick.
Straining Royale For A Smoother Custard
Pate Brisee, Filling, Royale
We rolled out the short crust dough we made yesterday, and added the fillings and royale. Last but not least, cheese. Not just any cheese, but the finest the Swiss has to offer: Gruyere. So fantastic is its signature mildly sweet and salty flavor that it prompted the French to rename any quiche with its inclusion quiche au gruyère or a quiche vosgienne.
Stretching Strudel Dough
You may take the easy way out and use filo pastry for the strudel, but the texture will be dry and flaky, not pillowy soft like only a proper strudel dough can be. The dough is unbelievably elastic as a result of the high gluten flour and olive oil used in the making, which makes the vigorous stretching exercise possible.
Rules of perfection would decree you stretch the dough out so thin that a love letter can be read through it, hence the paper test above.
Fillin' & Rollin'
Butter Up For The Oven
Into the strudel goes some bread crumbs, Granny Smiths, raisins, walnuts, sugar and cinnamon, gently rolled into a log with the help of a tablecloth to keep it from tearing, brushed with melted butter and baked.
Oodles of Noodles
Had some time on my hands so I made pasta today. It's a wonderful thing, making food from scratch. Crossing this one off my list and I'm happy as a lark.
Sunny Quiches, Towering Strudels On Cloud 9
My quiches turned out pretty well, what with all the Gruyere and mozzarella I stuffed in. The strudel may look like a mess, but it didn't bother me: eaten warm from the oven with icing sugar and whipped cream, it was pure bliss.