Thursday, January 27, 2011

Jan Daring Bakers' 2011 Challenge Entremet


This month's challenge was superb it was to make a decorative pattern in a sponge layer called a joconde imprime and using that to make an entremet (a fancy small cake filled with any combination of mousse, cheese cake filling,...).
WOW this challenge was about technique – the making of the patterned sponge outside later of the entremet, this is a method I will be using again and again. Some of the other Daring Bakers' entremets were so exquisite this is a dessert that would make a spectacular addition to any party.

Click here to get a printable pdf of this month's recipe.

Recipe Source: I received this recipe from Chef John O. while attending The International Culinary School in Atlanta, Georgia USA.

Blog-checking lines: The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

Nutella, marshmallow and hazelnut entremet
I have never heard of entremet and the technique of patterning the paste was totally new to me so I was extra excited about this challenge since it could open up a whole new way of decorating cakes etc for parties.

I had promised the neighbour's kids that I would make a treat for them so I decided to a do a nutella, marshmallow and hazelnut entremet for them. I wanted a simple filling and topping for my first experimental entrement I was more concerned with perfecting the decorative layer on this occasion.

My mum had given me for Christmas some ti-flavoured marshmallows that were chocolate, strawberry and vanilla so I used them.

I had a plastic scraper with a big jagged sawtooth pattern I used that it produced a very fine pinstripe pattern in the decorative layer unfortunately my camera wasn't good enough to pick up the pattern very well in the photographs. But it was so pretty and elegant in real-life next time I will use a more bold pattern.

For the sponge I used hazelnut meal with a tablespoon of almond meal.

The final decorative layer was superb it was light flexible and tender a delicious sponge.

1. When you add the egg whites to the patterned Joconde-D├ęcor paste it will start to cuddle don't worry it comes together just add them slowly and the batter will be fine.
2. I froze the patterned paste for 30 minutes.
3. The baking of the patterned paste and sponge is a scary process the temperature is so high 475°F/250°C you really have to keep a very careful eye on it mine only took 8 minutes to bake (about ½ the stated time), the outside edges got burnt but the rest of the layer was excellent I used scissors to cut the baked layer.
4. I found the sponge batter a little loose so I added an extra tablespoon of almond meal to it, it still spread out a little while baking and over the edges of the upturned baking tray.

The paste with pattern notice the plastic tool I used to obtain the pinstripes

Paste covered with the sponge batter

Baked decorative layer (notice how burnt the edges are!)

Cut decorative layer

Notice the thinness of the decorative layer

The subtle pinstripes

The completed entremet

The gooey inside of the entremet

OMG was this a super treat for the kids they loved it the hazelnut sponge was the perfect choice with the nutella topping and the soft marshmallow centre was an extra special surprise for the children Even I liked it!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Jan Daring Cooks' 2011 Cassoulet


WOW this month's challenge is a French classic called cassoulet a delicious stew/casserole made with various confit (meat or fowl poached in fat) and beans, this is a marvellous recipe, one that can include all sorts of meats (even cured ones) and beans. Also the recipe can be made over a number days so making it an easy exercise. It can be an expensive recipe but you can make it much cheaper (but just as tasty) if you use butter or oil (instead of duck fat) to confit chicken legs (instead of duck legs) and breakfast sausages (instead of expensive sausages). I noticed that most of the forum members raved about this recipe and it fully deserves the praise it is so so good it is rich in flavour and because of the confit and the method to cook the final dish the beans became extra tasty and in my opinion they become the star of the dish (I noticed from the comments in the forums that many bean haters loved the beans in this dish!). So if you are a bean lover add lots more to the dish and enjoy!

