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"Single Spoon Quenelle" Technique


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#1 cjsadler

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Posted 23 December 2003 - 09:56 PM

With a special scoop? I can't quite get how to form them as perfectly as restaurants do.
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#2 TrishCT

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Posted 23 December 2003 - 10:12 PM

One thing I observed (somewhat) at a recent visit to NYC's Chikalicious is how they make those perfect looking ice cream quenelles. The chef carefully scooped out the ice cream with a tablespoon then put the bowl of the spoon on her wrist to warm it so the quenelle slid right off without having to be scraped....

As far as how the chef scooped the ice cream into the spoon.... She finagled the spoon back and forth to shape the quenelle... I wasn't paying close enough attention to the details to be more exact about that part, sorry. :sad:

#3 Fat Guy

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Posted 23 December 2003 - 10:17 PM

To confirm Trish's report, I've seen them done in several restaurant kitchens, always with a tablespoon and a steady, decisive rolling-scooping motion. In addition to the wrist trick, it's important to have the ice cream at the right temperature. If it's too cold, you'll never get it to coalesce into that shape. I'm sure some of our resident pastry pros can give more tips. Still, it's something that requires practice.

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#4 Dave the Cook

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Posted 23 December 2003 - 10:28 PM

I use two tablespoons, working in opposite directions to each other. This is one of those things that is really pretty easy -- once you've seen someone else do it.

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#5 alanamoana

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Posted 24 December 2003 - 05:39 AM

practice, practice, practice!

use whipped cream to practice.

use a clean, warm spoon (only one, i find that you don't get as nice looking quenelles with the two spoon method)

it tends to be easier to work into the "corner" of your container. in restaurants, we usually keep ice cream in square 6th pans, but at chikalicious she uses the pacojet so it is round...in any case, use the edge of the pan to help

hold the spoon at an acute angle...the inside of the bowl of the spoon should almost be facing the top of the ice cream...that way, when you start to scoop the ice cream, it will roll onto and into itself

it doesn't matter if the side that is exposed isn't quite perfect, because that is the bottom when you release it from the spoon.

warm the spoon with the palm of your other hand and quickly and decisively transfer it to your dish. hesitation at any stage makes for an ugly quenelle.

i guess this would be easier with pictures, but i'm not that technically advanced...

#6 adzuki3

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Posted 29 December 2003 - 08:13 AM

it's all about practice. i worked for a chef that would toss a non perfect scoop off of the plate in a flash. you can use almost any scoop, we had one chef liked best from tupperware, but any can work. we needed to make quenelles from whipped cream using a demitase spoon too. it's hard to describe but it is all in the wrist, just keep practacing. i can now make any size quenelle using almost any scoop or spoon from almost any substance. just don't give up. once you get it you'll have it for life. just like riding a bike!

-a

#7 Suzanne F

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Posted 29 December 2003 - 08:26 AM

You can even practice with Crisco, or tuna salad -- won't help you on the temperature issue, but at least you'll get the motion down.

#8 newguy

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Posted 29 December 2003 - 09:35 AM

I've noticed one thing about forming that shape. It doesn't really work with store bought ice cream for some reason. When I started my job, I had to help plate pastry, and all ice cream is quenelled. I wanted to practice and I had a tough time at home, so I just learned at work with their ice cream.

#9 sbb1979

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 07:36 AM

One thing that really frustrated me some years ago when I was briefly working on the pastry section of a very good restaurant was the Single Spoon Quenelle. I'm good with the Two Spoon technique having had plenty of practice, but it never looks as good as a nice, rounded Single Spoon variety.

I was just wondering if any of you accomplished pastry chefs out there could give me a few tips so that I can fill this glaring/annoying gap in my presentation skills.

#10 Wesley1

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 12:28 PM

Check In Thomas Kellers French Laundry cook book, it gives a good description and a picture of the plated product.

Edited by Wesley1, 27 July 2007 - 12:28 PM.


#11 nicolekaplan

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 01:03 PM

a big bowl of whipped cream and a blow torch and then practice, practice, practice
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#12 Dave the Cook

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 01:10 PM

The other day, a chef and I were watching a novice cook struggle with quenelles. The chef was making almost imperceptible hand motions, extending some psychic assistance. Then he, like Nicole, asserted that the only trick that worked was old-fashioned practice. He advised the trainee: "Get yourself a spoon, a big tub of Cool Whip and a six-pack of beer. Put a soccer game on TV and just make quenelles all afternoon. That's how I learned." He turned to me. "Didn't you ever do that? Just make quenelles all day?"

