Thursday, July 31, 2008

The verdict ++

So today I had my girlfriends over for lunch. I wanted to cook up a storm for two of my oldest and best girlfriends. Having been so busy the past couple of months, I had been dying to test out so many recipes. As I plotted and planned a hefty 6 course meal, I could not help but give in to the exhilaration of being in the kitchen.

I have been wanting to test the shrimp chorizo that I read about in Ideas in Food. As activa is not readily available to me, i used egg whites. It formed easily enough but it didn't feel as firm when I sliced it. The shrimp chorizo needed to be poached which was difficult as well as I could not keep the temperature constant at 52.5 centigrade. It turned out okay but I will have to rethink my procedure before I try it again.

I also made a goat cheese mousse piped over a bed of pine nuts and dri
zzled with honey. Yum! I served the mousse on little spoons alternating them with the chorizo that I drizzled with olive oil.  I also made little 
loaves of white bread that I sliced and presented in the middle of the spoons. It made such a  pretty photo!

For the next course, I served phyllo wrapped towers of foie gras, a saute of portabello and porcini mushrooms, and gruyere over a bed of mesclun with a fig vinaigrette. Whew!

This was followed a scallop ravioli in butter ginger sauce.  This is one of my favorite recipes.  I always make this using a technique that I saw in Master Class, Lessons with the World's Greatest Chefs.  You take flat leaf parsley and incorporate this into the pasta.

I tried making the Mojito Sorbet from Dragon's Kitchen which was inspired by David Lebovitz' Lime Sorbet and Mojito Granita. I have to applaud her combination concoction. It was not sweet but all the flavors are present. It was so refreshing and the rum kick was not bad either!

I pan fried some striploin to a crisp caramelization while keeping it pink inside. Arzak often serves steaks with vanilla roasted potatoes. I've been so curious to try this. There was a delicate flavour that made it different but I didn't feel like it enhanced  the meat nor the potatoes. I think I still prefer good old reliable garlic! 

And for the piece de resistance...the Filbert Gateau!  It was still a little too sweet for me but it was still good. No one could finish one whole mini cake though... and my 8" brick is still untouched!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

After dilly dallying and dragging my feet for a month the delays are finally over...because I ran out of time and the deadline is here! Presenting the daring bakers July challenge: The Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream...whew! Chris of Mele Cotte chose Carol Walters' daunting recipe.  
After my last fiasco with a nutty genoise, I wanted to be absolutely certain that I would not make the same mistakes.  This time I promised myself, I'd be so careful, everything would turn out beautifully... Heck, it wouldn't be daring if life in the kitchen were really all that simple!
 I made one 8" cake and three 2 1/2" cakes that I wanted to serve individually to some girlfriends coming for lunch tomorrow. The three mini cakes were done in no time and I left the 8" longer. When I tried to invert them, I realized that the 8" cake, was still rather uncooked... and now had an alien handprint on the center.  Can I change the theme for lunch to Roswell? HMMM.... 
I put the cake back in the oven and went merrily along making the next step. The glaze.
I realized I bought dried apricots instead of preserves so I looked up a recipe, and out came a 4 hour preserve. Was that easier than stepping out and buying  a bottle? Probably not, but that's so typical of me! So out came the crock pot that has never been used. My mother should be so proud but she would just exclaim with exasperation, "you're crazy!" And while this exchange was going on in my head I realized that my cake was starting to burn! Talk about action in the kitchen!
So while The preserve was cooking, I tackled the praline buttercream next. It's been very interesting making different kinds of buttercream. In this one, we add the meringue into creamed butter. It came together so easily I was amazed.  Now I have a new favorite buttercream method!
All in all, I like this cake though honestly I have not eaten it. So where is that statement coming from? I tasted all components individually (lots of fingers in the buttercream!) and they don't seem as sweet which suits me perfectly. I'm waiting to serve the 3 mini cakes for lunch  tomorrow and though I frosted and decorated my 8" BRICK cake, I am scared to try it!
More tomorrrow on the verdict!

Thank you to chris for another great challenge! You can find the recipe for the Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream here.