Wednesday, March 16, 2011

wonderland soup

I’ve been meaning to tackle this recipe for quite some time.  Since I met Heston Blumenthal actually…and for multiple reasons.  1) It sounds outrageously delicious/mind boggling/fun. 2) I was sure it would turn out absolutely gorgeous. I mean – it involves one of my favorite color combinations – royal purple and green.  And 3) It’s probably one of the few recipes of Heston’s that doesn’t involve chemicals that I a) don’t have on hand or b) gadgets and trinkets that only a chemistry lab would have.  And I have a great juicer! Clearly, this recipe was meant for me. Right? Of course! So tackle it I did. And it sure did result in something just as beautiful as it was delicious.
I must say, this was a whole lot of fun to make.  For one, I am superbly entertained by juicing things – why, I’m not exactly sure, but most likely because I’m so visually stimulated and whenever you juice a variety of things, it results in a literal RAINBOW of liquids. And a rainbow of pulp.  And a rainbow mess.  Kind of like you accidentally smooshed Rainbow Brite all over the kitchen.  My juicer is pretty powerful, so anytime I open up the “chute” (?) little pieces generally go flying out.  But that’s alright – cooking is about making organized messes then tidying it all up!

I also loved the thought of Pommery Mustard ice cream.  Savory ice cream is a hit in general when it’s made properly, but there was something about the idea of the mustardy bite juxtaposed and subdued by a creamy, custard base – especially when whole mustard seeds are included in the mix.  

Double fun – telling people what I was making.  You had fun doing what? You’re making WHAT kind of ice cream? Looks of concern and confusion ensued, and I was the one that seemed like some crazy scientist.  It must be fun to be Heston! But luckily, he’s at that point where people don’t question a random dish anymore.  I’ll get there – eventually.

One more note.  Heston Blumenthal = British.  Measurements = grams.  I do not have a scale.  Mathematics abound!  Who even knows what I  was doing.  I formulated my own quasi conversions and made it happen.  On we go!  The ice cream should be made first – it was to sit in the freezer for minimally 8 hours!  I don’t own an ice cream machine to churn it, but it turned out just fine freezing it in a jar – otherwise, just follow your ice cream machines instructions and churn away!

Pommery Grain Mustard Ice Cream
85 grams egg yolks (5 egg yolks)
40 g unrefined caster sugar (3 T)
500 g whole milk (2 cups)
25 g skimmed milk powder (2 T)
70 g Pommery grain mustard (1/4 cup)

To start, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar for about five minutes, until the mixture is light yellow and fluffy. Go ahead and overbeat this – the eggs won’t get mad at you this time!

Once you’ve reached a nice Easter yellow/unannounced baby gender yellow, set this aside and create an ice bath to quickly chill your mixture once it’s heated.  A little ice, salt, and cold water in a large bowl topped with a smaller bowl (big enough to hold all the milk and eggs!)  Start heating up the whole milk and powdered milk. – that is, if you have it – I completely omitted the powdered milk, with no problems. Slowly heat this mixture in a heavy bottomed saucepan on a low, medium-low flame until it reaches about 140F – and be careful! You  don’t want to curdle the milk - so stir often.   This shouldn’t take too long either.  Once it’s reached temperature, temper the egg yolks by pouring a bit of the warm milk mixture over them and whisking away.  Slowly add in the remaining milk and continue whisking.  Pour this back into your saucepan and slowly warm back up over a low flame until the mixture reaches about 160F, being sure to stir CONSTANTLY – you don’t want to turn up the heat otherwise your eggs might scramble – not cool.   This should take no longer than ten minutes.  Once it has reached temperature, pour the mixture into your ice-bathing bowl and stir until chilled completely.  Once this point has been reached, whisk in the mustard!  If you don’t have an ice cream machine, place this in a jar and place in the freezer for a minimum of 8 hours.  If you are lucky enough to have an ice cream machine, follow the instructions and have a blast!

