Saturday, April 16, 2011

Getting Fancy

San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic and food writer Michael Bauer has done us a bunch of favors over the years - for example, he told us about Rosso in Santa Rosa. For that alone, we owe this guy our undying gratitude. He has steered us toward wonderful meals in the past and away from possibly disappointing ones as well.

So, when he got the recipe for this cauliflower custard topped with strips and wedges of colorful veggies from a chef at Poggio, it seemed like a really fun thing to try, despite the somewhat fraught techniques.

Like making veggie strips - never done that before (turns out it's not too difficult). And the custard - what it boils down to is making a white sauce and simmering the cauliflower in that before adding eggs, puréeing and baking, but the technique in the recipe is more complicated than that.

Still, the newspaper picture was compelling and we do love cauliflower, so what the hey?

I chopped and shaved, stirred and puréed, poured and baked, plated and piled, served and sampled, hoping for a really spectacular first course dish for a special dinner. I was imagining a fragile custard that barely held together and tasted of cauliflower, like crême caramel only savory, topped with a tangy, colorful little salad of fresh veggies. Folks, I gotta tell you, the little salad atop the custard was the best part. The texture of the custard was more like a cake and the nuttiness of the cauliflower was nearly lost.

I'm going to try this again because the idea still seems marvelous to me and, knowing my kitchen techniques, it could just be that I made a large boo-boo along the way.

I'm going to tweak the recipe when I try again. I want a more custardy custard and I think small niblets of cauliflower left whole in the custard would actually be a textural improvement. I'm going to spark up that colorful salad with a bit of lemon juice, too, and... well, I guess I'll wait until I've succeeded to talk about all that.

So, my thanks go out to Mr. Bauer for the idea and, of course, for Rosso. I'll keep reading as long as he keeps writing, even if our taste in custards differs somewhat.



Blogger cookiecrumb said...

No, darling. You just want a chawan mushi. Get a recipe for that, and use your cauliflower. Happiness.

Saturday, April 16, 2011  
Blogger Ms Brown Mouse said...

I love a savoury custard and I love cauli - mmmmmm

Saturday, April 16, 2011  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Cookiecrumb, thanks for the lead - I went looking and chawan mushi seems interesting.

Ms Mouse, two of my favorites, too. I guess what I really wanted was individual quiches with no crust and cauliflower flavor, plus the pretty veggies on top.

Sunday, April 17, 2011  
Blogger kudzu said...

I had the sformatina when Peter first put it on the menu. I liked it a lot since it didn't "fight" with the course that followed it, as some starters have a way of doing. He is one of my favorite chefs ever.

Sunday, April 17, 2011  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Pat, I think your impression is accurate but I was looking for something with a little more "fight." I haven't had the pleasure of dining at Poggio yet, but it's one I do hope to visit soon.

Sunday, April 17, 2011  

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