Sunday, November 05, 2006

I have GIROLLE for our Tete de Moine!!! (plus Blowtorch Beef Episode 1)

LOOK! LOOK! See my girolle? Se my girolle on the Tete de Moine?? Yes, my sweetie undertook the Quest for a Girolle and gave me one for our anniversary. Isn't it beautiful? A model of Swiss engineering? A fabulously sleek and delightful invention???? Is it silly that it makes me giggle like a twelve-year old?

We can make ruffled fleurettes of Tete de Moine. Well, okay, so we could, although I'm not very good at it yet. Believe me, there's practicing afoot. Oddly enough, it's not hard to get Tete de Moine here, but it comes all sliced and we need a good big chunk. Still, it's astonishing how different Tete de Moine tastes when lightened into these delicate petals of cheese.
Eric located the girolle in one of our favorite little odd shops in SF, Cookin', Judith Kaminsky's shop out at 339 Divisadero at Oak Street, (415) 861- 1854.

It's like a gadget nut's paradise, jammed full of old vintage cookware, dishware, books, and more copper pots than you can shake a stick at.

The dizzying array of stuff available is sometimes overwhelming, but if there's any place in SF that's going to have a girolle, this is the one.

Eric says that they didn't have one in stock, although she was happy to obtain one for him. Hey, we just love a place that you can walk into and say something like, "I'm looking for a girolle." And they don't have to say, "What the heck is that?" but instead just reply, "Oh, yeah, we can get that for you."

We'll be practicing on cheese and chocolate in coming weeks as we prepare to garnish the food for the wedding party. We had a little test dinner last night for Eric's sister, Ms. Art Attack and her husband. It was mainly to taste cakes, but we also needed to try out the Heston blow torched beef recipe that I mentioned here.

Here's what we learned.

1) It's a great concept, but in order to cook at 130F you have to have a stove that has a setting lower than 200F. Now our stove is certainly not, shall we say, the most reliable when it comes to temperature. Often our in-kitchen dialogue sounds like this:

ME: Could you preheat the oven?
Eric: What would you like it at?
ME: 350, please.
Eric: Wait, do you want me to put it at 350, or do you WANT 350?
ME: I need the food to heat at 350.
Eric: Oh, okay. I'll set the dial to 425.

So there's a vague irony to the fact that at its lowest setting, our oven was still 200F. Even the toaster oven, which you can set at 150F, was giving us 180F. Well, what to do? In our minds we were aware that cooking the roast at even that temperature for 20 hours was likely to leave us with beef jerky, but we figured, let's just go ahead and try it in the toaster oven, put in every temperature measuring device at our command, and crack the door of the thing and see where it gets us. More on this in just a moment...
2) Now the fun part. The propane torch. Yes, I did buy safety goggles, which -- and I think my Chem teacher would fully back me up on this -- I advise everyone attempting this recipe to do. Yeah, I know, we're not arc welding here, and safety goggles don't look nearly as macho, but lemme tell you, that fat does splatter in unexpected ways. Oh yeah, and a shop apron isn't a bad idea either.

Burn, baby, burn.

So it took a lot of flaming --maybe a half a tank's worth?-- to get what we considered a nice seared look on the outside. Now I don't say it has to be blackened, but we like to see brown. That took several minutes on the old Bernz-O-Matic, just FYI. Still, the roast looked VERY promising by the time we were done. So, into the toaster oven.

3) Holy Moley, does the house smell GREAT!! The smell of slow roasting meat all over the place? Crikey! I'm amazed we didn't have people crawling through the halls of our apartment building and slavering at our doorstep.

BUT, after 8 hours -- WAY too long -- the roast is clearly overdone (I like medium rare to medium and this roast is reading at 160F).

Here are the results. It's actually pretty tender, considering how overcooked it is, and with a bit of jus magic from Eric, the meat has an incredible flavor. That crust caramelized into some divine flavor molecules, let me tell you. Nevertheless, it's really too cooked and the overall texture isn't appealing. And just who is the USDA kidding?? Medium is supposed to be 160F??? This is not medium.

Well, live and learn. We're going to try another roast soon. Keep you posted....

We'll cook anywhere.

Because we were involved in roasting land and also in the making of the three wedding cake samples, there was no more room at the inn in the Four Square Kitchen. A test-out of the mixed grain and mushroom dish that we also plan to serve at the wedding was relegated to the back office. "We don't need no stinkin' counter space."

Not many pictures of dinner because we were too busy flaming and cooking and baking and eating. But here were the contenders for Cake of the Hour.

Clockwise from left:
1) Buttermilk Spice cake with whipped praline ganache
2) Hazelnut Coriander Cake with whipped praline ganache
3) Ginger Molasses Spice Cake with cinnamon pastry cream

And the winner is....
Hazelnut Coriander Cake! Yay! For those interested, I got the recipe from Gastronome, although we experimented with a few changes to it, and are still tweaking some of the methods.

In the mean time, what the heck are we going to do with all this cake?? Anyone want some...?

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