Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

The Sweet Spot by Pichet Ong


Recommended Posts

I just received a copy of Pichet Ong's Sweet Spot and see some interesting new ideas and formulas that I will have to try out. Last night I made the dragon devil's food cupcakes and they are amazing! Next time I will use less tea and more burbon in the ganache, otherwise, spot on.

Does anyone else have this book? What are your thoughts?

Dan

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Its not been my favorite book. I always have to consider that my elevation is the problem, but of the 10 or so recipes I've made, none have been quite right. This morning I tried the pistachio rose cookies, which tasted good, but again, they didn't bake quite right. I do like it because its offering something slightly different in terms of flavor profiles.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Like gfron1, I am intrigued by the ideas and flavor combinations, but the execution seemed a little off.

For instance, the mango pudding recipe specifies 6 mangoes *corrected*, but doesn't even give a cup volume. Last time I checked, mangoes varied widely in size.

If I recall correctly, the castella recipe calls for added oil. Which is just plain wrong/unnecessary. Fats are never added to castella. Call it something else.

The raspberry pudding recipe doesn't call for the seeds to be strained, and the raspberry/sugar quantities seemed off. (I strained anyway.) The result was too sour and lacking in sweetness, even for my tastes. The recipe is also not particularly helpful for substitutions, and the lack of weights is a minus. Still, I am looking forward to trying more recipes from the book.

Edited by sanrensho (log)
Baker of "impaired" cakes...
Link to post
Share on other sites
Like gfron1, I am intrigued by the ideas and flavor combinations, but the execution seemed a little off.

I bought this book based on reputation, but then had dessert at p*ong. Execution was so terrible (on everything) that I've been afraid to make any recipes from the book! So far I've just used it as reference for flavor ideas.

Notes from the underbelly

Link to post
Share on other sites

How was the execution terrible or wrong?

I don't get it ( as in going to the restaurant).

Also, the book was written 3 years ago, published 2 years ago, is he still doing those desserts at P*ONG?

On a regular basis?

Edited by tan319 (log)

2317/5000

Link to post
Share on other sites
How was  the execution terrible or wrong?

I don't get it ( as in going to the restaurant).

The desserts were badly made. They seemed like good ideas in terms of flavor combinations, but proportions and plating and all kinds of other details defeated them. I don't know if the issue was the recipes or the cook who assembled them.

Notes from the underbelly

Link to post
Share on other sites

Not to niggle but "proportions, plating ( and all other details", Whatever they might be ) would seem to be sort of subjective.

What you or I think is an awful plating, balance of food, others might find breathtaking and sublime.

The only reason I care about this is that as a pastry chef, a restaurant pastry chef, you can send something out and a customer may not like it, just because of how it looks, etc.

Truly.

I once had a lemon napoleon on a menu that used shards of caramelized phyllo as the pastry layer.

I send it, 10 minutes later go to check on something and see it on the pick up station.

I inquire as to why it hasn't gone to the customer yet and am told that it was taken and the customer refused it because "he didn't know how to eat it"!

If there was something "wrong" with the actual food on the plate, that's one thing.

If you don't like P. Ong's esthetic, that's another

2317/5000

Link to post
Share on other sites
Not to niggle but "proportions, plating ( and all other details", Whatever they might be ) would seem to be sort of subjective.

What you or I think is an awful plating, balance of food, others might find breathtaking and sublime.

The only reason I care about this is that as a pastry chef, a restaurant pastry chef, you can send something out and a customer may not like it, just because of how it looks, etc.

Truly.

Well, I didn't mean to imply that there was spoiled cream involved, or bugs running around on the plate. But I stand by my appraisal of "terrible," having eaten a lot of good desserts, including ones at similarly experimental spots. We also specifically ordered the two recommended by the house. I'm betting you wouldn't have liked them.

The one that stands out most was a warm date cake soaked in rum syrup with creme fraiche, rhubarb, and kumquats. If it had just been a country style date cake in soaking syrup, and made well, it would have been great. But there were two problems: it was made poorly, and then the attempts to make it more interesting took it nowhere. Worst problem was that the cake depended on soaking syrup for moistness, but there was about 1/4 the amount of syrup required for this, all of it pooled at the bottom. So save for a couple of good bites, the cake was as dry as an old shoe. Then there were the secondary components: creme fraiche (a good, conservative choice ... but such a tiny smear on the edge of the plate that it was useless); rhubarb (tasty, but very similar in texture and even flavor to the two or three moist bites of the cake); and kumquat (the only part that was interesting and that worked).

This is the kind of thing I'm talking about. The other dessert we had (also recommended by the staff) was better but only a little.

