April 3, 2010

Designing plates

The third section with Chef Hall was all about individual plating. We still had to make items. We had a list of items, garnishes, and sauces. We make the items, plate the items, and Chef scores the items.

A note about the plates, portion size, texture, flavor, composition, presentation, color, and difficulty are important. Portion size is between 3-8 oz, less ounces for richer, more for lighter. Texture is about product consistency, the thickness of sauce, and the balance of texture on the plate (crunchy, creamy, etc). Flavor is a given. Composition is about the shape, elevation (higher is better), balance of items (odd numbers are better than even) or symmetry, and placement on the plate. Presentation is about the plate being clean, no smudges, and about the lines/piping on the plate. Color is presented in harmony or contrast, natural colors only. Difficulty is the kicker. You want to include multiple techniques, close timing, and advanced garnishing. So I present to you my plates...

First up was a crème caramel, otherwise known as flan. It is not difficult to make but it is impossible to get out of our ramekins. It took me 6 to get one out that wasn't all messed up. It is a layer of caramel that you pour into the ramekin. Once set, you pour over the prepared filling. You bake it in a water bath. Once out and cool, you run a wet (it has to be wet) knife blade along the edge, turn it over on to a plate, and hopefully it will slide out onto the plate. When it slides out, some of the caramel has broken down into a sauce and it comes with it. It makes a lovely and tasty puddle all around the creamy filling. I decorated it with 3 blackberries and a sugar garnish. The sugar garnish and berries were both checkoff.

The next items was bread pudding. I have made this before with stale, scrap bread, cinnamon and raisins. I then serve it warm with a Chambord sauce. Here in class, it is pretty plain. It is also served cold. No hard sauce either. So I slide it out of the ramekin. Decorate with caramel sauce and raisins. The caramel sauce was a checkoff. I think the recipe is good but I would serve it warm. With a spicy, cinnamon sauce.

After the simple bread pudding and crème caramel, we move on to the more difficult souffles. We get to make a cream based souffle and a flourless one. My group is awesome! We got both right and when we took them out of the oven they were a good 2 inches above the ramekin. The problem is that they immediately start sinking. I decided to plate my cream based chocolate souffle 'broken' with a pool of crème anglaise (a checkoff) in the middle. mmmm.... The flourless souffle I served just plated with a dusting of powdered sugar. Alan didn't get to try these because the just deflate and get cold to fast. These must be eaten warm from the oven.

After the fun of souffle we moved on to chocolate mousse. Here we bring back our tempering chocolate skills for our garnish, or more, for the plate itself. I made a cup on a balloon. It is fun to inflate them, dip them, and then when the chocolate sets, slowly deflate it. You are left with a perfect little cup. And, if you do it right, you can make it a cool, rounded edge cup by dipping straight down then move left, right, up, down, and pull straight out. I filled my cup with the smooth chocolate mouse, topped it with a golden, sugar star, a thin chocolate arc, and a line of raspberry and mango coulis. Coulis is a sauce made from a fruit or vegetable puree. We made mango, raspberry, and eventually a kiwi one but I never actually used it.

Following mousse, we made panna cotta. Wow tasty. We have these silicon molds that make the shapes, round, square, pyramids. Our group used the rounds for panna cotta. I plated it with the raspberry and mango coulis. I went for a sun set in the water, using blueberries as the 'water.' I also feathered the mango and coulis together so it looked like flames. I really liked this dish. It was pretty, fun, and tasted so lovely.

Still in the cold items, we worked on a fruit mousse. I made a kiwi mousse with a mango glacé. We use a round, roll cake piece as a base. We then wrap a piece of acetate around the base and pipe in the mousse. Once the mousse has chilled, we make the glacé and pipe it very thin on top. We chill that until set. Then we remove the acetate band and plate it. I plated it with a couple of drops of raspberry coulis and a tower of raspberries up the side. It was pretty good, very light, smooth, and creamy.

Next up, frozen chocolate marquise. Alan and his dad Ken got to taste this, although it wasn't frozen by the time we got to it. I liked using the pyramid molds for this one. The shape is so funny and you can do so much with it. I did alternating bands of mango and raspberry coulis. Then I curled a bit of the red in to the corner of each mango line for a pretty red curl. Then I added my tempered chocolate decoration in the shape of a fan. I wanted to put the raspberry in the circle of the chocolate decoration but I was afraid of breaking it.

So here is where I forget to take a picture. We poached pears and I forgot to take a picture of the plate before Chef evaluated and tasted it. I devoured it. Without a tought. Duh. Katie, a group mate, was kind enough to let me snap a picture of her lovely plate before Chef Hall evaluated and tasted it. She decorated with blueberries on tiny piles of creme chantilly, the pear atop a mint pile, all surrounded by a cage of sugar. Good job Katie! Anyway, the pear was super delicious. I toasted the spices before adding the liquid, sweet spices, like cinnamon, cloves, anise, and a chunk of dried apricot. The pear was a really pretty red/purple color when it was done.

The day of poached pears was a bit about forgetting. Forgetting pictures and just not being with it. I volunteered to make the group ice cream. No one cared what kind so I made a orange ginger ice cream. I like the combo, I made jellies of the same flavor. It is all about getting the right amount of ginger. Orange with milky is just awesome and when you add a bite of ginger, well, nothing better. So I get the base ready and ask Chef something and I thought he said it was ready to go, I took it to the fancy ice cream machine and turned it on. It takes 6 minutes. I decided to run back and do my dishes really quick and then come back for it. I get back to class and notice another group has their base... in an ice bath. Oh man. I just put hot cream base in a really expensive school machine. Chef Hall was very kind, I could have broken the machine by overworking it. It worked out ok, my ice cream just took 7 minutes longer than normal. Jeesh. 

Anyway, I got the idea to make ice cream cones out of my caramel cookie batter (a checkoff). I made them and dipped the end in chocolate and rolled it in pistachios. The colors were just beautiful. I put a cone on the plate and I made a quenelle shape out of the ice cream and place it in front of the cone. Chef Hall said the ice cream was good. I was glad that I didn't screw up for the whole group. Yikes. On top of that, I forgot my picture on this one too. The picture of the ice cream cones is my group mate Delicia's. She also made cones. She just didn't dip them in chocolate or roll them in nuts.

Next up, sorbet. Katie had a bad day and a pink explosion for the first try at group sorbet so Rita, another mate, took a whack at try number two. It worked. Strawberry sorbet done in 6 minutes. That machine is awesome. I decide to plate it with blood orange segments, chocolate sauce, and a bit of fresh mint. The dark lines of chocolate were a nice contrast to the orange-red and pink.

Whoosh, another section complete. Next up is all about designing our own 4 item dessert menu. Then costing it out and implementing it. One item, has to go to the restaurant for service. I am still alive and will tell about it in my next post, coming soon...

1 comment:

  1. Dad and I were fortunate to eat the remainders of these awesome designs. I like the pyramid/raspberry thing the way you designed it and not the way Chef Hall suggested.