Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Intermediate Culinary Class: Cheese

This class is focused on taste and presentation, and this week we were exploring cheese. We a couple of cheese dishes, and while they were baking, tasted a number of cheeses.

The first thing we put together was a baked brie. Instead of the usual jam, we had made it with toasted walnuts and cinnamon sugar. The whole thing is wrapped in puff pastry, and baked until golden brown.

I liked this version. We used a better quality brie that had no rind. The brown sugar melted and coated the walnuts. It was sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. The bottom crust of the puff pastry, infused with cheese, sugar, and walnuts was particularly tasty.

The other thing we made was a bacon, onion, and cheddar soufflé. We sautéed bacon in butter, then added onion and garlic. We added flour to make a roux, then cream to make a béchamel sauce. Egg yolks and cheddar cheese are folded into the béchamel. That sauce is then folded into stiffly beaten egg whites. That is poured into ramekins that have been coated on the inside with butter and Parmesan cheese. The soufflés are baked for 35 minutes without peeking.

They came out appropriately fluffy. They tasted strongly of bacon, onion, and cheese. They were a bit heavy. Personally, I'd probably not use the butter, and cut the amount of bacon in half.

While the brie and soufflés were baking, we tasted a number of cheeses. Being a long time cheese fan, I was familiar with all but one of the cheeses we tried. That was Boursin, a fresh cheese, mild and smooth textured.

We also were to bring in plates for appetizers. We didn't actually use them, but Chef looked them over. He really likes the more modern plain white plates in funky shapes. He is not a fan of color. Other than our every day Ikea plates,  I pretty much own no white service, at all. I have a lot of hand made pottery, and a lot of bold colors, especially blue and green.


All recipes courtesy of Chef Joe Orate.

Cheddar and Bacon Souffle

1/2 cup diced bacon
2 oz. by wt. + enough to line ramekins butter
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup diced onion
1 1/2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup heavy cream
3 egg yolks
4 oz. by wt. shredded cheddar cheese
3 egg whites
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 375 F.

Grease inside of eight ramekins with butter. Liberally coat butter with Parmesan cheese. Tap to remove excess.

In a saucepan over medium to medium high heat, melt 2 oz. butter. Add bacon, cook until fat is rendered. Add onion and garlic, cook until onion is soft. Add flour. Cook, stirring constantly for about two minutes. Add cream. Cook until thickened. Remove from heat.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add egg whites and cream of tartar. Whip to stiff peaks.

Fold egg yolks into cream sauce, then mix in cheese.

Gently fold in egg whites 1/3 at a time into cream mixture. Ladle into ramekins.

Place ramekins on a baking sheet, and bake in oven for 35 minutes. Do not open oven door during that time.

Remove from oven, and serve immediately.

Brie en Croute with Walnuts

1 8 oz. wheel of brie
1/2 sheet frozen puff pastry
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg, beaten

Pre-heat oven to 375 F.

Mix cinnamon into brown sugar, set aside.

In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add walnuts, toss until lightly toasted.

Lay out puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Place a circle of 1/2 the brown sugar mix in the center of the puff pastry. layer 1/2 the walnuts on top of the sugar. Place the cheese on top of the nuts. Place the rest of the sugar and nuts on top of the cheese.

Fold pastry around cheese, using egg wash to seal all overlaps. Place seam side down on a baking sheet. Brush entire surface with remaining egg wash.

Bake 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve warm, with crackers or thin slices of baguette..

Happy Eating!

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