Seattle,Desserts and a new experience…

Tuesday 29 September 2009 | Posted by Kishi | desserts,Travel

 

Desserts in Seattle

Memories of Seattle –new city, friends for life, wine, cheese, great learning, studio at capitol hill and tasty rustic desserts. Read on…my externship experience!

Dahlia lounge, one of the well-known fine dining restaurants is located in downtown Seattle. The restaurant is run by one of the famous chef of the Pacific Northwest, Tom Douglas. He also owns two more renowned restaurants in downtown Seattle. My externship was in the pastry kitchen that serves all the three restaurants and also the retail bakery located next to the restaurant. I worked under the supervision of the pastry Chef Toby Matasar who is also a CIA graduate. The first month was spent getting used to the work environment of the kitchen but as time passed I felt my sense of comfort and understanding grew exponentially. My teacher was my Sous chef Mark LeBlanc who taught me everything I was to learn during my tenure and got me in the habit achieving perfection in making the items even if it was something as simple as a cookie. He was patient and understanding. He spent a lot of time going over the recipes and making sure I got them.

The quality of the products used was very good. Most of the produce was organic and fresh and the menu was based on seasonal produce. This meant that the menu changed practically every month. High quality ingredients were used for garnish. The raw ingredients came from local distributors. The inventory was checked by the chef everyday and ordered in the morning. On weekends the same job was done by the Sous Chef. The way the pastry kitchen worked was very simple.

The items that were to be produced were marked on the Prep list and on completion they were struck out from the list. The techniques used in the kitchen were very basic and simple. The main aim in the kitchen was to get the work done easily and efficiently. In order to stay ahead of time a lot of production items were prepared before hand. Being the summer season there were a lot of catering events and private parties in the restaurant. The items were baked in the order they were required. All the retail bakery items were baked first (Dahlia Bakery) ; this was followed by items for Etta’s, then Palace Kitchen and last but not the least for The Dahlia lounge. As there were generally three or four people working at the same time, the work got divided and a lot of products got done before time. At the end of the day of there was more time left prep work was done for the next day. The food was tasted by Shelly who was employed as a quality controller. Each production item that was prepared was tasted by everyone. By doing so not only everyone got a chance to taste the food but it also served as a way of checking the quality of the food. Being a highly reputed restaurant it was necessary that the food was of the highest quality and steps were undertaken to maintain the quality.

Tom Douglas believes that a dessert should be simple and elegant. All the finished food once plated looked very rustic and simple. The dessert had to taste good but that did not imply that less time was given to its appearance. An uncomplicated way of presentation was used, a small cake with a scoop of ice cream with the fresh fruit coulis. For most of the summer the kitchen was busy with we did have some slow days.

I personally felt that sometimes there was a lot of wastage in the kitchen. If the monetary value was calculated over a period of time, I am sure it would be a lot of money. Sometimes the sale was overestimated thus leading to more wastage.

Working in the kitchen not only teaches one to learn about food but also the human side to it. I worked and dealt with different kinds of people who come from diverse backgrounds and with different personalities. I personally felt that each day was a challenge since I had to deal with a new situation, different from what I was faced with the previous day. Through this interaction I also greatly developed my interpersonal skills.

On the whole, the environment was healthy and happy and the people were very approachable. Everyone while working talked about their life and the kind of activities they are involved in. Our discussions ranged from food to clothing to religion, music and likes and dislikes amongst other things. I also learned about the American culture and provided as much information I could about India. Over a period of time the work place started feeling home to me.

Working in Dahlia lounge has been a great learning experience and working in a real world kitchen has greatly added to my confidence. This experience has not only helped me make concrete my career plans but taste and decide the kinds of desserts I personally like. Learning about a new place and city, a new culture and meeting new people thus made my externship one of my most cherished and unforgettable experience in my life. I would personally recommend this place to any enthusiastic student who is willing to take challenges and roll with the situation. It’s not only a great place to work and learn about the culinary field but also to meet some great people.

Friends in seattle

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Black Forest Cherry Cake

Monday 28 September 2009 | Posted by Kishi | Cake

Black Forest CakeOn a random note – I was thinking about…how much pastry I had as a kid?
Answer is hardly!! I was fond of cooking and going to do baking and pastry course had happened by chance as I am a vegetarian. The one pastry that I relate to a lot but was never a die hard fan was Eggless Black Forest Cake that came on every occasion house other than the Eggless pineapple or truffle cake. Typically, Black Forest cake consists of numerous layer of chocolate cake, with whipped cream and cherries between each layer. Then the cake is decorated with additional stratums of whipped cream, maraschino cherries, and chocolate shavings (Dark Chocolate). Sometimes I use morello or sour cherries. Traditionally, Kirschwasser is added to the cake but I soak my cake with the maraschino cherry syrup and sometimes even RUM!!

