Monday, March 26, 2012

Springtime Strawberry Flambe

One of the most exciting things about dining at a white table cloth establishment is table side service. Nothing makes a guest go wow more than a waiter catching something on fire right next to you. So, I've decided to share this with you so you too can impress everyone at your next gathering, but please do this with caution. I wouldn't recommend flambeing the berries of you do not feel comfortable-- the flambe can always be omitted and the strawberries will still taste delicious, without the flame.

There is a few cautions, though, before you go lighting things on fire all willy nilly.
  1. Do not pour alcohol onto the pan when it is on the burner. A fireball is likely as well as the flame traveling up the stream, into the bottle, spraying hot alcohol and broken glass everywhere.
  2. Keep the hairspray to a minimum that day, it is flammable.
  3. Make sure the fan is on over the stove.
  4. Lastly, make sure everyone is aware of what is about to happen. The last thing you need is pandemonium breaking out mid show.
So lets get to it. Here is the demo that professor gave us in the dining room:

Here is the recipe we use to create the Strawberry Flambe with Olive Oil Cake and Basil Gelato. Aside from the cake and gelato, the recipes are for 2 portions.

Yield: 2 portions 6 ea strawberries, quartered and trimmed
 7.2g water
 7.2g granulated sugar
 2.2g red wine vinegar
 1.4g strawberry liquor

Bring the water, liquor and sugar to a simmer and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the vinegar and cool over an ice bath until fully chilled. Once cold, place poaching liquid in Ziploc bag with the strawberries. Allow to marinate for 1 day. Remove the strawberries from the bag and store separately from the liquid. Do not discard the liquid.

Olive Oil Gateau
Yield: 1, 8" Cake

150g cake flour
2g baking powder
188g light beaten eggs (6-7 large)
188g granulated sugar
125g low-fat yogurt
75g almond flour
150g finest extra virgin olive oil
½ lemon, zested

Sift the cake flour and baking powder together. Put the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk. Beating on low speed, gradually add the sugar and whisk to the ribbon stage, 7 to 10 minutes. Whisk in the yogurt, followed by the almond flour. Add the flour mixture and incorporate it. With the mixer still running on low speed, drizzle in the oil. Transfer to a 8" cake pan, lined with sprayed parchment paper. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes, or until the top is very lightly golden and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.

Basil Gelato
Yield: 2qts

 1 quart whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
¾ cup sugar
6½ tablespoons dry milk powder
5 tablespoons glucose
1 bunch basil, steams removed
2.5 bunches basil
½ lemon, zested

Have an ice-water bath ready. Combine the milk and basil and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes until infused. Add the cream, sugar, milk powder, and glucose to the pot and heat to 140F, whisking frequently. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting so the mixture maintains 140F for 30 minutes. Check the temperature periodically so it is properly maintained- especially during the final 10 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and when the mixture reaches 180F, remove the pot from the heat and plunge the bottom into an ice water bath. Cool the base and then spin in an ice cream machine and freeze.

6 ea Graham Crackers
1 oz Butter, melted

Pulse in food processor until crumbly.

Sauce Strawberry Syrup

1 oz Cognac, per 2 servings
1 oz Butter, per 2 servings

Now for the show.
  1. Gather everything you will need to make this happen, including a pan, a spoon, a side towel, the butter, cognac, sauce, strawberries, and the dessert plate up.
  2. For the dessert plate up: on a plate or large bowl place a piece of the cake and about a tablespoon of the crumble. Have the gelato pre-scooped in the freezer so you can put it on the plate quickly.

  1. Melt the butter in the pan.
  2. Add the strawberries. Do not brown. Cook them just enough to warm them.
  3. Add 2 oz of the sauce. Reduce until it coats the berries.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat. Pour 1 oz of cognac into the pan.
  5. Place the pan on the burner, and tilt forward slightly. You are not trying to dump out the liquor.
  6. Stand back, and wait for the flame to dissipate.
  7. Stir and serve over the cake.
  8. Place the gelato on the side.

Have you ever seen something cooked tableside? Would you ever try to flambe something? Tell me below!

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