Thursday, January 19, 2012

Culinary IQ: Thursday, January 19, 2011; Changing Directions

A New Approach

Culinary IQ as originally conceived was to present you with a discussion about a certain item or items weekly. I hope the posts so far have been of some interest. I have received numerous positive comments and if you have any negative feelings, I appreciate you keeping them to yourselves, the ego is a fragile thing. I am definitely open to constructive suggestions, however. Some of the subjects I have discussed have been easier than others, I mean how can you make a post about lentils a page turner? Having said all of that, I have decided this week to revise my posts to be a reporting of my ongoing cooking and food experiences. I welcome any requests for discussion of specific items or questions regarding my posts.

Here is what I have been up to so far this week:

Mistakes, Mishaps and Regrets

Last week I had posted on CulinaryRoom that I had made wonderful fluffy strawberry marshmallows, which they were. What I regret is that the recipe called for an optional small amount of orange flower water and I added it. The flavor was not bad but it definitely overpowered the strawberry. Next time it will be pure strawberry. I have several left if anybody wants to try them.

So this week I set out to make some more marshmallows. I was trying to make some using different flavors of alcohol, Kahlua, etc. I want to stop here and say that unless you just have the recipe ingrained in you brain that you should always refer to it. When I had finished beating the marshmallows before pouring in the pan I discovered they were very rubbery, I mean you could have used them to repair flat tires! At first I thought it was the alcohol which I knew would affect the gelatin in the marshmallows. After more thought I discovered that I had used 10 tablespoons of gelatin instead of the 10 teaspoons the recipe called for. So I tried again, unfortunately the marshmallows still didn't come out light and fluffy as expected, I am sure as a result of the alcohol. For now I am left looking for away to get the flavor I want and still have fluff, any suggestions.

My last quick mistake came when I was making croissants, I just want to note that the flour in most bread recipes is a variable, which I knew, but I got a little to enthusiastic when adding the flour and ended up having to make the dough over which leads me to my successes this week.

After my first mishap with the dough for my croissants I was successful in making the most delicious flakey, buttery and beautifully browned croissants! The process for laminating the dough, incorporating and folding in the butter, is a very lengthy one if you don't have all of the tools of a professional kitchen. After the dough is made it has to rest for 30 minutes then you incorporate the butter and fold four times resting for 30 minutes after each fold, after the last fold it rests in the refrigerator overnight. All of this would be done in a blast chiller in a fraction of the time in a professional kitchen. I would have a blast chiller in my kitchen but the one I want starts around $6000 used, Ugh! The next day you take the dough out of the refrigerator, roll it out, cut it, form the croissants and let them rise and then bake. It is a lengthy process but the finished product is pure heaven. It also helps to be a multi-tasker and have other projects going on in between all of the folding and chilling.

Today I am working on a cake for a special event. So far I have made the cakes, they are chiffon and they have came out beautifully. As soon as I am done with this post I will be making the filling so it can cool before frosting this evening with an Italian Buttercream, yum.

You can see some pictures of my projects over the week as well as some of my recommendations for fine eating establishments on CulinaryRoom.

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