Archive for January 26th, 2007

A week in review (part trois): celebratory berry tart

Friday Jan. 19,

4pm…

Hurrah!!! I’m done with interviews for the week! I need to bake some therapeutic tart…

5:46pm…

Hungry. Trudged uptown for dinner at Sezz Medi with Ry. Hurrah! Food!

6:32pm…

Still eating. Got a call. HURRAH!!! I GOT AN OFFER!! I NEED TO BAKE SOME BIG ASS CELEBRATORY TART!!!

7:01pm…

Proceeded to Fairway. Shopped deliriously because I was too excited.

10:28pm…

Started making the tart, deliriously because I was too excited.

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Anisa’s Delirious Celebratory Berry Tart (crust recipe from How to Be a Domestic Goddess)

for the crust:
7 tbsp. soft unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
3 yolks
1 cup + 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

for the filling:
1 egg, separated
some amount of creme fraiche (probably 1 cup)
about equal amount of fromage blanc
enough sugar to make it tastes good (about 1/4 cup?)
strawberries, raspberries, blackberries or whatever fruit tickles your fancy

for the wine gelee/glaze:
1/2 cup whine wine (approx.)
enough sugar to make it tastes like moscato (if using nondessert wine)
1-2 tsp. gelatin powder

1. To make the pastry, cream the butter and the sugar together, then add the yolks one at a time. Stir in the flour to form a soft dough, then form a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and rest in the refrigerator for half an hour (or in the freezer for 15 min).

2. Once the dough has cooled down to play-doh texture, line a flat surface with a big sheet of wax paper, sit the dough on the sheet and cover it with another big sheet of wax paper. Roll out the pastry between wax paper to fit the pan. The dough is delicate so use the bottom piece of paper to help you carry your dough to the tart pan. Push gently down so that it lies flat at the bottom, leaving a little overhang. Put back in the fridge to rest for 10 min.

3. Preheat the oven to 350F. Roll a rolling pin (or an empty wine bottle if you’re ghetto like me) over the top of the pastry shell to cut off excess pastry. Line the pan with foil/wax paper and fill with baking beans. Bake for 15 min, then remove the beans and the paper and continue baking for 5-10 more min. Transfer to a wire rack and cool.

4. To make the filling, whisk the white until stiff but not dry and set aside. Beat the yolk with the sugar until thick and pale; you may think there’s too much sugar to make a paste, but persist: it happens. Add the creme fraiche and fromage blanc and beat until smooth. Fold in the egg white and pile and smooth this mixture into the prepared tart shell (that has sufficiently cooled down). Put in the fridge for 20-30 min to set.

5. In the meantime, cut the berries, make the glaze, steal a glass of wine and think of innovative noncircular ways to arrange the fruit (although you’re going to end up doing a circular design anyway because the tart pan is circular as James has pointed out to me. Thanks!)

6. To make the glaze, heat the wine in a saucepan and add a couple tsp. of sugar to make it tastes like Moscato. I happened to have a white Bordeaux so I used that. Ideally, I would use a still, aromatic dessert wine like Muscat de Beaumes de Venise. But anyway, let the wine simmer for a little bit. Then mix the gelatin powder with some cold water then pour the liquid into the wine pot. Stir and turn off the heat. Let cool.

7. The most challenging part! Arrange the fruit. Once you’re done, pour the gelee/glaze over the whole entire surface. Voila!

tart3.jpg

in full glory

I apologize for being unspecific with the quantity of certain ingredients. I was delirious and sort of playing and making it up along the way, so I forgot to jot down how much of each thing I actually threw into the mixing bowls. Use your senses =p. They’re the best measuring tools you’ll ever own.

tart1.jpg

 For the filling, I took inspiration from the creamy frozen dessert at Aquavit that uses a combination of creme fraiche, fromage blanc, and goat cheese. I know that using berries around this time is very unseasonal – Alice Waters forgive me. I was too fixated on the creme fraiche + fromage blanc combo and I knew it would go well with berries, (or they’re the most obvious complement and I was too delirious to think). The gelee/glaze idea came at the last minute. The occasion called for some alcohol anyway.

plating.jpg

A pathetic attempt at plating

I love making tarts. They’re one of those things that seem deceptively complicated, but are actually fairly easy too make. You spend the most time on the pastry. The rest is just beating, cutting fruit, and putting it all together. The procedure is therapeutic and the product tastes good. Please give it a try.

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Thanks to James for taking the pictures. Yay, I make semi-photogenic tarts!

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A week in review (part deux): eating can take you places

Time:               Monday Jan. 15, 7:00pm 

Location:         West Chelsea, unassuming corner of 10th and 20th

Hypothesis:     I, the whiner, make poor life decisions (as Mi would say).

Abstract          
It’s crunch time, 5:30pm the night before the start of a full week of relentless interviews. As other Wall Street hopefuls engaged themselves in some last minute immersification in this very very thought-provoking, life-changing literary piece called the Vault Guide to Finance Interviews, I, a very poor life decision maker, decided it’s about time to catch up with my dear mentor/friend Shar and responded to her post (Sorry Shar! It would be too selfish of me to not share this with other people. =p):

CLASSIFIEDS

Single 21 yr old avid Miss Piggy who believes she has skills in the kitchen but mostly in consumption is responding to post made by Miss Hsieh on her Facebook. Petite, Asian, voracious eater and willing to travel far and wide for her food. Adventurous, discerning palate and an appetite that can beat a brontasaurus on certain occassions. Willing to detox liver in preparation for a night of alcohol consumption as well.

Look forward to a rambunctious evening filled with much ooh-ing and aah-ing over pretty, dainty fare, or of stuffing her face with comfort foods. Please contact the author of this post for more information, and feel free to invite other fellows and fellellas (female fellows) to join in the fun.

