For Iron Chef this year we had a choice of two out of three proteins: duck breast, pork tenderloin, and scallops. My team chose to do scallop for appetizer and duck for entree. I wanted to do dessert, so I used flavors for the two previous courses in order to tie everything together.
From the scallop dish I got lemon, and from the duck dish I got asian pears, cardamom and thyme. Cardamom would make an ice cream, asian pears would be poached, and lemon and thyme would be candied and/or incorporated into a tuile cookie.
Utilizing my poached pear skills from first semester, I set to work at home. This was 9 cups of water, 1.5 cups of sugar, 4 asian pears halved, slices of 1 meyer lemon, 1 cinnamon stick, all simmered for 1.5 hours.
The poached pears, warm from the pot, were delicious. I diced one up and added some gelatin in the attempt to make a compote. It wasn't as exciting as just the plain poached pears.
Then at school I tested two different tuile recipes. And garnished them differently (some plain, some with lemon zest, some with lemon zest and thyme leaves). The lemon and thyme ones tasted the best.
My teammate Charla tested candied lemon and candied thyme (and different shapes of each) at home. Her experiments were fun to eat.
With our powers combined we got together for a plating session. We didn't have ice cream made yet, so we substituted with shortening (the good thing is that it doesn't melt like ice cream). Sadly, right after we put this together we were kicked out because the kitchen was shutting down for the night. And then when we tried to meet again the next day, we were told that teams were not supposed to be practicing at school.
So I went home and plated by myself.
This time I used some butter pecan ice cream I had in the fridge - you can see it melting as I arranged and rearranged. Honey tuile cookie I made, thyme sprig I brought home from school, and lemon zest was from the lemons in the poaching liquid. Instead of dicing the pears really fine (brunoise cut), I sliced the pears instead - figuring that since so much work went into the poaching process that the pears might as well be shown off. The arc of pink liquid is some poaching liquid reduced down with a drop or two of red food coloring (standing in for the wine to be used during competition).
I wasn't too satisfied with the previous plating so I refroze the ice cream and tried again. This time I put everything on a slant, and visually it was tighter, more together.
Once I had this I decided that I could take a break, that enough testing was done and we were ready for competition.