You can see how I'm left wondering if the problem was with the recipe or the execution. The recipe might have been written with these proportions, or it might not have. I haven't been bold enough to try recipes from the book, because I don't want to spend an afternoon of my life only to end up with such a disappointment on my plate. Instead I've been playing it safe, thumbing through the book looking for general ideas to play with.

And I'll be following this thread closely, looking to see if there are recipes people love.

Notes from the underbelly

Link to post
Share on other sites

I looked through the book a little more thoroughly and was not as impressed as I first was. Some of the recipes seem to be "asian inspired" by adding ginger or cinnamon. I want to try the rice flour doughnuts, if I can find some glutinous rice flour that is kosher.

Dan

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Not to niggle but "proportions, plating ( and all other details", Whatever they might be ) would seem to be sort of subjective.

What you or I think is an awful plating, balance of food, others might find breathtaking and sublime.

The only reason I care about this is that as a pastry chef, a restaurant pastry chef, you can send something out and a customer may not like it, just because of how it looks, etc.

Truly.

Well, I didn't mean to imply that there was spoiled cream involved, or bugs running around on the plate. But I stand by my appraisal of "terrible," having eaten a lot of good desserts, including ones at similarly experimental spots. We also specifically ordered the two recommended by the house. I'm betting you wouldn't have liked them.

The one that stands out most was a warm date cake soaked in rum syrup with creme fraiche, rhubarb, and kumquats. If it had just been a country style date cake in soaking syrup, and made well, it would have been great. But there were two problems: it was made poorly, and then the attempts to make it more interesting took it nowhere. Worst problem was that the cake depended on soaking syrup for moistness, but there was about 1/4 the amount of syrup required for this, all of it pooled at the bottom. So save for a couple of good bites, the cake was as dry as an old shoe. Then there were the secondary components: creme fraiche (a good, conservative choice ... but such a tiny smear on the edge of the plate that it was useless); rhubarb (tasty, but very similar in texture and even flavor to the two or three moist bites of the cake); and kumquat (the only part that was interesting and that worked).

This is the kind of thing I'm talking about. The other dessert we had (also recommended by the staff) was better but only a little.

You can see how I'm left wondering if the problem was with the recipe or the execution. The recipe might have been written with these proportions, or it might not have. I haven't been bold enough to try recipes from the book, because I don't want to spend an afternoon of my life only to end up with such a disappointment on my plate. Instead I've been playing it safe, thumbing through the book looking for general ideas to play with.

And I'll be following this thread closely, looking to see if there are recipes people love.

It doesn't sound like a recipe problem, it sounds like maybe a product could have been held for too long.

We've all probably pushed some things a bit, once or twice in our lives...

Execution would mean the technique with which it was made maybe wasn't good?

I think Pichet is a pretty solid chef, you don't get there with just bullsh-t, no?

Cookbooks are a gamble.

2317/5000

Link to post
Share on other sites
It doesn't sound like a recipe problem, it sounds like maybe a product could have been held for too long.

We've all probably pushed some things a bit, once or twice in our lives...

I think it was more than just holding. There were issues with the proportions of the components, and their flavor/texture relationships to each other. I still don't know if these were dud recipes or if they were just poorly executed by the staff.

Notes from the underbelly

Link to post
Share on other sites
And I'll be following this thread closely, looking to see if there are recipes people love.

Hi guys, I was gifted a copy of the book and have made three recipes from it so far.

1) honey castella: hmm, I realize that traditional castella doesn't have oil but I did see a recipe by a Japanese chef that used melted butter, so I didn't mind that particular variation. (Though I would probably use an equal weight of melted butter next time instead of oil, for the flavor.) Authentic or not, the cake was very good (and everyone loved the silky crust that formed), and it was one of the fastest-disappearing cakes I've ever made.

2) almond tofu with fresh fruit cocktail: Not really tofu but tau-hu (... or gelatinized soy milk?). I didn't use almond milk (was a little extravagant for my tastes)-- used regular milk with almond extract, sigh, but the pudding had a lovely, light texture. I'm surprised he didn't include pineapple in the fruit cocktail, because I thought it could have used a bit of acidity. I definitely would have liked it more than the nectarine I'd bought. Anyway, this is quite a simple recipe, and it's hard to mess up really.

3) pineapple lime mascarpone tart: this is the one that has pineapples "roasted" in palm sugar, over a lime-mascarpone cream. The asian-ness of this is a little forced really but it did strike a good balance. Gone quickly too (served at a party), guests asked for recipe. Gfron1 served something similar but I take it he didn't enjoy it as much as my guests did :)

What I would like to try in the future is the malt chocolate cake (if I can get myself to buy a can of malt powder just for this purpose). I'm not too keen on cookies etc. with coconut in them.

