My friend Michelle, pastry chef extraordinaire (more on that later!), and I went to Porter & Frye for a little late night bite to eat. This was a spontaneous get together, a stolen moment between work and mothering. I’ve been wanting to try Porter & Frye because the executive chef, Steven Brown, is my ex-boss and one of the most talented men I have ever had the good fortune to meet. He, unfortunately had already put in his 12 hour day and wasn’t there when we arrived at nearly 10:00pm. But, his sous chef and pastry chef were still working and willing to whip something together for us.
I’d already eaten dinner so I went for something sweet, what else is new! They presented me with a gorgeous bowl that was all about spring. The centerpiece was panna cotta made of sweet cream and chèvre (billed as a “cheese cake” on the menu, but it was set with gelatin and not eggs, which makes me want to call it panna cotta). What really worked was the contrast of the creamy, thick and rich “cheese cake” contrasted with light, sweet and bright springtime fruits. Little perfect cubes of rhubarb, “browned” strawberries and then a watermelon jus (juice). OK, so watermelons aren’t really a spring fruit, at least not in MN, but folks we practically live in the tundra so we have to borrow some things from our southern neighbors.
The next morning I took inspiration from this dessert and made crêpes for breakfast. I folded lightly sweetened whipped cream into soft chèvre as the filling. I roasted strawberries in balsamic vinegar and quickly cooked the rhubarb in sugar and vanilla. The result was fantastic and very springtime in Minnesota!
12 crêpes ( I used 1/2 all-purpose flour and 1/2 whole wheat to make these, otherwise follow these directions)
Chèvre whipped cream:
2 ounces chèvre
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
To make the chèvre whipped cream: warm the chèvre in a double boiler, just until it softens. I actually just put my little bowl on the heating unit of my coffee maker and it was soft in about 3 minutes.
Whip the cream and sugar to stiff peaks. Fold 1/3 of the cream into the bowl of chèvre and then transfer the cheese into the remaining whipped cream and fold together until well combined.
Now to tell you a bit about my friend Michelle Gayer and her latest adventure in the kitchen. She has a resume that is the envy of all in our industry. She was the acclaimed pastry chef for Charlie Trotter’s fabulous restaurant in Chicago and wrote the incredible Charlie Trotter’s Desserts based on her creations there. Luckily for us she moved to Minneapolis to open Franklin Street Bakery, where she immediately became a sensation. Her talents are now being shared at Le Cordon Bleu Cooking School and as the executive pastry chef for La Belle Vie and Solera. But wait, there is more! She is finally opening her own bakery. Hear those trumpets play! As of Memorial Day the “Salty Tart” will open its doors in the Global Market in Minneapolis. I recommend you all head down there to see what magic she has whipped up.