October 29, 2010 § 4 Comments
”You do find of course in a vegan restaurant the chefs themselves are often much more engaged and passionate with what they’re doing b/c the way in which they got to that place involved their own personal beliefs and philosophies moreso than in a traditional kitchen” – chef Daniel Mongraw of Saf in London
The following is a short Vegan Society interview with chef Daniel Mongraw from Saf, a well-known and highly rated (by non-vegans) vegan restaurant in London, with a dollop of food porn thrown in. Consider this a follow up to my post on inspired cuisine, in which I laid out my value-based appreciation for passionate food. In many ways, creating food of this calibre is a performance skill learned through practice. And as with any performance oriented discipline, passion is the catalyst for making okay performers good, good performers great, and great performers best in class.
Categories aside, passion is the common thread that makes a restaurant’s food great or not. As Mongraw mentions, the passion of vegan chefs comes from personal values and so there is a natural drive to produce excellent food. He notes, “we can do things with textures, and flavors and senses, that the pleasures of eating food, you still get all that with vegan food“. With this goal, Saf is transforming the idea of vegan food from soggy sprouts to sensational, inspired cuisine; and the restaurant is changing diners’ perceptions along the way. Time Out voted Saf one of the 50 best restaurants in London, which has helped them to attract an even wider variety of diners, not just vegans and vegetarians who might not have high standards for the culinary experience. And the quality of the experience, not the cache or lack thereof (sprouts and tofu scramble, ick) is winning people over. With pioneers like Saf, Madeline Bistro and Candle 79, vegan food might one day make it onto the list of Friday night dining options. Imagine hearing, ’should we go vegan, thai or molecular gastro tonight?’!!
“Working in a vegan restaurant as a chef at the level we’re trying to work at is very exciting because there’s a sense that we’re trying to push the boundaries and do things that haven’t been done before and …be at a level that’s respected as just restaurant and just food.”
October 26, 2010 § 8 Comments
We entertained a few international house guests this past weekend. In an attempt to contribute a bit of American flair to our Friday night dessert I made a Peanut Butter Pie. Admittedly, I did not come up with this idea on my own. My roommate bought a pre-made pie crust a while back (not the graham cracker kind), and I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with it ever since. Whenever I want a ‘pie’ I usually make a tart! So, this pre-made crust has kind of been a burden lingering in the refrigerator.
The foodbuzz network has a database of recipes which I used to skim through looking for anything I had all the ingredients to make, which left only (sad, I know) Peanut Butter Pie. In the end, I used the following recipe (link), which isn’t from the foodbuzz network, go figure. This peanut butter pie tastes a bit like a frozen version of the peanut butter part of a Reese’s pieces peanut butter cup (mouthful isn’t it). I garnished with shaved truffles, but you can always go heavier on the chocolate contribution. A little extra chocolate never hurt This is probably the easiest dessert I’ve ever made. I think it took a full 15 minutes, if even, not including the time to freeze.
1/2 (4oz) a pack of cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 (8oz) package frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 pie crust (graham cracker is preferred)
handful of shaved chocolate truffle shavings
Beat the cream cheese, sugar, peanut butter and milk until smooth. Fold in whipped topping. Pour into pie shell. Cover and freeze until firm.
October 21, 2010 § 10 Comments
A while back I caught an episode of Iron Chef America centered around spinach. I can’t remember who the contestants were, but one dish cooked that night has stayed with me ever since and has been begging me to recreate it in my kitchen. In an homage to that calling, I bring you a spinach mac ‘n cheese, with a heavy dose of garlic thrown in as my own spin on the dish.
Mac ‘n cheese has been both a handicap and a love of mine for many years now. College opened the door to culinary freedom for me. It also presented the first time in my life that I was able to cook rubbish food (my mother is an amazing cook who tends to make everything from scratch, and she can probably count the number of times she’s had a box of mac n’ cheese in her pantry).
While on my own I went a little wild, indulging in the classic Kraft version many times a week, and enduring the ensuing stomach aches (true story). There was a brief hiatus between me and my beloved mac ‘n cheese until I moved into a job where I basically couldn’t leave my desk at all during the workday. I would scour Walgreen’s for the one-serving microwave packs and upped the ‘gourmet’ quotient with chopped tomatoes or frozen spinach. Now that I’m in the saddle with a serious string of culinary work behind me (tell me you can sense the sarcasm), I decided to reprise the dish with the Iron Chef spin in mind.
