Crafting Diversity

This section focuses on berries, fruits, and some vegetable dishes.

Girly Cranberries

Cranberries, thyme, kalamata olives, and cream

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We took a fairly lengthy break from the blog for the holidays, but we are finally back and catching up on the writing for our completed recipes! We struggled with this post a little because we were unable to get the plating to look the way we wanted it to, so we tried something a little bit different.

The ironically named (based on our plating style choice) Girly Cranberries recipe consists of 4 parts:

  • Cranberry Sorbet
  • Cranberry Chips
  • Candied and dried kalamata olives
  • Thyme Oil

We started with the candied kalamata olives since it appeared to take some time to make. First, we cut the olives into slivers.

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Next, we soaked the olives in cold water to remove some of the saltiness.

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Finally, we boiled the olive pieces in sugar to make a caramel and then set them on a silpat to harden.

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The resulting candied olives were sweet and salty–definitely a strange start to this recipe! We snacked on them while we made the other components, they were surprisingly delicious!

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In order to have all of the garnishing elements completed before the actual dessert, we made the thyme oil next. We noticed that this is a similar process to the scallion oil we made for the Tomatoes and Burnt Bread recipe, and that we will be making a number of herb-infused oils in the future (something to look forward to, they are amazing!).

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We blanched the thyme in boiling water for around 30 seconds, then blended the thyme with a neutral oil until it was smooth.

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We placed the blended thyme in the fridge to sit overnight and then turned our attention to the cranberry purée, which is used as a base for both the sorbet and chips. The cranberries were heated with a little bit of water and sugar. The goal of this exercise was to ensure that all of the berries burst, a process reminiscent to making popcorn! This was the first time we had worked with fresh cranberries, and we were surprised how loud they actually sound when they rupture!

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As the berries cooked, we noticed that the berries started to foam considerably.

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By the end of the cooking process, all of the berries appeared to have burst, and the the foam subsided. Really, it just look like we had made a traditional cranberry sauce for a Thanksgiving meal!

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The similarities to the Thanksgiving side dish stopped there, though. We strained the pulp from the liquid and set aside the liquid for later.

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Finally, we ran the pulp through a food processor and then through our ice cream machine to make the sorbet.

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After placing the sorbet in the freezer, we started what is by far the hardest component of this dish–the cranberry chips. This wasn’t the hardest component in theory, but we found the execution to be challenging and tried making these twice!

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We started by separating the whites from some eggs and beating them into a stiff-peaked meringue.

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Next, we gently folded in some of the cranberry purée we made earlier to make a light pink mixture.

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If you’ve ever worked with meringue before, you’ll know that time is of the essence in order to preserve the delicate air bubbles. The first time we did the cranberry chips, we rushed to get the mixture onto parchment paper and ended up spreading the mixture too thick. The result was that we had a thick, not-so-crispy chip that was inedible. The second time around, we took our time to spread smaller batches of meringue on the parchment paper with a cake knife to get a thinner, crispier chip.

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It took some time, but we were able to dehydrate these in the oven at a low heat to get the chips we were hoping for!

The following day, we passed the blended thyme and oil through a coffee filter.

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This oil is amazing on it’s own, but definitely a strange addition to a dessert! We noted that there was a heavier precipitate at the bottom after filtering, so we tried to use just the clear green part of the oil using a dropper.

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Finally, we whipped some cream with a little bit of sugar to put with this dessert. Our final challenge was to plate this masterpiece of components… a challenge we tried again and again to succeed at. The main problem we encountered is that Melissa’s plating style (neat, tidy and aligned) wouldn’t work with this recipe as it ended up looking too staged, so David took the reigns on this one! We’ve seen a number of disorganized plating styles and thought we’d give that a try!

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We ultimately ended up dropping the components on the plate from a distance of about 1 meter after carefully standing up the cranberry chips.

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We found that the sorbet had a very low melting point and really didn’t make it to the plating stage well, so we dropped that too!

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This was definitely one of the stranger desserts we’ve endeavoured to make, but each of the flavours brought something special to the plate. The saltiness of the olives contrasted really well with sweetness from the whipped cream and the tang of the cranberries. We found that the thyme oil was a great accent to the flavours without being overpowering, and that the differences in texture left nothing to be desired. This dessert really does have everything you could want and we loved it!

