Harvard to host Ferran Adrià and José Andrés again!

El Bulli proprietor Ferran Adrià in his kitchen. Photograph: Samuel Aranda/Getty Images

Until now, I never grew up really idolizing anyone.

Of all the types of cooking and cuisine in the world, the style of cooking that excites me most and sends shock waves of serotonin roller-coasting around in my brain is that of molecular gastronomy, or to some Modern Cuisine. It is magical, whimsical, exciting and mysterious. To me, there is the art of cooking, and the cooking of art.  Ferran Adria, pictured above, is a founding father of this culinary art form and he prefers to call himself a ‘deconstructivist‘.  In every sense of the word, that is, what he is.  A man of humble beginnings, Ferran is one of the most respected chef’s in the world.

As an 18-year-old trying to save up enough money to vacation with his friends on the island of Ibiza, Spain, he took a job as a dishwasher.  It was here where Ferran was introduced to and trained in French technique and cuisine.  In 1983 at the age of 22,  he applied for a stage at El Bulli in Roses, Catalonia, Spain.  18 months later he was the head chef.

In the later part of the 80’s Ferran began experimenting with new techniques.  In search for something unique and avant garde (afterall, it was the 80’s!), Ferran started playing around with foams, both sweet an savory foams.  Naturally when we think of foams, meringue, mousse, or whipped cream might come to mind.  Ferran took this a step further with natural flavors (such as fruit juices, infusions of aromatic herbs, etc) and mixed with them with neutrally-flavored gelling or stabilizing agent such as agar or lecithin.  Whipping with an  immersion blender or extruded through a whipped cream canister equipped with N2O cartridges, foams can be formed without significant substance, and thus allow cooks to integrate new flavors without changing the physical composition of a dish. Some famous food-foams are foamed espresso, foamed mushroom, foam foie gras, foamed beet and foamed coconut. A thermo whip is commonly used to make these foams through the making of a stock, creating a gel and extruding through the N2O canister.  Pretty cool. 

El Bulli Margarita

A dish called 'Thaw 2005' includes frozen green pine cone powder, wild pine nut milk sorbet and toasted wild pine nut savory praline that has been frozen with liquid nitrogen.

Ferran Adria, is an innovator, a teacher, a perfectionist, and above all, seriously passionate about exploration in the deconstructivist ideal of food.  A chef with such finesse, flavor accuracy, and technique might keep the secrets to his success to himself, but in fact he is the exact opposite.  He wants to teach people and share his experiments.

Ferran’s techniques have been adopted by some of the most renowned chef’s currently in the business.  One of those, Jose Andres, formerly worked for Ferran at El Bulli, is a James Beard award winning chef, and is the owner and innovator of  the restaurants within the Think Food Group.    I have the pleasure to see both Ferran and Jose, in action, together, this Sunday night at the Harvard Science and Cooking Lecture series finale.  For the second year in a row these two will talk about food innovation, ‘deconstructivist’ technique and what is to become of El Bulli,  a new culinary think tank?     I could not be more excited for this event, this is my ringside seat to the culinary Emmy’s. I’ll be sure to share my experience next week!

View Last year’s lecture here: Science and Cooking: A Dialogue | Lecture 1 (2010)

Want to channel your inner Ferran? Try out this ‘on the easy side’ recipe  Slow Cooked Salmon with Roasted Garlic green oil & lemon “air”

Ingredients:

  • 4 salmon fillets (about 2 oz. each)
  • 4 oz. roasted garlic green oil
  • 4 tsp. lemon “air”
  • chives, finely chopped, for garnish.

Roasted Garlic Green Oil

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 oz. roasted garlic
  • 6 oz. spinach
  • Salt to taste

Blanch spinach in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then plunge into iced water, squeezing the water completely from the leaves.

In a blender, mix the vegetable oil, spinach and chopped roasted garlic. Puree until smooth. Strain the green oil through cheesecloth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

***If you’d like to take this one step further and introduce spherification into this dish,  puree 6oz of spinach, 1/4 cup of water, and 3 oz of roasted garlic.  Strain through cheese cloth and mix with .5 gram of agar agar power, bring to a quick boil and remove from heat.  Using a kitchen syringe, extract the green water mixture and droplet into a cold cup of olive oil. These little drops will solidify into tiny spheres. Rinse in water and garnish the dish.  For more information on spherification technique, click here

Lemon Air

  • 2 oz. lemon juice
  • 2 oz. water
  • 18 tsp. lecithin

Mix above ingredients in a mixing bowl, then blend with a hand blender until foam forms on the top. Scoop foam off with spoon.

Salmon
Place salmon on a baking sheet and cook in a 175-degree oven for about 10 minutes or until cooked through (the fish should look opaque, but not white). Do not over cook the salmon.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with salt.

Place the salmon in the middle of the plate. Drizzle roasted garlic green oil around the salmon and top with lemon air and chives. Serve immediately.

