It is almost time for us to harvest. Our Fairy Tale Squash have survived the summer, the rains and our garden. Now after spending a season growing our first squash and working with the pieces as they developed we are at the point of no return. Now what we have nurtured is ready to nurture us with flavors and ideas.
Driving long distances provides a time to think. I often get bored on long drives and the mind wanders. As the mind begins to find a path to travel ideas begin surface. Several weeks ago we spent a lot of time cooking and working with king trumpet mushrooms. Usually we take an idea or ingredient and work through a number of variations and then leave it alone. The king trumpet mushroom was supposed to follow that model. Yet, as I drove, the dishes we worked through came to mind as did other recent ideas. And an image we took of the tops of the mushrooms popped up. We ended cutting up and smoking those mushroom tops, but the image made its point. The cut tops looked like something else, an ingredient we have worked with in the past and I spent a while trying to solve the visual mystery. It took some time and I placed the connection, the tops looked like abalone. While driving down the road the idea of treating the tops of these mushrooms as abalone had time to develop and grow. By the time I returned from the drive I was off to the store to get some mushrooms. We trimmed the mushrooms, reserving the stems for a new version of our charred stems and started cooking the caps. We sauteed the tops in olive oil and finished them in foaming butter. Once the mushrooms were cooked we added several spoonfuls of smoked kimchi juices to the pan to make a quick sauce. We sliced the mushroom tops as we would abalone and dressed the mushroom with the sauce. Finally we added a few garlic chive blooms to add explosive notes to the dish. The mushrooms look like abalone and taste like mushrooms. What is even more exciting is they have a texture reminiscent of abalone and with the smoked kimchee sauce a flavor of the sea.
I just cannot get enough cornflakes. They are my not so secret addiction. In this recipe the toasty flakes are transformed into something cool, creamy and delicious that literally melts in your mouth. The perfect accompaniment would be a hefty spoonful of two milk jam, perhaps spiked with a generous splash of good whiskey or some single barrel bourbon.
Cornflake Ice Cream
1000 grams Cornflake Milk (recipe below)
3.8 grams low acyl gellan
150 grams sugar
3 grams fine sea salt
92 grams egg yolk (about 5 large yolks)
300 grams heavy cream
Put 500 grams of cornflake milk into a pot set over medium heat and bring it to a simmer. Remove from heat and transfer to a blender. Turn the blender on low and increase the speed until a vortex forms. Sprinkle the gellan into the vortex and then puree the mixture for 30 seconds to fully disperse and hydrate the gellan. Pour the milk into a pyrex baking dish to cool at room temperature for 10 minutes. Refrigerate uncovered until completely chilled, about 30 minutes. It will form a firm block. Use a chef's knife to dice the milk gel into small pieces. Reserve in a covered container in the refrigerator.
Preheat a circulating water bath to 82.5°C
Put the sugar, salt and egg yolks into a clean blender and puree on high until they become light yellow in color and smooth in texture. Turn off the blender. Mix the cream and the remaining 500 grams cornflake milk together and pour them into the blender. Puree on low for 10-15 seconds to fully blend the egg and milk mixtures. Pour the base into a vacuum bag and seal. Cook in the circulating water bath for 30 minutes. Remove the ice cream base from the water bath and cut the bag open. Pour the ice cream base into a blender and turn it on low. Add the diced cornflake milk to the blender and then increase the speed to medium high. Puree the mixture until it is completely smooth. Pour the ice cream base into a metal bowl set over an ice bath and cool completely, stirring occasionally and replenishing the ice if needed, about 30 minutes. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.
250 grams cornflakes
1500 grams milk
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Put the cornflakes onto a baking sheet and toast for them for 20 minutes until they are dark brown but not burnt. Let them cool at room temperature until they are completely cool to the touch, about 20 minutes. Pour the milk into a large bowl and add the cooled cornflakes. Stir the cornflakes so they are fully combined with the milk. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 15 minutes to let the flavor to infuse. Strain the milk through a fine meshed sieve, pressing on the soggy flakes to exude as much milk as possible. Discard the soggy flakes and reserve the milk. It should yield 1000 grams of cornflake milk. Add a little fresh milk if it doesn't make enough.
