Today we dove into the sugar bin and made three kinds of mousse (schiuma in Italian), cannoli’s, pizza di grano, poached pears with gorgonzola and gelato. This is the intro day and we will go much deeper in the coming weeks, but it was great!
First of all – Sheep’s Milk Ricotta – hello, it is like from the god’s and soooooo good in the fillings. I did not think you could improve on ricotta, but I was wrong. This morning, an hour after class started, someone came in with warm sheep’s milk ricotta, made from this morning’s milk. As chef passed this around he said, “This is the reason we are here in the middle of f-ucking nowhere, so we can get warm sheep’s milk ricotta.” (Did I mention that chef is from the Bronx)
Chef Sabrina made torrone mouse, chocolate mousse with Calabrazian hot peppers, and orange mousse, oh, and her brand of Tiramisu. I learned a new technique called Pate di bomb, basically whipping egg yolks with 238* sugar syrup to pasteurize and hold their shape. I have done it with egg whites for the same purpose, but had no idea this had a name.
The cannoli’s were quite good, less sweet than in Sicily, but that is an improvement in my mind. We learned that on the east coast of Sicily they use chopped hazelnuts and candied fruit to trim the ends and on the west coast they use pistachios and chocolate bits. I have no idea that Sicily was famous for pistachios. I realize this may be a bit technical for my Alaska friends, but the nuances of cannoli are important to my New York family.
The pizza de grano was also a bit different without the juice of the orange, just the rind, and no cinnamon. It was very tasty and the tang from the sheep’s milk added a whole new dimension.
Before I tell you about the piece de resistance (how do you spell that) let me describe the torrone mousse. She started with a Spanish torrone made of 65% toasted almonds, sugar and honey. She pulverized that, added whipped yolks, vanilla infused cream and then whipped that up. To that she added whipped cream, very carefully and then a meringue, bit by bit. Now, I have never been a fan of mousse, tastes too much like nothing to me. However, this was dynamite. They said any mousse that has gelatin is a fake you can spot them because they can stand up all by themselves. This mousse was wonderful. The full taste of torrone in a velvety creamy mouthful. I want to make gelato out of it!
OK, last thing. Chef cut up some very expensive cigar, chivula or something like that. 20 euros apiece. Then he put two shot glasses in a squatty little snap lid mason jar, like for conserves. The jar was decorated with palm leaves and blossoms on the inside caressing the 2 shot glasses. Then he torches the cigar cuts, takes one smoking cut of cigar and puts it in one of the shot glasses and some rum raisin gelato in the other one, snaps the lids shut and brings it to the table. By the time you open it, the gelato is smoky in the first bite and the rum raisin comes right after it. What a creative, impressive presentation. Holy Freakin’ Cannnoli!