Friday, January 30, 2009

Get Your Red Hot Poker Cocktail at L’Ecole

Dave Arnold Red Hot Poker

Cold weather calls for hot drinks. So where does that leave cocktail hour?

Thanks to Dave Arnold, The FCI’s Director of Culinary Technology, the L’Ecole is now offering two seasonal drinks, made toasty warm using a very high-tech piece of custom-made equipment. The Red Hot Poker, Dave’s latest technological innovation, is a supercharged take on the loggerhead, a metal rod, commonly used during Colonial times, that was heated to a fiery temperature then plunged into a mix of beer, sugar, and flavorings.

A few New York City bartenders have toyed with the idea of creating small loggerhead setups to use barside, but Dave took things one step further by rigging an electric version capable of reaching temperatures of up to 1600 degrees. The extreme heat of the Red Hot Poker caramelizes sugars in the alcohol and brings out unique flavor notes that can’t be achieved by simply heating a cocktail over a stove. (So don’t try the recipe listed below at home!)

Stop by the bar at L’Ecole this winter to sample a Red Hot Manhattan or Red Hot Ale.

Red Hot Manhattan

Created by Dave Arnold, Director of Culinary Technology at The French Culinary Institute

2 oz Sazerac rye
1 oz Dolin vermouth
1/4 oz lemon juice
1/4 oz simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water)
Two dashes Angostura bitters
1 1/2 oz water

Combine ingredients in a glass and heat with a Red Hot Poker heated to 1600 degrees. Use poker to flame if desired. Pour into a glass with a handle and garnish with a twist of orange.

Open six days a week, L’Ecole, the Restaurant of The French Culinary Institute serves prix fixe multi-course lunches and dinners.

Read more about Culinary Technology courses taught by Dave Arnold.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

An Inside Look at the Classic Culinary Arts Midterm

Culinary students at The FCI take regular written tests and receive daily critiques of their food from Chef-Instructors. But their first truly big challenge comes in the form of the practical midterm. Students create two dishes (either appetizer and meat course or fish and dessert) for tasting by a jury of FCI alumni.

Alum Michele Humes recently returned to The FCI to sit on a midterm jury and wrote about the experience for Serious Eats: Indulging Your Inner Colicchio: Judging a Midterm at The FCI.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lee Anne Wong's Lobster Mac & Cheese Recipe

Earlier this week, our own Chef Lee Anne Wong taught Dinner for Two, a hands-on Recreational Division class at The International Culinary Center for those amateur cooks seeking to fancy up comfort food dishes to share at home with that special someone.

Sandwiched between an elegant Roasted Beet Salad and a Winter Fruit Shortcake was one of our favorite Lee Anne Wong dishes, Lobster Mac and Cheese. Check out her recipe below.

Lee Anne Wong’s Lobster Mac and Cheese

Serves 2 as entrée, 4 as side dish

1-1½ Pound Lobster
3 Tablespoons Butter
3 Tablespoons Flour
2 Tablespoons White Wine
1 Tablespoon Brandy
1½ cups Whole Milk
½ cup Heavy Cream
¾ cup Gruyere Cheese, grated
¾ cup Fontina Cheese, grated
¾ cup Cheddar Cheese, grated
¼ cup Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
Pinch of Nutmeg
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
Salt and Black Pepper
½ Pound Shell Pasta
2 Tablespoon Chives, minced
1 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1 Tablespoon Butter

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil and drop the lobster in headfirst. Once the water has come back up to a boil, cook the lobster for 3 minutes, removing from the pot and dropping into an ice bath afterwards to stop the cooking.

2. Carefully remove the tail, claw, and knuckle meat from the lobster carcass, discarding the shells. Chop the lobster meat into 1-inch chunks. Set aside.

3. In a medium saucepan, make a Béchamel sauce. Melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the flour and stir until the mixture begins to brown slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the nutmeg, cayenne and mustard. Add wine and brandy, followed by the milk and cream, stirring constantly to eliminate lumps. Simmer until the mixture has thickened, about 5 minutes.

4. In a large bowl, combine the four cheeses, mixing well. Set aside ¾ cup of cheese. Add the remaining cheese to the Béchamel sauce, stirring until the cheese has melted and the sauce is creamy and smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until tender but firm to the bite. Drain the pasta from the water and toss with the cheese sauce in the cooking pot. Fold in the lobster and minced chives.

6. Toast the Panko crumbs lightly in a pan with 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Divide the Mac and Cheese between four ramekins or two shallow casserole dishes. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining cheese and then top with the toasted breadcrumbs and bake in the oven until golden and the tops begin to bubble, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The ICC's Parisian Breads Class Reviewed

The International Culinary Center's Parisian Breads class received a great review by food blogger, Judith Klein. Read her review on The Foodista.

Dan Barber as Guest Judge on Top Chef

On last week's episode of Top Chef, FCI alum Dan Barber served as guest judge at his restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Contestants were challenged to find the freshest ingredients at Blue Hill Farm and create a feast for the farm workers themselves.

For more information about the show click here.

To visit Blue Hill at Stone Barns on the web click here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dorothy Hamilton, Founder of The FCI, on The Leonard Lopate Show

Dorothy Hamilton, President and Founder of The FCI, appeared on The Leonard Lopate Show on WNYC with Chef Tom Colicchio of Grammercy Tavern and the Craft restaurants. The two discussed whether TV shows like “Top Chef” have made viewers more – or less – likely to choose careers in the culinary industry.

Click here to watch the video.