Mark

The Gastronomer's Bookshelf - Collaborative book reviews about food and food culture. Submit a review today! :)

No Special Effects - my reader-friendly blog about food and life.

Link to post
Share on other sites
It doesn't sound like a recipe problem, it sounds like maybe a product could have been held for too long.

We've all probably pushed some things a bit, once or twice in our lives...

I think it was more than just holding. There were issues with the proportions of the components, and their flavor/texture relationships to each other. I still don't know if these were dud recipes or if they were just poorly executed by the staff.

Sorry but talking about "issues with the proportions of components and their flavor/texture...'' blah is just subjective rhetoric .

Have you ever worked in a restaurant before?

Are you a chef?

The only issue is whether you enjoyed the food or not and you clearly didn't.

2317/5000

Link to post
Share on other sites
Sorry but talking about "issues with the proportions of components and their flavor/texture...'' blah  is just subjective rhetoric .

Have you ever worked in a restaurant before?

Are you a chef?

The only issue is whether you enjoyed the food  or not and you clearly didn't.

I kinda have to disagree with you. Food opinions are completely subjective and one person's perfection may be another's nightmare but to say "the chef knows best, you just liked it or didn't like it and don't have the ability or knowledge to say what you didn't like about it" is extremely condescending. And yes, I cook in a restaurant and for a catering company as well. If a customer tells me "there's way too much cinnamon in that ice cream" then I'm going to investigate the possibility. Not just say "you're wrong, you just don't like cinnamon".

Edited by Tri2Cook (log)

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Sorry but talking about "issues with the proportions of components and their flavor/texture...'' blah  is just subjective rhetoric .

That's a dismissal of the whole endeavor of criticism. Who cares if I liked it or not if I don't give reasons? I tried to give as much context and detail as possible, so readers would realize that I'm expressing something besides a stylistic preference ("don't like weird stuff!") or something so personal as to be irrelevent ("kumquats are gross!").

I have enough experience with desserts to see what the intensions were behind the ones we had. I understood what flavors and textures they were going for with date cake. I understood why creme fraiche and the other components were there. My sense of the dessert having failed is based largely on it falling short of its own implicit goals.

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

Link to post
Share on other sites
Sorry but talking about "issues with the proportions of components and their flavor/texture...'' blah  is just subjective rhetoric .

Have you ever worked in a restaurant before?

Are you a chef?

The only issue is whether you enjoyed the food  or not and you clearly didn't.

I kinda have to disagree with you. Food opinions are completely subjective and one person's perfection may be another's nightmare but to say "the chef knows best, you just liked it or didn't like it and don't have the ability or knowledge to say what you didn't like about it" is extremely condescending. And yes, I cook in a restaurant and for a catering company as well. If a customer tells me "there's way too much cinnamon in that ice cream" then I'm going to investigate the possibility. Not just say "you're wrong, you just don't like cinnamon".

The last word I'm saying on this...

Tri-2 Cook, I don't think I said anything about chefs knowing best.

I said people screw up sometimes ( if they did).

I should have said that the only issue should be whether or not you enjoyed the food.

I was asking if paulrapheal was a working chef, cook, etc.

I know that you are.

My point is, if a customer said to me, the server, whomever, "this cinnamon ice cream is inedible", of course I would investigate to see if someone forgot the sugar or whatever.

But if a customers point is "your portion of ice cream you're serving is too small" or "there's not enough creme fraiche" , I would consider the comment but probably wouldn't change it.

If I'm at a restaurant and need some more creme fraiche, I ask for it.

If the cake is stale or dry, I say "excuse me, this cake seems awfully dry, is that the way it's supposed to be served?" or "this doesn't seem very fresh" , something like that.

Is that a bad idea?

You or we are paying for it.

If the point of the post in the first place was to criticize a meal at P*ONG why not post it in the Dining section?

But since we're supposed to be talking about cookbooks I will say that there's very few cookbooks in that "Sweet Spot" range, where maybe something or more doesn't seem to slip by.

I remember getting a look at Patricia Yeo's cookbook from a few years ago and trying some of her dessert recipes and none of them turned out stellar.

Maybe I suck or maybe the recipe wasn't tested very well.

I don't think I would screw up four different dessert recipes.

A recipe for Pierre Herme's Pain d'epice on "Serious Eats" that Dorie Greenspan had on there turned out dryer than a bone to a point where I wrote her and asked if an egg or two might be missing or something ( I didn't hear back but am sure she missed the email, she's very kind & considerate.)