I can only give an approximate range on the ingredients, this was one of those throwing random things in the pot sessions. If any of you have follow-up questions, please feel free to post them, and I’ll do my best to get back to you with more accuracy (I wouldn’t mind making this one again!). And by the way, it was delicious. The whole tray was gone by the end of the night.
Garlic Spinach Mac ‘n Cheese
-A bit less than half a pound of elbow macaroni
-2 cloves of minced garlic
-Somewhere around 6 tsps of Earth balance margarine (tried to keep it low-fat)
-Around 3 tsps of flour
-1 cup of pasta water (saved from cooking the elbow macaroni)
-4 tsps of half and half
-1 small handful of grated mozzarella cheese
-2 small handfuls of grated cheddar cheese
-2 tsps of grated parmesan cheese
-2 cups of frozen spinach (thawed)
-salt and pepper to taste
-red pepper flakes (as much as you can handle)
-2 handfuls of breadcrumbs
Cook the elbow macaroni. Save 1 cup of the pasta water.
In a separate vessel, melt the Earth balance on medium heat in a large frying pan. Add the minced garlic. Let the butter soak in the garlic for a short bit. Smell the wonderfulness. Let that make you happy and hungry. Whisk in the flour followed by the pasta water and half and half. This mixture should become a bit thicker, I believe this is called a roux. Add the cheeses, whisking along the way. Make sure all of the ingredients are incorporated without lumps. Add the spinach and incorporate well. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. When the sauce tastes amazing, add the elbow macaroni. Delicately fold the sauce into the pasta until all is well mixed. Pour into a glass baking dish. Dust breadcrumbs over the top and broil on high just until the breadcrumbs turn a golden brown.
My note of caution to you is that this main dish, though wonderful, is a slab of fat. To be fair to your body, have it with a side of steamed broccoli and a salad.
October 17, 2010 § 2 Comments
My friend B and I plowed through a marathon baking session this weekend, making three batches of goodies:
1. Rustic Goat cheese Apple Walnut tart
2. Pomegranate Melting Moments cookie sandwiches
3. B’s perfect oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
This session was not without purpose. I hadn’t seen my friend in a while and we kind of bond over a love of food given our shared vegetarian diet constraint. So, now that I have this ongoing project of cooking/baking new things, we thought it would be cool to center a night around baking. The weather has been so depressing recently that it just felt right to hole up inside and whip up endless trays of warm, hearty treats.
So, the first of the treats was a variation of the rustic tart I’ve been very openly obsessed with posting here for the past few weeks. This might actually be my 9th tart in the span of like 20 days or something similarly strange. My inspiration here was the abundant apple supply we have here at the house, and a cylindrical block of honey goat cheese I picked up recently. For the tart crust (see my earlier post for the recipe and step by step), I substituted white flour with whole wheat as my ‘experiment’. It was NOT good. The classic sensational pleasures of the tart (flaky, butter goodness) were killed with this crust. My hunch is that in order to adapt the whole wheat to parallel the experience of the white flour crust, much more butter will need to be added, in addition to other substitutes that I honestly hadn’t looked into at the time. The whole thing was a bit cardboard-like and not picture worthy, although I managed to salvage a shot from my recycle bin to post here in case you’re interested. For the base I spread a layer of honey goat cheese, then followed with sliced apples and a brown sugar/chopped walnut topping.
Oh, another thing worthy of noting here is that the pictures featured in this post are the first I’ve taken using a backdrop!! The reason I decided to go this route is because the overcast depressing winter sky is rendering all times of day unworthy of shooting with natural light!! Not to mention we baked all these goodies at night, so using a backdrop (in this case white) is the closest I was able to get to simulating mid-day. I will most likely expand my repertoire of backdrops and venture into props for your amusement. I’m sure staring at white space is going to get boring over time =)
Back to the food, the second batch of goodies was a spin on Liv Life’s Passionfruit Melting Moments. Her pictures were amazing and made me want to get my hands on those cookies. My attempt here is a version that replaces about 3/4 cup of pure pomegranate juice for the passionfruit juice that the original recipe calls for. The recipe is exactly the same otherwise. The extras I will note here are that the recipe only makes about 6 cookie sandwiches (if you decide to go down the road of filling) and that I would aire on the side of cooking them longer, like 15 minutes minimum, with an eye on them for the remainder. My result was delicious. The cookies really do just about melt in your mouth, likely attributable to the combination of corn starch and powdered sugar. My hunch is that it’s possible to make these cookies gluten-free all the way. It’s going to require some experimentation and research. In the meantime, I don’t really plan to make these cookies for a while. I’d say I had my fill. I realized in the course of sampling that I’m not really a cookie person. Maybe there is a petite French woman inside of me somewhere, but I don’t like my desserts too sweet, and definitely prefer a cake or a tart any day.