After juicing several squash for an autumnal souffle we were left with a large pile of butternut pulp. We couldn't bring ourselves to discard it and tried to figure out how best to utilize it. The first thought that came to mind was to dehydrate it. Once dried we can use it in a variety of applications: coarsely ground for butternut polenta, as a fine powder to blend with spices for a seasoning rub for vegetables and proteins, as an ice cream topping, and as flour in noodles, tortillas, cakes and cookies. What would you do with dehydrated squash?
Sometimes we are inspired by an idea. Burrata at its best is a thin skin of mozzarella stretched over a mixture of soft chese curds and heavy cream. It is often served drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Burrata is delicate with a range of textures and flavors that unfold in your mouth. It is a singular taste sensation. As we discussed ideas for dessert preparations we were talking about pudding versus custard. In particular the smooth, creamy mouthfeel of pudding and the delicate texture of perfectly baked custard cups and how to bring them together. Our solution was this banana burrata. Although meant to be a dessert course, the burrata is dressed with lemon olive oil, fleur de sel and cracked black pepper. We found that these savory accents really showcased the banana's sweet, soft intensity. Now that we have the technique we can exprapolate flavors and see what evolves next. As always please remember that the better your ingredients, the better your finished dish.
900 grams half and half
600 grams sliced banana
400 grams maple syrup
200 grams banana chips
5.2 grams salt
6.4 grams agar agar
0.7 grams locust bean gum
Put the half and half, sliced banana, maple syrup, banana chips and salt into a medium saucepot. Bring the mixture to a simmer and turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let the mixture steep for 10 minutes and then strain the mixture, discarding the solids. Transfer the banana base to a blender and turn onto low. When a vortex forms in the mixture sprinkle in the agar and the locust bean gum and blend for 15 seconds to disperse the powders. Transfer the banana mixture into a clean pot and bring to a simmer. Adjust the heat to maintain a slow boil and cook the banana mixture for 5 minutes and then pour the base into a Pyrex baking dish to cool.
Divide the banana gel into 3 equal parts. Reserve the first part in the refrigerator. Put the second part of banana base into the blender and puree until it is silky smooth. Pour it into a medium bowl. Put the third part of the banana base on a cutting board and chop into fine irregular pieces that resemble the curds of cottage cheese. Add the chopped banana puree to the bowl with the puree and mix gently with a spatula to combine. It should look like soft cottage cheese. Cut 16 10-by-10-cm pieces of plastic wrap and lay them flat on the counter. Put 2 tablespoons of the banana mixture in the center of each square. Pull the corners of the plastic up around the mixture so that it is completely encased and then twist the plastic wrap so the banana is encased in a small parcel. Use a small piece of butchers twine to tie the end of the parcel so the banana remains tightly wrapped in an oval shape. Put these parcels on a flat tray and put them in the freezer to solidify, at least 3 hours. Any left over mixed banana may be reserved with the banana gel in the refrigerator.
Remove the parcels from the freezer and remove the plastic wrap. Put them back on the tray and return them to the freezer. Put the reserved banana gel in a small, deep pot and slowly warm it up so that it becomes liquid. Keep it over a low flame and stir occasionally. When it is completely melted, remove half of the frozen banana pieces from the freezer. Have a second clean tray nearby. Use a fine metal skewer to pierce one of the the frozen banana pieces and dip it into the melted banana mixture. Completely submerge the frozen banana in the melted mixture and then pull out. A skin of banana should have formed on the outside of the frozen banana. Dip the banana again into the melted mixture to add a second layer to the exterior. Once it is out of the hot mixture, gently place the coated banana on the clean tray, carefully removing the skewer. If the skewer hole does not close when the skewer is removed, use a small spoon to apply a drop of banana over the hole and to seal the skin. Repeat this procedure with the other pieces of frozen banana and move on to the second set of frozen banana. When all the banana is dipped and coated, cover loosely with plastic wrap and place the banana burrata into the refrigerator to continue thawing overnight. When thawed, the interior will be soft and creamy while the exterior will keep the banana encased.
It's Saturday, which to us is the perfect day to watch a video. This inspirational speech, via TED and through YouTube, was Steve Jobs' commencement speech for Stanford in 2005. It's still relevant, entertaining and definitely worth watching. Enjoy.
(Oddly there are 2 videos in this list, Strange because in spite of posting 2 videos in the last few weeks, it is not a common practice for us at all.)