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#13 Melanger

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 02:50 PM

It helps to use the side of the container that your product is coming out of as the "other spoon".

For chantilly (cream should be fairly stiff), it is important that the water your are dipping your spoon in is hot but not too hot otherwise you'll melt the outside of the quenelle and it won't get the grip that you need. Same thing for ice cream or anything else frozen, use cold to room temp water, any warmer and you won't get the grip. It also helps if your ice cream is tempered or held in an ice cream chest with the door cracked.

Play around with different spoons. Even slight differences in the curvature and length of the working area of the spoon produces vastly different results.

The important thing is to not overwork whatever you are trying to scoop. I dip my spoon in the water, swish it around to clean it (having clean water helps too), tap it on a towel and the dive, in pulling up a mass of the product to the edge of the container. Go around your rough shape two times with the spoon and you should be good to go. The motion is sort of like turning a key in a lock.

Don't mess around with it too much. If you have to play with it more than four turns of the spoon I would drop that blob back in the container and start fresh. Using a container with a rounded edge, especially for chantilly, will help. IF you are doing ice cream, the rounded corner of a six pan can help you with forming the initial shape.

It's just practice. We just put a caramel chantilly quenelle on one of our tarts for retail and the bakers were not so thrilled about the prospect. One week later and they're all happy campers that they can make the "football blobby thing". Its a useful skill.

Good luck!!!

#14 chefpeon

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 11:04 PM

Not to disparage the quenelle, but personally, I've never found it to be very attractive. I think "football blobby thing" describes it quite accurately. I've never really understood what the big deal is. I like to do anything BUT that shape. :laugh:

#15 CaliPoutine

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 06:46 AM

Not to disparage the quenelle, but personally, I've never found it to be very attractive. I think "football blobby thing" describes it quite accurately. I've never really understood what the big deal is. I like to do anything BUT that shape. :laugh:

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I totally agree. I'd rather just pipe a nice rosette of whipped cream.

#16 Fugu

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 01:22 PM

rounded Single Spoon variety.

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I've always made quenelles with 3 sides, not rounded. I've always thought that this was the industry standard? If my French Chef and Japanese Sous Chef saw imperfect quenelles, they made the apprentices re-do the whole tray and they are told to make up for the time that was wasted. It means you're working overtime without pay.

If you're going to use one spoon to make the rounded variety, you might as well use a quenelle shaped icecream scoup. Are rounded quenelles accepted in pastry kitchens?

#17 alanamoana

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 06:35 PM

rounded quenelles are actually closer to egg shaped. they are tapered and pointy on one end and rounded and fatter on the opposite end. they have been the industry standard in fine dining for at least the past ten years for ice cream and other cream-type substances. they are elegant looking and can be made in different sizes based on your spoon size and the size of the dessert.

take a look on some of the geographic threads here on eG where people post photos of dinners at the French Laundry, Per Se, WD50, Alinea, etc. and you will see an abundance of smooth quenelles. you will not achieve the same gracefulness with a quenelle shaped scoop which is more like an oval and will leave you with dirty edges because of the release mechanism.

sometimes a rosette of whipped cream just isn't appropriate. and when it comes to ice cream, the one spoon technique just can't be beat for speed (if you're good at it, of course).

the three sided quenelle is more used on the savory side when you're trying to shape something that has a different texture...like a tepenade or a rillette (sp?) or something like that. then, only two spoons will do the job.

#18 panini

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 06:44 PM

Quote
Not to disparage the quenelle, but personally, I've never found it to be very attractive. I think "football blobby thing" describes it quite accurately. I've never really understood what the big deal is. I like to do anything BUT that shape.

I must respectfully disagree about the Quenelle :shock: . A perfect Quenelle will look as though it is floating atop what ever it may be garnishing. In many prepared dishes it will be a garnish that will add just the right amout of richness, lightness, and finish. It can make a dense or rich item appear to be lighter, not only in looks but in taste.
There should be nothing blobby about a quenelle.
The only trick is to approach your medium with a closed spoon. Open requires to many swipes to achieve perfection. By closed spoon, I'm referring to the top of the spoon as you begin your swipe inwards towards yourself. Assuming you're holding the spoon like the handle of a bicycle, the top edge should be pointing towards your face or chest closing the opening between the cream and the top of your spoon. Does that make sense?
Luv the Quenelle :wink: If it's not perfect then go commando :shock:
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#19 Fugu

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 08:39 PM

Alamoana, thanks for explanation, I appreciate it very much.

