rites of spring

upon returning from france i set a goal on myself to incorporate into new desserts as many recipes from the Valrhona class as possible.  i thought to myself  how much of a shame it would be to go all that way and not utilize anything that was shown to me and the other chef's.  though the finished dishes were nothing like what i would do, the beauty of it all is that the finished product is only part of the process.  it's the journey that takes you there; the techniques, the inspiration, that i sometimes find more rewarding.
one of the recipes was of a sponge scented with lemon verbena.  basically a firm gelee set with gelatin and whipped in a mixer.  there is a lot of gelatin in it but when it becomes aerated, chilled, and cut, the sponge just dissolves on your tongue like a memory. 
it's not a new technique, but one i seemed to have passed up on using in lieu of others.  this one is made of lime juice and infused with lime thyme from my garden.

we are in full swing with spring and there are finally berries at the market.  not quite the best yet but some of the stands have a few winners.
compressed strawberries, lime sponge, strawberry sorbet, white chocolate namelaka, strawberry gel, strawberry croquant, fennel and cilantro

more on the white chocolate namelaka later.....


Anonymous said...

Really nice. I really like what you did with the strawberry, cilantro, and fennel. Nice combination. Would Szechuan peppercorn something work here? I think it would be a nice addition. Just an idea. The dish is beautiful as is, I think it might just add an elusive "floral" note that you wouldn't quite be able to put your finger on. Thoughts?

Barzelay said...

The whipped gelatin sponge is similar to the way I did aerated chocolate a few months ago: basically, add gelatin to ganache then let cool a bit, whip in a whipper, freeze. http://www.eatfoo.com/archives/2010/01/pumpkin_chocolate_chicory_coff.php.

BTW, I don't know whether you ever deal with Yerena Farms for strawberries, but if so, check out their "Eclair" variety in a couple weeks. They don't grow much of them, and they don't sell well because the Eclair strawberries don't look like they're going to be tasty--they're almost orange rather than red, and retain the white centers--but they are shockingly sweet. They aren't quite there yet, but in a couple weeks they should be awesome and you should seek them out.

Brian said...

Strawberry gel is my kids new obsession, I had a bunch left over from a tasting evening where we paired it with the Tuna dish.

Your strawberry sorbet looks gorgeous, is it made using a meringue base?

ron. said...

AML..i fully agree. maybe a szechuan peppercorn gastrique to add that floral and acidic note. if only i had some in the restaurant. my french chef doesn't use any :(

ron. said...

strawberry sorbet is made of fresh strawberry puree and simple syrup only. not too technical, i really just let the paco jet go to work on it. very little sugar so i spin it throughout service

Brian said...

Ahh, the Paco would explain the beautiful finish. I really need one of them.

HanBaiHe said...

What an idea! Szechuan peppercorn is huajiao in Chinese and can probably be purchased in a Chinese market. Its mouth-numbing effects (literally) scares me in hotpots but I have faith you'd execute it beautifully!

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