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Cooking a molecular gastronomy tasting menu


the_nomad
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I'm cooking a twelve-course "tasting menu" for friends on Saturday (with cooking starting today and continuing tomorrow as well), and I was considering writing the process up on here, as I'll be using a variety of techniques that might be of interest to e-gulleters (sous-vide, spherification, various hydrocolloid tricks). In addition, I'm far from the most competent cook in the world, and I thought people might get some amusement from my flailing as I try to cook what is, let's face it, quite an ambitious dinner.

Edited by the_nomad (log)

Kamikaze Cookery: Three geeks cook. With Science. And occasionally, explosions.

http://www.kamikazecookery.com

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I'm cooking a twelve-course "tasting menu" for friends on Saturday (with cooking starting today and continuing tomorrow as well), and I was considering writing the process up on here, as I'll be using a variety of techniques that might be of interest to e-gulleters (sous-vide, spherification, various hydrocolloid tricks). In addition, I'm far from the most competent cook in the world, and I thought people might get some amusement from my flailing as I try to cook what is, let's face it, quite an ambitious dinner.

Good luck! I look forward to reading about your dinner

Edited by FastTalkingHighTrousers (log)
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Thanks for the encouragement, guys!

So, first up, what's the occasion? About two years ago, I had a meal which changed my life. It was the Fat Duck tasting menu, and, well, enough said (although if you really want more, here are links to my party's reports of the experience - warning, looooong.)

I've been cooking implausibly complicated dinner parties for years, starting with a Roman Banquet back in '99 where one guest fell asleep for a course and a half and still came away stuffed. (And we didn't finish all the food, with the result that I lived on oysters and vine leaves for the next week.) Post-Fat Duck, I've gotten more and more enthused about cooking in general, and both "molecular gastronomy" (yes, I know Heston and Ferran both hate the name, but it does the job) and really, really fine dining.

So, my plan has been for a while to try to cook something like the tasting menus I've had at top restaurants, and hopefully get within extreme shouting range, at least, of the sort of quality that I've had at places like the Fat Duck, Gastropod in Vancouver, and others. Normally, I'll tend to cook other people's recipes - cookbooks, chefs, or most recently badly-translated 15th Century French Court dinner schedules - at dinner parties - but this time, I'm going to actually try recipes that I've at least adapted myself.

To quote loud shouty UK TV program Top Gear, "how hard ... can it be?"

So, the intended meal:

Amuses Bouches

Molecular Kirsch - an amuse-bouche / aperetif. Pearls of sphericised Creme de Cassis floating in champagne - or cava, actually, because I couldn't afford champagne. Yes, every Molecular Gastronomist and his freeze-dried dog has thought of this one, but I came up with it independently, so it's mine, dammit.

Veloute of Pea and Coconut - Ok, this one isn't even slightly mine. It's nicked wholesale from "Essence", again, and the reason is because, quite simply, it kicks ass. The presentation (green soup in a shot glass with a top of white foam) is amazing, and it tastes gorgeous.

Starters

Poached Egg, white onion soup and roast parma ham with mushrooms - heavily lifted from the "Essence" cookbook, which is, incidentally, made of 100% solid Awesome. Having tried their poached duck eggs recipe, I loved the idea and the roast parma (well, serrano, in their recipe) ham, but thought it could benefit from some modification. Yes, I've decided I know well enough to tinker with a two-star recipe. What could possibly go wrong?

Scallops with apple foam, apple balsamic vinegar vinaigrette and steamed asparagus - There's a fantastic apple grower who turns up at Edinburgh's farmer's market every week, and his apple juice will be forming the basis for the apple foam here, along with some inspiration from C in Vancouver, where I ate something similar to this, but more complicated and probably better! I'm rubbish at cooking scallops, which could be hilarious, but at least I've cooked this one before.

Palette Cleanser

Blood Orange Foam - Very simple thicker foam using xanthan in an iSi cream whipper, just using regular tropicana blood orange juice. I've had it made with gelatin, and it was fantastic, but collapsed a bit quickly and had a slight gelatin taste - tests show the xanthan works better.

