Frenching. 

Frenching, such a wonderful techinque!  It certainly is a talent we all should learn if we want to impress the ones we love. It takes finesse, patience, a bit of natural talent, but definitely a great deal of skill. It also requires a very sharp knife. 

I am speaking about frenching bones, of course. Removing the meat from the tips of its bones adds a great deal of elegance and looks absolutely beautiful. Think of it as the bowtie of your meat! It adds flair, and is oh, so sexy! 

After a few tips, this daunting task will seem simple. You can apply it to just about any meat; lamb, pork, poultry, beef, even venison if you’re so inclined. The important things to remember are to buy what you can afford, (because meats are expensive), and to be careful when using a very sharp knife. 

The first cut will always be the easiest. Follow the natural slant of the meat, and use smooth strokes rather than sawing the meat. Cut down and out at an angle, but remember to keep your knife steady and straight. Cutting through the membrane and scraping the bones of your meat is the most tedious and requires patience. Using the blunt side of your knife, or your fingers can be helpful, but the sharp blade of a knife will save time! 


                                                                      #athomesoigné 

Croquembouche 

The croquembouche, like most French things is alluring and regal. The dessert is mostly seen at grand celebrations to make an impression, but the dessert is so simple and so fun to make, why wait for a birth or a matrimonial union to enjoy it?!
Inspired by my first niece, Mathilda, the croquembouche has been my go to dessert whenever I entertain. Once again, I offer you a recipe which I found on my rummaging my iCloud! I hope the croquembouche brings you as much joy as it has given me.

Ingredients 

      For puff pastry: 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, 7 large eggs. For pastry cream: 6 large egg yolks,  1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour, 2 cups milk, 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 cups sugar, 2 tablespoons corn syrup

Heat oven to 425 degrees. To make the puffs: In a medium saucepan, melt butter in 1 1/2 cups water with salt and sugar. Remove pan from heat, and add flour. Return pan to heat and, using a wooden spoon, beat vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes. (A film should form on the bottom of the pan.) Cool slightly, and add 6 eggs, one at a time, beating vigorously.
Make a glaze by beating the remaining egg with 1 teaspoon water, and set aside. Using a pastry bag fitted with a coupler and a 1/2-inch-wide plain tip, pipe out mounds that are 1 inch high and 3/4 inch in diameter on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with egg glaze, and smooth the tops. Bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on racks. (The puffs can be made ahead and frozen until ready to assemble.)

Make the pastry cream: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg yolks, gradually adding sugar, until mixture is thick and pale yellow. Beat in flour. Scald milk, and add in dribbles to egg mixture, reserving 1/2 cup. Place mixture in a clean pot over high heat, and stir vigorously until mixture boils and thickens. If it seems too thick to pipe, add reserved milk. Remove from heat. Using a hand whisk, beat butter into egg mixture, one tablespoon at a time.

Just before assembling croquembouche, fill a pastry tube fitted with a 1/4-inch-wide tip with pastry cream, insert tip into puffs, and pipe in cream to fill.

To make the caramel: In a medium saucepan, combine 2/3 cup water, sugar, and corn syrup, and bring to a boil over high heat. Do not stir. Cover pan, and boil until steam dissolves any crystals. Uncover, and boil 5 more minutes, or until syrup is amber in color. Watch closely. Remove from heat. Dip the bottom of each puff into the caramel, and arrange puffs in a pyramid.

To make a spun-sugar web to wrap around the croquembouche: Cut the looped ends of a wire whisk with wire cutters, or use 2 forks held side by side, and dip the ends into caramel. Wave the caramel back and forth over the croquembouche, allowing the strands to fall in long, thin threads around it. Wrap any stray strands up and around the croquembouche. Serve.

#athomesoigne

Holiday Soirée ideas to entice fellowship! 

December is a busy month for the at home hostess! With so many friends and acquaintances from different pockets of life, it is easy to include every one who has made your year special. Hosting a holiday Soirée may seem more daunting than festive, however. Will your Michelin starred Chef friend get along with your Yoga buddy? Will your Yoga buddy have anything to talk about with your Flute instructor? 

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to collaborate with Nicole Osibodu, the clever genius of Pink Pineapple Event Designs.

 For Affinité magazine, Nicole and I came up with ice breaker Soirée ideas to make any party merrier and bright, while bringing all your friends together. 

Enjoy! 

Marshmallows 

           It has been an eventful week. Thanksgiving has come and gone, and New York is finally decorated and ready for Christmas!

Lately, I have been sorting through my iCloud. While doing so, I have been discovering photos, recipes and all sorts of treasures from my past. One gem I found was a marshmallow recipe from when I was a Pastry Sous Chef at a restaurant called Quay in Chicago. The dessert was an elegant version of a s’more (I know, so trite, but this was almost six years ago).

I have no idea what has become of the restaurant, but long live my marshmallow recipe.  May you enjoy now too!

17 oz Sugar
1.5 oz Glucose
Water as needed
4 oz Egg Whites

13 gelatin sheets (these can be found at specialty stores and Whole Foods).

Cornstarch as needed mixed with Powdered sugar as needed.

Cook sugar, glucose and water to 275 degrees. What professionals call firm ball. 

Bloom the gelatin sheets by placing them into cold water.

Slowly incorporate into whipping egg whites. The mixture will be warm. Once the mixture cools, add bloomed gelatin. It is important that no access water is added to the mixture.

Line a pan with parchment paper and generously dust with cornstarch and powdered sugar mixture.

Whip egg white mixture until cool and stiff peak, or till the mixture is thick and holding independently.

Pour into lined and dusted pan. Let it sit and dry out. Do not refrigerate!

#athomesoigné