About Pastry Chef Jenny Raven

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So far Pastry Chef Jenny Raven has created 5 blog entries.

This Just In: Brookside Farm’s Flavor King pluots

We’re reposting this late summer classic from Pastry Chef Jenny Raven because it’s that time of the year again:

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Only once or twice a year does a fruit come along that I feel is featured best by serving on its own, without setting it in a composed dessert context. That time has come with the wonderful Flavor King pluots from Brookside Farm in Brentwood, CA.

Upon their arrival, these pluots perfumed the kitchen, drawing Sous Chef Brian Murphy to the three cases I ordered from farmer Welling Tom. Burying his face in the box, Brian came up for air and said, “It’s like putting your face in a bag of mixed Jelly Beans!” He and I also agreed the pluots tasted like bubblegum, vanilla, and Hello Kitty erasers. If all of those things sound bad to you, consider Brian’s analogy: marvelous tropical flowers that seem to have been copied from overblown, tacky plastic flowers. “It’s like nature copying bad art — except when nature does it, it’s wonderful.”

Juicy, sweet, their golden flesh veined with fuchsia — these pluots are so delightful, I feel compelled only to peel off the tart skin and serve them sliced in a bowl to make for a sublime eating experience. Look for them on the menu this Thursday.

Jenny Raven Pastry Chef

Illustration by Jenny Raven

Illustration by Jenny Raven

Pasty Chef Jenny Raven found…

A remarkable Cherimoya –El Bumpo!

jenny

Anyone who ever rooted around in the back storage coolers of Monterey Market under the stewardship of Bill Fujimoto knows what a truly magical place it was. The relationships Bill fostered made going to Monterey Market quite like a treasure hunt, because he often only bought a small amount of cases of produce from some specialty farmers, and if you didn’t know they were there, you’d miss them. To catch Bill himself in the back room always led to a wonderful conversation, and invariably led to leaving with some amazing box of fruit or vegetables. So when he left Monterey Market, one of my first thoughts was (selfishly), now where am I going to get those awesome cherimoyas?

Like many of the cool fruits he bought for the market, the Toro Creek cherimoyas were there because of a personal relationship fostered by Bill. The weird tropical fruit so resembling a cross between an avocado and an artichoke, with its mild vanilla-melony flavor, came from a friend’s llama ranch, and were of such superior quality because Bill was in contact with his friends every year as cherimoya season approached, reminding them not to pick before the fruit ripened properly. I knew no one else could get ahold of these fancifully named “El Bumpo” cherimoyas.

So when we heard Bill was to work as a consultant to Cooks Produce Co, from whom we buy fruits and vegetables regularly, I was overjoyed… and when spring came, I made that phone call: “so Bill, about those El Bumpos…..”

Tonight we’ll be serving cherimoya sorbetto. Thanks, Bill!

Backyard Quince, or Respect For Your Elders

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The bright, juicy, show-stopping fruits of summer are gone. Nectarines, strawberries, and pluots — all feats of human farm science — have exhausted themselves serving us and we are finally at late harvest season, my favorite time of year.

The late harvest season shows remarkably well in Sonoma County; the fruits that grow so well there harmonize with the muted tones, the smell of dried hay, the quick onset of spooky, misty nights, and the old world pastoral feel of the landscape.  After the sexy, young, luscious fruits of summer I welcome the simple, humble, comforting antique fruit we get from our friends Tony and Susan from Terra Sonoma.

The dry-farmed Bartlett pears from Tony and Susan’s 100-year-old tree might be my favorite fruit of the year, and I love the French prunes from an equally venerable tree in their back yard.

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Our dessert menu currently features another backyard treasure: quince from a Sonoma neighbor’s tree. The mother of old world fruits, quince are thought to have been the fabled Golden Apples of Greek mythology. And talk about humble — quince are lumpy, fuzzy, starchy cousins of the apple, inedible raw when grown in this climate. Carefully and slowly cooked, however, the starches in quince convert to sugars and the off-white flesh turns a lovely warm rose color, the floral, vanilla-accented, sensual perfume of the fruit filling the room. We are serving Sonoma backyard quince and orange blossom-honey cream meringata on the menu tonight and will continue to use them as long as the season lasts.

-Jenny

quince-merigata

2017-09-12T15:48:54+00:00October 24th, 2009|This Just In|0 Comments

Jenny Makes A Mess…the delicious kind

jenny-hammer-smallerThis week we got another 40 lbs of Red Cloud apricots from Terra Firma, as well as 40 lbs of dry-farmed Royal Blenheim apricots from Mercy Wong in Vacaville. It was way too much fruit to use, but the always superior Blenheim’s season is so short, I have vowed to buy everything that comes my way (I hate it when a fruit goes out of season before I feel I’ve really celebrated it fully.) So far I’ve done apricot danishes, apricot muffins, apricot caramel sauce, apricots in puff pastry, apricots baked in Marsala, apricot ice cream, and a big vat of apricot jam. Of course there’s another list of things to do now we’re really in the thick of it.

Wonderfully, inside each apricot is the noyau — a seed inside of the pit of all stone fruits, including plums, peaches, and cherries. The noyau inside apricots and peaches looks almost identical to an almond, and is indeed the source of bitter almond flavor. Amaretti, the fantastic Italian cookies generally thought to be almond, are made entirely from apricot noyaux. (Also made from noyaux is arsenic; I love the old stories where Sherlock Holmes or some other detective sniffs the glass beside the dead person’s hand and confirms “the aroma of almonds… yes, it was murder…”)

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To cook with noyaux at home, the biggest challenge is to collect enough to actually make something. What I recommend is that you keep a tub of pits in the refrigerator, adding to the tub as you eat from your fruit bowl, extracting the noyaux and freezing them every week or so. Label the seeds in the freezer so no one thinks they’re almonds. Kept frozen, noyaux will be good for many months — plenty of time to store up for a noyau dessert. When you have a cup or so, grind them coarsely and steep in the custard for a 2qt batch of ice cream or custard sauce. Substitute for the almonds, omitting the almond extract, for a batch of amaretti. Or get creative. Drop by the restaurant and I’ll be happy to confer.

This week I’ll make a batch of true amaretti, and try Amanda’s idea for a bitter almond frangipane. That will probably exhaust the supply, as I only got 4 cups of noyaux from about 100 lbs of fruit. But once we save up some more, it’ll be noyau biancomangiare and noyau ice cream and noyau crème anglaise and more amaretti whenever we have the chance.
Jenny

Chocolate Tasting

Pastry Chef Jenny Raven conducted a chocolate tasting last week with her pastry assistants. Jenny’s five-month-old son Ofelio was on hand to offer his opinion and Chef Canales & Maggie Klein joined in as well.

Pastry Chef Raven & son Ofelio taste chocolate

Pastry Chef Raven & son Ofelio taste chocolate

From Pacific Gourmet we order Callebaut (belgium; one of the cheapest chocolates on their list) and Valrhona (France; one of their priciest.) I wanted to do a chocolate tasting because I thought it would be cool to order some mid-range chocolates and play around with specific pairings or specific uses for unique chocolates. I am also interested in the “single bean” trend because of how it relates to our emphasis on terroir.

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