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Friday, January 29, 2010

White Truffle Oil Infused Custard - Thomas Keller's The French Laundry Cookbook

Egg 109 copy

Egg Custad 107

Egg Collage

Egg Custard 102

Egg custard 103
I promise I promise, on my next trip to New York or better still, California, I have to, I have to eat at Thomas Keller's restaurant! I first learnt about Thomas Keller when I read Anthony Bourdain's A Cook's Tour almost 8 years ago. I was intrigued when Anthony Bourdain and 3 other guests went for a 20 course tasting menu at Thomas Keller's The French Laundry in Napa Valley. I hang on to every word in that chapter, gasping in amazement as I read about how every one of the 4 guests got a different dish for their tasting menu with only 2-3 common dishes. I smiled at the ingenuity when he had chosen to serve a Marlboro Infused Coffee Custard half way through the long drawn 6 hour meal, to Anthony Bourdain- who is quite the degenerate smoker. Subsequently, when I saw A Cook's Tour's screening on TV, I became even more fascinated.

I have been coveting at the The French Laundry Cookbook forever. A huge and beautiful book, it is also quite expensive(in Singapore). I had been browsing through it at the bookshop so many times, but have always been intimidated by it - Thomas Keller is highly refined, irrevocably impeccable and solemnly precise. It is beyond me....

I still have not bought the book... yet. But I am lucky to be living in Singapore where the public library is easily accessible to everyone. The National Library of Singapore is another facility I would be proud to be associated with Singapore. When I first started revisiting the public library a few years back, I couldn't believe the amazing cook book collection they have. I went to the library 2 weeks ago because I had wanted to check out Michel Roux's Eggs - for his poach egg recipe. It was then that I saw not one but 3 copies of The French Laundry sitting on the shelf. I borrowed it and have been poring over it, determined to find something to try.

I picked the seemingly simple 'White Truffle Oil- Infused Custard with Black Truffle Ragout' for a couple of reasons : 

1. I like eggs.
2. I have all the ingredients : (yes, I have the white truffle oil and the black truffles and veal stock in my freezer! At times I am really shocked at what I have accumulated.)

It looks deceptively simple... until I started working on it. Never have I felt so tired cooking eggs!
Thomas Keller has paired the steamed custard with chive chips. You will need to shave thin slices of potato...(peel the potato and use a paring knife to trim it into a Band-Aid shape approximately 4 inches long and 1 inch wide. Brush 2 silpats with Clarified butter and sprinkle each lightly with kosher salt. Place one silpat on a baking sheet. Using a mandoline, cut the potato lengthwise into paper-thin slices.....) Goodness, I am already feeling tired typing out his instructions... Anyway, one has to stack 2 slices of potato together, sandwiching a sliver of chive in between it. Then this has to be topped with a silpat mat and baked with another baking sheet pressing down on the potato chips...  Yes, I went through that, but I couldn't get my chips to be paper thin and by the time I was ready to garnish, the chips had lost its crisp.

Then, one needs to prepare the custard by mixing boiled milk&cream with egg. Easy enough - until I tried to blend the hot milk/cream with the egg in the blender and the pressure from the hot milk catapulted the lid and the milk mixture all over my kitchen.!!! Now I smell like a baby has burped milk all over me!
Anyway, I managed to clean things up and start over again. By the time I have got the custard in the oven, I was already bushed but the dish was not done yet. There is still the Truffle Ragout which involves simmering the truffle oil, minced truffle and butter in Veal stock. At this point, I was too weary to be precise - I just threw everything into the saucepan without weighing. End result was a cottony custard but I think my Truffle Ragout was a tad too strong in flavour. Neverthelss it was still reasonably delicious but I am sure it is way off from the great master's creation... I am so exhausted.

I do still have all the ingredients, perhaps I should try again. Sigh... my realisation - whatever Thomas Keller charges for his meal (US$100 up) I will gladly pay for it - it will be worth it! I know now!

P.S. : Pardon me but the recipe and instructions are too long to type out. I am exhausted....

22 comments:

Angie's Recipes said...

The whole presentation is just chic.

zurin said...

i am so exhausted reading about your little (tiring) adventure in teh kitchen!!!! lol

good thing youre a chemist by training...cos I wld never endure all those little slicing and layering and tiny wisps of chives!! o my!

I take my hat off to you..anyway all those ingredients sound like greek to me..not something in my larder. belacan yes... truffle oil ? o my!!

brilliant pictures as well!

o yes I do look for food words ! LOL...and dog ear my book like never before!

