Kitchen Experiments: BBQ Sauce, Pie Lollipops, Blueberry Ice Cream and Market Basket Cooking
Posted August 30, 2009on:
Over the past few days I’ve been experimenting a lot in the kitchen. Most of this experimentation has been motivated by the fact that I have a lot of certain ingredients on hand and I want to find a good use for them. Of course, the rest of the experimentation is motivated by my desire to try new things and see how well my culinary (and pastry!) skills have been developed.
My most recent experiment was for barbecue sauce. I have made barbecue sauce before, but it was the kind of sauce that had mostly a sweet flavor with a heat that built up. So far, I really like that sauce and I do have to make it again. However, I decided to try to make a sauce that was still very thick and rich as well as very hot. When I tried this sauce, I basically broke out into a sweat, which I know is something a lot of people do enjoy. I unfortunately do not enjoy that and so I reached for a cup of milk right after tasting. As this is way to hot for me or my family, I think I’ll gift this creation to my boyfriend and his family as they seem to appreciate serious heat a lot more than I do. For those of you into this kind of thing, here’s the basic recipe for how I made my hot bbq sauce.
- 1 shallot (minced)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 jalapeno (minced, seeds and membranes removed)
- 2 serranos (minced, seeds and membranes removed)
- 3 chipotles en adobo (minced)
- 1/2 cup rum (dark)
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1, 14- oz can of tomato puree
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1 T dry mustard
- 1 T liquid smoke
- 1 T Worcestershire sauce
- 1 T dry mustard
- Tabasco (to taste)
- salt & pepper to taste
- cayenne pepper (to taste)
- 1 tsp canola oil
- In about 1 tsp canola oil, saute the shallot, jalapeno and serrano until soft.
- Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
- Add chipotles en adobo and cook 1 more minute.
- Add rum and scrape off any bits off the bottom of the pot. Cook until reduced by 3/4.
- Add cider vinegar, tomato puree, ketchup, molasses, brown sugar.
- Stir in Worcestershire sauce, mustard, cayenne, liquid smoke and Tabasco.
- Cook down until thick. Use stick blender to remove any chunks and create a thick sauce.
- Adjust seasoning with salt & pepper.
Homemade barbecue sauce is almost always delicious but this one was just way too hot for my taste! (Note: I tried this sauce the next day with some shredded beef and it was NOT as hot as I thought it was when I cooked it!)
My next experiment this week has been with pie lollipops. The first thing I did was to cook down my fillings until I had a very thick almost paste-like apperance. I added some more sugar and cornstarch so that my fruit would concentrate in flavor and texture. I brought some of the ones with the concentrated friut to class and many people enjoyed them! Chef also thought it would be a cute addition to the graduation grand buffet!
When I got back home, I decided to try a different dough since some were falling off the sticks and were just really doughy. I used a pate sucree instead of a pate brisee. I did like the pate brisee’s flakyness, however, the pate sucree added a nice sweetness and crunch. It was also a more structurally sound dough so that it did not have any problem adhering to the lollipop sitck and creating a nice lollipop. I still need to figure out a good moisture level for the filling and a good amount of filling for the lollipops to work best. For now though, I think I’m onto something with these and I’m going to also try pumpkin pie flavor and pecan pie flavor.
While making pie lollipops, I was also working on some blueberry ice cream. I know it sounds weird but I figured why not since I had about 2 lbs of blueberries at home and I had had my fill of blueberry muffins and blueberry tartlets!
Blueberry Ice Cream Ingredients
- 3 cups blueberries
- 4 fl. oz water
- 4 oz sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- juice of 1 lemon + zest
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- 4 oz sugar
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 T vanilla extract
- Equipment: Have an ice bath ready with a steel bowl on top. Also have a fine-mesh strainer and a ladle ready.
- Add all of the first six ingredients to a pot and stir to combine. (Note: If you use a wooden spoon for this, it will end up dyed purple after!)
- Simmer until you can no longer taste the acid of the lemon and the mixture is thick.
- Then I prepared a creme anglaise. Combine heavy cream, milk and sugar in a pot and bring to a boil. Be sure to stir to ensure the sugar dissolves.
- Add some of the boiling milk/cream mixture to the eggs, whisking vigorously to keep your eggs from scrambling.
- Combine the eggs with the rest of the milk/cream mixture and continue to cook while stirring. You want to stir until you reach nappe or until the mixture coats the back of your spoon. (If you’re like me and you want a more accurate way to know it’s cooked, use a calibrated thermometer and cook until you reach 180F)
- Strain over an ice bath. You want to stop the cooking right away and remove any egg clumps that may remain.
- Once your creme anglaise and berry mixtures are cool, fold the berries into the creme anglaise. Then you can put this mixture in your ice cream maker and then you’ll have blueberry ice cream! Check out its cool purple color!
All these experiments were going on in my own home kitchen, but I also had to conduct an experiment while in class. A portion of the final course we have is called “market basket cooking” where we’re given a list of ingredients we’re required to use while cooking our food. So far, we’ve had to prepare 2 appetizers and we had to use spinach, grape tomatoes, slab bacon, scallops and shiitake mushroom in our dishes. As long as we used all those ingredients between the two dishes, we’d be fine. We were also allowed to use staple ingredients, like citrus fruit, rice, potatoes, onions, etc. We were evaluated on creativity, technique, flavor and presentation. And we were told to keep in mind that we’re preparing appetizers and not entrees, so we should keep an eye on our portion sizes.
For my first dish, I tried to do a spin on a traditional stuffed grapeleaf. I made some rice and added some cooked mushroom, grape tomato, and bacon. I then tried to roll the spinach leaves around the rice filling. And I served it with a lemon cream sauce. The chef thought the idea was good and that the flavors were good, however my presentation wasn’t as great. I should have blanched my spinach leaves to make them easier to roll. Other than that, it wasn’t bad.
For my second dish, I tried to dress up a traditional hash. I sauteed some bacon and then cooked potatoes, onions and carrot in the bacon fat. I then seared the scallops. When I plated the dish, I placed two blanched spinach leaves in the center of the plate and then a layer of the hash. I topped the hash with two seared scallops. Chef enjoyed this dish saying the flavors were really good and the presentation was nice. Unfortunately, my scallops were a tad on the rare side, but still not very undercooked.
After this exercise, I really feel much better about the upcoming practical exam which is run the same way as the market basket exercises. And after that exam, it’s just a few more classes to our grand buffet and the end of our formal culinary education!