Trust us, we’re professionals. We being award-winning mixologist Cristiana DeLucca, Team iSi and me. We’ll serve this menu and more at the National Restaurant Association show, starting Saturday in Chicago.
We’re challenged with serving food and drink at a show, an industry event attended by some of the best chefs from around the world, including Top Chef Master Rick Bayless, but also the biggest brands in the food business. How do we demonstrate what we can do in one delicious bite and one delightful sip?
One of the iconic dishes of Chicago is our unique pizza. My favorite is made only at one restaurant: Burt’s Place. You may have seen Anthony Bourdain eat there, when I took him to visit my friend and pizza master Burt Katz.
Deep Dish, my take on our hometown’s divisive pizza, will be crunchy foccacia bits, torn mozzarella, onion microgreens, fruity olive oil, seasoned by smoked salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a fresh schpritz of lemon, then finished with the Tomato Hollandaise from the iSi cookbook, A Culinary Journey.
The Tomato Hollandaise was created by the Michelin starred German chef Andreas Schweiger. His variation of the classic sauce does use yolks and butter, but he adds tomato purée, lending intense flavor, preserved for any season.
The rich yolks, silky butter, and tangy tomato echo the Italian method of cracking an egg over a pizza right before it’s slipped into a wood-fired oven. Cooked until the crust bubbles and nearly blackens, while the white barely sets. It’s a very different pizza from deep dish, which some say isn’t pizza at all, yet both are correctly eaten with knife and fork. While devising the show’s menu I thought this would elevate a familiar favorite for finer dining.
But what about fast food? Espumas are one thing, but what about the weird? Here I was inspired not only by chefs but a bit of magic. Every year the restaurant show wraps just as what’s now called Sweets & Snacks Expo, aka the Candy Show, kicks off. The Jelly Belly booth always offers their Harry Potter Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor and Bamboozled beans, with everything from Sausage to Moldy Cheese jelly beans.
So while Deep Dish Espuma is lovely, the Pizza Foam may be something else. I take the cookbook’s Parmesan Cheese Fondant, by chef Darren Ong of Singapore, then spike it with Chicago Deep Dish Pizza Pizzazz by my friends at The Spice House. It may be weird but practical too. One day for lunch I grabbed a slice, then the ubiquitous shakers of cheese, oregano, and crushed red peppers to shower them furiously. What if we could capture all that’s lost, and occasionally accidentally inhaled, in a fun pizza foam?
Our menu will change daily, all full of flavor, evocative and provocative, but above all, delicious and delightful, we hope.
Cristiana and I have worked together with iSi before. She prefers to pair from my food menu, but how does she do it? More on mixology next time.
Louisa Chu is a food consultant, food journalist, and one one of the iSi Culinary Ambassadors. Louisa hosts Chewing the Fat, the WBEZ podcast on food. For contact information, go to louisachu.com.
MEET LOUISA CHU
I grew up in my family’s Chinese-American chop suey restaurants in Chicago. My first job, at the age of four, was folding pale jade green paper menus into long, clean thirds. Soon after, I started cooking, standing on a milk crate, watching over the deep fat fryer bubbling with lard, waiting for golden, crunchy egg rolls to surface. I rarely dipped into our house-made sweet-and-sour sauce, but understood how customers loved the cooling, tart contrast. I preferred the quietly fiery mustard, which we endangered ourselves to mix with Colman’s dry powder from the tin. Later I made my own family meals—fried rice a favorite—picking through our mise en place, cracking a fresh egg here, grabbing a handful of scallions there. From behind the bar, I’d pour ginger ale into hot tea, which drove my grandfather crazy. Working through weekends, holidays, and childhood, I swore to never work in restaurants again. I moved to Los Angeles, but never stopped cooking, especially since we had farmers’ markets all day, and endless, summery, southern California nights to entertain in our bungalow backyard. But after one LA evening out at a wine tasting, the food was so bad I told the shop owners I could do better, so I did. I paired French Champagne with classic gougeres and smoked salmon deviled eggs, plus retro rumaki and miniatures of our egg rolls. I started catering, and I was surprised how much I enjoyed cooking professionally again. Then I met Julia Child, while she was on book tour for the 40th anniversary edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Inspired, I attended her alma mater, Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. After graduation, and many calls and letters, I staged at Alain Ducasse at the Hotel Plaza Athenee. In my wildest dreams I never imagined a restaurant kitchen or cooking could be like that. It was pristinely clean and air-conditioned, with caviar, foie gras, and white Alba truffles as plentiful as potatoes, carrots, and onions. Later that breathtaking year, I staged at El Bulli. I was amazed by not only my own rekindled wonder, but that of the cooks from around the world with whom I worked too. You must know by now that chef Ferran Adria opened the restaurant only six months per year, closing the other six months for what he called “the creativity.” But before it famously became the World’s Best Restaurant, they had no customers. Ferran and his brother Albert said they’d go days serving one table or two. So instead, they created. It was there that Ferran Adria himself discovered iSi.
LOUISA & ISI
iSi North America President and CEO Rick Agresta once told me that HQ was wondering why some unknown restaurant outside of a small Catalonian resort town was ordering so much product. So they went to see for themselves. In 1994, Ferran made his first espuma: “white bean foam with sea urchins: the first foam.” Ten years later when I apprenticed, it was space camp for cooks. We had liquid nitrogen, a centrifuge, and dozens of iSi whippers. Some had custom tip tubing to make the infamous “2 m of parmesan spaghetto,” a single, long translucent noodle of whey and agar. It was served plated with balsamic vinegar, lemon zest, and black pepper. I prepared this and another Parmigiano Reggiano dish with an Italian cook who worked for the Michelin three-starred chef Massimo Bottura in Modena. He always cursed what we did to his iconic, beloved hometown cheese. When I returned to Chicago, Lavazza introduced Ferran’s Èspesso Espresso at their downtown cafe, for the first time in the country. It is essentially espresso, cream, sugar, and gelatin, set and served in an iSi whipper.
