edit: prepping for Valentine’s Day prix fixe dinners is nerve wracking.
Prix fixe dinners. We bust our asses to make them happen, so that you can have a very special dinner on a very special commercial holiday. T-2 weeks, we start talking about what to do.
Pastry Chef: so what are we doing?
me: it has to be chocolate and raspberry because that’s what everybody does.
Pastry Chef: and that’s what everybody expects. chocolate and raspberries. then what?
me: well… you want these people to get laid after dinner so it has to be something luxurious and sexy.
Pastry Chef: like what.
me: mousse? bavarian cream? entremet? sexy mouthfeel.
Pastry Chef: wtf is a sexy mouthfeel.
And with that, Pastry Chef busts out a recipe for a raspberry semifreddo with a chocolate nut crust.
Pastry Chef: here’s the recipe, get the ingredients and we will do a test run next week.
I read the recipe the next day and there’s FEULLETINE in it. Feulletine is flakey crunchy amazing goodness that every pastry chef likes to get their hands on. The only problem is that our distributor doesn’t carry it and runs about 55 bucks A POUND at an online pastry supplies store. I go on eGullet.com and read through the pastry boards in search of a more approachable-y priced alternative.
me: can we malt some cereal and use that instead?
Pastry Chef: no. but let’s puff our own rice and use that.
me: …you want me to make my own rice krispies?
Pastry Chef: yes. it’s easy. i’ll show you.
me: do we have a single dish here that would require us to have rice in our inventory?
Pastry Chef: …….
SO scratch that idea, back to square one. One week away from Valentines Day. PANIC ENSUES.
Pastry Chef: so. raspberry and chocolate.
me: let’s do something simple and easy to understand… (rattles inside of brain for recent inspirations from the interwebs)… like a napoleon.
Pastry Chef: good idea.
and then he draws me this:
Pastry Chef: here’s the recipe. call me when you start prepping.
So on Monday, t-1 day…
Made the chocolate cream. The line is very busy with Valentines day prep, and as a pastry cook, I have to fend and protect my one single burner or my stuff will get replaced by, say, a pot of mash taters.
Spinned the raspberry sorbet. Used a refractometer for the first time in my life to measure the amount of sugar in the sorbet. Sorbet won’t freeze at the right consistency if it’s not sweet enough nor if it’s too sweet. Pretty cool.
Cut, egg washed, and baked the puff pastry. Oven space is prime real estate during prep. I couldn’t get one just for pastry, so I had to pop them in an non-optimal-temperature oven and pray that they wouldn’t burn. Sometimes praying works.
REALLY worked this time around.
The whole menu:
Duck heart mousse.
Arugula salad: pear, cranberries, beemster XO gouda, walnut vinaigrette
Skirt steak chimichurri with fried yucca.
Housemade squid ink pasta with lobster, truffle mascarpone sauce.
Tongue in Cheek: braised cow tongue, veal cheek, burgundy demi made from braising liquid.
5th course. Napoleon: chocolate cream, raspberry sorbet.
Funny thing, I showed Pastry Chef this photo the day after and the first thing he said was “I really need to get some new lens.” THANKS, PASTRY CHEF, THANKS.
There was also a butternut squash soup course but I forgot to take a photo of it.
Oh, hi Chef!
One of the few perks of working on Valentine’s day: getting to, um ‘taste’ the stuff.
Hope you had a good one too! xo