Traditional dishes are hidden away in thousands of households, where families jealously guard the recipes passed down from their ancestors. Often as a result of innovation, of trial and error, an amateur cook comes up with a dish to be proud of, or alternatively an example not to follow.
But what happens when an amateur cook tries to impress the chefs of the world’s best restaurant in 2015? The best dessert contest organized by BBVA Compass for its own employees attempted to find an answer to this question. The creativity and innovation of amateur cooks were assessed by the 2015 best restaurant in the world, ‘El Celler de Can Roca’, and Jordi Roca, the world’s best pastry chef in 2014.
The result was ‘The taste of BBVA’, an ebook of desserts that can be downloaded to discover what prompted the Roca brothers to select these as the best-tasting recipes. “In the end, we added up the points we had given to each dessert to find the winners. There were some very original and tasty recipes but in my view the best way was for each of us to choose the dishes we liked the most”, said Jordi Roca.
'Taste of BBVA'
What can a professional chef learn from dozens of cookery enthusiasts? It is clearly an image of contrasts, of the world turned upside down: people who are prepared to pay to have lunch or dinner at ‘El Celler de Can Roca’ swap roles and don their aprons to offer the best chefs in the world a taste of their own recipes, in this case, their desserts.
“We learned a great deal, especially about the tastes and types of dessert that are popular with the people of Texas and Alabama”, explained Jordi Roca, who is aware that this type of initiative provides insight into local gastronomy. As proof, the Roca brothers took some ideas onboard during their trip: “There were cupcakes, one of the desserts we prepared in the 2015 tour with BBVA. I could see that a lot of different and original ingredients had been used and some contestants produced really impressive dishes”, concluded Jordi Roca.
Cooking tips only to be read by beginners
–Onions won’t make me cry: If you want to avoid dramatics in your kitchen and stop the onion making you cry, put in the fridge for an hour. You will then be able to peel it without shedding a tear.
–A really hard-boiled egg: Cooking eggs has its rules, don’t leave it to fate. First, treat it kindly and leave it out of the fridge until it reaches room temperature. Then, don’t just boil it in water, add a pinch of salt. This will make it less likely to crack and easier to peel.
-Artichokes that are greener than a dollar bill: If you want your artichokes to be as ‘green as green can be’, you can add half a lemon to the cooking water. Or you can follow the lesser-know option of submerging them in cold water with a sprig of fresh parsley.
-To revive frozen meat: Rule number one, make sure meat hasn’t taken up permanent residence in your freezer. If it has been there for more than two months you need to take it out. Next, don’t try to break the cold-heat cycle abruptly or you may damage the meat’s nutritional properties. The best advice is to leave it for 12-24 hours on the bottom shelf of your fridge.
-Cream thicker than your biceps: To whip cream you need to think cool. Here, coolness is key. First, ensure that the liquid cream has been in your fridge for at least 24 hours. The container you are going to whip the cream in also needs to be cool, as does the whisk you are going to use. So put them in the freezer for 15 minutes. This way your whipped cream will be so thick that you’ll be able to turn the bowl upside down without spilling it.