siphon

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

Asparagus Mousse with Burnt Butter

Asparagus trimmings, cream, burnt butter

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The following is an actual conversation with Melissa:

Melissa:   So what goes in the dish your making?
David:      Trimmings of asparagus.
Melissa:   But what else is goes in it?
David:      Full fat milk and cream!
Melissa:   Okay, but what is it served with?
David:      Butter… and a spoon!

This was a fun recipe to make, it was the perfect opportunity for us to play with our new whipping siphon!

We started by peeling and chopping green asparagus. I’m pretty sure this recipe was intended to minimize waste, so rather than discard the naked asparagus, we steamed them the next day for dinner.

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The above picture shows the parts of the asparagus we actually used for this recipe. We lightly simmered the peels and trimmings in milk until they were soft and subsequently blended the mixture into a purée.  We then added whipping cream and poured into the siphon.

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After charging the siphon with N2O, we left it to chill in the fridge. While the cream was chilling, we burned some butter on the stove. This was a very quick  process, and the butter was almost black when we took it off the heat.

After some time had passed, we couldn’t wait anymore and decided to try plating. Our plan was to siphon a small portion of asparagus foam into a bowl, add some burnt butter sauce, then photograph and eat. What actually happened? We siphoned some asparagus foam–wait, I think I’m using the wrong word here–we splattered asparagus foam all over the place and spent the next 5 minutes cleaning up the aftermath (this involved our clothing, table, light box, faces, walls, and the floor). Then Melissa gave it a try… although this time the mess was slightly less devastating since we had relocated to the kitchen counter (that’s what back-splashes are for!). We decided to abandon the shallow bowl–we figured a cup was the best bet for success. We ultimately were able to “plate” this dish in a cup and dress it with the burnt butter sauce.

One of the challenges we faced with this dish is that the asparagus foam easily liquefied under the hot lights. This made the photography aspect slightly more stressful, but I think we were able to get an okay final picture.

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It was interesting to eat–it tasted very strongly of  asparagus, which was surprising given that we only used the peels and other trimmings which would usually be considered garbage. I can’t say that we’re excited to make this again, but it’s possible that it was intended to be enjoyed alongside a protein or a salad. If we do make this again, we’ll pair it with something for sure!