Pulled mushrooms with herb salsa

Reading through the entire Modernist Cuisine seems like a never-ending task. It doesn’t help either that I have a serious attention deficit when facing such a tome. So far I have nearly finished the first book and several parts of books 2 to 5. And so when I was browsing the mushroom isle in my local supermarket and saw these wonderful king trumpet mushrooms, page 3:396 suddenly sprang to mind: pulled mushrooms with BBQ sauce. The idea is that you cook the mushrooms, and then pull them apart to create a faux-spaghetti.

I wasn’t so keen on the BBQ sauce, so I tried to make a herb salsa. Tried. The whole thing was just one gigantic failure after another. I took the salsa recipe from Roux’s Sauces book. I left out the whole-grain mustard because I didn’t have any, so I tried to make my own with mustard seeds, and get this, sherry. Not sherry vinegar, like the recipe asked for, no, sherry itself. Epic failure number one, as the sherry taste was enormously overpowering. I was in a stubborn mood however, so I decided to go on, figuring it would somehow balance itself out in the end. Yeah, right. I forgot the other stupid ideas I put into the salsa, but the whole thing ended up tasting like sherry and potato. So it was a sherry-potato salsa with herbs in it just for show. Needless to say, I’m not giving any recipe for the salsa.

The mushrooms, then? They were awesome!

Pulled Mushrooms

Vacuum pack halved king trumpet mushrooms with olive or other oil and cook for 4 hours at 90°C. Afterwards, take out the mushrooms, pat dry with kitchen paper, and pull apart in strands. Serve with something better than my salsa.

Pea soup with champagne and shrimp

Pea soup served with sautéed shrimp and a healthy dose of champagne (yes, in the soup) was an upscale dish served at some of my parents’ dinner parties when I was in my teens. For the last couple of months I have been trying to reinvent this dish into a cool new ‘upgraded’ version. I was thinking gels, different textures with bacon, etc etc…Somewhere in the back of my head though there was this nagging voice warning me of taking it too far.

Looking back at all my favourite dishes over the past year that I have either eaten somewhere or made myself, I have to admit they are usually not too complicated but instead manage to perfectly balance a couple of contrasting flavours. So this weekend I decided to skip all the frivolities, gels and bacon and get down to the core of the dish.

First, there is the pea soup. I switched the recipe’s chicken stock for a fish stock, and next time I’ll make one out of the shells of the shrimp. I was only going to try this on four shrimp so I had to improvise with one of those stock cubes. I can already feel the judgement laid down upon me! In my defense, we’re living sort of compactly and therefore I don’t stock a bucket of fish heads in my freezer. (And besides, storing a bucket of heads in the freezer seems a tad macabre.) I also added half of a scraped out vanilla bean I have lying around (so just the bean, not the seeds), to add a delicate layer of sweetness.

Secondly, there’s the shrimp. At home these would be quickly boiled and grilled. I wanted a perfectly cooked shrimp for this soup, so the obvious choice was chucking them into the sous-vide unit. It did not disappoint.

Lastly, there’s the champagne. In the original, it would just be added to the soup at the last minute. Doing this will destroy all those nice bubbles, which led me to blending the champagne with a little bit of soy lecithin. That way those bubbles get stabilized and you end up with a nice and light champagne foam.

The verdict? I really think Pea Soup with Champagne and Shrimp v2.0 was a great success!

Pea Soup with Champagne and Shrimp v2.0

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 500ml fish stock
  • 175gr peas (frozen)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean without seeds
  • Champagne
  • Soy lecithin
  • Shrimp

Sweat the onion in a little butter until golden. Add the fish stock, and let simmer for 5 minutes. Add the peas and the vanilla bean, and let simmer for 10 minutes more. Blend everything and pass through a fine sieve.

Meanwhile, cook the shrimp sous-vide for 7 minutes at 60°C.

Blend the champagne with a little bit of lecithin. (I did this on the go without any set amounts, you can always browse the internet if you want specifics.)

Assemble by filling a small plate with the soup, adding a shrimp and topping off with the champagne foam. Enjoy with the leftover champagne!

Pimp your asparagus!

I don’t remember where I got the website from, but a contest called pimp your asparagus catches my full attention. From the onset I decided to work from the überclassic asperges à la Flamande, recreated using modern techniques and a slight twist in taste. And so this Saturday I started preparations for sous-vide white asparagus, sous-vide egg yolk and an instant vanilla hollandaise inspired by Daniël Humm.

Sous-vide asparagus (Modernist Cuisine) Basically following the recipe from Modernist Cuisine, I cooked half a kilo white asparagus (peeled) with 50 grams of butter and 5 grams of salt for 15 minutes at 85°C. It was slightly too salty so I think I would scale it back to 4 grams. Otherwise they were pretty much perfect.

Sous-vide egg yolks (Wylie Dufresne) Oh my God, these were perfect slices of egg heaven. Everything I’m looking for in an egg yolk and then some. In case you want to visit me in my complete euphoric trip, cook strained egg yolks at 70°C for an hour (preferable in tubular form). Another confirmation of my adoration for Wylie Dufresne.

Instant vanilla Hollandaise (Inspired by Daniel Humm) I substituted lemon juice for vinegar because I can’t stand the smell of vinegar, and I’m always very careful when cooking with it (as in, I tend to avoid it altogether by substituting other sour notes where possible). Reduce 50 grams minced shallots with 100 grams dry white wine and 5-10 grams strained lemon juice to a syrupy consistency. Measure 20 grams of this reduction. Blend together with four large egg yolks, seeds from 1-2 vanilla beans (depending on the size) and 20 grams of water, vacuum seal and cook at 65°C for half an hour. Afterwards remove the egg mixture from the bag and blend in 225 grams unsalted butter until completely emulsified. Add some salt and citric acid to taste, then transfer to a siphon. Charge with 2 N2O cartridges and shake vigorously. The original recipe says to keep it at 60°C if not used immediately, should you need this.

Plate with some parsley and white/black sesame seeds. Looks pretty tasty, no? The Hollandaise shifted the tiniest bit I think, maybe because the charger was rather cold. I’m looking into this.