White Chocolate-Peppermint Cheesecake

Okay. Here is the final dessert using the aerated chocolate as a garnish.

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For the cheesecake, we made a standard batter flavored with white chocolate and ground starlight mints. We baked it without a crust, let it cool, then placed it in a mixer with a paddle attachment to cream it back together and to aerate it. We then made some mock Oreo cookie dough, baked it, then ground it into a fine powder for garnish as well. IMG_0861
For the final plate up, we put another starlight mint in a low oven to allow it to soften, then pressed it paper thin so it shatters when it’s put in your mouth. We placed 3 quenelles of the cheesecake on the plate, a stripe of chocolate sauce and micro peppermint, and we’re good to go.  Here is the dessert plated on white china and also marble.

Straw Bale Garden In the Works

I first heard about this technique a couple of months ago.  The idea is that you can start the composting process in the bales by letting nitrogen (in my case, organic chicken manure) soak into them and allow them to “cook” over the space of a week.  (See previous post for details).  

Now that we have started our rainy season, I have purchased 4 bales of straw and have set them out into our mini farm.  My “farm hands” spread the manure over the tops and soaked them in real good.  We’ll continue the soaking process a couple of times a day unless it’s raining.  Hopefully these guys will start heating up real well and maybe we’ll see some mushrooms poking out.

After the bales cool down when the reaction subsides, the natural nitrogen in the straw will be available for whatever we want to plant.  We will be using them mostly for micro kale, micro cucumbers, pea tendrils, red vein sorrel, and nasturtiums for our Beyond the Kitchen farm dinners.  It’s gonna be great!

Hawaiian Tombo Tuna

Found a use for these great Oregon pickled ramps.  I’m pairing them with a salad of crispy Spring new potatoes, grilled asparagus, pepper bacon and a cider-mustard vinaigrette.  It’s finished with avocado puree, hard boiled egg and micro turnips/pea tendrils from our kitchen garden.  Can’t wait for the local albacore tuna season to open up!

Our Micro Greens Revisited

So, I took the plunge and purchased a 50 liter bag of “Hydroton”.  This is the clay like rocks I started experimenting with to grow microgreens under out grow lights in the kitchen.  It cost $35 and we are now converting all our indoor growing operations to utilize it.  Our most recent planting includes pea tendrils, micro radish and micro beets.  The tendrils have been tested and work great (see prior post) but the other items have yet to be seen.  Germination has already taken place after just 2 days.

New Hybrid-Hydroponic System Results for Micro Greens in Our Kitchen

Well, here are some photos of what our pea tendrils look like using the new soiless growing medium.  These photos are taken 10 days after germination with just water and organic fertilizer.


 Needless to say, we will be switching all of our indoor growing operations to this new system. 
 It’s remarkable.  Thanks to the Ladybug Store for hooking us up with the experiment.  

New Spring Pea and Seared Scallop Appetizer

Here is our newest appetizer.   It’s really a soup, but seems to sell better when sold as an appetizer.   We’re using organic peas from Washington, Morels from here, Pea Tendrils from our kitchen grow lights and vanilla oil.  It’s finished with scallop zest using dehydrated scallops and my microplane.

Micro Greens

Micro Greens growing nice under the grow lights.  Nice to have these…

Onion Soup

Here we take a super rich and creamy sweet onion soup and garnish with pickled chanterelles and duck confit.  We then take caramelized onion soup, shape it into croutons using agar agar and complete the dish with micro winter kale from the garden…

Lemon Confit

In the works is some lemon confit.  Should be ready in 3 days for our new Alaskan True Cod Special…

Pickled Chanterelles

These button chanterelles make a great garnish.

Micro Cucumber

Awesome and fresh from the garden!  Hard to find someone who will sell these.  Gotta grow them which is fine by me.

New Summer Tomato Salad

Here’s a dish that was composed of most items grown in the area.  Tomatoes from Platon, Barking Moon Farm and our own garden.  The greens and cucumber blossoms are also from our garden.  Arugula pesto, thickened balsamic and fresh mozz complete the plate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Trout Dish

Oven Braised Rogue River Trout on Apricot Couscous with Grilled Asparagus, Caramelized Fennel, Cider-Chardonnay Sauce and Garden Greens (Using our garden french breakfast radishes and micro greens just harvested)

First Harvest!

We harvested Giant Red Mustard, Blue Vein Kale, Pea Tendrils, Curley Cress and Cilantro, all in the micro stage.  It wasn’t a lot, but it’s starting!  Very exciting.  The weather’s warming up and things are starting to really grow.

“Oregon Snow Peas”

In FULL effect!

What kind of deliciousness will we come  up with these?

Chemical Additives

Chemical Additives.  Oooooo….  Bad…..  Right?

Well, we live in a society that is more and more embracing whole foods.  Minimally processed.  How many times have you heard “no chemical additives” as a marketing slogan or “if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it”?

Carrageenan?  Polysaccharide derived from red seaweed.  Natural product.  Mixed with liquids creates a rich mouth feel in an otherwise “thin” liquid.  Larger concentrations will gel liquids similar to gelatine.

Lecithin?  Phospholipid found naturally occurring in egg yolks and soy beans.  Natural product.   Emulsifies liquids with oils to create creamy feeling vinaigrettes or traps air into liquids to increase it’s volume 20 fold creating a stable foam.

Sodium Alginate?  Polysaccharide derived from brown algae.  Natural product.  When mixed with a watery liquid and set into a calcium solution, will gel into spheres.  Great for creating faux caviars and “ravioli” with a liquid center.

Xanthan Gum?  Polysaccharide derived from fermenting Xanthomonas campestris (a bacterial species found in plant life)  that is an efficient viscosifier of water and that has many important uses, especially in the food industry.  Natural product.

Maltodextrin?  Can be enzymatically derived from any starch.  Natural product.  Powdery substance that, when mixed with liquid fats, effectively transforms them into a powder to top or coat foods.

These are all hydrocolloids that, in one way or another, alter the texture of foods.  All are natural products and have been used in food manufacturing for years.  It’s only until more recently that modern cooking techniques have been developed in cutting edge kitchens that utilize these ingredients to enhance the dining experience.  Questions and comments encouraged.

 

Faux Caviar with Basil, Orange, Strawberry and Saffron Liquids

 

Zinfandel Foam Using Troon Vineyard’s Zinfandel (Southern Oregon)

Bacon Powder Using  Nueske’s Bacon

Spring Garden Risotto

Peas, radish, asparagus, spinach and fennel with beet emulsion and pea tendrils.

Easter and Spring Kitchen Garden

Had a great time cooking for 350 for Easter Brunch.  Thanks for coming out.  Here are some shots of our Spring Kitchen Garden.  The peas are coming along nicely.  They are only 8 days old.  The tendrils are ready to harvest.

Grow Lights.

Wow.  This will change the way we garnish our plates forever.  Soon we will be able to snip and garnish to order.  Thanks to Sean Brock at McCrady’s restaurant in Charleston for the inspiration.

Spring Lamb

Braised with Sweet Pea and Pickled Pearl Onion Ragout.  Where are those dang grow lights for the pea tendrils to garnish??

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