I hope you have fun making this dish!

Thanks for reading,

xo!- G

Biere-Gruyere soup with fall ale foam and sourdough toast

I’m on a soup kick and this Indian summer that’s been in Boston for the last 8 days is driving me crazy.  Hellooo Mother Nature,  I’ve put most of my summer duds away and the AC is out of the window, so could you please change the leaves, turn down the temps and make it fall already!   There is a rumor it’s coming. The ever-so-non-accurate Dylan Dreyer (our local Boston meteorologist who cares more about her Banana Republic outfit than accurate forecasting) is predicting fall like temps and rain this weekend so I hope she’s right.  Sunday sounds like it’s going to be rainy with a high of 61/ low of 47, so it will be a perfect day to try and replicate Sel de la Terre’s Biere-Gruyere soup with fall ale foam and sourdough toast. HOLY CRAP, this was pure taste bud ecstasy.  If you don’t like cheese,  stop reading.  If you don’t like beer, stop following me all together.

This past Sunday, Dan picked me up from the airport and took me to a place he’d been wanting to try out, Sel de la Terre on the Wharf.   A bottle of wine, some apps… it was a perfect Sunday evening. We started with their Petit Gouters; (bread accompaniments)  Balsamic roasted shallots and garlic confit, french olives, and an Eggplant-goat cheese puree with toasted walnuts.  We were starving but not blown away; they were however, nice little nibbles to start with.   I like to ease into meals, I like to take my time, and I like to take in the flavors while enjoying my company.  I’m the slow eater, pain-in-the-ass servers do not like to wait on, but I’m polite and I also order bottles that I most often tip you on, so whatever.  Since I like to take my time and enjoy a night out to dinner, I’m often frowned upon by management as I do not provide them the burn and turn rate they’d like.  I’m also not often an entree orderer because I get full fast and then wind up being the jerk who’s taken two bites of her meal. I’ve parted ways with entrees for sometime now. I’m all about small plates, taste variety, and eating until I’m 80% full, so I can go out that night, duh!

Because I gravitate towards  small bites, apps and soups, I am a firm believer that if you have good soup, everything else on your menu will be good.  It’s hard to make a good soup.  It requires an enormous amount of time to carefully simmer a stock to the right taste and in a big enough batch. Soups, in some cases also require a lot of straining, which in large volumes isn’t easy! Having the right consistency, flavor profile and depth of flavor can also be tricky.   If you make a soup from scratch (not one poured out of a Cisco bag), you more often than not care about what you are cooking, take pride in your culinary skills, and have the chops to give me hope for the rest of your menu. This may be a biased opinion, but out of all the soup I have had in my life, I can think of one other that is memorable and a favorite: The Sherwood Inn’s French Onion.

Sel de la Terre’s  Biere-gruyere soup with fall ale foam and sourdough toast, described as ecstasy above. is. just. that.  It is a creamy, clean, perfectly seasoned puree of cheesy goodness with a pale ale finish.  After the first spoon full I had an instant vision of my feet up, in ski gear, next to a fire after a few beers, with this soup in hand.   It was amazing and for a moment it felt like real fall. I’ve been scouring the internet for a recipe remotely similar and after a few twitter convo’s back and forth with someone who updates the @SeldelaTerre feed we are now in negotiation for the real recipe. If I don’t get it, I think I am going to try a version of the following:

  • 2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 cups)
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl oz)
  • 1 (12-oz) bottle ale such Fat Tire, Sierra Nevada or Harpoon pale ale
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 lb grated Gruyère
  • 4 bacon slices (3 1/2 oz total), cooked and crumbled  (optional)

Wash leeks in a bowl of cold water, agitating water, then lift out leeks and drain in a colander. Get the dirt out!

Cook leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, and bay leaf in butter in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to moderately low and sprinkle flour over vegetables, then cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Add milk, broth, and beer in a stream, whisking, then simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt, and pepper.

Add cheese by handfuls, stirring constantly, and cook until cheese is melted, 3 to 4 minutes (do not boil). Discard bay leaf.

To make the beer foam you need:

  • 1 Cold pale ale beer
  • Immersion Blender
  • 1 gram of Lecithin

In a cup, combine 1/2 of the cold beer, sprinkle in the lecithin, and blend with the immersion blender.  The foam will begin to form and the lecithin acts as a stabilizer, keeping the foam intact.   Drink the rest of the beer.

Dollop the foam on top of the soup and serve with grilled sourdough points drizzled with truffle oil.

If you decided to try this out, I hope you like it.  I plan to give it a shot this weekend, so I cannot attest to the complete accuracy nor amazingness that this recipe may or may not offer.  It does however sound very close to the flavors I enjoyed. As a side note, I would strain the soup and serve it as a creamy, fluid, puree without the vegetable chunks.  Good luck!

Thanks for reading! xo-G