Sunday, August 9, 2009

Tomato Sorbet

Once again tomatoes were the main ingredient in my latest experiment. Tomatoes are very sweet which make it a great ingredient to put into a sorbet.

For the final plating I had three main items I used. Two of the items contained tomatoes and the other was a baked item. The recipes for all three of the ideas came from Johnny Iuzzini’s cookbook Dessert Fourplay.

The tomato sorbet was an excellent piece to the plate. The only problem I had with it was the sweetness factor. A single scoop of the sorbet was delicious but it’s not something you would sit down and eat a pint of.

The roasted tomatoes were a very interesting item to put on a dessert. At first I was skeptical it would work with the dish, but in the end I was rather pleased. When you first bite down on the roasted tomato is explodes in your mouth. The tomatoes were tossed in honey, olive oil and salt, and then roasted for two hours and fifteen minutes at one hundred and seventy five degrees (convection).

In my opinion the streusel played a major part in the overall dish. The streusel was sweet with a nice almond taste. The sorbet and streusel together were absolutely amazing. The sweetness of the streusel cut through the sorbet, therefore affecting the whole dish.

The recipe calls for almond flour which is rather expensive and hard to find. To make your own almond flour just put some sliced almonds in the food processor. The secret to making almond flour is not heating the almonds up, unless you want almond butter. So hit the pulse button for around five seconds and then let it stand for thirty seconds and repeat until the mixture is a fine powdery consistency.

This experiment uses an ingredient most people wouldn’t associate with dessert but it works rather well.

Sweet Tomato Sorbet, Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Streusel, Basil

Sweet Tomato Sorbet, Cylinder of Streusel, Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Basil

Sweet Tomato Sorbet, Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Streusel, Basil

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tomato Sauce

As with the strawberries, tomatoes are in abundance around my house. So with my next few experiments I decided to use homegrown tomatoes as the base.

Last September I bought Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Cookbook. I made the tomato sauce back then so I decided to do it again. When I made it the first time I didn’t use an immersion blender at the end, causing it to be slightly chunky. So this time I let it cool down, then used the immersion blender to finely purée the sauce.

The recipe itself is rather simple. The only challenge would be if you don’t know what a Bouquet garni is. The process for making one is rather simple; just get your parsley, thyme and basil. Cut a little kitchen twine and tie the twine around the herbs, that’s it.

A lot of magazines and Food Network shows tell you to put sugar in tomato sauce. In my opinion, that’s absolute crap unless your goal is to make Chef Boyardee. Tomatoes are naturally sweet and will take care of the sauce themselves.

The recipe suggested cooking the sauce for thirty to forty five minutes. In reality it took exactly one hour for the sauce to obtain the right flavor. If you would only cook it for thirty minutes the sauce wouldn’t mature and it probably wouldn’t taste very good.


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced finely
3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
2 pounds sweet, ripe tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon salt
Bouquet garmi of parsley, thyme and basil springs

Warm the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until softened and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and let it sizzle for half a minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and salt, and add the herb springs, bundled together with kitchen twine.

Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the flame to low. Simmer the sauce, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes; it will thicken as it cooks. Remove and discard the herb bundle. Taste for salt and adjust. For a refined sauce, pass through a food mill or purée in a blender.

Chopped Tomatoes, Bouquet garni, Minced Garlic, Salt

Sunday, August 2, 2009


This time of year many foods we have an abundance of, like strawberries. Strawberries are the perfect treat, sweet and juicy but yet good for you. Cooking seasonally also shows that you can change with whatever ingredients you have.

For my last experiment I decided to do a plate comprised of five components. Three of the items contained strawberries but in the final plating’s strawberries didn’t dominant the dish. The ideas and recipes for the ice cream, leather, shortbread and whipped cream came from Johnny Iuzzini’s recent cookbook Dessert Fourplay. The idea for the strawberry and rhubarb pâte de fruit came from the site Tartelette.

Upon making the pâte de fruit, I had one main problem, I couldn’t find liquid pectin. At first I thought of using Gelatin but then decided that wouldn’t work. So finally I went to the store and bought dry pectin, thinking I could convert it into liquid pectin. I mixed the whole box of dry pectin with ¾ cup water and brought it to a boil over medium heat. This worked and I added two tablespoons of the liquid to the pâte de fruit.

The shortbreads turned out perfectly. In the final plate the shortbreads played a big role, which I was surprised by. In the recipe it said the cooking time would be around four to five minutes but in reality mine took around ten minutes to achieve the golden brown color.

Possibly the best part of the dish was the strawberry ice cream. Previously in my ice cream making experiments I’d used stabilizers but this one turned out perfectly without any stabilizer. Johnny Iuzzini also uses an immersion blender right before you put the mixture into the ice cream maker which I greatly like. It makes the ice cream slightly lighter and much easier to scoop.

The strawberry leather was very unique. The texture resembled a fruit rollup but had the taste of strawberry jam. The recipe called for lavender, which would’ve added a sweet aroma but I decided to opt out on it. The leather took around six hours at one hundred and twenty five degrees (convection) to complete.

Together all the components of the dish faired nicely with each other. At first glance I thought some might clash but I was wrong.

Leather Strawberry Cylinder, Crème Fraîche Whipped Cream,Strawberry and Rhubarb Pâte de Fruit, Shortbread, Strawberry Ice Cream, Micro Mint

Strawberry Ice Cream, Shortbread,Crème Fraîche Whipped Cream,Strawberry Leather,Slice of Strawberry and Rhubarb Pâte de Fruit, Micro Mint

Leather Strawberry Roll,Shortbread, Strawberry Ice Cream, Crème Fraîche Whipped Cream, Strawberry and Rhubarb Pâte de Fruit, Mint

Thursday, July 30, 2009


This summer has been very chaotic for me, between football and Houlihans it hasn’t left much time for blogging. Now though since I have more time I will return to making my mad creations.

