Saturday, 19 September 2009
Friday, 18 September 2009
Genoise aux pommes, candied apples, ginger custard, milk jam, apple sorbet and apple chips
There is a stunning sweet pictured on page 233 that really caught my eye when first leafing through Under Pressure. The beautiful apple chip sitting atop a quenelle of apple sorbet is beautifully presented and obviously a challenge to prepare. This dish was chosen by our Development Director to serve at an Alumni dinner the college is hosting this evening. We don't need to replicate the recipe once....we need to replicate it ninety times! I tasked my Sous Chef Ioana with preparing this dish three days ago, the recipe is quite complex and require several days to finish. We started with the Genoise aux Pommes (apple cake) which was quite simple.
We needed four trays to get 90+ cake rounds. The apple sorbet was next and this gave me an excuse to use my new magi-mix juicer. The magi-mix is great and has been used to juice, carrots, beetroot and now apples. We take the leftover pulp from inside the juicer and dry it overnight in our Excalibur 9-Tray Dehydrator. In the morning we powder the fruit/veg in a vita prep and then vacuum pack for later....but I'm digressing. The sorbet gets it nice colour from adding a few leaves of spinach with the apples whilst juicing, this didn't affect the taste which was terrific!
The candied apples were fun as we needed a little over 700 balls. After scooping the apple balls they are vacuum packed in poaching liquid (an even mix of sugar, water and white wine cooked as for syrup) and cooked at 75 degrees C for 3 hours. Again I would recommend adding a little citrus powder to help the apples retain their colour. We use Citrus from the El Bulli range of powders. The apples turn out nice, but look different then in the cookbook photo!
Thursday, 17 September 2009
My name is David Harwood and I am currently the Catering Manager at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge in England. I was born in England but spend much of my youth and early twenties living in Oregon, USA.
I starting cooking at the age of 16 whilst working part-time in high school. I had taken a job as a kitchen porter (dishwasher in the US) in a small restaurant in Lake Oswego called the walrus and Carpenter. It was here that my love of cooking began with the constant smell of steaks, seafood and french fries!
Many years later, and now 42 years old, I have semi-retired from the kitchen. During the past two decades I have worked my way from Oregon to Florida, London, Madrid, Cyprus, the French Alps, and finally to Cambridge England where I met my Spanish Wife Mildred (I know, not a very Spanish sounding name!).
I recently learned about sous vide and the perfect results you can obtain by low temperature cooking. I rushed out and purchased the following:
Clifton water bath
Multivac chamber vacuum packing machine
various sizes of plastic bags designed specifically for vacuum packing
needle thin temperature probe
Under Pressure by Thomas Keller
Sous Vide by Joan Roca and Salvador Brugues
I then convinced Nick, my Head Chef ,to embrace this new style of cooking. I told him we could use this method for any size dinner, big or small, and his life would be so much easier! I then showed his Mr Keller's book. It would be rude to print what he said next, but suffice to say he needed more convincing. Two months on and we are re-creating dishes from Under Pressure for up to 150 covers, even the team at The French Laundry would be impressed!
Hence the Blog, we want to share what we have learned and what we are still learning. Below I have posted a picture of the compressed melon dish from page 234. We changed the cucumber sorbet to strawberry, but otherwise I think we did a damn good job. Nothing quite prepares you to the sight of watermelon as it's vacuum packed, the change in colour is simply amazing to watch!
The melons change colour as soon as the air is removed during the vacuuming process, I watched the watermelon being compressed through the glass panel of our chamber vacuum machine, incredible!
The black syrup is a mix of balsamic and glucose reduced, the olive oil cake is nice and light and the yogurt is blended with creme fraiche. We plated the sweet as seen below; the only change we made was to quenelle the sorbet. Sir Richard Dearlove, Master of Pembroke College was very impressed with this! We are using this sweet twice next week, once for 25 covers and the second time for 50.