Now as a food consultant and food journalist, my concerns consider not only the delicious but simplicity, sustainability, ethics, and nutrition too. I’ve since made Èspesso, adapting it to my own taste. So I choose ethically sourced cold brew coffee, pastured heavy cream, and real maple syrup, adding American breakfast flavor. Always recycling the chargers, of course. I may inject my American Èspesso into fluffy raised donut holes, occasionally with a shot of whiskey. While I hope to forever discover new child-like wonders, grown-up toys and tastes are sure fun too.
Ferran Adria’s Èspesso for Lavazza uses espresso. I use cold brew coffee concentrate because I prefer the smooth, chocolaty flavor, plus it’s easier, much easier. If you don’t have a cold brew coffee ratio or recipe you like, try mixing one part finely ground coffee to four parts water, then steep for 12 hours minimum. You do not need a cold brew coffee maker. Remember, this recipe uses the concentrate, not the diluted coffee. I do use both weight and volume, because sometimes it’s easier to use one over the other. Try to eyeball the half pouch of gelatin, and if you’re half a gram over or under that’s fine. You can substitute the maple syrup with sugar, use more or to taste. This is a very forgiving recipe.
330 g cold brew coffee concentrate
0.5 pouch (3.5 g) Knox unflavored gelatin
50 g maple syrup
119 g pastured heavy cream
Preparation: Pour 50 ml of cold coffee into an iSi Flex-it 1000-ml (4 cups) measuring cup. Sprinkle half a pouch of Knox unflavored gelatin over it. Let stand for one minute. Pour 50 ml of coffee into Flex-it 250-ml (1 cup) measuring cup. Microwave to boiling. Carefully pour boiling coffee into cold coffee and gelatin mixture. Use an iSi silicone spatula to stir until gelatin dissolves completely. Add remaining coffee, syrup, and cream, and then stir again. Pour mixture through an iSi Funnel & Sieve into a 0.5-L (~17 fl. oz.) iSi whipper. If using a Thermo Whip, chill empty whipper thoroughly first. Charge with one iSi cream charger then shake well. Chill one hour minimum to set. Test for desired consistency. Shake further if firmer texture preferred. Serve.
Serving Suggestion: Dispense to espresso cups, top with whipped cream, sprinkle with cocoa powder, then serve. Or fill yeast-raised donut holes using iSi short 5-mm injector tip, then serve. Optionally add a shot of whiskey or other spirit to whipper before charging. Take care to only fill whipper to maximum fill line. Keep refrigerated.
Stay Tuned! Louisa will be popping up on CreativeWhip.com periodically with updates and recipes to help you make the most of your iSi Whipper System, so stay tuned!
How did a product originating in a small, Austrian factory in 1964 come to be a favorite means of expressing the creative imagination of chefs from around the world? The journey is remarkable. And the results have been not only inspirational, but also visually exciting; serving food with flavor and quality that is a fundamental element of modern cuisine.
The product I am referring to is the iSi Culinary System of food whippers and gas chargers – a unique and inseparable combination that can help turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. The iSi culinary innovators, among the leading chefs worldwide, embrace the desire and demand for better food and continuously bring insights of chemistry and physics to food and food preparation.
When we built the system, we had little idea of how much chefs from around the world would find new uses that enhanced their cuisine. We learned from them and we continued to improve the system, added new tools, and discovered new applications. Our constant connection with chefs and culinary creators allowed us to innovate in tandem, enabling our whipper system to evolve into an even more useful, multi-functional tool.
The iSi Culinary System has been called an Innovation Machine. But it is only potential energy until realized by the user. This essential component is the vision and creativity of the person using the equipment – resulting in some of the most amazing new applications in food preparation including soups, sauces, foams, desserts, and beverages.
We’ve adopted “Whip up Something Better” as our challenge and promise to our customers and all the creative food professionals we interact with. The “better” is the potential of our whipper system in lowering costs, process improvement, reducing calories, improving presentation, enabling fresher, more natural ingredients and better, more intense flavors.
Followers of this blog already have seen many examples of both the “one off” and volume applications of the iSi Culinary System. As we enter the 6th decade of our company history, we are focused on increasing our blog activity to share more information, more often with you – our partners in creativity – who seek information about and contribute their inspiration to our Innovation Machine., the iSi Culinary System.
It was August 2010. Dave Arnold, a friend and former colleague, was very excited to show me a culinary technique he’d been working on. At the time, I was iSi’s culinary director and had been encouraging Dave to play around with the whippers to see if he could come up with some new applications beyond creams and foams. It was through his experimentation that Dave, a master tinkerer, cocktail savant and culinary innovator, came to discover the exciting potential of rapid infusion – extracting the flavor of a solid into a liquid or infusing a solid with the flavor of a liquid, or both – using an affordable, handheld device.
The discovery of this application opened the doors for flavor in ways that was not possible before for those without access to expensive vacuum machines and the know-how to properly execute the technique. In subsequent years, Dave has demonstrated how to use iSi Gourmet Whip Plus for rapid infusion to some of the most respected chefs and mixologists in the industry and in front of packed houses at various high-profile events and conferences around the world. But with the launch of his new book, Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail, the technique is now accessible for everyone.
In the book, Dave breaks down just about every element of the cocktail and how to improve on taste, texture, appearance, etc. – from traditional drinks to adaptations using modern techniques. He devotes and an entire chapter to “Rapid Infusion, Shifting Pressure” where he explains the basic process of rapid nitrous infusion and the potential benefits of using a whipper and nitrous oxide (N2O) – a water/ethanol/fat-soluble, colorless, slightly sweet-tasting gas – versus more traditional long-term infusion methods.
Rapid infusions made using an iSi whipper with N2O tend to extract less bitter, spicy, and tannic notes as compared to traditional extraction methods that rely on heat, time, or a combination of both. For cocktails, rapid infusion allows for more of the pleasant notes to shine. Imagine a jalapeno infused vodka with all the bright flavor and aroma of fresh jalapenos with less spiciness or an aromatic coffee liquor made from coffee beans with less bitterness and less tannic notes than one that steeped over an extended period of time.
