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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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Cry-O-Blanching Baby Carrots

Here is a good example of Cry-o-Blanching I demoed for a group of 10 chefs from Beijing, China who participated in my Modern American Cooking lecture I did last month.  The carrots are peeled and cry-o-vac’ed and then frozen.  Ideally they are frozen in liquid nitrogen.  Then they are allowed to defrost at room temperature and then frozen again.  The process is repeated 3 times for these carrots, but can be done on any number of different vegetables or fruits.  The number of freeze-defrost cycles would vary based on the ingredient and desired texture.  You end result will resemble a traditionally blanched item but with a great, fresh flavor not dulled by a drop in boiling water.

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…

More Local Goodies…

We get our coffee custom roasted from Good Bean Coffee just down the road.  We have a lot of guests purchase this coffee from us by the pound whole bean.  We made some ica cream with it and paired it with chocolate cream crepes and toasted cornbread.  Wait….  What?  Yeah, it was uber good…

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.

Sous Vide Watermelon

We’re getting some really nice local watermelons in now…  Pickled red onions, feta, hazelnuts….

Cultivated Mushrooms

Forget the portabellos, shiitakis and oysters.  There are a newer variety of cultivated mushrooms out there now.  The still carry the wild mushroom price tag though at a hefty $11/lb.

What The Ingredients Look Like

Here’s some shots of what the ingredients used for Molecular Gastronomy look like…

 

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

Terra Spice Account Active!

Finally got our Terra Spice account active.  I used to use them in North Carolina.  Great spice selection and also purveyors of chemicals used for molecular gastronomy.  Looking at buying some “caviar” chemicals, soy lecithin and malto dextrin powder to make airs, caviar and powders for wine tastings.  We will create unique flavors and textures to compliment the wines to be tasted in our wine shop.  Great fun…  Also looking forward to terra’s smoked black peppercorns, black garlic, dill pollen and others….  Check them out at www.terraspice.com

More Springtime.

River’s Edge Fresh Chevre Gelato with Spring Strawberry-Pistachio Ice Cream and Strawberry Gelee.  Now all we need is some micro lemon mint.  Where are those grow lights, anyway?

New Application for Sous Vide Cooking (For Our Kitchen Anyway…)

So, I have been doing a lot of slow and low cooking using my thermal immersion circulator…  But for the last wine maker’s dinner we did, I cooked filets that were sealed with salt, pepper and olive oil at 130 deg F for 1 hour.  This made them a perfect medium rare and the texture was like silk.  I did not sear them after.  Simply served them as they were.  Funny, they almost looked completely uncooked…  Meat lover’s dream…  I used some closed cell foam tape attached to the bag to get an internal temperature reading of the meat without compromising the vacuum seal.

Abacela Wine Maker’s Dinner

Here are some shots from the Abacela Wine Maker’s dinner last night.

Steamed Clams and Mussels with Baby Winter Broccoli, Portuguese Sausage and Saffron Risotto Cakes

Beet and Herbed Goat Cheese “Ravioli” with Pickled Red Onions and Pesto Vinaigrette

Seared Lamb Carpaccio with Truffle Aioli and Focaccia Crisps

Olive Oil Poached (Sous Vide) filet of Beef with Salt Cod Cakes, Olive Soil and Brown Butter-Balsamic Green Beans

 

Rogue Creamery “Echo Mountain” Blue Cheese 3 Ways

1.   Brulee with Raspberry “Caviar”

2.   Port Wine Poached Sekle Pears filled with Blue Cheese and Candied Walnuts with Rosemary “Paint”

3.   Sous Vide with Oven Cured Raspberries

Here’s a shot of the raspberry caviar being dropped into frozen canola oil to set into perfect little caviar size spheres.

Special thanks to Earl and Hilda Jones for coming and bringing some spectacular wines and sharing with us a lot about the important work they do.

Molecular Gastronomy: A New Emerging Scientific Discipline

Have you heard about Molecular Gastronomy or hydrocolloids?   Ever wonder why that ice cream you just ate was hot and appeared to “melt” as it cooled?  Chefs around the world are using a dizzying array of “chemicals” in food to manipulate textures.  These are the same “chemicals” used by the food manufacturing sector for years.  It’s why a Hershey bar can sit on a shelf for so long without the cocoa fat separating from the cocoa (emulsifier) or why orange juice has a slightly thick (viscus) mouth feel (Xantham gum).  

One of my favorite blogs, Khymos (http://blog.khymos.org/) has posted a link to a major review article on molecular gastronomy.  They state that considering the impact factor of Chemical Reviews (ranked as a clear no. 1 among chemistry journals), this review will likely remain the review on molecular gastronomy for years to come.  Download it here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/cr900105w

S.O.H.O. Dinner #3

Here are some shots from the latest S.O.H.O. dinner…

Oregon Black Truffle Risotto Tart with Roasted Butternut Sauce

 Portobello Mushroom Soup with White Truffle Essence and Fresh Chevre

48 Hour Braised Beef Short Ribs with Parsnip Puree and Winter Vegetable Jus

 

 

 

White Chocolate-Pistachio Truffles Set in Curry-Coconut Gelee

 

 

Thanks for all that came.  It was fun.

More Sous Vide.

Here are some shots of my next batch of sous vide shortribs.  As you can tell from the photo, it all starts off traditional with some great searing on the grill and sweated mirepoix…

By the way, those little chunks made great snacks.

It’s all finished with some demiglaze, red wine and aromatics.  Then it’s sealed and placed in 131 deg F bath for 48 hours.  Filet texture with shortrib taste.  How, I mean HOW can you go wrong?  Planing on serving this with the braising jus and parsnips for an upcoming party.

48 Hour Short Ribs Final Results

Here are the photos.  We had a lot of people try them and it was pretty split on what ones were the best (36 hour vs. 48 hour).  I liked the 48 hour ones better.  For the comparison, I also had some of the same short ribs that were traditionally braised.  They are totally different animals  (Well, no.  They were both beef…), with the sous vide ones seemingly more elegant and the traditional ones more rustic.  The sous vide ones had the texture of a nice filet mignon, however much better flavor.  The traditional ones had that melt in your mouth texture that was superb.  Both super delicious…

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