I have moved my blog to here. I wanted a fresh start, and the Wordpress environment was a lot more user-friendly (in my opinion). See you there!
I have moved my blog to here. I wanted a fresh start, and the Wordpress environment was a lot more user-friendly (in my opinion). See you there!
I saw the presentation at Ideas in Food. Panna cotta and ground toasted almonds has long been a favourite combination for us, and it paired well with the blueberries which gave it a slightly sour and fresh note. The photo is of rather bad quality, since it was already night when I took it. I should look into some decent lighting soon.
I have also tried the Muscovado, rhubarb and cookie crumbs again, this time with more of a dice cut of the rhubarb, and it worked out even better than the previous version. This definitely is a keep in our repertoire!
I was looking around for decent recipes for making a muscovado ice cream, when I stumbled upon this blog. The idea of muscovado and rhubarb was appealing, but I still wanted the ice cream, and I'm not that fond on shortbread. So I came up with this:
It's muscovado ice cream, which I made by adapting the vanilla ice cream recipe from the perfect scoop, and the poached rhubarb and petit beurre crumbles from dessert fourplay. The verdict? It was a perfect combination, the poching liquid of the rhubard matched the muscovado and crumbles perfectly! The only improvement here is the size of the rhubard batons, they were still rather hard and sour on the inside; next time I'm going to reduce those significantly in size. But other than that, I'm really pleased with this dish.
In the meantime, I'm trying to finish up some other projects as well, such as my quest for a decent batch of macarons. Sadly, those little 'cookies' seem to be my arch-nemesis in the kitchen at the moment. I'll report on those once I make a batch I'm not ashamed of. August will hopefully be a creative month; we're in for some dinner parties, I'll keep you posted on those as well.
I have also decided to change my style a bit as well. First off, it's clearly taking me forever to post anything new, because I just don't feel like going through all the (boring) steps. On top of that it is probably also rather boring to read (I mean, it's not really rocket science I'm doing here). So I'll put up shorter posts more frequently, just showing the final plating.
It's been a crazy month so far, going to Ireland two weeks ago for a conference and going to Bonn next week for another one -- which implied a hell of a lot of work, and not a lot of time to update this blog.
However, tonight I was able to crank something small out of the kitchen, which was quite fun to make: the menthol and chocolate bitesize gem of Michael Laiskonis over at his blog. Apparently, you can find menthol crystals at the pharmacy here, who knew? I made a small mistake in amount needed, let's just say I have enough now to start a small chewing gum factory...
Heating the crystals with sugar, water and agar:
Looks cool doesn't it? The fun thing is, the gel really tastes like menthol, but the chocolate really tempers the harshness. Together with the tiny mint leaf, it's a really cool petit four! I just have to be more careful cutting the thing, since it is clearly a bit off around the edges.
Right, this must be a very tardy update on what's been going on here lately. A lot has happened actually; first off we went to a culinary exposition last month in Brussels, Culinaria^2, which was a lot of fun! The highlight must have been Marcolini though:
The first photo is the degustation palette, the second one a chocolate dessert they served. I really liked the macaron from the palette, but I forgot which taste it had (although I remembered strawberry). It was really light and fluffy.
The dessert was exquisite as well, and we are planning to reproduce it. Details are a bit sketchy now, but it was basically chocolate mousse covered with freeze-dried raspberry, a caramel tuile with a mokka filling, pistachio nuts in syrup (with an anise infusion), chocolate cakes and an edible paper wafer. So far I've got a pretty good idea of how I would like to make it, except for the details on the filling. I'll definitely keep everyone posted (and somewhere in the near future people will get an invite to come over and taste my interpretation)!
Which brings me to the next scheme. Ever since I got Iuzzini's book I've been dying to try out the strawberry mocchi, and guess what, last week my batch of freeze-dried strawberries arrived! Which means I'll be giving them a go once I get through my busy schedule at work (so somewhere near the end of June).
Next week, we also have a dinner party going on here, for which we will try the modern chocolate desert foursome from Iuzzini. I've been pretty stoked about this one, it just looks amazingly delicious. Not a lot has been done so far, so no pictures here, but there will be in my next post next week.
