Fir Mousse and Sea Buckthorn Cocktail

Sea buckthorn, fir needles, vodka, sugar and gelatin

We aren’t completing these recipes in any particular order, so we have finally gotten around to making the very first recipe of the book! This recipe was a challenge for us as we had no idea where to find sea buckthorn berries. Since a number of ingredients in the book are foraged, we put off doing this recipe until we could find a reliable source (or at least until we knew where to forage!). We were lucky to learn that some friends of ours knew where to find a sea buckthorn shrub, and were kind enough to able to nab us a branch of the berries before the birds and the cold got to them.

Fir and Buckthorn-0

With the most difficult ingredient of the recipe sourced, we took the dog out for a long walk to forage for fir needles. It’s nearly impossible to estimate how many needles is equivalent to any particular weight, so we brought quite a lot home.

Fir and Buckthorn-1

We measured out a comparatively small amount of fir needles than we had on hand and added sugar and water.

Fir and Buckthorn-2

The mixture was brought to a boil in a pot and then steeped for 15 minutes to incorporate as much of the flavour as possible. While the needles were steeping, we bloomed gelatin in cold water.

Fir and Buckthorn-3

Next, we strained the needles from the liquid and combined the conifer tea with the bloomed gelatin.

Fir and Buckthorn-4

After the mixture cooled to room temperature, we poured it into a siphon, charged it with N2O and put it in the fridge overnight.

Fir and Buckthorn-5

Next, we prepared the base of the cocktail–a sea buckthorn syrup which was prepared by boiling the berries in a simple syrup until they started to pop. We crushed the berries in the pot to release all of their flavours, a step which was not mentioned in the procedure for this recipe. The resulting syrup tasted super-sea buckthorny, so we were happy with that!

Fir and Buckthorn-6

Finally, the sea buckthorn syrup was strained using a coffee filter and cooled in the fridge. The following day, we prepared the flavourful cocktail by combining the syrup with vodka and siphoning the fir mousse on top of the beverage.

Fir and Buckthorn-8 Fir and Buckthorn-9

We finished the cocktail with a singular sea buckthorn berry (which surprisingly didn’t sink in the foam) and some of our many leftover fir needles.

Fir and Buckthorn-10

The resulting cocktail tasted very strongly of the berry, which we loved! If you’ve never tried these berries before (like us prior to trying this recipe) they have a tangy, citrus-like flavour. The fir mousse was a big surprise for us because it complimented the flavour of the berries really well! This is a flavour combination we’ve noticed is used quite a bit in this book (we paired citrus with fir needles in the Chicken Casserole and Jar of Pigeon recipes) and so far it has yet to disappoint! We can’t wait to see what else this book has in store for us!

Fir and Buckthorn-12

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)

Banana Sorbet and Mousse with Dry Saffron Meringue

Banana, eggs, cream and saffron


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.


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!


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.


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!


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!


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



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.


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.


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.


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.







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!