It was love at first sight when I made Chef Hidemi Sugino’s Tartelette aux Figues some years back. The composition of this creation is simpler in comparison to some of his other works, most notably Ambroisie which won him the Coupe de Monde Patissiere more than 20 years ago in Lyon. Since then I had made them twice again over the last 2 years, making slightly changes and modifications along the way to make it more workable for our tropical weather, especially in a non-air conditioned kitchen like mine. Whenever I see good figs on display at our local supermarkets, I think of Sugino’s Fig Tarts, a recipe from his recipe book, Le Gout Authentique Retrouve but seldom makes its appearance in his dessert boutique in Kyobashi Tokyo. So now in 2015 I made them again, as a quick revision of some classic techniques in French pastry making. Thankfully this season’s black figs did not let me down.
ルージュ Rouge is a piece which I made for EAT AND MAKE TAU HUAY DAY that took place more than 1 month back, which I’d initiated in response to the Diner en Blanc Singapore saga. Forgiven but not forgotten. The intention then was to “atasified”, i.e. make more haute, a simple dessert like the asian soya bean pudding. The word on the street then was, ” if panna cotta could make it onto the tableaux blanc, why not tau huay?” So naturally, the first image I have in my head is naturally a rather “cliche” version of tau huay disguised as panna cotta, supported by various “coulified” and macerated berries spiked with liqueur. Surely this would be worthy of Diner en Blanc!
This is a guest post at Veronica’s blog “Quay Po Cooks” whom I got to know through the numerous Aspiring Bakers bakealongs. From a fellow blogger to a friend, this lady beams with so much postive aura and sunshine, it is infectious! I love reading her blog, where every recipe entails a story, heartwarming tales of her family and friends which often reminded us of our very own. Through the lines, she shares with us her moments of euphoria and sorrow, causing one to can’t help but let out a giggle or shed a tear as we read along. Her words are often simple, yet enriched with much sincerity. In short, this woman writes from her heart. When Veronica invited me to do a guest post on her blog, I knew I couldn’t say no. In fact, it would be such an honour, as a repayment in kind, for the very many wonderful reads. Thank you for letting us in your life. 🙂
I asked Veronica if she had any preference for the recipe and she indicated that she’d hoping for something sweet, since pastry is my forte. I am flattered but surely sweetness cannot be the only dimension presented, especially for a woman who has led such a colorful life, After much deliberation, I’d decided to share with all of you a recipe which I feel aptly encapsulates the essence of all that Veronica’s been through. Oh yes, if you have gone through her blog like I did, you would know that this woman has gone through quite a bit over the years. Read on and you would know why…
Macarons must surely rank amongst the top in the list of the most versatile foods in the world, with two almond and sugar biscuit shells to be filled with an infinite number of possible fillings from sweet to savory. This became the drawing board for patissiers all around the world, drafting all sorts of flavour combinations from the familiar to the exotic.
It all started from monochromatic flavours like the ever-popular vanilla buttercream, raspberry confiture and chocolate ganache. These fillings, withstanding the test of time, are indeed delicious, but can be rather boring at times. The constant desire to innovate the mind and invigorate the tastebuds motivate patissiers to experiment with “pairings” of flavours, in attempt to add depth and dimension to these petit fours. And these bold attempts to produce something unique and astounding is found in none of than the works of Pierre Hermé.
I’m “fast forwarding” my Japan posts to bring to you guys the Le Cordon Bleu Macarons from Kobe! “Nan desu de?!” some of you might ask. ‘Cos in barely 2 weeks’ time on 20th March is Le Jour de Macaron aka Macarons Day! This day which celebrates the popular French confectionery was initiated by no other than the man who revolutionised macaron gastronomie, Pierre Hermé. Since its inauguration 7 years ago, Macarons Day is celebrated by many patisseries around France, with notable names like Sadaharu Aoki, Dalloyau, Laurent Duchêne and Jean-Paul Hévin, just to name a few. It has since spread across the Altantic to NYC and Toronto, as well as the rest of the world! And over at Aspiring Bakers, we are having celebrating it for one whole month with “Aspiring Bakers #17 – March Macaron Madness!”
We visited Kobe as a day trip on our second last day in Kansai. It was an impromptu decision actually as we’d initially decided to stay put in Osaka after visiting Kyoto and Nara a couple of days back. But we kinda ran out of places to visit in Osaka, which is pretty much of a business and commercial hub, with much less character and history than its neighbouring cities and towns. So it was off to Kobe for more patisserie hunting!
Bakerzin launched four new tarts a couple of weeks ago but they most certainly beared resemblance to some of the familiar favorites we know. Utilising some Bakerzin dining vouchers we had, we’d got some for a sampling.