FYI-Black Forest is also a wooded mountain range in Germany. Black Forest ham originated from this region, and so, by name and reputation at least, did the Black Forest Cake
For those who don’t know Kirschwasser is a clear, colourless fruit brandy conventionally made from double distillation of morellos, a dark-colored cultivar of the sour cherry. Kirsch also another major ingredient in Cherries Jubilee which is a famous dessert made with black cherries flambéed with kirsch or brandy, and then spooned over vanilla ice cream. If you have some extra lying at home try this cocktail in a martini glass- Cola, Grenadine, Kirsch, Vodka, garnish with couple of fresh cherries.

Maraschino cherries on the other hand preserved in a brine solution usually containing sulphur dioxide or alcohol, and then soaked in a suspension of food colouring (red/green) sugar syrup, and other components. Maraschino cherries dyed red are typically almond-flavoured, while cherries dyed green are sometimes peppermint-flavoured.

Here is a black forest cake I made a day back. If you are not in the mood of making a cake make a dessert in a bowl like a black forest trifle pudding! Enjoy in the middle of night-sinful 😉

Black Forest Cake

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Smooth as silk…creme caramel

Thursday 24 September 2009 | Posted by Kishi | desserts

caramelNow and again I make my checklist in my brain and habitually I tell myself to write it on a piece of paper and despite that the stubborn me fails to follow it. When I was in NY I told myself to watch Julie and Julia knowing that it will take a while before it comes to Delhi!! And bummer by the time I grappled the movie thoughts I was on the flight to Delhi 😉
I have heard some good quality things about the movie and now I am patiently yet eagerly waiting for it to come to the theatres. I love watching movies and here is a list of some fun food related movies:

Big Night
Woman on Top
Ratatouille
Like Water for Chocolate
Tortilla Soup
Mostly Martha
Babette’s Feast
Soon to come Julie and Julia!!

It’s not my darling dessert as I am more of a fresh fruit person. I do make it once in a while when I crave mushy and smooth stuff!!
Cream Caramel, flan, or caramel custard is a prosperous custard dessert as I’d like to call it with a layer of soft caramel on top, as opposed to Crème Brule, which is custard with a hard caramel top.
Here is a simple quick recipe…eat it with dulce de leche and it’s even tastier and will show the prosperity on the belly 🙂

Crème Caramel

Sugar 250 Gms
Water 50 Gms

• Make a nice dark amber colour caramel by cooking the sugar with water.

(To make the caramel, mingle the sugar and water in a stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil and clean the sides with a pastry brush to avoid any crystallization. When the mixture starts to colour, swirl the pan to ensure an even colour. When it is deep amber, remove it from the heat)

• Pour the caramel into containers. And let it cool.

Eggs 7
Yolks 4
Sugar 250 Gms
Milk 1000 Gms
Vanilla bean 1

• Boil the milk and sugar and vanilla bean.
• Temper the eggs with the hot mixture and cook till nape consistency.
• Sieve and pour the mixture in the ramekins wit caramel in bottom.
• Bake at 170 for about 30-35 mins or till set.

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Ideas worth spreading- Simple caprese and TED Fellowship!

Sunday 20 September 2009 | Posted by Kishi | Salads

There are times you wanna scream and rejoice your excitement…but I had to keep mine hush-hush for a while. While traveling in Amsterdam I found out I was selected as a Ted India fellow.(Where and when: sitting in the public library- highest building in Amsterdam and famous for a view, trying to check my email and my orders and explaining my brother which candles to give to the customer with the cake…heheh!).We were told sternly by them (TED-Technology, Entertainment, Design) to keep it a secret till they allow us to let the world know. You see they say right “The fruits of patience are always Sugar coated”.

For those who don’t know much about TED this the website you can check it out.

I was also quite ignorant about TED myself except that I allied some cool funky videos to it. I had no clue about why/how and in what context I was asked to apply for it. When I checked the website the fellows were either environmentalists, to people in development sector or doing things for social cause. I still couldn’t figure why/how a pastry chef fits in all this. It’s not like cooking meal for the under privileged kids (I do that with my mom on my grandma’s death anniversary and send the food to the orphanage) was such a big social cause. Cutting the long story short…I just applied for it and not even in my remotest vague ideas I had imagined I would get selected for it. Thank god for friends like Ankur who sometimes tell you…just apply dude rest you see later!!

As always to celebrate I cooked. The dinner was flavorful and one of the best that I have made for myself as it was express, trouble-free -salad and penne pasta in red sauce.