#20 chefpeon

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 09:44 PM

As they say, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder".

#21 Qwerty

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 10:29 PM

There is a certain angle that seems to work better too. Like it was stated, think of the side of the bowl as the "other spoon" in a traditional quenelle, and use that as the opposing force while spooning the side. It may be more of a shallow angle than you think it might be...don't know what "degree" the angle should be at, but, just make some whipped cream and practice. Shouldn't take TOO long before you get the hang of it.

#22 reenicake

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 08:36 PM

Another point while you're learning, don't try to quenelle something that is too soft. Start from a fresh point on the bowl each time, not with the melted stuff that dropped from your spoon before.
I like to quenelle with a warm spoon -- dunked in hot water, the moisture shaken off on a towel every time.

#23 pupkinpie2

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 12:59 AM

I was taught the single spoon quenelle technique at a fine dining restaurant in NYC. There are a few pointers that can help you achieve success, but like other posts the easiest way to do it is to buy a tub of ice cream or cool whip (never thought of that, but that sounds like a good idea).

Make sure you have some hot water handy. Hot tap water is good. Boiling water can be too hot and you end up melting the ice cream before you get it qunelled. If the ice cream is at the proper temp and is the proper consistency cold water will work.

A ordinary teaspoon works fine.

Work from the center of the container toward you. You are basically just scraping the top of the surface of the ice cream and allowing it to curl around it self. When you reach the side of the container you can press the quenelle to compact it, then finish shaping it.

Most of the time when working with ice cream you may not get a quenelle the first time. I mean you may have to go back and forth between the ice cream and the hot water 2-5 times to perfect the quenelle and get it perfect. If you acheive a perfect quenelle, but it sticks to the spoon, warm it up on your hand to release it. The warmth of your hand is enough.

I find that the corner a 1/3rd pan or a 1/6th pan is great a achieving a quenelle. Its the same size as the spoon and you can use it to your advantage. After you master that, then you can try to form quenelles free form. You can buy 1/3 and 1/6 pans at a local restaurant supply store for under $10, but a lid and reuse them at home :).

When working with whip cream or cool whip you have to work fast, as it will melt much faster than ice cream. Also, hot water is a must. I think a blow torch is uneven and can get the spoon too hot. Unlike ice cream where you can go back to the same quenelle if its not perfect, with whip cream you have a one time chance.

Have fun!

#24 Mikeb19

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 01:42 AM

After working the pastry section for a year or so (actually that would be working the hotline AND pastry section at the same time for a year), I'd perfected the 1 spoon quenelle (and many other pastry techniques, enough to get hired as a pastry chef).

Basically, a very hot spoon, and lots of practice. A 'scraping' motion is necessary rather than a scooping one.

Personally I prefer an iced cream scoop (those round ones which still make a smooth shape, but a more spherical one) to the spoon, but spoons are easy to procure and still make a nice quenelle.

#25 Mikeb19

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 01:47 AM

I've always made quenelles with 3 sides, not rounded. I've always thought that this was the industry standard? If my French Chef and Japanese Sous Chef saw imperfect quenelles, they made the apprentices re-do the whole tray and they are told to make up for the time that was wasted. It means you're working overtime without pay. 

If you're going to use one spoon to make the rounded variety, you might as well use a quenelle shaped icecream scoup. Are rounded quenelles accepted in pastry kitchens?

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Rounded quenelles (aka 1 spoon queenelles) are the standard in most pastry kitchens these days (when it comes to scooping iced cream, whipped cream, mousses, etc...). They look nice, you can scoop stuff out of shallow containers, and theres never a shortage of spoons in a kitchen so you can have many apprentices scooping around the clock (iced cream scoops always seem to disappear).

And yes, imperfect quenelles are still frowned upon, I've been yelled at a few times for it, and now I yell at others for it. A good one spoon quenelle should be a perfect egg shape, smooth all the way around.

#26 sbb1979

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 06:03 AM

Excellent, thank you all so much. I've got a lot to get on with now.

I've always thought of them as a very elegant touch to a dish and look forward to mastering them.

I'll put some photos up if I manage it! :raz:

#27 trekflyer

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 06:15 PM

no worries folks... i definitely ain't a pastry chef, but i do know how to make a killer quenelle, like said, hot hot spoon, NO scraping... it is a scoop.... i'll have a video up by tomorrow... i usually make a decent amount a night, so i'll bring in a camera to work and post on youtube.........