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chefette

Foams and Gelees

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There has been some discussion on the site about foams and gelees. I think that the excitement or huff about them centers around the whole Adria innovation using the iSi Profi whipper to create light tasty foams. I think we should talk about them, but to insinuate that foams and gelees are trendy and can be shrugged off is very short-sighted since foams and gelees have been with us since before recipes were transcribed.

Gelees - jello (to Americans), jellies, gelled fruits, pate de fruit, gum drops are timeless, enjoyed by people of all ages everywhere in many guises.

Foams: mousses, fruit fools, bavarians, parfaits, emulsions, need I go on? Seems people have been whipping things and adding whipped things to other things since they could figure out the whole whipping process. I am thinking that people everywhere like foams no matter how they come to be foamed.

Any opinions out there? Thoughts?

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I purchased a profi-whipper a few years ago,and got wonderful results at first,but then the thing just wouldn't work anymore,with many disppointing and comical results.{People began to run for cover when I brought out the profi-whip].Any tips on using the thing with consistent results?

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Meredith--the first step is realizing that there are so many possibilities--so many ingredients--that there could never be one base recipe ensuring one consistent end result. Some common foaming agents:

1) gelatin--say 4 or 5 sheets of gelatin in a L of water or a L of fruit puree;

2) it could be dairy fat--say 200 ml of cream with 500 ml of fruit puree;

3) it could be egg--whites, like a meringue or yolks, like a creme anglaise.

Then you have to factor in the "charge"--how many charger canisters you load into the iSi--some work better undercharged, some over-charged. If you're using the .5L model--that means some will work better with 1 charge or 2 charges.

Even within this ingredients vary so much--for instance, I'm doing a creme anglaise-based espuma infused with cardamom in one dessert. With the fat percentage of the cream I'm using at that restaurant--I had to cut the original recipe with 25% milk to get the results I wanted.

Then there is technique--are you storing your foamers upside down--keeping the contents against the nozzle and the propellant behind the contents (best for consistency) or are you standing the foamer upright (nozzle up--allowing the contents to settle to the bottom) and requiring you to invert the foamer each time you use it? Because each time you do that--or each time your staff picks up the foamer and shakes it--shake, shake, shake--you're activating the contents and risk over-shaking them--even before you discharge them. Overfat mixtures are especially vulnerable to this.

That's the most common mistake--people thinking you have to shake, shake, shake each time before you discharge. In effect, you're overwhipping, building up more pressure and you'll get something more like highly activated Ready Whip rather than a light, creamy lucious foam. The charge keeps the foam mixture fairly inert--and actually preserves the contents because it removes all the air in the chamber--much like the way certain wine preservation systems work.

For best foam recipes check the Adria 1998-2002 CD-Rom, the Alberto Adria dessert book or the Balaguer pastry book--that last is the only one in English.

And when you say it wouldn't work--were you straining your mixtures through a fine sieve first before loading?


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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I'm don't think jello is the greatest, but I'm sure gelatine is used effectively in more places than I notice it.

Foamwise, I'm a big fan of zabaione/sabayon. It's great over poached pears or fresh berries. I've made it at home a couple of times; it was easier and came out better than I expected.


Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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I see foams and gelees as a good way to introduce different textures/contrasts to desserts. Until I moved to the UK I most often ran into gelees as "Jello" (which is pretty grim stuff), but over here I've had some gorgeous rhubarb-and-muscat jellies. And when I was in Japan years ago, I had some amazing, mild and sweet pale pink jellies featuring a few suspended sweet red beans, which were eaten with bowls of pungent, thick green tea.

It's interesting that they're seen as affected in the US. North America is generally very pie/cake focused when it comes to desserts (a result of all those farm lunches, maybe?), so maybe the idea of not hanging a whole dessert off of a pastry or cake base makes people feel shortchanged?

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Thanks again for the help.Steve.Have you ever used a sabayon base in the profi?

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Yes--sabayons work very well--and now you can even do "warm" sabayon espumas with the newer model stainless steel iSi, which is designed to hold in a bain marie and go through the dishwasher, unlike the older models.

