Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Stock to Soup to Consommé

Crap!  So close.  We eventually got to what we could argue was a perfect consommé... for about an hour... and sadly the consumption part of the challenge was not included in that hour.  Oh well, let us explain.

There was never any doubt we'd try a consommé using the egg raft technique, so we picked the chicken and wonton option and added in the brioche.  We had different things going at different times over 3 days over 2 weekends and mostly when they were supposed to be going.  We managed to get all 3 components right and pretty good, just not all at the same time, nor the appropriate time... Oh well...

We struggled interpreting a couple of the recipes.  We mostly made decisions that worked, but not all, and had to call upon YouTube to help us out - more on that in a moment.

In order of our perceived level of success

Herb and Garlic Brioche

Day 2

We've made a couple of breads along the way (and our own pizza dough) so we're not scared of getting out the yeast and spreading flour over half the kitchen.  Different technique, so we attempted to follow the rules closely...

We weren't quite sure what to do with the butter, so we just melted it with the milk as it was warmed, so the result that we ended up more with a cake batter type arrangement than dough could rest fairly on our shoulders for doing that wrong.  We added in about another half cup of flour (in tablespoon increments) until it mostly looked like dough, albeit the floppiest dough we've ever worked with.  We actually put the garlic in with the milk too.

We set it aside to proof and it did a good job of that, easily doubling in size.  It was still a bit floppy but as we spread it out on the counter, punching out the air, it firmed up enough for us to be confident in getting it rolled up.

We probably used more fresh herbs than advertised so as to get the sort of coverage in the picture provided, but we don't think that caused us any problems.  The roll was uneventful and the transfer to the baking tray for it's second proof a little eventful (still a bit floppy...) but no harm done.

Definite 2nd proofing success!  In to the oven for the prescribed time.  Definite bread type aromas keeping us amused from about the half way point.

Out of the oven, cool only marginally and eat all on it's own - keep reading to find out why.

Day 3

Reheat the leftovers in a stink'n hot oven for a relatively short time.  Enjoy the exposed, now toasty end, more than the other parts with our consommé.


Awesome!  Possibly the most successful and tasty bread we've had the pleasure of messing up our kitchen with.

Due to technical difficulties, we didn't have a consommé to share it with.  We actually just ate it straight up.  We briefly considered adding butter, but the warm steamy herby feel and aromas convinced us otherwise.  Seriously, this was our dinner, combined with the Best Frozen Custard in the land as an appetizer.  Yep, things didn't go to plan...

For us it was far far better straight out of the oven than reheated and although we didn't actually get to dip it in anything this way we don't think it is really a good dipping type bread.  We got this impression just eating it, and only confirmed this to ourselves when we actually got to dip it in something.

We would have no hesitation having a loaf of this handy (and fresh out of the oven) to start a meal with friends, but would serve up something different if we had a soup course.

Chicken Wontons

We've made dumpling type devices before so weren't too worried about this part of the process.

Day 3

Didn't do anything on Day 2 due to the technical difficulties you'll learn about real soon..

Easy enough to chop the chicken in the food-processor.  Couldn't think of a reason not to add the sherry, soy and pepper at the same time.  Adding the green stuff (in a bowl, not the processor) took longer to chop than stir...

Couldn't be easier to scoop and seal them up.  We made them in little parcel shapes, rather than pot-stickers so for the cooking part we didn't really see a way to flip them over and make sure everything was cooked nicely on the inside - can't be having partially cooked chicken.  We went with the fry to get a crust on the bottom then added some water (watch out for some angry sizzling), covered them and steamed for a couple of minutes to make sure all was good.


Pretty good.  We could do them again, that's for sure.  Might try a different shape next time and be able to flip them instead of steaming, but we weren't unhappy with having them steamed.

A great match with the consommé.  We both felt obliged to dip the ones on the side before consumption.

Had enough left over that they served as a pretty good emergency dinner for one.  Didn't have any more consommé so just used a simple dipping sauce.

Golden Chicken Consommé

Day 1

Making of the Stock was fine.  We've made vegetable stock many times, but that's more to use up vegetables that are fast approaching a too late date with no readily available option to use them.  It was kind of fun to head off out to buy stuff just for a stock.  It's possibly the first time we've actually bought a whole chicken that wasn't already roasted up for us....