Dates available are Thurs. 01/11; Sat. 01/13 (evening only); Sun. 01/14 – Wed. 01/17 for breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea, or supper unless otherwise indicated. Reservations for dates are closed for the last half of the month of Jan. until late Feb./early Mar. Reservations for March can be made two (2) months in advanced but are subject to changes due to the author’s rather spontaneous flights of fancy and episodes of indecision. Please excuse any confusion that may result from this product of the author’s extremely boring life as a graduate.

(She really wrote this to me. hahaha. How can you not love her, right? =p )
As Shar and I toiled over where to go for our long overdue fantasmical, romantical dinner date, then all of a sudden – it was like a blitz episode of divine intervention – I was hearing all these voices telling me, “Cookshop, Cookshop.” How could I not heed the guidance of these mysterious deities (or more like Frank Bruni, Hal Rubenstein, and Sofia Leung who have raved and raved and raved about this little gem, and Sofia, please note that I put you in the same sentence as Frank Bruni, haha)? So merrily I skipped down to the subway station and off I went to meet up with Shar at the unassuming corner of 10th Avenue and 20th Street, our rendezvous for the night.

Because I am working on keeping each entry down to a 500-word-length (in response to all your much-appreciated feedbacks) and  because Mr. Bruni’s review of Cookshop is much more comprehensive and eloquent than any gibberish I could ever spew out, I’m just going to keep it brief here:

GO TO COOKSHOP NOW. IT’S CURRENTLY MY FAVORITE RESTAURANT IN THE CITY. GO NOW. THEY MAKE SUCH GOOOOOOD FOOOOOD.  EVERYTHING TASTES VERY FRESH AND IT’S ALL ORGANIC OR LOCALLY GROWN (OR PURPORTED TO BE). OK, YOU HAVE TO GO THERE NOW AND GET THE SPICED FRIED HOMINY FOR STARTER.

And I don’t have a picture of the spiced fried hominy, quite possibly one of the most addictive snacks in the City. Hulled kernels of corn get a dip in the batter then deep-fried and seasoned to perfection. Only 4 dollars! GET IT.

Then our entrees arrived (we weren’t even half done with the hominy!) Service was friendly and incredibly (also a little excessively) fast the night we were there. Shar got scallops (4 big hunks!!!), and I got duck (huge portion also). WORTH IT. GO NOW.

scallops.jpg

Maine diver scallops with romanesco cauliflower, lemon tahini, and pine nut-golden raisin gremolata

duck.jpg

Catskill duck breast with wild rice, kumquat, pomegranate, and almond

WHOLESOME GOODNESS. The scallops and duck were so fresh and cooked perfectly. I’m usually pretty picky with duck breast because oftentimes they are overcooked and stringy, but Cookshop did it perfectly, and I was thankful for that. Besides the main stars themselves though, I was especially blown away by the vegetably, grainy, nutty concoctions that accompanied both the scallops and the duck – very innovative combination but still delicious and fresh-tasting – real palate teasers. The wild rice-kumquat-pom mix with its citrussy flavor and contrasting textures was probably one of the best duck accessories I’ve ever had – it kept the whole dish relatively light and enjoyable until the very end, which is not always the case with fattier or gamier protein like duck or lamb, or so I think.  

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Winter fruit crisp with creme fraiche ice cream

And for dessert, we shared a fruit crisp comprising all the wintery fruity flavors – prunes, apricots, plums, to name a few. The warm crisp came with a small scoop of creme fraiche ice cream which complements the sweet and tart and crumbly crisp beautifully. The scoop was so tiny that we had to order second. Shar and I, bottomless pits indeed.

Now you ask, how does this have anything to do with the title of the post? Well, it has to do with the hypothesis I proposed in the beginning. Although the food was definitely worth the trip, I did suffer some serious guilt pang on my way back from dinner – maybe the timing really was off….maybe I should have stayed home…crap I wasted 3.5 hours…crap I have interviews tomorrow…

Well, I wasn’t remorseful for long. You see, I put food down as one of my interests on my resume. More specifically, the last line of my resume read, “Avid cook and amateur restaurant critic” (I know I’m silly). For better or for worse, a good number of interviewers noticed that and asked me questions about it. One interviewer asked me what my favorite thing to cook was (no favorites. It’s the means not the end, well at least if that’s how the question was phrased). A GS interviewer, whom I think was trying to test if I had lied about my interests (apparently people do that. what idiots?!?), asked me to pick a restaurant for a business lunch with his private client (Gramercy Tavern). He made me list out my reasons and asked how many times I’ve been there, in an inquisitive way (Yea, I didn’t like him too much). Then finally, an MS interviewer asked me to name my three favorite restaurants in New York. Man, that was a hard question, but I said Momofuku Ssam Bar, Fatty Crab, and Cookshop. Then another interviewer came back in from lunch break so the first interviewer relayed my answers to her, then she bursted out, “Oh my godddd, Cookshop was sooooo gooood. I went there for Sunday brunch. The brunch was sooooo diviiiinne. Oh my goddddd, I have to go there again.”

I knowwwwww. I love that place too. The dessert was soooooo gooooood. 

*instant connection*

So it turned out, I ‘ll be working at MS this summer. I’m sure that was not exactly why they picked me, but I like to think that it’s our mutual love for Cookshop that got me the job. It just makes for a much better story that way.

So no, I don’t make poor life decisions. I might go eat at the wrong time,  but it was the right place. I make good decisions. Hypothesis rejected with 100% level of confidence =p

Cookshop
156 10th Avenue
New York, NY 10011
(212) 924-4440

p.s. I’m going there again tomorrow for brunch. I really love this place!


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