Last month, I invited a group of friends to my house for dinner. There was no real occassion for it except that I had a rare weekend off and I wanted to cook a proper meal in my kitchen. Also, my refrigerator was bursting with beautiful citrus that needed to be celebrated.
I planned the meal with the same approach that I would take for a client: taking into account food preferences, what was fresh and available, limitations of time, space, and equipment. The major difference with this meal was that I had the luxury of time to document it by recording recipes and photographing the preparations and presentations.
I thought that I would share the meal with you here in a series of posts, but they grew unwieldy and dragged on forever. Lucky for us, there are more space efficient and visually appealing options for sharing documents. Enjoy.
There's a virtually untapped world of specialty malted grains made for the beer brewing industry that can be used to add unique flavor to baked goods. Two stand-outs are: smoked barley (gives Rauchmalz its smoky aroma) and chocolate rye (contributes nutty, caramel notes to dark stouts and Porters). Over the past year, I've tested them in everything from laminated pastries* to cookie doughs** with great effect, but it is the realm of yeasted doughs where they seem most at home. The robust complexity that chocolate rye adds to pumpernickel makes the original pale in comparison.
The virtue of making condiments lies in customization and enhanced flavor. Commercially made Dijon mustards taste flat and boring in comparison to the ones you can make yourself. The process starts with shallots and garlic simmered in Chardonnay. The reduced infusion is strained and blended with brown mustard powder, olive oil, and a few drops of honey. Sometimes, I customize it with various herbs and aromatics, but I always let it sit at room temperature for at least 2 weeks to ripen the flavor before storing in the refrigerator, where it will keep for three months or longer. It's a small effort for a big flavor; too big, it turns out, for my delicately flavored salmon hot dog.
Coincidentally, I was working on an orange horseradish*** puree for a pork dish that needed a nudge in the flavor department. A whole orange and peeled horseradish root had been steamed in a pressure cooker with white wine, then the whole lot pureed. Pressure cooking removes the acridity from the horseradish and softens the bitterness in the orange's pith, producing a puree with a mellower flavor than you would think possible from the raw ingredients.
For the salmon hot dog, I punched up the puree by blending it with an equal amount of homemade Dijon, and— because I love citrus with salmon— I added microplaned orange zest. Mixing horseradish with mustard made sense because they both belong to the Brassica family, a simple observation that opened a new pathway to a great condiment.
salmon sausage in leek casing chocolate rye roll horseradish orange mustard kefir fermented daikon fennel sprouts
* croissants made with smoked barley flour and smoked butter are revelatory.
Kasu is a by-product of sake. Also known as sake lees, it is the separated and pressed solids that remain at the end of the fermentation process. Consisting of rice, koji, residual yeast, and a small amount of alcohol, kasu can sometimes be found as a soft paste or, more readily, as square compressed sheets. It has a delicate floral yeasty aroma.
Kasu zuke is another type of Japanese pickles where food is embedded in a paste made from kasu, mirin, sugar and salt. Typically, the process is applied to white fish for a brief curing, or to fresh vegetables for longer periods.
These live scallops were so pristine that I wanted to keep them clean and chose to wrap them in kasu sheets instead of a paste. After spiral cutting them into thin, even strips, they were sprinkled with mirin, covered with kinome, then sealed between two sheets of compressed kasu. Looking like large ravioli, they cured in the refrigerator for 24 hours,. They emerged from their kasu cocoon all fragrant and delicious.
"Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow; The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true." ~Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Wishing you a delicious New Year.
new beginning makes 8 drinks
Tuaca is a brandy-based Italian liqueur, subtly flavored with citrus and vanilla. Infusing it with the perfumed zest of buddha's hand citron gives it another dimension of flavor. This is a drink to linger over, to enjoy the layers of flavor as the bay-infused eggnog sphere melts into the liqueur— a perfect libation to contemplate a new year and a new beginning.
150g heavy cream 2g fresh bay leaves .15g fresh grated nutmeg 2 egg yolks 5g sugar 30g mascarpone
350g Tuaca 15g buddha's hand citron zest strips 50g Patron XO Cafe
frozen eggnog spheres: Place the heavy cream in a small pan and bring to a simmer. Add the bay leaves and nutmeg, stir and cover. Set aside for 20 minutes to infuse. Remove bay leaves and bring back to a simmer. Whip the egg yolks with the sugar on high speed in a mixer bowl with the whisk attachment until light in color and slightly thickened. Slowly drizzle in the hot infused cream while whisking on low. Stir in the mascarpone. Pour eggnog into 8 sphere molds and freeze until solid.
citron-infused Tuaca: Place the Tuaca and citron zest in a .5 Litre iSi whip canister. Screw on the lid and charge with 1 N2O cartridge. Swirl the contents gently for 1 minute. Discharge gas quickly, remove lid and set aside for 15 minutes.
To serve: Place a frozen eggnog sphere in the bottom of each of 8 glasses. Strain infused Tuaca into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Add XO Cafe. Shake vigorously and strain over the eggnog spheres. Serve immediately.
I'm a big fan of artichokes that are carefully trimmed and presented whole. Piercing the dense flesh with a fork, and then a knife, is a sensation akin to carving a steak.
Revisiting citrus gama (cooking in an aromatic vessel). Here, the aroma is infused in reverse— from filling to vessel— with bergamot lemon zest in the savory custard. The aroma is reinforced with a few strips of zest in the steaming water and the finished artichoke is dressed with the juice. The brightness of the green garlic olive oil puree cuts through the richness of the custard and the maillardized crispy cream.
