Archive for May, 2008

31
May
08

The Pieman

Simple Simon met a pieman

Going to the fair;

Says Simple Simon to the pieman,

“Let me taste your ware.”

Says the pieman to Simple Simon,

“Show me first your penny.”

Says Simple Simon to the pieman,

“Indeed I have not any.”

I recently came across a write up in a publication from the mid-1800’s about the sellers of street foods in Victorian London, England.

Apparently the street pie trade had been one of the oldest of the street callings in London. By the mid-nineteenth century the trade had been almost destroyed by “pie shops.” Summer fairs and other large outdoor gatherings seem to have been one of the few places a pie-man could make a go of it.

The piemen would wander the streets with a portable tin oven getting business wherever they could. This often meant stopping in at the local public houses. Apparently business was pretty poor, and street piemen didn’t have the best reputation for quality goods. According to one meat pieman:

“People, when I go into houses…often begin crying ‘mee-yow’, or ‘bow-wow-wow!’ at me, but there’s nothing of that kind, now.”

Piemen bought their meat from the same places as sausage makers. They wouldn’t care about the flavour because they would use pepper to mask the taste of the meat. You could tell the quality of the meat by how little or how much pepper was in the pies.

Often a pieman would drum up business by calling out “Toss or buy! Up and win ’em.” Which basically turned the sale of the pies into a coin toss. You win the toss, you get a free pie. Loose a toss, and you’d better be able to pay for one.

That certainly sheds a new light on the old nursery rhyme.

And this…

 

21
May
08

Chai Crème Brulée

 creme brulee

During the recent move, I uncovered a ridiculous amount of tea scattered throughout my kitchen cupboards. There is everything from orange pekoe to pumpkin spice, in a wide variety of colours, from black to green to white.

This got me thinking, “What’s the deal with all this tea?” I barely even drink tea. Most of it I recieved as a gift.

Then I recalled the specialty tea store that had recently opened in a local mall.

Actually, in the past few years, at least three stores devoted exclusively to tea have opened up in this area. Has the world gone tea crazy?

I’ll assume the baby boomers are partially responsible. The search for eternal youth, or at least a tonic for creaky joints, makes them an obvious demographic.

Then again, Tim Hortons has been running those “steeped” ads a lot lately (at least here in Canada). I know a lot of media susceptible people who just have to have whatever the newest trend is.

Then there’s the first time away from home crowd. You know who I mean. Their the “I’m deep because I study at starbucks and drink tea just like my cool Asian roomate” group of “unique” individuals.

Wow, I just realized how mean spirited my posts sound when I haven’t had my coffee.

Don’t get me wrong. In the right context I love tea. I just have my doubts as to how much of my new found wealth I’ll be able to drink in this lifetime. I guess that means I’ll have to get creative…

Chai Crème Brulée

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp loose chai tea, good quality (10 ml)
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping (35%) cream (375 ml)
  • 1/2 cup homogenized whole milk (125 ml)
  • 1/4-cup sugar (60 ml)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • Sugar, for brulée toppingPreheat oven to 325 degrees F.1) Put the whipping cream, milk, sugar, vanilla bean and the chai tea in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to just to a boil. Remove from heat and cover. Let mixture steep for 15 minutes to develop flavor
    2) In a stainless steel bowl whisk the egg yolks. To make the custard, continue to stir egg yolks as you slowly pour the hot cream mixture over the yolks. Strain custard. Pour or ladle evenly into four 6-ounce ramekins or gratin pans.
    3) Bake in a water bath by placing ramekins into a shallow baking pan. Carefully pour enough boiling water into the baking pan so the water comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
    4) Bake just until custard centers jiggle slightly when pan is moved, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from water bath. Cool custard to room temperature. Refrigerate and chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.
    5) Sprinkle 2 tsp. of sugar on top of the custards. Caramelize the sugar with a crème brulée torch or directly under the broiler. Decorate as desired.
20
May
08

Honey, Straight from the Farm

Having been a farm kid, I like to check in on  http://straightfromthefarm.wordpress.com every now and then to remind me of my roots. Today I was pleasantly surprised by this article, and just had to share.

http://straightfromthefarm.wordpress.com/2008/05/16/bee-keeping-intro/#comment-2455

Growing up on the farm, we had bees, and I had my own suit and hive tool.  I loved the smell of the honey extracting in the garage.

