Author: alltoquedout

Blueberry Tartlet

Blueberries, mascarpone, honey, breton dough, vanilla

ingredients-14

This wonderfully simple blueberry tart was so delicious that we made it again while visiting family this past week. The hardest part of making this tart was the waiting! We started with the parts of the recipe that required time to sit overnight–the mascarpone vanilla cream, and the breton dough.

For the mascarpone cream, we combined the mascarpone, vanilla seeds, honey, and heavy cream and set the mixture in the fridge to rest overnight.

ingredients-1

In another bowl, we combined eggs and sugar for the breton dough.

ingredients-2

To this mixture, we added some butter that we infused with even more vanilla seeds.

ingredients-3

Next, we added flour and worked the dough until it was just combined, wrapped it in cellophane, and placed it in the fridge to rest overnight.

ingredients-4

The next day, we removed the dough from the fridge and rolled it out. This started out as a surprisingly hard task as the dough was rock solid. After a short while, the dough eventually became so soft that it became increasingly difficult to un-stick from the rolling-pin.

ingredients-5

To fix this problem, we rolled the dough between parchment paper sheets and carefully placed it in a large tart mold. The recipe is for a blueberry tartlet, but we already had a large tart mold and decided to make one large tart instead of 4 tartlets. While the recipe didn’t specifically mention weighting down the dough, we added some dried kidney beans on top of the dough as we had experienced some problems with shrinking dough in the past. We must have left the beans on for too long, because the edges of the tart shell turned golden brown well before the center!

ingredients-7

After the tart shell had some time to rest, we evenly spread the mascarpone vanilla cream inside.

ingredients-9

The last step of this recipe involved lightly warming fresh blueberries in honey for a few minutes.

ingredients-6

Finally, we placed the beautiful purple berries on top of the mascarpone cream. We exercised a little bit of restraint in order to capture photos of the constructing of the dessert–it was really hard to resist!

ingredients-10ingredients-11

We sprinkled some caster sugar on top as a finishing touch right before we cut a piece.

ingredients-12
ingredients-16

There really is nothing not to like about this dessert! The tart shell was crunchy and sweet and embodied all of the flavours of a butter cookie (biscuit sablé), the mascarpone vanilla cream added some richness and a light sweet flavour, and the blueberries were juicy and delicate. The simplicity of this delicious blueberry tart will make it a favourite for us to serve at dinner parties or to enjoy at home on a Saturday night!

ingredients-14 ingredients-17

Advertisements

Quail Confit

Quail, lemon, thyme, garlic, and duck fat

B&W Theo (8 of 9)

Oh duck fat… I’ve seen it called liquid gold–it has the magical ability to make pretty much everything a little more delicious than if you used butter or oil. Today, I had the pleasure of filling an entire saucepan with duck fat, cooking a few small birds in it, and subsequently eating them. Suffice to say, I had a pretty good day!

untitled (1 of 9)
The recipe started with brining the quails in salt, sugar, peppercorns and basil. We really had fun with this picture–after some trial and error with different containers, we ended up going for a scientific specimen jar look.

Next up, we prepared a mirepoix that contained onion, carrots and leeks.

untitled (2 of 9)

untitled (4 of 9)

With most of the prep done, I turned my attention to the duck fat. The tubs o’ duck fat were slowly melted in a saucepan.

untitled (3 of 9)

The mirepoix was added to the saucepan of duck fat (which I found interesting) and the mixture left to simmer on low heat for a while. The vegetables turned a really nice golden brown and added flavour to the duck fat. The addition of the mirepoix also formed a cushion at the base of the saucepan to keep the quails from scorching the bottom.

The quails themselves were taken out of the brining liquid, patted dry, and stuffed with some lemon and thyme before being plunged into a golden bath of duck fat.

untitled (5 of 9) untitled (6 of 9)

As this cooking process was new to me, it was very fun to experience for the first time. The heat was set at a temperature in order to keep the fat at a low simmer and after the initial (and expected) spatter phase of cooking, the quail simmered gently.

untitled (7 of 9)

When cooking was done, the quail were taken out of their bath, and patted dry to remove excess fat. The first thing I noticed was that the skin was completely rendered. My second observation was that the meat was surprisingly dry and stringy. This probably had more to do with the vendor at the farmer’s market having frozen the quail than with the actual cooking method. The meat tasted delicious–the flavour of thyme and lemon really shone through and it was not even remotely too oily or fatty.