Miss J--I see them the same way as you do; I suspect it is only some who see them as inherently "affected" and that they have short memories. "Jello" can be as misguided as "gelee" in the wrong hands. Look in any of the more commonly-available historical cookbooks, any source from England or France or Colonial America and you see versions, historical precedents of the very same "funky" foams and gelee things Adria and other modernists are perceived as doing. I think you stated it very well when you said they're simply a "way to introduce different textures/contrasts to desserts." The larger--and different issue--is what this has to do with the perception of "homestyle" desserts--simpler, more rustic and often inelegant presentations of dessert. I wonder, too, if a stated aversion to "foams and gelees" as perceived fussy elements might just be "code" for a larger dislike of modern desserts, French desserts and plated desserts that reflect some skill, some refinement?

Though, I'd also add that both gelee and foam have tremendous savory applications as well. If you've ever had a warm espuma of foie gras, in the right hands, you know what I mean.


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Wingding,

I just made a cider sabayon foam, didnt use the isi.

I reduced the cider by half.

15 egg yolks

1/2 c sugar

1 cup reduced cider

Whip over water bath then whip out cold in kitchenaid. Chill overnight. It will hold its shape and melt in your mouth. I used it with an apple gelee for my tasting. Worked out pretty good.


"Chocolate has no calories....

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Brian Fishman

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Right. The more this foams & gelees topic has drifted around in here, the more interested I am in finding out if the home cook can do some interesting desserts involving them.

Any suggestions? Do I absolutely have to have an isi to attempt interesting foams? (My parents have one, but I don't.)

I'm planning a Chinese menu for Feb 1st, and I'm still undecided as to what I'm going to offer for dessert. After a lot of pondering, I'm going to do a proper Chinese menu in everything BUT the sweet. But I want to try and offer something that doesn't cause too much culture clash. Are there any foams or gelees that I could try?

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Right. The more this foams & gelees topic has drifted around in here, the more interested I am in finding out if the home cook can do some interesting desserts involving them.

Any suggestions? Do I absolutely have to have an isi to attempt interesting foams? (My parents have one, but I don't.)

I'm planning a Chinese menu for Feb 1st, and I'm still undecided as to what I'm going to offer for dessert. After a lot of pondering, I'm going to do a proper Chinese menu in everything BUT the sweet. But I want to try and offer something that doesn't cause too much culture clash. Are there any foams or gelees that I could try?

Heh heh heh, my parents have one too. Now I have to figure out how to convince them to give it to me. :biggrin: They never use it!

I wonder if a nice ginger infused foam could be used to accent something. Perhaps a black tea creme brulee with ginger foam? I wonder if this combo would be too much creaminess?

Ben


Gimme what cha got for a pork chop!

-Freakmaster

I have two words for America... Meat Crust.

-Mario

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Miss J--you don't have to buy the professional model--the "Profi"--just buy whatever cheapo home model iSi that Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table carries--for now. Until you get hooked. The cheap models are usually all white.

You can also froth/foam some mixtures with the whipping disk of an immersion blender under certain conditions instead of an iSi system under charge.

Ben--I've done a ginger-infused creme anglaise as an espuma--paired with a chocolate cake, an orange caramel sauce, candied orange and salt. Your idea--perhaps with Earl Grey tea--sounds great as well. And the foam would be a good textural contrast to the creme brulee--I'd worry more about overdoing egg yolk content rather than creaminess. So maybe do your foam without any yolk--like a ginger meringue espuma on top of the brulee. Reinforce the tea with a clear caramel sauce possibly infused with a bit of orange zest and deglaze with warm, steeped tea.


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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I certainly don't think that there is a lot of skill, refinement or technique in making a "foam" or a "gelee". Often people jump on trendy techniques just because they are trendy. I believe that there is often too much going on in "modern dessert plating"- where ingredients are so manipulated that you are not sure what you are eating. Often to me it seems as a way to disguise inferior or out of season items. If you have a beautiful apple or mango or peach, why not focus on having the fruit taste the best. A mouthful of gelatin is not appealing to me. I also wouldn't want it in my sabayon.

Sometimes it seems to me that trends in pastry are more about "wowing" a person visually then thinking about taste.

There are chefs that always garnish with mint (or garnish with sugar work that has nothing to do with the dessert- only there to be looked at, for that matter - garnish with a big piece of a spice or a hunk of an herb). I often wonder if they actually eat their own desserts. I can't stand to eat a dessert that has to be knocked over to be eaten. I also don't care for mixing tropical and non- tropical fruit together.