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Berry Vinegar and Vinegared Pulp

Strawberry pulp and red wine vinegar

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These are the last two recipes in our strawberry series—at least until we make more strawberry sorbet! We had planned to do two more recipes using the same by-products, but the volume of pulp we were left with did not allow for us to do this (we had also planned to make Fruit Water and Fruit Oil). Luckily, we did have enough to make this strawberry vinegar and vinegared pulp.

We started by mixing red wine vinegar into the leftover strawberry pulp from the Fruit Paste and Fruit Sorbet recipes.

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The pulpy vinegar was then funnelled into a jar and left to sit in the fridge for two weeks.

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After two weeks in the fridge, the vinegar looked about the same, but wow did the taste change!

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The original red wine vinegar tasted quite fresh for vinegar with a crisp, sharp acid taste. After a month in the fridge it took on a more fermented taste with some added strawberry sweetness.

The next part was easy; we just kept the vinegar and vinegared pulp aside for plating!

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After some thought, we decided to integrate the vinegar component into a salad in the form of a strawberry dressing. It also just so happened that I had planned chicken for dinner that night, so we were able to incorporate both elements into our dinner.

We chose finely diced strawberries and spinach to complement the strawberry vinegar in the salad.

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We then added some olive oil and salt to the strawberry vinegar to make a simple dressing.

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The final dish turned out great! The pulp was the most impressive component, however. It had a strong flavor that probably would have been better suited to a stronger flavored game meat, but the interesting crunchy texture and strong vinegar punch made for a really delicious dinner!

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Fruit Paste and Fruit Sorbet

Strawberries, sugar, pectin, and lemon juice

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Being someone that really loves food, I can’t really think of any foods that I don’t like or least nothing that I would not try at least once (not speaking for Melissa, of course!). Well, that’s not entirely true, there is one exception–strawberries! I grew up with a severe allergy to strawberries until around the age of 18, and therefore formed quite an aversion to the seedy red fruit. The reason we are focusing so much on strawberries is because it made logical sense to use all of the strawberries in their entirety after making the Strawberry Stem Water (the recipes do give you the option to use quite a few other fruits).

These recipes are the second stage of the Strawberry’s destruction and uses the whole strawberries after their hull removal in the previous post.

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First, the whole strawberries were blended into a smooth purée.

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The purée was then passed through our very fine meshed conical strainer to remove the “pulp”. The resulting purée was silky and smooth. The pulp was set aside for a future recipe (stay tuned for that!).

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In the picture below, you can see approximately how much pulp (on the left) we got out of our two pounds of strawberries. There’s an interesting differentiation in colour between the two. We separated the blended strawberries into two portions to use in these two recipes.

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The next step is where things got a little complicated for us. The recipe calls for yellow peach, which didn’t make sense to us, so we contacted the restaurant for clarification. It turns out, the recipe should call for yellow pectin. If anyone reading this is going to try this recipe, note this substitution!

Without thinking too much about it, we picked up some pectin in the canning section of the grocery store. Getting back home and ready to add it to the purée, we noticed something disconcerting. The regular “pectin crystals” package sold for making jams and jellies is not a pure form of pectin; it’s a combination of sugar, funicular acid and pectin, in that order. After doing some research online, it was really interesting to learn that pectin is a naturally occurring bio-polymer the walls of cells. To be used as a gelling agent, it requires sugar and acid.

Warning: Science! Low pH environments cause pectin molecules to bind together through hydrogen bonding. Sugar binds with the water in the solution and forces pectin to bind together to form the matrix needed to form a gel. The NH pectin that we need in this recipe, has added calcium bonds, which helps the gel become thermally reversible (and thus melts in your mouth).

Anyways, needless to say, we were lucky to be able to find the right pectin! We just adjusted the recipe accordingly to account for the added sugar and acid in the pectin we purchased.

The purée was brought to a simmer and mixed with water, sugar, glucose, lemon juice and citric acid. The mixture was then transferred to a parchment paper-lined dish and put into the fridge to cool and (hopefully) set.

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This resulting mixture was a glossy and viscous strawberry syrup, which tasted like the smoothest strawberry jam we had ever tasted!

