Friday, April 30, 2010

Recent Pastry

I've slowly assumed more and more of the pastry duties at my restaurant. Most desserts are now collaborations between myself and Katie, another line cook. Recent triumphs:

Rum Whipped Cream
If you've had a dessert at my restaurant in the last two weeks, chances are you got some of this. We keep making too much and having to serve it on the next dessert. Good thing it goes so well with everything! Turns out that the secret to great rum flavor without terrible alcohol burning is maple syrup. Who knew?

Green Apple Peel Juice
Granny Smith peels, pureed with a bit of water and a bit of lemon juice. Super refreshing, with a unique flavor that is apple-y and yet not quite apple as you know it. Beautiful green color that fades under refrigeration, so I kept it frozen between services. If only we had some Pectinex Smash XXL.

Gingerbread Dust
This stuff started as an attempt to make some delicious leftover gingerbread into a crust for a cheesecake. When I ground the gingerbread into crumbs, I found they were far too moist to make a crust with the texture I wanted, so I dehydrated them in the oven overnight. Some got turned into a fragile crust (which I eventually bound together by pouring on a layer of caramel sauce) while the remainder was turned a fine powder in a spice grinder. Right now we just use it to dust the top of desserts, but really it's like having a whole new spice in our pantry - Essence of Gingerbread!

Also, the cheesecake this stuff went onto may have been overcooked. If a cheesecake is made of use a bunch of tiny curds, like this one, does that mean it's overcooked? Or is that normal? Or is it normal for cheesecake to be overcooked?

French Toast Crepes
Dwayne, another cook, told me about some guys on Future Food (terrible name!) turning cooked French Toast into crepe batter, so after brunch service one day I decided to give it a try. I took a few pieces of leftover french toast (fully cooked) and blended them with some milk, an egg, and a tiny bit of flour, adjusting the consistency as I went. The resulting crepes tasted (surprise!) just like cooked French Toast, which may be more exciting in real life than it sounds to be on paper. All of the spice flavors came through, of course, but there were the characteristic browned and cooked-egg notes also. The crepes were quite fragile, probably because the french toast they were made from was perfectly cooked, with that creamy inside. If I did it again, I'd probably overcook the toast and add some maple syrup to complete the flavor experience.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Still Looking

Still in search of a good cookbook...looking at regional Italian right now.

"Cucina Di Calabria" sounds good...

In other news, following the French Toast Crepe Experiment, I plan to make pretzels and blend them into a pancake batter. Inspired by Pretzel Pancakes I saw (but did not order) in a restaurant near Minneapolis. Apparently they just put some pretzels in their pancakes as they cook.

An approximated recipe from that kitchen, that I have not tried yet:

Oaxaca-Style Relish

Lime Juice
Lemon Juice
Small Radishes, sliced thin
Red Onion, sliced thin
Habanero Peppers, gutted

Combine all ingredients, refrigerate overnight. Adjust seasoning.

I had this served on top of mini brauts with cabbage and avocado mousse (whipped cream). Tangy, spicy, and deceptively complex-tasting.

Monday, April 19, 2010

French Toast Crepes


2 pieces cooked french toast
1 egg
milk to thin

vitaprep. crepe batter!

Friday, April 16, 2010

I Need a Cookbook

One with lots of vegetarian options. Ethnic would be good. Focused on a cuisine or a place or a time or something. Not technical, not reference, just recipes.

The only cookbooks I have right now are once I use as reference materials When I have a specific question about technique, they serve me well, but they don't inspire me. My library reflects, and maybe informs, my mindset. Over the last half-year or so, I have grown more concerned with technique, theory, chemistry, equipment. I have lost interest in humble, earthy, accessible food, and even begun to dismiss it, in my own mind. A colleague cooked a bacon-wrapped stuffed chicken tender a few weeks ago. On the inside, I sneered at the lowbrow concept while admiring his perfect technique.

I haven't cooked a curry in months.

My cooking at home has suffered, as has my creativity at work. Uninspired, I've settled into a rut of making uninteresting food at home. Sauteed vegetables on pasta again. My technique is much improved: the vegetables are almost perfectly cooked. They are also the same vegetables I cooked yesterday, and I'm bored with the dish. I've gotten used to being bored with the food I make, and now it's hard to think of things I won't be bored with. Most of my own ideas I dismiss as uninteresting, tired.

So it's time for a fresh start. Time to get back to being open minded and exploring delicious peasant food. I need to continue educating myself about technique and theory, but without developing an arrogant mindset than denigrates anything. I think a new cookbook is a good start.