Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Steak n' Mousse

No theme today, just the next week hanging over us -- next week is the last class, and we will be serving dinner to the friends and families of the students and a number of the staff, perhaps 25-30 mouths all together. So today was all about making some fancy labor-intensive desserts for next week, and a few simple dishes to get us fed today.

Pastry chefs run in a slightly different world than the rest of the kitchen, due to the fact dessert is usually NOT a la minute -- it can be prepared hours, if not days in advanced, and will not lose quality. These workers can come in early and take over the kitchen and make complex recipes like the following, before the main staff come in to prep the rest of the menu....


Yield: 2 cakes, 24 to 36 servings

Butter, cut into 12 pieces 6 oz
Bittersweet chocolate, fine chop 14 oz
Instant Espresso powder 1 ½ tsp
Vanilla extract 1 tbsp
Eggs, separated 8 each
Salt 2 pinches
Light brown sugar, crumbled 2/3 cup packed

Cocoa powder, dutch process 4tbsp
Hot water 5 oz
Bittersweet chocolate, fine chop 14 oz
Heavy cream, cold 3 cup
Sugar 2 tbsp
Salt ¼ tsp

Powdered gelatin 1 ½ tsp
Water 2 tbsp
White chocolate, fine chop 12 oz
Heavy cream, cold 3 cup

Shaved chocolate or cocoa powder for serving

    Preheat oven to 325˚. Grease bottom and sides of 2 10”spring form pans. Slowly melt butter, chocolate and espresso powder in double boiler, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Wait 5 minutes. Whisk in vanilla and egg yolks. Set aside.
  2. In stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat egg whites and salt until frothy. Add half sugar and beat until combined. Add rest of sugar and beat until soft peaks, scraping down sides half way through.
  3. Fold egg mixture into chocolate mixture one third at a time, until no white streaks remain. Pour into two prepared spring form pans.
  4. Bake 13-18 minutes, just set but soft in middle. Cool for 1 hour, leave in pan.

    Combine cocoa powder and hot water, set aside. Melt chocolate in double boiler until just smooth, take off heat and let cool 2 minutes.
  6. In stand mixer, whip cream, sugar and salt together to soft peaks.
  7. Whisk cocoa powder mixture into melted chocolate until smooth. Fold whipped cream into chocolate 1/3 at a time until no streaks remain. Spoon into spring form pans on top of bottom layer. Smooth with spatula and clean off any drips from the inside sides. Refrigerate for a minimum of 15 minutes.

    In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over water. Let stand for at least 5 minutes.
  9. Bring 1 cup cream to a simmer in a sauce pan. Remove from heat and add gelatin mixture, stir until dissolved.
  10. Pour cream mixture over white chocolate in a bowl, whisk until smooth. Let stand 3 to 5 minutes
  11. In a stand mixer, whisk remaining 2 cups of cream to soft peaks. Fold into white chocolate mixture, one third at a time. Spoon over middle layer.
  12. Set in fridge for at least 2.5 hours. Serve with garnish of cocoa or shaved chocolate.
This recipe was adapted from Cook's Illustrated, which was much more wordy and full of explanation of why. Which is great for someone like me, but a bad distraction from students just trying to get the thing done in the time given.

We cooked off a few flank steaks in the oven -- ideally it would be on a grill, but we had no access to one, so into the convection oven we went. The marinade was blended to smooth, the steak poked fill of shallow cuts with the tip of a chef's knife.


Yield: 12 servings

Flank steak, trimmed & scored 1 each
Vegetable oil 2 floz
EVOO 2 floz
Cider vinegar 2 floz
Garlic cloves, minced 2 each
Cumin 1 tsp
Oregano, fresh 1/3 cup
Cilantro, fresh ½ cup
Parsley, fresh 1 cup

  1. Combine all ingredients except steak. Puree in blender. Marinate steak in ½ of marinade for 1 hour.
  2. Cook in oven at 300˚ until internal temp reaches 135˚. Rest 10 minutes, slice against grain, serve with remaining marinade.
135 is medium rare, and as I found out, feeding medium-rare meat to this population of students is about as likely as serving a vending-machine hamburger at Nobu. So I cooked off each of the three steaks differently -- medium rare (135), medium (142) and well-done (150), but even the well done was not well-done enough for them. There was no pink, but it was still juicy. After it was sliced, one student put it in a sautee pan and cooked it until it had browned edges, and the consistency was closer to tough leather than unctuous steak. Blech! Over-cooked meat is part of a culture of fear of illness from undercooked meat, particularly established in lower economic rungs, where access to good meat is more rare.

A student last week suggested collards, and we did a pretty standard version.


Yield: 12 servings

Smoked ham hocks 2 lbs
Water 1 g
Salt to taste
Collard greens 4 bunch
Cider vinegar 1 cups
Sugar 3 tbsp
  1. Place the pork, water and salt in a pot. BTB, skim off any fat that rises to the top. Reduce temperature to low and let simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare greens. Discard damaged or yellow parts of leaves. Cut away the tough ends from each leaf. Place greens in a colander, wash thoroughly. Fold each leaf in half at its center vein, fold over once or twice more, then cut in half.
  3. Stir prepared greens into the simmering liquid. Let simmer all together for approximately 1 hour over low heat. Add half of sugar and vinegar, taste and adjust. Serve.
One student decided to "spice" it up at the end, throwing in a bunch of dried spices and a bit too much hot red pepper flakes. Regardless, the long boiling in the smokey stock eliminated any bitterness, and the vinegar gave a nice kick.

One student has been bragging about his skill making banana pudding since the day I met him, but unfortunately he did not show up today. When everything was well underway, I decided to fit this in at the last minute.


Yield: Two 9 x 13 pans

White sugar 10 oz
AP flour 2/3 cup
Salt ½ tsp
Egg yolks, beaten 6 each
Heavy cream 1 qt
Vanilla bean, scraped 2 beans
Rum 1 oz
Butter, softened ¼ cup
Bananas, peeled & sliced 4 each
Nilla wafers 12 oz
  1. In medium saucepan combine sugar, flour and salt. Add eggs and stir well. Stir in cream, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly. When mixture begins to thicken, remove from heat and continue to stir, cooling slightly. Stir in vanilla, rum and butter until smooth.
  2. In two 9x13-inch dish, layer pudding with bananas and vanilla wafers. Chill at least one hour in refrigerator before serving.
We went off the reservation with this recipe a bit. First, we ran out of cream so substituted coconut milk for about 1/3 of the cream. Second, in deference to next week, we decided to make mini banana pudding cups in cupcake papers. Third, we were given horrible "reduced fat" Nilla wafers, so we ground them in a blender and added a few sticks of butter to unreduce it. In the cups we pressed in some of the Nilla mix, a layer of the rum-vanilla pudding, a few slices of bananas, then a layer of simple whipped cream. When we serve it, we'll sprinkle some cinnamon sugar.

Next week, the wrap-up!

1 comment:

Kruzon said...

Nice bunch of dessert recipes. we'll put some to good use. Thanx