Posts Tagged ‘centrifuge’

26th March
2012
written by scott

shrimp in pea water

If being a student of Modernist Cuisine has taught me anything, it’s that I should strive for purity of flavor.  Achieving this goal is usually an exercise in what to leave out of a dish, not what you put in it, and this recipe is a great example.  Served chilled, the “broth” is made of centrifuged pea water and filtered celery juice.  When blended peas are separated in the centrifuge, most of the starch ends up in the fibrous layer at the bottom.  Since the presence of starch inhibits your ability to perceive sweetness, the starch-free pea water ends up tasting much sweeter than a whole pea.  I didn’t bother to centrifuge the celery juice, but I find that the flavor of celery is so strongly associated with the crunch of the stalks that it creates a fascinating synesthesia to consume it in liquid form.  I made the conscious choice here to leave out pea starch and celery fiber, and the bright flavors of the vegetables shine right through.

I plan on serving this dish for dinner tomorrow, and I may try adding a wasabi ice or a frozen foam to give it another level of texture.

 

INGREDIENT

QTY.

SCALING

PROCEDURE

Frozen peas, thawed

907g

453%

1.       Blend until smooth.

2.       Divide the pea puree among centrifuge bottles and spin at 1500Gs for 2 hours

3.       Decant the pea water through a paper towel or paper filter.  Reserve and chill pea water.

4.       Scrape, reserve, and chill pea butter.

Celery hearts

907g

453%

5.       Juice in a masticating juicer, such as an Omega.  Reserve and chill juice.

Shrimp, prawns, langoustines, lobster tail or other shellfish

200g

100%

6.       Vacuum seal together using weak vacuum pressure.

7.       Cook sous vide to a core temperature of 54C (for shrimp), about 12 minutes.

Duck Fat

30g

15%

Olive Oil

30g

15%

Small Shiitake Mushrooms

20g

10%

8.       Sweat vegetables in butter.

9.       Cut the onions in half and lightly char the cut sides with a blowtorch.

10.   Plate the dish by spooning 15g pea water and 5g celery juice into a shallow bowl.  Place cooked shellfish in the middle.  Garnish with onions, mushrooms and pea butter.

Small Pearl Onions

20g

10%

Butter

10g

5%

Salt

1g

1%

shrimp splash
One of the shrimp got away and tried to return to his natural habitat.

22nd July
2011
written by scott

centrifuged watermelon cocktail
I sure do love watermelon.  I also like cocktails, particularly refreshing cocktails with just the right amount of kick.  I came up with the idea for this drink after having a watermelon and strawberry agua fresca at a local Mexican joint.  The flavor was fantastic, but the texture of crushed watermelon and strawberry felt messy in my mouth – it was like sucking down a glass full of pulp.  I decided to ditch the strawberry and clarify the watermelon using my centrifuge.  It did a fantastic job of separating out the solids (including a very thin layer of “watermelon butter”, which was bright pink and a little tart) and leaving me with a clear juice that tastes very strongly of everyone’s favorite comedically-shashable fruit.  To give the drink some edge and balance, I add a splash of tequila and a shot of hot sauce.

Makes: 1 cool cocktail
Total Kitchen Time: 1 minute (+15 minutes prep, + 30 minutes wait)

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz. centrifuged watermelon juice (see below)
  • 1 oz. Cazadores Reposado Tequila
  • 2 drops Tabasco Sauce

To make the centrifuged watermelon juice:

  1. Cut one fresh watermelon into halves lengthwise, then halves again.  Remove the flesh from the watermelon, leaving the bitter rind.  Cut the watermelon into 2” pieces.
  2. Working in batches, puree the watermelon pieces until smooth.  Divide the mixture evenly between your centrifuge containers.  A typical watermelon will yield about 2 liters of puree. 
  3. Centrifuge the watermelon puree for 30 minutes at 1300Gs.  Carefully remove the centrifuge containers and skim off any film that may have formed at the top.  Decant the clear watermelon juice into a 2 liter container.  You may want to decant through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to ensure that solid matter doesn’t accidentally come along for the ride.

Note: if you don’t have a centrifuge, you can clarify the watermelon juice by holding it near, but not too near, an active black hole.  The extreme gravity will clarify out the juice.

To make the Hot Gallagher:

  1. Combine the watermelon juice and tequila in a cocktail shaker full of ice.  Shake vigorously and pour into a lowball glass over cubed or cracked ice. 
  2. Garnish with 2 drops of Tabasco, or another favorite hot sauce. 
09th June
2011
written by scott

pea ravioli
As you may recall, last week’s peas + centrifuge experiment resulted in three stages of pea: pea solids, pea butter and pea water.  This week, I’ve found a use for all three components in my recipe for Pea Ravioli.  The picture above shows three of the delightfully green little pasta pouches splashing into a “sauce” of pea water.  Inside each is a dollop of pure pea butter, shown in the photo below.  Note that this is the natural color of the pea butter.  It’s amazing stuff, and hopefully that shot will give you a sense of its wonderful viscosity. 

