Today begins week three – that’s right THREE of Level 1 in the program….
Where did the time go? I have no idea. I keep checking my pockets hoping I left some in there but, alas! Time really does fly when you’re having fun..and having daily panic attacks..and reading copious amounts of material every night. We had our first official evaluation today and I’m doing really well! I need to work on my taillage (that’s cutting techniques) but chef said I’m doing just fine. It was nice to hear, especially since I had a rough week last week, emotionally and physically. I was starting to get overwhelmed with the pace – not just the speed at which you’re moving in class, but also how fast this program is. We have jammed-packed so much information into just a couple of weeks, it’s mind-boggling! Luckily, I have an amazing support system (my wonderful parents and wonderful boyfriend) so I made it through with little damage 🙂
Today we learned how to fillet fish! It was frustrating and so much fun at the same time. It truly is an art. And it was just too cool filleting our own fish and then making a complete dish. We filleted a bass and a trout. With the bass we made Poisson en Papillote (Fish Baked in Parchment Paper) and we prepared the trout a la Grenobloise, or Grenoble style, which involves lightly coating fish in flour and pan-frying it in clarified butter – yum!! Like Julia says, the more butter the better, right? Thank goodness I walk at least 2-3 miles a day!
I think all this hard work deserves a treat, don’t you? In honor of my “green-ness” in the program at FCI and in honor of the last few weeks of summer, I give you The Green Goddess Tart! I’ve had this idea in my head for weeks now to do a sweet avocado tart. I’ve been craving a sort of transitional dessert. I don’t want something too summery or too wintry and heavy. This tart is a great middle man kind of tart because of the summery green color of the avocado filling and the cinnamon-sugar crust, which makes me think of fall and cider. Avocados are my favorite fruit by far. It’s easy to forget avocados are fruits, since they are more savory in flavor. I love their color and their texture – and I love this tart! I hope you do, too.
Green Goddess Tart
Yields 1, 11-inch tart
2 cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs (14 crackers)
2 tbsp sugar
1/3 c pistachios, husked
¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
½ c half-and-half
16-17 oz avocado flesh (about 3 or 4 avocados)
1 c sugar
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
3 egg yolks
1 package (2 tsp) unflavored gelatin
1 tsp grated lime zest
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp grated orange zest
½ c cold heavy cream
2 tbsp sugar
juice of 1 lime
juice of half an orange
1 c (1/2 pint) cold heavy cream
¼ c sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place graham crackers in food processor and process until finely ground. Remove graham cracker crumbs and place pistachios in the food processor. Pulse until the nuts are fairly finely ground. Combine the pistachios, graham crackers, sugar and melted butter in a bowl and mix well. Dump into an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and press the mixture into the sides and bottom of the pan, making sure it is even all around. Bake for 10 minutes and then cool to room temperature.
For the filling, combine the half-and-half, avocado flesh, sugar, salt, zests, juices and cinnamon in a food processor and blend for about 1 minute. Strain mixture into a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water and heat for about five minutes. Whisk often to make sure the mixture does not burn on the bottom. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. When the mixture is hot, whisk the eggs in another bowl and then stir in some of the hot avocado mixture to temper them. Pour the egg-avocado mixture back into the bowl of avocado mixture over the double boiler and whisk constantly. Allow the mixture to cook for another 4-5 minutes until it thickens, whisking all the way to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Remove from the heat.
Dissolve the gelatin in ¼ cup of cold water. Add this gelatin to the avocado mixture and mix well. Let the mixture cool.
Whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and continue to whisk until firm peaks are achieved. Fold the whipped cream carefully into the avocado mixture and poor it into the cooled tart shell. Chill for at least two hours before decorating.
For the decoration, whip the heavy cream in a bowl until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, vanilla and cinnamon and continue to whisk until firm peaks form. Put whipped cream in a piping bag with any tip you desire. Only fill the bag about half-way up. This will make it easier to pipe. Pipe the whipped cream on the tart decoratively or alternatively spread the whipped cream on top of the tart evenly. Slice and serve.