Mains

Mutton Risotto - This one was a total accident - you can read about how it came to pass here. Using sous-vide mutton leg steak cooked at 70 degrees Centigrade for 24 hours, with fresh, fried shitakke mushrooms, and using the juice from the mutton in addition to a chicken stock base, it was great the last time I had it. Let's hope that I can replicate the process.

Low-temp chicken thigh with rosemary-roast new potatoes and sprig of broccoli - Based on what I can only describe as an OMFG moment at Gastropod in Vancouver, this is a pretty simple course just designed to show off chicken thigh cooked well below the usual flavour-destroying temperatures. The thigh's cooked at 65 degrees (Centigrade - I'm a filthy European) for about an hour once it gets up to temperature, with the skin crisped before and after.

Garlic Confit salmon / strawberry/coriander/balsamic foam / salmon roe / rocket - Regular readers or indeed writers of Khymos's molecular gastronomy blog might recognise the foam I'm using here, which I tried out about a month ago and fell in love with. If you haven't tried it, do. We were of the opinion that it would go well with a steak or something else with strong Maillard flavours, which is of course why I'm pairing it with salmon cooked about 100 degrees too low to develop them. Erm. Moving swiftly on... The salmon's going to be cooked at 43 degrees (ish) in garlic-infused oil, with temperature maintained by the sophisticated technology of a bloke with a thermometer and a worried look. The roe is there a) because I like salmon roe and b) because I've seen restaurants showcase several different aspects of the same ingredient (salmon) in a dish, and that looks, you know, Michelin-starry. Or something. I should probably not give up the day job.

The Break

Named after the lovely folk at the Fat Duck, who, upon hearing that our stuffed, groaning party wanted to take a short break in the food, nodded genially, and then appeared five minutes later with a cheese platter of such incredible brilliance that our stomachs spontanously evolved more volume to take it in.

Home-made cheese course incl shot glasses of cheese chantilly - So, some time ago I read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle", by Barbara Kingsolver. I took two things away from that reading - one, farming sounds far too much like actual work, and two, you can make cheese. Like, yourself. With no special tools.

Note for readers: no matter how excited you may be by this, walking into your local pub, spreading your arms wide and shouting "I can make cheese!" is not recommended. I know this for true.

So, the plan's as follows: some lemon curd cheese, for simplicity, some fresh mozarella, which I'm told by all sorts of people (who I know I can trust because they're on the Internet) is fairly easy to make in an hour, with some fresh tomatoes, and finally, some ricotta cheese made from the whey of the mozarella.

The cheese chantilly's something else. Reading Herve This recently, I took it upon myself to see what else, beyond cream and chocolate, it was possible to whip into a foam. For what it's worth, if there's a way to whip mature cheddar into a foam, I don't know what it is (anyone?). But the yellow liquid resulting from my frantic and rather ineffectual efforts tasted great, so I'll be serving it.

Dessert

Instant Icecream - OK, this one's not mine either. I'm taking this straight from "In Search of Perfection" by Dr Heston Blumenthal, henceforth referred to as "Dr B". Milk, glucose and dry ice, what could possibly go wrong?

Foamed Pina Collada with dark chocolate slivers - And yes, this one's a fairly straight recipe from the iSi whip book. I suck at desserts, OK? However, testing convinced me that a) a little foamed Pina Collada goes a long way, b) it would go nicely with dark chocolate, and c) there is no way in which bits of chocolate will go down badly with guests.

Chocolate Chantilly with frozen orange foam (served on dry ice) and coffee balls - Chocolate Chantilly a la Herve This, because it's just brilliant. If you haven't tried whipping pure chocolate up into a thick foam, please do so right now, because it's phenomenally gorgeous, and also richer than Bill Gates' lawyer. Frozen orange foam, because frozen foams are neat as hell, and the soft crunchy texture is lovely. And sphericised expresso coffee, because, dammit, you need coffee to round off a meal.

The Plan

So that's the plan. I'll be serving all of that lot, at approximately 20 minute intervals, on Sunday, to five friends, at least some of whom I hope will have neither died nor run away by the end of the meal. And yes, all of this is getting cooked in a normal home kitchen which has been described as both "petite" and "really, really small".