A few weeks ago I took a short trip to Chicago. Chicago has an array of talent from street vendors selling hot dogs to Charlie Trotters famous restaurant. With only a few days in such a big city I had to pick carefully where I wanted to eat.

Upon first arriving in Chicago I drove to the notoriously famous Hot Doug’s. The restaurant is located in the city’s Avondale neighborhood. They serve everything from the traditional Chicago dog, to more exotic items such as the foie gras dog. In 2006 Hot Doug’s appeared in the news due to its use of foie gras. Chicago banned the use of foie gras from 2006 to 2008, saying it was animal cruelty. During this time Hot Doug’s was fined two hundred and fifty dollars and thirty pounds of foie gras was confiscated from the restaurant. The ban was repealed in May of 2008 and the foie gras dog was brought back onto the menu.

When I was driving up, I saw a line that was almost a mile long. At first I didn’t connect it with Hot Doug’s but soon found out it was the line to get in. After seeing it on Anthony Bourdain and having to wait almost a year, I didn’t get to eat a hot dog from Hot Doug’s.

For dinner I decided to go to Café Ba-Ba-Reeba. They specialize in tapas which are small plates. I greatly enjoy eating this way because you experience so many different flavors. Through the course of dinner I ordered around six plates. This is more than a normal amount ordered but that’s the great thing about tapas or small plates, there aren’t any rules.

Although my visit to Chicago was short, I saw many great ideas.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Passion Fruit Granité

Passion Fruit Granite, what is it? Basically it’s a sorbet that was never put in a batch freezer. All you have to do is freeze the mixture and rake often during the freezing process, to produce large pieces of ice.

Most people do not know or have never seen a passion fruit. A passion fruit is primarily comprised of a juice that tastes similar to grapefruit juice and the rest of it is seeds. To properly cut one you cut the fruit in half then run the juice through a fine mesh sieve to retrieve all the seeds.

For the final plate we saved the shell and served the granite on top of it with a mint leaf. The dessert is rather simple to make but it tastes remarkable.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Basil Infused Olive Oil Ice Cream

Olives were the base of recent dessert. The dessert was comprised of basil infused olive oil ice cream, a Mediterranean olive tuile and a variety of fruits. Once again I came up with a variety of plating options for the final product.

The ideas for both recipes came from Michael Laiskonis of Le Bernadin in New York City. While making the items I changed the recipes several times to modify the end product. Usually I follow recipes pretty tight but these two were great base recipes that allowed for personal interpretation.

The olive oil ice cream was good but if I make it again I’ll reduce the amount of fromage Blanc to make the frozen product a little more malleable.

The ice cream had two main flavors, olive oil and basil. The recipe called for two hundred grams of olive oil, which could overpower the basil flavor if the extra virgin olive oil has a strong flavor, which mine did. So I decided to only use sixty five grams of olive oil. This is one reason why it’s always a good idea to taste your recipe before dumping an ingredient completely in.

The olive tuile turned out perfectly in the end. I used kalamata olives in the tuile giving it a darker color. To get the tuile to turn thinner and somewhat transparent, I had to add three times the amount of glucose syrup that it called for in the original recipe.

For the final plating I formed a few of the tuile’s into miniature “taco shells” and “cannoli’s”. Then I diced up some strawberries and mango to put in the “tacos”. To finish the plate off I put a blueberry leaf on the plate.

With a few minor changes I could see this plate becoming great.

Black Olive “Taco” Tuile

Strawberries, Mango, Basil, Olive Oil Infused Fromage Blanc Ice Cream, Mango Purée

Fromage Blanc Ice Cream Infused with Basil & Olive Oil

Mediterranean Olive “Cannoli”, Strawberries, Mango, Dark Cherries, Julienne of Basil.

Fruit Compote with Mango Coulis

Olive Oil Infused Fromage Blanc Ice Cream, Mediterranean Olive Tuile with Orange Zest, Basil

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Christopher Elbow Artisanal Chocolates

Christopher Elbow landed his first cooking job in 1992 at the Lincoln Country Club. After graduating from the University of Nebraska in 1996 he returned to Kansas City to head Shiraz Restaurant. After moving to Las Vegas shortly, he once again returned to Kansas City. After accepting executive pastry chef at the American Restaurant, he began to perfect his chocolate-making skills. In January 2009 Food & Wine ranked Elbow number one on their top ten chocolates.

While visiting Elbow’s store in Kansas City I decided to buy a few different chocolates. I bought the following five chocolates: Venezuelan Dark, Tanzanie, Strawberry-Balsamic Caramel, Bourbon Pecan and Yuzu. All the chocolates were excellent, each with their own unique flavor.

I think the chocolates would make an excellent dessert with a little port. So I placed the five chocolates on a long plate along a side of ten year Tawny Port. It’s a rather simple idea but I think people would connect with it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Strawberry Shortcake Redefined

Strawberry shortcake, a tradition in many households but today my strawberry shortcake is new and refined.

When I think of tradition strawberry shortcake, I think of a dry heavy dessert. The base or the shortcake of my dessert was a classic French madeleine from my corn sorbet experiment. The madeleine was perfect for this scenario, cakey but still light.

The strawberry flavor really came through nicely on the final dish. After finishing with the strawberry foam, I shot the final bit into a few molds and threw them in the freezer. The final product was very light yet tasty. To finish the plate off I quartered some strawberries and put whipped cream on top.

This is truly the new way to serve “strawberry shortcake.” Not to heavy yet you still get the rich powerful flavors of the dessert.

Strawberry Shortcake

Frozen Strawberry Foam, Madeleine's, Sweetened Whipped Cream, Fresh Strawberries