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Balsamic Vinegar “Caviar”

Your family will be impressed with these little droplets of balsamic vinegar resembling caviar…

This is another fun experiment to make in your kitchen with agar-agar…and I can assure you that the whole process is easy and entertaining as I have used similar method to make Honey Caviar which you can find here.

You just need to make sure that you have all the “apparatus” and you are ready to go. These little ”caviar” can be kept in the refrigerator for a while since they a mainly made with vinegar. This recipe was mostly based on this one.

I have used these “caviar” in all kind of salad and even with strawberries…

Ingredients:

Caviar

  • 100 g balsamic vinegar
  • 1.5 g agar-agar, depending of the quality (1.5%)
  • Oil Bath
  • Approximately 1 to 1 ½ cup of oil, such as corn, canola or olive oil.

Method:

Place the oil in a glass container and in the freezer for approximately 30 minutes. The taller and skinnier the glass the better, as you want the droplets of the balsamic vinegar with agar-agar turning into gel before reaching the bottom of the glass.

Place the balsamic vinegar in a small pan and sprinkle agar-agar on it. Bring the mix to boil by stirring constantly until all the agar-agar is well dissolved.

Remove the balsamic vinegar/agar-agar mixture from the heat and let it cool down to approximately 55C (130F).

Remove the cold oil from the freezer and place the glass jar in an ice water bath.

Fill a syringe or counter drop with the hot/warm balsamic vinegar mixture and expel, drop by drop into the cold oil. As the droplets of balsamic vinegar/agar-agar hit the cold oil it will solidify and fall to the bottom of the glass jar.

With the help of a slotted spoon, carefully remove the “caviar” and gently rinse with water.

Drain well and store in the airtight container in the refrigerator.

If you had fun with this molecular gastronomy recipe you might want to take a look at Raindrop Cake or Honey Caviar recipes.

 

Did you know that agar-agar exhibits hysteresis? Meaning that agar-agar has different melting and solidifying temperature, melting at approximately 85 Celsius degree (185F ) and solidifying at 32-40 Celsius degree (90-104F). Due this property agar-agar is stable as gel and widely used in cooking such as in fruit preserve, ice cream, custard, pudding, soups and many others.

Thank you for stopping by Color Your Recipes…have a colorful day!

 




Raindrop Cake

How can a dessert made of almost 99.8% of water be so trendy? The answer…it is all in its texture…

When I first saw these raindrop cake (which in my opinion it is not a cake per say, cake in my view should contain flour or its substitutes) I was fascinated by its shape and the notion of its pureness…upon reading the ingredients, I immediately could imagine its textures as I had worked with agar-agar, both in the kitchen and in the lab. The trick is to have the right ratio of water and agar-agar to achieve a very soft almost running gel. A little extra of agar-agar the “cake” will turn into a flavorless jelly, a little “too little” and the “cake” will not hold its shape. Therefore the amount of agar-agar is very critical.

After searching through the internet I found that the ratio of agar-agar to water varied from 0.25% to 3% meaning that in 1 cup (250ml) of water the amount of agar-agar varied from 0.625g to 7.5g…yes, you read it right…so here is where my “experiments” started…

I started with the percentage that I used to use when working in the microbiology lab, 1.5%…then went down drastically since it gave me a jelly ball so hard that I could almost throw on the floor and it would bounce back. I taper down to 0.5%, then to 0.25% (not bad) but wanted to push lower and went to 0.1% which the gel barely set…finally decided to add a bit more and went for 0.2%. Yes, it did work! My notes reminded me of my lab notebook with all the calculations since I was varying the amount of water as well. As a result of all these “experiments” I just can tell you that you have to do your own “experiment” since the consistency will depend entirely on the quality of the agar-agar you use. The nice thing is that you are literally playing with water…

When I presented raindrop cake to my husband he loved it…the “cake” melt almost instantly in your mouth, the combination of the slightly sweet, rosy aroma just give you a clean, pure, light and refreshing feeling…something that it is hard to describe, somehow stir your senses…very hard to explain…now I kind of understand the hype over this particular dessert. With this said, I think that the most important thing besides achieving the correct texture the taste should match its “clean” look…then everything comes is harmony…magical!

