Monday, December 15, 2014

Exec Pastry Chef Marian Getz: From the Congo to Wolfgang Puck’s Kitchen

Last week we shared a rich Q&A with famed pastry chef and cookbook author, Marian Getz. Her tips on recipe creation were so well-said and helpful that they deserved their very own blog post. Here it is, in all it’s glory!

VFT You're also a prolific cookbook author. How do you approach recipe creation? Any tips for aspiring chefs? 
MG Cookbook writing is easy, really. Collect recipes you love, even on scraps of paper, notes on my iPhone, torn out pages, post-its, and collect them (I use manilla folders and a ratty, unapologetic banana box) until you have enough. Then start typing, which is the hardest part for me. Being chained to a computer for long stretches of time brings out the grumpy side of me. 

If it is a home recipe that you love, other people will love it, too. When creating new recipes, I use a similar one as a sort of template, then start thinking of flavors, colors and textures I want. If you think of the flavor on your tongue as you write a new recipe, its pretty easy to string ingredients together into a dish that will be balanced, exciting and delicious. Trust your instinct, and remember that less is often more. Don't make your dishes unnecessarily complicated or "noisy," meaning too many competing ingredients. 

I pay special attention to the 5 tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and Umami. And I pay special attention to acidity. I think too many dishes are missing a level of tartness. I probably have 15 different kinds of vinegars in my ridiculously large pantry, and I use them all the time! 

Also, for me, pepper gets way too much attention and it shouldn't. Many of my savory dishes don't even invite pepper to the party! It has it's place, but don't automatically reach for it until you taste the dish and see if it's needed.

VFT You have a unique way of extracting the seeds, or caviar, from a split vanilla bean. How do you do it?
MG I've seen photos of vanilla beans being cut and scraping the seeds or caviar out with a knife. That is not how we do it at the restaurant with your plump Tahitian vanilla beans. We squeeze and pop them instead because they are so soft and pliable. It's more efficient this way.

VFT What do you do with leftover vanilla bean pods? (15 things to do with spent vanilla bean pods)
MG At the restaurant, we collect the used pods, even if it's just a few, dry them either in the air if the humidity isn't too high, or in a low oven or dehydrator. Then for every bean you have, place it plus 1 cup of granulated sugar in a food processor and process until the sugar turns light brown and the bean pieces are tiny. This is real vanilla sugar. Just open the lid of the food processor and you will smell that this is true! Use it in any recipe where both sugar and vanilla are both called for. If you don't want vanilla bits, then sift the sugar before using. The flavor is incredible, it saves tons of money and is the best way to use every bit of these beautiful beans. It's the best way to honor this precious gift from Mother Nature.

When it comes to quality it’s obvious Marian has been trained by the best. We’re proud to be included as one of her suppliers. If you’d like to cook with the same ingredients that professional pastry chefs use, Tahitian vanilla beans, vanilla extract, and ground vanilla bean powder are available on our website.

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