White Chocolate-Peppermint Cheesecake

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


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.


Aerated Chocolate – Simplified

I have had a fascination with aerating foods and setting foams for some time now.  For a couple years I have thought about aerating chocolate, cheese, and other gels like agar and gelatin.  There always seemed to be other priorities in my career for some time now.  But, I have finally reached a point where I can continue some good experimentation.  I started off with purchasing a couple high impact plastic vacuum seal containers with a 2 1/2  quart capacity.  I chose the Vacmaster because it’s made with solid, thick, heavy plastic to stand up to the chamber vacuum sealer.

Many chefs talk about tempering the chocolate and/or adding oil to it to increase the fluidity, or even adding stabilizing hydrocolliods.  We found you don’t need to do any of this.


With this container, we melted 1 1/2 pounds of Valhrona white chocolate and put it in a 1 quart ISI canister and charged it, while warm, with 2 N2O charges, shaking very well in between charges.  We then dispensed the chocolate into the container, put the lid on, moved the dial to “vacuum”, and placed it in the vacuum chamber.  We closed the lid and put about 60% vacuum on the canister and the chocolate ballooned up by about 300%. I then stopped the vacuum and opened the lid and found the chocolate was still holding the air bubbles, and not collapsing,  I placed it in the refrigerator and let the chocolate set for 4 hours.  When I removed it, I released the vacuum and took the lid off.  I then placed the container in warm water to release the chocolate from the sides and took it out.


This was my 5th attempt.  The first 4 times, it wasn’t working and I could not figure out why.  I learned that you cannot vacuum too much because this will actually suck all the N2O out.  You need to just pull a slight vacuum to allow the chocolate to rise, and then stop.  Otherwise the chocolate will collapse before it sets.

The texture is amazing.  It completely collapses on the palate and melts away to nothing almost instantly.  It fools your mind into thinking you’re suppose to have something in your mouth, but then it’s gone. It looks like white bread or angel food cake from a small distance.  We are working on a new dessert that will use this chocolate as a garnish for a white chocolate-peppermint cheesecake.  More to come.


Sous Vide Eggs

Here are some eggs we sous vide at 63 degrees for 2o minutes.  My banquet cook Andrew at the Jacksonville Inn experimented with just the right time and temperature for these great results.  They went great on our House smoked wild Columbia River Sturgeon we did for a party of 300 for my last big party off site.  Worked great!  We were cracking them on site.  Beautiful… 

Modernist Cuisine Has Arrived…


Some Stats on the book:

Total number of pages in Modernist Cuisine: 2,438
Total word count: ~1.1 million
Number of photographs: 3,216
Number of images shot for the book: 147,000
Total size of image file library: 2.8 terabytes
Number of annotated cutaway illustrations: 36
Total number of recipes: 1,522
Example recipes: 379
Recipes in parametric tables: 814
Component recipes in the 49 plated-dish recipes: 239
Total weight: 43 pounds
Total weight of ink: 4 pounds
Cost: $625


Here is a slide show of the unpacking of the 4 (FOUR!) inner boxes..


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New Toy… From Polyscience.

Got my new toy in the mail today.  Thanks Polyscience!  Can’t wait to fire it up!  Really wanna try to smoke some salads to start.

Modernest Cuisine is Coming!!

Should be seeing this 40 pound cookbook arriving any day now thanks to some generous benefactors.  They say the ink alone weighs almost 5#.  Cost to have KINKOS simply photocopy this in black and white?  $180.00

REVIEW HERE:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/dining/09modernist.html?_r=2&pagewanted=1

3D Food Printers Are Here…

Imagine a printer that has, instead of toner cartridges, food cartridges.  And these printers are able to “print” 3D food with lasers that “cook” the food, pixel by pixel to the precise temperature.  Well, they’re real.  They’re here.  This has been the topic of conversation in the kitchen for a couple months now.  I seem to be the only one that says “Cool…  Bring it on!”  My attitude seems to be in the minority.  Mostly, others say “ewww….” or, “can’t imagine that food tasting good at all!”  Yeah, yeah…  This technology is in it’s infantcy.  It needs to be developed.  Remember, fast food has long been considered sub-standard or poor quality, tasteless.  Yet people continue to go.  McDonald’s advertises “Billions and Billions Served”   I’m a 4 star chef who has been through a drive thru once or twice in my day.  Here are some possibilities to ponder:

We are great at producing food.  We have become very efficient.  The problem is, by the time the produced food is sold to the end user, much of it has been thrown away due to waste, spoilage, mishandling, etc…  Much food expires before it’s sold.  Thrown away.  With this technology, the food can be preserved onsite or nearby and made into these cartridges offering 100% utilization with a 25 year+ shelf life.  Eww??  Maybe.  We’ll see.  Let’s ponder further:

Imagine a disaster happening where people are cut off from food supplies due to some natural or man made disaster.  These printers could be brought to these areas and people could “print” food to keep from starving.  These printers could also be used to prevent 3rd world hunger and starvation.  But wait, let’s ponder further:

Imagine an ATM that “Prints food”.  You walk or drive up and punch in your order.  It’s printed on the spot and cooked at the same time so it’s fresh.  Imagine that.  Would it taste good?  A printed Big Mac and fries?  Time will tell.  I would imagine the price of this food would be drastically reduced because you don’t have to warehouse all this perishable food until it’s ordered, shipped and stored ready to be cooked.  Nor do you have to pay cooks or cashiers.   I don’t think it would REPLACE any leg of food service from gourmet dining to fast food.  I just think it would create another tier of food service.  But let’s ponder this further:

You’re at the drive through and swipe your payment card and place your order.  What if your card was linked to your physician?  Or perhaps your health records?  Perhaps you’re on a reduced sodium diet, low sugar, wheat free, gluten free, allergies…  Your food could be printed with your dietary needs already factored in.  High cholesterol?  Your food will be printed with ingredients that would be beneficial.   Man, this could change everything.  Computer programmers would be the next level of chefs.

Don’t think it could happen?  I wouldn’t be surprised if this was reality in the next 10-20 years.  Here’s a link to an article that has some great info and photos.  Dig it.  No more world hunger, diabetes, obesity, or many other food related illnesses.  Seriously?  Yeah.  This is the type of thing that the President says we should be working toward to win the future.





New Duck, Version 1.2

Here it is…  This is made with Dave Mostu’s Local Wheat Berries turned into a pistashio-cranberry pilaf, roasted beets and golden beet puree and wild huckleberry jus.  This is the same method as the sous vide duck in the older preparation…

Nathan Myhrvold on Freakonomics Radio

Here’s a good interview with Nathan Myhrvold, author of Modernist Cuisine, that explains how modern science is changing how we cook.  They talk about how modern kitchens are being over run by scientists.


Also check out the extended interview with comments from Alice Waters.


Interesting stuff.

New Duck, Version 1.2

Here is the process for our new duck.  I took whole ducks, skinned them and blanched the skins.  I then glued the skin together with Activa to form a block.  Then I shaved the skin on a slicer and reattached the skin with more Activa.  Then I sous vide it at 130 deg for 3 hours.  Final plate up coming.

This Ain’t Your Grandma’s Chicken…

We de-boned chickens, butterflied the breast, made a farce with the leg meat and filled the breast.  Then  we glued the filled breast back together.  It was sous vide at 140 deg for 2 hours.  It was then dry rubbed and crisped in a hot pan.  It’s served over a green peppercorn and goat cheese risotto, toasted almond butter, hibiscus demi glace and baby orange carrots.

Peppermint Cheesecake with Cocoa “Caviar”

Here is our new Winter Cheesecake.  White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake on a Chocolate Crumb Crust with Cocoa “Caviar” and Peppermint Disk.

Duck, Take One…

Here is version 1.1 of our new duck dish.  It’s pretty standard with pan seared duck breast, confit leg, butternut squash puree and roasted fall root vegetable hash.   Good, solid winter flavors.  I, however, wanted to somehow make the skin **SUPER** crispy thus altering the final texture.  I was thinking of duck skin as thin as chicken skin.  On our next version, we will be involving a frozen, meat glued block of duck skin and a thermal circulator to reinvent it.  Can’t wait!  Be on the look out for version 1.2

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…

Stuffed Chicken

This dish turned out real nice.  We take whole chickens and cut out the airline breast.  The thighs are boned out and the skin is reserved for the chicken skin wrapped pork.  The thigh meat is turned into a farce meat with linguisa sausage.  We butterfly the breast and pipe in the farce.  It’s then glued back together with Activa and sous vide at 140 deg for 2 hours.

Chicken Fried Pulled Pork.

Chicken Fried Steak?  Yeah.  How about Chicken Fried Pulled Pork?  We took our sous vide pork and pressed it into a terrine while it was hot and let it set over night.  Then it’s sliced and wrapped in chicken skin glued on with Activa.  After it sets, its coated in seasoned buttermilk and dredged in flour and fried.  Just like fried chicken, but it’s pulled pork.

Pork Getting Ready for Sous Vide

We’ve taken Pork Shoulder and seasoned it heavily with salt, sugar and spices.  Then we will sous vide it for about 28 hours at 160 deg.  This will then be pulled and pressed in a terrine and then wrapped in chicken skin.

Activa RM.

We just received our shipment of Activa RM today.  AKA Meat Glue, we will be using this in several different applications.  The enzyme transglutaminase has the ability to molecularly crosslink protein molecules together.  It does not discriminate against which kind of protein, so you can theoretically glue a piece of fish to a piece of pork if you wanted to, just as if that’s how nature intended it to be. 

Yeah… This is on my Christmas List…

Modernist Cuisine.  Consider this the culinary student’s 21st century text book.

Kickin Around Some Local Peaches.

What do you do when you have an abundance of peaches from Whites Farm toward the end of peach season?  Make peaches and cream!

Balsamic Macerated Peach Waffle with Thickened Balsamic for Sunday Brunch…

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