We only ever had a few hives, so when my high school guidance counsellor told me I should become an Apiary, I laughed at him and said I couldn’t make a living at that. Maybe I was wrong, or maybe sweet just runs in my blood and that’s why I became a Pastry Chef. C’est la vie.

20
May
08

Vegetable Orchestra

Ok, so I came across this oddity a while back and have been debating about posting it for a while now. I’ve finally caved in because I have to give it credit for containing food, music, and creativity. As to whether any of it is any good, I’ll leave up to you to decide.

May I present the Vegetable Orchestra:

 

 

19
May
08

La Maison Du Chocolat

 

 

Ah, mon Dieu! C’est magnifique! Just yesterday I wrote a post about making truffles with a soft center. I somewhat crypticly mentioned that there are other types of ganache, as well.

In this video from La Maison du Chocolat, you can see how they make a slab of ganache behind the scenes at one of the best chocolataries in France. http://www.lamaisonduchocolat.com/en/

I just want to point out that, although the kitchen looks big and industrial, and there are a lot of machines helping to do the work, making the chocolates is still very much a hands on process.

Also note that, aside from the flambe for flavouring, the ingredients are simple. Chocolate and cream. This is why I stress using the best quality chocolate you can get your hands on, and using fresh cream.

I once found myself in line at the local grocery store behind the owner of a local chocolate shop. I had learned from a former employee that they used Merckens chocolate flavoured candy coating instead of real chocolate. I therefore wasn’t surprised to see her cart loaded up with cans of evaporated milk.

 The result? Grey imitation chocolate that tastes too sweet and has a gritty mouth feel. What a shame.

18
May
08

Chocolate Lust

 

Food porn for all you chocoholics out there.

Maybe I should seek help… 

 

18
May
08

Coffee Truffles

I recently received a request from a friend:

Hey Jeremy! I have a request because I know that you know alot about chocolate!! I need a recipe of a soft ganache filling that I can flavour with coffee to pipe inside a chocolate mould to make truffles with runny centers do u know what I mean???

The following makes quite a bit of ganache for piping into shells. You can divide the recipe in half, if you don’t need that many.

For the ganache:

700g whipping cream,

1000g milk couverture,

20g glucose,

This is a good starting point for a pipe-able milk chocolate ganache. As for the coffee flavouring, you can either whisk an instant coffee into the cream just before adding the chocolate, or use a shot of espresso if you have access to an espresso maker. You can also go the coffee flavoured liqueur route, and add about 50g before adding the chocolate.

The strength of the coffee flavour is dependant on personal taste, so feel free to experiment. I’ve also made cappuccino truffles by using white couverture, and increasing the amount by 100g. To use the above recipe for a dark truffle, the cream and dark couverture should be 900g each.

you can change the flavours all you want, but try not to toy too much with the composition. There is a delicate process involved in the recipe formulation that keeps the ganache from separating. Keep in mind that oil and water don’t mix.

Bring your liquids to a boil, then carefully dump in the chocolate. Don’t whisk it at this point! use a rubber spatula to make sure the ganache is blended together, but try to avoid mixing air into it. From here on out, air is the enemy.

Set the ganache aside to cool, and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure there is no air between the wrap and the ganache, you don’t want bubbles. The reason you don’t want air is that air pockets inside the truffle allow space for mold to grow. Being diligent in keeping air out will give your truffles a longer shelf life (they should be good for about 2 weeks).

Once the ganache has cooled to room temperature, it is ready to be piped. Keep it covered if it’s not going to be used right away. Once piped into shells, allow ganache to set, then cap them with tempered chocolate, roll them, and decorate as desired.