Monday, January 24, 2011

Volatile Compounds

So...I was talking with my friend (and now pastry chef at WD~50) today about flavor combinations. While we were chatting he brought up an intersting topic, volatile compounds in food. Basically a volatile compound is an organic and or chemical compound that can be found in food. I have not yet down much research on the topic but I can assure you I definitely will be. If you know what the chemical breakdown of certain foods are you can begin to match and pair flavor profiles with like chemical structures. Very intersting stuff. My friend told me there are books on the topic but they are extremely expensive. If anyone knows of any online databases or free lists of these compounds PLEASE post me a link. I would love to learn more about this fascinating subject.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tapioca Pearls

Tapioca pearls have to be one of my favorite ingredients in the pastry kitchen. I really love the versatility they give to a dish. They can impart a great deal of flavor as well as add a unique texture to your desserts. Tapioca is a starch derived from the cassava plant. The starch is then broken down into: powders, flakes, sticks, meal, and pearls. Tapioca pearls being the most common of the commercial starch. All of the forms powders, pearls etc. must be rehydrated before being cooked. When you begin to cook your tapioca pearls they will begin to absorb the moisture and begin to swell. After a few minutes they will begin to get very sticky and "snotty". I have found it very useful to rinse the gelatinous mixture from the pearls through a china cap with warm water, add the rinsed pearls back to your pot with your desired cooking liquid and cook over low heat stiring constantly. The tapioca pearls will become more and more translucent as they finish cooking. I always like to give them a taste to check there doneness. I usually pull them from the heat when there is a small spec of white in the middle of the pearl. You may want to cook them longer or shorter depending on your desired end result. Below are a few pics of some different sizes of tapioca pearls as well as a few of my favorite dishes that include tapioca pearls. Not in any specific order listed from the top picture down.....Oysters and Pearls- The French Laundry (not a dessert, but probably the best two bites I have ever put in my mouth), Pink Lady Apple Sorbet Set- The French Laundry, and Bubble Gum Shooter- Alinea.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Food Saver

When you usually think of food savers your thoughts might take you to your at home vacuum sealer. My thoughts take me to the pastry kitchen. Yes I do have an at home food saver. I usually use it for marinating and sealing products to be frozen. (extending the shelf life) Lately my fellow workers and I have been using the plastic food saver containers to aerate ice creams chocolate and even gels. Basically the process that we go through is this (for aerated ice cream): spin or pacotize your ice cream base as normal, pipe you spun ice cream into your food saver container, place the lid on and twist the cap to the open setting, place your food saver container into an industrial cryovac machine and start taking the air out, the ice cream will begin to boil and thus create air pockets, when the cycle has completed take you food saver with you aerated ice cream out of the cryovac machine and twist the cap to the closed setting thus trapping the air and preventing your ice cream from collapsing, reserve the container in a freezer until needed. I have also used these containers to aerate chocolate to form aerated chocolate deco and other interesting textures. What I would like to experiment on next is an aerated pate des fruits using this technique. Below are some pics of my at home food saver, the container used for making the aerated products, and the lid which shows the open/close valve.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Smoked Bread

We just started implementing a new bread at Corton. It is a lean dough mini baguette. What makes this bread unique and interesting is the fact that we smoke the flour and use a smoked beer in the recipe. We smoke the flour in hotel pans with hay. The bread flour itself imparts a great deal of smokiness from this process. We also use a smoked beer for some of the liquid in the recipe. By using both the smoked flour and the smoked beer the finished product has a very pleasant aroma and taste of smoke. Now all we need is some nice smoked butter and smoked salt to accompany it and then we will have smoke overload for one aspect of our bread service. Well done Blake thanks for coming in today. The pics are: the label from the smoked beer (dont ask me to pronounce it), and the baguettes proofing after preshaping and shaping.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

so good..

If you havent already figured it out so good magazine might possibly be the best magazine out there for pastry. I have always been a big fan since the first issue. This particular magazine comes out twice a year, and is a highly anticipated item for me. I have not purchased the most recent issue yet but I can assure you it will be bought very soon. There are a few individuals who I must congratulate for there appearances in my favorite magazine; Alex Stupak, Robert Truitt, Grant Achatz and Francisco Migoya. Well done gentleman you all set the example.