Wednesday, November 7, 2007

flavor fav

There's a small trend in haute cuisine to experiment with the chemistry of food through the use of food additives, starches, and gums in order to make crazy food things, like squares of fried hollandaise sauce. The techniques are interesting, but hollandaise sauce wasn't very good for you in the first place, so if you deep fry it, then what? It looks and sounds interesting, maybe it even tastes great, but to what end?

I like playing around with dishes and flavors and sometimes they work, and sometimes they don't. Here's a desert where I was trying to walk the line between a high and low construct to cuisine. The flavors work (the most important thing) although the plate presentation needs some reinvention because right now it looks like there's a mummy on the plate which makes me think "dead food" and that's not good.

This dish is informed by a few very simple principles: use the very best ingredients that you can find, and then extract as much flavor as you possibly can from these ingredients, and present them so the dish is centered on the intensity of the flavors and not on extraneous things. The techniques described are quite fundamental, they just take time to execute, which is one reason I don't make deserts very often anymore.

For this desert we pair and contrast the flavor of 2 fruits and offset them with a bit of every one's favorite. Chocolate. To achieve the intense flavors that we're after we will make 2 reductions. One from fresh pineapples (in season) and the other from dried cherries (always in season).

For the pineapple reduction. Take 3 cups of fresh pineapple juice and place in a stainless steel pan along with a small piece of peeled ginger (about the size of your little finger). Bring quickly to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Reduce the liquid by at least two-thirds. During the reduction, the juice is going to turn a lovely amber color and ginger essence is going to permeate the glaze. Add 3 T. turbinado sugar to help retain some of the color and flavors, but don't overdue it with the sugar as you can caramelize your sauce. Remove the ginger and continue the reduction until the sauce thinly coats the back of a spoon. Set aside to cool.

For the cherry reduction. It's just a variant of the above process, except the flavors end is sweeter, denser, and more succulent than the pineapple glaze. To 4 cups of black cherry juice and 1 cup of white grape (or pear) juice, add 1 cup of dried tart Michigan cherries and one quarter of a plump Madagascar vanilla bean split down the middle. Half-way through the reduction, scrap the seeds from the bean, continue to reduce the liquid until there's about one cup or at which point it will coat the back of a spoon. The dried cherries should now be quite plump and a deep ruby red. Set aside to cool.

Assembling the dish. Take 4 or 5 thick wedges of fresh pineapple and either broil them or sear them quickly in a small amount of butter in a hot pan to seal the edges.

Sauce the plate in the abstract pattern of your choosing (my plate presentation here really sucks), arrange the pineapple wedges on top, garnish with the plumped cherries, and small bits of chocolate nibs*.

*Note: Chocolate nibs are the outer husk of the chocolate bean after roasting. They have the highest antioxidant rating of any food, about 60 times more powerful than the brussel sprout. You can substitute extra bitter dark chocolate savings in its place. Dark chocolate only has about 15 times the antioxidant power of the lowly brussel sprout.

Note 2: This is fine follow-up to a bison burrito.

m.o.i.: flavor fav
m.o.i.: purple food, purple food
m.o.i.: Fruit cobbler for breakfast?

more info:
the world's best chocolate

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

id like to campaign for you to make desserts more often.
lots of them.