No. Need proof (other than the terrible pictures you’ve been staring at for the past 40 days)? Take today’s first dabble at an amuse bouche. Literally, “amuse bouche,” is a mouth teaser–a one-bite dish that will taunt your taste buds into wanting more when there are only crumbs left on your plate (ideally). Starting today, and here on out through level three, we will be challenged with creating a tiny bite every day from a mystery ingredient. Today’s highlighted ingredient? Prosciutto.
I’m Italian, so thoughts should have come in a deluge. But I could only think of one thing: Toast. I ended up convincing my team to make a crostini (toasted baguette slices) rubbed with garlic and tomato flesh and topped with proscuitto. When we plated the toast, it looked lonely and lame. So I thought, “Sweet and Savory!” and made a sweet mascarpone spread, topped it with a roasted fig, and finished it with shaved proscuitto. It sounds way fancier in words than it looked on the plate. Believe me. We even tried to spruce it up by dabbling some balsamic reduction on a plate and plopping a fig slice on top of it. We only confused Chef more by doing this since he responded, “How can I eat drizzled balsamic with my fingers?” Fail.
I was embarrassed to bring up my meager pieces of toast when other students made things like beignet fritters of proscuitto pockets stuffed with gruyere cheese. Or a “sexy” (as deemed by Chef Alain) plate of goat cheese, proscuitto and walnut pesto. And the plating. The plating! It’s like little Daniel Boulud’s or Danny Meyer’s were running around my classroom, showing off their beautiful plates of perfectly rolled proscuttio or tiny cuts of circular toast.
Most were delicate (read: small bites)–except my team’s and another–which chef called the “Rolls Royce” of amuse bouches. Chef Alain kept stressing that a lady wouldn’t want to eat a mammoth-sized amuse bouche. (Apparently I’m not a lady.) Note to self: Cut crostinis in small-bite sizes.
At least my apple tart came out (almost) perfect–especially since I walked into class prepared to make fish, not apple tart. What a day.
TIP OF THE DAY: When making an apple tart, layer the apple slices over the tart crust since the apples will shrink when cooked. If you extend the apple layers past the edge of the tart, there won’t be any gaps on the surface of your tart as the apples cook and contract.