Brown off the chicken type stuff, little bit of sweating of the veg and then everything in the pot, water in, turn on the fire, wait patiently. 

We did do some skimming along the way, but really didn't get all that much stuff that needed to be removed.

Cool, and then in to the freezer to keep safe until next weekend for the 'real' part of this challenge.

The pleasant side effect is that we ended up with a really nicely cooked whole chicken.  It was really juicy.  We turned it into sandwiches and also added it to a scheduled salad that was originally chicken-less.  Win!

Day 2

We were very excited to give this a go!  But, had a bit of trouble figuring out exactly what the recipe was asking of us.  We made our best guesses... 

First, with the plan to do Consommé do we skip Step 2 (make the soup)?  We went with no because Step 3 talked about adding cooked meat to the egg whites and the only meat cooking part was in the soup making Step.  So, the soup part went splendidly.  Again, we kept an eye out for skimming requirements but didn't really find anything.

Now, things started to go poorly.  Probably based on our previous decision to do the Soup stage...  The egg white, ice, cooked meat thing didn't make a lot of sense to us, but we tried it.  We couldn't see any sensible way to separate the chicken from the vegetables and such so we just left it all together.  Whisk eggs, ice, cooked stuff, back in simmering pot, stir - but only for 3 long seconds and walk away.


We never got a raft, everything just sank mostly to the bottom and stayed there - and we're not supposed to stir anymore so we couldn't encourage it back up other than by staring at it.  We let it go for 30 minutes before giving up.  Basically, we just made a form of egg drop soup...  There was much un-rejoicing!  No tears, though!  We pulled out all the lumpy bits and were pretty much back where we started with the stock apart from having a more chickeny constitution and also all the fun additives that joined the party...  Onward, to the fridge...

Abort any plans for making the Wontons, calculate there's just enough time to eat dessert before the bread comes out of the oven and go watch TV with a tub of Frozen Custard.

Day 3

Google is your friend!  We found a couple of recipes that talked about doing the raft thing a bit differently and were just about to pick one to attempt to rescue our project when we stumbled on a YouTube video of someone making a consommé which we didn't particularly find useful, but that caused us to move our search from Google to YouTube.  We ended up with this one from Chef Sanecki - thanks chef!

Back to the store for more raft building items...

So, it didn't come with a recipe which led to us making our best guess (common theme for this challenge...) on quantities.  We guessed wrong.  Well, actually, we pretty much guessed right, but didn't factor in that he had a much bigger pot of stock than us.  Oh well, again.

So we followed his guidelines of starting with everything cold and uncooked, getting everyone in the pool, stirring constantly, heating slowly until just over 130°, now walk away and don't touch.  Almost straight away we got things forming at the top and shortly afterwards we got little pockets of bubbles coming up.  Nervous at first, after about 20 minutes we mostly were happy to let it be for the recommended 90 minutes.

Perhaps at the 60 minute mark we decided we needed to poke a couple of holes in the raft as the bubbling had pretty much stopped.  Even without poking it was obvious that something good was happening underneath based on what we could see overflowing the edges.  Woo Hoo!  This is when we realized something went wrong with our raft building quantities.  Due to the effort required for hole poking it was apparent that our raft went almost all the way to the bottom of the pot. 

No Soup for you!  Please, not again? 

Not so quick!  We let it go the full 90 minutes and started the extraction process.  Slow and fiddly and many coffee filters were required due to the raft breaking up a bit as we battled it for the very clear liquid that could be coaxed out of the pot.

After we decided to let it go the last 30 minutes we got to work on the Wontons because we needed to eat something somehow someway...

It took awhile to do the filtering, but we ended up with a pot of very consommé looking consommé.  And there was much rejoicing and excitement throughout the trashed kitchen!  It took so long to filter that we had cold consommé only to play with.  No big deal, we have fire, right.

Ah, crap!  While we were frying up our first batch of Wontons we let the consommé heat all the way up to a boil.  Don't do that!  It went cloudy at first, but it turned into a sort of suspended sediment.  No one anywhere we looked earlier in the day suggested this could happen.  We briefly considered filtering again, but we were hungry and the Wontons were ready and the leftover bread warmed again. 

