Day 32 – Crepes and Banana Fritters

14 Aug

Friday was crepe day! For all the things I have made in my life, never have I made crepes. There are so many crepe eateries in San Francisco that if I want one – and a good one – there are places to go. I think the best part of making them was trying to flip them in the pan without throwing them everywhere or folding them over on themselves. The batters were really simple, and the key was to let them rest in the refrigerator for a bit before making the crepes.

We made crepes suzette, with oranges, orange zest, orange liquere and way too much butter, of course (picture at top). Then, we made buckwheat crepes filled with smoked ham, onions, mushrooms, and gruyere, below:

The buckwheat crepes were delicious and the filling was super rich. This was my favorite dish of the day.

Class got a little slow after this. We made a cinnamon sauce for our banana fritters, which were banana slices dipped in a beer batter and double-deep fried. The point of the double deep fry was to crisp them up. This dish was very mediocre. The cinnamon dipping sauce was good only because Ian jazzed it up a bit from the original recipe. 5 of us agreed on that, so I was not alone in my assessment. Here’s a snapshot of the class watching Chef Tomm doing his second round of deep frying:

And, the final product:

As for recipes, I have been woefully derelict in posting. So, today, I’m going to post two of my favorites from “dessert week”: The chocolate mousse and the fruit tart.

If you want a super simple, yet impressively tasty dessert, the Chocolate Mousse is it. This recipes serves 4.

Ingredients: 1) 150 g (5 oz) of bittersweet chocolate. You definitely want to use a bittersweet chocolate or a dark chocolate here and not something like a milk chocolate. The better quality the chocolate, the better tasting the mousse. 2) 13 oz. heavy cream, 3) 3 egg whites, 4) 1 oz sugar.

Directions: 1) Chop chocolate into chunks and place it in a bowl. Either melt in a double-boiler, or make a double boiler with a pot of boiling water underneath a stainless steel bowl in which you place the chocolate. The object here is that the boiling water should never touch the bottom of the bowl on top; you simply want to slowly melt the chocolate, not cook it, otherwise it will separate, 2) Stir chocolate gently until completely melted and then turn off the heat, but leave the bowl over the water to the chocolate warm and melted, 3) In a different bowl, beat the heavy cream until it forms stiff peaks. Make sure you start out with very cold cream, so don’t bring it out of the refrigerator until you’re ready to beat it. 4) Put whipped cream in refrigerator until ready to fold into the mousse later.

4) In a third bowl, whip the egg whites. When they start to form some soft peaks, add in the sugar and continue to whip until they fully form soft peaks (not stiff peaks). Be careful not to overwhip. They should not be stiff and dry, otherwise your mousse will be too stiff and dry. 5) Fold 1/4 of the chocolate gently into the egg whites and give it a few turns. Then, continue to gently fold the remaining chocolate in. The object here is to not overwork the mousse, so things should be “gently” done, and only until just incorporated. 6) Just before the whites are almost fully incorporated, fold in the whipped cream. 7) Cover and refrigerate one hour or until completely set. Serve with fresh strawberries or another summer fruit that you like with chocolate. I think this rich dessert also goes well with tangerines or oranges.

The fruit tart is actually called “Puff Pastry Fruit Strip“. We made the puff pastry dough in class, but for the home chef, I would suggest buying puff pastry in the frozen section of the grocery store. It was great to make it and to see how it turned out (and it was delicious), but it’s a lot of work for a dinner party, as you need to make several “turns”, and let the dough rest in between to get a light, flaky crust that will rise properly in the oven. And, who has that kind of time, unless it’s your business and you are against buying it pre-made? If you really want to make it, check out Jacques Pepin making it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tH3P1essGw . The recipe actually is for sweetbreads stuffed into puff pastry, but he shows how to make the puff pastry dough 1 minute into the video. You’ll see just how much butter is involved 😉