Irene's Footprints said...

wow I have not seen something like this..looks veri chic n innovative...pardon me...me bit sua ku...

: )

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Hi Irene.No you are not Sua Gu..normally we don't make things like these at home. The chef is really very very talented. I almost couldn't finish making this...

wendyywy said...

Get a pot blender my friend!!!!
Of all the gadgets u have, u're missing this out!!!!

How on earth did u get the egg to stand up???? U must have some magic powers. I looked at the upright egg in awe.

:)

wendyywy said...

Oh.... I saw some sticker thingy on the lower egg pic...

Solves the mystery.. kekekeke. But it was DARN good work!!!!

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Ha ha...is that the stick type? I will to take that down.
Standing egg? easy lah - double sided tape! LOL

Carolyn said...

I love your photos and I will have to have a peek at this book if they have it at the library or bookstore here.
Have a good weekend,
Carolyn

pierre said...

hi shelly I did not know this chef but he sounds to be great !! bravo pour ta recette !! Pierre

wendyywy said...

Yup, the stick thingy.
I use that to blend my baby's porridge right in the pot.

I saw the DS tape leh... hahah!!

Anonymous said...

Yes, dining at FL is worldly experience. I was fortunately enough to be invited to lunch and dine there several years ago, and the experience is unforgetable! To keep me from talking too much about it, my hubby bought me the book in the hopes that I'd make the dishes at home. Yeah right, if I could mimic his creation, I'd better off open up a restaurant or something. Lately, I've been browsing through the book and have been thinking of making the egg custard in the shell. Still thinking though...

Kudos for making the egg!

p/s Libraries are awesome! Good to know Singapore has good collection of books.

-Audrey

Charles said...

Gorgeous photos. I've been eying this recipe for some time and you've provided the impetus to forge ahead.
I am also seduced by your music. Please reveal the singer. Thanks.

zenchef said...

One of my favorite cookbooks! I met TK once and i can tell you he's most gracious/intelligent guy i ever met.

Looks like this recipe is a fun experiment. I gotta try to make it too. Love that you keep all the goodies like truffles/stocks in your freezer. It's good to be prepared for any emergency. :)

I love Singapore btw. I was there last may and i had so much good food.

alice said...

i think it's amazing you had the guts to do this one! 2 years ago, for jared's birthday i stupidly decided to make 4 dishes from the book and i wanted to shoot myself. it wasn't pretty. especially since i don't cook, jared does. but it's kind of like a rite of passage right- trying any of those recipes! so congrats!! =)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I feel for you Shirley! I recently made an apple cake that I thought was simple but took 3 hours. I was exhausted. I'd love to know if slicing the tops of the egg shells was hard? You did a great job! :D

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Lorraine, you probably have gathered by now that I am a gadget fanatic. I actually have one of those 'egg breaker' thingy in my kitchen. Don't ask me why I bought it- sigh- but it is perfect for this. TK adviced in his book if you do not have the gadget, use a sharp serrated knife and saw through the egg.

Y said...

That looks amazing - beautifully done! I too want to eat at the French Laundry some day :)

Ellie said...

I often borrow cookbooks from our community libraries. I can't believe you have all the ingredients at home!! I love Thomas Keller's recipes. They are so good and I love to try this recipe one day.

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

I've said it before and I will say it again, I can't imagine how you can take the time to make all these chic eats and blog despite your hectic work schedule. I can only conclude that you have a passion for this. Anyone else would just collapse at the end of the day. Hats off to you, Shirley.

Truffle Salt said...

Beautiful photos! You've got a real eye for food! Haha and tastebuds to match. I have to say though, for anyone who cares, most truffle oil is synthetic! Most chefs use it anyway but I prefer truffle salt so as to avoid the chemical. Check it out on Wikipedia if you don't believe me!!

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Truffle Salt, thank you so much for your compliments...and I do totally believe you about the synthetic part of truffle oil- guess I will need to read the labels more carefully in future. Oh, I love truffle salt too.. they are fantastic with scrambled eggs,mash potatoes and French fries! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi dear,
What does the word “aroma” means.
Most likely you will find the word “aroma” as one of the last ingredients on the ingredients list. The smell of white fresh truffle is mainly characterized by a molecule called bis(metil.tio)methane. This particle, widely abundant in fresh white truffle, is perfectly reproduced and used in truffle products. This flavour is categorized by law like “naturale identico” (same-as-natural), which is (EXACTLY) "the molecule present in the fresh white truffle".
I repeat: THE SAME MOLECULE "PRESENT" IN THE FRESH WHITE expensive TRUFFLE !!!

bye P.M.

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