Molecular gastronomy has been my primary focus during my last semester of culinary school. I like to use a modernist cuisine approach in my cooking because I thrive off of the “can’t see this anywhere else” type of experience. That is what I find most exciting about molecular gastronomy… trying a new technique that your diner has not been exposed to yet. I constructed the following recipe in an attempt to use as many different modernist cuisine techniques in one dish as I could… including dehydration, carbonation, enzymatic peeling, N2O foam, sous vide, anti-griddle, & hydrocolloids.
My inspiration for the flavors of this dish came from a cheese plate course I ate recently. The cheese plate consisted of 5 different cheese’s, but the gruyère was my favorite. The course was also served with some classic cheese plate items such as charcuterie, caper berries, fresh fruit, toasted nuts, and a bottle of wine. So my amuse-bouche consists of a frozen gruyère foam and a reisling agar dome made from a reisling wine produced in the region that this particular gruyère comes from. A blood orange & pecan dust represents the fresh fruit and toasted nuts and the capers are fried in rendered bacon fat to mimic the characteristic flavors of charcuterie.
My inspiration for the plating design took a great deal of thought. After reading about this recipe contest, I asked myself “What is molecular gastronomy suppose to be all about?” I came to many conclusions… the obvious one being that a smoke presentation always looks cool. But then I thought about how a lot of these techniques are used to make one type of dish look like something else. So I decided to make my dish look like an egg because I feel that the egg is one of the single most important ingredients in all of the culinary arts. My dish uses the gruyère cheese foam as the “egg whites”, the reisling agar dome as the “yolk”, and the bacon-fried capers as black peppercorns and yet there is no intended egg flavor in my dish. New textures, new temperatures, new colors, new flavor combination's, and the ever-present challenge of creating a feeling of familiarity while balancing a feeling of the diner being apart of something special. This dish is my best attempt at achieving that balance and what I feel molecular gastronomy is suppose to represent.
Specialty Equipment Needed:
ISI Whipper w/ N2O Charger Tanks
Vacuum Sealer & Bags
Heated Water Bath
Half-Sphere Silicone Mold
Silpat Silicone Mat
Mortar & Pestle
Standard Equipment Needed:
Mesh Sieve & Cheesecloth
Half Sheet Pans
Hotel Pans – Half & 4th
Yield: Approx. 24 Amuse-Bouches
Blood Orange Pecan Dust Ingredients:
Blood Orange --- 1ct.
Distilled Water --- ½ liter
Pectinex Ultra SP-L --- 6 drops
Toasted Pecans --- ½ cup
Riesling Agar Dome Ingredients:
Alsage Willm Riesling 2010 --- 140g
Agar Agar --- 1g
Gruyère Cheese Foam Ingredients:
Kaltbach cave-aged Le Gruyère Switzerland AOC --- 150g
Distilled Water --- 150ml
Heavy Cream --- 125ml
Whole Milk --- 70ml
Extra Virgin Olive Oil --- 40ml
Salt & Pepper --- to taste
Bacon-Fried Capers Ingredients:
Capers --- 2 tablespoons
Bacon Grease --- 1 quart
Blood Orange Pecan Dust:
1. Score the peel of the blood orange to allow for easy peeling later on.
2. Mix the distilled water with the Pectinex Ultra SP-L… which is a special enzyme that will dissolve the white bitter pith and membrane of any citrus fruit.
3. Add the scored blood orange and enzyme water to a vacuum bag and use a vacuum sealer to remove the oxygen and seal the bag airtight.
4. Place the sealed bag in a water bath that is heated precisely to 104 degrees Fahrenheit… which is the ideal temperature for the enzyme to become active. Leave the bag in the water bath at that temperature for 2 hours.
5. Remove from the water bath and cut open the bag to get the blood orange. At this point, you should be able to tear the peel off of the fruit with your bare hands without damaging the product. If any white pith remains, it should be easy to lightly scratch off. Set fruit aside.
6. Air-dry the peels and the pecans overnight at room temperature.
7. Place the dried peels and pecans in a food processor. Squeeze in the juice of the peeled blood orange before using the food processor to chop the ingredients.
8. Remove the chopped mixture from the food processor and place it on a pan with a silpat silicone mat
9. Dehydrate the chopped mixture for 48 hours at 155 degrees Fahrenheit
10. Use a mortar & pestle to grind the dehydrated mixture into a fine powder-like “dust”
Riesling Agar Dome:
1. Heat the wine & agar agar to a simmer in a saucepan and continuously whisk for 5 minutes.
2. Remove from the heat and pass the agar mixture through a sieve & cheesecloth to remove any bubbles.
3. Spray a silicone .3 oz half-sphere mold with cooking spray and then wipe off the spray with a paper towel. This will leave just enough residue in the mold to release the agar mixture once it has set.
4. Pour the agar mixture into the prepared half-sphere mold and refrigerate it on a flat surface such as a sheet pan until it sets.
5. Once the agar mixture is set, remove the domes from the mold and place them in a hotel 4th pan.
6. Put some dry ice in a hotel half pan and put the 4th pan with the domes in the half pan. Place another hotel half pan upside down over the other pans. This will cover the dry ice and domes without sealing them airtight, which should never be done with dry ice.
7. Set aside until all the dry ice sublimates from a solid to a gas, this will carbonate the riesling agar domes. The more dry ice used, the more carbonated the domes will be.
Gruyère Cheese Foam:
1. Heat the distilled water with the gruyère in a saucepan until the cheese is evenly melted. Pass through a sieve & cheesecloth to extract the gruyère whey. Discard the remaining cheese in the cheesecloth.
2. Mix the gruyère whey, whole milk, and olive oil in a blender. Pass mixture through a sieve & cheesecloth.
3. Stir in heavy cream and season with salt & pepper. As with all foams made in an ISI Whip, the foam is going to expand 2 or 3 times so you need to season 2 or 3 times more than what you would normally.
4. Pour the mixture into ISI Whip, screw in N2O charger, and shake vigorously. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
1. Heat the bacon grease to a hard simmer in a saucepan. Stir occasionally. Let the grease reduced down until you have 1 cup of rendered bacon fat.
2. Bring the rendered bacon fat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (use your candy thermometer)
3. Toss capers in the rendered fat until crispy.
1. To build an anti-griddle, place dry ice between to half sheet pans with a cutting board underneath for stability. Use a infrared thermometer to check the surface temperature of the top half sheet pan… which will be your “cooking” surface. Once the surface temperature has gotten down to at least –20 degrees Fahrenheit, it is ready to be used.
2. Spray the anti-griddle with cooking spray to prevent the product from sticking. Shake the prepared ISI Whip before use. Pipe the Gruyere Cheese Foam in dollops of your desired size directly onto the anti-griddle. This will freeze the bottom while leave the center still creamy.
3. Carefully flip the dollops over with a spatula to flatten & freeze the other side.
4. Remove the frozen discs from the anti-griddle and place a carbonated Riesling Agar Dome on top of each one.
5. Garnish plate with the Bacon-Fried Capers.
6. Lightly sprinkle the Blood Orange Pecan Dust overtop and serve.
Recipe & Pictures by Kyle Altman
Michigan Career & Technical Institute
11611 West Pine Lake Road
Plainwell, MI 49080