Friday, April 30, 2010

Alinea's Desserts

I had the pleasure of eating for the second time at Alinea last night. Both my girlfriend and I enjoyed it very much. We both enjoyed three sweet courses to finish our meal. The first couple pictures are of Earl Grey, which was brought out on a pillow that was perfumed with the scent of earl grey. The dessert consisted of lemon curd spheres, crystallized pine nuts, cookie crumble, carmelized white chocolate, and I believe a rose water gelee. The second dessert we enjoyed was their Chocolate dessert. It consisted of coconut gel, menthol, hyssop, frozen coconut, frozen chocolate mousse, warm chocolate "puck", and a chocolate crumble. The third and our final course was there classic bubble gum shooter, which was filled with a long pepper gelee, hibiscus gel, creme fraiche, and bubble gum tapioca. Overall our meal was fantastic. I look forward to the next time I eat at Alinea.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My thoughts

First and foremost I focus on flavor, and how I can get the most from my product. I usually start each dessert with a flavor profile of 3-4 main flavors that I want my dessert to consist of. You have to think that if you use too many flavors in your desserts things might get “lost”. Sometimes less is more if you know what I mean. When I go to a restaurant or a bakery, I always eat with my eyes. I believe that customers will always eat with there eyes first. People are not going to come into your establishment if your food does not look appetizing. So another main focus of mine is to make my desserts visually appealing. I really enjoy movement in desserts. I like to kind of stray from the more classical symmetry that I have seen in a lot of desserts lately. I guess you could say I like more organic and whimsical shapes. Another thing I like to focus on is color in my desserts. Being a marketing major I have learned that each color in our spectrum introduces and provokes a different emotional response in people. It is through these emotional responses that feelings are formed. Each color represents something else. So, playing with different colors and components you can in turn begin to delve into the minds of your guests. I also try to focus on technique whether it be classical or more modern. I believe that you must have a strong foundation of technique. These are just a few of the things that float around in my brain when I begin to work on a new dessert. To be continued….

Monday, April 26, 2010

New Hering Plate


This is a picture of a new hering plate we recieved at L20. Im not sure if it is new to the restaurant or just new to the menu. When I first saw Laurent pull this plate out I fell in love. A crowd of eager chefs soon circled to see the plate for themselves. Hering must have broken a lot of plates drilling the holes. I am not quite sure what the actual name of the plate is or the exact price. I would imagine a single plate would cost $400-600. (don't quote me on that).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Plates Continued...

I wanted to share with you pictures of different plates that I have acquired over the past few years at per se, Alinea, and L20. I really get inspired by seeing beautiful china. My mind starts thinking of different dessert components that could both compliment each other and also compliment the lines of the plate. Plates are a big expense in a restaurants budget. I have been witness to quite a few mishaps in the kitchen when stacks of plates have been broken, servers dropping trays, porters dropping plates, etc. It might be one of the worst sounds in a quite kitchen during service. The CRASH of a tray stacked full of a 6 tops entrees, the kitchen going silent in the horror, the chef stares in shock, the server’s remorse. At per se any plate that was chipped or disfigured in any way was discarded immediately. This attention to detail can cost a restaurant hundreds if not thousands of dollars on a single “accident”. I have been fortunate enough to be around and lay claim to the restaurants expenses.

per se

Alinea


















L20

Monday, April 19, 2010

Alcohol "Gums"


The pictures that you see are taken at L20 and are of mezcal “gum”. Essentially it is a gelee made from gelatin and sugar with mezcal alcohol as the flavoring. I have made other gums using the same formula but with different alcohol flavorings. The texture is that of a gummy bear, but with pure alcohol flavoring. A grown up gummy bear if you will. The formula consists of the alcohol flavoring bloomed with powdered gelatin. Another mixture of the same alcohol, sugar, and glucose is heated to 125 degrees C, and then cooled to 100 degrees. The bloomed alcohol and gelatin mix is added to the cooled sugars, with a third amount of the alcohol. The finished gelee is funneled into oiled silicon molds to set in refrigeration. I would imagine that any liquid could be replaced in the formula to add flavor (fruit purees etc.) I think the finished product is an interesting way to add a different textural element to your desserts.










Friday, April 16, 2010

Hering Plates






I really have a thing for plates. I love going to restaurants and seeing what kind of plates they use. Some of my favorite plates are made by a German company called Hering. Mostly all of there plates have the same type of design on them, they are all made from porcelain, and are all very expensive. I have had the plasure of plating on hering plates/bowls at both per se and L20. At L20 we use about 85% hering plates, which makes me very happy. In my opinion picking the right plate for your dessert is a major decision that takes time.




Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New Dessert

On my days off I really enjoy coming up with new dessert ideas in my own kitchen. All of the pictures in "My Desserts" have been made at home in my kitchen. I own a lot of idustrial chemicals that help me to achieve the products in the pictures. I also own a lot of tools that I rely on to create my desserts (immersion blender, thermowhip, vitaprep, atomizer, etc etc.) I really hope that I can inspire more chefs to cook and test recipes in the comfort of there own home. I know that after 14 hour days that is the last thing that most of you would want to do. But hey this dessert only took about an hour to make from start to finish.