Okay, now to the amazing cookies…
Whenever we do potlucks, my friend B brings the most amazing oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I’ve always had her near, so I’ve had the luxury of being complacent in learning to bake them myself. But since I’m now interested in learning to cook and bake wild storms, I had to learn to make these cookies. There is a bit of a chemistry experiment involved, but don’t let that derail you. They are, for the most part, easy enough and they are delicious crowd pleasers.
B’s Perfect Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies
(from a Reader’s Digest best of issue many years ago, makes about 24 cookies)
1 cup soft butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup boiling water
1 tsp vanilla
1 + 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups quick oats
12 oz chocolate chips (I like bittersweet, the original recipe calls for semi-sweet)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Cream the butter and sugar together. In a separate vessel, dissolve the baking soda in boiling water. Stir this into the creamed butter/sugar mixture. Add the vanilla and dry ingredients to the mixture. Finally, add the chocolate chips. Drop small balls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
October 14, 2010 § 13 Comments
Hey, sorry to post and run but…
Here’s a quick dish I threw together as a last minute lunch for my friend who came to visit me today!! I was looking to use up the last of my shiitake mushroom loot and some orzo in a creamy dish that might complement the overcast sky and colder temps, and as a result came up with the following (the sun is out now so I’m happy and out the door!!):
Creamy Shiitake Spinach Orzo
(makes 2 hearty main course servings)
2 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 an onion finely chopped
1 cup of frozen spinach
8 shiitake mushrooms, cut into small pieces
1 cup of cooked orzo
2 tsps parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
2 tbsps milk
3-4 tsps water
oil for pan frying
Cook the onions and garlic on medium heat in an oiled frying pan. When the onions are translucent, add the frozen spinach along with about 3-4 tsps of water. Let the water cook off a bit, then add the shiitake mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Let this mixture cook for about 2-3 minutes, then add the milk and cooked orzo, and mix on low heat. Mix in the parmesan cheese, and finally turn off the heat and let the orzo sit covered for about 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
October 13, 2010 § 2 Comments
I had a mini Iron Chef-ish session in the kitchen this afternoon; ingredient: Polenta & Shiitake Mushrooms (yes TWO ingredients)!!! The day was a bit hectic with various goings on, so I was only able to do 2 courses. I have to say that I had never eaten or cooked with polenta prior to today. I was eagerly looking into it as a carb substitute. I have over time slowly moved from white rice to whole wheat couscous and am now expanding my horizons to include more gluten-free options, just to keep the diet a bit more balanced (and b/c I get more than my fill of wheat-based flour from my recent tart obsession).
1st course: Daikon Polenta cakes
2nd course: ‘Chick’n’ Piccata over Honey Goat Cheese and Polenta Cake
So, first I must say that the daikon polenta cakes were delicious. The issue needing work on this experimental project of mine is simply finding a way to make the form stiffer so that I can pan fry it with less oil. I think adding a bit of mashed potato may work, although each additional carb added takes away from the flavor!! I will play around with this, and hope to report back with an updated and more presentable version.
I am obsessed with the daikon rice cakes at the Slanted Door in SF. I generally dislike eating out for various reasons that would warrant a post all on their own, and as a result rarely frequent restaurants. But, if I were to count how many times I’ve dined at Slanted Door it very possibly would be just shy of a three digit number. I go there only to start my meal with the daikon rice cakes. The rest of the meal is a blur I rarely remember or waste stomach space on, but the cakes are first and the cakes I always love!! Now that I’m on this crusade to cook creative and inspired dishes at home I felt it appropriate to take a stab at this favorite dish. I picked up about half a long stalk of daikon radish at the local Asian market this past weekend and in the spur of some moment remembered I had to finish it. So, the polenta staring me in the face was a kind of natural marriage, at least in my warped brain. The pairing was surprisingly pleasant and, texture aside, the difference in flavor was barely noticeable.
This was a true experiment, so I don’t have measurements. Instead I took a picture of the exact ingredients that I used so that if you decide to recreate this, you have somewhat of a roadmap. The cooking method is as follows:
Sauté the onion, garlic and green chile in an oiled (a substantial amount that will go on to cook the full mixture: daikon, polenta and all) soup pot. Add the shiitake (I saved the tops for the main dish). Let them cook, then follow with the shredded daikon; season w. salt, pepper and liquid aminos. Incorporate the ingredients until the flavors are evenly distributed. Finally add your pre-cooked polenta. Stir until the polenta is smooth and the mixture resembles a creamy mash. Pour the mixture into a wide glass dish and let it cool. When you’re ready to serve, pan fry disced cut outs until crispy, golden brown.