All in all, I really enjoyed cooking this dish! It seems like this cooking technique is something that would be worth my time to practice and perfect, because honestly, everything tastes better when submerged in duck fat!

untitled (9 of 9)

Explosive Toffee

Maple syrup, sugar, baking soda
Explosive Toffee (7 of 9)
This was a very quick recipe that we did Mother’s Day weekend while entertaining family… and then again last week so we could capture more pictures. The procedure was straightforward. Mix sugar, maple syrup and water in a pot, bring to hard crack stage, then adding baking soda and stir. Voila! 1 The only issue we encountered was that the initial saucepan we chose was too small–so the second time around, we used a larger pot. The ingredients were transferred to a large pot and brought to temperature.

Explosive Toffee (1 of 9)
Explosive Toffee (2 of 9)
The boiling mixture took a while to reach temperature, and the bubbles changed over time. They went from looking like this…Explosive Toffee (3 of 9)
to this!Explosive Toffee (4 of 9)
After we added baking powder the mixture did appear to explode!
Explosive Toffee (5 of 9)
It was really interesting to see the dark caramel lighten in colour and puff up with the addition of baking soda. The toffee was then transferred to a parchment paper lined pan to cool.
Explosive Toffee (6 of 9)
This turned out to be delicious! The toffee was rock hard and easy to snap, and had nice little bubbles inside. We thought it would be cool to try to capture a picture of this explosive toffee exploding, so we set out to throw toffee at the ground for about 30 minutes. The results were really fun and the process strangely cathartic!
Explosive Toffee (8 of 9)Explosive Toffee (9 of 9)

Rhubarb Cannoli

Rhubarb, long pepper, thyme and strawberries

Rhubarb Cannolo

This weekend, we decided to give ourselves a challenge, and attempt one more of the desserts in the cookbook.

We started the process by making a cannoli batter which involved mixing together sugar, flour, butter, orange juice and long pepper (substituted in for Guinea Pepper, we liked the smell/taste better). The mixture then needed to rest in the fridge for 24 hours to hydrate the flour and infuse the flavour of the long pepper.

It was our first time using long peppers in our cooking. The long peppers have a beautiful floral/cinnamon/clove smell to them, with a fiery floral taste that I think works amazingly in this dessert.

Long PepperWith the cannoli batter sitting in the fridge, we turned our attention to the thyme custard cannoli filling. The custard was made by infusing milk with a Madagascar vanilla bean, thyme and sugar, then thickening it with cornstarch, gelatin and egg yolks.  Thyme CustardWe then made strawberry purée in a blender with some simple syrup and fresh local strawberries.Strawberry Puree

Using this purée, we once again attempted to make a sugar powder as we’ve done many times before for the Nothing Ice Cream recipe.

