Friday, October 31, 2008

En croûte

I’m such a nerd when it comes to school, I missed one class to go up to Boston in September and I wanted to make up those missed hours so I could have perfect attendance when I graduate. I know, geeky, I just can’t stay away from the kitchen.

Having missed a Level V class, I had to work with the current Level V students whose rotation is Tues/Thurs/Sat nights. Luckily my head Chef is also their head Chef so I was much at ease coming in for the night and he put me on the Entremetier station.

Chef mentioned to me that he had tons of chanterelle mushrooms to use and immediately I wanted to make a soup. I brought up the possibility of using puff pastry and somehow do a play on French onion soup. He said go for it.

I slowly sautéed lots of onions, leeks and shallots to develop their rich flavor as the base of my soup. I had a stock pot of vegetable stock simmering and two bulbs of garlic in the oven roasting. I added the beautiful pale orange-hued mushrooms to the sauté pan and cooked everything until soft. I also had some oyster mushrooms that I sautéed to use as garnish for the soup under the puff pastry.

With my Vita-prep blender I pureed the mixture with some stock and the roasted garlic. A touch of cream and sherry were added to give the soup a little more richness. I balanced the seasonings and was ready to work on plating a prototype.

The puff pastry was somewhat deceivingly easy to work with, I cut square pieces to fit over the bowls and popped my creation into the convection oven. The pastry was slipping into the bowl so I had to figure out a way to make it stick with egg wash.

The soup emerged with a flaky golden crust that sagged in the middle since the bowl was very wide. Not exactly how I pictured it but I knew I’d have at least 15 orders that I could perfect it as I went along.

The orders started rolling in, we called it a mushroom soup en croûte. Bowl after bowl were popped into the convection oven and when the order was fired there were a few times that the expediting Chef had to wait 3 – 5 minutes for my dish (Chef Candy kept belting out, “I’m still waiting for the soup!” it’s not a great feeling when you are holding up orders – trust me). My puff pastry was fussy and decided to take on a life of its own. Sometimes it would puff up, sometimes it would sink in the soup, it took longer to turn golden brown than other times – a nightmare!

As the night wound down I was trying to get ahead of myself and start soups in the convection oven earlier – this was the winning solution and I finally got my puff pastry to do what I wanted it to – stick to the bowl and completely cover the soup. The photo I took was the last soup I made – and I enjoyed it from my dinner.


Valerie said...

I'm not really sure how I came across your blog, but I'm a Level 6 Tues/Thurs/Sat student. I was actually on Saucier the night you made this soup, so I remember seeing it. It's safe to say that the Entremetier station is usually on the slower side, but your soup got more orders than our duck dish that night! You really did a great job with this; I'd say the chefs were impressed. :)

Anthony M. Ramos said...

Valerie, thank you! It was fun to work with a different group of students. Hope we cross paths again. - Anthony