If you haven’t noticed, flavored salts are becoming wildly popular. On a recent trip to Whole Foods, I spotted an aisle-end display with no fewer than a dozen varieties: some infused with spices, some mined or harvested from exotic locales, and some smoked. Smoked salts – salts that have taken on the flavor of a particular burnt wood – are an excellent way to add a deep, campfire flavor to dishes. I use them all the time in dry rubs, and as a substitute for the flavor you get from actually cooking over wood. In this video I’m using hickory chips, but another popular option is to flavor your salt with by smoking the wood from old wine barrels. Needless to say, you’ll save a ton of cash on specialty salts, which, of course, you’ll need to import all those ancient wine barrels from Bordeaux!
If you couldn’t tell, I’ve been slightly obsessed with molecular gastronomy (“modernist cuisine” if you’ve read the Nathan Myhrvold interview). Unfortunately, I’m a long way off from having centrifuges, rotary evaporators and tanks of liquid nitrogen lying around my
lab kitchen. Luckily, some of the geekiest cooking techniques work very well with home kitchen substitutes, and dry ice sorbet is the perfect example. Eric Rivera first introduced me to this technique during one of our periodic food experimentation meetings. Depending on the sugar content of the sorbet base and the type of mixer attachment, you can produce anything from fluffy, soft, taffy-like sorbets like this one to desserts with the consistency of Dippin-Dots. Last night I added lime zest, lime juice and a shot of tequila to the sorbet base, then topped the result with lime salt for the coldest, sweetest smoothest margarita sorbet you’ve ever tasted!
Note: Whenever you’re working with dry ice, WEAR THICK GLOVES. Having sensation in your appendages is a good thing.
Note Two: In the video, I say to bring the sorbet base to a boil. Further testing has shown that’s really not necessary. A simmer is usually sufficient for the sugar and water to be completely combined.
In case you missed the AllRecipes.com live day-before-Thanksgiving webcast, here’s the clip of me making Broiled Honey Glazed Spiced Figs. This was my first time cooking live on camera, but the folks at AllRecipes were fun and wonderful. Jump to about 11 minutes in to see the nervous look on Amy’s face when I pull out my kitchen torch.