Sunday, January 25, 2015

Hasselback Celeriac

Hasselback potatoes are a wonderful spin on oven fries and baked potato all rolled into one. The method is driven by thinly slicing an unpeeled potato most of the way through so it's barely connected. This is followed by basting with butter and seasoning. As it bakes through, the flavorful fat coated slices accordion and become crispy delicious medallions.

Pepperoni Hasselback Celeriac Post Bake

I figured this application would work for root vegetables. I decided give celeriac a try. I cut wedges of the root then hasselback sliced them. I wanted to optimize flavor infusion without having to fan the slices with the risk of breaking the segment apart.

Pepperoni Hasselback Celeriac Pre-Bake

I inserted pieces of pepperoni into each cut. As the celeriac baked through, the salami oil squeezed out and basted each layer. This created crispy and chewy textures from both the celeriac and pepperoni that worked in concert. The earthy celery flavor stood up to the salty umami of the cured sausage. They were delicious and fun to eat.

Hasselback needs to be applied to all sorts of root vegetables. Consider a carrot and pea pesto. Maybe sunchokes layered with chicken skin. Let's not forget the possibility of dense and unripe fruits. There's all sorts of goodness to be had. I look forward to hearing about what worked for you.

As always, keep the ideas bouncing...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Smoked Dulce de Leche

I've been messing around with smoking sugar for a while. The best results have come from using liquid concentrates like honey and maple syrup because they capture the flavor better than solids. My absolute favorite is mesquite hot smoked molasses. The cooking process makes it so smooth you can't stop eating by the spoonful. With the experience of leveraging heat to yield a delicious transformation, I couldn't help but develop a dulce de leche.

Corn Cob Smoked Dulce de Leche

I started by hot smoking sweetened condensed milk (SCM) on a sheet pan. The thought was to gain caramelization depth as well as kick start the Maillard reaction. All it took was a couple hours and mixing every fifteen minutes to develop enough smoke and complimentary brown butter notes. I'm sure you can get to full dulce with time, but it would likely be too smoky and there's no need.

Corn Cob Smoked Sweetened Condensed Milk

For the dulce de leche, I opted for the no fuss crock pot method. The process is dead simple. All you have to do is take a can of sweetened condensed milk, put it in a crock pot filled with water set to low and wait for 24 hours. Of course the smoked SCM is now uncanned, but that is easily solved by putting it into a mason jar. The bonus is that it's contained so the smoke flavor loss is minimized.

Canned Smoked Dulce de Leche

Smoking added pleasing depth without overwhelming the base notes. It's freaking delicious and should be used sparingly as with any dulce or caramel sauce application. Go make some and drizzle away.

As always, keep the ideas bouncing...

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Any Cookie Spread

I'm always looking to experiment with the not so pretty and broken bits of cookies that come with holiday baking. Recently, I was noodling nut butter ideas and a connection was made.

Pepperoni Salted Ginger Snap Peanut Butter

Why not make a cookie butter? It should have been obvious after having experienced Biscoff Spread. It's a delicious speculoos cookie spread. If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend getting a jar to enjoy. Be careful not to eat the entire container in a sitting.

I spun up the food processor with ginger snaps until they were crumbs. Next I added peanut butter & continued spinning until it was thoroughly mixed. This was followed by drizzling oil until it became a spreadable consistency. I balanced the base flavor with pepperoni salt and a touch of honey. The result yielded a delicious so wrong so right moment. Once you try it, you'll understand.

The Needs
  • Food processor
  • Broken and ugly cookies
  • Nut/seed/dairy/other butter (optional but recommended)
  • Matching or neutral flavored oil
  • Any complementary salt in concentrate, powder or granule form
  • Sugar syrup like honey/maple/whatever makes sense

The Method
  • Process cookies to yield 2 cups of crumbs
  • Add 1/8 cup butter of your choosing & process until fully incorporated
  • Drizzle oil while processor is spinning until it reaches a spreadable consistency
  • Add salt to taste
  • Supplement with syrup as needed
No hard and fast rules when it comes to the method. Follow your taste buds as you spin the ingredients.

