Tag Archives: cookbooks

The Last Course REALLY – Biscuit Success! Pt. 3

29 Jul

Melanie's Adventure in making desserts from The Last Course by Claudia Fleming

Over the past few days I’ve been obsessed with the cookbook, The Last Course by Pastry Chef Claudia Fleming who by the way is the currently at The North Fork Table & Inn in Southhold, NY.  I have convinced my dinner bestie Maria that we must go for a visit.  There is nothing like fab food and great fellowship with a few cocktails along the way!

So my obsession is how can I get my biscuits to be tall and perky vs. flat and round.  I figured it out late last night.  After thinking about how to get the perfect biscuit, it dawned on me that I had a recipe from another Chef and he baked his biscuits in stainless steel rings.  The end result were tall and evenly sized biscuits. Could it work here and is the solution that simple?   Well with rings in hand, I got two sizes and went to baking.

And voilà…Success!

The biscuits were tall and perfect.  So I quickly pulled out my tarragon cream and macerated strawberries and went to work.  With surgical precision, I plated the dessert and took these pics.

If you are wondering if I ate all three biscuits, I hate to disappoint you but no.  My rule about being in the food industry is to take a bit, nibble or taste but don’t eat it all up!  I bake and nibble along the way  but rules are meant to be broken too!

Pastry Out!

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The Last Course Part 2 – Battle of the Biscuits

29 Jul Melanie's Tarragon Photo

So today was the big day.  I was making Claudia Fleming’s Tarragon-Macerated Strawberry Shortcakes with Tarragon Cream. I read and reread the recipe so I was ready to take the plunge and get to it.  Tarragon is quite the intriguing herb.  I ate it raw just to better understand what I was working with and I must say it really does have a licorice flavor.  It lingered on my taste buds well after you I consumed it.

I start off with the “easy” stuff first -macerating the strawberries with tarragon.  Just hull and slice the berries in half , add some sugar and tarragon and wait.  Gotta crawl before you can walk and run I say!

Now it was on to the tarragon cream.  Now I’ve made cream before.  I make whipped cream, Chantilly cream and stabilized whip cream all the time so why not make some with tarragon.  Well, it called for blanching the tarragon in boiling water, quickly submerging it into an ice bath, then blending it with corn syrup in a blender.  Whew, this is some cream!  I haven’t even whipped it up yet.  The recipe worked as stated but I did a little modification (shhh- I’m the queen of tweaking).  I stabilized mine with bloomed gelatin by holding back a few teaspoons of  heavy cream, heating it up, and dissolving the gelatin while it was at a soft peak.  Why? I hate when whipped cream started to “weep” and get running or watery.  The end result looked like light green clouds sitting in my mixing bowl.  I could eat it alone with some berries any day.  The recipe rocks!

Now on to the biscuits.  The dough had few ingredients and was very simple to put together.  Make dough, dough rest for an hour, cut dough into shapes and bake off.  Sounds simple?!  Well that’s only if your biscuits looked like the picture at the end.  I see a food stylist at work here because it just can’t be me!  : ) And my biscuits? Well let just say mine didn’t seem to rise to the occasion. More like a ranch house vs. a high rise condo.  The taste and texture was perfect.

Perfect macerated strawberries – check; perfect tarragon cream – check; perfect biscuits – I’ll be trying again tomorrow but check out my pics in the meantime.

Pastry out!

The Last Course

28 Jul

Today I received a copy of Pastry Chef extraordinaire Claudia Fleming’s cookbook, The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern.  Let me clarify – it’s was loaned to me for review.  Well I had two surprises reviewing this book today.  First, the Executive Chef for Tabor Road Tavern and Grato was listed in the acknowledgements.  He was the Sous Chef at Gramercy Tavern when Chef Claudia was the Pastry Chef.  John is nice, awesome and very talented.  I first met him while interning at Tabor while in culinary school.  Who knew!  I’ll give you my recommendations for Tabor and Grato  in a future post.  Now back to Claudia’s book.

The book has tons of desserts that focus on seasonal ingredients as well as a nice mix of sweet and savory.  Tomorrow I will be making or should I say attempting to make her Tarragon-Macerated Strawberry Shortcakes with Tarragon Cream.  As the book suggested, I will be eating it with strawberry sorbet.  Look out for another post about my adventures in making this sweet-savory dessert.

The second surprise about this book is that it is out of print.  Yes, you heard me, it is out of print!  So how much does a book that retailed for $40 USD cost now if you want one?  On Amazon for a mere $160 you can get a copy in “very good condition” or spend $300 for a “like new” signed copy.  Oh, but it gets better.  One seller has their signed copy for a mere $875.  Really?  Really!  Whoever buys that one, I have an island for sale in Arizona.

Pastry out!