As we know, each food has a specific aroma and taste; this means that they release chemical compounds that either fly off to our nose (generating then their aroma) or they are detected directly by our taste buds (creating then their taste). These compounds are called odorant compounds and create all the fine nuances often found for instance, in wines or teas.
Successful food combinations have fascinated chefs since ever since no real scientific or objective reason has ever been found supporting this or that pairing. Lately a new theory has been proposed that hopes to shed some light onto this topic: if two foods share one or more key (major) odorants it might be that they go well together and perhaps even complement each other.
Every month, in order to test this theory a couple of ingredients are chosen, presented in a blog and given to the public to test via the use of new or already established recipes.
This month has been the turn of Aidan of “Aidan Brooks: Trainee Chef” blog to make the choice and this was: Plums and Blue Cheese.
This is my trial in exploiting this pairing in a dessert dish:
Reconstructed Plum Tatin with Blue Cheese Butterscotch sauce and Lavender.
Ingredients (serve 2 people):
For the galette:
- 2tbsp all purpose flour,
- 1tsp sugar,
- 1 pinch of salt,
- 1tsp fennel seed, crushed in a mortar,
- 1tbsp vegetable shortening,
- 1/2 tsp white wine.
For the butterscotch sauce:
- 1/2 tbsp sugar,
- 1/2 tbsp + 1tsp water,
- 40g butter,
- Couple of grains of soya lecithin (optional, see note),
- Ca 1/2 tbsp cream,
- Ca 50g blue cheese like Gorgonzola.
- 1/2 tbsp blue cheese like Gorgonzola,
- 1 ripe plum at room temperature,
- Few lavender flowers.
Start by doing the galettes. While your oven is warming to 180 C/356 F, in a bowl, mix together flour, sugar, salt and the crushed fennel seed. Knead in the shortening pinching it between your fingers, add the white wine and work the dough a bit more until it has been absorbed by the flour. Press then the crumbs all together and divide it in two equal parts. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper and roll the two pieces of dough in a circle of at least 9 cm/3.5 inches. Bake them in the warm oven for about 10 minutes or until the border will take a nice golden colour.
Now for the butterscotch sauce, in a small saucepan put the sugar and 1 tsp of water; let it caramelise until a nice dark colour is achieved but be careful not to burn it or otherwise it will turn unpleasantly bitter (in case a slight bitterness is developed, a little addition of salt later can compensate for it). Add now the tbsp of water and the butter (as well as the lecithin if using) and stir until the caramel will be dissolved. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes to let the butter brown and develop its nice nutty aroma. Whisk in the cream and the cheese little by little. Keep on tasting the sauce since the amount of cheese you will need strongly depends on the cheese of your choice. While adding the cheese, keep the sauce warm but do not let the cheese cook too much or it will lose its characteristic aroma.
Once satisfied, keep the sauce warm.
Wash the plum, cut it in two to remove the central seed and slice it thinly. When the galettes will be ready, let them cool down briefly on a wire rack and spread on them some blue cheese. Mound a little nut of the cheese in their centre, and arrange the slices of plums in a rosette motif overlapping over it.
Crush slightly the flower of lavender between your fingers, sprinkle them on over the slices of plums, and pour some of the sauce over the centre of each galette. Serve the rest of the sauce on the side.
This tart is better when eaten warm.
Note: This butterscotch sauce might not have enough water the keep the emulsion stable over reheating. Both times I tried to make the sauce when I had to warm it up from cold, the fat started separating. In this case, pour the fat in a container and keep warming the sauce whisking with a whip. When the sauce will look stable and warmed through, just whisk in the reserved fat little at a time.
To make the emulsion more stable, you can whisk in 1/2 a teaspoon or so of water.
When approached to the nose, the first aroma to fill it was the round and spicy one coming from the gorgonzola. The delicate lavender aroma followed it.
It was quite a nice contrast. Round, spicy and buttery against a light, fresh and springy one.
To the bite, the galette is what plays the major role with its crispiness with its light sweet and spiced flavour. The sensation of the dry dough is soon compensated by the juiciness of the plums and followed by the rich cheesy aromas coming from both from the sauce and the pure cheese. Every now and then, you will bite on a lavender flower that will release its spiky, fresh and light aroma. The natural tartness of the plums helps cutting through the natural richness of the bite.
From my point of view, this combination of ingredient is quite successful and the contrast of textures, moistness and aromas of the dish quite fulfilling.
Let me know what you think of it.
My past entries:
- TGRWT #11: Ginger-Glass bowl of banana mousse with cloves biscuits and lemongrass jelly
- TGRWT #13 roundup: caraway and cocoa