Caprese is one of the simplest and most delectable of salads. It necessitates only the right ingredients. Tomatoes those are red, juicy and flavorful but not overly soft, and preferably unrefrigerated. The next ingredient should be truly fragrant, flavorful young basil: I had some green basil grown in the pot at home, not the hydroponically grown giant leaf variety which has little flavor. Another essential ingredient is good quality fresh, moist mozzarella. Finally, the need for some genuine extra-virgin olive oil and only olive oil, the best you can afford. My twist…I added fresh avocado and some tomatoes roasted with garlic.

My version of Caprese salad with avocado!

Caprese Salad

Ingredients:

Small tomatoes             5-6 no

Avocado                       1 no

Garlic                          2-3 no

Fresh mozzarella           1 box (200 gms)

Basil leaves                  a handful

Extra virgin olive oil      2-3 tbsps

Salt and pepper             to taste

I sometimes do things old school style. Just pulled the chunks of mozzarella by hand…sliced the avocados and just tossed all the ingredients together.

The secret to this recipe…which is hardly a secret now is the slow roasted tomatoes with garlic. Put the tomatoes, garlic in a 400F oven and wander off for a bit. You can follow the smell to check; there will be a gorgeous toasty aroma as the tomatoes cook. When the tomatoes (and garlic) look like they’ve started to brown or dry out on the top and the liquid in the pan has begun to thicken slightly, turn the oven off and leave the tomatoes to slowly soak in the flavors.

And if you are crazy about lemons like my mom squeeze some fresh lemon juice on the same!! Add caper berries if you have as garnish.

Try and enjoy your happy moment with the simplest of stuff alongside people you love!

PS- here is the press release that was sent by TED.

TED CONFERENCE ANNOUNCES 103 FELLOWS FOR TEDIndia 2009

NEW YORK, Sept. 14, 2009 — Organizers of the TED Conference will bring 103 TEDIndia Fellows to Mysore, India, to participate in TEDIndia, the first-ever TED in Asia. TEDIndia, “The Future Beckons,” will take place Nov. 4-7, 2009, on the high-tech campus of Infosys Technologies Ltd.

The TEDIndia Fellows are a diverse group of men and women, representing not only India, Pakistan and Bangladesh but also Indonesia, Canada, Tajikistan, the United States, China, Nigeria and Oman. TEDIndia Fellows include engineers, environmental scientists and pollution experts, human-rights activists, musicians, athletes and filmmakers. One is a female Olympic-class sailor. One runs an innovative rickshaw business. One is a robotics developer. All are committed to the spread of great ideas.

“As the world’s influence moves to the East, the TEDIndia Fellows program is proud to showcase the work of 103 visionaries born or working in South Asia, especially in India, but also in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and the rest of the world,” says Tom Rielly, TED Fellows Director and TED Community Director.

In addition to attending as full members of the TEDIndia conference audience, all TED Fellows will take part in a one-day pre-conference where, among other benefits, they will receive world-class communication training and collaborate with their peers. Select Fellows will be invited to speak on the TED Fellows, TED University and main TED stages. Their TEDTalks may be selected for posting on TED.com, where each has the potential to be viewed hundreds of thousands of times. Fellows will also participate in the TED community throughout the next year, by telling their ongoing stories on the TED Fellows blog, being featured in the online Fellows directory and participating in a private social network.

The principal goal of the TED Fellows program is to empower Fellows to effectively communicate their work to the TED community and to the world.

Here are just a few of the 103 TEDIndia Fellows:

Sean Blagsvedt is the CEO of Babajob.com, an online enterprise connecting employers to informal-sector employees in the developing world — such as maids, cooks and office helpers — through a combination of mobile phones, location, skill and price filtering and social connections.

Svati Bhogle is the chief executive of Technology Informatics Design Endeavor (TIDE), a nonprofit devoted to promoting sustainable development through technological interventions.

Kishi Arora is a pastry chef and the “cakesmith” behind the Foodaholics treats and blog.

Jane Chen is the co-founder and CEO of Embrace, a social enterprise that aims to help the millions of vulnerable babies born every year in developing countries through a low-cost infant sleeping bag that can regulate a baby’s temperature.

Shiva Keshavan is India’s three-time Winter Olympian and the youngest athlete ever to qualify for the Olympics in the luge.

Andrew Mendelson has been playing the sitar for a dozen years. His documentary film, A Cricket in the Court of Akbar, chronicles his journey to India to compete in the largest music competition in the state of Rajasthan.

Shahida Saleem is the founder of Sehat First, a social enterprise that provides access to basic health care and pharmaceutical services across Pakistan by means of self-sustainable, franchised tele-health centers.

Santosh Sigdel is a Nepali human rights lawyer.

Roshini Thinakaran is the founder of Women at the Forefront, a multimedia project examining war and conflict through the eyes of women.