This dessert will be more time consuming than the chocolate mousse, so the plan of action should be to make the pastry cream, first, as that needs to be refrigerated until very cold. Then, deal with the store bought, frozen puff pastry. Be sure to read the directions on the frozen puff pastry, as you might need to thaw it. Also, you’ll want to read the directions for how long it suggests to bake it so that it’s ready to work with right after your pastry cream is set. Then, the last prep is to slice up all the fruit you want to use, as you can do this when the puff pastry dough is baking and while the pastry cream is refrigerating. Or, if you’re going to prepare as much as you can prior to dinner, prepare the pastry cream, first. You can keep this in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it several hours later. Then, cut up the fruit, so all you’re left with is really baking the puff pastry and assembling. Here’s a picture to help guide what it can look like (although use whatever fruit and design on top you’d like):

Ingredients for Pastry Cream: 1) 17 oz milk, 2) 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped, or 1/4 vanilla extract, 3) 4 egg yolks, 4) 75 g granulated sugar, 5) 20 g each of flour and cornstarch, sifted together. Other ingredients for the tart: 1) Apricot glaze (apricot jelly mixed with a bit of water and heated on the stove; you’ll use this after the tart comes out of the oven to glaze the top and make it shiny), 2) assorted, sliced fruit to cover the entire top of the tart.

Directions for Pastry Cream: 1) Bring milk to a boil with the vanilla bean, 2) Work the egg yolks and sugar together in another bowl until mix is very pale yellow, 3) Add the sifted cornstarch and flour mix to the sugar-yolk mix. Stir to remove lumps. 4) Pour some of the boiling milk into the mix while stirring. Make sure to pour slowly and to add only a little, otherwise you’ll scramble the eggs. This is called tempering. Then, add the rest of the milk in a slow stream, all the while stirring until everything is incorporated. 5) Put the entire mix back on the stove over medium heat and bring to a boil. Turn down to low and cook for 3 minutes after it has boiled. It should be a bit thick, but with no lumps. If there are lumps, take it off the heat and beat with a whisk for another minute to get rid of the lumps. 6) Cool over an ice bath for a few minutes, and then when slightly cooled, dump mix onto a piece of plastic wrap and fold the plastic wrap all over the pastry creme so it’s completely covered into about a 1 inch thick cream. Refrigerate until it’s very cold.

Directions for Puff Pastry: 1) Roll out dough according to package instructions, into a rectangular shape about 6 inches x 20 inches, 2) From each side of the rolled pastry, cut a strip measuring 1/2 inch wide, so you’ll have 2 of the same size borders. You only need two borders, as you’ll cut the tart for your guests so that it only has 2 borders. 3) Place the two strips on the long sides of the tart and press gently to hold in place. Use a paring knife to make angular impressions into the borders for decorations, but don’t cut deep into the dough. 4) Brush the whole top with an egg wash, 5) Put the tart dough into a preheated 350-375 degrees F oven. Put a cooling rack directly on top of the dough to hold it down so that when it rises, it rises evenly and doesn’t fall over on one side. 6) Bake until the tart is nicely browned, probably 30-40 minutes.

Directions for the finish: When the puff pastry dough is slightly cooled, top it inside the borders with the pastry cream, and then arrange the fruit on top of the pastry cream. Finish with the apricot glaze across the whole top.

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2 Responses to “Day 32 – Crepes and Banana Fritters”

  1. Jocelyn August 14, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

    I think I will try the chocolate mousse…sounds yummy!! Spending the day with your MIL today – brunch and a movie. Aloha

  2. Bee Leng Chua August 14, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

    The puff pastry fruit strip recipe looks pretty complicated with so many steps! When I ever see it in a bakery or eat it at a restaurant for dessert, I will appreciate it even more because of all the work that went into it!
    Southeast Asia also has a banana fritter snack called “Goreng Pisang” or fried bananas translated. Its sold by street vendors and there is no syrup to go with it. The sweetness is all in the bananas. The fun is in crunching through the batter and eating the sweet, hot and soft banana inside. In the Chinese restaurants, there are banana and apple fritters served, with syrup drizzled.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Bee Leng

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