I am in a foul mood.
A little advice from me to you: do NOT try this dish if you are busy. Or not busy. Or have a life. Oh yes, you may look at the recipe, scrutinze the three pages it takes up in the book, and think, "well of course I can do this over three days, with just doing a little bit here and there like the book suggests." Yeah, I dare you. Call me if you can do it and not be annoyed.
Granted, this week is not the easiest one for me, work-wise, but still. I started this on Sunday afternoon and it's now Tuesday evening, and we just finished eating it. Every little step is not such a little step. (and GREAT, now I'm singing "Every Little Step" by New Edition. Awesome. Thanks a lot.) Some of these little steps take a few hours. Even though I read through the recipe more than once, I still miscalculated the prep time on some of these elements, so of course I got annoyed. Not at myself, of course, but at French Laundry pastry chef Stephen Durfee, who came up with this dish. I'm sure he's a lovely man and all, but dude: this dish was stupid and annoying. Sorry, it just was.
In fact, it was so stupid and annoying that I will now share with you the top five long, drawn-out, annoying things I'd RATHER do that make this dish again:
5) Watch paint dry. In Akron, Ohio. With Jake Busey.
4) Stand behind someone in the checkout line who waits until the total is rung up and THEN they get out their damn checkbook and ask a bunch of stupid questions about who to make the check out to. And also? They don't have the proper photo ID or check-cashing card for that grocery store so it requires the manager to come over with the key on the plastic coil around her wrist to void the transaction or override it or some shit.
3) Strip the hardwood floors in my dining room, sand them, refinish them, scratch them up again, then resand and refinish them again.
2) Go to a Celine Dion concert wearing gauchos. With Dwight Shrute.
1) Iron or sew pretty much anything.
On a positive note, it turned out great, tasted amazing, and everyone loved it. Blah, blah, blah-ba-dee-blah. A+ from the adults, A- from the kids, 10 out of 10 among the teenage set. But by the time I finished making it, I just didn't care.
Alright, let me take a break from all this bitching and moaning to actually talk about the dish. Here's the mise en place for the poached apples:
I made the poaching liquid with the wine, sugar and lemon juice, then sliced two 3/4" rings out of each apple, then poached the apple rings in the poaching liquid.
Here's what they looked like when they had cooled:
I reduced some of the poaching liquid to make the cinnamon-apple syrup that's used in the final plating.
After making the apples and syrup on Sunday afternoon, I made the "candied apple" ice cream on Sunday evening. Here's the mise for the ice cream:
I brought the apple juice to a boil, then reduced it to about a cup of liquid. I let it cool while I combined the milk, cream, a quarter of a vanilla bean (scrapings and the pod) and some of the sugar in a saucepan.
While that was coming up to a boil, I whisked togther 10 egg yolks and the remaining sugar.
I added some of the hot milk/sugar/cream mixture to the eggs to temper them, then poured that mixture into the saucepan and cooked it over low heat until it had thickened.
I really could've stood over that saucepan for nine million years just smelling what was in it. Wow. That may have been the only bright spot in this whole dish. How depressing.
I poured this custard-y mixture through a chinois into a metal bowl in an ice bath, added the reduced apple juiced, stirred it, and let it cool off before putting it in the ice cream machine and then the freezer:
Are you bored yet? Annoyed? I am, just typing this. And we haven't even gotten to the friggin' PUFF PASTRY YET. Seriously, kill me. Just kill me now.
But before we get to the puff pastry, let's talk about the crème de farine, which I did on Monday afternoon. Here's the mise en place:
WAKE UP!!! I can hear you snoring from here. Seriously. That is SO rude.
Alright, I'll get straight to it: you add the star anise, cinnamon stick and allspice berries to the water, boil it, steep it, strain it, keep 3 cups of it, add some salt, bring it back up to a boil, add the farina (Cream of Wheat), stir until thickened, then whisk in the butter and mascarpone. Then, you put it in a plastic-wrapped 9x9" baking dish and chill it for at least 3 hours. Here's what it looks like before going into the fridge to chill:
Now, for the puff pastry, which is used in what turned out to be the saddest, most pathetic-looking cinnamon twist cookies. Believe it or not, as annoyed as I was by making puff pastry, it really is easy. It just involves a lot of rolling, folding refrigerating, waiting, and repeating that process about six times. I have photos of every step, but really, it's so boring I can't bear to post them. Also, because there are 852,341 more steps to this dish to show you, I can't take up a ton of time on the puff pastry.
Here's step one:
Here's what it looks like when it's done:
This made about 2-3 pounds of puff pastry, even though I ONLY NEEDED 4 oz. for this dish. I'll stop bitching at some point, I swear. Just not right now.
Think we're done and ready to plate it? HA! NO WE ARE NOT! WE HAVE TO DEEP-FRY THE FARINA!!!! The French Laundry Cookbook says that you're supposed to cut 2" circles of farina (easy) and then dredge them lightly in flour, dunk them in milk, coat them in panko (Japanese bread crumbs), then deep fry them. Yeah. I did the first two and the panko fell right off and looked like something you might find on the tread of your workboots if you were a farmer. Or a mud wrestler. Or Jake Busey on a bender in a crackhouse. So, I made the executive decision to dredge those little f-ers solely in flour before dropping them gently into a giant pot of boiling oil to fry them. It was the right decision because they were pretty freakin' awesome.
Huh. That's what the scallops should have looked like in this dish.
So, we're done. That's all. This Candied Apple dish was okay, and I just want to.... wait... what? What did you say? You want to see the final plating? You're still here? Man, I would've left hours ago if I were you. Sucker. What's WRONG with you?
Here's the final plating:
First on the plate was a spoonful of the apple syrup that I made in what now feels like 2004. On top of that went a deep-fried farina cake. On top of that is a poached apple ring, upon which I put a scoop of the homemade ice cream, and last and certainly least went my welfare cinnamon twist cookies. Seriously, I think kindergarteners can twist dough better than I can.
So there you have it. Cross that off the list. Done and done. Even though it was delicious, I will never make this again. Instead, I'd rather make ... wait for it .... the grape jelly candy. I KNOW!! Who'd-a-thunk-it?
Up Next: Strawberry Sorbet Shortcakes or Lobster with Leeks (depends on what I can find that looks good this week/weekend. Sad note: DC's oldest and best market -- Eastern Market -- burned down late Monday night, so many of the vendors I've been working with and have gotten to know no longer have their stands. You can read more about it here. It's really sad news for the community and for people who love food.)
R.W. Knudsen organic apple juice
Vermont Butter and Cheese mascarpone cheese
365 organic butter and milk
King Arthur flour
Ian's panko breadcrumbs
Horizon organic cream
Produce from Whole Foods
Eggs, spices and aromatics from TPSS Co-op
Les Fumees Blanches Sauvignon Blanc; 2005 Jacques & Francois Lurton
Cream of Wheat farina
Music to Cook By: Since I did this dish over three days, I just had my iPod on Shuffle. That said, there was a lot of Chuck Brown, U2, David Bowie and Pink Martini goin' on up in herrre.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007