In addition to being an entertaining and educational read, the book contains several recipes for infusions, bitters, tinctures, and finished cocktails using these rapidly-infused ingredients.
While the approach may seem thoroughly modern, the end goal for using the technique is simply to make a better tasting, better looking cocktail. By reading through Dave’s recipe for turmeric infused gin you’ll get a sense of the basic method. He explains why turmeric is a good choice because “it’s porous, aromatic, colorful, and flavorful, the four characteristics you should look for in your solid infusion ingredient.” Gin provides a clear base that will complement the flavor and absorb the color and flavor of the brightly hued turmeric well.
TURMERIC INFUSED GIN
500 milliliters Plymouth gin, room temperature
100 grams fresh turmeric thinly sliced into disks, room temperature (Tip: To avoid staining, wear rubber gloves when handling and cover surfaces)
.5 liter iSi Gourmet Whip Plus
2 iSi Cream (N2O) Chargers
Add prepared turmeric to the whipper, then gin. Screw the head onto the whipper and charge using one cream charger. Swirl the whipper for a few seconds to agitate and then charge again using the second cream charger. Swirl the whipper again. As you swirl, the gas will dissolve into the liquid, and the pressure inside the whipper will drop forcing the gin and nitrous oxide solution into the turmeric. After 2 ½ minutes, hold a container over the nozzle and place the whipper over a bowl to catch any escaping liquid. Point the nozzle straight up and vent the gas quickly by fully depressing the lever. As you vent, the nitrous expands and bubbles out of the solution, forcing turmeric-flavored gin out of the turmeric and back into the rest of the gin, completing the infusion. Once all the gas has released, unscrew the whipper and allow bubbling action to subside before straining. Allow infusion to rest for about 10 minutes before using for maximum flavor. Store chilled for up to one week.
A variation on a lime sour using the brightly hued turmeric infusion.
Makes one 5 1/3 ounce drink
2 ounces (60 ml) Rapid Infused Turmeric Gin
¾ ounces (22.5 ml) freshly strained lime juice
Flat ¾ ounces (20 ml) simple syrup
3 drops saline solution or a generous pinch of salt
1-2 dashes Rapid Infused Orange Bitters, or commercial variety Orange Bitter
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake, and strain into a chilled coupe glass.
More Rapid Infusion Tips from Dave:
- Solids for rapid infusion must be porous. Most plant products meet this criterion. Flavorful options include fresh herbs, citrus zest, ginger, lemongrass, peppers/chilies, cocoa nibs, coffee beans, etc.
- With the exception of fresh herbs which can bruise easily, finely cut up or grate solids to maximize surface area and expose pores to the liquid.
- Pay attention to the solid-to-liquid ratio and infusion times. Rapid infusions typically take more solids than traditional infusion methods and happen so fast that even 15 seconds can make a difference in flavor.
- Unless you’re making a bitter where bitterness is a desired, use room temperature liquids and solids. Infusions using cold ingredients produce less vibrant results.
- Consistency is key. Always measure out your ingredients, set a timer, use the right sized whipper, and the right number of chargers for the recipe for consistent results.
- The process of venting is what generates flavor-extracting bubbles. The faster you vent the gas, the stronger the bubbling action. The more bubbling action, the more active your extraction.
- Unless the recipe instructs you to do so, don’t strain the mixture right away after venting. Allow bubbles to subside. Remember, active bubbles mean that flavor extraction is still happening.
On occasion, small particles from the solid may clog the value system and the whipper may stop venting properly. To avoid this, let solids settle to the bottom of the whipper a bit before venting and always point the nozzle straight up. If you do get a clog, try pumping the handle to dislodge the clog. This Fall, iSi North America will launch a newly engineered Rapid Infusion Tool that safeguards against clogging and allows for a more streamlined venting process. This attachment will be sold separately as an accessory and should only be used with the iSi Gourmet Whip Plus.
iSi Rapid Infusion Best Practices
- The iSi Gourmet Whip Plus is designed and crafted to the highest standard with rigorous quality control for a lifetime of reliability. All stainless steel construction won’t taint flavors, react with foods, is NSF-certified, dishwasher safe, and HACCP compliant. For this reason, iSi only endorses the use of the rapid infusion technique with an iSi Gourmet Whip Plus.
- Strong flavors take less time to infuse but delicate flavors may take longer (up to 20-30 minutes). Test for best results.
- Always use iSi cream chargers with iSi equipment. iSi cream chargers are made of high-quality, recyclable steel and contain 8 grams of pure food-safe N2O. They are individually weighed electronically and have a fill warranty for consistent results.
Read more about Dave Arnold and the rapid infusion techniques here.
Judiaann Woo is the former VP of Culinary Development for iSi North America. During her time, with the company, she whipped, aerated, foamed and carbonated everything under the sun and had a whole lot of fun doing it. Today, she lives in Portland, Oregon and continues to share her passion for food with others willing to travel for the next great meal. See what she’s been eating recently @judiaann.
A Night at the Museum
(of Food and Drink)
by Guest Contributor Rick Agresta, President & CEO of iSi North America, Inc.
A Quick Introduction
Our President & CEO, Rick Agresta (shown below) was one of few influential invitees to the MOFAD (Museum of Food & Drink) Spring Dinner Benefit just a few weeks ago in Long Island City, and was kind enough to share his recount of the inspirational evening created by Dave Arnold and Peter Kim of MOFAD — along with top-notch respected chefs including Wylie Dufresne, Michael Anthony, Marcus Samuelsson, plus many more of New York’s “Best of the Best” committed to the advancement, exploration, discovery and documentation of the science of food.
MOFAD was founded years ago by the culinary wizard and long-time iSi friend Dave Arnold, and is working to build a first-of-its-kind food museum in New York City – with exhibits you can actually eat. It reminds us a bit of Jennifer Rubell’s edible exhibits, but on a more permanent scale. Dave’s vision is expansive, long-term, and of course – unique. Dave’s constant dedication and exploration of the “way things work” and how he can make them more useful, productive, or creative continues to set him apart from the “norm” in every way.