Some notes about cassoulet
Cassoulet is a rich, slow cooked stew or casserole that originated in the south of France during the 14th century. It traditionally contains pork, sausages, and white beans as well as a duck or goose confit and then topped with fried bread crumbs or cracklings. The dish is named after its traditional cooking vessel, the cassole, which is a deep, round earthenware pot with slanted sides. This is a dish that traditionally takes about three days to prepare, but is oh so worth all the effort!! A confit, in case you don’t know, is one of the oldest ways to preserve food. It is essentially any kind of food that has been immersed in any kind of fat for both flavour and preservation. When stored in a cool place, confit can last for several months! Typical meats (most often waterfowl) are preserved in fats, while fruits are preserved in sugar.

See here it is the official website for French cassoulet recipes.

See here for a printable PDF for the challenge recipes.

Recipe Sources:
Cassoulet by Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman as featured on the Travel Channel’s “No Reservations”
Vegetarian Cassoulet by Gourmet Magazine, March 2008
Thirty Minute Cassoulet by Jacques Pepin’s Fast Food My Way, KQED
Chicken Confit (Using Olive Oil) by Emeril Lagasse, via Food Network
Garlic Confit from Saveur, Issue #129
Leek Confit by Molly Wizenberg, as seen in Bon Appetit

Blog Checking Lines: Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.

Hot spicy five bean cassoulet

Since it is so hot here in Sydney I thought I would spice up the challenge recipe a little so I used some very spicy smoke-cured hot Italian sausage and speck (a type of hot spicy prosciutto)which rendered out wonderful flavour into the dish.

What an amazing, tasty and delicious recipe this is it is the BEST tasting 'stew' that I have ever had. I decided to use smoke-cured hot spicy Italian sausage with some speck (a type of prosciutto) along with chicken legs and spare beef ribs I used butter to confit these at 60°C/140°F (the lowest temperature to safely confit meat and fowl) for 18 hours. The cured sausage and speck rendered hot spicy yumminess into the other meats that is the confit had a lovely bite to it. In the poaching challenge last month I learnt how to butter confit spare ribs so I repeated the process adding a lot of other cooked and uncooked meats.

I had some good luck in the local opportunity shop and picked up a vintage French casserole dish for only $4 so I served the cassoulet in that for four people.

I had even better luck at the butcher's everything was on special the shop was being renovated so all the stock had to be cleared I got 7 kgs of various meat for only $14!

I used five types of beans:- chickpeas, puy lentils, Lima, Northern white beans and red kidney beans I cooked these in a home made roast beef-bone stock yum yum. The beans where superb even before I put them with the confit meat.

The vintage $4 casserole

The butter confit of beef spare ribs, chicken legs, hot spicy smoked-cured Italian sausage and speck

Just 1/2 of the confit meat I made about 7 kilos at once and froze the rest

The cassoulet in the vintage serving casserole

The plated cassoulet

It is really hard to know what is the best part of this recipe - the spare beef ribs were tender and juicy the bite-sized hot spicy sausage and speck were a great contrast against the milder chicken, the beans were so so meaty tasting but with their own flavour when bitten into. I was extremely pleased with the result I froze about 7 1/2 litres of left overs enough for about 30 servings.

The total cost was
beef spare ribs 3kg/$5
Italian sausage and speck 2kg/$6
chicken legs 2kg/$3
new dried beans 2kg/$3 (makes about 16 cups of cooked beans)
beef bones for the stock 3kg/$2 (makes about 3 litres of thick gelatinous bone stock)
butter for the confit 2kg/$5 (reusable)
bits and pieces $2
Total $26 for 34 servings even more if served with potatoes or rice
that is $0.76 per serving, an extremely cheap dish if using chicken, beef spare ribs and sausage and using butter for the confit.

Meatloaf Cassoulet
I even made meatloaf from some of the leftovers (add fresh breadcrumbs and herbs and one egg per three cups of leftover cassoulet bake at 180°C/350°F until firm about an hour) WOW it is so so tasty, notice how you can see the individual beans and pieces of various meats. This is best served hot or warm (heat in a microwave for a minute or two), slice a thick piece of meatloaf and serve with home made bread.

This is the best meatloaf you will ever taste it is meaty, tasty and the beans are superb.