We are working on baklava, or at least a dessert inspired by baklava. For those who don't know, baklava is a layered dessert consisting mainly of filo, honey, nuts and spices. Depending on where the baklava is made the nuts could be walnuts, pistachios and even sesame seeds. It can be flavored with rose or orange flower water and is usually quite sweet, sticky and aromatic. We decided to focus on pistachios because they are one of our favorite nuts. We loved the idea of layering finely chopped nuts and honey between the layers of thin dough but knew that there had to be a way to add flavor and possibly texture to the original. Our solution was to make a honey based pistachio toffee, grind it and sprinkle it between the layers. It added sweetness, butter and nuts all in one fell swoop with the caramelized flavor that came from cooking the sugar to add extra oomph. Frankly if you're not all that into baklava, the toffee is exceptionally delicious all by itself.
What day is it? Thursday? Already? Jeezum Crow. Where did the week go. We're juggling, which is generally a good thing because it means we're busy. Fine tuning a dessert menu we're working on for a restaurant. Finally tying up loose ends and signing a contract for our next book. Trying to work out ideas for a new project. Figuring out logistics for the Star Chefs Congress (still working on that). Two different out of town visitors, back to back. All in addition to dealing with the myriad small and large details of everyday life. Every day this week we've looked at the clock somewhere around 5-6pm and wondered where the day had gone and what the heck should we eat for dinner?. By all rights tonight we should have ordered pizza but there was this kimchi-marinating chicken in the fridge that needed to make it into the oven.
Why yes, I did say kimchi marinating chicken. It's inspired by the idea of Korean fried chicken, which we've heard of but never actually experienced. (Got to remedy that eventually, you know, when we find some extra time.) As I sit here writing this I am drawing a total blank on what exactly Korean fried chicken is but we had buttermilk and we had kimchi and somehow putting it all together made sense. We added a bit of Matouks West Indian hot sauce and some Red Boat Fish sauce to round things out. Then we breaded it and baked it in butter for oven fried chicken. We made a quick salad while the chicken rested and we were ready to go. DInner was on the table a little later than we may have wished for but it was delicious. Crispy and juicy, spicy and flavorful, and relatively easy to whip together. Even the leftovers (not sure there will be any) should be great straight from the refrigerator. Sometimes a small bit of planning ahead guarantees a good meal when you need it.
We started with cream and infused it overnight with oven dried corn husks and kombu. Once the cream was redolent of roasted corn and the sea we added yogurt and let the cream sit overnight in a warm space to culture. The next day we chilled the mixture and when it was thick and cold, really a creme fraiche, we churned it into butter. The result was two great products, a seasoned and aromatic butter and buttermilk.
Here is where we changed plans. Normally when you make butter you remove it from the buttermilk, rinse it and form it. Currently we are letting the churned butter marinate in the buttermilk to see how both flavors develop overtime. We marinate everything else in buttermilk why not the butter?
Currently our nasturtiums are growing on and over the woody trunks of last years basil plants. To the left grow the garlic chives and around the corner chives themselves. We were working with the stem of the king trumpet mushroom and charring it and marinating it with paprka and lemon oil. The resulting stem became the catalyst for bringing our weed patch to the plate. The marinated stem resembles a torched log not to far a thought from the basil weathered basil trunks in the weed patch. The chive roots are rinsed and seasoned with salt, charred lemon juice and the lemon-paprika-charred mushroom stem oil. The nasturtium stems and leaves are also dressed with the flavored oil, and charred lemon zest and juice. To brighten the dish we added a few garlic chive flowers and nasturtium petals.
The dish evolved as we assembled components. We started with "barrel" aged carrot juice. We used fresh carrot juice, the Sonicprep homogenizer and some charred wood chips to impart a toasty aged flavor onto the juice. With the aged carrot juice on hand we had a number of ideas to pursue and took the one closest at hand, cooking carrots. We cooked the carrots whole and unpeeled sous vide in the aged carrot juice with some salted butter at 85°C for 1.5 hours. Once the carrots were cooked we cooled them down and then cut them into an oblique shape. We used the Sonicprep again, this time to homogenize the carrot juice and the butter. To stabilize the emulsion we added 0.5% gum arabic and 0.1% xanthan gum to the mixture which we poured over the cut carrots. The addition of some rosemary sprigs gently infuse the broth and the carrots with a piney aroma.
