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  • 7/29/2019 "Edible Crafts"

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    at the table

    Edible

    CraftsMacarons, MinimaSalads and Artisan Bag

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    2 SRQ / FEBRUARY 2013

    at the table

    acacrons are the chink

    in my pastry armor. It's

    with resolute convic-tion that I've applied

    my palette to the vitals of Paris' arrondisse-

    ments, and with invariable consistency I'm

    nticed by the pastel charm and signature fla-

    vor that is the pistache classic.

    Le Macaron on St. Armand's Circle concocts

    masterful pistachio macaron, the essence of

    which is imported from the Lentre pastry

    chool in France. "It's the same recipe and

    ngredients that we used in Paris," says chef

    Didier Saba. "If you go to the Champs Elysees,

    you will find the same thing. Its very expen-

    ive, but thats why its good. Saba says he

    hips everything in to ensure the ingredient's

    onsistency with his expectations.

    Didier and his wife Audrey demonstrate

    how they assemble the dainty treats. One

    batch makes 160 macarons, and the process is

    plit up by shell and filling, with the latter com-

    ng first since it sits overnight before applica-

    ion. The filling is made from Sicilian pista-

    hios, almond and pistachio paste imported

    m

    from France, eggs, butter and a dab of kirsch, a

    colorless fruit brandy made from cherries.

    These are mixed until heated to roughly 65degrees Celsius, then refrigerated overnight.

    The shell is where the expert's touch sepa-

    rates consistency and quality from humdrum

    efforts. At this stage, the alchemy of the mac-

    aron hangs in a subtle balance requiring preci-

    sion, and every variable plays a factor. It

    depends on the weather outside, on the humid-

    ity, if a gust of wind comes through the

    kitchen," says Didier. If you keep the macarons

    out too long before you put it in the oven, its

    not good. Every time, the macarons change.

    The nuances in the ingredients can have an

    altering effect as well; the shell is simply pre-

    pared with white eggs, blanched almond butter

    and confectioner sugar, but even the butter,

    which is shipped from California, can vary by

    season and throw of the intended balance. Hes

    a perfectionist," says Audrey. "He has to be very

    careful of the products he chooses. Theyre so

    delicate and difficult to make." Didier reevalu-

    ates his recipe every three months.

    The batter for the macaron shells is whirled

    by hand onto sheets for the rotating oven,

    where baked 25 minutes at 150 degrees. Didier

    says his secret is applying a swab of water to

    the sheet just under each dollop, so when heat-

    ed, humidity is applied to the interior of the

    shell. Once out of the oven and briefly cooled,

    the filling is sandwiched between shells by

    hand, and a new batch is born. "It has to be

    first crispy but soft on," says Audrey. "When

    you have the softness, you have the filling. Its

    a different flavor and texture. Then, you have

    the creaminess from the paste, and you have

    an explosion of flavor from the macaron."

    Minimalist Salads

    Over a decade ago, Chef Stefano Sasso of

    Cafe Epicure ferried the Italian's insalata, orsalad, philosophy to produce a minimalist

    alignment of pairings. A sit down with Sasso

    illuminates the greens and why, counter to

    popular salad belief, less is more.

    The ingredients are the first part of every-

    thing you do. When you use good quality food,

    you dont have to play too much. Others think

    by putting more ingredients, the plate

    becomes tastier. Its not that way. If you eat a

    good piece of beef or fish, you dont need to

    CLOCKWISE: CAFE EPICURES WATERCRESS SALAD.

    CHEF STEFANO SASSO. LE MACARONS PISTACHIO

    MACARONS. PASTRY CHEF DIDIER SABA.

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    I use the Boston lettuce that goes with

    tuna salad; you see the flavor isn't

    strong. It doesnt influence the other fla

    on the salad. Thats why we use the tun

    stronger and brings the flavor out."

    In the United States, bread and salad

    common meal, often with a substantial d

    ing, but in Italy, insalata isn't a stand-a

    "We eat salads, but we eat salads much

    with pastas. They look for a main course

    it, and at lunchtime, they dont eat as h

    They will eat the carbs early to work iand theyll eat the protein at night. A c

    ry glance through Sasso's menu reveals

    two to three salads, depending on se

    paired with poultry or seafood and al

    exclusively with faint dressing of oliv

    white balsamic or some kind of vinaig

    When you put some heavy dressing in

    salad, youre messing up the flavor of

    greens. I look for lighter food. Its bas

    how we eat in Italy.