October 11, 2010 § 8 Comments
I have been spending a bit too much time on baking desserts recently, and tend to use these sorts of dishes as bookends to my day. This simply means that I eat cakes and tarts for breakfast and then go back for a 2nd dosage at the end of the day for dessert. In the meantime, I’ve been kind of preoccupied with some issues here and haven’t been eating good foods throughout the day, in the pages so to speak. I noticed that I’ve been very lethargic over the past few days and I need to stop this spiral!!! So, I am going on a fruit and veggie diet for the next week. Check back for some interesting recipes (maybe?). Although, this week is about practicality, so I won’t be focusing on creativity, just getting back to nourishing my brain and my body! So, please enjoy this last sweet treat before my mini hiatus =)
Cherry Tea Cakes recently posted an awesome piece on chocolate collars with a how-to video link (see below). This inspired creativity is why I love the foodie community. The chocolate collars are molded chocolate strips that frame the outside of the cake to give it that ‘someone cared enough to dress me up and I belong in a serious pastry case’ look. I generally don’t bake without a couple of days notice, but after seeing this video and having recently vowed to make a vegan chocolate cake, I just got up and started baking within minutes, literally.
The vegan chocolate cake is a special calling, as I generally find the cakes I get from vegan restaurants to be dry and uninteresting. They make me wish I hadn’t entertained the idea of cake at all!! I decided to start with a basic recipe online. It’s pretty classic and posted just about everywhere (the one requiring vinegar). I made two small two-layer cakes, and only decorated one with the collar, the other is still waiting for my creative hand to receive inspiration from somewhere!!
The cake was, unfortunately, dry!!! I plan to try an applesauce or chocolate pudding variation in the future. In the event that it’s just impossible to produce a moist vegan cake (this just can’t be!!), layering is an excellent tactic. The more layers, the better. If one can construct multiple, perhaps 4+ thin layers sandwiching frosting, this would be optimal, as the cake layers would be too thin to detect the dryness, and that dryness would be infused with the moistness from the frosting. It would be sensory confusion, at least we can hope. For the frosting I just used a pre-made container, as I was kind of thrown off guard by this experiment and didn’t have vegan cream cheese on hand.
Note on the chocolate collar: the one I did here (pictured below) has what you can call a very ‘rustic’ look to it. I didn’t take much care to ensure the chocolate was spread evenly in making the collar, which is key if you are going for a very refined and classic look. I was just experimenting, and I quite like the rustic look. Taste wise, chocolate collars don’t add too entirely much to a chocolate cake. It does, however, add a variety of texture, which is paramount to inspired creative cuisine. I think taking this to the next level would involve flavored chocolate collars (think mint, cayenne pepper, etc..). Check out the video (below) for directions on construction.
For a cake this size you will need only a handful of chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli dark chips). I heated them in a microwave in my glass tart dish, originally trying this experiment with tupperware. FAIL!!! Within one minute the thing was fried and the chocolate had died, leaving an ugly stench in its wake. So, if you do go the microwave route, stick to a very durable dish, porcelain preferably, and keep your eye on it like a hawk. You’ll want to warm the chips until they’ve just begun to melt. They will still retain the general shape of the chips, but that’s fine. Once you stir them, the mixture will become smooth, and if not, just keep zapping them at 15-ish seconds. It’s better to be cautious with chocolate!
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/6 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup coffee (at room temperature)
1/3 cup soy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsps vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all the dry ingredients. It’s best to sift them so as not to let pass any dry clumps. Add the wet ingredients (sans vinegar) and mix with a fork until fully incorporated. Once incorporated, mix in the vinegar. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.
October 8, 2010 § 7 Comments
Now that I’ve plowed through the “tarts are hard” barrier, I can’t help myself. I make them all the time!! The rustics are incredibly easy, and very similar to the experience of making a pizza. It simply requires making the dough, spreading the ingredients on the surface, and folding up the sides. I can’t even honestly call this an oversimplification.
