Archive for May, 2015

Deep Dish Espuma plus Pizza Foam?
Lemon Basil Soda with “Tomato as a Fruit” Foam?

By Chef Louisa Chu

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.

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,
An iSi Culinary Ambassador

Louisa 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.

LOUISA TODAY

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.

AMERICAN ÉSPESSO

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.

Ingredients:
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!

 

Innovation Machine
The iSi Culinary System
– Whipping Up Something Better

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.

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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.

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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.

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