Molecular Gastronomy

Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare

Posted in Life, Molecular Gastronomy, Recipes, Techniques on January 13th, 2012 by Natacha – Comments Off on Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare

It’s been a very good year or like my husband says “the best ever”…

I ended the year with a meal at an amazing restaurant and met a very inspirational chef : Cesar Ramirez. Unlike any other 3 Michelin Star restaurant, Brooklyn Fare is a BYOB, single-menu prix-fixe, and payment is required to be pre-arranged. (You pay for your meal before you even go, which makes the whole experience easier, and let’s you forget how much you just shelled out.) My husband brought some champagne that was offered by my great-grand mother, it made the whole night even more special.

Champagne Millésimé from "mémé"

Brooklyn Fare has 18 seats disposed in a U-shape with one waitress/sommelier in the middle – although no wine list or actual wines. Cesar and his small crew cook right in front of you through 20+ small dishes and he steps out of the kitchen to talk to patrons and friends. He loved the fact that I was from Alsace and recognized that his cabbage dish (an Alsatian staple) must have taken more than 8 hours to cook. As he served us an egg dish topped by a whole slice of black truffle from Perigord, he yelled “no extra charge”. Cesar (always wearing a crisp white shirt during service, and keeping it white as my husband noted) told me he loves his craft and that the restaurant wasn’t making any money but “that’s not what matters”.

When I asked him where he trained (he used an interesting mix of advanced cooking techniques as well as traditional ones) he simply laughed at me…”I learned by working in restaurants!” I was also very pleased to have seen all the great dishware he was using. Cesar told us he has one of the most expensive collections of restaurant china in the world, which is very possibly true: some bowls that balanced on a pinpoint magnet, large plates made out of stone, Laguiole knives…

I used to love David Chang’s simplicity but Cesar took it to a whole other  level…So there you have it: the most fantastic food experience so far!  I just hope that when they get a liquor license it doesn’t take away from the charm of this little restaurant.

Thank you Cesar for one of the best food experience in my life (and my hubby for making it happen !)

Cesar Ramirez - Photo courtesy of Art Culinaire magazine

Hollandaise Science

Posted in Molecular Gastronomy, Recipes, Techniques on September 14th, 2011 by Natacha – Comments Off on Hollandaise Science

My husband dislikes Hollandaise sauce, I love it with white wine poached salmon and steamed potatoes…Huge dilemma !

I tried many version, changed the flavoring, played with the viscosity…But I finally found the solution ( YES -> Highlight of the week).

I made a Hollandaise sauce and then transferred it to an iSi whipper, added a CO2 cartridge and there you go : the result is an amazingly light and foamy Hollandaise sauce.

Ingredients for the 1L iSi Gourmet Whip:

650 g butter cubes (makes about 500 ml clarified butter), 5 egg yolks and 2 whole eggs, 50 g finely chopped shallots or onions, 100 ml dry white wine, juice of one lemon, 1 to 1.5 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1 to 1.5 bay leaves, 6 crushed black peppercorns, salt, white or Cayenne pepper and a pinch of sugar.

Preparation:

Melt the butter cubes in a pot and bring to a boil (clarifying – approx. 5 minutes). Skim off the foam from the top of the butter with a ladle. Allow the chopped shallots to cook in the vegetable oil without coloring. Add the crushed peppercorns and the bay leaves (broken into pieces), then add the white wine and allow the mixture to simmer and reduce for about 3 minutes. Pass the spice stock through a fine strainer. Place the egg yolk, the two whole eggs and 4 tablespoons of the reduction in a metal bowl and whisk it over a pan of barely simmering water (approx. 70 °C / 160° F) until it doubles in size (approx. 1 to 1,5 minutes). Next, carefully stir in the warm liquid butter (approx. 50° C / 120° F), first drop by drop and then gradually increasing the amount of butter added. The mixture needs to emulsify (form a combination of egg and butter). Finally, season the sauce with salt, sugar, white pepper and lemon juice. Pour the sauce into a 1 l Gourmet Whip, screw in two cream chargers and shake vigorously. Keep the filled Gourmet Whip warm in a bain marie at temperatures of up to 65° C / 150° F.

You don’t have to follow that exact recipe, you can easily simplify it and just make a warm emulsion with butter, egg yolks and lemon juice for a quick sauce !

The wonders of Kuzu

Posted in Molecular Gastronomy on October 6th, 2010 by Natacha – 3 Comments

I know that corn starch is a staple item in many household but in my search for eating the least processed foods, i came across Kuzu. Kuzu or Kudzu was recommended to me by David Bouley  when i took some of his cooking classes.
Kuzu is used as a thickening agent, it comes from a plant that grows like crazy in the south of the United States…and earned its nickname of “foot-a-night vine”, “mile-a-minute vine”. Basically it grows everywhere, but its thickening capacities remain unsurpassed.

Also unlike corn starch it has no taste at all (my dad could always tell when my mom used corn starch instead of flour or butter to thicken sauces – being the French man that he is, he hates it).  Also another advantage is that it is not highly processed nor bleached like corn starch.

It also contains awesome isoflavones with various effects (from cancer protection -research by Harvard University to hangover cures in China).

To use it, simply dilute/crush some kuzu blocks with cold water and then add it to your sauce (or whatever needs thickening).

Kudzu flower

Simplicity is key

Posted in Molecular Gastronomy, Recipes on September 3rd, 2010 by Natacha – 1 Comment

My siphon has arrived !!! To test it out, I tried a simple “Chantilly” cream and prepared strawberries and Chantilly.

In the siphon i put 1 cup of organic heavy whipping cream, 1 tsp. natural vanilla extract, 3 Tbsp. of organic sugar, insert gaz cartridge and there you go !

Elegant and delicious in 5 minutes

Advanced studies : Hydrocolloids

Posted in Life, Molecular Gastronomy on August 30th, 2010 by Natacha – Comments Off on Advanced studies : Hydrocolloids

I just filled out an admission form for an advanced class at the French Culinary Institute in New York.

The class is about hydrocolloids. Hopefully it is not “too” advanced and hopefully i can find everything i need to make those magic potions at home…

Siphon

Posted in Cooking tools, Molecular Gastronomy on August 30th, 2010 by Natacha – 1 Comment

I have sleepless nights over my latest acquisition : a siphon.

Isi One pint Gourmet

Used in molecular gastronomy, this tool will elevate my cooking to new levels.

It has been ordered and will arrive this week.

Basically it allows you to add “air” into your preparation, it can be commonly used for whipping cream but can also make a mousse out of anything…and I mean it ANYTHING…Dreaming of espresso mousses, Bellini cocktail toppers, fish foams etc…

Williams and Sonoma started selling them but you can find them for much much cheaper on other websites.