Sunday, August 14, 2011

Suki Maman master class in cafe Sok

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At the middle of July I noticed that cafe Sok from time to time runs master classes with guest chefs. The upcoming class was going to be about healthy sweets and guess who was the master. It was such a tiny notice "July 24th, Healthy sweets (Suki Maman)", the pastry chef of my favorite Upside down cake. I immediately called the organizer and - yess! - there were still seats available.


When I arrived, the class had mostly gathered and was waiting for Suki, who was a bit late. Soon he entered the room, carrying a large bag (with ingredients? equipment?) on his shoulder, looking a bit tired but shining with warm smile. After discussing weather and traffic he told us briefly about himself.

He worked quite a lot around the world. He was the pasty chef in the Correa's restaurant, when it just opened in Moscow. Recently he spent 2 years working in Japan and came back to Russia around a year ago for a new venture with Isaac Correa - the new American/British bakery, Upside down cake. Several months ago they also started an American pizzeria (Montalto pizza). I was happy to find this out and visited Montalto shortly after to enjoy the place a lot.

For this class Suki cooked the sweets in advance and brought them with him (now we knew what was in his bag). We could taste them, discuss and write down the recipes if needed. Nobody seemed unhappy with the idea - would you be? - so we started.

1. The first dessert he presented was cold lemon cheesecake. This cheesecake he successfully made many times before. This time he used ladyfingers as a base, to give the idea a try. "Let's see what is the reaction to this" he noted while serving the cheesecake to us. He was quietly and attentively watching us trying the dessert and listening to our impressions.

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To me the cheesecake tasted very light and fresh. I liked it a lot. It was made of cream cheese halved with tofu as well as some butter, light muscovado sugar, lemon juice and vanilla (everything then jellied with agar).

2. Quinoa cookies impressed me a lot. They were looking like short pastry, but were way lighter in texture. They were dissolving immediately after getting into your mouth! The flavor also amazed me and after I found what were the ingredients, I could tell why.

It turned out that the lightness was coming from the rice flour used in the recipe (mixed with plain wheat flour in proportion of 1 to 4). The rest of the ingredients were butter, icing sugar, crushed cardamon pods and salt. The cookies were rolled in chopped pistachios and sprinkled with quinoa grains.

Suki took a minute to tell us about the ingredients. I didn't know about quinoa before. It turned out to be a grain, now gaining popularity in Europe. Its brown grains (sized like couscous) become nutty and crunchy when slightly dry toasted. They can also be steamed and served similar to couscous. Suki mentioned that there is a nice quinoa salad in Corner Burger for those who'd like to try it out.

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For these cookies he used Maldon smoked sea salt, he considers one of the best kinds of salt to use in his cooking. It is produced in Essex (UK) and is not easily available in Moscow. Its large-size flakes really taste fine. So when I noticed it at La Boqueria, during my recent trip to Barcelona, I happily got a pack for myself.

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3. Individual peach Tatin tarts - Suki's summer interpretation of Tarte tatin. Tasted great. Why didn't I try to make the tatin with peaches before?

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4. The final piece of happiness appeared when Suki's took out the brownies. These tasted milder than normal brownies because he used carob powder instead of coco in them. Carob also was a new ingredient for me. It turned out to be similar to coco in its flavor and aroma. It is used to replace coco (e.g. if one is allergic to it).

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I left the class absolutely charmed by Suki's creativity and determined to visit Montalto pizza (which I already did and will shortly write about). Quinoa cookies are now waiting to be tried out at my kitchen as well.

Related posts and pages:

Upside down cake Moscow bakery
Cafe Sok (кафе Сок) Moscow vegetarian, vegan, raw

Half-a-teaspoon: custards and icings class

Picture perfect Tarte Tatin
Savoiardi biscuits (ladyfingers)