We hope you enjoy the descriptive storytelling though the eyes of iSi’s own CEO, who attended the event and clearly enjoyed the entire evening of surprise, delight, and culinary wonder.
A Night at the Museum
(of Food and Drink)
by Guest Contributor Rick Agresta, President & CEO of iSi North America, Inc.
I had the pleasure of attending the Museum of Food and Drink Spring Benefit Dinner at the very cool Foundry event space underneath the 59th Street Bridge. In Long Island City, Queens. As in the Simon and Garfunkel song about the bridge, several hundred guests and I were “feeling groovy” as we were served innovative dishes from the imagination of a star studded group of chefs. This was all in service of a great cause, the creation of the first museum devoted exclusively to food and drink and the culinary arts, science and engineering that help bring these essentials of life to us, ranging from mass production to local supply, from our supermarkets to the finest restaurants.
Each chef was challenged to create an entirely new recipe in response to a theme thought up by Peter Kim, executive Director, and Dave Arnold, founder and lead enthusiast. To give you a taste for the challenge, consider Wylie Dufrense’ (WD-50) chicken liver spaetzle, radish, Cocoa nibs and pine conglomeration. This was in response to the Four Humors – Blood, yellow bile, black bile and Phlegm, an ancient world concept with the humors corresponding to the elements of air, fire, earth and water – all of which must be in balance for a healthy constitution. Wylie served a very balanced and tasty portion.
A challenge from the less distant past was given to Brooks Headley of Del Posto who created a Bomb Shelter Sandwich for the category of Food of Future Past. Franklin Becker (Little Beet) had a yummy take on what the native Americans might have really brought to the first Thanksgiving, a garden, forest and sea to table mix.
My personal favorite was the Rastafarian Ital Diet response from Nils Noren of the Marcus Samuelsson Group and Dave’s partner in culinary crime for years at the FCI. Nils made a Callaloo Soup with Dumplings and Coconut served with Tamarind Ginger Soup. He labored with actual coconuts instead of buying pre-processed ingredients. As he wrote in the program ” Because the body is viewed as sacred, Rastafarians value fresh, unadulterated food.”
My opinion: fresh and delicious! Just the way food should taste as the fresh seasonal foods of Spring transition into early Summer in early May.
Evoking Creativity in Food
The final two dishes brought us closer to the present. Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern made a TV dinner of Salisbury steak, Mac and cheese and a mix of carrots and peas. This was served in the traditional Swanson style TV food tray with a compartmentalized base and a cardboard cover held in place by crimped aluminum. Dominique Ansel, chef of his self named Bakery, was asked to create a dessert for Food on the Battlefield. His “rations” for us culinary soldiers was an Apple pie care package where the ingredients were delivered to our table in specially sealed containers we had to peal back, tear and unscrew. We were amply rewarded for finishing that battle.
The crowd was a great mix of the many kinds of people and functions in the culinary culture of Greater New York. The media was also there in force and my table alone included a creative bunch from Food & Wine, Popular Science and Grub Street.
As if the meal was not enough, the take home goody bag was full of gourmet treats and topped off by a personal bag of puffed rice from the Puffing Gun demo Dave conducted in front of the building during the cocktail hour. Sign me up for the Fall Benefit Dinner!
So, What’s Next?
Many thanks to Daniel Kreiger for the terrific photos, and the MOFAD Facebook page. And, a huge thanks to Dave Arnold for the invitation to such an inspiring culinary journey- one of many more to come!
iSi Celebrates 50 Years of Inspiration
with New Product Introductions at
The International Housewares Show
by Guest Contributor, Chef Louisa Chu
2014 is an exciting year for iSi as they celebrate “50 Years of Inspiring Food” and the establishment of the iSi brand. The iSi story is an exciting one to tell, which was proudly expressed throughout yet another stunning Booth at the 2014 International Home & Housewares Show (IHHS) in Chicago.
Several “back by popular demand” products were introduced, reinforcing the history of iSi’s inspiration, experience, innovation and creativity in cuisine.
New Products Showcased (Available Fall, 2014)
The iSi Sodamaker Classic was the most awe-inspiring new product on display, captivating visitors at first glance with its Mad Men-esque antique/retro design. Although the iSi Sodamaker Classic looks like a mesh seltzer collectible on the outside, there’s new technology within, most notably a lightweight high-pressure resistant BPA-free PET bottle, and an advanced stainless-steel riser tube which produces a gentle, even flow of fresh soda water, every time.
Also on the new product podium: iSi’s hip & redesigned lever-handled iSi Dessert Whip Plus and iSi Dessert Whip Mini. Both products feature fun & playful “zebra-patterned” black or white die-cut, removable silicone sleeve, providing the user with a more comfortable grip on the Whipper (and, adding a trendy-looking aesthetic!). This classic favorite has also been modified from its original aluminum bottle to a new dishwasher-safe stainless steel bottle. The clever & creative look of this product alone takes iSi to the next level, which I like to call “iSi 2.0”.
And to put iSi’s products to use, the new Culinary Inspirations cookbook provides a wealth of inspiring new recipes for the professional and home chef alike. Each day, I served a variety of food and beverage recipes from the book to let customers taste a bite of iSi inspiration for themselves!
Celebrity Chefs & Industry Leaders who visited our iSi Booth
Over the last few years, our iSi Booth has become exceedingly popular, considered as a “must visit” Booth at the IHHS Show. Our daily menu of innovative iSi food and drink recipes attracted several customers and friends, including Top Chef Masters winner and Celebrity Chef Chris Cosentino, PolyScience President (and inventor) Philip Preston, and Chef José Andrés.
El Bulli’s Ferran Adrià was in town all week, using iSi Whippers at Press events around Chicago, and as homage, our menu was crafted with a variety of simplified modern recipes that home chefs can make, too.
An Homage to iSi’s History
This was my fifth year as iSi’s show chef, and incidentally Adria’s twentieth anniversary in discovering the technique of making iSi espumas, but iSi’s 149th year. That’s right; the company was originally founded by Karl Fischer-Pochtler in 1865, a fact literally engraved at the top of the new iSi Sodamaker Classic – see below.