I look forward to seeing what you come up with to keep the ideas bouncing.  

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Cranberry Kimchi

I couldn't help but kimchi cranberries because I was a bit tired of the typical fruit sauce variations. Having done a lot of kraut and kimchi experiments with all sorts of vegetables, it only made sense to try a fruit.

Kimchi Seasoned Chopped Cranberries

I stripped out all of the savory components so it would be centered on the cranberry flavor and more versatile. Technically closer to a kraut or hot sauce ferment, but kimchi sounds better.

Mashed Cranberry Kimchi Mix

The Needs
  • 1 wide mouthed pint canning jar
  • 1 potato masher or rolling pin and gallon zip top bag
  • 300g fresh cranberries
  • 7.5g salt
  • 1T freshly grated ginger 
  • 1t gochugaru (Korean chili pepper powder)
  • Cranberry or orange juice as required

The following steps assume that you're familiar with this type of fermentation and understand how to maintain it. If you've never made sauerkraut or kimchi before, I strongly suggest trying Sandor Katz's recipe first.

The Process
  • Rough chop cranberries and add to a large bowl
  • Add salt, ginger and chili powder
  • Mash the cranberries until they're all compressed and juices are flowing
  • Compress the mash into a wide mouthed pint canning jar
  • Make sure the liquid covers the solids
  • If it doesn't, add a little juice, mix it with the mash and compress it back down until it does
  • Allow to ferment for at least one month or until you're happy with the flavor

I hope this inspires you to consider fermenting all sorts of fruits in the kimchi fashion. As always, please share your experiments to keep the ideas bouncing.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Flamed Satsuma Peel Marmalade

Marmalade is amazing because it utilizes the entire fruit to harness an array of flavors and textures. It only made sense to give Satsumas a go when they showed up this season.

Searzall Charred Satsuma
As with all of my investigations, there's a twist (pun intended). I couldn't help but wonder if using the cocktail method of flaming the orange peel would enhance the flavor. The key was figuring out a way to capture the aromatics so squeezing the peel to ignite the citrus oil was out. The Searzall sitting on my counter was the obvious answer. I lit it up and torched the Satsuma whole. It smelled pretty awesome and knew that I was onto something.

Plump and Warm Satsuma Post Peel Torching
Fresh Satsumas are addictive because they're easy to peel, crazy sweet and seedless. When I bought them for this project, I ate so many that my tongue went numb. The aromatic zest and scant amount of pith brings down the bitterness that you'd expect in a traditional orange marmalade. The membranes are so delicate there's no need to separate them in a muslin bag to extract the pectin.

Sliced Satsuma and Ribbons of Charred Peels
After I torched the mandarin, I peeled off the skin. Then I sliced the orange, did up a chiffonade on the peels and put them into a medium sauce pan. I cut the sugar down to 1/3 what's called for in a standard marmalade. The intent was to highlight the flavors instead of drowning them out with sweetness. You end up with a refrigerator jam that can't be put up but that's ok.

Flamed Satsuma Peel Marmalade
After it was cooked down and cooled, I tasted it. The Satsumas shined with a toned down bitterness. There were also smoky & burnt notes that came through from the charred peel. The ribbons of zest didn't hold together as much as a traditional, but it still had plenty of texture contrast. It was everything I hoped it would be.

Now go forth and make marmalade with any citrus you enjoy eating fresh. There's also something to be said for using the flavorful parts that would otherwise be tossed. It harnesses an indescribable complexity that by default matches the fruit. Also, don't forget to char all the citrus or any fruit for that matter prior to making a fruit preserve. So many possibilities...

The Method
  • Start off with a marmalade recipe of your choice (Here's AB's)
  • Scale the recipe down to make 1 pint or whatever amount you can use up in a couple weeks
  • Cut the sugar content down to a third
  • Simmer until most of the water is driven out before you kick up the heat to get to temperature
  • Once it's cool, refrigerate
  • It should last for at least a couple weeks in the fridge

As always, let us know how this inspires you to keep the ideas bouncing.