Saturday, March 27, 2010

Daring Bakers March 10: Citrus Tians

I've been a bad blogger.  A very bad blogger!  I've had ideas for posts.... "drafts" started even.  But alas, no completed entries....

Meyer Lemons

And I've been a bad baker!  When I pulled out my mixer to do this challenge, I realized that I don't think I've had my mixer out in over a month.  How terrible of me.  But, I managed to complete this challenge, even if I still did it rather last minute.

I'm having a terrible busy semester with school and then I've had family visiting (yay!).  But now I'm trying to catch up, starting with this challenge.... which turned into a "use up leftovers in Laura's fridge" challenge.

The 2010 March Daring Baker's Challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse's Cooking School in Paris. 

I did take a few liberties with the given recipes.....  First of all, I made multiple tians!  One with Meyer Lemon & Orange and one with Strawberry & Orange.  I also used a chocolate crust.  

I haven't even had a chance to mention that I finished my Artisan Bread course and have moved on to "Jams, Jellies, Chutneys & Tarts."  And ironically, one of our first project was to make orange marmalade, which was a component of this DB challenge.  So, instead of re-making marmalade at home, I just used some of the marmalade I took home to "test" as "homework." I didn't want to be wasteful, after all :)  And then I used the Strawberry Jam we made in class as well in the Strawberry & Orange Tian. 

I really enjoyed this challenge! It was different than anything I've done before, but yet, had some aspects that I was really comfortable with completing. I'd like to explore more layered desserts in the future.

Meyer Lemon & Orange

I mixed up the traditional orange by using Meyer Lemons instead of orange.  I found them on sale earlier this month and didn't want them to go to waste either!  I topped the Meyer Lemon segments with an Orange Marmalade Caramel, another product from my Jams & Jellies class, although it's more of an accidental product (aka, overcooked orange marmalade).  A layer of whipped cream, flavored with Grand Marnier & more marmalade, came next, followed by the Chocolate Short Crust Circle.  

Strawberry & Orange

Secondly,  I made a strawberry & orange tian, mostly because I had run out of citrus segments!  And also because I had strawberry jam from class.  I had a container of mascarpone cheese leftover from my honey competition trials, so I mixed that into my Orange Whipped Cream and used it on top of the strawberry jam.  I finished with the Chocolate Short Crust Circle.  

The Recipes: 

Orange Marmalade: from my Jams & Jellies course
1 lb oranges
1 lb granulated sugar

1. Peel the oranges, being careful to just peel the zest and not the bitter pith.  Julienne the peel finely. 
2.  Place the peel in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil to blanch the zest.  Drain and repeat twice more, blanching a total of 3 times.
3.  Juice the naked oranges.
4.  In a heavy pot, combine the blanched peel, orange juice and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer.  Simmer, stirring often
5. Transfer to sterilized containers. 

Note: if you overcook the marmalade, it will turn to caramel hard candy.....  

Chocolate Short Dough: Adapted from "On Baking: a Textbook of Baking & Pastry Fundamentals" 
8 oz Unsalted Butter, softened
5 oz Granulated Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
splash vanilla extract
1 egg, room temp
1.5 oz Almond Flour
8 oz AP Flour
2.5 oz Cocoa Powder

1.  In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until light.
2.  Cream in the sugar, salt and vanilla, scraping down as needed.
3.  Add the egg and mix until just incorporated.
4.  Sift together the AP flour and Cocoa Powder, and mix with the Almond Flour. Add to the butter mix and beat on low until just combined.
5.  Chill dough several hours to allow the gluten strands to relax and the dough to become completely hydrated.  
6.  Roll on a lightly floured surface and chill.
7.  Cut into desired shapes and chill again.
8. Bake at 350 F. 

Whipped Cream:
1 pint of heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons of hot water
1 tsp gelatin
1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar
2 tsp grand marnier
2 tablespoons orange marmalade 

1.  In a small bowl, combine the water and gelatin.  Allow to bloom.  
2.  Whip the heavy cream in a very clean, cold bowl.  Once it starts to thicken, sprinkle over the confectioner's sugar.  
3.  Whip on high until it forms soft peaks.  Warm the bloomed gelatine in the microwave until liquid again.  Slowly drizzle over the whipping cream.  Do NOT overwhip the cream.  
4.  Fold in the grand marnier and the orange marmalade.  
5.  Use immediately before gelatin begins to set.  

Varation: Mascarpone whipped cream.  Fold one 8 oz tub of mascarpone to the whipped cream when the marmalade is added. 

Citrus segments:
Cut the desired citrus (Meyer Lemons in my case) into segments and place in a bowl.  Squeeze the extra juice over the segments and add a spoon full of orange marmalade.  Allow to marinate in the refrigerator over night. 

1.  Drain the citrus segments & pat dry with paper towel. 
2.  Layer the citrus segments in the bottom of an individual-size springform pan, arranging them artfully and snuggly.  This will become the top of your dessert. 
3.  Add a layer of orange marmalade/orange marmalade caramel over the citrus segments. Chill slightly. 
4.  Place the whipped cream mixture into a piping bag and pipe into the springform pan.  
5.  Top with the pre-baked chocolate short dough round. Gently press to adhere.  
6.  Wrap the entire pan in plastic wrap and freeze overnight until ready to serve. 
7. Enjoy!

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Charleston Wine + Food: Pinot Envy Uncorked

This past weekend, I've had the pleasure of volunteering at the Charleston Wine + Food Festival.  What an experience it has been!

