[Free stuff by Wilfrid: February 15, 2012]
Hard to resist an invitation to eat dinner made by Ann Burrell and Johnny Iuzzini, whether cooked on a pile of burning twigs or Electrolux's swish induction ranges.
But the occasion was indeed a celebration of Electrolux induction cooking (#iheartinduction) for which Burrell and Iuzzini are spokespeeps. (Facebook page.)
My problem with induction rings had always been varying the heat. Taking something from a boil to a low simmer was not immediate, as it is with gas, and my solution had always been to have rings set at different levels: I'd move the pan rather than try to change the setting. But according to the guest chefs at this event, that aspect of the technology is much improved. I didn't know, because they didn't let me play with the range.
The venue was SoHo's Desiron gallery, a showroom for high-end custom furniture with - who knew? (and why?) - a full scale demonstration kitchen in the basement. As we helped ourselves to wine and cheese, Burrell and Iuzzini did their schtick (macho savory chef gives finicky pastry chef a hard time) and sent out several dishes.
I didn't honestly need another recipe for spaghetti bolognese, but the theme of the event was simple home cooking for Valentine's Day, and Burrell's spag bol was certainly simple and tasty. She had opened up with a fennel and pink grapefruit salad garnished with olive slivers and fennel fronds.
Iuzzini dazzled more with his command of gadgets. That's pastry chefs for you. I loved his first plate, a vanilla-anise poached pear with a luscious almond sponge and salty caramel ice cream, the pear topped with crunchy walnut nougatine. His encore was just way too chocolatey for me - I have low chocolate tolerance. Chocolate tartlets filled with a chocolate ganache and sliced bananas, lapped by a banana-honey-lemon sauce. Okay (some of you would adore it).
Highlight of the swagbag: a signed copy of Johnny Iuzzini's Dessert Fourplay. Naughty!
The guys at HighLowFoodDrink dutifully reproduced all the recipes.
Photograph courtesy the event organizers.