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chefs CHRISTINA LONGO

Friar Plum Beignets with Pistachio Ice Cream and Poached Apricots
Pastry Chef Christina Longo of Barking Frog at Willows Lodge – Woodinville, WA
Adapted by StarChefs
Rising Pastry Chef Christina Longo

CHRISTINA LONGO
Barking Frog
Woodinville, WA

December 2003

Philosophy on cooking:
I like to integrate different flavors and combinations that people wouldn’t necessarily expect, but not too avant-garde. I really like to bring savory spices and flavors into my desserts.

Formerly of:
The Salish Lodge and Spa – Snoqualmie, WA;
Dahlia Lounge – Seattle, WA;

Culinary School:
Seattle Central Community College Pastry Program

Tools you can't live without:
- Offset serrated knife
- Tournet knife

Favorite ingredients:
All fruits in season, especially cherries

Three tips for dessert success:
1. Learn how to cook first. A foundation in cooking is really important to be a pastry chef.
2. Find a mentor, work closely with someone and learn as much as you can from them.
3. Work really hard and be humble. Don’t expect to ascend the ranks really quickly, continue learning.

Mentors/pastry heroes:
Claudia Fleming – Gramercy Tavern, NYC

Favorite desserts:
- Mexican Hot Chocolate with a homemade Marshmallow Meringue topping
- My Mom’s Italian Christmas cookies and Strusloi
- Macaroons


Short Bio:
Contrary to popular belief, pastry chefs don’t always have a sweet tooth. In the case of Pastry Chef Christina Longo, her siblings were surprised by her career choice as she was always the first to pass on dessert as a child. Growing up in an Italian-American family where home cooked food was delicious and plentiful, her mom’s kitchen was her castle, Christina didn’t get much culinary training there, aside from helping to garnish Christmas cookies or drying dishes.

In the early 90’s, the restaurant climate in Central Florida was not particularly hospitable towards women in the kitchen, which forced her into front of the house positions with weak promises from chefs to work her into the kitchen in the future. Through a series of jobs in Florida, Washington D.C. and New York, she was able to build a stronger cooking foundation. Inspired at this point in her life, Christina was looking for a city with a developing food scene and good culinary schools. Seattle beckoned.

Somewhere between the East and West Coasts, she began thinking of a new career direction – baking and pastry. After a few months of temporary banquet cooking, Christina found a position with a start-up business trying to bring an Italian trattoria-style to Seattle. Here she found a mentor in the pastry chef who encouraged her to enroll in the Pastry Arts program at Seattle Central Community College.

While in school, she was presented with a chance to stage at a patisserie in St. Germain-en-Laye, France. Over the next three months, Christina worked at the Patisserie Grandin and was exposed to a style of pastry radically different from what she saw in Seattle.

Upon returning to the Northwest in 2001, Christina was hired as Pastry Chef at the Barking Frog, which provided a forum for expression she had not seen in the past. She sees her palate and style continuing to evolve and going back to her Mediterranean roots and upbringing in tropical Florida. Her training was transformed by the French appreciation for the art of patisserie. According to Christina, “It’s an appreciation for the simple ingredients of the pastry kitchen, especially fresh fruits at the height of their season, and for techniques that transform them into edible art, that has driven my passion. It’s the desire to find balance and pleasure throughout a meal and to reward the palate with a sweet souvenir”.

 




Yield: 8 Servings

Ingredients:

    Poaching Liquid
  • ½ bottle semi-dry white wine
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 whole allspice, crushed
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 4 friar plums
  • 4 fresh apricots

  • Beignet Batter
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 bottle (750ml) sparkling wine

  • Pistachio Ice Cream
  • 2 cups shelled pistachios, lightly toasted
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 ½ cups cream
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 6 ounces sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kirsch

Method:

For Poaching Liquid:
Combine white wine, water, sugar, allspice, star anise, lemon juice and vanilla bean in medium stainless steel pot and bring to boil. While syrup is heating up, prepare fruit: Rinse apricots and plums, then cut each in half, around circumference, using paring knife and then twisting halves apart. Remove pits. Cut plums into quarters, but leave apricots in halves. When syrup is ready, maintain at low simmer and add a few apricot halves at a time. Poach apricots until bright orange and are pierced easily with tip of paring knife. Depending on ripeness of fruit, 3 - 6 minutes. Remove fruit from syrup using slotted spoon and set aside to cool. When all apricots are poached, pass plum quarters through syrup just long enough to begin loosening skins. Plunge plums into ice water to stop cooking and quickly peel off skins. Apricots can be stored in syrup when both are cool, but leave skins on until just before service to retain structure of fruit.

For Beignet Batter:
Combine dry ingredients in mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Gradually add sparkling wine to dry ingredients, whisking slowly to incorporate. If batter seems thin at first, don’t worry, it will thicken upon standing. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours, before using.

For Pistachio Ice Cream:
Grind nuts medium fine in food processor when cooled, then reserve ½ cup to fold into finished ice cream. Bring remaining 1 ½ cups nuts, milk and cream to boil. Take off heat and steep 20 minutes. Strain out nuts, discard, and reserve milk mixture. Whisk together yolks and sugar; whisk in reserved pistachio milk. Return mixture to stove and cook over medium heat stirring constantly, until it coats back of spoon. Strain through fine mesh sieve into clean container and chill in ice bath. Freeze cooled pistachio cream in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions and stir in reserved nuts at the end.

To Serve:
Bring medium sized pot with about 3-4 inches of vegetable oil up to 350°F and maintain temperature. Sift ½ cup flour and dredge plum quarters through it to coat. Then dip each plum into beignet batter (stir batter before using, and adjust consistency with more flour or more liquid if necessary) and carefully place into hot oil. Plum will sink at first, then begin to float. When beignet has become golden brown, remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle beignets with powdered sugar. Place 2 beignets in bottom of shallow bowl. Remove skins from apricot halves, halve them again, and place between plum beignets in bowl. Top fruit with a scoop of pistachio ice cream.


Wine Pairing:

Townshend Late Harvest Chenin Blanc

 





  

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