One more dish inspired by similarity of size and shape. Traditional mediterranean flavors with a few twists: black olives which are really octopus heads kumquat rind stuffed with roasted red pepper mousse
confit baby Romas confit kumquat rind roasted red pepper
I've always loved the combination of tomato and orange. One of my go-to sauces for cheese ravioli is a simple reduction of tomatoes and orange juice, emulsified with fruity olive oil. The sweet and acidic fruits bring out the milkiness in the ricotta.
Although tomatoes and oranges are available year round, their seasons aren't concurrent. In the Northeast, the only fresh tomatoes worth eating in the winter are the small sweet cherry and grape varieties. This year, I've been enjoying baby Romas; indulging in their rich, concentrated tomato flavor. It didn't escape my notice that they are the same size and shape as kumquats and I'd feel remiss if I let citrus season pass without bringing the two together in a sweet preparation. Cilantro and coriander, which taste to me of orange, adds herbal brightness and warm spice.
kumquat and tomato confiture coriander gel olive oil pastry cilantro ice cream
Although the citrus are now long gone, they linger in my memory. I managed to preserve a few specimens— some in salt, some in sugar— to keep the memory alive. Typically, I make fruit preserves at the peak of their season to remind me of summer on a wintry day. This may be the first time I've intentionally preserved fruit to remind me of winter.
ginger lime fennel marmalade
Ginger lime (Citrus assamensis) is thought to be a hybrid of citron (Citrus medica) and a variety of lemon from Assam, India. In India, it is known as ada jamir, in China a da ya mi, and in Japan as adajamiru. The juice is very tart and scarce. The albedo is thick, dense and bitter. The zest is pale yellow, sweet, and highly aromatic. It's fragrance is more related to a lemon than a lime, with a distinct ginger tone and a whisper of eucalyptus. Ginger lime is not widely cultivated or commercially grown. A combination of lemon and ginger can be substituted for the ginger lime.
3 ginger limes, or 3 lemons and a 2" piece of fresh ginger root 1 medium fennel bulb 2 shallots 850g (30 oz) water 708g (25 oz) sugar
Remove zest from ginger limes or lemons with vegetable peeler and slice into thin strips. Cut away albedo (white pith) and discard. Roughly chop pulp, discarding seeds, and place in deep pan along with zest. If using lemons, peel and finely mince the ginger root and add to pan. Trim the top and bottom of the fennel bulb. Cut into quarters and slice thinly across the grain. Add to pan. Peel and trim the shallots. Cut in half and slice thinly across the grain. Add to pan along with the water. Place pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook until contents are soft, about 35-40 minutes. Add sugar and raise heat until mixture boils and sugar dissolves. Adjust heat to maintain a gentle boil and cook, stirring frequently until mixture reaches 220ºF/104ºC, about 45 minutes. While marmalade cooks, sterilize 3 1-pint canning jars in boiling water. Spoon hot marmalade mixture into the jars, leaving 1/2" headspace. Seal with lids and bands and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Store in a cool, dark place. Makes 3 pints
When looking at the rind as vessel and component in a sweet preparation, cooking in a syrup became an obvious choice. Clementine rinds are already sweet and tender; candying renders them kidskin supple. The addition of marmalade and a steamed cake made with the pulp utilizes every bit of the fruit. A sticky sweet confection wrapped around orange-scented cake. Fruit cake turned inside-out.
clementine marmalade pudding
candied rind: 6 clementines
Hollow out each of the clementines by running a teaspoon around the perimeter of the pulp, separating it from the rind. Scoop out a section at a time, being careful not to tear the rind. Reserve the pulp. Place the rinds in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Place pan over medium high heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 8-10 minutes. Invert rinds on a rack to drain.
450g water 375g sugar 96g glucose or corn syrup
Place water, sugar, and glucose in saucepan and set over medium high heat. When syrup reaches 46ºC/115ºF, add rinds, submerging them so that their hollows fill with syrup. Cook until syrup reaches 108ºC/227ºF then remove the rinds and invert them on a rack to drain. Reserve syrup.
marmalade: 1 clementine 1/2 of the reserved syrup from above (reserve the other 1/2 for glazing)
Peel the clementine and slice into thin strips. Roughly chop the pulp, discard any seeds. Add the rind and pulp to the reserved syrup. Cook over medium high heat until it comes to 104ºC/220ºF, stirring often. Remove from heat and cool.
steamed pudding: reserved pulp from hollowed clementines 50g muscovado sugar, or brown sugar 50g unsalted butter, softened 1 egg 80g flour 3g baking powder 1g baking soda pinch salt
Place pulp in bowl of food processor and process until pureed. Scrape out puree and measure 80g for pudding. Reserve remaining puree for sauce. Place sugar and butter in bowl of food processor and pulse until well combined. Add egg and pulse until incorporated. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Add to food processor along with the 80g puree and process until well blended and creamy. Place a teaspoon of marmalade in the bottom of each of the clementine rinds. Fill with batter to just below top of rinds. Place on steamer insert or basket, leaving 1-2" between each clementine. Steam, covered, over boiling water for 5-7 minutes or until surface springs back when pressed. Remove and allow to cool slightly. While still warm, brush the top and sides with the remaining reserved syrup. Serve warm or at room temperature with clementine sauce.
clementine sauce: 230g reserved puree 85g sugar
Place puree and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes and strain sauce through a fine mesh sieve. Serve warm or at room temperature.