Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Cinco de Mayo Churros from Olivier Bioteau

Those of us who had been big Farmhouse Cafe fans were broken hearted in 2014 when chef/owner Olivier Bioteau and his wife Rochelle decided it was time to close it. We thought perhaps that in the aftermath he was working up a new plan for another restaurant, but, in fact, Bioteau felt that he was done--for now, at least--with the stresses and grueling hours of running his own place. He traveled and thought about his next steps and then discovered that his old buddy Jeff Jackson of The Lodge at Torrey Pines and A.R. Valentien was looking for a chef tournant--sous chef, if you will--and he applied for the job. And got it.

It appears to have been a brilliant move on the part of both chefs. Jackson got a seasoned chef he could rely on. Bioteau found a culinary home that keeps him busy and stimulated. What he doesn't have is the weight of the world on him that chef/owners bear.

"My priority is a balanced life," he said. "I want time with my wife and my dog. I want time to travel."

Then came a surprise announcement. Bioteau was promoted to Executive Pastry Chef. Okay, well then.

Bioteau laughs at the idea that it would be a strange transition. After all, he said, in culinary school you're trained in the basics, including desserts and pastry. And everywhere he's worked since then he's done desserts. In fact, many years ago when he was a private chef, he went to U.C. Davis to take an ice cream course. Laster he took an online chocolate-making course from Ecole Chocolat in Vancouver (remember his beautiful signature chocolates at Farmhouse Cafe?).

It actually wasn't something he was going after. But once he'd been at The Lodge for a year and had his annual review he said he'd be interested in doing pastry. But The Lodge has a long-time pastry chef so he didn't think much about it. And then she left. The job was offered to Bioteau and he's been on that job since Valentine's Day. So far, he's kept pretty much to the existing menu for banquets and the restaurant. But at A.R. Valentien's Thursday Artisan Table dinners, Bioteau's had fun experimenting, with dishes like a green strawberry tart topped with brown butter whipped cream.

"I try to keep it as simple as possible with the best ingredients we can get, and made the best we can," he said.

One of the dishes he'd been playing with was churros. He was almost embarrassed at the notion of a French chef (he's from the Loire Valley) making churros. But he was serious. Not only did he scour recipes, but he turned to his kitchen staff--many of whom are from Mexico--to judge his results. In fact, it took him awhile to get the texture right, but he relaxed when he realized that the churro is essentially a pâte à choux, fried and rolled in cinnamon sugar.

So, in anticipation of Cinco de Mayo, Bioteau made me his churros (inviting me to fry some up as well), along with a sauce duo of chocolate and dulce de leche.

Oliver Bioteau's Churros with Two Sauces
(printable recipe)

1 cup water
1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1/2 gallon vegetable oil for frying
1 cup gradulated sugar for rolling the churros
1/4 cup cinnamon for rolling the churros
1 can condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

To make the Churros:

1. In a medium sauce pan, combine water, butter, sugar, salt cinnamon and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the flour at once, stirring for 2 minutes until you obtain a bowl of dough.

2. Transfer the dough into a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. At low speed mix the dough and add the eggs one at a time. Mix until well incorporated.
3. In a large deep sauce pan, warm up your vegetable oil until it reaches 350 degrees.
4. In a shallow pan, mix the sugar and the cinnamon to dip the churros into once they are fried and golden brown.

5. Transfer the churro dough into a piping bag with a star tip. When the oil reaches 350 degrees, squeeze the churros out of the bag, about 4 inches long, using your index finger to cut them off, and let them drop into the oil. Flip them, once until golden brown all over.

6. When done, remove the churro from the oil, transfer onto a paper towel, and roll the churro in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Eat immediately.

To make the Dulce de Leche Sauce:

1. In a large sauce pan, place the actual can of condensed milk (do not open can yet leave contents intact), cover with water, and boil for 2 hours.  Make sure the can is always covered with boiling water.  
2. After two hours, remove the can from the water and let it stand for 15 minutes. Open with a can opener. Pour the golden brown condensed milk, known as “Dulce de Leche,” into a ramekin as a dipping sauce for your churros.

To make the Chocolate Sauce:

1. In a small sauce pan, bring 1 cup of heavy cream to a boil. Remove from heat. 
2. Add the chocolate chips. Let stand for 5 minutes. Mix well. Pour into ramekin as a  dipping for your churros.

The Lodge at Torrey Pines and A.R. Valentien are located at 11480 N Torrey Pines Rd. in La Jolla.

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