Thursday, April 12, 2012

We've moved

Hi folks! I know it's been a while since the last post. We've been going through many changes the past few months. Firstly, THE FOOD LAB IS COMPLETED!!!! It has all (well, almost all) the toys a modernist cook would want. Secondly, the general idea of my work has really changed as well, more exciting things to do! So it was only fitting to start a new website aptly named

So again, for the new site,click

Here's a photo from the new site. Whiskey in a rotary evaporator.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Making butter with a Centrifuge @ 8,000 rpm

I saw that in Modernist cuisine that they made butter using a centrifuge. So I decided to do the same. It's actually REALLY interesting how this piece of equipment separates the heavy cream. As you can see in the photo below, there are 3 layers. The top layer is butter. Later on, I 'll discuss how much butter fat I think may be in it. The middle layer is apparently the water and whey, I have no idea what the bottom layer is, I can however, describe how they taste. 

I separated the layers by first poking a hole through the top layer of butter, and just pouring out the liquids. The water and whey is not as viscous so it pours out first before the bottom layer does. The bottom layer has the consistency of low fat yogurt that has no gums or thickeners present in it. They are also miles apart in flavour. 

The bottom most layer has an extremely rich texture. Thick and creamy, but in a different way. See, its creamy in the sense that it's thick, but it lacks that fatty oomph in the texture. Flavour-wise, it's very subtle. There's not a lot of milky flavours in it, but the texture is just out of this world. The whey on the other hand is packed with flavoour. It has the consistency of skim milk, but its yellowish and not as opaque in appearance. The sweetness of the cream definitely comes through in the middle layer. I derived quite the amount of pleasure from drinking it. Especially knowing that there's probably not a lot of fat in it!

Here, I went to see how much the fat content is in the butter. I don't have the necessary equipment so I decided to do it just by measuring weights before and after boiling off the water. 

I tared off the weight of the pot and measured quite close to 200g. 

I then went to clarify it at a low heat. Technically, only the water would be boiled off. I'm certain there might be more, but for practicality, I just stuck with simple and basic theory that water evaporates, the rest don't. 

Since the goal wasn't exactly to clarify the butter, I didn't skim off the foam that forms. Doing so would only add another variable to the testing, and not to mention take out weight that would not have reduced from the boiling. 

And here is the final weight of 148.01g grams.That's about a 25% loss in weight, making the butter only 75% butter fat. I forgot to mention that left the butter on paper towels before I placed them on the pot. Even if we take into account the flaws in the method of collection and give a margin of error of 5%, that would still make it 80% butter fat at most. 

I was hoping to get 90% butter fat. Perhaps I need to leave it in the centrifuge longer, and at higher rpm. I have to say, that machine scares me a little. I've heard horror stories of labs exploding from centrifuges malfunctioning. Oh well, ALL IN THE NAME OF PROGRESS! I'll be doing this trial again.

I also have some cultured cream I want to centrifuge to make cultured butter. 

Till next time!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

GPI Cooks in Philippines

I was lucky enough to go to Philippines and spend Christmas with family. I thought to make the most of it by cooking a 10 course dinner, using the techniques I learned and ingredients from GPI. I had to bring some ingredients from Canada as variety is quite limited in Philippines. For example, I brought some double smoked bacon and short ribs from Cumbrae's farm. I also made the foie gras in Canada since it takes 3 days to make.

All in all though, it was a VERY challenging dinner, mostly due to the limited number of pots and burners, namely 3 burners. It was a painful bottleneck, but we managed. I had some help from a friend who studied in CCA in San Francisco. Another challenging aspect of cooking this kind of dinner in the Philippines is the ingredients; it's just different. Some of the ingredients are not even available, and its actually the ingredients that you would think are easy to find. For example, the only variety of milk and cream available are the ones that have gone under UHT treatment and as a result, some properties are different especially flavour. The flour is different, starches are different. Again, it's the ingredients that you would think would be the same across the globe. One factor that I would argue impacted the dinner most significantly was the weather. Philippines is brutally humid and warm. Salts left out in the open become clumpy, my freeze dried roasted garlic started to get soft, the foie torchon is quick to melt when taken out of the fridge. Also one thing I noticed was that fridges in Philippines aren't as dry, meaning the internal conditions are also quite humid. Again, although the dinner went well, it was definitely a learning experience.

Here are some photos. I wasn't able to take photos of all the courses. Sometimes I just forgot and well, the focus was really on the food.