Boiling Strawberry SugarAmazingly, even though we have made at least half a dozen powders by now, we still struggle with this technique! This time around, we encountered something entirely new. While adding the strawberry purée to the boiling sugar, it boiled over the side of the saucepan, instantly catching fire. What are the chances of a small sugar fire getting out of hand? We figured very little! Instead of quickly putting out the fire, we took the time to get a good picture for the blog! Sugar FireWith the fire extinguished and the strawberry purée safely turned into a powder, we turned our attention to the rhubarb. RhubarbAfter its photo shoot, the rhubarb was peeled, chopped, and placed into a saucepan to cook. After this step, we looked around the kitchen and at ourselves. There was red splatter everywhere! The walls, the cabinets, even the white pages of the cookbook were affected which was surprising given it was 2 meters away from ground zero. Maybe next time we’ll peel rhubarb under running water?Peeled RhubarbThe chopped rhubarb was cooked with some sugar and water until it was soft. Chopped RhubarbOnce cooked, the rhubarb purée was thoroughly blended, and painstakingly passed through a fine meshed conical strainer (chinois). The liquid that went through the chinois was was processed in our ice cream maker to make sorbet, and the thickened purée from the chinois was set aside to use in the final plating.The next day (after some extensive cleanup), we set about finishing this dessert. Using a vegetable peeler, we made some rhubarb strips that were subsequently laid out on a silicon baking mat.Rhubarb Strips Rhubarb LatticeNext, we sprinkled some sugar onto the rhubarb strips. In the last recipe, Mock Smoked Salmon, we attempted to take a picture of a curing mixture being sprinkled onto the salmon. After some reading online about our camera settings, we tried this again, and I think we succeeded! We’re pretty sure better action shots would require a better camera.Sugar Sprinkled on RhubarbThe sugary rhubarb strips were put in the oven to soften and caramelize.Sugary RhubarbNext, we turned our attention to the actual cannoli. The plan here was to spread the mixture thinly onto a baking mat, and bake in the oven until the batter turned transparent and lightly browned around the edges.Cannoli BatterAfter about 15 minutes in the oven, the brown and translucent cannoli “strips” were taken out of the oven. We had about 30 seconds to get the molten hot batter rolled into a cylinder, which resulted in many burnt fingers–and sadly, no pictures of this process. We were really proud of the final results!

With all of the components finally done, we started on the final plating of the dish. First, one of our best shaped cannolo was filled halfway with the thyme custard using a piping bag, topped with diced strawberries, then filled completely with more custard.Filling a CannoloThe filled cannolo was then wrapped with a sheet of the baked rhubarb strips.Rhubarb Cannolo with Thyme CustardThe final plating of the dish involved putting down a smear of the rhubarb purée, placing the cannolo on top, then a sprinkle of the strawberry powder with a quenelle of rhubarb sorbet on top.Rhubarb Cannolo with Puree Rhubarb Cannolo with Puree, Sorbet and Strawberry Powder Rhubarb Cannolo with Puree, Sorbet and Strawberry PowderWow! This has to be one of the most complex deserts we have ever made! The mixture of different textures, temperatures, colours was impressive. I must admit that I was not 100% happy with the texture of the custard–it was over set, which I attribute to the conversion from sheet gelatin that the recipe asked for to the powder form that we had on hand.

Overall, the bitterness of the rhubarb, the sweetness of the powder, the crunch of the cannolo, and the interesting taste of thyme in the custard made for an amazing dessert that I wish I could get the opportunity to eat more often!Eating Rhubarb Cannolo with Puree, Sorbet and Strawberry Powder

Mock Smoked Salmon

Mesquite wood, salmon, sour cream, potato

15

The mock smoked salmon recipe posed a new challenge for us–usually the main challenges are sourcing the ingredients and finding the time to get all the cooking done while frequently stopping to photograph the steps. The sourcing for this recipe was actually not the challenging part. We just needed: potatoes, wood chips, salmon, sour cream, chives, and butter.  For this recipe, the biggest challenge we encountered was troubleshooting how to cold smoke in our tiny apartment. Our building has a rule that bans the use of barbecues and surely a steady stream of smoke coming from our balcony would raise suspicion! We therefore decided to do the far more risky option of setting a controlled fire in our kitchen. (Don’t worry, we had all 3 of our fire extinguishers on hand in the likely event of a less-than-controlled fire in our kitchen!)

The recipe started easily enough. We made some clarified butter using an online tutorial, mandolined potatoes and soaked them in the clarified butter.

1

We then placed the potatoes neatly on a silicon mat, covered it with parchment paper and weighted it down with another pan.

2

Since the potatoes required 2+ hours in the oven, we turned our attention to the salmon. The salmon in this recipe is not actually smoked, it is instead cured with a salt and sugar mixture for 24 hours then combined with smoked sour cream–a really interesting way to integrate the flavour of the smoke, if you ask me!