Rikin Gandhi is CEO of Digital Green, a research project that seeks to disseminate targeted agricultural information to small and marginal farmers in India through digital video.

The TEDIndia Fellows program is underwritten by the visionary investment of “mentor capital” firm Sherpalo Ventures, with additional funding from Google.org.

“Sherpalo Ventures supports the TEDIndia Fellows program to help nurture the next generation of exceptional Indian leaders, whether extraordinary entrepreneurs, visionary NGO founders, world-class artists and filmmakers, or ingenious inventors, as they work to solve the challenges facing our diverse and multifaceted country,” said Sandeep Murthy, Partner, Sherpalo Ventures India. “We further realize that India is part of a larger South Asian community and wish to foster closer bonds among these nations by connecting innovators across borders in all sectors of society.”

To meet all 103 Fellows, please visit http://www.TED.com/fellows.

The TED Fellows program seeks individuals 21-40 years old (although anyone 18 and over can apply) with demonstrated remarkable achievement in their fields of endeavor. The program is accepting fellowship applications through Sept. 25, 2009, for the TED2010 Conference, “What the World Needs Now,” to be held Feb. 9-13, 2010, in Long Beach, California (information available at TED.com/fellows). The program focuses on candidates from five regions: Asia/Pacific, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Middle East. The TED Fellows program is made possible by the visionary support of the Bezos family, Sherpalo Ventures, the Harnisch Foundation, the Case Foundation, private donors and Nokia.

Details on each Fellow and the program are available at TED.com/fellows. To support the program or for more information, contact Logan McClure at +1 212.346.9333 or via email at fellows@ted.com. Follow the TED Fellows blog at tedfellows.posterous.com.

About TED

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 25 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. The annual TED Conference invites the world’s leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes. Their talks are then made available, free, at TED.com. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The annual TED Conference takes place in Long Beach, California; TEDGlobal is held each year in Oxford, UK, and this November, the TEDIndia Conference will be held in Mysore, India. TED’s media initiatives include TED.com, where new TEDTalks are posted daily, and the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as the ability for any TEDTalk to be translated by volunteers worldwide. TED has established the annual TED Prize, where three exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world are given the opportunity to put their wishes into action, and TEDx, which offers individuals or groups a way to host local, self-organized events around the world. Follow TED on Twitter, twitter.com/tedtalks, or on Facebook, www.facebook.com/TED

TEDIndia, “The Future Beckons,” will be held in Nov. 4-7, 2009, in Mysore, India. TED2010, “What the World Needs Now,” will be held Feb. 9-13, 2010, in Long Beach, California, along with TEDActive, a simulcast conference of TED2010, in Palm Springs, California. TEDGlobal 2010, “And Now the Good News,” will be held July 13-16, 2010, in Oxford, UK.

About TEDIndia

TEDIndia will be held Nov. 4-7, 2009, just outside Mysore, on the high-tech campus built by Infosys to train its thousands of engineering graduates. TEDIndia offers a fast-paced, highly curated, three-day stage program featuring TED’s famous 18-minute talks, plus music, comedy, dance, short talks, video interludes and other surprises. Preconference, there’s a full day of TED University, during which TEDIndia attendees can give their own short talks or performances. TEDIndia will host a class of 103 exceptional TED Fellows from around the world — young thinkers and doers in all fields who can become tomorrow’s leaders. Sponsors of TEDIndia include Infosys, Google.org, Nokia and Sherpalo Ventures.

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Every Chocolate Lover’s Fantasy-Ferrero Rocher Cake

Wednesday 16 September 2009 | Posted by Kishi | Cake

CakeFerrero Rocher Cake

Did you know Ferrero Rocher was made by Italian chocolatier Ferrero SpA, the producer of Tic Tac and Nutella?? The globular sweet chocolate consist of a whole roasted hazelnut encased in a thin wafer shell filled with hazelnut cream and enclosed in milk chocolate and chopped hazelnuts and walnuts.

What do I like about Ferrero Group? I like the way they are packed individually in the golden paper and the taste is unique. They cashed on the idea of using Hazelnut!!
Nutella another popular hit- it is a modified form of gianduja. I don’t know the exact recipe I am sure it’s a secret closely watched over by Ferrero’s but according to the product label, the main ingredients of Nutella are sugar and modified vegetable oils, followed by hazelnut, cocoa and skimmed milk.

FYI- Gianduja is a sweet chocolate containing about 30% hazelnut paste, invented in Turin by Caffarel and Prochet in 1852. It takes its name from Gianduja, a Carnival and marionette character who represents the archetypal Piedmontese, the Italian region where hazelnut confectionery is common.

I made a Ferrero Rocher cake too…and layered it with roasted hazelnut that I get from turkey!!

Have a look and enjoy…

Cake

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