Mango ravioli with lemon, basil, and a bit of apricot mixed in. Philippine mangoes are without a doubt, some of the best I've ever had.

Poached pear and Gorgonzola nugget
Tomato espuma, with guanciale, local cherry tomato, mussel and micro basil
Squash soup with creme fraiche, candied pecans, chive oil and truffles. The soup was poured table side. 
Scallop and squid, uni puree, pear puree, sweet ponzu soy. Uni is incredibly cheap there. I bought about half a pound of uni for under $10. I used some gums for both purees just to increase the viscosity as well as improve the mouthfeel. 

Tobacco and vanilla bread pudding, almond polvoron. The bread was soaked in an eggless custard. The custard was made using our lambda carrageenan. I love that stuff!
Here's a look at the kitchen I cooked in. 

The 3 burners, how I wish I had 3 more!

We had an amazing counter top to use for the final plating. I hope I didn't scratch it up though. 

Would I do it again...hell yes! 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

GPI Culinary now available online!!!

Hello everyone! I am extremely pleased to announce that our GPI culinary products are finally available for online purchasing. Currently we have only launched with 3 products, namely the Kokumi, Cream and the FlexiGel. Needless to say, we will soon be offering all hydrocolloids for online purchasing. Expect to see sodium alginate, agar, gellan, etc on the shopping cart.

To view the online shop, click

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Apple and Pork on a salad

Due to popular demand, I made something more "healthy". By healthy I mean less fat and salt. So I made this apple dressing for a salad. The apples are cooked sous vide and with apple cider to preserve the light colour then pureed. I added some iota carrageenan to add some body to the dressing. I didn't want to add a lot of butter since I wanted to keep that sharpness to the apples.

So I made it healthy, but I couldn't ignore my calling for bacon. So I bought some cured pork belly and fried them at medium heat on a skillet. It turns into beautiful crispy chunks of bacon. mmmmm. I also had some freeze-dried pancetta left from last week's trials and added that to the dish.

PS ~ they had the choice of putting bacon or not. :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New Caprese

2 weeka go I spun tomato puree in a centrifuge and produced a magnificent tomato consomme. This week, I wanted to work on that component and have it as part of a complete dish. The initial suggestion from people on Egullet was Caprese salad. So now the question is how to make a modern version of that without deviating too far.

There has to be a point of reference on the dish, and I decided it should be the mozarella; unaltered, and left as the anchor to the dish. Everything else is changed.

The tomato consomme became tomato gelee. It's amazing how crystal clear that thing is. I placed it on top of tomato powder for colour, and again, having that colour as a point of reference for the tomato. The basil was pureed with olive oil. It's like pesto without the pine nuts and parmeggiano reggiano. To add some texture to the dish, I placed bits of freeze-dried roasted garlic - crunchy, sweet, and of course, roast garlicky.

The tomato consomme was solidified using CarraPure 6455. It's designed to be used as a gelatin alternative.

Tomato gelee
1. Puree skinned tomatoes
2. Place the puree in a centrifuge and spin at 6,000 rpm for 1 hour.
3. mix in CarraPure 6455 at 1%. Heat to 75C and set in molds.
4. Place in the cooler until set, about 1 hour.

Another photo I took. Slightly different plating.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ultimate Consomme

I was able to take the centrifuge for a spin (pun intended). Rotating at 8,200 RPM, it creates the clearest and most pure consommes I have ever come across. The tomato consomme I made had a strong tomato flavour, and was very sweet.

The beauty of it, I think, is how light these consommes are. Flavour molecules, as I was told, are the some of the lightest molecules. So they go to the top while being spun in the centrifuge. While proteins, starches and other substances are the heaviest, therefore sinking down. So what you have then is a liquid that is free of starch, and protein and contains only water and flavour. PERFECT!

Here is a photo of the tomato consomme while in the centrifuge container. Taken with iPhone.

I ended up putting some watermelon puree into the centrifuge as well. The liquid comes out extremely clear. The sweetness will vary depending on the sweetness of the original watermelon. White tomato sauce is on the left, which is just tomato consomme and white roux, and watermelon consomme on the right.

To make a finished dish with the tomato sauce, I sous vide some halibut, then wrapped it with a parmeggiano reggiano crust. Paired it with some pickled fennel. Yes, a very white dish. Which is exactly what I wanted.

Another very interesting use of the white tomato sauce was pasta "Alfredo". It looked like alfredo but was far from. In flavour, it is a very delicious tomato and basil pasta, but definitely very unique in appearance, and VERY delicious. My coworkers at it all before I could take a photo.