I'll be writing up how it all goes over the next three days on this topic. But, before I start - anyone got any hints or tips? Suggestions for modifications? Messages of encouragement, to either me or my next of kin? Anything you'd do differently?

Post 'em now, and stay tuned for tomorrow's installment, in which things start going wrong within 25 minutes of my starting to shop...

Edited by the_nomad (log)

Kamikaze Cookery: Three geeks cook. With Science. And occasionally, explosions.

http://www.kamikazecookery.com

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I hope you'll not only take pics, but show them too  :raz:

And for some of the techniques, step-by-step pics would be great.  I would also like to hear about your timing related to prep and serve related to the MG courses.

very funny, Rob...............been one of those days. I misspelled my own last name !

:wacko::huh:

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I've been cooking implausibly complicated dinner parties for years, starting with a Roman Banquet back in '99 where one guest fell asleep for a course and a half and still came away stuffed.

Umm, are you single? I think that I'm in love . . . . :wub:

To quote loud shouty UK TV program Top Gear, "how hard ... can it be?"

OK, you host "implausibly complicated dinner parties" and you quote Top Gear? I'm definitely in love.

I can't wait to see the pictures of this dinner!

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Why am I getting this niggling little sensation that is making me look to the past for the

Five courses from the French Laundry Cookbook, Triumph or humiliation? thread from bilrus?? e were on the edge of our seats waiting to see how it came out.

About TIME we had another !!!

Carry on,nomad, and good luck ! We'll be watching..... :wink:

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Sounds exciting! My first words of advice would be: prep, prep and more prep. Make everything in advance that you can. Do you have help, for either cooking or serving? Taking the necessary time to describe the dishes to your guests can really throw off your pacing...

I'm looking forward to hearing not only how the meal goes, but also what you do to prepare in advance.

Molecular Kirsch - an amuse-bouche / aperetif. Pearls of sphericised Creme de Cassis floating in champagne - or cava, actually, because I couldn't afford champagne. Yes, every Molecular Gastronomist and his freeze-dried dog has thought of this one, but I came up with it independently, so it's mine, dammit.

I assume you mean "Kir Royal," not "Kirsch." You're right that this one's pretty common, but it's always a crowd-pleaser, especially if the crowd isn't as familiar with molecular gastronomy as your average eGulleter. What spherification technique are you planning to use? I'd recommend the agar/gelatin and cold oil version, since you can prep in advance and hold the spheres in the fridge. (In fact, I have some Ribena spheres in my fridge right now that I made for just this application.)

The cheese chantilly's something else. Reading Herve This recently, I took it upon myself to see what else, beyond cream and chocolate, it was possible to whip into a foam. For what it's worth, if there's a way to whip mature cheddar into a foam, I don't know what it is (anyone?). But the yellow liquid resulting from my frantic and rather ineffectual efforts tasted great, so I'll be serving it.

You could always try and adapt the parmesan air recipe found in the hydrocolloid collection on the Khymos blog, or maybe El Bulli's parmesan foam? (PM me if you need details.) Of course, it may be difficult if all your iSi whippers are already engaged...

Frozen orange foam, because frozen foams are neat as hell...

How are you doing this one?

I'll be writing up how it all goes over the next three days on this topic. But, before I start - anyone got any [...] Messages of encouragement, to either me or my next of kin?

Good luck!

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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heavily lifted from the "Essence" cookbook, which is, incidentally, made of 100% solid Awesome.

Amen to that. The funny thing about it is that even though a lot of modern cooking techniques are in display throughout the book it still feels like cooking grounded in Britain, not Mars.

Good luck, and can't wait to see the pictures!

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Thanks for all the encouragement (and messages of romance :) ), everyone! Next post coming soon, but I've got to figure out how to courier in some mutton first...

Matthew - Yeah, I do mean Kir Royal. My mixology's not up to my gastronomy... I was planning on using alginate/calcium salt, but I'll test the agar/cold oil today - thanks for the tip!

Hmm - parmesan air I've had before, and it's gorgeous. Great idea - I'll add it to the list.