On Thursday, I assisted in the prep kitchen by chopping vegetables for the Tyler Florence demo..... Scary enough for a Pastry Student with very rudimentary knife skills to be chopping vegetables (Thank you Chef  Alexander for teaching us to chop onions in Artisan Bread Class).  Even scarier when those vegetables are for TYLER FLORENCE!!!  

Then on Friday, I was a chef assistant in the SCE&G Celebrity Tent and assisted several chefs, including Linton Hopkins from Atlanta's Restaurant Eugene (and also an Iron Chef competitor); Brian Malarkey from San Diego's Seersucker  (and also a Top Chef Miami Season 3 Finalist);  & James Peterson, author of Cooking, as well as Baking.  Being a chef assistant mainly meant that I cleared dishes during the demo and then cleaned up after demos & set up for the next ones.  Not as glamorous as it sounds, but I enjoyed helping.  Since I've had some demo experience from working that the  UND Wellness Center Culinary Corner Demo Kitchen, it was quite interesting to observe demos from well established chefs who are well versed in giving demos.  Demos are a lot harder to do than people imagine......   I loved the fact that these Chefs were intent on showing the audience super delicious dishes that were also very feasible for the home chef.

Pinot Envy Uncorked Festivities! 

And that brings me to Saturday's Pinot Envy Uncorked event.  Pinot Envy Uncorked was sponsored by the Culinary Institute of Charleston and featured a variety of national Vintners (aka wine makers) who exhibited extrordinary Pinot-variety wines.

Preparing one of the buffets

Along with the wines,  delicious local sustainable seafood was provided (prepared by Crew Carolina and CIC Chefs & Students), and chocolates, prepared by the Candies & Confectionaries class at the Culinary Institute of Charleston, were also served.

Mmmmmm..... chocolates! 

Don't you know Chocolate pairs well with Pinot? 

Since I'm currently enrolled in the Candies and Confectionaries class, I helped serve beaucoup de truffles to the masses.  And wow did people eat truffles!!  I'm happy I was able to specifically with this service because I knew what was in each one and how to explain what they tasted like. 

Talking about chocolates all while sporting a super lovely bow tie 

Other students assisted the featured vintners. 

Pouring a taste

Examining a bottle

Everyone seemed to greatly enjoy the wines, the food and, of course, the chocolates!  We were fortunate to have such beautiful weather for the event, although still much cooler temperatures than is usual for this time of year.  

People mingled, and ate, and relaxed, and tasted the amazing wines.  

What a great afternoon at the Mount Pleasant Waterfont Park!  

Stay tuned for several more Charleston Wine + Food Festival-themed posts.  The Bubbles & Sweets event is up next!  

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A celebratory dinner at McCrady's!

lThis past Friday, while my parents were visiting and after I unexpectedly won the honey competition, we went to McCrady's restaurant in downtown Charleston for dinner.

I've been hearing wonderful things about McCrady's ever since I moved here, but I had not had a chance to dine there.  Like nearly all decent restaurants in Charleston, it is a bit pricy, but completely worth it!  Especially since we were celebrating :)

We decided to do the Chef's Tasting Menu so that we could try a little bit of everything.  The menu consists of seven "tasting" courses that are predetermined by the chef.  You can choose to do the Sommelier's wine pairing with each course, but we opted out of that and just had a single glass of wine..... Well, my dad and I did that....  My mom doesn't like wine (or really any alcohol for that matter....)

And the tasting menu includes TWO desserts!  What's not to love about two desserts!

first course: Smoked Ikura Roe with Horseradish, Crispy Bread & Apple

This was the only course that was completely out of our comfort zone....  
I don't think any of us had ever eaten roe before!

second course: Flounder with Grapefruit, Black Truffle & Sweet Potato

third course: Lobster Legs & Foie Gras, Parsnip & Sour Cherries

fourth course: Pork, Black garlic, Molasses, Turnip

fifth course: Beef, Tamarind, Peanut, Coconut Rice

I'm not really a beef eater....  So I'm pretty proud to say that I did eat one bite of the tenderloin.  
But the rest I gave to my dad who happily welcomed it. 

sixth course: "Banana Puddin"

Although everything we ate was delicious, I think this may have been my favorite....  
Banana Pudding is so classically Southern, but this dish takes it to a whole new level.  

seventh course: Soft Chocolate with Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream & Hazelnuts
Perfect way to end a meal..... Chocolate & Mint!  mmmmm yummy! 

The tasting menu changes often (although I'm not entirely sure how often), but I'd most assuredly recommend it, especially if it's your first time at McCradys.  Next visit I may choose to order off the regular menu, just to see what those dishes are like.

We had superior service during our visit.  With so many many courses, we definitely pulled our weight in silverware, haha!

Aside from the delicious food and great service, there are several other aspects of McCrady's that I really enjoy.  One is their philosophy about the food they serve.  They strive to use as many sustainable, local, in-season, products as possible.  Another aspect is the historical significance of their building, which is a part of the National Register of Historic Places & Landmarks.  The original building was built in 1788 as a "Georgian manse."  1788!  Isn't that amazing!  The building was restored in 1982 & now holds the restaurant.  One final aspect I enjoy is their quiet excellence.  So many restaurants around the Charleston area are so flashy..... not so with McCradys (or at least as much as I've seen).  They exude greatness without having a flamboyant exterior like many of the other downtown tourist-y restaurants.

I hope to return for another dining experience in the future and encourage anyone who is in the area to visit this restaurant as well.  I made our reservations on Open Table (which also is a great site!) and would encourage any potential diners to make reservations prior to visiting.

McCradys: inventive cuisine fresh from the farm
2 Unity Alley
Charleston, SC 29401