3

We grated lemon zest onto the fish, then had some fun playing around with the camera. We bought the camera specifically for the blog, and had never done photography before. We are getting relatively good at taking pictures of stationary food, but capturing a shot of us sprinkling curing mixture onto the salmon was a challenge. We are not 100% happy with the picture, but we tried to do something different, and learned a lot in the process (expect some expert action shots next time!).

4

With the potato chips baking and the salmon curing, it was time to start some fire! We did some research on how to cold smoke foods, but none of the websites we came across gave us clear instructions on how to accomplish this indoors without putting our security deposit in danger. We ended up filling some aluminium foil with mesquite wood chips in the bottom of a cast iron wok, lighting them with a butane torch and hoping for the best!

9

8

This technique gave us some smoke, but the wood chips quickly cooled down and stop smoking, especially when the wok was covered. We eventually resolved this problem by setting the entire apparatus on a hot stove top.

As we wanted to cold smoke the sour cream, we placed an old baking pan on top of the wood chips, filled it with ice cubes, and placed the bowl whose interior was covered with sour cream on top.

6

With the added heat of the stove on maximum and the super hot cast iron, we managed to get some great smoke. Again, we had the reassurance of having three fire extinguishers nearby, all windows and doors open, and an industrial fan blowing smoke out the kitchen window–attempt this at your own risk!

10

I was shocked and amazed at how much of the smoky flavour was infused into the sour cream! The cold smoking technique gave it a really strong smoky taste without changing the consistency–if I’m feeling lucky I’ll try this again with other foods.

By the time we were done smoking the sour cream, the potato chips were finally done. They took about 3 hours to become perfectly crisp and almost transparent, and tasted nicely of butter and roasted potato. This was a lot more time than the recipe asked for, but we’ll chalk this one up to our apartment stove being slightly less powerful than a commercial oven.

11

12

After the chips were done, we called it a day! The salmon had to cure for 24 hours (we didn’t plan for this, oops!) so we packed the potato chips in an airtight container and sealed and refrigerated the smoked cream until the next day.

The following day, we took the salmon out of the fridge and rinsed it of its cure. The salmon looked and smelled incredible–it had a strong lemon scent, a deep salmon colour, and had an almost transparent look to it!

13

The final dish was assembled on a custom wood stand that we made for this dish from leftover wood from the white oak slab table we are building.

14

I really, really enjoyed this dish! I think I must have eaten at least a dozen of these one after the other. When assembled, it tastes exactly like smoked salmon, but the salmon has (in my opinion) a nicer texture. This would make for a great appetizer for a dinner party since it can be made ahead of time, while retaining its full flavour and textures. These are sure to impress your guests!

15

Nothing Ice Cream

Eggs, cream, sugar and various fruit juices

14

After a short break for family visits and work-related activities, we are now finally getting to posting some of the recipes we were able to finish in between family-related events (in order, hopefully). I believe our first recipe was “Nothing Ice Cream” –which turned out to be a really interesting (albeit frustrating) experience and a great learning opportunity. We had the day off due to Good Friday, and had planned on waking up late and making some ice cream and fruit powders to serve as dessert for the family Easter dinner.

The day started off really promising. We had bought some beautiful citrus: lemons, limes, blood oranges and grapefruit. These had very vibrant colours, and made for some really nice pictures.

2

1
While Melissa was juicing and photographing the citrus, I quickly made the ice cream using eggs, milk, cream and a little sugar to form a custard, then churning the mixture in an ice cream maker.
With the ice cream done, and four cups of different citrus juices ready, I turned my attention to making the powder. That’s when things started to get sticky!

The instructions on how to make the powder were clear: mix albumen (egg white) powder with citrus juice, then heat some sugar and water to the soft crack stage, mix the juice with the sugar, stir and voilà! Fruit powder! Nope. Not what happened.