    AT Treat yourself to your own favorite flavor

    acaron at Le Macaron, 382 Saint Armands Cr.,

    rasota, 941-552-8872. Enjoy the philosophy behind

    e crafted salads at Cafe Epicure, 1298 N. Palm Ave.,

    rasota, 941-366-5648. Remember the process of

    king the artisan bagels at Jims Small Batch

    kery, 2336 Gulf Gate Dr., Sarasota, 941-922-2253.

    put too many

    things." Sasso buys

    his products by cre-

    ating relationships

    with local farmers

    and fish houses; he

    can interact with

    them, and they

    know what he's

    looking for to

    achieve the desired

    taste. "Im interested in keeping things simple,and I dont mix light ingredients. Thats why peo-

    ple come back, because the food is not so heavy.

    A challenge in Florida is that we don't have

    the full four seasons, and the imminent

    effect of the weather on the robustness of

    ingredients means Sasso had to alter his

    approach. Sasso says he tries to stay in the

    same parameter that he learned back in Italy,

    however the flavor potency is lighter there.

    Every lettuce has a different flavor. Lets say

    Try it

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    Artisan Bagelames Plocharsky, owner of Jim's Small Batch

    akery in Gulf Gate, is an artisan breadmaker,

    nd on Saturdays, he rolls out a fresh batch of

    ourdough bagels made to order by the dozen.

    The way he learned to make bread at

    ohnson and Wales in the mid 80s is not the

    way bread is being made now, he says. "They

    were adding sugar, oil or butter to the dough

    o enrich it. Nowadays with the modern arti-

    an methods, they evoke much of the flavor so

    hat you dont have to add sugar or fat." The

    agels begin in a five-gallon bucket with a

    ourdough mother starter that has to be fedvery three days. "You either feed it or throw

    t away. Thats the minimum time cycle the

    east needs to replicate and grow. If it doesn't

    et a refreshment of nutrients in the flour, it

    ills itself by becoming too acidic." The com-

    osite encourages good bacteria, and the yeast

    xpels waste that is flavor.

    We are preparing a batch and half that

    makes 60 bagels, and ironically, the American

    locharsky uses a hodgepodge measuring

    approach that's majority metric. He's ready-

    ing the allotted ingredients, first the wet then

    the dry in the industrial mixer: 1.5 kilos of

    water, 2 percent of the dough weight in olive

    oil, three kilos of flower, instant yeast and a

    pour of non-diastatic malted barley syrup for

    flavor. He turns on the mixer and explains the

    protein levels of flour, and that his mentor

    felt unbleached bread flower at 11 percent

    gluten made better bread than high-gluten

    flower. After the gluten has developed and

    the flour is hydrated, he pours 84 grams of

    salt because it works against the flourishing

    of the protein. The dough is finished mixing

    when it passes the "window pane test:" it's

    translucent when stretched.

    Plocharsky rolls the dough into 60 four-

    ounce bulbs and incorporates my help to

    round the dough into balls that are smooth.

    We first work Mr. Miyagi-style with wax-on

    wax-off movements, and he shows me how to

    pull the dough for it to stick to the table and

    remain tight. As we're stretching the dough

    and placing it in pans, I can feel the yeast get-

    ting lighter. "This working is activating the

    at the table

    gluten, making it stretchy. In 20 minutes

    relaxes and thats when we put the hole in.

    When the doughy bagels float in cold wa

    they're ready to sit in the refrigerator overni

    where the yeast becomes dormant. Long, c

    slow fermentation is one of the secrets to a

    san bread. That allows sourdough variation

    develop better tasting profile, because the b

    teria prefers that environment."

    The next day, while the oven is heating to

    degrees, a pot of water with food-grade ly

    boiled stovetop, and the bagels are poached

    45 seconds on each side. "The acid reacts w

    the starches in the dough and gelatinizes in

    oven to create a shiny surface and crisp

    crust." Plocharsky tops his bagels with

    desired ingredients before baking them six a

    time for 8 to 10 minutes. Being a living th

    when the dough is ready to bake, you have

    bake it or you lose it." He wants the bread to

    75 percent before it hits the oven where he w

    account for oven spring and fill out to its fi

    form. They