The Saturday that went, was spent treating my stomach to a cloud like tiramisu, amongst other deliciously prepared food and enjoying the company of some very lovely foodies.
JW Marriot and the people behind GourmetChandigarh (instagram: @gourmetchandigarh) organized a Chef’s Table at Oregano, JW Marriot, Chandigarh on 25th May. Chef Alessio was our chef for the afternoon and he taught us two basic italian classics- Tiramisu and Lasagna.
I love a good tiramisu and the one we learnt on Saturday surely did not disappoint. The filling was light and airy and made with a few ingredients was easily put together. After introductions by Chef Pallav and the assistant manager Anshul, Chef Alessio took over. Chef Alessio is an italian so he was the perfect instructor for our afternoon Italian cooking session, giving us simple tips to make tiramisu and lasagna the traditional way.
After being handed a refreshing strawberry and mint cocktail, with aprons on, we took our places around their open kitchen counter. The mise en place for the Tiramisu was ready and since this italian dessert takes some time to set, we were taught how to make it first the true italian way.
A classic tiramisu comprises of very few ingredients- eggs, coffee, mascarpone cheese, sugar and savoiardi biscuits/ladyfingers. Anything else is a deviation from the classic. Chef Alessio and Chef Pallav mentioned even Kahlua, Marsala or any other liqueur is not an ingredient of traditional tiramisu. As Chef Alessio put it, in Italy dessert is generally served with a glass of sweet wine/liqueur, so why add something that you would be taking with the dessert anyway. Made perfect sense to me.
We started by separating the yolks from the whites, and then whisking them separately with sugar. The chef told us to keep in mind that the addition of sugar in each case is different. While the sugar is added to the yolks in the beginning, the chef told us so that the sugar emulsifies better with the egg whites, sugar should always be added once the egg whites have frothed and then beaten till they form hard peaks. With the whites whipped and the yolks whisked, you first mix the two similar textures – yolks and mascarpone cheese together and then carefully fold in the whites, making sure not to deflate the whites. And that is all to the filling in the Marriot’s version of Tiramisu.
To make the biscuit layer of Tiramisu, the chef follows a rule of 3 when dipping the savoirdi biscuits in the coffee, which basically means counting till 3 while dipping. That ensures that they are neither too soft nor too crunchy when assembled. And that is all to it- the layering of these espresso soaked biscuits and the egg-mascarpone cream filling. You can add a layer of shaved chocolate if you want, but we didn’t do that, and only dusted the dessert on top with cocoa powder just before serving.
Once the tiramisu was layered, the chef let it set till ready. And set on to teach us how to make a classic lasagna.
At J W Marriot, they make the pasta sheets in house using very fine semolina powder, instead of all purpose flour. The sheets are blanched and kept separated with cling wrap between them. For their sauce, half the amount of tomatoes used are fresh and the rest italian peeled tomatoes from a can, which ensures a consistent flavor and color. Starting with a base of bechamel sauce in a well buttered dish, the lasagna is made with the following layers- lasagna sheets, tomato sauce, bechamel, parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil leaves. We made a vegetarian lasagna, but bolognese can be replaced to make a non vegetarian version.
On the side they were also making pizzas for us and I got a chance to capture that as well.
Once everything was made and put in the oven to cook or refrigerator to set, we sat down on the table and got a chance to interact with the other cooking enthusiasts present and of course, enjoy the perfectly cooked meal which started off with fresh green salad and garden and chicken bruschetta.
I really enjoyed the crust on the thin crust pizza served next for our meal. Most places here serve papad-thin pizza in the name of thin crust and I always cringe when that happens. The pizza at Marriot was exactly the way I like my thin crust to be. Chef Alessio then went around the table serving the baked lasagna that he had shown us how to make.
The whole meal was finished with the Tiramisu. A perfect end to a very enjoyable afternoon. As a send off, we were given a goodie bag with a Peanut Walnut tart from Monica’s, donuts from Super Donuts and homemade chocolates from the Chocolate Box.