So what about our catering adventure, you might ask? Well, clumsy me, I completely forgot to take any pictures... but it must be said, the catering thing went really well (and, in the style of 'komen eten', we got four tens from our guests). It was a lot of fun, and nothing went wrong this time.
I'm sorry it's mostly talk and almost no pictures, but I keep forgetting to take them. It's getting better though, and I even managed to take some when I was making the ice cream recipe from Heston's Fat Duck cookbook. I admit I'm a complete ice cream addict, and on top of that I'm really really picky when it comes to taste and texture. So far I have made the vanilla ice cream from Leibovitz' book (the perfect scoop), which was truly good (but perhaps a bit too sweet). When I discovered an entire section called 'Ice cream science' in Heston's book I was naturally excited about it, and I just had to try the recipe for vanilla-cinammon ice cream.
Here's the sequence of events:
I don't think any explenation is needed here. So did it fit my expectations? Yes, it did; it wasn't creamy but really light, and an intense cinammon flavour (due to me throwing in an extra stick, I'll remember next time that those things really do give an enormous amount of flavour). I like that it just melts in your mouth and disappears rather quickly while leaving a nice taste behind.
That being said, I'm still looking for the perfect, creamy vanilla ice cream. But hey, at least I do get to try out a lot (and eat it along the way)!
There we go, a small update and a preview on things to come. On top of that, pretty soon (maybe this weekend?) I'm going to try out a dish I've been working on for a while now, which involves peas, champagne, pork and mint.
This weekend I catered a dessert for a dinner party at my parents place. Over the last few years, I have steadily increased my reputation for being able to deliver both cool and good final pieces to an already outstanding dinner. This time however, I wanted to take a huge leap forward, and reproduce the chocolate, brioche & pomelo dish from the Alinea cookbook. I think it was by far the most challenging dish I have ever attempted to create and it took a lot of faith, quick decisions and gut feeling to create it. (As Grant's instructions are sometimes like having a broken compass in the desert. At night. With clouds.)
Anyway, as there was an insane time constraint in the end, I only took pictures whenever I wasn't ready to throw everything out and go buy some instant cookie batter and vanilla ice cream to serve. So a lot of the cool/important steps didn't get documented properly. The good news however is that this desert will make a quick comeback next month, when we will we catering a full dinner. I do promise to document every step closely. In the meantime, I will give some random pics, and the end result:
The end result was delicious. Producing it for the first time, I did make some minor judgement errors, so next time it will be even more delicious; but the flavour paring of pomelo, brioche, chocolate, and the teas were absolutely amazing. I can only image what this dish must have been at Alinea itself.
Tonight I made another quick dish from the Alinea cookbook: egg yolks, asparagus and lemon (notice the omission of meyer there, since I don't have access to those where I live). It's a cool new way of bringing a very classic dish.
The dish requires a foam made of asparagus stalks, a vinaigrette of lemon juice and olive oil, a lemon purée and yolk drops. I started by blanching asparagus stalks and heads:
Afterwards, I threw them into cold water for a few minutes to cool off. The lemon purée was made by blending chopped up whole lemons in my little 'blender', together with some simple syrup and salt:
Afterwards, I juiced the asparagus stalks in my juicer. I should have gotten about 230g of juice, but instead:
Thank god I have one of those high-precision scales so that I could divide the soy lecithin and salt correspondingly. I blended them using an immersion blender and set it aside:
I combined olive oil (instead of the grapeseed oil, which I forgot to buy) and lemon juice:
I thought the lemon didn't come forward enough, so I added some more. I shouldn't have done that, for reasons explained below.
Last but not the least, the yolk drops had to be made. I mixed 2 yolks with some salt and put it in a squeeze bottle. Drops of those yolks were then heated in clarified butter:
These were removed as soon as they started floating.
I whipped up the asparagus juice for the plating:
Looks kinda cool, doesn't it?
The taste was all right. I overdid the lemon vinaigrette a bit (judgement error, see above), and the purée was a bit too bitter. I will definitely try this again soon, fixing both errors.