On this particular occassion, I tried a slightly different recipe for the shell than the one used in my earlier plum tart. Although I used less butter in this recipe, the crust was much more delicate and flakier. This may be because I assembled my tart at room temperature and baked it for less than the prescribed 50-ish minutes. I refrigerated the dough overnight and cut it in half to make a full two-course meal (1st course: Spinach Feta Tart; 2nd course: Walnut Peach Tart, for recipe see my Rustic Walnut Plum Tart and simply switch out the plums for two peaches). Operating this way, by relegating prep time to the night before, resulted in a seamless 1hr cook/bake time, that left me just enough time to bake, eat and make it out the door for the evening
Rustic Spinach Feta Tart
(makes about 3 main course servings)
(this will make enough dough for two medium sized tarts)
1 + 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 + 1/2 sticks butter
1/2 tsp salt
3-6 tsps ice water
2 cups frozen spinach, thawed
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
anywhere from 0 – 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes, depending on your tolerance for heat
salt and pepper to taste
6 tsps feta cheese
4 tsps cream cheese
1 small tomato, sliced for topping
oil for cooking
a few small chilled butter squares for topping during the baking process
In a heated and lightly oiled frying pan, add the minced garlic and onion. Cook on medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add the spinach, and season with the red pepper flakes and cracked black pepper. Add a pinch of salt, but not too much as the feta cheese is very salty. Cook for about 5-7 minutes. Once finished, let the mixture sit aside until reaching room temperature.
In a separate bowl, mix the feta and cream cheese. Season with cracked black pepper.
To assemble: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. On a floured surface, roll out half of the dough in a circle that is between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick all around. It needs to be just thick enough to handle without falling apart. The trick I like to use here is to roll out my dough on a large wooden cutting board with a piece of wax paper between my rolling pin and my dough. Both the wax paper and cutting board sides should be floured. When you are ready to transfer to a baking sheet, simply turn over the full contraption with wax paper side facing the baking sheet and then lift off the cutting board. Once this is done spread the spinach on the surface of the rolled dough, leaving about a 1 + 1/2 inch border clear for folding (see picture). Add the cheese layer over the spinach layer, and finally top with sliced tomato in a concentric pattern. Fold the sides over the center. Top with chilled butter squares and bake on 425 degrees for about 35 minutes or until the tart is golden brown and you see that the cheese has melted.
October 6, 2010 § 10 Comments
It’s often hard to decide where to draw the line between a failure and a mistake. With respect to my kitchen escapades, this was one of those times. In the end this dish survived the column of failure on one count: it was damn good…despite the glaring error. So, the big mistake here was using won ton wrappers instead of dumpling wrappers.
Doesn’t sound like such a big deal, right? No, it is, especially when you take each dough to the realm of the deep fryer. These won ton wrappers didn’t hold up well. The resulting won tons, as you see pictured, expanded to look like little lightbulbs. This wasn’t the case when we experimented with dumpling wrappers on the same recipe. The dumpling wrappers came out of the fryer with their shape intact.
All this aside, in the instances where the won ton expansion didn’t result in explosion, the resulting shape was pleasantly unique. I absolutely love this dish, even though it’s a crass American spin on Chinese cuisine. It’s still so wonderful!!! The filling consists of cream cheese, chopped green onions and cracked black pepper. Assembly is simple enough (see picture), and the deep frying is straight forward as well. Happy cooking!!
October 4, 2010 § 11 Comments
This tart was a milestone for me. Tarts were one of my biggest culinary fears. Now that I’ve plowed through that barrier and seen how easy they can be to make (maybe not easy, but doable for sure), I have so many ideas for others, including mini rustic tarts, savory tarts (like this goat cheese and tomato tart) and the like.
Overall, this tart was a success. I served it with the coconut-chocolate truffle ice cream that I made the night before. With the tart, I made the mistake of adding too much of the dry sugar mixture to the top. It was so dense that the plums didn’t absorb it all and I had to keep adding additional butter cubes to the topping during the baking process. This is why the top of the tart looks kind of grey instead of showing the concentric pattern of the plums, which I meticulously cut and arranged.
Otherwise, the tart was perfection. I even got a rave review from my toughest critic (the mother, who is quick to point out every flaw…ex) once I served a friend a mini blueberry pie that I made, and she said to him ‘do you like it? i didn’t like it. i thought the dough was too soft’) who found me the next day to discuss which other fruits I might be willing to make tarts out of for her.
