Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A rhubarb legacy

The previous pastry chef has left me her legacy.... gallons of rhubarb icecream base. In anticipation of her absence, she stocked the fridge for a smooth transition. But the amount of rhubarb icecream she left is daunting.

My challenge has been to incorporate it into my menu. It has been in a transient state, frequently shifted from one place to another. It started in its original composition as a scoop of icecream with mixed berry compote and a white chocolate chunk cookie. Then I was instructed to express my own personal visions of this blatant flavor.

First it became a frozen terrine, layered with a deep burgundy, spicy rhubarb puree. The icecream itself is very sweet and light in rhubarb flavor, so the puree made a nice contrast. But its failing was in that the different frozen textures came apart easily and weren't easy for the diners to eat.

From there the puree in the frozen terrine was replaced with apricot icecream. The layers of two icecreams had a nicer texture together, and the pastels looked nice next to each other. This was served with a yogurt cream flavored with a concentration of the poaching liquid that the apricots for the icecream were poached in. The poaching liquid tastes really good. It was enhanced with the pits of the apricots and vanilla pods. I am tempted to add some water and ice and drink it.

The next transition this rhubarb is taking is aside an apricot cheese cake tart. I have seen a new trend in cheesecake on other menu's. I am seeing cheesecakes that stray from the sweetness we are used to. The market street grill has a goat cheese cake much of this vein. So my take on it was a 10 inch tart, first filled with orbs of halved poached apricots. The empty space is filled with an unsweetened cheesecake batter made mostly of creme friache. The apricots will provide a balancing sweetness to the cheese. I usually try to avoid large cakes and tarts, opting instead for individual desserts. I think this makes the dining experience much more personal as that dessert was made just for your plate. Not just a big random dessert that you get a slice off of. But with this tart, the individual tart with one poached apricot in the center looked like an over easy egg. So I opted for the large tart as each slice will bisect many apricots. Next to this will sit the rhubarb icecream.

And its next incarnation when apricots fall out of season (or when I feel like it) will be between two soft thin gingerbread cookies to make a nostalgic looking icecream sandwich. I do enjoy an icecream sandwich, but my pet peeve is when you cant bite through the cookie without the icecream squeezing out the sides. The cookie has to be tender while in the frozen state. I think gingerbread often has this quality and the flavor is more what I like rhubarb with than other fruits. And as always, I have a love for all things nostalgic, and all things cute.

So goes the story of this rhubarb icecream. Round and round it goes, where it stops..........Nobody knows.


Anonymous FaustianBargain said...

rhubarb goes well with rosemary. as does orange, but not if it is too sharp/citrusy..considering the nature of rhubarb itself..rhubarb with rosemary with a mild orangey accent is worth an experiment.

its late, but congratulations re your engagement.

July 22, 2005 5:28 PM  
Anonymous faustianbargain said...

err...i meant, *I* am late in conveying my best wishes re your engagement. butter get the idea

July 22, 2005 5:29 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Faustian... thanks! I was reading a cookbook from the 1800's and it suggested chocolate and rosemary as a very nice combo. The same combination was suggested in my book on Ices by Robin Weir... Rosemary makes cameos all over the place.... It is like the Steve Buscemi of the Herb world

July 22, 2005 8:56 PM  
Anonymous david said...

creme "friache" is spelled creme fraiche

ha ha ha

July 25, 2005 2:04 PM  
Blogger Dana said...


I may not be able to spell, but at least I can count.....

ha ha ha ha

July 25, 2005 8:52 PM  

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