Happy New Year everyone! Wish you a year of happiness and cake. I’ve been baking non-stop over the holidays, testing recipes and finalising the class menu for my next set of baking classes in Bombay. If you’d like to be the first to know please sign up here. I thought I’d share a round-up of beautiful things and inspiring reads from around the web. x Shaheen
The History of the Croissant
Cedric Grolet’s awe-inspiring pastry feed
Upcycled Jesper Jensen jugs
The beautiful voice of Aurora Asknes
A brioche study
My bread blog updates from Paris
Winter salad love
The Relae cookbook (USA | India)
How to choose olive oil
Top NYC restaurants of 2015 (in preparation of my trip in March)
Pleasure is Good: How French children acquire a taste for life
PS: ignore the strange strike-throughs. Trying to figure that out.
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A few weeks ago, I visited Munich over the weekend. The local food was meat heavy (no surprise) and left much to be desired but the market was worth a wander. Autumn colours everywhere and plenty of fresh walnuts at each stall. I’ve put together photos of the colourful Viktualienmarkt we visited on a busy Saturday.
When I moved to London after Le Cordon Bleu, I trialled at one of the top British restaurants. All I saw was a position by the vacuum chamber. Before they could offer me the job, I bolted. I’m glad I realised even back then, without knowing too much about sous vide cooking, that it wasn’t meant for me.
So what is sous vide cooking?
Cooking sous vide sounds fancy, but it’s much simpler than that. It literally means ‘under vacuum’. The basic premise is that food is cooked in a bag immersed in water which is maintained at a constant, precise temperature, yielding an evenly cooked dish. It is a technique used in several modern restaurants worldwide.
And how do you cook sous vide? Simply place the uncooked ingredients in food grade plastic bags, vacuum seal them, and place them in a water bath. Fit the water bath with a circulator or use a steam oven that maintains a precise temperature depending on the food you’re cooking. While cooking meat, the bag should be pierced with a fine tip thermometer held with turbigomme to keep the vacuum intact. When the food reaches the target temperature at the core, remove the bags and finish the process as the dish demands.
During my course at Alain Ducasse in France, I spent a week cooking in the premises of a large scale vacuum machine producer. My views on sous vide cooking remain unchanged. In fact, my skepticism in a cook being able to develop tactile skills through this technique is reinforced.
This past September, I moved back to Paris with my knives, my favourite stationery, and little else to study at Alain Ducasse Education in Argenteuil, a suburb on the outskirts of Paris. This is a result of a culinary scholarship, my fourth, granted by the James Beard Foundation.
The course is a Diploma in Superior Culinary Arts and it’s for those who are already professionally trained or have a fair amount of restaurant experience. The Alain Ducasse Centre in Argenteuil isn’t just a cooking school but a research and consulting centre. This means that everything at the school is quite dynamic and up with the times. It’s got to be, given the 21 Michelin stars Monsieur Ducasse holds. It’s undoubtedly one of the finest culinary institute in the world.
Three weeks have flown by and the lessons I have learned have been nothing short of spectacular. This is by far the most comprehensive and technical education I have ever received. And it’s only just begun.
I am excited to share the menu for Atelier 15‘s first pop-up this weekend at Story Coffee in London!
We will be at Story for an all-day service from 9 AM to 4:30 PM on 12th and 13th September 2015. You can walk-in whenever you wish – no reservations needed.
Here is a peek at the menu. There might be minor changes based on what available at the market and what lands on our doorstep that day.
Story Coffee + Atelier 15 Pop Up
115 St. John’s Hill
London SW11 1 SZ
Nearest train station: Clapham Junction
Here is a peek at the beautiful coffee shop!
I want to introduce you to my newest project. It’s called Atelier Quinzième (atelier15.co.uk)
This project is a collaboration with an old culinary school classmate, Chris. Why Atelier 15? Because that’s where Chris and I met – in the 15th arrondissement of Paris while studying at Le Cordon Bleu. We went over a gazillion names, but nothing seemed to work except our common history and the love for French cooking.
For us, Atelier Quinzième is a way to create and share high quality food made with care and precision. It is a way for us to be able to execute our ideas and vision on to a plate and hopefully create memorable meals and happy customers.
We are all set to host our very first pop-up brunch weekend at the most beautiful coffee shop in South London. It’s called Story Coffee. It’s a perfect little space flooded with natural light, beautifully crafted furniture and the prettiest seasonal flowers. And if that weren’t charming enough, a hundred year old ghost sign for a custard powder brand adorns the facade. I couldn’t have hoped for a better venue for my launch.
You’ll find tartines made with sourdough bread, freshly baked sweet pastries, and most definitely my flaky, caramelised, brioche that I’ve been making at Lyle’s. I’ll have the full menu up in a day or two.
This is the only pop-up I’m hosting before heading off to Paris to study at the Alain Ducasse Training Centre later this month. If you’re in London, please come! If you have friends in London tell them about it! I’ll be so happy.
Story Coffee + Atelier Quinzième
12th and 13th September , 2015 (9am – 4:30pm)
115 St. John’s Hill
London SW11 1SZ
We made a little Italian feast for ourselves when we were holed up at home through the rainy weekend in London. We made a summer tomato focaccia (with levain with a tiny bit of yeast), spaghetti alle vongole and tiramisu.
A distinct memory I have of spaghetti alle vongole, or spaghetti with clams, is watching a fisherman on a travel show take a boat into the waters of the Adriatic sea and gather hand-dived clams, return home in Venice and make spaghetti alle Vongole. The freshness and simplicity stuck with me. I referenced Artusi (he asks for the spaghetti to be broken into smaller pieces to be eaten with a spoon, then points to using the method for the clam risotto with carrot, parsley, celery, onion and dried mushrooms), Elizabeth David (too much tomato) and Rachel Roddy (straightforward) and a seemingly on point article on making the perfect spaghetti alle vongole before making my own.
Having something sweet after dinner is turning into a habit. Some nights we cut up a few white peaches and strawberries. Some nights it’s a bowlful of cherries, the kind that makes me wish summer would never end. Some nights we just want something warm and chocolatey. That’s when I bake these chocolate chip and pecan cookies.
Zürich is the perfect little city for a weekend break. It’s small, easy to navigate and doesn’t overwhelm – there’s no pressure to quickly work through a checklist of popular monuments and museum. It’s really all about walking from one chocolate shop to another, in and around Bahnhofstrasse, until you’ve had your fill.