As I don’t have much experience working with sugar, my first attempt was with the lemon juice as we had extra lemons on hand in case of failure. I set some sugar and water to a boil, and the juice to simmer until reduced by half. Then I tried adding the albumen power–the powder formed huge chunks, and seemed to be impossible to incorporate. This is when the troubleshooting started. Maybe the juice was too hot, and it was cooking the egg white powder? I whisked until it was relatively homogeneous, and then added it to the sugar syrup that had reached the proper temperature (more quickly than I had anticipated). This first attempt resulted in a yellow sticky glue, not quite the outcome we were hoping for!

To keep a long story short, we proceeded to attempt to make powders with all of our citrus juices while following the instructions in the book to the letter. This resulted in varying levels of success ranging from:

gloopy mess…

3

to “did I just make Nerds?”…

4

to actual powder-making success!

5

The only citrus juice that managed to resemble powder was the grapefruit juice, and we have no idea why it worked while the others didn’t.

A few weeks later we had to opportunity to travel to Montreal to eat at Toque!. While there we had the amazing opportunity to speak to one of their pastry chefs, and asked him what the secret was to making this elusive fruit powder. To keep the albumen powder from clumping, he recommended mixing it with some sugar first in order to break up all the clumps and to keep them separate even after sifting. For the sugar part, he explained that the most important part of the procedure was to dehydrate the mixture, and that this could be done at a lower temperature. We had erroneously focused on bringing and keeping the sugar caramel to the right temperature, which resulted in sticky failure. Good to know!

Armed with this new knowledge, the next weekend we bought a bottle of elderberry juice which has a beautiful dark purple colour. We hoped to make a fruit powder that could nicely contrast our only other successful powder (grapefruit, which had a light yellow colour).

6

7

8

9

Following the chef’s tips, the powder turned out perfectly! The colour turned out beautifully, and tasted strongly of elderberry without an overpowering caramel flavour. Finally, success!

Plating and eating this desert was really fun. It looked great on a plate, and the play on textures is really different and fun.

10

11

12

Initially we were worried the nothing ice cream would taste too eggy as the recipe used quite a bit more egg yolk than we were used to–but the flavour helped to enhance the taste of the powders.

13

We learned a lot making this recipe, and we’ll certainly be making this one again for friends!

Important takeaways:

  • Don’t use a whisk for this recipe, you will make a tremendous mess. A wooden spoon or spatula works great!
  • This recipe is not limited to citrus juice, feel free to use any juice that has a strong enough flavour to withstand being mixed with caramel.

Rutabaga Mousse and Cocoa Butter

Rutabaga, cream, cocoa, and chocolate

Rutabaga Mousse with Cocoa Butter (13 of 14)

When we first decided to start this project, we sat down and talked about how we would handle failing a recipe. We decided that we should blog our failures alongside our successes as this entire process should be one big learning opportunity. While reading through the book, we never thought that this simple looking rutabaga mousse would cause us so much frustration! This post will outline 3 procedures, 2 of which were unsuccessful.

Rutabaga Mousse with Cocoa Butter (1 of 14)

The fun started with the peeling of a rutabaga. This vegetable is rock hard and covered in a fairly thick layer of wax which made it very slippery (and dangerous, might I add) to peel.

Rutabaga Mousse with Cocoa Butter (2 of 14)

After some trial, error, and deliberation we ended up using a towel, a cleaver, and the floor to chop the root into manageable pieces.

Rutabaga Mousse with Cocoa Butter (3 of 14)

Rutabaga Mousse with Cocoa Butter (4 of 14)

The pieces were then placed into a medium-sized pot along with a cup of milk. The plan was to let the rutabaga simmer in full fat milk for about an hour until it was nice and soft. Unfortunately, after taking my eyes off the pot to clean up my workspace a little, the milk boiled over! This left us with a pot of curdled milk solids and hard chunks of rutabaga.

Rutabaga Mousse with Cocoa Butter (5 of 14)

Not having another rutabaga on hand, I decided to keep cooking it until the root was soft enough to be puréed. Once soft, I strained the milk, washed the rutabaga, and added it to the blender. The mixture seemed to be sticking to the sides of the blender, so I tried to dislodge it using a wooden spoon while the blender was running.