I don't agree with a foam with foie gras. The foie gras is already soft and silky. You want something acidic, and maybe something crisp. If there is too much on the plate you will lose the beauty of the foie gras. I was served foie gras in a very well known restaurant with a sauternes gelee and hard caramel on the plate. The sauternes was "lost" to the gelee (it was too cold and firm also). The caramel was not edible, but fused to the plate. A bit of caramelised fruit and a drizzle of sauternes would have made this customer much happier.

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Is an immersion blender worth purchasing? I am thinking of using it mainly for savory applications, i.e., soup. I have limited and already over-extended kitchen space but have often found myself wanting one. What brand? Any tips appreciated! Thank you :rolleyes:


Noise is music. All else is food.

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Is an immersion blender worth purchasing?  I am thinking of using it mainly for savory applications, i.e., soup. I have limited and already over-extended kitchen space but have often found myself wanting one.  What brand?  Any tips appreciated!  Thank you  :rolleyes:

I love my Bamix immersion blender (it's Swiss! :biggrin: ). Very powerful with interchangeable blending/whipping/mixing disks. The part around the disk is more open than most brands with just four downward facing blades that direct the flow of material being blended. Looks like this:

BM0133.jpg

It's quite a bit more expensive than the Braun or Cuisinart models, but way worth it in my opinion. Sur La Table has it here. This seems to be identical to the Williams Sonoma hand blender, but the WS version is actually cheaper, believe it or not: Williams Sonoma Stick Blender

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I certainly don't think that there is a lot of skill, refinement or technique in making a "foam" or a "gelee". Often people jump on trendy techniques just because they are trendy. I believe that there is often too much going on in "modern dessert plating"- where ingredients are so manipulated that you are not sure what you are eating. Often to me it seems as a way to disguise inferior or out of season items. If you have a beautiful apple or mango or peach, why not focus on having the fruit taste  the best. A mouthful of gelatin is not appealing to me. I also wouldn't want it in my sabayon.

  Sometimes it seems to me that trends in pastry are more about "wowing" a person visually then thinking about taste.

 

Hmmm... I understand your apprehension, but I'm afraid I must respectfully take issue with your post on a few levels.

When new ideas (as already stated, we're not really talking about anything 'new') and techniques emerge, it is not uncommon to find abuses and a certain "let's-use-it-fast-without-really-thinking-about-it" mentality. As illustrated in your example of the foie gras dish, much depends on the skill, thoughtfulness, and execution of and by the chef and kitchen team. It is, however, very important not to paint with too large a brush. My having to endure many a crystallized ice cream, a grainy ganache, or a tough, too-thick pâte sucrée would never lead me to question the idea of those products, only the skill of the chef that produced them.

There is, actually, a great deal of skill, experience, and thought required to produce a 'charged' foam, let alone a perfectly textured gelée or even a sorbet, and certainly as much as it takes to produce a decent bavarois. What makes more sense (not to mention providing much more versatility), mounting puréed raspberries with a bunch of cream or egg whites, or simply aerating that same raspberry purée under pressure? And the coolest part, the flavor of the 'charged' raspberry foam is arguably as, if not more so, intense as the original raspberry, due to the way the bubbles work on the palate. In my estimation, that is the ultimate in refinement! Your asserting that foam is about visual presentation alone makes me wonder if you've actually had the opportunity to taste one.

In an effort to perfectly showcase a perfect piece of fruit, say that mango, I urge you try the following example...

Transform that mango into a foam, a sorbet, a gelée (just enough gelatin/agar to hold at room temperature), a chip (puréed mango, a little sugar, acid, and egg white, then dried on a silpat in a low oven), a warm coulis, and a bit of fresh brunois. Arrange all of these components in a shallow soup bowl. All of a sudden you have six different expressions of mango with minimal extraneous ingedients and 'manipulation'. I can imagine the interplay of the different textures, temperatures, and flavors in my mind now, and I've never actually tried this all together. This is, however, what I see as what Steve Klc calls the 'modernist' approach to pastry. It is, in fact, all about taste. And if a few minds are blown in the process, well so be it. How else, by way of an example, would one focus on the flavor of that mango in a dessert? Of course, utilizing 'skill, refinement, and technique'?

A quick side trip over to the Heartland forum, and Grant Achatz's broader explanations of some of these same concepts, in his Trio thread, might be of use as a corollary...

At the end of the day, for me, the foam canister is not so much a revelation, but simply another tool in my batterie de cuisine. Let's be honest, though, nearly all pastry work is manipulation on some level.

