...Help....it's on fire....!
This isn't about burning food - strictly speaking. Nor is it about setting fire to the kitchen - strictly speaking... it's about the ancient and noble art of "flambe" in French "flambée" - setting a controlled flame to edible materials to give a particular flavour or a particular finish, and - of course - to present your prowess to guests, paying ones or not!..It's not limited to professionals, although you can see from the image, they are also like little children "playing with fire" and pleasure whilst practicing the art.
My suggestions are clear....DON'T let children, clumsy people, people with fear of fire or pyromaniacs do this...at least not in your home. This link gives you a large selection of ingredients and ideas: http://homecooking.about.com/library/archive/blflambe.htm
There are a lot of dishes one can apply this to, using almost always high percentage alcoholic drinks, such as Cognac, Calvados, Brandy, Armagnac, Kirsch and many others.
Basically the alcohol must be high in volume, and should have a taste (be made from) which goes well with the article in question.
Cointreau (Orange liqueur) for example for those delicious "Crepes Suzette" because the sauce they are served in is based on orange, and Calvados (apple liqueur) with pork dishes and so on...."facon Normande" or "a la crème"!
It is true, a little experience or practice is required, but it is quickly learnt, and your guests are always mesmerized, just in the same way that people will stand for hours looking at a BBQ - it's our basic instincts that are coming out.
It is true that the process is becoming rarer, unfortunately. People are slightly frightened mainly of making a fool of themselves, but done correctly it adds that little touc of "special" to almost anything, and even ice cream can be flambéed!
How - well try the dish "Omelette Norwegienne" - nothing to do with eggs, but a whole brick or block or bombe of ice cream wrapped in an egg meringue very firmly sealed, dowsed in any of the fruit liqueurs and set fire to! ..Other pastries or cakes can be used instead of ice cream, like "swiss roll sponge" but the unique bit about using ice cream is the difference in taste and texture and hot and cold - all together.
The secret is, of course, that the meringue acts rather like asbestos, and burns the liqueur but doesn't allow the heat to enter into the ice cream. The "flambeeing" also has another idea in this case, it caramelises and browns the meringue - pretty!
Nowadays many places actually use a special "blowtorch" in the kitchen to achieve the same effect, but the taste isn't the same. Flambe is also often done, in the kitchen, to raw ingredients, before cooking them, to give them a different taste and texture.
You can allow your imagination to run riot.....just don't let the flames run riot......and check your home insurance before starting.......!
iwmpop(mrlemarquis) - Vauvert, France - Juin 2011
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