April 4, 2012

iron chef

On competition day, everything appeared to go smoothly. I wrote down a list of all the ingredients and equipment needed for each element of the dessert, so everybody had somewhere to look and could help gather/prep ahead as needed. I also brought the tuile templates I had made the night before (basically thin cardboard cut into circles, just like how I did for fortune cookies before).

While savory (appetizer and main course) only had 1.5 hours to work before presentation, pastry got an extra half hour. So with 4:10pm as our presentation time, we were off and running at 2:10pm.

I tackled poaching the pears first since it would take the longest. Was slightly worried because the pears we had ordered were not the ones I had tested at home - they were Chinese pears (labeled Korean pears at the market I went to) instead of the Chinese white pears I got. Went ahead with the process anyway.

As soon as that was on the stove simmering, I got to work with the honey tuile cookies. I felt very professional doing this, what with the silicon mat and the template and the spatula-spreading of the batter, and the perfectly round tuile shapes. There was even a photographer or two photographing the process.

honey tuile batter shapes

These went quickly in the oven, just 10 minutes. At home I had formed the tuile cup shape with two metal measuring cups (one smaller than the other). Those weren't available at school so I had the idea of using muffin trays - putting multiple tuile cookies down and bringing a second tray down into the tops. Sadly this broke our tuile cookies so I had to do a second batch, and this time we used tart molds. Here they are stacked into a tuile tower.

honey tuiles formed

After that I sliced up the poached pears, took some of the poaching liquid and reduced it down with some pinot noir. At this time the ice cream machine was going with the cardamom ice cream base we were allowed to make ahead of competition. I didn't worry too much about it - until we were almost finished with everything else and discovered that the ice cream was rather liquidy (kitchenaid ice cream attachment not cold enough?!). In a panic we switched ice cream makers, then threw the mixture into the freezer... but to little avail. By plating time the ice cream was not solid enough to be scooped, and thus in my presentation to the judges I referred to it only as cream.

You can see our black triangular plate and the sad puddle that is there.

competition plates

Backstage we salvaged what was left... by eating it. Jordan came around with a whipped cream maker and injected some tuile cups with it - and we lamented that we didn't think to turn the tuile cups right side up to contain the cream so it wouldn't be a sad puddle.


Oh well, we gave it our best shot. Team Nori 2012 lesson learned: don't rely on technology.

team nori

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