Ah, its finally time to reveal why I actually started this blog. You are probably thinking ‘What? It wasn’t to give me all kinds of amazing recipes and tips and to practice your photography skills?’ Well, yes, it was. But the thing that turned it from a faint pipe dream to an actual reality was the fact that I wanted to join The Daring Kitchen! Joining the club/group (not sure how they want themselves defined) got me so excited my husband could hardly handle my joy when I told him I wanted to join. He said I was like a little eager puppy just jumping all over the place. Don’t worry though, I didn’t piddle on the floor in my excitement. But it was hard not to, though!
With great anticipation I waited, and waited, and waited until the day came when the challenge recipe would be revealed. I had to be at work, but I stalked the forums with such ferocity and obsession that I got zero work done that day. That’s right. Zero.
When the challenge was finally posted, I clicked on the link with such joy filling my heart. Only for my heart to suddenly stop beating! Oh, what had I gotten myself into?!?! As I scanned the recipe, my sympathetic reflexes kicked in – my heart race increased, my pupils dilated, my mouth went dry, and I definitely started to hyperventilate. The challenge was part of a movement called Molecular Cuisine (or Gastronomy), which I had never heard of, the recipe included dehydrating and grinding things into powders, making something called buerre monte (which I had also never heard of), and skate, which is kind of like a sting ray. It looked way, way beyond my skill level.
At the end of the day, I go home with my 6 page recipe in hand, still hyperventilating, only to be chastised by my husband. “Uhh… aren’t you a scientist?” he says “Don’t you have a degree in biology and chemistry? What are you complaining about? This should be a walk in the park for you!”
Oh. Well, yeah, I guess if it’s put that way, maybe I have a change of completing this challenge after all. And after re-reading the recipe a few hundred times I decided that maybe this wasn’t as complicated as I originally thought.
If you are interested, Molecular Cuisine is a new movement that is sweeping through the foodie community that applies scientific methods to preparing food, and then uses artistic concepts to plate it. Another big concept in Molecular Cuisine is the pairing of flavors to create new and unusual dishes. At least, that is the way I interpret it. But since this is my first time hearing about this, much less using this technique, I am by no means an expert. If you would like to learn more, please visit this blog: (Alinea At Home). This month's challenge was hosted by Sketchy of Sketchy's Kitchen! (by the way, Thanks Sketchy for ripping me out of my comfort bubble - it is much appreciated!)
So, after much research, contemplation, and going out and buying a food scale, I entered my kitchen with my head held high to begin the challenge.
Making the powders wasn’t hard, but it was very time consuming. I am glad that I devoted a few days to making the powders. I don’t have a dehydrator, and I didn’t want my oven to be on for countless hours in the middle of a Midwestern summer, the microwave was my only option. It was a slow, boring process of watching the plate rotate inside the microwave for about 4 days. I didn’t want the powders to burn, so I used a really low heat setting (about 3 out of 10). But the tediousness of it turned out well, since nothing burned, and all the powders turned out beautifully. I did get a bit frustrated with the red onion and the cilantro/parsley. They took about a million years to dehydrate. I eventually just stuck them in the fridge and left them there overnight. That seemed to suck the rest of the water out of them, and they were perfectly grindable the next day. I had wanted to do a pineapple powder, but even though I started with dried pineapple pieces, I could not for the life of me get them dehydrated more, and they just made a massive gummy mess. So I snacked on the pieces while I finished making the rest of the powders!
I was surprisingly pleased with how the buerre monte turned out, since I had no idea what it was to begin with, I had never made an emulsion before, and really had no idea what I was doing. But besides it seeming to take forever and feeling like my wrist was going to snap off and crawl away before I got all the butter whisked in, it turned out beautifully!!
The finished product was great! It turned out much better than I expected it to, and was actually rather tasty! The best part was mixing and matching the powders together. It was like a taste explosion! Everything was rather bland by itself, but mix this with a little of that and POW! If it didn’t take a week for me to make, I might do it more often!!
Chicken, Traditional Flavors Powdered
4 chicken breasts
2 cups fresh green beans
4 sticks butter
2 medium lemons
2 medium limes
2 bunches cilantro
2 bunches parsley
2 cups coconut
1 red onion
2 cups macademia nuts
¼ cup water
A whole roll of paper towels
Directions for powders:
Lemon Lime Powder:
Use a vegetable peeler to peel off the zest of the limes and lemons. Make sure not to get too much of the white pitch. Make a simple syrup and blanch the zest 3 times in the syrup. Pat the zest dry with paper towels. Place the zest on a plate lined with paper towels. Microwave for 8 to 10 minutes on medium power, or until the zest is dehydrated completely. Once cooled, grind in a coffee grinder.
Cilantro Parsley Powder:
Working in small bunches, blanch the cilantro and parsley for one second in boiling salt water. Submerge into ice water for three minutes. Pat dry with paper towels. Microwave in 30 second intervals, changing out wet paper towels until dry. Can finish off the drying process in the fridge overnight if needed. Don’t cover with paper towels in the microwave, it only prolongs the drying. Make sure that the cilantro and parsley are completely dry before grinding in the coffee grinder or the stems with get caught.
Red Onion Powder:
Mince half a red onion as small as you possibly can. Microwave on low to medium power for 20 minutes, or until dry. I think mine took a lot longer than 20 minutes, but I had it on low power so it would not burn. When dry, pulse in grinder.
Toasted Coconut Powder:
Toast the coconut on a baking sheet at 325 for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown. When cooled, grind in coffee grinder.
Macademia Nut Powder:
Toast the macademia nuts on a baking sheet at 3325 for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Grind in a grinder when cooled. Be carefully when grinding that you don’t grind too much, or you will end up with macademia nut butter.
Ok, I totally cheated on this one and just used some store bought… Shhh! Don’t tell!
Directions for Buerre Monte:
Cube 4 sticks of butter and place in freezer for about 20 minutes prior to starting. In a small saucepan, bring ¼ cup water to boil. Turn heat down to super duper low, and whisk in one cube of butter at a time. Do not add the next cube until the previous cube has melted. This will form an emulsion. Keep this heated, but below 195 degrees. The emulsion will not break – this is your poaching liquid.
Directions for Green Beans:
Slice each green bean into very thin rounds, about 2 mm across. Bring 1 cup of water, 1 cup of the buerre monte and the green beans to a boil in a saucepan. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat and season with a pinch of salt.
Directions for Chicken:
Bring about 3 cups of water and 3 cups of buerre monte to boil. Simmer the chicken in this until cooked. When cooked, remove from pan, slice on the bias and season with a pinch of salt.
Directions for Plating:
Place small mounds of each powder on the plate and swirl with the tip of a small spoon to create a pattern. Slice the bananas into thin slices and place two rows next to the powders. Pile some green beans on top of the bananas. Place the chicken on top of the green beans.
Clean the coffee grinder with a chunk of bread before starting, and in between each powder. This will help to clean out any particles of the previous powder that could taint your next powder, or create a funky flavor in your next cup of coffee.
The chicken can be substituted for Skate, Cod, or Flounder, if desired. You can also substitute any flavor powder you wish. Be creative and make your own!