The Most Popular Recipe of the Show: Flash-Frozen “Espresso” Ice Cream Sandwiches
For my Edible Espresso 2014 Edition, I flash froze espresso cream (Kalona Super Natural whipping cream and Monin Espresso syrup) on a PolyScience Anti-Griddle, and sandwiched the frozen espresso bites between local Bridgeport Bakery doughnut holes. It was coffee and donuts in one bite – an adult afternoon snack!
Although the “Flash-Frozen Espresso Ice-Cream Sandwiches” were the most popular & talked about recipe of the IHA Show, we rotated a different menu of both food & drinks each day.
iSi Beverages: From Carbonation to Foams & Rapid Infusion
Making her debut as an iSi mixologist, award-winning bartender Cristiana DeLucca of Chicago’s famed “Back Bar Project” (above right) served Hot Frozen Ginger Fizz, her take on a signature Ferran Adria/El Bulli cocktail. Cristiana’s interpretation: a warm lemon meringue foam over an iced fizzy ginger lemonade.
See You Next Year!
In what has become an IHA tradition, we take a group shot at the close of each year’s Show. This year, iSi North America’s President & CEO, Rick Agresta, holds up the clear winner of this year’s show: the iSi Sodamaker Classic, available this fall.
Over the years, we’ve often found ourselves “on the other side of the bar” – listening to the woes of our bartender friends across the country, and in these extraordinary conversations, we’ve learned a lot just by listening. But, we don’t always “talk shop” about iSi – we deliberate on the best glassware (and the worst), we’ve had dozens of debates on who makes the best ice (and how they do it) – but mostly we hear, “I wish my hair were as amazing and versatile as Don Lee” (owner of New York’s coveted Cocktail Kingdom & New York’s newest must-see shining star, The Golden Cadillac).
What can we say? True story. Research it for yourself: the cocktail industry is obsessed with Don Lee (and his hairstyles).
But… back to bitters. Many of today’s most inventive bartenders are revamping their own signature versions of old-school classic drinks in which bitters are an essential ingredient (Old Fashioned, anyone?). What’s so bittersweet about this evolving revolution is the absence of variety – there are only 5 “mainstream” readily available bitters – despite the fact that bitters have been around since the early 19th century. Growing in presence, availability and popularity, smaller-batch, artisanal bitters have started popping up in top-notch distribution channels and selling their products online, like Dashfire Bitters Co from St. Paul, MN.
Dave, being the experimental whiz-kid that he is, decided he wasn’t in love with with traditional bitters – he wasn’t even fully satisfied with the smaller artisanal brands. Only his own creations – a methodically calculated combination of unique flavors and sensations – made à la minute from the freshest, premium ingredients could placate his palate.
Constantly seeking precision, purity and evolution, Dave took one look at the iSi Gourmet Whip and he instinctively knew that iSi’s Culinary Systems are engineered to create much more than just whipped cream. He first identified the two major components available to him: an air-tight sealed vessel and a gas-powered charger that could be dispensed into it. This simple understanding was fascinating, and led him into a whirlwind of trial & error food-science experiments – you name it, and it’s likely that he’s tried it. Dave proved that the iSi Gourmet Whip + iSi cream chargers, when used together, could rapidly infuse ingredients under pressure. He has since shared his technical knowledge, recipes, and so much more with Chefs, bartenders, and aspiring culinary students around the world, and continues to experiment with “what else” the iSi Gourmet Whip can do.
Here, we share one of our favorite Dave Arnold recipes with you: Rapid-Infused Orange Bitters. We hope this recipe inspires you to see the world of flavor with new eyes, and unlock your potential for creating any type of bitters you’d like.
RECIPE: Dave Arnold’s Rapid-Infused Orange Bitters
350 ml · 11.8 fl. oz 40% abv neutral vodka
25 g · 0.9 oz fresh orange peel (no pith, orange only)
25 g · 0.9 oz dried orange peel (Sevilles preferable)
25 g · 0.9 oz dried lemon peel
25 g · 0.9 oz dried grapefruit peel
0.2 g · 0.01 oz whole cloves (3 cloves)
2.5 g · 0.1 oz green cardamom seeds removed from pod
2 g · 0.1 oz caraway seeds
2.5 g · 0.1 oz quassia bark
5 g · 0.2 oz dried gentian root
1) Pulse all the dry ingredients (everything but the fresh peel and the vodka) in a spice grinder until everything is the size of whole peppercorns.
2) Put the dry mix, the vodka, and the fresh orange peel into a 0.5 L iSi Gourmet Whip.
3) Screw on 1 iSi cream charger and shake.
4) Put the iSi Whipper in simmering water (at. max. 75 °C/165 °F) for 20 minutes.
5) Cool the iSi Whipper in ice water for 5 minutes then vent by pressing the lever down fully.
6) Remove the head of the Whipper and pour the infused liquid through the iSi funnel & sieve into a container.
7) The peels will have absorbed almost all the liquid.
8) Put them in a press sack or superbag and squeeze the bitters out.
52% (185 ml · 6.2 fl. oz).
*Upping the yield makes a bitterer product with fewer aromas.
Dave Arnold’s revolutionary approach to making better-looking, better-tasting drinks:
For all of our Dave Arnold Fans, you’ll be thrilled to know that his cocktail (science) book is coming out this fall, and it’s on pre-sale now at Amazon – get it while it’s hot!
Please share your comments, experiments and favorite flavor combinations with us – we always love to hear from you! Visit us on Facebook, chat with us on Twitter, or just send us an old-fashioned email: email@example.com
We also promised you recipes! Here is a brilliantly creative recipe for “iSi Rapid-Infused Ceviche”, contributed by our friend Chef Jill Houk . This dish is an exceptionally inventive, yet simple, example of Rapid Infusion put to work. Enjoy this modern twist on a classic light dish, splendid for spring & summer!
iSi Rapid-Infused Ceviche
Contributed by Chef Jill Houk*
Ceviche is a seafood dish that originated in Peru. It’s a combination of raw fish, citrus juice, peppers, and onions. The citrus juice de-natures the proteins in the fish, giving it the texture of cooked fish. Because the fish isn’t actually cooked, it’s essential to use ultra-fresh fish that is kept cold at all times. The iSi Gourmet Whip speeds up how quickly you can get your ceviche to the table. Traditionally, the fish would need to sit in citrus juice for 30 minutes to an hour. Now, you can eat ceviche in minutes, simply by using iSi’s Rapid Infusion method.
