Monday, April 28, 2008

Dry Run

Friday was the first dry run for our spring Classic Cuisine Dinner, and I had a blast. This will be the only dinner where I am in charge of the dish I am cooking, and am not answerable to a chef de parti -- I found and am developing the recipe and sub-recipes, and am working directly with our student Chef de Cuisine on adjustments to them.

The dinner is a 100-mile menu, which means we're highlighting local ingredients. The main purpose in the school's eyes is to focus on sustainability. For me, that's all well and good, what thrills me about it is the chance to highlight the glorious ingredients available in this region. So the dish I came up with was vanilla ice cream, made with local dairy milk and cream, topped with a hazelnut & honey caramel sauce. One of my classmates made a suggestion, and I thought it was a good one, so I've added a slice of pound cake to the recipe.

The dry run went well. I made the ice cream a couple days ahead of time, so ti would have time to set in the freezer, and it came out almost perfectly -- smooth, light, with a rich taste but not cloyingly sweet. On Friday, the sauce came out delicious, but a bit thin. Next time I'm cutting back on the cream. toasting the filberts, and especially the stage of skinning them, was the most tedious part. The last step was to add the nuts and the sauce to a saucepan, flambe them (We'll be using a locally-distilled vodka, Bend Distillery's Hazelnut Coffee Vodka). The dish was supposed to be a half-dessert, since we're doing a buffet and eople will have several desserts to choose from. But we determined that a half-serving of ice cream just can't take the heat from freshly flambeed sauce, so we're increasing the serving to a full 4 ounce scoop, and cutting the amount of sauce and nuts in half.

The final plating needs some tweaking, as you can see, but the flavors and textures are out of this world.