Apricot, Lemon Confit, Orange Confit, Lemon Gel, Apricot Gel, Vanilla Bavarois, Heavy Cream Powder, Orange Candy, Orange Sorbet

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cotton Candy


When I think of cotton candy I think of my childhood, going to the fair and begging my parents for the “blue” cotton candy while my sister would have to get the “pink”. Today cotton candy machines can be seen in a lot of this countries top restaurants. The video below shows me making some cotton candy for a dessert for a private party. The dessert is a chocolate and raspberry soup, fresh raspberries, chocolate plaques, raspberry cream, cotton candy, and freeze dried raspberries. The first picture shows the front panel on our “candy floss” machine. It has a temperature gauge where you can increase or decrease the temperature of the heating element in the machine. The second picture shows the actual heating element and the centrifuge where the heated sugar is extracted. Candy floss (cotton candy) is a very versatile product. It can be used as is, rolled thin and used as a “wrapper”, flattened and torched to form whimsical tuiles. Cotton candy can also be flavored after it is spun by simply sifting a flavoring component on top. Cotton Candy has come a long way from just being seen at your local fair, or ball game.





video

Sunday, April 11, 2010

My Itinerary

I can not wait for the next few months. I have the opportunity to go and stage at 2 of this countries top restaurants. At the beginning of May I will be traveling to NY to work at WD50 for 2 weeks. I am excited to work with the pastry chef Alex Stupak, and my good friend Malcolm (worked together at per se). I have had the opportunity to eat some of Alex’s desserts on several different occasions, and have never been disappointed. He is a very talented chef. After my trip to the big apple I will then be headed cross country to The French Laundry for three months. I can’t wait to see the Napa Valley for the first time. I am very fortunate to get the chance to work with this countries top chefs. Courtney Schmidig is the pastry chef at the Laundry. I have never had the chance to meet her but I hear nothing but good things from all of my friends at per se. I do know that she took over the pastry chef position shortly after Claire Clark left. I really enjoy traveling, and being able to work in these restaurants while seeing the United States is the perfect combination. I am always trying to learn new things in my career. I strongly believe that by surrounding yourself with talented people is the best way to learn new things. I will be doing just that in the coming months.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Fried Gelatin

A couple years back a friend of mine told me a story about how he was wondering what would happen if you drop a gelatin leaf in fryer oil. Well it turns out the gelatin leaf immediately crackles and puffs up like a chicharone (pork rind). When I tasted the fried gelatin leaf it was very unpleasant. I have been thinking of a way to get the same effect from the gelatin but actually be able to use it in a dessert. I would think if you bloom the gelatin in a very concentrated solution (yuzu juice or a concentrated puree) and then dehydrate the bloomed gelatin it would in turn be dry enough to “puff” in the oil and actually be palatable. I have not yet tried this technique yet, but it makes sense to me that it could work. I will come back to this topic as soon as I come up with a recipe that works.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Mezcal Granite

The video below is a short clip of me making a mezcal granite with liquid nitrogen. Mezcal is a distilled alcohol made from the maguey plant (type of agave). It's flavor reminds me of tequila with smokey notes. I am going to be pairing this granite with roasted pineapple, compressed pineapple, cajeta ice cream ( burnt goats milk caramel), candied jalapeno, and salt.
video

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Inspiration

When I start to conceptualize a dessert I draw from a few different things. One of those things are books. I really enjoy sitting down and reading in my spare time. The only books that manage to hold my attention are cookbooks. I have compiled a short list of books (in no particular order) that inspire me. These books are written by chefs who I truly admire and look up to. The books listed provide a plethora of insight into the world of pastry.
Siete- Paco Torreblanca, Oriol Balaguer, Jordi Pujol, Ramon Morato, Carles Mampel, Miguel Sierra, and Jacob Torreblanca
Natura- Albert Adria
Chocolates and Confections- Peter P. Greweling
Frozen Desserts- Francisco J. Migoya
Paco Torreblanca 2- Paco Torreblanca




Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Coffee Egg Noodle

You Can watch the video at : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kf1uvAOxV2s&feature=player_embedded


Coffee Noodle Recipe:
200g Egg Yolk
20g Instant Coffee
1:1 Sugar: Water

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Accuracy


As you all should know by now accuracy plays a huge role in pastry world. In the pastry kitchen each recipe is weighed and calculated appropriately. Tools like this thermocouple help me to achieve ideal results in my desserts. This particular model is the Therma Plus Ultra Rugged Waterproof thermocouple by Thermoworks (probably one of my favorite tools). It comes with a pretty hefty price tag $189.00. There are plenty of other models that are just as nice but a little more cost effective. Thermoworks also makes another model that I have used called the Thermapen which has a price tag of only $99. Whether you are going to use the most expensive model or the cheaper alternative accuracy is still your focus. If you are going to splurge on an expensive thermometer you want to check for a few things: response times (how long it takes to get a reading), the range (how high/low your thermometer will read), calibration (usually comes with a certificate), battery life (how long your thermometer will last), F or C (whether your thermometer will read in Fahrenheit or Celsius), and finally accuracy (usually to .1%). All of these factors will determine how much your thermometer will cost. When it all comes down to it the thermometer will pay for itself in the quality of your finished products.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Introduction

My name is Russell Karath and I am a Pastry Chef. I created this blog because I want to share my experience, views, and opinions about modern pastry. I have a strong passion for the highest quality ingredients I can find, whether it be the best chocolate (Valrhona or Amedei), or the freshest produce. My goal is to make people happy.

That being said, I have found that by using modern techniques and ingredients you can transform many different foods into fascinating new flavors/ textures. By having the knowledge of how each ingredient works in a recipe is crucial for the success of the final product. If you know this you can start to manipulate the ingredients to achieve something new.