0.5L (Pint) iSi Gourmet Whip
1/2 pound firm white fish, such as sea bass, whitefish, tilapia, or mahi mahi
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (the juice of 4-5 limes)
1/4 cup fresh orange juice (the juice of 1/2 an orange)
1/4 cup water
1 small serrano pepper or 1/2 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely diced
1/4 cup thinly-sliced red onion
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2-3 large leaves of lettuce
1 sweet potato, peeled, diced and cooked
1) Freeze fish 10-15 minutes to make it easier to cut.
2) Remove from freezer. Remove skin (if necessary) and slice into 1/4-inch thin strips. Cut strips into bite-sized pieces.
3) Place half of fish into iSi Gourmet Whip. Add lime juice, orange juice, water, serrano, and onion. Screw the head firmly onto iSi Gourmet Whip.
4) Insert an iSi cream charger into charger holder and screw onto the iSi Gourmet Whip to release the gas into the Whipper.
5) Remove the charger and discard (or, recycle!). Cover the decorator tip with a cup (to capture spray) and, in an upright position, press the lever of the iSi Gourmet Whip to release all of the pressurized gas inside, and remove the Whipper head.
6) Strain fish mixture over a bowl through an iSi funnel & sieve or fine chinois. Set marinated fish aside.
7) Return marinade to iSi Gourmet Whip. Add remaining fish. Screw the head onto Gourmet Whip.
8) Insert an iSi cream charger into charger holder and screw onto the iSi Gourmet Whip to release the gas into the Whipper.
9) Remove the charger and discard (or, recycle!). Cover the decorator tip with a cup (to capture spray) and, in an upright position, press the lever of the iSi Gourmet Whip to release all of the pressurized gas inside, and remove the Whipper head.
10) Transfer contents of the iSi Gourmet Whip into a bowl and add the fish which was set aside in step 5. Sprinkle with salt.
11) Line plate with lettuce. Top with marinated fish. Garnish with sweet potatoes and serve immediately.
*Chef Jill Houk is also the author of “The Complete Soda Making Book”, which features over 100 creative recipes to make your own artisanal sodas at home. Jill’s book mentions our iSi Soda Siphon as an option for creating bubbly beverages!
For many decades, Vodka-loving nations such as Russia and Poland have experimented with infusions – made at home, in bars & taverns. Their infusions were simple – similar to the “soaking” infusion method widely used by bars today: flavorful (often pungent or spicy) solid ingredients are combined with Vodka (or another neutral spirit) in a sealed container for several days until the flavors eventually transfer over time.
Our understanding of culinary science has come a long way, veering significantly off the beaten path, and further away from traditional techniques. We’re the next generation. We’re experimenting. We’re creating. We’re inspiring. We’re pushing the boundaries of creativity in the kitchen and developing new tools, technology, and techniques. We don’t settle for something “great”, we want more … something brilliant, fascinating, functional and alluring – all at once. Voilà – Rapid Infusion is all of this and so much more.
Infusing glorious flavors of fresh herbs, fruits & spices into the solids, oils or spirits of your preference has never been considered a quick or easy process – until now. iSi’s Rapid Infusion technique is a brilliant way to experiment with your own personal taste preferences and discover magnificent new flavor combinations. For instance, who knew that Jalapeño and Watermelon infused with Vodka could be so crisp, refreshing and tasty? Or, that strong flavors like fresh lemon slices or cinnamon sticks transfer flavor very quickly, while less pungent ingredients (for instance, an apple) takes more time for its subtle flavor to develop? We do, because we’ve tried it hundreds (actually, thousands) of times with the iSi Gourmet Whip, and now you can too!
It All Began with an Experiment…
The “Father” of Rapid Infusion (and renowned culinary prodigy) Dave Arnold of Booker + Dax and MOFAD (Museum of Food & Drink) first discovered the Rapid Infusion technique by experimenting with his iSi Gourmet Whip in 2010 to see “what else it could do”, and posted the results of his experiment on his blog, Cooking Issues, calling it “Game Changing”. Since then, we’ve worked very closely with Dave Arnold, and some of the world’s best & brightest chefs and bartenders from Leo Robitschek to Don Lee and John Pomeroy – to perfect the Rapid Infusion technique using the iSi Gourmet Whip. After years of research, and an abundance of expert advice from our outstanding friends in the bar industry, we’ve gotten it just right
Rapid Infusion, Simplified
Rapid Infusion makes it possible to infuse the flavors of solids and liquids with one another in the shortest possible amount of time by releasing the pressure contained in an iSi cream charger into a sealed vessel (the iSi Gourmet Whip).
Once under pressure, the flavors of the solids become infused (on a molecular level) into the liquid (ie: lemon-rosemary olive oil). Through this process, the flavors of the liquid also become infused into the solid. Vodka-infused cherries, anyone?
Rapid Infusion is like a limitless treasure trove of unique, interesting and undiscovered flavor combinations, right at your fingertips!
Benefits of Rapid Infusion vs Traditional Infusions
— Experiment with infinite flavor combinations in less time – let’s say didn’t prefer the taste of your chocolate, bergamot and gin infusion? No problem, you can whip up another infusion with completely different ingredients in minutes!
— Fresh ingredients = fresh taste. Fresh ingredients also mean that *you* choose where your ingredients come from (ie: farmer’s market, a specific local grower, etc) without having to rely on an artificial flavoring or syrup for flavor.
— Less bitter taste – the slight “sweetness” of the N2O in an iSi cream charger balances the bitterness of ingredients like cacao nibs or coffee beans.
— More hygienic than leaving unattended or uncovered ingredient mixtures out for days to infuse on their own.
