Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Dangers of the BBC – Masterchef: the Professionals

Over on BBC they have a version of Masterchef that has nothing to do with Gordon Ramsey, has no parting shots and is all about the development and testing of professional chefs.  These are the people you watch to be impressed.  Forget comparing myself to them.  They’re better.  They’ve trained for this and it shows.  Well, mostly.

There are the skill tests.  They are presided over by the awesome and formidable Monica Galetti (this woman knows how to use an eyebrow!)  These are things I can do if I go look it up in Julia Child, or Boston Cooking School cookbook or Brillat-Savarin (Old School Stuff),  but not in the 8 or 15 minutes that the chefs have.  Quite often, and to our vast entertainment, they can’t either.

Some are clear shows of the culinary divide between here and London – Uni is not a thing there, but over here us lowly home cooks are taking on the Sea Urchin.  This was a particularly painful episode to gasp and giggle through.

And then the challenge was Crêpes Soufflé.  The boy saw that, and said, “Can we make that?”   Next thing I knew I had the dynamic duo making a soft meringue with crème patisserie  and crêpes,  All I had to do was warm up the oven and break out the bottle of tayberry syrup I’d been saving for something good.  (And help with the cleanup, but that’s neither new, nor exciting.)

But this is what we got out of it.

Here’s how: 
(Fortunately we didn’t have to do it in 15 minutes, and neither do you.)  I've simplified things a bit by leaving out the crème patisserie, and substituting powdered sugar, because these won't have to sit around and need "stabilization" from the crème.

And what do you do with extra egg yolks?  Crème Brulée, Sauce Bérnaise, Hollandaise, or something similarly luscious.  Or gingersnaps.


Make these 1st.  Make tons, separate them with wax paper (or similar) and freeze for later use.

Ingredients: (you can easily make 1/3 of this recipe if you want to go small)
1 C flour (instant blending if you have it)
2/3 C cold milk
2/3 C water
3 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbs melted & cooled butter (+ more for the pan)

blender or large bowl and whisk
non-stick pan
large, non metal flipping spatula
plate for stacking crepes
(optional - wax or similar paper for storing crêpes) 

All the ingredients in the blender.  Go until smooth (or whisk until same result is reached)
Let it sit in the refrigerator for 10 min - 48 hours.  This will let the flour swell up and make sturdier crêpes.  (If you don't have time, it'll still work, they just might tear).

Place about a tsp of butter in the pan over medium high heat.  (Putting the butter in the cold pan helps you keep from overheating an empty pan!)  When the butter melts and then sizzles, then subsides, the pan is ready.  Spread the butter around.  Then while tilting the pan to spread the batter, add 2Tbs - 4Tbs of batter.  Enough to cover the bottom in a thin layer.  Cook about 1 minute, or until lacy brown patterns form on the bottom.  Flip and cook about 30 seconds.  Place on the plate.  Continue through the batter and make a stack.  

These can be used right away.  Refrigerated, or separated and frozen in a zip top bag.  Until you're making crêpes every day, don't be afraid to fuss with times and temperatures until you have it exactly right!  And then when you change cook tops and pans, you'll have to futz around all over again.

Soufflé Part
prepared crêpes (see above - 2 per person)
1 egg whites per crêpe (you can get away with 2 egg whites for 3 crêpes)
2 tsp powdered sugar per eggwhite
fruit syrup (optional)

cookie sheet
silicone baking mat/parchment paper/greased cookie sheet
large flipping spatula
large bowl
soft scraping spatula
mixer with whipping attachment

Separate the eggs.  Set the yolks aside for something else.
Place the egg whites in a large, very clean bowl/bowl of a stand mixer.  Start beating the egg whites on a slow speed, until they are bubbly.  Turn up the speed a bit, and sprinkle in the powdered sugar carefully - so it doesn't fly around.
Continue to beat the egg whites until they won't fall out of the bowl if you flip it over (semi-stiff peaks).  

Heat the oven to 350˚F.
Place the baking mat/parchment paper on the cookie sheet.
Lay on crêpe flat on the cookie sheet.  Use the soft spatula to spread a layer of egg white on half the crêpe (about 1/2" to 3/4" inch thick).  Fold over (half moon shape).  Spread another, thinner layer of egg white on half the crêpe again.  Fold over again (triangle shape).  
Repeat with as many as you want (6 is a good number for a cookie sheet).  Pop in the oven for about 8 minutes, or until the egg whites puff up or "soufflé."


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