White Chocolate-Peppermint Cheesecake

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

IMG_0871

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.

Advertisements

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.

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

Planting my #Garden for #Earthday Today

After WWII, America realized what we thought was the golden promise of an Industrialized Era.  We were (and are) an industrious bunch, working on efficiencies and trying to make EVERYTHING cheaper, better, faster…  at any cost, apparently.  We got good at it.  VERY good.  The problem is, in an era of excess, waste occurs.  We are content with car that get 20 MPG when gas is under $2 a

gallon.  Now it’s over $4 a gallon and we’re worried.  We, as consumers don’t see why it’s so expensive.  We don’t often realize that it takes MILLIONS of years to create the oil we use in practically EVERYTHING we produce from gas, to industrial fertilizers to plastic goods.  It’s taken us under a hundred years to notice that oil is not unlimited and that we maybe running to the end of our supply.  Millions of years to make, a century to use.  Hmmm…  Time to move on to something different.

What does this have to do with my garden?  Nothing really, except that by planting a garden, you too can help save the Earth, just like supporting endeavors to utilize renewable energy sources.  I guess they are linked.  And, it is Earth day after all.  And there’s only one Earth.

So, let’s ALL plan ahead.  Invest in renewable energy now AND start finding ways to conserve water.  Because, the next wars will be fought over H2O.  Trust me.  And it worries me.  Plan now.  Happy Earth Day, Earth.

Farmers and Their Chickens

I have had the fortune of connecting with a man by the name of Douglas Hayes.  He is the one behind the Napa Valley Buckeye Chickens.  I was invited by his farm (or “Preservation Sanctuary Learning Center” as he has coined it) to see his operation and try to convince him to be a featured farmer for one of our Beyond The Kitchen farm dinners.  While he has a lot of space (over 30 acres) he has a very small area devoted to the raising and perfecting of the Buckeye chicken breed.  Image

Douglas is committed to preservation and sustainable agriculture.  Through the many hours speaking with him, I feel that he has always been this way.  This is not a trendy thing for him to be doing, rather a way of life he has always embraced.

Taken from his write up:

“The Buckeye Chicken:

The Buckeye chicken was created in Ohio by Nettie Metcalf before 1896.  Four Standard Bred chickens were used to establish the breed.  Buff Cochin, Barred Rock, Black Breasted Red Game, and Dark Cornish were crossed over a period of six years… the result of this selection is the Buckeye. The Buckeye is a Multipurpose breed with good meat and egg qualities.  At the height of popularity there may have been 2-3 million Buckeyes, by 1960 there were about 10,000 of these chickens; now, there are only 2188 Buckeye breeders remaining, of which there maybe only 500 with really good genetics.  The breeding Buckeye flock at this Preservation Sanctuary Learning Center is 125 chickens with good genetics, and is pasture raised.  The chickens are processed at 16-18 weeks the old fashioned way in a completely humane way.  These chicken know NO violence, only love.  No antibiotics, no preservatives, no hormones, no GMO Grain, and no additives are fed to the chickens.”
.
I had the opportunity to cook one of his chickens recently.  I brined it overnight in a 6% salt water solution and roasted it whole, stuffed with onions, apples and sage.  Served it with roasted baby marble potatoes, green beans and linguica sausage.  I have to say, this was seriously the best chicken I have ever had that was super moist, crispy skin and dark meat that was so dark, flavorful and steak-like.  Wow.
.
I can tell Douglas has a deep philosophy about food, life and living.  After knowing him, it’s easy to understand the words he chooses to finish his write-up:
.
“If animals are raised with love and respect, processed with love and respect, cooked with love and respect, and served with love and respect, then we eat love and respect, and we are healed.”
.
Look forward to meeting Douglas and having some amazing chicken with us on his sanctuary in mid August.  Details forthcoming.

Beyond The Kitchen – Farm Dinners at the Source

Here’s  a great link to our first newsletter.  Please, won’t you check it out?

http://mim.io/d9bf12

The Slaughtering of Animals

I had the opportunity to join a small farm as the called in a small, mobile slaughter truck that came in and slaughtered a cow and a Mulefoot hog.  It was a calm and quick .22 shot to the head.  The use of a mobile unit coming to the farm is preferred because the pigs live a happy, healthy life on the farm and to truck them away would add undue stress.  They were then processed in the space of about 30-40 minutes a piece.  It was amazing to watch, but unnerving at the same time.  I appreciate animals for food so much more now.  What was even more amazing was listening to the slaughterer and the farmer discuss the current affairs of big agribusiness and factory farms and how sad the condition of our food supply system is in.  My new favorite quote is the farmer saying “Pigs in factory farms are merely holograms of the real thing.”   The following pictures are a bit graphic.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Culinary Demonstration

Thanks to all the fine folks that came to the cooking demonstration today. It was a great blast. The recipe for the lentils will be posted under the recipe tab at the top of the page. We’ll see ya next time.

%d bloggers like this: