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Scott Approves

Scott approves of experimentation in the kitchen

Scott and myself have been hanging out with “Rotovap Chris” lately to do further food experiments in our kitchens.  We came up with themes for each session so we can focus a bit while having fun.  The last two were “Meat and Sweet” and “Cheese Infusions”.

Meat And Sweet

This cooking session was devoted to – you guessed it – combining meat with sweet flavors.  With came up with three ideas: chicken liver in a sugary shell, sous vide ribs cooked in various sweet flavors,  and a meat cannoli.  We took over Scott’s kitchen and went at it.

Candied Chicken Livers

The initial idea of Chris’ was to make a bacon Turtle without the bacon getting chewy.  It evolved into candied chicken livers (as you would of course expect, right?). I didn’t get any good photos of the chicken livers, but here’s a fuzzy phone pic to give you an idea:

Sugared Chicken Livers

The chicken livers were glazed with muscovado sugar and topped with szechuan peppercorns.  We couldn’t get the hard shell we were looking for but the flavor was promising.  The peppercorn bites were a bit harsh.  We think if we grind the peppercorns and dust the livers it will be more even.  Another idea is to use ElBulli’s method of encapsulating pumpkin oil to create the hard shell.

Sweet Ribs

Sweet Rib Infusions

Sweet rib infusions from left to right: chocolate, spiced rum, coffee, cherry cough drop (Photo: Scott Heimendinger)

Next up with vacuum sealed ribs with various flavors – chocolate (and I think some sort of pepper? I don’t recall.), spiced rum (and honey, I think? I should really take notes.), coffee and, yes, a cherry cough drop.  The results?  Except for the chocolate, they were all pretty gross.  The chocolate had echos of a mole sauce, so it isn’t too surprising it tasted decent.

Prosciutto Cannoli

Prosciutto Cannoli

Prosciutto Cannoli (photo: Scott Heimendinger)

Now this, this was pretty amazing. We took prosciutto and wrapped it around a metal bar that we then deep fried to create the shell.  The filling was white chocolate and caramelized onions that we siphoned out of an isoWhip.  The flavors matched and with the prosciutto nice and crunchy, it was a delicious treat.  I think it’s right up there with the deep fried egg yolk we came up with back in 2010. Yummmmmm.

Cheese Infusions

Our next meeting was at Chris’ place and we focused on cheese infusions. If Momofuku’s Christina Tosican make desserts with flavored infused in the milk, why not cheese as well?  We chose four flavors: Goldfish crackers, Cheetos, Bonito and Kimchi.

Hot Dog Cheese

But first, Chris had a strange infused cheese he had already made – hot dogs blended with mozzarella and xanthan gum.  And he had a bunch of freshly baked homemade crackers ready to go too.  He took a syringe and pumped the cheese into the crackers.

Hot Dog Injection

He plated them with two dipping sauces – ketchup and mustard.

Hot Dog Cracker Puffs

These little hot dog cracker puffs were addictive.  Like those frozen egg rolls you’d eat as a kid, except they tasted exactly like a hot dog.  Tasty!

Cheese Infusin’

We were ready to go make our special cheese board. First we blended the ingredients into the milk.  We then heated the milk and added rennet and waited for the curd and whey to separate.  Then we put all of them into the centrifuge for a 20 minute spin.

Blending up Cheetos

Makin' Cheese

Spun Cheeses

Bonito infused cheese

The definite winners were the bonito and kimchi (or kimcheese, as Scott coined it).  The bonito dipped in soy sauce was excellent, and the kimcheese was good all on its own.  The goldfish and cheetos cheeses were mushy and strangely not that flavorful.  Maybe they’d be better fried.  So we did that.

Fried Infused Cheeses

I thought adding the fried crunchiness back to the Cheetos cheese improved its flavor.  Maybe the flavor memories triggered different receptors.  Who knows, but it worked.

Overall our test and trials were a success and I think we came up with some new treats to serve to our friends and family, and definitely stuff ourselves with.  We’re, as always, having a total blast.  Cooking, man.  Awesome.