My first encounters with anything overpoweringly “rosy” is probably “Rose Floral Water ” 玫瑰花露水, which was the “SK-II Esssence” in my grandma’s era. The wafts of familiar yet deathly pungency of rose water brought back memories of my grandma’s dressing table, and the macabre scent of rose water can only be less dreadful when compared to something even more ghastly, 夏士莲雪花膏 Hazeline Snow Moisturising Cream.
I attempted Pierre Hermé ‘s Macaron Ispahan about half a year ago and I must say, its a pinnacle to this hobby for me . Looking back, it is not without problems and fears. I remembered being really skeptical about the use of rose water and rose essence as I’d associated them with the “unpleasant”. Curious on how Pierre Hermé ‘s Ispahan would turned out, I restrained all that cynicism on these “condiments” which reminded me of sickly old women (no offence ladies!) and forged on. Thankfully I did, literally blown away by the flavours when I took the first bite. Not sure if my scent receptors have “matured” over the years or the impressions of these “fragrances” have waned over time, I grew to enjoy the intricate subtlety these flavours impart, yet deepening the complexity of the work by so much.
This month’s Aspiring Bakers’ theme is Tarts and Pies, and needless to say, the perfect opportunity to reprise those flavours which I’d grown to like, in this case, Pierre Hermé’s Tarte Ispahan.
After our little tour at Nishiki Market, we found ourselves at Daimaru Kyoto, located in between Kawaramachi and Karasuma stations. Won’t miss the chance for a little “tour” of the depachika as well. True enough, the basement is filled with little takeaway corners representing various big names which have found themselves in Kyoto. The one that struck us most was a small little booth by the famed Belgian patissier cum chocolatier, Jean-Philippe Darcis.
The weather has been excruciatingly warm all week and is becoming almost unbearable! Climatic patterns have changed and gone gaga around the world. Tornado and hurricane season coming too early whilst the rains refuse to come. How long more have we got to endure this…
On a more positive note, summer fruits from the northern hemisphere comes early this season. Just after we saw a massive shipment of Korean strawberries a month back, now comes the Californian ones, with our local supermarkets selling them very cheaply for punnets twice the size of those korean ones. This is too tempting an offer to resist. Raspberries, blackberries and blueberries are also available in abundance now. Californian blueberries are in season now when we saw their Argentinian or Chilean cousins just a month back. When else than now could be a better time for one to experience the summer berries galore!
Before our trip to Keikanshin Japan, we did some reading up on the patisseries in the region which are accessible to us. The list was quite overwhelming frankly. But given the time constraint, we had to trim it down to a small compilation, mostly those with takeaway outlets within the depachika of major shopping malls like Daimaru, Takashimaya and Sogo. Jean Philippe Darcis, Michel Belin, Wittamer etc were just some of the international names that had landed in Japan over the last few years. But personally, I’m more keen on sampling creations by the Japanese patissiers.
From a recipe book “Monter au Plus haut du ciel” published by MOOK, I learned about Hayashi Syuhei 林 周平 a patissier from Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku and now currently based in Kobe with his own Patisserie, Mont Plus. The book title, literally meaning “To Reach for the Skies” was very intriguing and so were the creations within. Kobe wasn’t on our itinerary but thankfully, Hayashi san opened an outlet, mont plus PAYSANNE in JR Osaka Station in Umeda. I knew I had to pay a visit to sample his works.
Talk about french baking and macarons easily comes to mind. And the one name that is almost synonymously equated to macarons is Pierre Hermé. The celebrated French patissier is renowned and worshipped around the world by dessert and sweets afficionados for his edible masterpieces. Enshrined as the “Picasso of Patissiers”, the one creation which is most often tagged onto him is the Ispahan.
7-cm wide macaron shells in brilliant pink enclosed with a mélange of fresh raspberries, canned lychees and rose petal buttercream, this must had been one of the most bizzare-sounding desserts on the menu that Pierre Hermé created when he was still with Laduree. He is afterall a revolutionary in the French culinary scene, constantly introducing mind-boggling ideas for desserts and patisseries which come in bewildering combinations of flavours or presentation that inspires to astound the world both visually and gastronomically!
Valentine’s Day’s just round the corner and its a wonderfully tied in with the season of summer berries. I absolutely adore raspberries, both its rich colour and textures as well as its delicate tartness. While stocking up punnets of raspberries and blueberries which I could use throughout the off-season months, I remember chancing upon a recipe over Martha Steward’s website for “Heart-shaped Raspberry Napoleon” and I knew I have to make it for this month’s Aspiring Bakers’ theme “Love is in the Air” hosted by Ellena of Cuisine Paradise.
The recipe can be simple or difficult, depending on how much one decides to stretch oneself. I decided to go the hard way and give myself a challenge!