We soldiered on, but does anyone know what happened there?


It was tasty, absolutely!  Perhaps the double stock creation process we used helped?  But it didn't look very consomméy at the eating part of the process.  The Wontons were great in it!

A lot of work that got us nowhere, but eventually we ended up with a two-partnight dinner.

There was some left over but it went to the great drain in the sink due to it having a disproportionate amount of the crud we created during the accidental boiling part - we tried really hard not to get it in our bowls for the dinner part of the event.

Recipes & Destructions Instructions



We did it, but we failed too - more than once...

It would take a very extra super duper special event for us to try a Consommé again, and even then we'd almost certainly skip it.  A well executed bowl would look awesome served up to guests, but the specific needs of the cooking process and our level of skill in understanding exactly what is happening makes it just to risky.  We would cry if we tried again and didn't end up with a great bowl.

The Wontons and Bread on the other hand, do have a place in the lets-impress-the-guests file and we look forward to the opportunity to unleash these dishes upon others.

As always, we dug into the Cellar for a wine to share our project with.  Not surprisingly, nothing was suggested as a match for consommé.  We settled on something we've never seen before because it was suggested as a match for chicken dishes.  It had a little sweetness to it that we though offset nicely what was going on in the consommé.

We lived, we learned, we trashed the kitchen (2.5 times!), we ate something we'd never made ourselves before.  The point of being Daring, right?  The next time Consommé appears on a menu we'll endeavor to grab up a bowl in appreciation of what the chef had to go through to get it to us!


Peta, of the blog Peta Eats, was our lovely hostess for the Daring Cook’s September 2011 challenge, “Stock to Soup to Consommé”. We were taught the meaning between the three dishes, how to make a crystal clear Consommé if we so chose to do so, and encouraged to share our own delicious soup recipes!

Comments pre Blog Platform Change

Audax Artifex responded:
WOW your postings are always so much fun to read. Great that you got the bread and the wontons sorted out from the challenge they sound so delicious. Sorry to hear that the clarified cosumme went cloudy when boiled (I have never heard of this happening). But at least it tasted wondereful. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Ruth H. responded:
I kind of want to see your raft that ate the consomme pot...! I am quite impressed with your perseverence, and I am glad there were some successes inthere for you! I ws not brave enough to try making consomme in the first place, so I am even more impressed with your dilligence in trying twice!!

Jo Ann responded:
I love your descriptive post - you get an A++ for effort for sure. You were more patient than most. We have all been in your shoes (I should write a book of kitchen disasters). But in the end, you got a delicious meal -that's what counts!

Makey-Cakey responded:
Top marks for perseverence! Your description of the wonton making makes them sound easier than I thought - thinking I might brave trying them!

Shelley C responded:
Man, you guys are nothing if not persistent!! I love reading about your adventures, and totally applaud your efforts. Your bread sounds wonderful, and the consommme sounds... well... amusing :) Really great job!

Heather responded:
Oh my gosh, you guys are hilarious!!! I love the description of your culinary adventure. And it was smart to take days to do it. Mine took 6 hours on a Sunday afternoon!

Jo responded:
That was quite the adventure/ordeal! The bread sounds just divine, I love herby yeasty baked goodness, I'm sorry the consomme part didn't work out too well for you!

sawsan@chef in disguise responded:
I loved reading your post..hats off to you for all the attempts and not giving sounds like it was quite an adventure :)

andy responded:
Fabulous post! I too found some of the instructions odd and I went back and forth a few times with Do I do step 2 or go to Step 3?

Well done for soldering on!

Oggi responded:
You two crack me up! This is the most fun DC I've read so far and I was grinning while reading. I can't wait for your next the kitchen.:)

Peta responded:
sorry you had trouble with the recipes. I am not a wine buff, so I can't recomend a wine to go with it.
I just fry the wontons in deep oil and as long as they are golden they are always cooked through when I make the little ones.
your raft should only be about an inch or so thick.
I find if I don't get a recipe the first time making it again is the key to success.

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