PS. I haven't posted to the boards in quite awhile, but I want to thank Steve and the powers that be for putting all of the pastry stuff in one area. I've noticed the quality and intensity of discussion in these topics reach a new level ever since!


Michael Laiskonis

Pastry Chef

New York

www.michael-laiskonis.com

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I find it interesting that you are refering me to a midwestern chef. Part of my "thing" about foams and gelees, it is seems to be very readily accepted by people in parts of the country where manipulation and boarder crossing in food is very common.

I know that Claudia Feming made layered gelees very popular. The "foam" business has never been really accepted on the west coast (and in Hawaii). There is a lot of interesting ideas coming out of Spain. They will not all work in a lot of this country; sea water foam is silly in Hawaii.

I have fresh fruit available to me every day. If I suspend fruit in gelee; people would prefer the fresh fruit with madelienes (or something like that).

I am quite sure that I don't need (or will ever want) a foaming cartridge in my tool kit. I can do the same kind of thing without gimmicks.

If someone served me a layered gelee at a banquet or benefit, I would feel cheated. They sure didn't have to work too hard did they? Where is any contrast?

I really don't care who the chef is that is saying "it is cool". I am saying that "it is not".

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Does anyone have a link to a photo of a Profi? You could save me wandering (still more) in Googleland with all sorts of results in several languages.


"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

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only there to be looked at, for that matter - garnish with a big piece of a spice or a hunk of an herb).

Interesting ethnocentric perspective. I just had a discussion with one of my chefs after asking him a related question - he was most recently the pastry chef at La Tour d'Argent - widely acclaimed, etc.

He was garnishing a Jamaique - or Jamaica cake, chocolate genoise with a layer of coconut mousse and then another layer of passion fruit and mango mousse - which is the first plated dessert that I've done so far.

As he was selecting the fruit for the garnishes he was commenting about how some of them he's never eaten in France because of their poor quality. I asked him if in France the clients know not to eat garnishes. He said yes, in fact, they usually do know not to eat garnishes - at least for patisserie items, not necessarily restaurant plated desserts of course where clients usually eat everything.

Having grown up in the States I always thought all garnishes were edible and in fact representative of the quality of the patissier. Not so in France apparently.

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Thanks Steve, looks just like (almost) the gadget soda fountains (when there were soda fountains) used to decorate sundays and sodas! I guess they use the same little gas canisters to make the fizz?


"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

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Msr Parisian: I went to school in Paris, but also have lived in Belgium.

I personally believe that is wrong to have an inedible garnish on your plate. I am happy that you love food.

Let's see, I have done everything for "la cuisine". I have worked my butt off! I really don't know if students know how hard it is! I love what I do, it has taken almost every minute of my life. It is an all consuming field. You can not survive in food if it is not your passion.

enjoy your time in Paris!

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Hi folks. I have a question about a foam I just started doing.

I'm using a prickly pear puree and reducing it a bit(30oz.) .Then adding simple syrup to bring it up to 5 cups liquid in all. And using 6 sheets gelatin because the fruit has such a high water content.

My foam isn't mounting quite the way I want it to.

Do you think I'm not charging enough?

I'm using a 1/2 liter bottle and 1 capsule.

It's a beautiful color!!! And tastes nice too:-)

Thanks


2317/5000

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Can you detect if the the heat--the cooking--does anything to the flavor of the puree?

That aside, to one L of most Boiron fruit purees, I add about 100 ml water and 110 ml sugar (variable) and 5 sheets of silver gelatin. One charge per .5 L That's for fruit purees with some substance which have about 10% sugar, like most Boiron or Ravifruit.

You are up to 5 C--so I would think you could get away with another sheet (to 6) and another charge and have it set up firm. At 5 C you may have to go to 7 sheets. What grade gelatin are you using?


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Thanks for your reply!

I'm using the Bronze one, I believe it's German or Swiss, Gelatina?

The flavor isn't changing. I'm using a little lime juice and a pinch of salt, just to season a bit, since PP is a bit bland.

I'm using Perfect Puree 30 oz and reducing maybe 2oz. at most.


2317/5000

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Is there a standard recipe for a non-cream based foam using gelatin? I'm attempting a basil or beet foam for an entree (using a stick blender, but I'm willing to invest in other tools if needed.)


"Give me 8 hours, 3 people, wine, conversation and natural ingredients and I'll give you one of the best nights in your life. Outside of this forum - there would be no takers."- Wine_Dad, egullet.org

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