Rutabaga Mousse with Cocoa Butter (6 of 14)

For those of you trying this at home, that is just a horrible idea! I promptly blended the tip of the spoon, adding a nice woody texture to the purée. So it was off to the store to get a new rutabaga and some more milk.

For round two we wised up a little. Melissa pointed out that we could use the food processor to finely slice up the rutabaga. The processor flew through the entire root within a minute, which made me feel quite silly for having previously done it by hand. We also substituted full fat milk for some skim milk, in the hopes of not having it curdle.

Rutabaga Mousse with Cocoa Butter (7 of 14)

Next, we added the sliced rutabaga to a pot, and this time covered it with skim milk (instead of just adding one cup) which was then slowly brought to a simmer. This time I kept a close eye on it, stirring every once in a while. About half an hour into the cooking, the pot of milk curdled all of a sudden and without warning! I assume that the pH of the root is too low, and once it starts breaking down the acid is enough to curdle the milk proteins. I threw it in the garbage and walked away. Sometimes things just don’t work out.

Round three! About a month later I decided to revisit this recipe, determined to not let a vegetable (of all things) beat me. This time I did my research, and was prepared. I found that the lower the fat content of dairy, the more likely it is to curdle, and that rutabaga purée is usually made with vegetable stock or almond milk so as to avoid curdling. I opted to use some almond milk as the internet assured me it would not curdle–plus it had the potential to add a pleasant nuttiness to the dish. We peeled the rutabaga and sliced it in the food processor, then added it to a pot and covered it with the almond milk. I have to admit I was a little worried that the rutabaga was going to somehow magically curdle the almond milk back into almonds… but to my surprise, the mixture did not curdle at all!

Rutabaga Mousse with Cocoa Butter (10 of 14)

The cooking process went great this time! After an hour and a half of simmering, the rutabaga was soft and sweet with no unpleasant curdles. The mixture was strained and put into a blender with some of the cooking liquid. I puréed the mixture for about five minutes until it seemed as smooth as it could possibly get.

Rutabaga Mousse with Cocoa Butter (11 of 14)

The purée was then transferred to a bowl with some whipping cream. For a nice change, I was proud of the resulting mixture! It was glossy and perfectly smooth, just like the purées you see in cooking competitions! Finally, the purée was transferred to a siphon and charged with N2O.

Rutabaga Mousse with Cocoa Butter (12 of 14)

The cocoa butter part of the recipe was quick and easy and involved combining butter and cocoa powder over low heat. We plated it in a shallow bowl and grated some premium dark chocolate over the top as a finishing touch.

The final result was more impressive than I had hoped for… the mousse was light and fluffy and had a nicely incorporated nutty flavour. I don’t think this is a recipe that I’ll whip out for a dinner party, but I was impressed with the final result. Remember kids: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again (but then stop after that last try cause it’ll get too expensive)!

Rutabaga Mousse with Cocoa Butter (14 of 14)

Head Cheese

Pork, red pepper, chives and lemon

IMG_2038

 

Since first opening the Toqué! cookbook and looking through the recipes, I have really been looking forward to making this head cheese. One of the things I wanted to accomplish with this project was to learn how utilize ingredients we would not normally buy, cook with, or eat. A pig’s head certainly fits in this category!

 

We were able to get an incredibly fresh pig’s head (butchered that morning) from our favorite butcher at the local farmer’s market. We brought the head home and I thoroughly washed it. Thankfully, the butcher had recommended that the head be sliced in two, and it turned out even our largest pot at 18 quarts could only accommodate half of it.

IMG_1990

To begin the cooking, half of the pig’s head was put into the pot, along with 7 liters of water, juniper berries, bay leaves, black pepper, carrots, onions, and a pig’s foot (at the recommendation of our butcher, who makes a lot of head cheese himself). The stock was then brought to a boil, and left to simmer for about 4 hours.