The frozen foam - actually, pretty simple. I'm going to whip up a lecithin foam (my favourite type of foam - it's just so damn light and effervescent), then stick it in a tupperware box and put it in the freezer. Simple but it works.

Edited by the_nomad (log)

Kamikaze Cookery: Three geeks cook. With Science. And occasionally, explosions.

http://www.kamikazecookery.com

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OK, Day 1, and it's time to buy the ingredients.

No cooking plan ever survives contact with the farmer's market. Or, in this case, the small ethical food shop staffed by very posh hippies.

I'd spent most of the past week worrying about a) dry ice and b) NO2 creamer cartridges. b) was eventually solved by a phone call to my friendly local catering suppliers, who agreed to take a box of 60 (what the hell, they were cheap) over to another friend of mine, since both parties worked in the same medium-sized village outside Edinburgh, said village being composed 90% of industrial estates. Sorted.

Ice, Ice, Maybe

The dry ice was trickier. Dr B gives a recommendation for dry ice supply in his book, but they only supply by the 10 kg packet, at the princely price of £30 ($60) plus postage and packing. So I fired up my Google-fu, and in short order found a terribly professional-looking company about two miles away from me, specialising in ice of all varieties. Sorted - or not.

A couple of days later, I phone them up. "Hello, is that XXXX Ice Supplies?" "Yup!" "Great! I'd like to order some dry ice!" "Super! Where in London are you?"

Oh, as Gordon Ramsey would say, ****.

It turns out that said ice suppliers have, apparently, gotten bored, gone independent, and gone bust, in that order. CO2 and the freezing therof not being a huge growth industry in the wilds of Scotland, there's nay bugger further north than Manchester who supplies it, and those people, again, only supply it in 10 Kg parcels for close on thirty quid.

In addition, by this time, I've been doing some reading around. Turns out that at least one reviewer isn't too impressed with the dry ice / ice cream recipe - apparently, it has a tendancy to leave seams of tongue-destroying dry ice in the middle of the icecream. It'd probably sublimate out if we allowed it to rest for an hour or so, but the entire idea's to make instant icecream, and that's looking less than ideal. In addtion to that, I'm getting a bit worried about the shelf-life of frozen CO2, which I'm going to need to be delivered a day in advance if I want to test it, and I've looked up the prices of protective gear and been found weeping and shivering under the desk shortly afterward, and...

Scratch the Instant Icecream. I'll just do it properly, get some liquid nitrogen in at a later date (which all my reading implies is vastly superior for food prep - what say you, EGulleters?) and make a day out of cryofoods.

Mutton Dressed As Carmen Sandiego

All said messing around means that it's only on Thursday, two days before liftoff (although now we've dumped the frozen gasses, the odds of anything actually reaching orbit have reduced, thank goodness), that I spot the problem.

See, I'm going to cook the mutton for 24 hours in sous-vide conditions. I'm going to buy it at the Edinburgh farmer's market on the Saturday morning. And I'm going to serve it at around 8pm Saturday evening.

EPIC TIMING FAIL.

OK, I've got three options:

1) Get some mutton from somewhere else in Edinburgh on the Friday.

2) Dump the mutton dish - not good after the Icecream just bit the big, cold, tongue-destroying one.

3) Invite Doctor Who as the seventh guest.

There's no way a police box can fit in my flat, and I can live without the evening being spoiled by farting aliens and/or Peter Kay, so option 3's right out. Find Mutton appears to be the plan, but rapidly turns out to be harder to achieve than anticipated.

The farm that sells the mutton I know and love is, according to its website, near a resevoir. And, according to Google Maps, absolutely bugger all else - not a town, not a bus stop, not even a confused and lonely nuclear protest camp. I have no car. That, game of toy soldiers, screw for.

Other suppliers? My first option, the hippie ethical food shop mentioned above, supplies me with some very nice eggs and a mild heart attack at the price of their root vegetables (leek should not cost more than steak, no matter how cheap the steak or organic the leek), but nay bloody mutton. Subsequent calls around the town reveal an interesting selection of disconnected numbers, entertaining butchers, helpful but not mutton-having foodie shops, and a couple of interesting software faults in my new cordless phone, but no mutton.