— Limitless possibilities: you can infuse liquids into solids, too – think marinades, fruits, or even ceviche! Create your own artisan flavored bitters in no time – a popular trend amongst many of our favorite bartenders. And last but not least … Pickle anything in just a few minutes!
I’m Ready! Where Do I Start?
With your iSi Gourmet Whip in hand, follow these basic instructions and start your culinary engine: Ready, Set, Go!
1) Place fresh, aromatic solid ingredients of your choice into the iSi Gourmet Whip
2) Fill the iSi Gourmet Whip with your liquid of choice to the maximum fill line marked on the bottle
3) Screw on the head of the Whipper – make sure it is screwed on securely
4) Charge the iSi Gourmet Whip with 1 iSi Cream Charger (or, 2 iSi Cream Chargers if you are using a Quart/Liter size Whipper)
5) Shave vigorously a few times, swirl it around a bit, and let the charged mixture sit for 5-10 minutes (depending on the potency of the ingredients, some will take a bit longer to infuse)
6) Place a cup over the decorator tip of the Whipper (There will be some “spray” when you first begin releasing the gas) and in an upright position, dispense the gas from the Whipper until it has been fully released. This ensures that there is no pressure in the Whipper, and it is now safe to unscrew the Whipper head.
7) Unscrew the head of the Whipper. Notice that there may be a bubbling or “fizzy” appearance to the mixture inside. This is infusion, happening right before your eyes!
8) Strain the solid and liquid ingredients through an iSi Sieve (or fine chinois) to separate.
9) Enjoy the flavors, aromas, and colors of your new creation!
Seattle-based ChefSteps has developed an online Whipping Siphon course using iSi products to demonstrate Rapid Infusion (and so much more), in 33 short, fun and inspiring videos. The cost for enrollment is just $39, and you participate in the course at your own pace, with the option to revisit any section at your leisure. ChefSteps also offers a fully engaged online community forum with home & professional chefs. Ask questions, exchange advice on equipment, ingredients and techniques. If you are interested in learning the many techniques you can apply using your iSi Gourmet Whip, we give the ChefSteps course a triple thumbs-up.
iSi Rapid Infusion: Best Practices
— Rapid Infusion works best when your liquid ingredients are at room temperature. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t experiment with infusing spicy flavors into hot chocolate!
— Don’t use chilled/cold liquid for your infusion – the molecules in any cold liquid are bound more tightly, providing less room for the solid flavoring agent(s) to “share” its own flavor molecules.
— The iSi Gourmet Whip’s professional-grade, sturdy construction makes it ideal for any type of infusion – hot or cold. For this reason, iSi only endorses the use of the Rapid Infusion technique with an iSi Gourmet Whip.
— Stronger flavor profiles take less time to develop (5-10 minutes), so be patient with softer, more delicate flavors of peach, grape, etc. They may take longer to develop (20-30 minutes).
— ALWAYS use iSi cream chargers with iSi equipment. They are made to work together as a system, extremely food-safe, made of the highest quality, guarantee a consistent level of pressure & filling volume (remember: an 8g cream charger is an “ingredient” in your recipe, too!) – plus, the use of any other brand of chargers in iSi equipment is neither recommended for optimal results nor covered by warranty.
The world is your iSi oyster! Experiment with an herb + fruit infusion, a marinade + protein infusion, quick-pickling, make your own bitters, infuse your own coffee, vodka-infused strawberries (and strawberry-infused vodka) – the possibilities are only limited by the borders of your own creativity!
Please share your comments, experiments and favorite flavor combinations with us – we always love to hear from you! Visit us on Facebook, chat with us on Twitter, or just send us an old-fashioned email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ll share some Rapid Infusion Recipes in the next post, but in the meantime, grab your iSi Gourmet Whip, a bottle of olive oil or Vodka, and experiment with what’s in your pantry right now!
Now that we’ve covered all you need to know on making fresh whipped cream in your iSi Whippers, let’s explore some other inspirational techniques that will take you beyond traditional whipped cream. It’s time to experiment and have some fun – if you can dream it up, you can whip it up!
Important: We only endorse using the iSi Gourmet Whip for these techniques, because it’s the most versatile product we offer, and it’s specially designed to handle all of the “beyond whipped cream” applications we’ll talk about today.
Flavor Injections – iSi Injector Tips
You already know and love your iSi Gourmet Whip. You’ve tried endless recipes for foams, espumas, batters, and just need that extra “umph” to take your culinary creations to the next level. iSi Injector Tips are an inexpensive attachment for your iSi Gourmet Whip which multiply the versatility of this already marvelous tool. Just attach an Injector tip in place of the decorator tip, and you’ve opened up a whole new world of possibilities.
Quickly inject flavor, brines or marinades into proteins like chicken, turkey or pork. The pressure from the iSi cream charger will do all the work.
To satisfy your sweet-tooth, use the iSi Injector Tip attachment to fill pastries like donut holes or muffins with flavored cream – or even “espesso” (espresso-flavored foam created by the great Ferran Adrià)!
Use the shorter Tips to decorate donuts with a mouthwatering chocolate drizzle, or when you’re working with strong flavors that just need a “touch” of iSi magic. Chef Louisa Chu of Chicago recently created a zesty Chive Emulsion – just a few small drops brought the perfect bit of “bite” to top off Roasted Potato Foam on a Roast Beef Crostini.
Made of 100% stainless steel, iSi Injector Tips are a great addition to a product you already have in your kitchen – or, if you don’t already own an iSi Gourmet Whip, maybe they’ll inspire you to add one to your toolkit just so you can inject, decorate, and stuff away! Plus, they’re dishwasher-safe. Just be sure to clean them between uses.
Ingredients for 1/2 pint (.25 liter) iSi Gourmet Whip using an iSi Injector Tip
1 iSi cream charger
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup Tabasco or other hot sauce
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoons kosher salt
4 chicken legs
Tabasco-Maple Brine (see recipe above)
Buttermilk, for soaking
Seasoned flour, for dredging
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
Combine all ingredients for brine until dissolved. Transfer 1 cup of the brine to a 1/2 pint iSi Gourmet Whip. Charge with one iSi cream charger and shake well. Screw on a long iSi Injector Tip needle. Hold Whipper with Tip pointed downward and inject chicken with brine. When complete, place chicken in a bowl and cover with buttermilk. Refrigerate overnight.