IMG_1987

As making head cheese is a two day process, I needed to make myself dinner for that evening–so I put the second half of the head in a roasting pan with the same ingredients and spices as the stock, some maple syrup, what was left of the apple we used for photographing, and roasted in the oven for 7 hours on low heat until the skin was crispy and the meat was wonderfully soft and flavorful. That night, I sat down hungry with half of a pig’s head, a knife and a fork. The thing that really surprised me about the roasted dish was how many different textures of pork there were. The ear was so incredibly crispy, the cheek meat was fatty and stringy, the meat around the eyes was dark and soft, and the meat around the neck was very much like the regular roasted pork I’m used to.

IMG_1998

 

After four hours of simmering, the meat and bones were strained out of the pot to cool, and I discovered first-hand how much of a time consuming process making head cheese really is! One of the skills I have been working on developing in the kitchen is patience. I have been known in the past to undercook meats, under-reduce sauces and even leave out components due to various reasons (usually hunger). I have since discovered that the secret to creating technically correct food is patience–unfortunately my patience is directly related to my hunger. Now I make sure I don’t cook hungry… and my food has been tasting much better as a result!

 

The strained pork head stock was successfully boiled down from 28 cups of liquid to 2 cups (a proud accomplishment for me) while skimming off the impurities as they arose. As the reducing process took quite a few hours, I had plenty of time to separate the pork into two piles: the parts I wanted to eat, and the bits I didn’t.

 

The resulting pork jus was then mixed with the select meat, some finely diced red peppers, chives, lemon zest, salt and pepper. I have some experience making cured meats, and have learned that when something is to be eaten cold, you must over season it while it’s still warm for the salt balance to be correct when it cools. I then poured the mixture into a terrine mould lined with plastic wrap, and left it in the fridge to solidify overnight.

 

The next day, we made some sautéed balsamic vinegar and thyme pearl onions with sunflower seed flatbread as accompaniments to complete the meal.

IMG_2025

IMG_2027

 

The head cheese was delicious: extremely fatty and flavorful. Along with the onions and flat bread, it made for a perfect lunch! One of the aspects of this project that I dislike is that most of these recipes that we try can only be attempted once due to the sheer volume of recipes we will be making for the blog. If I were to make this dish again, I would be more careful with lining the terrine with the plastic wrap to avoid ridges, and take the time to shred the pork into small pieces (as the recipe instructed). The pork jus with lemon was extremely flavorful, which made the large chunks of pork and fat seem a little bit bland by contrast–next time I’ll follow the recipe to a T!.

IMG_2045

 

 

 

Jar of Pigeon

Squab, maple syrup, pine, and citrus

IMG_1637

Maybe this is just the inner-French-Canadian speaking, but generally when I see a gaggle of geese–or a duck swimming in the pond–or a rabbit at the pet store–I think, “Wow, you look delicious”! It is only since doing the Chicken Casserole recipe that I now have these feelings for coniferous trees, they are delicious. I’ve been eyeing a couple of the trees close to my house, and today I went around tasting some of them. One tree was particularly delicious, and while not spot-on with the flavour of Balsam Fir, it was pretty similar! And since the book said any conifer would work, I’ve opted to use this for the Jar of Pigeon recipe.

IMG_1499

This recipe started with butchering squab–something I’ve never done before. The pigeon came from the butcher with a few feathers stuck to it (visible in the picture above), but it was a fairly straightforward process with a very steep learning curve. I found that I’d completely “butchered” one of each appendage… the second went more smoothly. We’ve tried to highlight the squab’s good side in the pictures.

IMG_1449

Next the aromatics were heated up in small carbon steel pan and then placed in a wide mouth mason jar. The squab was seared in the pan to render off some of the fat and crisp up the skin. It was then placed in the jar with the aromatics, and drizzled with some wonderful Abitibi maple syrup.

IMG_1554

Next some luting paste was made in the same fashion as the Chicken Casserole dish, applied as a seal around the perimeter of the mason jar, and placed in the oven to bake.

IMG_1601

I have to say that this dish was much easier to free from it’s containment vessel than the Chicken Casserole, as squab meat is cooked rare the luting paste didn’t have too much time to harden in the oven.