To make the dish we heated the carrot stew and quickly cooked our cocoa-cayenne noodles. The noodles were tossed with the carrot stew and cooked together. We finished the dish with some mustard greens and some Gabietou cheese.
We have grilled lemons and charred garlic. In this case we are looking at toasting other parts of the pieces and flavors we have played with. By charring the lemon rind and the underside of the garlic chive blossoms we enhance the bold flavors in these ingredients. It allows us to add specific elements of char paired with citrus and allium to dishes and ingredients in order to increase their overall flavor perception.
Here we are working with the whole mushroom and use its parts and sizes to inspire the outcome. The chow fun noodles are shaved king trumpet mushroom stems cooked in a mushroom broth made from the trim from cutting the noodles, kombu, dried shiitake mushrooms, Lillet, salt, and water. The caps of the mushrooms were smoked, cut into pieces and confited in olive oil with spicy olives, rosemary and garlic. To capture both the aesthetic and taste-texture of meat we pulled the mushroom stems and cooked them in red wine-fish sauce. We took another few king trumpet stems and slice them thin and roasted them in olive oil and with garlic. The last of the mushroom trimmings were combined in a pot with yogurt and cooked to curdle. We strained the mushroom flavored whey off from the solids and added a sheet of gelatin. We were then able to dry the whey into crispy sheets which we could use to accent the dish. Finally we folded in basil leaves and charred garlic chive flowers and buds to accent the mushrooms.
The mushroom stems are peeled and broken into pieces. We then char them with the torch and season them while they are sizzling with salt, paprika and lemon oil. The mushroom stems are turned and tossed in their hot oil and the flavors blend and harmonize.
I have to be honest here, I didn't make it through Eat, Pray Love. It was a DNF (did not finish) for me for a variety of reasons and when I started hearing about her talk on TED I was skeptical. Fortunately it came up enough times to overcome my intial hesitation. This was a very good thing and it reminded me that there is more to a person than one book or song or drawing or recipe or restaurant. It's worth taking the time to find out more because you never know when you might find something inspiring. It is an entertaining and motivational talk. Yes, it is almost twenty minutes long and yes, you should watch the whole thing. I'm so glad I took the time to watch it. I may even go back and read that book again from a fresh perspective, or at least check out one of her other ones.
Cheesy mashed potatoes have been part of the all American culinary vernacular for as long as I can remember. Michel Bras has made aligot potatoes famous in restaurants. Perhaps my first exposure to making the cheesy mashed was during my first professional job at a country club making the filling for twice baked potatoes. My first introduction to aligot potatoes was at Clio when Ken asked the kitchen what they were. No one knew and he sent us home that night with the assignment of finding out what they were. Back then it was much more difficult to do culinary research. It actually took us several days to root out what the preparation of potatoes was and I believe it was several months later before we learned of Michel Bras and his "trademark" on the preparation. For those without an ability to use a search engine, aligot potatoes are a blend of potatoes and Laguiole cheese combined to create a stringy stretchy potato puree. At Michel Bras' eponymous restaurant his mother still makes the potatoes for the patrons.
Enough with the back story. The other day It became cold for a brief moment and I was struck with the craving for aligot potatoes. Unfortunately we had no laguiole or cantal cheese on hand but we did have my heartthrob, smoked mozzarella and so I went to work. The potatoes were cooked, riced and enriched with butter. When they were close to butter saturation I started folding in smoked mozzarella. The result was a potato preparation reminiscent of aligot but with a very non-traditional twist. It is extremely delicious and is now a staple in our repertoire.
We started with hard boiled eggs and made a puree of them with water, mustard, salt, cayenne and smoked paprika. The puree is the essence of deviled eggs. Really, if we were not making noodles I would have just eaten it by the spoonful. To be honest, I did. With the puree made we used it as the liquid element for our noodles with semolina as the grain and 0.5% baking soda to increase the chew factor.
This was our first run at these noodles and we have some improvements to make. The first is to reserve some of the deviled egg puree to reinforce the noodles flavor as part of a dish. The second tweak will be in the noodles themselves. We will increase the flavorful dry matter of the deviled egg in order to boost its overall impact. The third aspect of the noodles we need to address is how to serve them? Ideas range from topping them with Steve's wild domestic roe and a grilled walnut relish to serving them with the deviled egg puree, shaved white truffles and smoked hazelnuts.