 

pea butter on spoon

To make the pasta, the first thing I needed was pea flour.  I’ve seen pea flour used as a substitute or partial-substitute in baking recipes before, so I figured it should work fine for pasta as well.  I spread the pea solids into an 1/8” even layer on a silicone baking sheet and dehydrated it at 135F overnight.  Amazingly, the pea solids lost at least 2/3 of their mass and volume.  I guess a few more Gs in the centrifuge would have helped expel the remaining moisture. 

I ground the dehydrated pea solids in two stages: first, I dumped them into the Blendtec and let them whirl on high for a few minutes.  It produced a pretty fine powder, but I decided to do a second milling in the coffee grinder (which I don’t use for coffee).  The final texture was finer than cornmeal but not quite as fine as flour. The photo below shows the pea powder at substantial magnification.  The total yield from 3lbs of peas was 200g of pea powder. 

pea flour
Next, it was time to make the dough.  I had no idea what the properties of pea flour would be compared to wheat flour, so I approached making pea pasta like making gluten-free dough… except I added 25% all-purpose flour.  The dough finally came together after adding one egg + one egg yolk, about 6g each of xanthan and guar gum, roughly 150g of water and 75g of olive oil, plus a little salt.  pea dough

I’m not providing an exact recipe since I eventually gave up on precise measurements and just kept adding stuff until the dough looked right.  When I could finally get it to pass through my pasta roller on the 4th setting without breaking apart, I called it good and stamped out a few ravioli filled with pea butter.  The pasta was delicious and had the unmistakable, pure, vibrant flavor of peas.  Unlike most ravioli, the flavor wasn’t just in the filling.  The dough itself packed plenty of pea punch.  The addition of a soft cheese, like a mild goat or perhaps even a creamy brie would certainly be welcome for the filling, if you’re longing for a little something extra.  I didn’t try cooking the pasta directly in the pea water, but that might be a delightful flavor boost as well.

I’m also planning to try a pea version of matzo ball soup (a childhood favorite) made from balls of pea dough and served in a pea water broth.  If you’ve got other ideas for dishes with extreme peaness, please leave ‘em in the comments. 

02nd June
2011
written by scott

Pea butter is one of the primary reasons I was compelled to put a laboratory centrifuge in my house.  It is an iridescent, velvety substance produced in miniscule quantities by spinning peas at high G-forces.  It’s also one of the most vivid flavors I’ve ever tasted, and I needed to make it at home.

The existence of pea butter was unearthed by the Modernist Cuisine team, using a centrifuge the size of a washing machine.  My cooking compadre, Jethro, was the first kid on the block with a home-sized centrifuge (if you’re single, or have a basement) and did a great write-up on his pea butter experience back in February.  Jethro whipped frozen peas into a powder, then centrifuged them for 5 hours.  Contrary to his technique, I found that I was able to extract roughly the same yield of pea butter by blending thawed peas into a liquid and spinning it for 3 hours.  I believe the reason is due to Brownian Motion (see the explanation on the eGullet Centrifuges thread). 

I also decided to try the same technique with corn.  Corn and peas are both wet and chewy, they both contain starch, and they’re both really sweet.  After 3 hours of spinning at 1500Gs, I couldn’t detect a corn “butter”, per se, but I did get a thick, milky corn liquid that was extremely flavorful and rife for culinary applications.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be hunting for ways to use these centrifuged components.  Check back for recipes that will spin you right-round.

26th May
2011
written by scott

centrifuged emulsions composite

Have you ever wondered what happens when you subject shelf-stable emulsions from your local grocery store to 3,000 times the force of Earth’s gravity using a centrifuge?  Yeah, me too! 

I chose three different types of emulsions: mayonnaise, salad dressing, and canned soup.  [I also tested spaghetti sauce, but one of the test vials exploded mid-‘fuge, so the results were inconclusive].  For each emulsion, I centrifuged two popular brands to note their differences in separation after an hour at 3,000 RPMs (equivalent to 3,000 Gs in my centrifuge).  It is important to note that an emulsion that separates under these conditions does not indicate a better or worse product, simply a stronger or weaker emulsion.  The goal of this experiment was not to determine which brand you should buy.  The goal of this experiment was to spin a bunch of shit at extremely high G-forces and see what happened. 

