Summer Pie
Jun 25th, 2010 by

Blueberry Hand Pies, Lemon Sherbet with a Meringue Swirl, and Palm Sugar Caramel

A high turnover rate is a chronic issue in the restaurant industry, and in recent months the pastry department has seen  more than our share. When I was hired, I was trained by D who had been with the restaurant for a little over a month. She left about a month after I arrived and was replaced by C, who decided after a month that she wanted to go back to school. When C quit two Fridays ago, my chef did what any boss who doesn’t want the hassle of training yet another person does, she hired the intern, which was a good move because our intern is smart and capable; however, she couldn’t be ready to work full time for another week.  Therefore, for the past week, my boss and I have been splitting the department between the two of us, and Sunday Supper by necessity needed to be something fast and fool proof.

I have always had a strong love for pies, and I especially liked the idea of sending out personal pies that were clearly not tarts. The blueberries we have been getting in have been delicious, so I used that as a filling and encased it in a standard flaky pie dough. I wanted to serve the pies warm with ice cream because there is nothing better then pie with ice cream; however I wanted to do something a little different — but still easy. Blueberry and lemon are a classic combination, and lemon and meringue go together. When meringue freezes it becomes the consistency of marshmallow. I thought that using this as a swirl in ice cream would be the kind of cool twist I was seeking; but that marshmallow texture kind of got lost when the  meringue was incorporated into the ice cream.  To create a texture contrast, I switched to a lemon sherbet, which still has the smooth dairy mouth feel, but is also just a little icy, which makes the meringue swirl more noticeable. A line of caramelized palm sugar finished the plate, providing a nice contrast for both the look and the taste.

This dessert was definitely a people pleaser. It is easy, pretty, delicious.

a strawberry and ginger float
Jun 20th, 2010 by

Strawberry Ice Cream and Ginger Beer Float with Carmel Sauce, Tapioca Pearls and Caramelized Popcorn

It is truly summer. Hot and sticky and the kitchen begins to feel like a furnace as the night wears on. So, this week I really wanted to do something to cool off and refresh. This plate is not quite as beautiful as some of the composed plates we have been doing, but the ginger beer soda with tapioca pearls (the glass on the left) was poured over the strawberry ice cream and caramel sauce (the glass in the center) at the table, which I think added some whimsy and excitement. The dish on the right contains the caramelized popcorn.

My boss was initially skeptical of this dessert (as many of you may be) because there is a lot going on and some of the flavor combinations seem odd, but she was pleasantly surprised. So, let me explain the thought process behind these components. I admit the starting point for this dish was caramelized sweetened condensed milk, dulce de leche, (see note) which we put on our cheese plate and currently are overstocked on. This is a rich, caramel sauce, so I wanted to cut the richness with something spicy and lighter.  The ginger beer seemed like a nice pairing, and so originally we thought of making the dulce de leche into an ice cream, but when we tried these two things together neither of us could get past the sweetened condensed milk flavor, but we thought the flavor combination could still have merit. So, we tried it with a different caramel sauce and found it much more satisfying.  The dish also needed more sweetness and some textures to keep it from being just an ice cream float. The next day all I wanted was strawberry ice cream with strawberry chunks, and, since strawberry goes with ginger, I thought that perhaps if we rearranged the dish and put the caramel sauce elsewhere that I could make it all work. The tapioca pearls were cooked in fresh ginger sugar syrup that gave them just a little bit of flavor instead of just being gummy tapioca flavored. For the caramel sauce I used the caramel sauce from our regular menu and added some soy sauce to make it nuttier and more complex. The sauce was important in giving the liquid some body because the ginger beer is lovely and effervescent but feels like water in the mouth. The caramelized popcorn was just added because I liked it. Originally I thought I could put the whole thing together in the kitchen and then stack the popcorn on the top; but when mixed, the liquids get cloudy and unattractive and the popcorn gets soggy quickly; so, it was served deconstructed.

(sorry about the picture, I forgot to take one and this one is off of the other girl’s phone which is worse then mine. Camera next week. I promise.)

NOTE: sweetened condensed milk, dulce de leche – if you take a can of sweetened condensed milk and simmer it FULLY covered in water for 2.5 hours and allow it to cool in the water for another half an hour, you can brown the milk proteins in the milk which makes a carmelish flavored thick milk substance. It is important that the can is constantly covered by water and that it is allowed to cool slowly in water because pressure changes in the can can cause it to explode

My First Restaurant Dessert
Jun 11th, 2010 by

My boss is back; we worked out the kinks, and last night my rosemary ice cream candy bar debuted on the main restaurant dessert list.


So there were a couple of changes from the last time we did this dessert. We changed back to the candy bar motif. however, I think that calling this a candy bar is a stretch, but oh well. The cookie that used to serve as the base is now chopped up and mixed into a crumble with some of the candied pinenuts. This fixed the problem that sometimes it was difficult to get a fork through the cookie. The lemon in the cookie that I made for last week was so nice that it has been moved to a tuille that shoots up out of an apricot compote. The chocolate glaze, which was part of the original but which I had eliminated last week, has returned to drip down the sides. The pinenut brittle, sprinkled on top, finishes the dish.

Rosemary and pinenuts… again
Jun 10th, 2010 by

Rosemary Buttermilk Ice Cream Sandwich with Candied Pinenuts, Buttermilk Fromage Blanc and Apricot-Honey Sauce


This week was supposed to be a test run for getting the rosemary ice cream candy bar from a few weeks ago onto the actual menu, but unfortunately my boss got sick and we didn’t really get to talk about the changes that she wanted to test out in the dish. Therefore, I played with a different iconic American summer food, switching from an ice cream candy bar to an ice cream sandwich and changing some of the garnishes. The cookie in this dish is an amazing lemon, rosemary shortbread cookie which has  flavors that are more in the forefront  than the cookie that was at the bottom of the candy bar. I was not satisfied with the whiskey caramel sauce that I paired with the last dish, so I traded it for a much sweeter and fruitier apricot puree. The ice cream and candied pinenuts were my favorite parts of the last dish and so they stayed, although the role of the pinenuts got diminished. I also added the buttermilk fromage blanc to replace some tanginess that was lost by dropping the truffle that had been on the first plate. I had planned to add chocolate to this dish; however, as I was plating it, I realized the dish really didn’t need this additional element and the overall effect was much fresher without it. I felt that this dish was both satisfying and a little summery.

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