I made it again, added some eggs, some pear puree instead of juice to give some wetness, still kind of dry though.

Jump to now, I get PH10, look at Herme's recipe and there's eggs, orange marmalade,glucose, etc.

Did Serious Eats ( where the recipe was) edit her recipe or did something get chopped out on the internet?

Corn syrup is switched in for glucose in "home" cooks cookbooks all of the time, that's no hassle, it would seem.

If you have to edit that many ingredients out, what's the point?

But, I'm not sorry I tried them, never know until you do.

Cook some stuff out of 'Sweet Spot', that Vietnamese Coffee Tart is a signature, the coconut bread pudding, easy.

Any of those panna cotta-ish puddings , ditto.

But, since this one of the few American cookbooks to feature metric weights, invest 28 bucks or so and get one like an "Escali scale if you don't already have a scale.

Good Luck! :smile:

Edited by tan319 (log)

2317/5000

Link to post
Share on other sites
But if a customers point is "your portion of ice cream  you're serving is too small" or "there's not enough creme fraiche" , I would consider the comment but probably wouldn't change it.

I tried to make it clear that my comments on proportions weren't about simple preferences, like "I want more ice cream." They were about the effectiveness of the dessert. The cake depended on soaking syrup for the intended consistency and flavor, and there wasn't enough of it. Result was a cake dry to the point of being unpleasant.

My comment about the creme fraiche was closer to an esthetic judgement, but was still based on effectiveness of the dessert. The creme was presented as a sauce, for the purpose of moistening the dessert. And as with many '80s and '90s style "smear a dab of sauce on the perimeter of the plate" presentations, it wasn't usefull as such. And this was a dessert that needed additional moistening to be edible.

And I had other issues with how well conceived the desserts were ... unlike my other gripes, this is a matter of pure opinion, but is also one more directly relevent to how much I might like the cookbook.

If the point of the post in the first place was to criticize a meal at P*ONG why not post it in the Dining section?

A reasonable question, but my intent wasn't to review the restaurant--only to express why I've lost enthusiasm for trying the recipes. I tried to make it clear that my problems at the restaurant might have had nothing to do with the recipes themselves. But they still arowsed my warriness.

And again, i look forward to reading any positive reviews in this thread ... they could easily encourage me dive back into the book.

Notes from the underbelly

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Similar Content

    • By Rushina
      What would you like to be included in a cookbook you classify as a "good cookbook"?
      Rushina
    • By Multiwagon
      Other than the three written by Michael Ruhlman, which I have read and loved, what other books are out there that are about cooking, but not cookbooks?
    • By OliverB
      I just received a copy of "The Cook's Book - Concise Edition" edited by Jill Norman, and now I'm curious, what's the difference to the full edition? Supposedly it has 648 pages compared to 496 in this edition, and it appears to be much larger in size if the info on us.dk.com is correct. Other than that I can't find any info what the difference might be. It's a neat book with lots of photos about techniques etc, and lots of recipes. As with any DK book production values are high.
      If the contents are the same, I'm happy with the smaller version, but I'd really like to know what I might be missing on those 150 or so pages. If it's just filler, I don't care. If it's some fantastic recipes, I do care....
      Anybody here know both editions? Google was so far of no help. Lots of the full edition are to be had used as well, I'd be happy giving this one as a gift and ordering the full edition, if it's worth it.
      Thanks!
      Oliver
    • By devlin
      Say you were rounded up with a group of folks and either had a skill to offer in exchange for a comfy room and some other niceties or were sent off to a slag heap to toil away in the hot sun every day for 16 hours, what 3 books would you want to take with you to enable you to cook and bake such fabulous foodstuffs that your kidnappers would keep you over some poor schlub who could cook only beans and rice and the occasional dry biscuit?
    • By mixmaster b
      I am interested in getting some cookbooks that cover the basics of pastry and baking--not bread, necessarily, but dessert, cakes, cookies, etc. I searched a few other cookbook threads but did not have luck on finding books on pastry.
      My interest is in fairly classic French and European style baking, and I need a book that covers technique. Pictures would also be much appreciated--I like both the step by step pix or great pictures of the end product.
      Right now, I have Desserts and Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme. (I love these and have had good results from the recipes, but feel I should start with a more classic approach.) La Varenne Pratique has provided some good starting points, but I would like to find a book with more focus on baking.
      I was thinking about the Payard book. Any comments? Suggestions would be much appreciated! In case it applies, I am a home cook and am slightly more skilled than a total beginner.
      Thanks!
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...