In a deep, heavy bottomed skillet or electric fryer, heat oil to 350°F, using a thermometer to keep track of the temperature.
Drain chicken and dredge in seasoned flour, shaking off the excess.
Working in small batches (to avoid a drastic temperature fluctuations in preheated oil), fry chicken until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes per side. The internal temperature of the chicken should reach at least 180°F.
Drain chicken on a rack placed over a sheet pan. Cover loosely with foil to keep the skin crisp while keeping the chicken warm.
Carbonation – iSi Soda Chargers (CO2)
Did you know that your iSi Gourmet Whip can also carbonate water (or, any liquid) – and also create fizzy fruits? The same (CO2) iSi soda chargers that you use in your iSi Soda Siphon can be used interchangeably in the iSi Gourmet Whip. Just be careful not to carbonate anything cream or milk-based (carbonation and cream don’t mix) – but anything else is yours to bubble up!
Carbonation adds zing and zip, and lightens flavors on the palate. Fizz up pure green teas or seasonal fruit juices. Or add all-natural Monin or homemade syrups to water to create your own artisanal, hand-made soda. Add a bit of bubbly to cocktails and wine. While it’s still cold outside, try sparkling mulled hard cider! We like Jill Houk’s newly released Complete Soda Making Book, featuring 100 all-natural handmade soda recipes – right now, we’re stuck on the homemade root beer, but we’ll leave the experimenting up to you.
To take your carbonation experiments to the next level, consider carbonating fruit in your iSi Gourmet Whip. Imagine orange slices, watermelon chunks, strawberries, raspberries, grapes, or even cucumber with a fizzy “love at first bite”. Why carbonate fruits? Why not! Imagine the difference between a glass of still water and soda water on your tastebuds. Soda water is more crisp, refreshing, and leaves a tingling sensation in your mouth. Plus it’s unique, fun, and an easy way to add some pizzazz to your next dinner party (and, of course – impress your guests with your modern cuisine skills)!
For best results, select fresh, juicy seasonal fruits (or, even vegetables). Ingredients with high water content work best (remember, it’s the water in the fruit that’s actually carbonating to make the crispy bubbles). Juicy pears, grapes, pomegranate seeds and ripe strawberries are some of our favorite ingredients for this technique.
Make sure to peel your fruit first and cut it into bite-sized pieces. If you’re using pomegranates, carbonate only the seeds.
For this technique, fill your Gourmet Whip bottle with the ingredient you want to carbonate. Screw on the head securely, and then charge with one iSi soda charger. Rotate/shake the bottle around a bit to mix the gas into the fruit. This process literally happens overnight – so make sure to chill in the fridge overnight for best results.
When you’re ready to serve, press the lever down to release all the gas from the bottle. Now the Whipper is de-pressurized, so you can unscrew the head. It’s important to serve your fizzy fruit immediately. This makes for a simple and fun garnish – drop into cocktails for an unexpected little surprise, or enjoy the twinkle of carbonated grapes one by one.
Batters – iSi Soda Chargers (CO2)
Whether you’re making pancakes or crispy tempura, using your iSi Gourmet Whip to aerate the batter makes it better. In the case of pancakes or waffles, you’ll see that they’re noticeably lighter and fluffier than a traditional preparation – and, as an added benefit you’ll get more yield from your batter since the tiny bubbles that are fluffing your food up take up extra space in the batter mixture.
In the case of tempura, you’ll notice an undeniably crispier, crunchier crust. We recently attended a cooking demonstration with Chef Richard Blais and the James Beard Foundation at Sur la Table in Chicago, where Chef Blais said he uses iSi soda chargers to aerate batter for his famously delicious onion rings in all of his restaurants – because they don’t get soggy as quickly, and have a crispier crust. Take it from us, or from the pros – this is a technique to try.
The trick to great tempura is keeping the batter chilled and carbonated, both which create a final dish that’s delicate and crisp -not doughy. With your iSi Gourmet Whip, you’ll make tempura like a master in no time. Here’s a simple tempura recipe to start with, although you can aerate any of your favorite batters (just make sure to run the batter through a fine mesh sieve – or the iSi Funnel & Sieve to avoid any particles getting stuck in the nozzle of your Whipper).
Tempura Batter Recipe
Ingredients for a 1 Pint iSi Gourmet Whip:
1 cup cold water
1 cup all-purpose or rice flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1) Pour water into a large bowl. In another bowl whisk together flour and salt. Sprinkle flour mixture over water then barely whisk the batter. There will be lumps – don’t worry, this is normal!
2) Strain through a fine mesh sieve, or the iSi Funnel & Sieve
3) Pour the smooth batter into your iSi Gourmet Whip up to the indicated fill line
4) Screw on one iSi soda charger. Shake vigorously about 5 times
Test your batter. It should look like fizzy, soft whipped cream. Dip lightly floured pieces of seafood, veggies or tofu immediately, or you can let the batter chill in your fridge until you’re ready to fry.
Preheat your oil to 375°F and fry battered pieces until they are a light golden color. Sprinkle with salt while still hot – serve and enjoy immediately.
Welcome to light & crispy tempura – made the iSi way!
Now, let’s talk about fluffy pancakes (and waffles, too!)
1) Prepare your favorite pancake/waffle recipe, or pre-packaged mixture. Pour the batter through a fine sieve (or iSi Funnel & Sieve) into your Gourmet Whip, up to the indicated fill line
2) Screw on the iSi Whipper head, and charge with an iSi soda charger
3) Dispense batter directly onto hot griddle until golden brown
Voila! Fluffy pancakes/waffles served!
Tip: you can keep any unused batter in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Thanks for joining us in exploring some fun techniques beyond whipped cream! Remember, we also have a wealth of recipes in our online database: http://bit.ly/1exNQTa
Next week, we’ll get into the science behind foams and infusions using iSi Whippers, so stay tuned!