Monday, July 2, 2007

Wonderful Weekend

Wow, what a weekend! First, Ratatouille. 4 stars. It's a winner! Two thumbs up. Run, don't walk to see it. I was amazed at how well Pixar and Brad Bird nailed what love of cooking is all about. Remy is darling and my whole family loved this show. With all the attention to detail, the sweet story, and the beautiful rendering of Paris, this show deserves to be a huge hit.

Then, the main attraction - David Lebovitz! He's amazing. He started off the class sipping on an Odwalla to try to regain his voice as we were the last class he taught on this trip. He confessed that he was missing his own bed and ready to head home, but he still gave us a wonderful class. I promised you bad pics, but the picture that my obnoxious point and shoot took was sooo bad that it wouldn't be nice to post. David was talking to someone and I caught him in mid-expressive face. I wish I could have captured him doing his Giada impression, shirt a bit unbuttoned, leaning over. Hilarious!

The class ran just like a cooking show; David would demonstrate a step and then he'd show us the finished product after steeping, baking, or freezing. He made an incredible variety of food - eleven different recipes from his terrific book, The Perfect Scoop. The book is not just frozen desert recipes; it includes many recipes for treats to stir into ice cream, and David showed us an assortment of those.

He started out with the Gianduja Gelato, the same recipe I taunted you with last time. He stirred in some melted bittersweet chocolate at the very end of churning so the gelato had little chocolate chunks in it. This was served to everyone in the class. One small scoop on a plate next to a small mound of espresso granita, with a dollop of whipped cream. The flavor combination was just right. The espresso cut through the richness of the gelato and gave it a good flavor counterpoint. I'm not a coffee fan, but I'll be making this granita.

When I asked if I could put the recipe on my blog David patiently coached me on how to say Gianduja. John -doo-ya. There. Easy! And not at all what I would have guessed. No Italian in my genes.

Roast banana ice cream was a snap (or David made it look that way) and he served it in tiny, darling profiteroles that he'd gotten up early to bake for us. The puffs were cut in half with a small scoop of Roasted Banana Ice Cream placed inside. I was thinking, "Oh, that's cute," then he ladled Marshmallow Hot Fudge Sauce over the top. I thought, "Oh, heavens, that looks perfect." Then he sprinkled candied, salted, roasted almonds over the top and on the plate. What a masterpiece! I have so much to learn about plating!

Talking all the while, David made a Breton Buckwheat Cake that was not very sweet, a perfect coupling for the coffee frozen yogurt. Offhandedly, during the break, David had taken a square plate and drizzled some melted chocolate in a zig-zag over the corner then put it in the refrigerator. He used this to serve the cake and yogurt, drizzling them with Salted Butter Caramel Sauce. The cake was even an OK item for the lovely and infectiously cheerful, Shauna, the gluten-free girl. She had her camera with macro lens out and was taking pictures of the treats, so I suggest you head over to her site to see some lovely pictures of what we got to see and eat.

David finished up by making Peppermint Patties and showing us how to dress up store-bought ice cream with home-made mix-ins. With the resulting ice cream he made ice cream sandwiches. And I was about to burst. I'd balked a bit at the cost of the class since it was only a demo, not hands on - I hadn't realized I'd be eating a four course ice cream meal!

I'd love to be able to cook like David. His artistry, his flavor combinations, but most of all, his dishwashers. He had two assistants during the class whose sole job was to wash the pots, pans, and plates as he used them and fetch things for him. My kitchen would be so much tidier if I had them. When I made the Gianduja Gelato it took the better part of a day and it looked like a bomb went off in my kitchen!

Some words of random wisdom sprinkled by David throughout the class:

-Sharpen the blade of your food processor. It only costs about $4 and it's like getting a whole new machine.

-Use baking powder without aluminum (like Rumford brand). It's inexpensive and gets rid of that metallic taste.

-Buy your olive oil where the Italians do - Spain. Many Italian olive oils are imported from Spain and repackaged.

- Gelato means "frozen."

- Many comestibles are labeled as "medicine" in France. So the French eat chocolate and marshmallow for their health and avoid the 20% sales tax.

- Because the vanilla bean crop is such a lucrative one in poor countries, people are killed over it. The bean pods are branded, like cattle, so that if the crop is stolen it can be traced.

- A lucrative opportunity. Develop a spray on tart dough. David would use it and promote it, asking only a small percentage of the fortune for the idea.

- His ice cream scoop is The Whacker, whose box said, "The Whacker -it's only limitation is your imagination."

- The reason ice cream is harder coming out of your freezer than at an ice cream place is that the temperature for a home freezer is set lower than that of an ice cream parlor. It needs to be lower for keeping meats and veggies at the correct temp.

- The number one way people mess up in cooking is by not reading the recipe.