1 + 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for the work surface
1/2 cup butter (cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
1/2 tsp salt
3 – 6 tbsps ice water
3 large plums
little less than 1/2 cup raw cane sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1 handful of chopped walnuts
To make the tart shell:
Using the pastry blade in a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter, and blend in the processor until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Slowly add the water, 1 tbsp at a time. Only add enough for the dough to hold together without becoming wet (it should look like the picture to the left). Pulse just until dough begins to hold together. Turn dough out onto a clean surface. Gather into a ball and flatten into a 6-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
While the dough chills, prepare the fruit filling. Cut the plums into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. In a separate bowl, combine and mix the raw sugar, cinnamon, flour and chopped walnuts.
Preheat oven to 425°. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to make a 12-inch round about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer to dough (this might be tricky, that is why it is imperative that your surface is beyond well-floured) to a wax paper lined baking sheet.
Sprinkle 1/3 of the dry sugar mixture on the dough circle, leaving a clean border of about 2 inches all around. Arrange the plum slices in concentric circles on top. Sprinkle the remaining sugar mixture and top with butter (as shown).
Bake until the crust is deep golden brown and fruit is bubbling (this can take anywhere from 30-50 minutes). Once removed from the oven, set the tart on a wired cooling rack.
October 3, 2010 § 2 Comments
I found the link to this short video (2:42) on Sweet Freak’s site and it made me think about how someone might justify the seemingly superficial world of food of this calibre, not just sweets, but the full range of high-end food. So, there is the most apparent argument, that is: we are what we eat, and by extension if we fill our bodies with thoughtful, high-quality ingredients, the machines that are our bodies, will function at full capacity, all things being equal (e.g. exercise as a form of machine maintenance). I would agree with this thought, but it doesn’t wholly apply to consuming the high-end of the spectrum that concerns itself with composition as much as flavor and quality. The most valuable element of the experience for me is that I simply derive inspiration from witnessing and consuming an artistic plate that is both composed impeccably and that tastes amazing. Why? Someone held themselves to a very high standard to create this plate, so by virtue of consuming that plate, I am consuming excellence. So, it isn’t about the wheels of my body being greased in the best oils, but about my mind consuming inspiration from the full sensory experience of the meal. It keeps me inspired and creative, which evolves into a form of joy as I practice this creative excellence in my own kitchen. The creative excellence, along with the joy that practicing it brings, becomes part of me and I carry it with me beyond the bounds of my kitchen.
Consuming the excellence inspires me to pursue my own excellence, and so I feel obliged to sponsor these innovators.
Reflection aside, this video carries a high dosage of food porn. If you at all love Paris, macaroons, the Ladurée tea room at Harrods, lingering in the windows of pastry shops, etc. then you will love this video as much as I do!!
October 2, 2010 § 6 Comments
I have another solution for the west coast heat: homemade coconut ice cream, laced with chocolate truffle shavings. I love chocolate chip ice creams but when the chips are just frozen chunks of chocolate, you know the variety that sticks in the crevices of your molars for a few minutes, I consider that an inconsiderate oversight on the part of manufacturers. So, for this recipe I shaved chocolate truffles into the batch. It was all made in my kitchen, using my good old arm (getting older every day =() in place of an ice cream maker. The prospect of doing this yourself may seem daunting, but it’s actually easy, surprisingly so. All you’ll need is a mixing bowl (preferably steel so that you can freeze it) and a Saturday (you’ll need to devote a good ten minutes to the project, spaced out over a 4hr period). The recipe I used is adapted from David Lebovitz’ Coconut saffron recipe:
1 cup coconut milk (canned stuff will do the trick)
2/3 cup half and half (the original recipe calls for heavy cream, but I like to keep it light wherever I can)
1/4 cup raw cane sugar
shavings from 2 chocolate truffles
After 30 min, check on the mixture. The sides should be beginning to freeze. Whisk the mixture to break up the ice crystals forming on the sides and throughout (you can also use an electric beater). Put the mixture back in the refrigerator for another half hour. Repeat this process at least three times. On the 3rd or 4th time transfer the mixture to a storage container and freeze overnight. The ice cream will be ready to serve the next day!!
Almost vegan, but not quite. The compromise of using coconut milk and half and half resulted in an ice cream that is very quick to melt once spooned into a bowl. It might be better to go the sorbet route for the vegan option, until becoming comfortable enough with non-traditional ingredients that act in place of creams and eggs. I will experiment with real ice cream, e.g. good and fatty cream based ingredients in the future. So, stay tuned for that.
ALSO: I almost forgot!! The Culinary Physics lectures mentioned in The future of Food have begun, and are available to watch during the live stream hosted from Harvard’s website on Monday nights @ 7pm EST. The next lecture will be streamed on Monday, October 4th and is called Heat, Temperature and Chocolate. Can’t wait!!