The Pass. The Judgement day of plates.

The Pass. The Judgement day of plates.
Bring the finished plates up to the pass for inspection.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Poaching Bosc Pears. 低溫煮Bosc Pears

•Poaching.. is the process of gently simmering food in liquid, generally water, milk, stock or wine

I still remember the first time in my earlier years of French cooking; that my Chef had came up to me one morning with a filet of salmon and told me to "Poach" it. "Poach.... it?",  I replied with a confused expression. I was still a very young cook then, and I had much to learn about all the different types of cooking methods.

My Chef had introduced to me the world of poaching, and when I had tasted the salmon, it was nothing like I had ever tried. It was so tender, super moist and the meat of the salmon became so delicate that if you hadn't picked it up with a flat spatula, it would have broken into pieces.

It's been many years since my first experience of poaching, and throughout these years, I've poached much more than just the salmon. I've explored and poached all sorts of meats, seafoods and also fruits. One of my favorites and also a French classic, are the poached pears.

Poaching is a great way to soften under ripe fruits and also infused tons of flavors into it. And in this case, we're poaching "Bosc Pears". They are great for poaching due to their firmness and their ability to hold their shape after many hours of cooking.
In this poaching solution for the pear, it's just a simple syrup which is 1 : 1 - sugar to water, and flavors such as vanilla, cinnamon, rosemary, thyme, black peppercorns and you can also add in white wine if you wish. Then the liquid is brought up to a boil and the heat is turned down so that the liquid will just gently simmer for about 30 minutes. And the great thing about these poached pears is that, if you keep them in the syrup, not only will all the flavors infuse deeper into the pears but also the pears will have a shelf life of 10-11 days.
Poaching is real simple and besides the pears, you can also try with peaches and or apples.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

fruit en papillote ( Fruit wrapped in Paper )

This wonderful and summery dessert is one that comes to me as fresh and seasonal. The idea of this dessert falls simply on beautiful fruits and or berries being wrapped in baking paper and then baked in the oven. I first learnt this method of cooking through my early years of culinary, although i remember it was done with fish wrapped on the inside but fruits and berries work just as well.

You don't need very much for this simple and inspiring fruity dessert, besides your favorite fruits and berries, you just need a sheet of baking paper and an oven. You slowly roast the fruit and berries in the oven and let all the juice marinate together. After 10-15 minutes of roasting, you should be able to lightly detect the beautiful and aromatic scent of your ingredients.  Then you peel the package open to reveal all the delicious fruits and berries, nicely roasted, soaking in it's own sweet juice and it's soft and tender.

To finish off this dish, you can add an scoop of vanilla ice cream or sorbet and for a nice crunchy texture, you can sprinkle cookie crumbles on top. We finished our fruit en papillote with a quenelle of fresh strawberry sorbet and two almond sugar cookies.

Being Inspired.

Being Inspired can difficult at times.

There's so much repetition happening from our day to day routines, sometimes it's just hard to think out side of the box or be inspired by a new thought. Being a savoury chef and a pastry chef in training, I am always working with my hands in the kitchen to create beautiful dishes, and always looking onwards for the next idea or concept to advance on. For me, an ingredient such as lamb chop can be prepared in many different ways with much more varieties of flavors. And just like chocolate, an ingredient that is filled with endless directions of possibilities, sometimes the best direction is one that is lead by an inspiration.

To Find Inspiration can Be a Costly one at times.
With the world filled with corner restaurants, street food venders, and specialty cuisine eateries, if I am not in the kitchen working, there are only two other possibilities that I could be doing. 1) Sleeping. 2) Eating Out. And Yes, I do eat out quite often, and I spent a heck load of money on food. Sometimes I know I need to control myself with the spending, but that's a totally different subject. However, the reason why I eat out so often is because of my curiosity to want to taste new flavors, to see new ways of cooking an ingredient, and also, this is my way of being inspired.

Of course, there are cheaper ways to be inspired, like reading cook books or food magazines, but you can only read so much, because in the end you still have to taste it to really feel the connection with the food.

The Spark and Simplicity of an Inspiration

The spark of an inspiration does not always come at you with fireworks or a big bang. They are usually not complicated or confusing to understand, in fact, most inspiration comes from an idea of simplicity. You don't need 8 flavors on a plate of a dessert to please someone's taste buds or intrigue the sensitive tongue. If you can find inspiration in simplicity, you will find yourself being more in touch with the purity of your ingredients.

Friday, August 6, 2010

One word. " Souffles "

Most people when they hear the word “Soufflé ", their faces brighten, their eyes widen and they ask, "WHERE?" Soufflé is a well known dessert in the French culinary world. The word itself is French and it refers to a light, fluffy and puffed up dish usually made with beaten eggs. Soufflés, although widely known to be a sweeten dessert, it can however, be savoury. (Savoury soufflés are usually made with a béchamel sauce).

One thing for sure, soufflés are meant to be soft and fluffy. It is almost as light as bubbles that soften in your mouth. This is what's highly regarded for in a perfect soufflé dish, and also what it's best known for.

(Everything is precisely measured, re-measured and labelled to insure there are no mistakes)

Believe it or not, there is more than 1 way of making a mouth watering soufflé, and each one will provide you with a different texture that serves a different purpose. There are methods that will give you a soufflé with a texture that is worthy of a competition, and other methods that will guarantee you the stability to serve in a restaurant.

I, being the fortunate one, had the opportunity to be taught a 4th method of making a soufflé by a world pastry champion, Chef En-Ming. Chef En-Ming was the Team Captain of the United States Pastry Team that won the Gold Medal at the World Pastry Cup in Lyon, France in 2001. She later returned to serve as the President of International Jury for the World Pastry Cup in 2003, 2005 and 2007, which she was also the manager for Team USA. She continued to manage TEAM USA until last year, 2009.

One key point about making soufflés is actually in the process of preparing your soufflé molds. You must butter your molds with the right and even amount of butter, preferably with a upward stroke of the brush. This will help the rise of the soufflé when being baked in the oven. Although, some say this upward stroke method is a myth, but I, for one, am not curious enough to risk a failure in my delicious soufflé. So for me it is always upward strokes! Better safe than Sorry, right?

And another key point that is largely overlooked in the world of pastries is sifting your flour! This little extra step sifting out all the lumps in your flour that has formed due to excess moisture in the environment will really help with incorporating your mixture evenly. No one wants to be surprised by the taste of a lump of uncooked flour in any dessert, I promise you that. And it is also this simple step of sifting your ingredients, like flour, icing sugar and etc, will separate you from the amateurs to the professionals. The boys and the men.

 And lastly, having some confidence in yourself and in your soufflé will also help with the outcome. Because once you put that soufflé into the oven, it is completely out of your hands and you must surrender all control of the outcome. You can only lean over and watch patiently through the little glass window of your oven, and pray for that soufflé to rise even higher, and higher.

And the moment of truth when you take your soufflé out of the oven, there could be either one of two moments and both of which are to the extreme. One, your soufflé will collapse immediately because... a) You have over baked the soufflé or b) it is under cooked, and in which you might cry and cry some more, then you start all over again. OR... You take out your soufflé and it is still standing high, all puffed up and looking delicious, then you start it all over again. Because it was so good.

Chiboust is French dessert made with pastry cream combined with italian meringue and served frozen.

Although it is served frozen, the texture of Chiboust is much more like a cross between light mousse and soft serve ice cream. The fruity and citrus sauce balances the sweetness and richness of the chisboust, and the crisp ginger essenced tuile brings another dimenson to the overall dessert. You can make the Chiboust in any flavor such as hazelnut, chocolate almonds and etc.