Now, for the much anticipated recipe. With David's permission, adapted from David Lebovitz's fabulous book, The Perfect Scoop:

Gianduja Gelato (makes about 1 quart)

1-1/2 cups (185 g.) toasted hazelnuts
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
3/4 cup (170g) sugar
1/4 tsp coarse salt
4 oz dark milk chocolate (at least 30% cacao solids), chopped
5 large egg yolks
1/8 tsp vanilla extract

Fub the hazelnuts ina kitchen towel after roasting to remove as much of the papery skin as possible. I put on rubber gloves and rubbed them between my hands. Chop them finely in a food processor or blender.

Warm the milk with 1 cup (250 ml) of the cream, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Once warm, remove from heat and add the chopped hazelnuts. Cover, and let steep for 1-1/2 hours.

Put the milk chocolate pieces in a large bowl. Heat the remaining1 cup (250 ml) of cream in a medium saucepan until it just begins to boil. Pour it over the milk chocolate pieces, and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Set a mesh strainer over the top.

Pour the hazelnut-infused milk through a strainer into a medium saucepan, squeezing the nuts firmly with your hands to etract as much of the flavorful liquid as possible. David says to discard the nuts as the flavor is gone. I'm saving mine in the refrigerator for a coffee cake.

Rewarm the halzenut-infused mixture. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. If you don't have a rubber bottomed bowl, place it on a rubber glove or moistened kitchen towel for the next step. Slowly pour the warm hazelnut mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constanly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constanly over medium heat with a wooden or heatproof plastic spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the straner and stir it into the melted milk chocolate. Add the vanilla and stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze in your ie cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Serve immediately for a soft, smooth gelato. It will firm up if you choose to put it in the freezer. But who can wait?


Jerry said...

Sounds like you had a great trip! And it makes me want to go to a cooking class! Too bad I'm broke! However, I going into the pocketbook and buying Perfect Scoop. I've waited way to long!

Helene said...

Great recap! Sounds like a fantastic weekend! Thanks for the gelato recipe, it looks out of this world!

SteamyKitchen said...

Wow....thanks for all the information you've posted. I'm going to bookmark this post to remind myself of all the great suggestions.

Oh how I wish I was sitting next to you at the cooking demo!!

BugnLVoe said...

We saw the cartoon last night at the Auburn Valley Drive-in. It was packed out!!! It was cute. :-)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

How much of a commission do you get for each of David's books that you sell? Because I've just gone and bought mine and you should get the credit!!
Thanks for stopping by my place.

Nora B. said...

Thanks for all the tips, Lynn. Sounds like you had a great time. Lucky you! :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for dropping by my blog. Oooh ...I love gelato.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Jerry - Good for you. You will love it!

Tartelette- You are welcome. I hope you get a chance to try it.

Steamy Kitchen - I wish you could have been there. The only thing that would have made it better would have been a baking buddy.

Jackie - Yeah! I love drive-ins!

My Kitchen In Half Cups - No commission, but I'm happy to have others see what a great book this is and happy to have David succeed.

Nora - It was a great early birthday present.

Cooking Ninja - This is amazing gelato. Well worth the time and mess in the kitchen.

Cookie baker Lynn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WokandSpoon said...

It sounds like you had a great time in the class! And yes, the number one way that I mess up my meals is by not reading the recipe! Happens all the time ;-)
I don't have an ice-cream maker but this will definitely be the first recipe I try when I get one!

thx for the Ratatouille tip as well. I'm looking forward to it coming out over here!

Anonymous said...

I just came across your blog and I love it! Baking cookies is my favorite thing to do, so I appreciate all your cookie posts. I also am in love with David's "Perfect Scoop." Your ice cream looks divine!

Kelly-Jane said...

I would LOVE to go to one of David's demonstrations! Thank you for sharing with us, he sounds like a great guy :)

Anonymous said...

As I was reading your post, I was thinking...'I wonder how you pronounce that gianduja word?' And magically you answered my question. You are a bit spooky!
It must have been just awful to have to eat all that ice cream and stuff!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Wok and Spoon - I messed up by not following the recipe just yesterday. Will I ever learn?

Maria - So glad you found my blog. Stay tuned for many more cookies.

Kelly-Jane - David is wonderful. If you ever get the chance, go see him!

Melinda - We July birthday gals must be mind linked! Yes, it was awful to eat all of that ice cream, but I feel it's my duty to suffer like that for my blog buddies.

Peabody said...

What a fun sounding class.
I most definitely need to see that movie.

Anonymous said...

What a great weekend. That class sounds amazing! Fun times.

eatme_delicious said...

wow your experience in the class sounds really awesome. :) i loved that you posted all the random things you learned in the class too. i too am enamored with david! i was wanting to go and see him when he went to seattle but didn't end up going. and your ice cream looks pretty delicious too!