Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fried Tapioca

One of Blakes components to his "Blueberry Cheesecake" dessert was very interesting to me and I thought deserved its own post. The component was fried tapioca pearls which he used to add both texture and a unique flavor. The technique he used to create these little fried morsels was really cool. He basically cooked large tapioca pearls in water until they were fully cooked. He then took the pearls which still had some of the slimmy residue on them and spread them onto a dehydrator tray and dehydrated them overnight. (the picture above is the tapioca pearls that have been dehydrated) Blake then proceeded to break the sheet into smaller shards and fried them in grapeseed oil. The shards puffed up a lot as soon as he placed them in the frying oil. The pearl shards took less than a minute to fry in the oil. He took the pearls out and immdiately "seasoned" them with a mixture of freeze dried blueberry, buttermilk powder, and fennel pollen. I tasted the pearls before and after the seasoning. The pearls that were not seasoned had a very neutral flavor and a very crisp and crunchy texture. I really enjoyed learning a new technique for frying tapioca. I think the possibilities for flavoring the finished fried tapioca are endless. You might even try flavoring the cooking liquid that you cook the tapioca in before dehydration and frying. The picture below is a finished shard of fried tapioca after being seasoned. Thank you Blake for making a really awesome component and teaching me a new technique!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Blakes #2

"Blueberry Cheesecake"

Japanese style sponge, tarragon pebbles, candied anise, blueberry cremeux, fromage blanc mousse, absinthe palm seeds, absinthe drageed almonds, freeze dried blueberries, blueberry tapioca, fennel sorbet, fried tapioca dusted with buttermilk and fennel pollen

Well done Monsieur Blake.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Gel Sheets and Veils

I have seen and made quite a variety of different types of gel sheets/veils in the pastry kitchen. The actual technique of making most gel sheets is relatively straight forward. You are basically making a very thin sheet of a gel which you will use as a base, wrapper, or veil (a gel sheet that is draped over other ingredients) . Now when you are contemplating which ingredient you wish to gel you have to decide what type of texture, temperature, and application you will be using your gel sheet for. By doing so you can then decipher which hydrocolloid/s if any you are going to use for the specific finished dish. There are a lot of different combinations of gelling agents that can be used to achieve different results. If you want to make really elastic and malleable sheets you can use: straight gelatin, combinations of agar and kappa carageenan, and combinations of high and low acyl gellans. If you wish to make more brittle gels: you can use straight agar, straight low acyl gellan, locust bean gum and kappa carageenan, and agar and low acyl gellan. If you are using products that contain calcium you can use the combination of iota carageenan and gelatin, low methoxy pectins, and low acyl gellan. If you want to make cold sheets you can use: straight gelatin, agar, agar locust bean gum and xanthan, low methoxy pectin and a calcium suppliment such as calcium lactate or calcium gluconate, or I have even heard of chefs using aloe vera. If you want to make hot sheets you can use: high acyl gellan and sodium hexametaphosphate (a sequestrant used to improve stability), agar and locust bean gum, locust bean gum and xanthan gum, agar locust bean gum and sorbitol (a sugar alcohol) Basically a gel sheet or veil can be made from any type of gel that you wish to spread thin and set. By using this technique you can imbue a lot of your food with very delicate flavors, aromas, and textures. The picture above the post is of a past dish at Alinea using tropical fruits and a coconut gel sheet.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Top 3's

Top 3...Favorites

1)Milk chocolate, black bean, plantain, soy, peanut


Malcolm Livingston II

2)Toasted coconut cake, carob, smoked cashew, brown butter sorbet


Alex Stupak

3) "VIP Set"

Yuzu curd, seasonal fruit, yogurt, nigella, melon

The French Laundry

Daniel Michael Ryan

Top 3...Most memorable

1) "Mat-Plate"

Chocolate, blueberry, tobacco, maple


Grant Achatz/ Dave Beran

2) "Coffee and Doughnuts"

Cinnamon-Sugared Doughnuts, and Cappucino Semifreddo

The French Laundry/ per se

Courtney Schmidig/ Elwyn Boyles

3) Ambrosia Melon Sorbet, French Laundry Garden Strawberries
The French Laundry

Courtney Schmidig

Top 3... I wish I could have tried

1) "Creamsicle"

Rooibos, persimmon, orange blossom
Alex Stupak

2) Opera torte, orange blossom, apricot
-Jordan Kahn

3) "Shattered"
dark chocolate shards, milk chocolate cream, lavender gel, black olive, yogurt powder, silver sugar
-Jordan Kahn

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Modernist Cuisine

I finally recieved my copy of the Modernist Cuisine a few weeks ago. One word...Overwhelming. What Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, and Maxime Bilet have put together is brilliant. The wealth of knowledge that one can gain by this volume of books is just, well overwhelming. I have not even begun to scratch the surface of the series yet. Just reading the first couple pages about the authors is inspirational. I really believe that these books are going to instill a great deal of influence on a lot of today's chefs. The amount of work that must have went into making this series is mind boggling. The countless hours of trial, error and calculations should be motivation to us all. If you haven'y already ordered yourself a copy I highly suggest you get on it. I believe they have already sold out of there first printing and will soon be printing the second batch. There is only one drawback to the series and that is the heavty pricetag. I believe amazon is advertising it for $460. I wouldn't shy away from this book just because of the price, just start saving and ask mommy and daddy for some funds. I was ecstatic when my 50 pound box of knowledge showed up on my doorstep (or should I say mailroom) Though it took me about 20 minutes to open all the boxes it was well worth it. I can't say enough good things about this book. If you are at all interested in modern cooking techniques, ingredients, equipment and fundamentals I highly suggest to GO OUT AND BUY IT NOW. Here is one of my favorite pictures from the book. There cooking lab.

Sigh....I wish I had all of those toys