Courier? Call. Quote. Wince. Put phone down.

And then, on impulse, I decide to try a different spelling for one of the apparently-disconnected butchers. It rings. I get through. They have mutton. They're on completely the wrong side of town, but by now I'm in full hunter-gatherer male over-fixated mode, so on to a town I hop, and into increasingly unfamiliar territory I venture.

Tiny butchers, looks awesome. Wild boar, several different cuts of venison, bloke on the counter expertly filleting a lamb leg. "Erm, could I have some mutton? I called earlier..."

"Oh, no, mate, we've no got any mutton in the now."

...

...

...

To cut a long story, erm, slightly less long, I'm now the proud owner of 500 grams of finest mutton leg, sawed from the bones of a half-sheep the butcher found in his basement.

Of course, once I get back, I leap onto Livejournal and enthuse about this fantastic butcher I've found, deep in the wilds, whom I've never heard of before.

And the first response, equally predictably, is "Oh, him? Yeah, everyone knows about him. Can't believe you didn't try him first."

All Shopped Out

So I'm now mostly finished with the shopping. As usual in This Modern Age, I've been amazed at the range of things you can buy in supermarkets, with salmon roe caviar, obscure cheesemaking supplies, and bits and pieces for the abandoned icecream all having fallen before the might of Tesco. And, like any proper foodie, I've made sure to aquire as much as possible from small local shops and obscure delicatessens, partially to make sure that it's as good as it possibly can be (after all, when you've got Valvona and Corolla on your doorstep, why would you buy cheese anywhere else?) and partially, let's face it, to boast about the range and breadth of my travels.

I've also aquired about £50 worth of new glasses and plates. If you decide to do something like this, and don't already have cupboards full of glassware, be advised that just stocking up on the things to put food on will cost you a fortune. Between that, the obscure new techniques (cheesemaking kits aren't cheap), and the alcohol (the amuse bouche is costing about £20 on its own), this sort of thing is an expensive endeavour.

All that remains is the farmer's market tomorrow, where I'm hoping to be able to get salmon, scallops, and a couple of other things. One of the big advantages I've found of making the recipes in here up myself is that I've been able to be properly cookly and focus on local ingredients I know are good - scallops, fine chickens, and great dairy products.

Now all I've got to do is cook the darn things.

And with that in mind, it's back to experimenting with agar pearls...

Look for the next installment tomorrow whenever I get a second to breathe.

Kamikaze Cookery: Three geeks cook. With Science. And occasionally, explosions.

http://www.kamikazecookery.com

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Ho boy, this is so much fun. It's been too long since I did a supper like this. I, too, chronicled my trials and tribulations on livejournal

It's amazing how much easier it is to accomplish this sort of food at a restaurant. Not least of which is because you have a person who's job it is to wash all your dishes. Oh, and a high powered machine which does so in 90 seconds.

There is something satisfying about inviting your friends over and then wowing them with your prowess though, to be sure.

I'm excited to read more, and see pictures of how it turns out.

Edit: Ah yes, this is the LJ post in particular that your ambitious meal reminds me of. What a day that was.

Edited by Skeleton (log)
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Ho boy, this is so much fun.  It's been too long since I did a supper like this.  I, too, chronicled my trials and tribulations on livejournal

I've had a read. Wow, that stuff looks good. Mine isn't going to look that professional, I fear :biggrin:

Kamikaze Cookery: Three geeks cook. With Science. And occasionally, explosions.

http://www.kamikazecookery.com

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Two short notes from the ongoing preparation here:

Agar!

The agar spheres kick more ass than a centipede who has been taught tae kwon do, hopped up on PCP, and let loose in a donkey enclosure.

Mind you, compared to alginate spheres, made from what is possibly the most obstinate and annoying material I've ever had to work with in the kitchen (sodium "bloody" alginate, as I like to refer to it) they had a bit of a head start. But even so, they're just so damn easy!

