Wednesday, January 11, 2006

American Brunch "Ile Flottante"

with caramelized pancetta, essence of "Candy Cap" and maple syrup

photograph picture of American Brunch Isle Flotant

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 eggs
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'.

Tasting Notes:
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.

Archive Alert! On this date in 2005: British Cookie Commission .

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American Brunch "Ile Flottante"


  • At 11/1/06 08:13, Blogger tara said…

    Love, love, love the flavour combination Sam! Is it wrong that I may sometimes be known to "clumsily" pour a little extra syrup onto my plate at breakfast, just so the bacon gets a drizzle?
    Your post-tasting notes are great; it is always interesting to see the creator's commentary on an experiment. Congrats to you on your win!

  • At 11/1/06 09:11, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I saw that you won one of the prizes, Sam, and I was impressed as hell. I love Aki and Alex's blog: their talent and their joy at sharing the creative process are so inspirational.

    Congratulations on your win: I bet you're going to be swooning over that maple syrup.

  • At 11/1/06 11:17, Blogger Fabienne said…

    Super, j'adore cette recette ...

  • At 11/1/06 11:42, Blogger cookiecrumb said…

    Ah, that clears something up. I didn't know where you'd find fresh candy cap mushrooms; and I now see you used dried, and ground them up. Cool.
    I had also seen that you'd won on the Ideas in Food site. It's a most amazing blog -- I visit it sometimes to giggle at their rampant over-creativity. :D

  • At 11/1/06 12:14, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Once again, I did a stupid mistake:

    Going to your blog before lunch. Now not only I'm starving, but also I want to eat something real good. After reading our recipe, I need it. :P

  • At 12/1/06 02:50, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The photo looks like a reverse fried egg, with the yolk white, and the white yellow.
    I will be interested to hear what you think of the prize syrup.

  • At 12/1/06 04:36, Blogger ZaZa said…

    Hi, Sam,

    I've been enjoying your blog for ages, now. So, in the interests of finding out more about the woman behind Becks & Posh, I'm tagging you for the 10 Mysterious Things meme. I hope someone hasn't beaten me to it. If not, please tell us 10 things that no one knows about you.

  • At 12/1/06 06:40, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Sam,

    Are you saying you made a savoury version of l'ile flottante??


    I just read the previous post and saw you had been tagged. I did too for 7 Meme ahahah, aren't you popular? ;-)

    Check it out all the same:


  • At 12/1/06 07:35, Blogger Sam said…

    tara - yor really have to try making caramelized pancetta - it's so simple and a revelation! The secret is to cook it real slow so it doesnt burn.

    tana - their food always brings a smile to my face.

    fabienne, merci!

    Cookie Crumb. CLear as mud! I could have used fresh. They sell them at Far West Funghi in the Ferry Building, don't you know? The geezer there persuaded me to go for dried, but I wish I'd used fresh now.

    Del4yo - i think this is your kind of dish - savoury-girl!

    Lindy - I never looked at it that way. What a brillinat observation!
    I like the idea of maple with a hint of whisky barrel. I'll let everyone know how i get on with it.

    B'gina and Bea - thanks for tagging me ladies, i am very honoured. Right now I have a backlog of posts as long as my arm with no end to them in site, if I ever get through them all and am stuck for something to write about, I shall attempt the meme. But there are good reasons for the things you don't know about to remain unknown ;) Ha,ha, We'll see. Thank you for both thinking of me.


  • At 12/1/06 08:56, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    what a photo! can i tell you that when i first saw it, i could NOT for the life of me figure out what it was? i swear i thought the WHOLE thing was a supercloseup of an ivory colored mushroom cap that was stuffed with teeny tiny ground something. LOL!

    congratulations on the win, girl. :)

    (by the way - did i mention how cute that new photo is in the corner? i visit here all the time, and THINK that to myself, but can't remember if i've actually posted the comment. haha!)

  • At 14/1/06 16:56, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I didn't have all the ingredients or supplies but on the spur of the moment I pulled together something inspired by this recipe. I posted the results on my blog. Thanks for the inspiration! As always, I enjoy reading your blog!


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