Sunday, April 01, 2012

Cooking Demo: Scala's Bistro

Today's Williams-Sonoma Guest Chef Demo was by Pastry Chef Tim Nugent from Scala's Bistro.  I went there once several years ago, but I honestly don't recall a thing about the meal.  I also tried their "Brandade with Walnut Levain & Pickled Asparagus" on Thursday night at the Taste of the Nation event, but wasn't too impressed with it, it was veeeeery salty.

Anyway, today's demo was by the pastry chef and thus a sweet creation: apple pie! Probably due to the horrible weather, very few people showed up to the demo.  And since we weren't going to actually sit there for the full hours it takes to bake the pie, he already had pies in the oven, so there was TONS of hot, fresh pie available for the 12 of us who showed up.  These demos normally give fairly generous samples, but this was a full slice of pie, and they were happy to give you more if you wanted it.

The recipe is for a double-crusted, seriously loaded up with apples, pie.  It is a monster that takes 3 hours to cook!  I learned some good tips, in particular, about the importance temperature plays.  He uses frozen shortening and butter, and grates them with a box grater.  Water is ice cold.  The entire pie is chilled for an hour before you bake it.

The chef was really informative and I enjoyed his demo.  Also, did I mention, fresh apple pie straight out of the oven?
Apple pie.
This serving was kinda sloppy.  What you can't see, is that this is a classic double crusted apple pie.  The top layer should be crust, not apples, but the server piled on some apples on top of mine (there is a second crust there, it is just buried).

The bottom crust layer was crispy and a little bit caramelized, I liked it.  The top crust layer, and standard crust crust however weren't all that interesting.  Not particularly flavorful nor flaky.

The apple filling really disappointed me.  It was well cooked, the apples were done really well, not too mushy, keeping a nice texture.  There was a good ratio of juicy/saucy stuff to apples and crust.  But the flavor just wasn't there.  As you can see from the recipe, there aren't any spices added besides sugar, so it just kinda fell flat for me.  Perhaps I just needed some fresh whipped cream with it.  Or some ice cream.  Or some cheddar cheese.  Any of those would probably have made this fabulous, particularly as it was served warm and fresh out of the oven.  A cinnamon ice cream would have been particularly delightful.

Recipe: http://www.lifeissuite.com/2010/10/tim-nugents-apple-huckleberry-pie/ (although the one he made today did not have the huckleberry).
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