Next, make the red wine mayonnaise.  Apparently this is a typical type of mayonnaise used in England for holiday suppers.  It’s very easy to make as well – and it’s fun to say you’ve made your own mayonnaise! Not only that, it just helps to prove that REAL legitimate mayonnaise really isn’t anything to cry about if you’re putting it on your BLT.

Red Wine Mayonnaise
36 g egg yolks (2 yolks)
15 g Dijon (1 T)
180 g grapeseed oil (~3/4 cup)
15g Red wine vinegar (1 T)
30 g red wine (2 T)

Whisk together the egg yolks and Dijon mustard.    When it’s reached this point, whisk in the red wine vinegar and red wine, and voila! Easy, right?

Now for the fun part: CABBAGE JUICE! If you’ve already made the ice cream and let it set, make sure you have at least 2.5 hours before serving for this part.

Red Cabbage Gazpacho
450 g red cabbage juice (a little less than 2 cups)
30 g white sandwich bread (I used about 1/4 cup)
40 g red wine mayonnaise (6 T)
60 g red wine vinegar (~4 T)
15 g table salt (1 T - to taste)

fresh cabbage juice and foam
With a juicer, juice an entire head of cabbage. (PURPLE!)  Be careful not to stain every/anything. If you don’t have a juicer, you can use a high powered blender and then strain the pulp out through cheesecloth.  Break apart the sandwich bread, and soak it in the cabbage juice for two hours.  Strain the bread out, pressing and squishing the pieces to get as much juice out as possible.  Mix together with the red wine mayonnaise, and season with red wine vinegar and salt. Refrigerate until needed.


Cucumber Brunoise
1 cucumber, preferably seedless

Ok, so I do not have a vacuum sealer. If you do, you’re lucky and I’m mad at you! Anyway, to really properly do this, slice the cucumber on a mandolin about 2 mm thick.  Place the strips in one layer in a bag and vacuum seal it under high pressure (SOUS VIDE!).  Twice.  This is where the truth of sous vide comes out.  It’s not TRULY cooking in a vacuum-sealed bag in a lowly heated water bath.  It’s really about cooking under pressure – period.   Just sealing the back with the cucumbers twice draws out the moisture and essentially pressure-cooks the cucumbers.  If you don’t own a vacuum sealer, just do as I do – skip that step and make a regular brunoise. Cut your aforementioned strips into 2mm cubes, discarding the skin and seeds. And you’re set!


To serve
½ red cabbage, juiced.
Reserved gazpacho
Cucumber brunoise
Mustard Ice Cream

Before serving, ensure that your ice cream is soft enough to form into quenelles – or at least scoopable if you don’t want to go into the quenelle-making process.  Take the reserved gazpacho mixture and stir in some fresh-juiced cabbage.

In a small bowl, place a little mound of the cucumber brunoise – this will be the base for your ice cream.  My brunoise-ice cream ratio was about 2-to-1 tablespoons for one serving.  The cucumber adds a nice crunch to the gazpacho, so the more the merrier!  So, make a small quenelle/take a small scoop of mustard ice cream and place it atop the brunoise.   Next, gently pour in about ½ to ¾ cup of the gazpacho.  And dig in!

This really was one of the most vibrant dishes I’ve ever created – I absolutely love the color of this gazpacho.  The cabbage juice itself was an amazing royal purple, and the addition of the mayonnaise to finalize the gazpacho gave it a beautiful bright fuchsia color – almost like an orchid.  Once you get beyond the beauty of the dish, your brain remembers that you’re actually eating something! We do eat with our eyes, so this is a true gem, but really – the flavors are outrageous.  The gazpacho is just slightly creamy because of the mayonnaise but still has this really intense cabbage flavor.  Any time I make cabbage, generally cooked, I add either red wine or persimmon vinegar, so it's a natural pairing.  It just adds a really nice acidity.  Then, you get hit will a nice little crunch and refreshing lightness of the cucumber, and then you're cooled down with the ice cream.  After a few spoonfuls, the ice cream melts into the gazpacho, and all of the flavors meld together PERFECTLY. I was literally drinking out of the bowl.  Absolutely delicious!!

1 comment:

Mary said...

this was truly amazing ... the colors, textures, flavors ...wow