Today's inspiration is based on coarse polenta. We love the creamy/coarse texture that you get from slow-cooking coarsely ground cornmeal. To riff off the theme we ground hard pretzels and sifted them, using a combination of the fine and rough crumbs to make a porridge. We used water as the liquid and enriched it at the end with butter, tarragon mustard and Gabietou cheese. In order to continue the theme, we needed a bit more mustard to accent the pretzels; we chose mustard greens. Examining the mustard greens we saw several parts: the frilly edges, the ridged center leaves and the stems. The frilly edges are dead ringers for curly parsley and we used them as such, an edible garnish to to add a hint of heat and bitterness at the finish. (We have numerous ideas for using these mustard frills as parsley, but those are TK). The wild card in the dish is zested honey roasted peanuts. We used a microplane grater to zest them over the mustard green leaves and stems to add a nutty sweet saltiness. And as we all know, pretzels, cheese, mustard and peanuts go very well together. We've taken the all American ball game snacks and turned them into an elegant vegetarian preparation. Just open a cold beer (regular or non-alcoholic) to wash them down.
And Past Porridges:
Here cauliflower custard is sauteed in olive oil on one side to develop a crispy crust. It is served with some small greens generally found around beach areas, from saltwort to sea beans. The herbs are dressed with a few drops of our "barrel aged" fish sauce and some lemon oil. The custard is extremely dynamic in that it has a great crust, is hot throughout and melts on the tongue like a decadent cauliflower puree rather than the firm gel that it resembles.
745 grams heavy cream
715 grams cleaned and cut cauliflower
7.5 grams salt
0.25 grams cayenne
0.25 grams fresh grated nutmeg
0.55 grams Sodium Hexametaphosphate (0.05% cauliflower puree)
3.3 grams low acyl gellan (0.3% of cauliflower puree)
Put the heavy cream, cauliflower, salt, cayenne, and nutmeg in a medium saucepot set over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low and put a lid on the pot. Cook the cauliflower until it is falling apart and completely tender. Remove from heat and transfer the cauliflower mixture to a blender. Turn the speed on low and slowly increase the speed to medium high and puree until the cauliflower is completely smooth. Strain the it through a fine mesh strainer into a clean pot and set over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches at least 80°C. Transfer the cauliflower puree into a clean blender and turn the speed on low. Increase the speed until a vortex forms in the puree. Sprinkle the sodium hexametaphosphate and gellan into the cauliflower and increase the speed to medium high for 30 seconds to fully disperse and hydrate the gellan. Pour the mixture into an 8x11-inch Pyrex or other heatproof baking dish. Let the cauliflower cool, uncovered, at room temperature for 30 minutes and then refrigerate to chill completely, at least 3 hours. Cut the cauliflower into the desired shapes and saute in a little bit of butter or olive oil to heat and caramelize. Serve immediately.
I was first introduced to the Perlini carbonation system when I taught a class pairing cocktails with desserts at the World Pastry Forum in 2010 with Jim Romdall. Jim took care of the cocktails, I took care of the drinking and the desserts. Jim brought all his bar tools with him and this new prototype shaker system called a Perlini. It consisted of a 3 part shaker and a regulator and dispenser which attaches to a CO2 tank. The shaker lets you build the cocktail and then carbonate it to order so that each drink is full of bubbles. As Jim mixed, carbonated, and shook each drink and I tasted, tasted, and tasted, I became enamored with the system and knew that I needed to get one of my own. Unfortunately, his was only a prototype and the release date was at some unidentified point in the future.
