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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

No, it's Not Science Class - it's Cooking


This month's Daring Cook's challenge was also my first attempt at molecular cuisine. Specifically, we would be investigating the intensification of flavours when dried. The dried herbs and flavouring agents would then be ground into a powder and used as an accompaniment to some poached fish.
Being an A+ science student (ha), I wasn't too worried about this month's challenge. However, the day I planned on making everything, the universe had something else in mind. I spent the entire morning in the Just for Kids clinic, after my little son came down with a rash. This meant that all of those precious hours needed to properly dry out my herbs in the oven was no longer an option. Why not postpone making the dish to another day? Well, didn't I mention I was having a dinner guest... and I promised her a dining experience like no other. And I was in no state to think of something else to make.
Since moving, I haven't really become accustomed to our microwave, since we rarely ever use it. So, finding out how long and which power level to use to dry out the flavour components was very much trial and error. The Daring Cooks forum did warn about how quickly the parsley and cilantro could burn. They definitely weren't exaggerating. There I was, with my nose pressed against the glass, watching intently. I turned away for one second and the entire thing was in flames. And, if you haven't had the pleasure of smelling smoking parsley and cilantro, not to worry; it smells exactly like another herb which is usually lit on purpose. I was sure my neighbors thought some hippies had moved in next store!
All other powders were made successfully, but I found my onion & caper powder had retained a bit too much moisture. It still had a great flavour, which I guess is the main concern, so I wasn't too disappointed.
It was an extremely wonderful challenge this month and I am really happy I was able to experiment in the kitchen a little more than I normally do.


Skate, Traditional Flavors Powdered - with changes
4 skate wings
* Beurre monte
* 300g fresh green beans
sea salt/kosher salt
1 banana
454g butter - 4 sticks
300g lemons
5g citric acid/vitamin c tablet
150g cilantro
150g parsley
100g dried banana chips
300g spray dried cream powder (or powdered milk)
100g cup minced red onion
200g capers (brined, not oil)
* For green beans, slice each beans into very thin rounds (2 mm)
* Beurre Monte - 454g butter (4 sticks, 1 pound) cubed and cold, 60g water. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil, remove from heat and whisk in the butter 1 cube at a time. This should from an emulsion. Keep this heated, but under 195 degrees. The emulsion will not break - this is your poaching liquid.

Powders - prepare ahead of time
caper / onion
lemon powder
cilantro/parsley powder
'brown butter' powder

Powders
once dried, all powders should be pulsed in a coffee grinder/spice mill/morter and pestle then passed through a chinois or fine mesh strainer.

citrus powder
300g lemons
1000g simple syrup
5g citric acid/vitamin c tablet

zest 300g of lemons (10.6 oz), remove the pith from the zest and poach in the simple syrup three times. dry with paper towels and move to a dehydrating tray. 130 for 12 hours. pulse the zest in a coffee grinder, pass through chinois, and mix with citric acid/vitamin C powder.

If you do not have a dehydrator, place in microwave for 8 to 10 minutes at medium powder. Once dried, follow the other instructions.

cilantro/parsley powder
150g cilantro
150g parsley

blanch the parsley in boiling saltwater for 1 second, submerge the leaves in ice water for 3 minutes. Dry on paper towels and place on dehydrator tray. 130 for 12 hours. grind and pass through chinois.

If you do not have a dehydrator, place in microwave for 30 seconds, turn over leaves and microwave for another thirty seconds. They should be dry by now, pulse in coffee grinder, pass through chinois and reserve.

onion powder
100g cup minced red onions

dehydrator - 130 for 12 hours
microwave at medium power for 20 minutes.

pulse in grinder, pass through chinois

Caper powder
200g capers (get the ones packed in brine/vinegar)

run the capers under cold water for two minutes to remove some of the brine.
dry on paper towels and dehydrate for 12 hours at 130 degrees.
microwave instructions are unclear. Dry them as much a possible with paper towels, the microwave on medium for 1 minute. Check the moisture content and stir them. repeat for 30 second intervals until they are dry. If you use this method, pleas post the time needed to dry the capers.

Once dry, pulse and sift the powder. Mix it with the onion powder.

Brown Butter powder

100g Dried banana chips (unsweetened if possible - many are coated in honey - the freeze dried ones would be brilliant)
300g spray dried cream powder

If you cannot find the cream powder, you can substitute Bob's red mill non fat dry milk powder, or even carnation instant milk powder. The substitutions will alter the flavor a little, but you will still get the general idea.

preheat the oven to 350 degrees, sift the cream powder into a fine layer on a silpat or on parchment. bake for 4 minutes, then remove for heat. If it bakes for too long, it will burn. Be very cautious with all powders in the oven. They all go from browned to burnt in a few seconds.

grind the banana chips in a coffee grinder and mix with the toasted cream powder. Pass this through a chinois and reserve.



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* For green beans, slice each beans into very thin rounds (2 mm)
* Beurre Monte - 454g butter (4 sticks, 1 pound) cubed and cold, 60g water. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil, remove from heat and whisk in the butter 1 cube at a time. This should from an emulsion. Keep this heated, but under 195 degrees. The emulsion will not break - this is your poaching liquid.

Skate
Prepare the skate - 50G v shaped cuts are recommended
Bring 100g water, 100g beurre monte, and green bean rounds to a boil over high heat. Cook until the water has evaporated (about 3 minutes), when the pan is almost dry, remove it from heat and season with 3g salt

bring 300g water and 300g beurre monte to simmer over medium heat, add skate wings and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and flip the wing over and let rest in pan for two more minutes. Transfer to warming tray lined with parchment and season with 5 grams of fine sea salt.

Plating

Take the tip of a small spoon and make a small mound of the citrus powder, the onion-caper powder, and the cilantro parsley-powder. Swirl these around in a hurricane type pattern. I found that it is easier, and you get finer lines if you lightly shake the plate to flatten out the mounds, then swirl the spoon through it to get the pattern.

peel the remaining banana into very think slices (3mm) fan three slices on the plate, place green beans on top and place skate wing portion on top. On the tall edge, sprinkle the brown butter powder.

5 comments:

Lisa Michelle said...

LOL@And, if you haven't had the pleasure of smelling smoking parsley and cilantro, not to worry; it smells exactly like another herb which is usually lit on purpose.

I love the way your dish came out, so beautifully presented and clean, and your powders look great! Well done!!

climbhighak said...

This has to be a first for Daring Cooks, two fires this month.

Your dish shows none of the chaos that preceded it. Great work.

Ninette said...

So what did your guest think? My guest was my hubby, and he thought it was all right.

Audax said...

Another fire now that makes a first for a challenge we've had mice and chicken eating the finished dish, lightening storms and elements explosing I never realised it could be so dangerous joining the DK. Just love your picture and the swirl looks so professional great job on this challenge. I hope the smell wasn't too much to hippy for you LOL. Cheers from Audax in Australia

Sweet Kitchen said...

Very impressive that you tried this out on a guest! Lovely presentation - you would never know that you had technical issues!!