Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Lessons Learned: Fruit Tart with Momofuku Corn Cookie Crust

Fruit Tart with Momofuku Corn Cookie Crust. AEC 2014
I think Momofuku is awesome!  When Momofuku Milk Bar was at Emporiyum-Baltimore a few months back, I was all over the table...trying stuff...asking questions...I had to have been annoying the hell outta somebody.   The Corn Cookie was on point.  It was soft, buttery, and the corn flavor really hit you in the face.  The corn flavor was driven by the corn powder produced by Milk Bar.  "Ingredients: freeze dried corn ground into a powder".  Of course, I picked up a bottle with plans to make my own.  They came out ok.  I didn't get the texture right.  THEORY: I think my hot kitchen made the butter melt too fast. 

Anywho, I made way too many.  Ok, I was trying to show off to my friends with these amazing cookies.  However, when they didn't turn out quite right, I went to Plan B...give them hugs :-)  I ended up freezing the remaining cookies.  I knew I could do something with them.  Jazz up a parfait, ice cream cookie sandwiches...then it hit me...cookie crust for Ayla's B-Day Fruit Tart.  Long story short: the girl loves fruit tarts. 
I never made my own cookie crust from a batch of cookies I actually made.  What have I been doing with my life?  So, I looked up some tips online.  I didn't have that many cookies to mess up.  It was simple enough.  Grind cookies, combine with melted butter, press into form, and bake.  I was able to get a little less than 2 cups of cookie crumbs.  I actually did this the night before I made the tart.  I hesitated adding butter at all.  The crumbs kind of clung to themselves without the addition of anything. 

Heavy handed me added 5 tablespoons of melted butter.  Yeah, ended up being a little much.  In hindsight I could have added some flour to dry it out slightly, but I didn't want to take away from the cookie flavor.  Perhaps, adding more corn powder could have helped, too.  I added some raw sugar.  I thought it would add an interesting texture contrast. 

So, after a few minutes in the 350°F oven, the crust started to bubble like crazy.  It actually started to lose the form that I had so painstakingly worked to achieve.  I think I helped it some by removing it from the oven and flattening out the bottom again.  I lost some of my edges.  The pastry cream sat more on top of the crust vs. inside of it. 

Overall, not the worst fruit tart that I'm had.  The crust was a little hard which I actually liked.  I didn't put a barrier, like chocolate, between the crust and the pastry cream, so it did soften up a bit.  Next time...and there will be a next time, I could just press the crumbs with no additional butter in the pan.  What if I just put the cookie dough in the tart pan?  I lost the texture I was looking for from the raw sugar.  Folding in some course sugar should work better.  I think with only a few minutes in the oven, I might make a better tart next time...lessons learned.


Save a Step. Don't Wash Your Poultry.

I have always washed my chicken and turkey (pieces or whole) in the sink before cooking them.  The only reasoning I can provide...tradition.  My mom, like so many other cooks, was my first culinary instructor. She would always clear out the sink, rinse, pat dry, and season meat all there.  So, of course, when I started cooking for myself and my family, that's what I did. Never questioned it.  Wait, why am I Baptist?

Anyway,  I recently attended a Penn State Extension workshop where we talked briefly about food safety in commercial kitchens.  The instructor asked, "Who still washes their chicken?".  I joined everyone else in the room who did that slow hand raise while giving everyone else the side-eye.  Yeah.  The instructor quickly let us know that there is no reason for this practice.  In fact, you're really increasing the chances of spreading harmful bacteria, like salmonella, because so few people actually take the time to properly disinfect contaminated surface areas. 

If your argument for continuing to wash your poultry is at all related to smell or a slimy texture, you might want to switch stores.  Raw poultry can safely be held in your fridge for up to 2 days.  After that, you will experience an unpleasant aroma. Don't risk it.  If you find that your poultry is a little too wet right out of the packaging, just pat it dry with a paper towel. Don't forget to take out the trash!

Bottom line, the only proven way to kill bacteria from raw poultry is by ensuring that the internal temperature has reached 165°F.  For the most part, I've had good luck relying on the pop-up timer when roasting a whole bird.  I usually take the temperature of the inner thigh making sure I avoid the bone, too.  The juice should be clear. 

So, by not washing your poultry, I saved you what...5, 10 minutes? You're welcome.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Croissant Donuts at Dunkin' Donuts...It's No Ansel's

Croissant Donut at Dunkin' Donuts-AEC

I took it as a matter of social responsibility to make it to my local Dunkin' Donuts location today and try the new Croissant Donut.  This is no doubt DD's attempt to ride on the success of Dominique Ansel's Cronut™ sensation that one must wait hours to hopefully purchase for $5 in NYC.  I made that journey myself last year.

A description of the cronut...deep fried butter! So rich. I'm glad we got to experience it on our donut tour. Ayla and I preferred the DKA. It's rich but not as crazy as the cronut. The DKA reminds more of a high quality French pastry. Plus, you don't have to wait 90 minutes to get it!

Facebook Post by Ashley E. Cummings, November 2013

No need to wait hours for the Croissant Donut.  I shelled out $2.49 plus tax to get mine in the 8 o'clock hour this morning.  I might have waited 90 seconds for service.  They even put it in a little fancy box. 

The appearance looked promising.  It had more of a golden color than the traditional original glazed donuts.   The shape wasn't all the way round.  It reminded me more of a stop sign. That color lent itself to a crisp outside much like the exterior on a croissant!  How about that! 

Overall, I wasn't overwhelmed by the taste.  The donut was somewhat yeasty.  Bad batch?  Too much yeast?  That was a turn off, because you don't find yeast in traditional croissants. Crazy, usually DD gets the yeast levels right.  I didn't get much of any butter taste although it is listed in the ingredient list.  It was lacking the buttery layers that you expect from a croissant.  In Ansel's version, the butter slaps you in the face.  Perhaps, they could have traded in that box for some artificial butter flavoring.

 Side View of the Cronut™-AEC

Overall, I'm not a fan of DD's new Croissant Donut.  If consumers want to have a good croissant donut experience, I would check out a local shop.  If you go to NYC and happen to be by Dominique Ansel's Bakery, laugh at all the jerks waiting in line and walk inside.  Pick up a DKA.  You'll get an experience similar to that of the Cronut™ without the aggravation of waiting in line. 

Hold on, DD.  You might be able to turn this around.  Ansel changes the flavor of his Cronut™ every month.  Play around with some other varieties.  That could keep the Croissant Donut convo going for you...I'm not sure how long your "limited time" is intended to be.  And hey, don't be too hurt by this write-up.   You still rock out the Sour Cream and Traditional Cake donuts.


Monday, November 3, 2014

National Sandwich Day

I know you don't think I forgot National Sandwich Day!

Last second meal idea...

Pastrami on 7-grain bread with sun-dried tomato and spicy mayo griddled in olive oil and butter... your face Subway!...ha!


@aec_culinary #sandwich