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To our delight, the mixture set beautifully and we were left with a very firm gel. This is where we had some fun cutting up the gel into shapes and trying different approaches to plating.

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Here you can see the consistency of the gel:

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The final product was coated in some sugar to make it a little less sticky and easier to pick up and eat.

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We really enjoyed making this recipe. It played to our nerdy side to learn the science behind pectin and its role in making this sweet candy. I would really love to try this recipe with some blueberries or raspberries when they are in season again!

While snacking on the fruit paste candies, we added some sugar to what was left of the strawberry purée and some lemon juice to adjust the acidity. The mixture was then churned in our ice cream maker until it became a smooth sorbet. This was then placed into the freezer overnight.

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The following day, we were excited to plate up this dessert! The sorbet was a little hard, but we let it sit out for a few minutes to soften it slightly. Remember the Rhubarb Cannoli we made? Fortunately, we kept the leftover strawberry powder–it was a perfect accompaniment to this sorbet (hooray for hoarding powders)! We also still have our Elderberry, Blood Orange, and Grapefruit powders, maybe one day these will come in handy as well!

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All that was left to do was to pour some strawberry powder on a plate, quenelle the sorbet, and eat!

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This was simply wonderful! The acidity of the sorbet worked perfectly with the sweet and crunchy texture of the powdered sugar. We literally ate all of the sorbet we made in a matter of minutes, it was delicious (apologies to the friends we could have shared this with!).

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Strawberry Hull Martinis

Strawberry hulls, water, vodka, lemon juice

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One thing that’s impressive about Toque! is how they aim to waste as little as possible. This cocktail actually consists of two recipes from the book. Strawberry Stem Water is a component featured as it’s own recipe later in the book, so we’ve combined the two here. This recipe is the first in a set of strawberry recipes–in the book, each recipe uses the waste product from a previous recipe, so there was practically no waste at all!

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We started with the Strawberry Stem Water. This was a fairly simple process that involved slicing the tops off of the strawberries and setting the strawberries aside for use in another recipe.

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Next, we sprinkled the the strawberry hulls with sugar and covered them with water.

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The resulting mixture was placed in the fridge to rest for 24 hours. Upon removal from the fridge, the strawberries had very nicely infused the water and the hulls looked a little tired.

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We then passed the mixture through a conical strainer and threw away the hulls (okay, maybe there is a little bit of waste, but it served a purpose prior to being disposed of!).

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Next we started on the Strawberry Hull Martinis as they required the strawberry water component we just made. We sliced some lemon rind to garnish the beverage and squeezed some lemon juice.

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Finally, we added the strawberry water, lemon juice, vodka (no, we didn’t make that!) and some ice to a shaker.

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After 30 seconds of vigorous exercise, the cocktail was complete! It’s pretty incredible how strongly the flavour of strawberry came through! It was a cool and delicious treat, not to mention an amazing way to use kitchen trimmings!

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Stay tuned for more strawberry recipes!

Tomatoes and Burnt Bread

Brioche bread, tomatoes, green onion and fire

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Both Melissa and I appreciate any opportunity to set fire to things… maybe a little too much! This recipe looked deceivingly simple, but alas, it took us a few days to get through. The idea behind the recipe is simple… burn some bread, slice some tomatoes, and make some scallion oil and mayonnaise to dress the plate with. Upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that:

  • You are burning brioche that you make from scratch (which takes ~24 hours)
  • Making scallion oil takes 24 hours (including resting time in the fridge)

Perhaps with some better planning, we could have gotten through these recipes in a couple of days… Next time!

We started by combining the ingredients for the brioche (flour, eggs, salt, yeast) in a stand mixer as it seemed like the most time-intensive activity.

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After dough had some time to combine, we added butter and beat the dough with the dough hook attachment to the stand mixer until it was silky and smooth.

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At this point, the dough rested in the fridge overnight. The following day, we separated the dough into sections and rolled them into balls.

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We then placed the dough in a preheated oven to proof for 3 hours.

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Upon removal from the oven, we applied a glaze of egg yolk to each bun and cut an X mark on the top. This process was a little stressful because we noticed the buns collapsing–as a result, not all the buns got a perfect X mark.

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When we removed them from the oven, the buns were golden and had a beautiful glossy finish.

