strawberry

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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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