I tested first with tea and then with strawberry and orange juices. The spherification process worked perfectly - heat to nearly boiling (I see it should have been "actually boiling" from the Hydrocolloid book - whoops!), dump 3.75g of agar (which I got from a dodgy recipe - again, I see it should be nearer 1g) into it, stir, wait until it dissolves, then drip into oil chilled in the freezer and leave to set for a minute. The spheres were solid, dissolved easily in the mouth, and seemed to carry much more of a kick of flavour in all three cases than equivalent alginate pearls, which I've always found needed a really strong flavour for it to come through on caviar-sized pearls.

The only problem I had was with the strawberry flavour, where the alginate didn't quite set properly, but that was just because I'd let the oil get too warm.

Very, very nifty. I'll use these pearls in the Kir Royal, and might consider sticking some elsewhere in the menu, since they're so easy. Any suggestions?

Stocking Up

Oh, gods, you're probably thinking. What could he possibly get wrong making stock?

Well, originally, the plan would have been "very little". I rather like making stock, and whilst I don't do it very often (due to ridiculous busyness, oh, yeah, and being lazy) it ain't my first gelatin-based rodeo.

However. I've recently aquired a brand spanking new induction hob. Lovely, but won't work with aluminium pans, so out goes my trusty, battered, £9.99 stockpot, and off I trundle in the middle of my shopping spree to get a brand spanking new one, because none of my current pots will hold enough Stuff to make stock. That, by the way, will become important later.

Sainsbury's have a lovely £20 stainless steel number with a thick bottom, marked as "Works with All Cookers", so off I go into the night. Today, I chop onions, chop celery, and get the oil heating in my new stockpot.

BEEEEEEEEP.

Erm, what? Check the hob. It's flashing. Calm it down, stick my pot back on to heat, and off I -

BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP.

Yes, you guessed it. I don't know what this pan's made of, but it's heard of this "ferrous" nonsense and it's having none of it. The only way to get my pot heated would be to, as one famous Scotsman put it, "change the laws of physics, Captain." And I'm sure you remember how positive he was about their chances of doing that.

Now, at this point, the obvious thing to do would be to just stick my chicken bones in the next biggest pan and make the best of it. Only problem is, whilst I am indeed planning to make stock from some chicken bones, the bones in question are kinda still attached to the chicken.

Right. Plan B. Fry up veg in my wok, then rip the legs off the chicken and stick them plus it, plus bits, in there for some quality time with a bit of white wine. The top of the chicken sticks up a bit, so I hit it with something heavy until that problem resolves, and steam for 10 minutes or so. Now, add the 3l of water - because even if I can only get 2l in there, that'll still make me enough stock - and -

About 650 ml into pouring water, the wok's overflowing. Oh, sod.

Eventually, genius here comes up with the only logical plan, inspired more by Heath Robinson than Heston Blumenthal.

Heat the biggest pan in the oven a bit. Meanwhile, separate the chicken bits out into the wok and another pan, and divide the 3l of water between them. Boil briefly, then hoick the chicken bits and subsequently the other stock ingredients ungainlyly into the main, large, unheatable pot, stir, then separate them out back into the two smaller pots again. Sure, the chicken still isn't quite submerged in the smaller pot, but who cares? Stick the lid on and let it steam.

AS a result, I now have two pots filled with stock, one with the back of a chicken sticking out of it a la "Jaws", and rather a lot of used kitchen towel where some of the stock decided to make a break for freedom in the middle of all the transferring.

Working As Intended.

Kamikaze Cookery: Three geeks cook. With Science. And occasionally, explosions.

http://www.kamikazecookery.com

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Go go! You sound like me - more exuberance then sense. ;)

Note 1: I would dearly love to have some hands on advice on the chocolate chantilly. The one time I tried it (with Earl Grey tea for extra sophistication (right...)) it definitely refused to whip up. When cooled it made a nice ganache for truffles or such (see "water ganache" in the pastry forum) but it was in no way fluffy.

Note 2: How many ISI whippers do you own? I've been trying hold off buying my second one. Seriously, owning more than one is just silly. Right?

Note 3: If you think ordinary alginate spheres taste too little, try reverse. Possibly with the sphere-to-be frozen before. That way you don't need any thickener, which presumably is what kills the taste.

