Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Raspberry and Bacon

This time, I started with basic flavours first, and then the form after. I'm a big fan of polvoron, a filipino pastry that originated (I think) from Spain. It is a crumbly pastry that somewhat resembles shortcake. Its flavour is quite delicious with nutty tones from the roasted flour. It is made with roasted flour, butter, milk powder and sugar. In my case, I decided to use rendered bacon fat instead of butter, and added bacon bits. The raspberry took the form of a sorbet. These should provide great contrast. You have the acidity and freshness from the raspberry sorbet and a delicous, nutty, BACONY taste from the polvoron. It's quite a treat.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Back to Basics - Molecular Gastronomy vs Comfort

When I started my job, my initial understanding of molecular gastronomy was that it is a method of cooking that involves all these high tech equipment only available to food technicians. Things like a refractometer, PH meters, vaporizers and of course, liquid nitrogen. As my knowledge grew, and took more knowledge from chefs who practice molecular gastronomy, my understanding of it evolved. I would like to say that molecular gastronomy is really just the study of food and knowing exactly what happens when you cook.

In reality, chefs have been practicing molecular gastronomy for ages! The act of cooking meat, in and of itself, is already a complicated process. Proteins denature, moisture evaporates from the meat, carmelization of the meat's surface, breaking down of collagen, and so many more physical and chemical occurances. My current interpretation of molecular gastronomy is, in a nutshell, a very basic but exact understanding of the scientific occurances in food. It is simply the pursuit of knowledge as well as using this knowledge in the kitchen. With this, chefs can manipulate, improvise, or perfect current dishes.

Molecular gastronomy is also not limited to the fancy 3 Michelin star restaurants and Iron Chefs. As I stated, it is simply knowledge. It can be part of your very own home cooking. Take this duck for example:

Defintely not as fancy in appearance if compared to dishes from Alinea and Elbulli (and I am also not at their caliber, not yet). Yet, its preparation does share some similar methods. Molecular gastronomy highly popularised sous vide cooking - to cook food in a vacuum bag, immersed in water at a low temperature. In this specific example, I placed the duck in a ziploc bag filled with some foie gras fat, thyme and shallots. I also squeezed out as much air as i could. I then immersed the bag in water at 130 degrees F for 40 minutes. This is a temperature that makes it impossible for the duck to overcook. At the end, simply sear it at high heat for carmelization.

It is simply a new tool with which cooks can use to heighten the food they create. In little ways, we can all incorporate a little bit more knowledge into our cooking. It requires no fancy gadgets or exotic ingredients, just a better understanding of the food you make.

Sous vide tenderloin with foie gras, red wine and balsamic reduction with currants. Served with crispy thin cut fries.

Liquids! Lots of em (Shooters)

Quite a colourful collection of purees, consommes and extracts. Purees of butternut squash, sweat peas, carrot, strawberry consomme, and the darker green is a cucumber extract. Any of these can be combined to make a soup. Butternut squash would be a great hearty soup served warm for the colder weather. The carrot and sweat pea purees are to die for when served cold on a hot summer's day.

Here's a shot of the cold soup shooter. Carrot puree with nutmeg, sweat pea with mint.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Strawberry Terrine

Classic pairiing of strawberries, blueberries and cream.

Devon cream is just so luxurious to have. Unfortunately something that cannot be enjoyed often due to its insane fat content, but once in a while, INDULGE. Mint cream sauce just to give it a refreshing component. The terrine is made with fresh strawberries and gelled strawberry consomme.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Food Plating

So today, I had some extra ingredients left from my previous experiments - a flank steak in the freezer, as well as some garnishes. So I decided to have fun with plating some of the flank steak.

And heres something inspired by the colours of the Italian flag.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Another Step

Yes, I am again revisiting the chicken tempura. This time, however, the differences are much more apparent. I decided to add panko crumbs to the batter, making the chicken tempura resemble traditional japanese tempura more closely. Also, I diluted the goat cheese in milk to soften its flavour, as well as to change the texture into something with a yogurt-like consistency. The dish still retains the basil pure and sundried tomato paste. There is also roasted pepper puree and some Onion sprouts for garnish.

I think I can give this recipe a break, and work on other things. I'm quite satisfied with this.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Avocado and Cotton Candy

Odd combination to most, indeed. See, in Philippines, it's a delightful dessert where avocado and sweetened condensed milk are mixed together and chilled. It's really quite delicious. So it made perfect sense for me to marry something sweet with avocado. However, there's more to this dish than just avocado and sweetness. This concoction also contains bacon, a little dash of cinnamon and nutmeg. It's also intriguing how the different flavours reveal themselves at different intervals when eating it. The initial flavour are the spices, then a sudden but subtle sweetness from the isomalt cotton candy. As you chew, the texture of the avocado gel reveals itself, along with the drop of rendered bacon oil. So what is this, dessert or an appetizer? I have no clue. It has components for both since it is both sweet and savoury.