Day 22: Grilled Scallops, Madeira Sauce, & Palmier Cookies

Sorry for the long delay with my Thursday update!  But I’m back with all the details.  Thursday’s menu was packed full of new dishes and was quite a hectic day in the kitchen, but luckily we all did a pretty good job managing our time.  I also got the chance to work (for the second time) with Tasha, which was lots of fun.

I’ll start with the day’s dessert, which was very simple.  We learned another petits fours sec in the form of PALMIER cookies, which are traditionally made with leftover puff pastry trimmings coated in a mixture of sugar and ground cinnamon.  Because we had leftover trim, these were very simple to make.  The process began with rolling out our puff pastry and sprinkling both sides with cinnamon/sugar.

palmier cookie dough

This was then rolled in a scroll type shape and then cut into 1/2 inch widths to form these beautiful little butterfly cookies.  This all went into the oven for about 20 minutes—flipping sides halfway through the process.

palmier cookies

When they came out, they looked like this (see below)!  We served ours with a sabayon, which is basically a wine custard, made by whipping egg yolks, (in our case) sherry wine, and sugar over a bain marie until it is very thick.  We then folded in a very small amount of hand-whipped cream.

This was spooned over a fresh fruit mixture and then lightly torched.  It was good, but very rich.

palmier cookies

As for our main course, we made seared chicken, which was served with a mushroom madeira sauce.  This process started with us breaking down whole chickens, removing the breast (with the wing bone still attached for flavor—this is called an airline breast, because it was traditionally served on airplanes).

We reserved the rest the chicken legs for another time—meanwhile, we chopped up the spine and back of the chicken into very small pieces, which were then seared over high heat (and removed), followed by deglazing the pan with mirepoix and madeira wine (notice a theme?)

mushrooms

At this point, we added in reduced veal stock, placed the chicken bones back into the pan, and let this reduce and develop flavor in the oven. 

Our chicken breast was cooked to serve, which was a little tricky, because it requires cooking a specific way in order to make sure that all parts of the breast are cooked evenly and no part is overdone.  This involves maneuvering the pan and maximizing the heat on the thickest portions of the breast and vice versa. 

This dish is going to be on our second practical exam, so I’m very nervous and want to practice making this at home a lot before then to get it right.  Ours turned out pretty well, but was slightly overcooked!  

marsala chicken

Our chicken was served with POMMES RISSOLEES (there are so many types of potato dishes!), tourneed potatoes that were lightly blanched, followed by sautéing them in clarified butter and allowing them to brown evenly on all sides. 

We also served plain broccoli on the side.  I’m always happy to see green veggies at lunch that aren’t drenched in butter. 

Scallops were also on the menu for the first time!  In class, we learned that there are dry-packed vs. wet-packed scallops.  Dry packed scallops are the preferred (and more expensive) product, because they are dry (duh) and not packed in a seafood preservative (as opposed to wet-packed scallops, which are generally stored in water and better for mousses, etc). 

seared scallop

Dry packed scallops are obviously preferred for grilling or searing, since they are less likely to stick and boil (due to the water content), and get mushy when cooked over high heat. 

We grilled our scallops—rotating 90 degrees to develop those classic grill marks—and served them with a bit of sautéed spinach and beurre blanc sauce. 

Although there are many ways you can make beurre blanc, we made the classic method—made by combining red wine vinegar, shallots, white wine, garlic, thyme, peppercorns, parsley stems, and a bay leaf and cooking au sec (until liquid is nearly gone).  At this point, we added in a very small amount of heavy cream and proceeding to slowly whisk in cold, cubes of butter to create an emulsification.  This was all strained at the end! 

Beurre blanc was interesting, but definitely not something I was a very big fan of, personally.  Although I’d be curious to try more modern interpretations. 

petits fours

Our afternoon was filled with learning how to make CORNETS—which are small parchment cones used to very finely pipe chocolate—which are a lot more difficult to make then they sound.  We also took a trip to the Phase II pastry classroom for a huge and very impressive PETITS FOURS buffet! 

They had spent the last three days of production making all of this and had spent that morning lining them all up perfectly with rulers.  Each student was responsible for making several different varieties!  Just to name a few, there were baklava, lemon tarts, pound cakes, mini layered carrot cakes, and (handmade) chocolate shells filled with coffee creams. 

There were almost too much to choose from to try! 

petit fours banquet

In addition, there were these really special and unique candied fruit (below).  According to the instructors, these were dipped in sugar that was at a specific temperature stage (I’m pretty sure “hard crack” stage), where they become coated in a very hard, shell that cracks when you bite into it—but is not gummy at all.  This method has a specific name, but I’ve already forgotten it unfortunately!

Very, very cool!  And unlike anything I’ve ever had.  I loved the orange segments, in particular, because the tartness of the orange cut the sugar a bit. 

fruit

Lots more to get accomplished by Monday’s class, including starting my second paper which is due at the end of this week.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend everyone!