Note 4: You don't happen to live near Stockholm, Sweden? If so, I would love to cook with you. Or marry you, if you happen to be female. :smile:

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Replying briefly here whilst the mozarella mix gets up to temperature...

1) Chocolate chantilly just seems to work for me. Make sure to cool it fast, and I'd recommend not adding anything else, just chocolate and water, the first time.

2) I've just got one right now, but I'm thinking about buying another. They're so damn useful, and one's always in use when you need it...

3) Hmm, will try that. I've got Calcium Chloride here, which I hear can taste awful - opinions?

4) Edinburgh, Scotland, I'm afraid. And male :)

For those watching, so far today I've

- Bought the last supplies (chicken thighs, oddly, proving the greatest pain)

- Cut, decanted and drained the curd cheese

- Curdled the milk for the mozarella and ricotta

- Foamed and frozen orange juice

- Made up the cheese shots

- Some other stuff I've forgotten.

Kamikaze Cookery: Three geeks cook. With Science. And occasionally, explosions.

http://www.kamikazecookery.com

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3) Hmm, will try that. I've got Calcium Chloride here, which I hear can taste awful - opinions?

I think calcium chloride tastes really bad. However, there are a lot of Chefs that know more than I do and quite likely have better palates than I do who use it and I'm sure they wouldn't if it made their food taste bad. The only explanation I can come up with is that maybe I have an unusual sensitivity to it or something. I'd say give it a shot if you already have it and have time to play. If you have to buy it anyway, I'd go with the lactate-gluconate if it were me.

The dinner sounds like fun. I've played around with most of the techniques within the scope of what I have to work with (I don't have the Chef Blumenthal kitchen/science lab at my disposal unfortunately) but I've never put it all together into a meal before. Probably never will, I'm more of a "ok, now I know how they did it so on to the next thing" person, but it does sound fun. I'm looking forward to hearing how it goes and seeing the pictures.

EDIT: I typed "However, there are a lot of Chefs that know more than I do" which sorta implies that I'm a Chef. I'm not a Chef (well, by the strict, literal definition I guess I am since I'm in charge of the kitchen and kitchen staff), I'm just a self-taught cook who wishes he'd followed his interests instead of his wallet 20 years ago (because then I might have earned the title of Chef by now) so I felt the need to clarify that.

Edited by Tri2Cook (log)

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Just a brief update, as I've just finished cooking and am about to fall over into bed. Man, I've rarely had more respect for professional chefs than I do now after 14 hours straight of cooking. I would have real trouble doing that more than, say, once.

Dishes that worked exactly according to plan and kicked ass: 5

Dishes that looked like they were going to fail disastrously, then kicked ass: 2

Dishes that spontaneously evoked a diner's childhood: 1

Dishes that evoked a diner's childhood in a good way: 0

Dishes that divided our studio audience: 2

Dishes that united them in hatred: 1

New ideas for ways to improve the menu for next time: lots.

Success: Yup!

Look for pictures and more detail tomorrow or maybe Monday depending on the hangover situation.

Thanks for all the interest and suggestions, guys!

Kamikaze Cookery: Three geeks cook. With Science. And occasionally, explosions.

http://www.kamikazecookery.com

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Just a brief update, as I've just finished cooking and am about to fall over into bed. Man, I've rarely had more respect for professional chefs than I do now after 14 hours straight of cooking. I would have real trouble doing that more than, say, once.

Dishes that worked exactly according to plan and kicked ass: 5

Dishes that looked like they were going to fail disastrously, then kicked ass: 2

Dishes that spontaneously evoked a diner's childhood: 1

Dishes that evoked a diner's childhood in a good way: 0

Dishes that divided our studio audience: 2

Dishes that united them in hatred: 1

New ideas for ways to improve the menu for next time: lots.

Success: Yup!

Look for pictures and more detail tomorrow or maybe Monday depending on the hangover situation.

Thanks for all the interest and suggestions, guys!

I have no idea how to make any of the things you did, but I am enjoying reading this a lot! Can't wait to see your pictures! :biggrin:

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