Monday, April 28, 2008

Cookthink Cookup

If you asked me when the last time was that I cooked something at home, really cooked something as opposed to: unwrapped, defrosted, reheated, microwaved, added water and stirred, you would receive nothing more than a shrug of the shoulders, a surly grunt and perhaps a confused stare.
Being completely honest with you, before I began working in the industry those things were all I did. I didn't know a thing about food, restaurants or cuisine and I didn't really care. It was merely an occupation that would one day allow me to travel freely and experience the many great wonders of the world. And, at the time, committing myself to a tertiary education for a degree in some randomly chosen field without passion seemed about as useless as tits on a pig.
Well, fortunately, I can say that whilst working myself into a professional state of seclusion over the last 4 years the job has grown on me immensely. So much so, that with my working hours I still find it impossible to cook for myself. When I'm at work I try to do the best I can and when I'm not, I bring all of my professional baggage home and brood over how to do it better.
My submission for 'Root Source Challenge #11: Bourbon' is a chocolate bread & butter pudding with saffron cream (an adaptation of pastry cream from Tartine that took a little tweaking to get just right) which we now serve with red wine-poached pear and a brush of chocolate sauce.

Chocolate Bread Pudding
2 stale baguettes, crust removed and sliced
870 g cream
160 g bourbon (or rum if you prefer)
300 g dark chocolate, chopped
150 g unsalted butter, chopped
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 oranges, zested
2 lemons, zested
6 eggwhites
220 g castor sugar
Spray and line a square cake tin with baking paper.
Place bread slices evenly into the tin in layers.
In a medium pot, bring cream and bourbon to a simmer.
Throw in the chocolate, butter, cinnamon and zests.
Stir continuously over low heat until it is completely emulsified.
Whisk together the eggwhites and sugar in a bowl.
Temper the egg mix by pouring in a little chocolate cream into the bowl at a time while whisking continuously.
Pour the entire mix over the layers of sliced baguette, wrap and leave in the fridge overnight to soak.

Saffron Cream
600 g milk
a good pinch of saffron
1/4 tsp salt
100 g castor sugar
22 g cornflour
2 eggs
55 g unsalted butter, chopped
In a pot bring the milk, saffron and salt to a simmer.
Reduce heat to the lowest setting and allow to infuse for 1/2 hr.
If using saffron threads, break them up with a submersion blender to bring out the colour.
In a bowl whisk together the sugar, cornflour and eggs.
Temper with the milk by adding a little at a time to the eggs while whisking continuously.
Pour everything into a clean pot and whisking continuously, bring it to a simmer for a minute (this is when cornflour will begin to thicken).
Remove from heat and throw in the butter.
Keep whisking until it has emulsified.
Transfer to a bowl and cool over ice, stirring with a spatula every now and then to achieve a very smooth finish.

Preheat the oven to 180ÂșC.
Unwrap the cake tin and slide it into the middle rack.
Bake for approximately 40 minutes. It will puff up a little and when ready, the top layer of crust should be crisp.

The saffron cream can be served alongside both hot or cold.

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