IMG_1615

When I got the lid off, our dog was kind enough to provide some quality control as he has many years of experience hunting pigeon.

IMG_1629

Approved!

IMG_1654

This was my first time eating squab, and it shocked me a little–in a good way. The meat tasted very strongly of iron and and it tasted surprisingly fatty! Since Melissa doesn’t eat meat, I don’t get a lot of iron in my diet–I was shocked to learn that Squab has 3x the iron content of beef! The meat inside was beautifully pink and just cooked past rare. I’m starting to really enjoy the flavour combination of maple and coniferous tree needles. I plan to make pigeon a regular part of my diet!

Banana Sorbet and Mousse with Dry Saffron Meringue

Banana, eggs, cream and saffron

IMG_1938

We were so impressed with the Pom Pom Pom recipe that we opted for another dessert–and we weren’t disappointed! This recipe was a lot more involved than we had initially anticipated… it consists of 4 major parts:

  • Banana sorbet
  • Banana powder
  • Banana mousse
  • Saffron meringue

We decided to undertake this over two days in order to allow some time in between each component. First we made the sorbet, which involved infusing chopped banana into some cream, milk, and vanilla. We then passed the mixture through a chinois and set the banana pulp aside for the following component.

IMG_1720

Next we added some egg yolks and whisked and heated the sieved mixture into a custard. This was then run through our ice cream maker attachment for our stand mixer and placed into a mould in the freezer. So far so good!

IMG_1734

We then started on the banana powder, which was slightly more stressful. This used the pulpy excess from the first part of the recipe and requires blending it with egg white powder, sugar, and water. The mixture was then spread as thinly as we could manage on our silicon baking mat, and baked for the allotted amount of time.

IMG_1814

This is where things started to get stressful… after the required amount of time had passed, we still didn’t have a hard crispy banana cracker. Instead we had a partially dehydrated, but still mushy substance. We figure that this is probably due to the size of our silicon baking mat (11 5/8″ x 16 3/8″)–it’s size is limited by our shamefully small oven. So to accommodate this, we allowed this to bake for more than double the time, and flipped it during baking. We were fortunate to have gotten the result shown below!

IMG_0868

We blended the crispy banana cracker into a powder and started with the saffron meringue, which had a surprisingly similar procedure. We allowed for some saffron to bloom in some egg whites. This was our first time working with saffron, we had picked some up from the Jean-Talon market spice store (Olives & Épices) the last time we were in Montreal, but had never been brave enough to use it!

IMG_0860

Next we whisked the saffron and egg whites into a meringue with stiff peaks.

IMG_0866

 

This mixture also needed to be spread thinly and baked, but we learned our lesson from the banana powder and instead employed some parchment paper and a rolling pin to get a very thin layer of meringue.

IMG_1909

The final component was the banana mousse, which was simple enough but required 6 hours in the fridge. The mousse required mixing egg yolks, corn starch, cream, and some of the banana infusion we made earlier into a custard. Next, it was poured into a siphon and charged with N2O. We decided to put the mousse aside in the fridge and plate up the final dish the next day (we were exhausted!).

Sunday comes along and we get to work plating while there is still a lot of natural light for photographs. We removed the sorbet from the mould and carefully siphoned mouse around it.

IMG_1914

Next we used a squeeze bottle to surround the dessert with molasses and lightly scattered some banana powder and saffron meringue over the dessert and plating surface.

IMG_1946

The resulting dessert was SO worth the hours of effort! It was surprising to us how much of a natural banana flavour came across in this recipe. We’ve tried several banana desserts in the past and were shocked at how “unmodified” the dessert tasted. It felt like even though we manipulated the banana in several ways for this dessert, its taste stayed true to the ingredient. The saffron and molasses complimented the banana, and added some texture and sweetness to the dish. It isn’t a flavour combination we would have been able to come up with on our own, and we are very impressed.

IMG_1948

IMG_1955

IMG_1956

IMG_1960

 

Yum!

Note: We deviated slightly from the plating procedure outlined in the book, if you try this recipe, you may get a different visual result!