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With the brioche completed, we chopped up the green part of some scallions as the first step in preparing the scallion oil.

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After a quick blanch for 30 seconds in boiling water, the scallions were combined with oil and the mixture pulsed until there weren’t many large pieces left.

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The resulting mixture was placed in the fridge to infuse overnight. The following day, we ran the mixture through a conical strainer and set the bowl aside to start plating.

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I think the fiery part of any recipe is our favourite… there’s a little (I really mean a lot) of danger involved in letting either one of us hold a torch. We may have burned some holes in the foil we were using to line the baking pan, but the silver lining here is that we used a baking pan under the foil.

We tried to burn each of the brioche pieces as lightly as possible . After a certain amount of time though, Melissa threw caution to the wind and really burned some bread with a truly pyromaniacal look in her eyes.

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We cut the brioche into several shapes with the intention of trying different plating techniques. This later turned into a plating competition, so feel free to vote for your favourite at the end of this post!

Plating Style #1

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Plating Style #2

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This deceivingly simple combination of flavours was amazing. The burnt flavour of the bread combined with a hint of tang from the scallion oil and green tomatoes created a very complex and appealing flavor. We added some Maldon salt which added another dimension to the dish. There’s no question that we would make this again, but maybe next time we will plan a little better and combine the preparation of elements that require similar time frames. The complexity of the elements means that this recipe probably isn’t going to be something you’d prepare for a dinner party, but maybe for a small gathering of friends or family.

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Blueberry Tartlet

Blueberries, mascarpone, honey, breton dough, vanilla

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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

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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!

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

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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!

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Nothing Ice Cream

Eggs, cream, sugar and various fruit juices

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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.

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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…

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to “did I just make Nerds?”…

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to actual powder-making success!

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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)!

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Banana Sorbet and Mousse with Dry Saffron Meringue

Banana, eggs, cream and saffron

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Pom Pom Pom

Apple, apple, apple IMG_1386 Our repertoire has so far focused almost exclusively on elements of entrées and mains. This isn’t intentional, we aren’t dessert-ists… and to prove it, we’ve taken our first crack at a dessert from the book. This is a signature dish for Toque! and is one of the most stunning dishes, visually speaking. We started by making the apple sorbet. This element needed to be done in advance, so we did this the day before. The apples were washed and baked in a pan until they were uniformly soft. We initially placed them on a flat baking sheet… we hadn’t considered the amount of juice that the apples would release, and mid-way had to pour the partially liquefied apples and their juice into a pan. IMG_1282 After they cooled a little, we passed the apples through a potato ricer. I’m pretty sure this is not how we were supposed to do that, but we used what we have! That potato ricer has gotten so much use–we’ve made hash browns, mashed potatoes, dehydrated ricotta–and now apple sauce!

Before we baked the apple slices, we boiled some apple juice (the good old stuff from a can) with sugar and Madagascar vanilla beans. After the mixture cooled, we added some gelatin and poured it into a siphon and charged it with N2O to refrigerate. It was important for this step to be done early since it required hours in the fridge to set.

Next we boiled the purée with sugar and allowed the mixture to cool before running it through our ice cream maker. The next day, we sliced some apples with a mandolin and prepared a simple syrup to dip them in. IMG_1315 The slices were then baked on a baking sheet and carefully flipped halfway through the cooking time. We had some trouble getting them to crisp up, but after a few minutes out of the oven, they crisped up quite nicely! IMG_1354

The next element we needed to complete was the crumble. This was fairly simple, we ground up some almonds and mixed in some oatmeal, demerera sugar, flour, and butter in the stand mixer. This was then baked in the oven and broken apart to form the crumble. IMG_1366 With all of the components done, it was finally time to assemble the dessert (and not a moment too soon, the apple chips were almost snacked into oblivion!). IMG_1376   This is an intermediate step that showcases the apple mousse. IMG_1407 And here is the final result. This is an amazing dessert–each element showcased the apple flavour in a different way, but worked perfectly together:

  • The apple chips were sweet and crispy.
  • The apple mousse was tart and contrasted the crunch of the apple chips well.
  • The sorbet was a less sweet adaptation of the fruit that toned down the sweetness of the mousse and the apple chips.

We have so much of the crumble left that we will be making this again very soon!