Incidentally, we are catering this small dinner soon (mid-May), and I think this dish could be a nice first course.
My next post will be the chocolate dessert dish from the Alinea cookbook, which I will try out for a dinner party next Saturday.
A quick post tonight. I've been reading the book 'A day at ElBulli', and one recipe stood out as tasty ànd easy to make: the pine nut marshmallow. I have been looking around a bit for the required pine nut oil, but could not find it anywhere; so instead I decided to change the pine nut to pistachio. I figured substituting one nut for the other wouldn't destroy this dish.
Anyhow, there's not a lot of work in reproducing the recipe. It consists of heating up some milk over a low heat together with (a lot of) gelatin:
Then I had to mix in nearly-frozen milk and pistachio nut oil and stir madly to froth it up. The cold milk actually sets the mixture somewhat whilst beating. Spreading this frothy goodie on a silicone mat and into the fridge it goes:
After a good 2 hours, I took it out and covered four sides with ground nuts, which gave the following result:
Goodie! I must say, it was quite nice, but only for one. It has a very nice structure and is an original way to bring, well, essentially pistachio nuts. It also tastes very good. But I would not enjoy eating, say, ten of them.
On top of that, they just look cool, don't they?
Let's get this second post on the road!
I have always had a love affair with good bread. It's just one of those things I can really be picky about. I also have a very particular preference for bread: I don't like the 'my bread should be so dark it sucks up all the light in the room'-movement and I dislike those mushy pieces in the crust that you often find on those rectangular loafs when they are a couple of days old. Anyway, I was home alone this Saturday, so I thought I would finally try something of a book that's been collecting dust so far: Paris Boulangerie.
I thought I would try both the corn bread and the raisin-nut bread. The first one because I once fell in love with a very good piece of corn bread, and have never been able to reproduce it. I have tried, but also failed spectecularly. The second one because I promised to make one for my roomy. And then I accidentally stumbled across a recipe for madeleines, for which I had all the ingredients, so I made that one as well. And a pie too. But more about the pie later.
Not a lot of interesting pictures though, since making bread constists of throwing together flour, yeast, some sugar/butter/nuts/raisins/corn and kneading. Still, this is what the dough for the corn bread looked like after letting it rise for a while:
And here it is after a short trip to the oven:
So, what is that flour doing there, you might ask? Well, that's actually an error on my behalf: the book said to butter and flour whatever molds necessary, so I duly obliged, not really realizing that you don't need to flour those damn silicone molds these days. On top of that I think I overdid it a bit, so the first batch came out a bit 'flour-y', but the second batch was much better:
I must admit, I got some negative reviews on this one. I absolutely (I mean, really absolutely) loved the smell of them when they were in the oven, and afterwards when I couldn't resist and ate one I didn't notice anything funny. But some critics argued they had a bit of an aftertaste of the yeast. I will make these again with self-raising flour.
Next up was the raisin-nut bread. It consisted of two doughs: first I had to make a pâte Viennoise, let it rest, and them combine it with rye flour, regular flour, some yeast, raisins and chopped walnuts. Looked like this when shoving it in the oven:
And like this when taking them out:
Next up: the pie. I had to make it for my grandfathers' ninetieth birthday. It's the last recipe in the French Laundry cookbook, and while it is ridiculously simple to make (really), it is absolutely delightful. My 'prep':
I put the dough in a round mold, and then put slices of golden delicious apples, core side down, on top of it. Then I sprinkled it with blueberries and cinnamon sugar, put it in the oven, and this is what came out:
And this is the morning after, enjoying a good breakfast with my homemade bread:
So was it worth it? Well, my corn bread turned out to be great, but it still missed some schwung. I will definitely add more kernels next time, but the base dough is good. The raisin-nut bread tasted wonderfully, but was a tad too dense. I think this is due to not timing the oven time correctly (the recipe might be a bit off on this one, as I had to leave it in about 35 minutes more than it called for). But I will certainly make it again, and try to time it right. The madeleines, as I mentioned earlier, were a bit off, but not too much either. So all-in-all these recipes are great, but they need some tweaking.
The pie was really this-tasteful!