American Brunch "Ile Flottante"
with caramelized pancetta, essence of "Candy Cap" and maple syrup
I already posted about this dish in rather sorry French for Blog Apetit back in December. But since then, something interesting has happened as a result of my creating this unusual recipe, and so now I would like to share a little bit about it in English.
You all know about Ideas in Food, don't you? If not then you must have been asleep under a brick all of this time. If you don't know what I am talking about then dash over to Pagosa Springs and check out Aki and Alex right away - they run an incredible Chefs' blog with amazing pictures.
In November, Ideas in Food launched a little competition to win one of twelve bottles of Blis Maple Syrup which is aged in a whisky barrel. The idea was to create a a dish idea for a 12-Course Maple dinner. I decided to give the contest a shot because, no doubt inspired by Alex and Aki's creative approach, somewhere along the line the idea for an alternative Ile Flottante was hatched in my head and I thought it would be fun to experiment with it.
Alex and Aki obviously thought my attempt had potential too, because they awarded me with one of the twelve coveted prizes. I am looking forward to the arrival of my prize bottle of Maple Syrup, thank you Ideas in Food!
Here are the notes I entered into the competition with my recipe, recording its failures and successes with suggestions for improvement the next time around:
(Ingredients for two)
2 slices pancetta
2 tsp sugar
1 cup whole milk
2 tsp finely ground dried candy cap mushrooms
4 tablespoons maple syrup
What I did:
First I very finely diced 2 slices of pancetta.
I cooked them slowly over a low heat with 4 tsps of sugar until they were crispy and caramelised
I drained them of fat and set them aside on somewaxed paper to cool.
Next I buttered two small ramekins. I cut out four circles of parchment. I put a circle in the bottom of each rameking and butteres again.
Next I beat the whites of two eggs until softly whipped. Then I added 2 tsp of sugar and whipped further until glossy and forming peaks.
I broke up the caramelised bacon bits into their infividual pieces by carefully hammering. I covered the bottom of each prepped ramekin with bacon bits and then folded the remainder into the egg white. I divided the egg white mixture into the 2 ramekins and then topped each one with another buttered circle of parchment.
I placed the two ramekins in a bain marie in a preheated 275F oven and cooked for 40 minutes, after which time remove from oven to cool.
In the meantime I made a creme anglaise.
I finely ground some dried candy cap mushrooms into a powder.
I took tsp of the powder and 1 cup of milk in a heavy pan and gently brought to the boil to infuse the flavour of the mushroom.
Candy cap is a mushroom famous forthe maple syrup overtones in its flavour.
I strained the milk through some cheesecloth.
I took two egg yolks and whisked them until they formed ribbons.
I gradually whisked in the strained milk then returned to the pan, with a teaspoon of salt over a low heat, stirring to form the custard.
I strained the custard through cheesecloth and left to cool to room temperature.
To serve - I poured the custard into a bowl. Then I turned the egg white concoction out of its ramekin and placed it like an island in the sea of custard.
To finish I poured maple syrup over the 'island'.
The island part was delicious. In particular the caramelised bacon bits are scrumptious.I could eat themby the handful. The maple syrup goes perfectly.
The custard was a little too rich for the volume. Next time I would make the custard in advance and chill it. I might also add a little sugar to the custard, or maybe a little maple syrup. Not too much, but just enough to round off the flavour. I would then serve it on a plate instead of a bowl, so the island is just floating on a little pool of custard instead of a whole bowlful. I would serve the island part warm on a cold custard. Next time I wouldn't put the bacon bits in the bottom of the ramekin. Instead, I would fold in half the bacon bits as before and reserve the other half. Then, after it is cooked, and once it is assembled, I would just sprinkle the crispy bacon bits over the maple syrup. I think this would look prettier and taste better because cooking them in with the 'meringue' made a slightly unsightly top surface and they lost some of their crisp.
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