The results:

  1. Best Foods Real Mayonnaise – Mayonnaise, as it turns out, is a pretty strong emulsion.  This brand showed a slight separation visible at the bottom of the vial, but more or less held together.  If I spun it for longer, I wonder if I would have ended up with a layer of egg and a layer of oil…
  2. Miracle Whip – This was the strongest emulsion I tested, showing no signs of separation whatsoever.  I personally can’t stand the stuff, but for those of you who are fans of this mayo alternative, rest assured that it is highly acceleration-resistant.
  3. Kroger Zesty Italian Dressing – If you’ve ever made an oil and vinegar salad dressing at home, you know it’s naturally prone to separation.  This brand separated easily leaving perfectly clear oil at the top, vinegar in the middle and solids at the bottom.  +1 for “just like mom makes”, especially if your mom makes it from a bottle.
  4. Kraft Free Zesty Italian Dressing – I chose this product because, on the shelf, the emulsion looked extremely stable – all of the solids were held in suspension, which was likely for marketing reasons.  Although all of the solids separated out, the liquid phase didn’t clarify at all.  It seems the people at Kraft have found a way to make oil, water and vinegar extremely fond of one another.
  5. Kroger Chunky New England Style Clam Chowder – I expected that the chunky solids would wind up compressed at the bottom of the vial, but I was surprised to discover that the soupy part of the soup held intact.  I guess Chef Kroger (cough, cough) must have been very careful with his roux when he made this particular can of soup.
  6. Campbell’s Select Harvest 98% Fat Free New England Clam Chowder – As you can see, there was some significant separation in this sample.  My guess is the light-colored top layer of thin, watery liquid has something to do with the low fat claims on the label – diluting soup with water would certainly be an easier way to make it “healthier”. 

As I said earlier, this experiment was more about messing around than testing a hypothesis.  Speaking of messing around, what substances would you like me to try spinning?  The centrifuge is still my newest toy, and like all toys, I’m eager to fill it with unusual liquids. 

18th August
2010
written by scott

I think we can agree that by now we all expected to fly around in jetpacks and watch porn through a plug in our skull.  Unfortunately, those technologies have not yet become commercial, so we’ll have to make due until modern science can sort out its priorities. 

In the meantime, I thought I’d share a little prediction.  By the year 2020, you’ll be able to purchase the following items anywhere that also carries a George Foreman Grill.  These devices are way out there now – only the most adventurous (and well funded) chefs are using them, but they’re headed to a kitchen near you… along with those jetpacks.

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What the hell is it?
A centrifuge.

What does it do?
It spins little vials of liquid around really, really fast. 

What say the white lab coats?
Centrifuges are used for separating out the parts of a liquid by density.  Your doctor probably uses one to separate your blood cells from plasma to, um, look at them and stuff. 

You put food in that thing?
Although centrifuges have already been used for years in industrial food processing (separating cream from milk, separating sugar crystals from their mother liquor), they’re just now starting to appear in the geekiest restaurant kitchens.  Chefs use centrifuges to clarify stocks, sauces and even lime juice.  Even the finest mesh strainer is no match for the separating power of the sedimentation principle, so the next time you’re making consommé consider your centrifuge instead of your chinoise. 

1

What the hell is it?
A rotary evaporator.

What does it do?
It extracts solvents from substances.  Kind of like a moonshine still, but designed by robots from the future.

What say the white lab coats?
By creating a vacuum inside the glass chamber, the rotary evaporator reduces the boiling point of a compound liquid.  Then, through gentle heating and turning, solvents dissolved in the liquid are evaporated and removed.

You put food in that thing?
Imagine being able to extract the essential flavor from just about anything into a highly-concentrated liquid.  Sure, you can go buy mint extract or even rosemary extract (if you know where to look), but what about the essential oil of bacon or saffron?  Chicago’s famed Alinea restaurant has been using rotovaps to distill the essential oils from herbs, and even chiles – all flavor, no heat.  So, when you’re baking cookies and the recipe calls for vanilla extract, don’t turn to the plastic vial from the grocery store; make your own!

XL_triaditemWhat the hell is it?
It’s a freeze dryer.

What does it do?
It freeze dries, R-tard.

What say the white lab coats?
Freeze drying has all the benefits of freezing, but without those nasty ice crystals.  The freeze dryer freezes the materials inside, then creates a vacuum and adds just enough heat so that the water frozen inside the materials converts directly to gas and escapes.

You put food in that thing?
It may not surprise you to hear that freeze dryers are used for culinary applications.  After all, this was the space-age piece of technology that brought us Astronaut Ice Cream.  But it’s not all about infinite shelf lives and lightweight transportation.  Ferran Adrià, often called the best chef in the world, has been freeze drying slices of fruit at his restaurant El Bulli.  10 years from now, when you want to make apple chips and jerky, you won’t be reaching for the dehydrator – you’ll be freeze drying!