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… 

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.

Wild Columbia River Sturgeon

The restaurant is known for it’s Salmon and Halibut on the menu that we feature year round.  People come looking for it.  As the customer demand dictates that we must have this available all the time, I have started trying to focus on other fish that we can offer that may, perhaps, sway some guests into discovering how delicious local, fresh fish can be.  Remember, ALL food we consume has a season.  Just because it can be purchased year long does not mean that it’s at it’s best year long.  With this in mind, I have been really trying to utilize some of the wild Columbia River sturgeon we have available.  This fish is truly amazing.  It is an ancient species that swam with the dinosaurs.  It has a rich history in the Columbia River.  The sous vide sturgeon we have on the menu is garnering a lot of attention.  Here we have another application.  It smokes up great.  We will probably feature this smoked sturgeon for our mother’s day brunch.  It came out delicious!

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 Growing Medium.

We are experimenting with a new growing medium for our micro greens.  It’s natural clay pellets that wick water up.  In the bottom of the pan is natural, nitrogen rich water with the clay on top.  I have sprinkled pea seeds on top.  I then covered it with plastic wrap so the peas can take on the nutrient rich water and then germinate.  I’m hoping this will eliminate the need for soil and will make the growing process quicker, cleaner and more efficient.

What’s a “Vegetarian” Burger?

There are many products out there that call themselves vegetarian burgers.  Out here, they are very popular.  You know…  Those little frozen, over seasoned hockey pucks that you just plop on the grill straight from the freezer…?  Well, I’m making my own.  It’s a black bean base with cumin, chili powder, onions and red bell pepper in the patty with some eggs and bread crumbs.  That’s grilled and served on our homemade rosemary rolls with grilled red onions, portobellos, swiss cheese and chipotle aioli.  Not a big fan of veggie burgers, but this really is very good.  I like to call it a hot vegetarian sandwich.  Delicious.

Pros and Cons of Working with a Decades Old Menu.

It’s a respectful thing to work with such a time proven menu.  Very traditional.  I am very happy I also get to have a portion of the menu that is highly seasonal and modern.  Best of both worlds.  Drawback?  Well, 30 years ago, it was chic to use what were, back then, modern ingredients.  “Exotic” herbs were dried and used as we use fresh herbs just clipped from our garden.  Broth bases were used and considered a “gourmet” item.  Times have changed.  These recipes haven’t.  So, I continue to work on ways to improve the ingredients while staying true to tradition and the dish itself.  Point in case, I have started making my own chicken base.  There are a couple recipes we use that are over 50 years old and very popular that use it.  My version contains nothing more that organic chicken from Washington.  Nothing more.  And I use it exactly the same as the processed stuff that has an ingredient list longer than this blog post.  Come by and try the difference for yourself.  I reduced 5 gallons of chicken stock to 28 ounces of “base”.  It’s amazing…

Black Bean Powder…

So, I went to grab the black pepper to grind for service and grabbed the black beans instead.  In the opaque container, they almost looked the same.  I laughed a little inside and decided to grind some beans anyway…

Black Beans in a Vita Prep

Not sure what we will use them for right now…  Some quick ideas that were throw around included black bean fried chicken (yey) or incorporating the powder in our burger buns for our new black bean burger we just started…  Pastas, gluten free breads, enrich and thicken sauces, it goes on and on…  I’m already thinking of what else I can powder…  Lentils, wild rice, barley, split peas…  Use them to crust fish and then sear, use in batters…  The list goes on…  Let’s see how some of these ideas turn out.  Can’t wait.

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.

http://freakonomicsradio.com/food-and-the-new-physics.html

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

http://freakonomicsradio.com/waiter-there%E2%80%99s-a-physicist-in-my-soup-pt-1.html

Interesting stuff.

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. 

Garden Progress

Some new photos…

                         

Uses For Sodium Alginate

Here is a great example of how a food additive can be used to create a presentation not normally attainable without them…

Here’s a puree of gazpachio flavors.  The left is without the sodium alginate.  The right is with.

Sodium alginate is a gum, extracted from the cell walls of brown algae.  It binds the water that would normally bleed all over the plate.

Now the avocado puree can really stand out and the presentation is tight and clean.

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.

Jacksonville Inn Gardens

Final planting includes: Broccolini, 8 different types of cherry tomatoes, snow peas, pickling cucumbers, 5 color baby carrots, french breakfast radishes, 6 different summer squash, curly cress, blue veined kale, giant red mustard, basil, dill, mint, chervil, cilantro.

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

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.

Food Revolution

It’s funny, Jerry handed me a newspaper article today that mention’s Jamie Oliver (British Naked Chef fame) and his new show that documents his efforts to start a food revolution in our American school’s food system.  What’s funny is that I received an email today from the web site “Cooking up a Story” which talks about the same show (http://cli.gs/B6PXTt). 

I normally reserve this blog for my work, what I do on a day-to-day basis.  I use it as a platform to grow ideas that can be executed in my kitchen.  I don’t normally write about politics or what’s happening outside my immediate arena.  This however, ties in directly with a food revolution that may have begun with Alice Waters almost 40 years ago.

At the Thrive Workshops I attended last month, there was discussion on how we could get local foods into our local school systems that would help foster a closed loop economic system.  More emphasis was placed on local food in local schools that was the fact that our kids are simply not eating healthy in schools.  Being a father of three young children that are in elementary school, this hits home. 

I urge everyone who reads this post to visit Hulu and watch the premier episode of Jamie’s program.  The full episode can be found here, http://cli.gs/jrhuJy.  It would be an incredible thing to see this be the catalyst that really gets the ball rolling to reform our broken food system starting in the most important place, our children’s schools.

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