Fast forward to Tales of the Cocktail this year where the Perlini System was finally released to the public. As soon as it was available we placed our order. We were order #14. We bought the commercial version which comes with 3 shakers, the regulator and dispensing set-up and seal replacements. As soon as it arrived we attached the regulator to our tank and started carbonating. (They do make a home version as well, with one shaker and a hand held carbonator)
Amaya is a huge fan of the Perlini system. One of her favorite drinks is "bubble juice" formerly made by mixing her favorite juices with seltzer. Now we simply mix up our own blends of juices, tempered with a splash of water and carbonate them to order. This spurred us on to the creation of more adult versions of carbonated fruit punch. A recent tasty conconcoction we made is a non-alcoholic rum punch. The backbone to the drink is a brown sugar syrup thickened with xanthan gum and gum arabic. To add some of the flavor notes of aged rum to the syrup we used the Sonicprep homogenizer and some charred wood chips. While not a replica of aged rum without the alcohol, it is a richly flavored syrup with notes of caramel and molasses and aromas of wood and char reminiscent of barrel aged dark rum. The rest of the ingredients are: passionfruit juice, pineapple juice, cherry juice and water. We poured the ingredients into the Perlini, screwed it tight and carbonated. The result was a delicious beverage with the flavors of a rum punch, effervescent with bubbles and thirst quenchingly refreshing. (pictured half consumed)
Sometimes ideas come about from a confluence of ideas and inspirations. We've been working with lentils and coconut. First Alex made coconut lentils. Then we drained off the broth and folded in coconut cream to make creamy coconut lentils, which will be part of our sous vide workshop for the Star Chefs International Chefs Congress. We had some leftover coconut cream and the lentil cooking liquid (primarily coconut water) and so we combined the two to make a light, silky coconut lentil sauce.
Meanwhile we had been discussing Mediterranean food, mainly falafel and tabouleh. We happened to come across some gorgeous scallops at Whole Foods and so Alex decided to make a scallop "tabouleh", only in is head it was made with couscous instead of bulgur. But that didn't really matter because he was only trying recreate the texture of the grain. He finely minced several scallops and then slowly cooked them in olive oil. Once they were cooked he cooled them down and used a food processor to mince them into the grain size he was looking for. Then he folded in chopped mitsuba, Yuzusco and lemon oil. It a passing resemblence to bulgur in its texture and bright herbal flavors but no one would have guessed the connection unless they were told. It's the difference between inspiration and recreation.
He then added some seared scallops which were gently torn into pieces by hand. These were dressed in their own juices and added to the plate. The final major piece came from small coconut bowties, made by dehydrating coconut cream seasoned with ground grains of paradise and Tasmanian peppercorns. A few garlic chive blossoms and mitsuba leaves were all that we needed to finish the dish. It had a variety of flavors and textures playing off one another, the sweet, salty, nutty, earthy, herbal notes each playing its part and creating something much more than just the sum of its parts. There may not have been a clear plan when we began cooking but fitting together the pieces is what we do best.
There's something so satisfying about the first cup of coffee that eases you into the day. Whether it begins with warm streaks of sunshine breaking open the sky or looking out into a cool star-filled darkness, early mornings are a special pleasure around here. We make a point of getting great coffee beans and organic milk to fill our cups. With so few ingredients, each one really counts. The buzz of the grinder and the smell of the beans let us know that something special is just moments away. A few months ago we added the Nespresso Aeroccino 3 frother to our counter. It perfectly froths and warms milk for our coffee and makes each sip that much more luxurious, with minimal effort on our part. Even better, it can be used for more than just our morning cup. It beautifully froths a variety of sauces, with or without the application of heat, at the touch of a button. It's easy to clean and easy to use with a variety of uses in our kitchen. All in all an excellent addition to our batterie de cuisine.
With fall right around the corner we have bolder, richer flavors dancing through our heads. These noodles are a great platform to build a dish. We use our Arcobaleno AEX-18 and the #82 die, which is an over-sized rigatoni. A few details make these noodles stand out. We use black cocoa to give them a jet black color and a more intensely bitter cocoa note. We also add baking soda to the noodles. Using baking soda is not new to noodle making, either ours or anyone else's. What is new is that we have begun to add it (at 0.5%) to almost all of our doughs to increase their resiliency and provide a textural chew and snap that is usually associated with dried pastas and ramen noodles. This small evolution has taken our pasta making to the next level of delicious. Even if you do not have an extruder, please try incorporating this small amount of baking soda into your pasta doughs to give them a little something extra. It's the small details that make all the difference.
2000 grams semolina
120 grams black cocoa
12 grams salt
12 grams baking soda
5 grams cayenne
660 grams water
Put the semolina, black cocoa, salt, baking soda and cayenne into the pasta machine and mix to distribute in the hopper. With the machine running, drizzle the water into the machine. Mix the dough for 6-7 minutes. Check the consistency of the dough after four minutes. It should begin to resemble coarse streusel. Squeeze the dough together in your hand. Break the dough apart. If it breaks cleanly the dough has enough water. If it crumbles add additional water in 10-gram increments. After the dough is kneaded, let it rest for 10 minutes to hydrate. Use a die with large holes, preferably a ridged pachierri, to extrude the dough and cut the rings into 2.5 cm sections.
We started with the incredible 40°N Red Boat Fish Sauce which is fermented in large wooden barrels. The resulting sauce by itself is clean, rich and an incredible ingredient to work with. With an incredible ingredient comes inspiration. We wanted to take the idea of barrel aging and impart a fuller barrel aged flavor to the sauce. We were looking to capture the flavors similar to aged whiskeys but on the fish sauce. In order to do this, in a short period of time, we took some of the fish sauce and some charred apple wood chips and combined them together and then used the Polyscience Sonicprep, ultrasonic homogenizer to extract the flavor of the charred wood and marry it with the fish sauce. We were able to impart the flavor of the wood and char into the fish sauce in under a minute. Once the fish sauce was flavored we strained out the wood chips and tasted the results. The great Red Boat fish sauce has now become a game changer for our pantry. The flavor of char and wood, a bit of smoke and the woody and vanillin notes of the chips balanced and smoothed out the fish sauce even further. Now we are chomping on the bit with ideas for both the fish sauce and "barrel aging" not normally barrel aged ingredients. It is great when a simple idea unlocks the flood gates
Toppings are great. They add textures, flavors and counterpoints to dishes. They are able to be prepared ahead of time and then added at the last moment to elevate a dish and really bring it to the finish line. This topping was designed to be served with venison though it would be great with fish, crustaceans and vegetables. The variations are endless. In place of dried vension heart prosciutto would work as would salt cod, bottarga, bacon, pickles, horseradish, the list just grows. Being willing to substitute and extrapolate opens the avenues to possibilities.
Charred Pecan Crumbs
50 grams pecans charred on one side
5 grams Rishi Tangerine-Ginger tea, ground and sifted
7.5 grams dark brown sugar
1 gram salt
5 grams grated salt cured venison heart
Put the pecans on a cutting board and chop finely. Put the chopped pecans in a bowl and add the tea, brown sugar and salt. Sift the mixture through a course strainer. Reserve the sifted mixture until ready to serve. Right before serving mix in the vension heart.
The dish blends butternut squash and venison. The squash rounds are impregnated with fresh butternut squash juice seasoned with red wine vinegar and maple syrup. The venison is 4 venison flank steaks bonded together and seasoned with our seaweed shake. The puree is a homogenized mixture of butternut squash and butter thickened with gellan and xanthan gum. The herb is savory leaves and blossoms from our garden.
With the ability to roll dough really thin we have begun to wonder about the flavors we can incorporate into the dough and what phyllo can mean to us. Here we have made both sheets and strands of vanilla phyllo dough. Sure the first thought is something sweet, but the possibilities in the savory world with vanilla and really any flavored phyllo are pretty exciting. But really, let's think about this, we can now control the grain, the liquid, the acid, the fat and the aromatics. Sure, we could make other pastas for stuffing or lasagna with the same approach, but phyllo is one of those ingredients you do not often think about altering on the creation side of things.
The shank is cooked sous vide for 24 hours at 57°C. The results are both juicy and tender, but certainly not braised. I think we are often confused by the expectations we get from food cooked sous vide because we are using an older language and different points of reference to describe the preparations we are making. In this we could call the venison braised, but it would underwhelm in the idea of what braised is. The meat does not fall apart, the sauce is not thick and unctuous. Rather, the meat has texture and juice and body and character. We cook the shank in a stock made from country ham skins and it picks up an additional gaminess from this which we did not intend upon but are happy to utilize and springboard from. The shank is taken off the bone and here we have to refocus our attention. In the case of most braises you cook it, you cool it, you re-heat it and serve it. Here we need to do some work after the fact. The connective tissue, the silver skin and the pieces of tendon which break down in traditional braises remain inedible in this preparation. And we are ok with that. We are happy with that because we end up with a cut of meat, rather a texture and experience for a cut of meat we would or could not previously achieve. The shank is served broken down with nasturtium leaves and stems, garlic chive blossoms, coconut crisps seasoned with Tasmanian pepper and grains of paradise, cabbage leaves cooked in butternut squash butter-cream and lemon oil cooked calamari. A grating of dried venison heart completes the dish.