Instrument and Ingredients:

  • Scale, a good one
  • Water (I used filter)
  • Agar-agar
  • Sugar (optional)
  • Flavoring component, I added rosewater in this particular one, and in the future I plan to add orange blossom water, cucumber infused water, mint infused water, strawberry infused water…and my list goes on and on…

Method:

Weigh the agar-agar and place in a small pot. Add a little water until the agar-agar is totally moist. Heat the remaining water and pour over the agar-agar.

Place the water with agar-agar in the low-medium heat. Stir constantly until all the agar-agar is dissolved. Add sugar and the flavoring.

Pour into the mold and let it refrigerate for 1 hour.

Unmold the “cake” and serve with something sweet such a maple syrup, simple syrup…

I added rosewater on the agar-agar mixture once it was all dissolved and ready to be pour into the molds. Just before serving I grated a bit of pistachio (to give some color contrast) and drizzled simple syrup made with organic crystal sugar.

I hope you enjoy this fun recipe using molecular gastronomy technique…for more recipes like this please check on Honey Caviar or Coconut Panna Cotta with Mango Sphere recipes.

 

Did you know that agar-agar was discovered in Japan? Agar-agar is a derivative from seaweed and has no calories, no sugar, no carbohydrates, no fat, and packed with fiber. Agar-agar if vegetarian and a great substitute for gelatin.

Thank you for stopping by Color Your Recipes…have a colorful week!




Coconut Panna Cotta with Mango Sphere

This is a fun recipe using molecular gastronomy. The creamy coconut panna cotta is served with a mango sphere which will spill the mango nectar on the panna cotta when it breaks.

Happy New Year Everyone! I hope you all had a great Holiday and a wonderful time with your family and loved ones…we sure had a memorable time, and I am fortunate to say that my year started very good because my son is recovering very well after being in a snowboarding accident, sent to emergency and diagnosed with a bad concussion and a broken arm. After hours of agony and uncertainty I am so thankful that he is getting his senses back, and now is mainly dealing with the broken arm which it will mend by time. I have never felt that scared in my life…but this is all behind and I look forward to this new year.

To celebrate my joy I am sharing with you a fun dessert…which I made for our family Christmas party. I knew that I wanted to make something different for the taste bud and the eyes, and end up creating this recipe for the party, and it was so much fun from the time I envisioned to the time I served it.

This recipe consists in two parts: coconut panna cotta and mango sphere, which uses molecular gastronomy, specifically reverse spherification. If you are interested in the science behind you can read more at Molecular Recipes or at Molecule R.

I made these desserts into little disposable cups for the party and some into shot glasses. The coconut panna cotta was adapted from here and the mango spheres.

Ingredients:

Coconut Panna Cotta

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups coconut milk (not coconut water)
  • 2 packets powdered gelatin
  • 7 tablespoons water
  • 5 tablespoons sugar

Mango Sphere

  • 750 g mango nectar
  • 15 g calcium lactate
  • 1000 ml distilled or filtered water
  • 5 g sodium alginate

 

  • Fresh strawberries (or any other colorful berry) for garnish
  • Mint leaves for garnish

Method:

Coconut Panna Cotta

Mix the heavy cream, coconut and sugar together in a saucepan and place in a medium heat until begins to simmer, making sure that the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat. Do not boil.

Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.

Add the gelatin to the coconut mixture and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved, lift the spoon and make sure that there are no undissolved granules.

Let it cool and divide into cups, and chill until firm, for approximately 2 hours or overnight.

Mango Sphere

Combine the mango nectar with the calcium lactate. Mix well using a hand blender. Pour the mango nectar into hemispherical molds and freeze.

Combine the sodium alginate with water and blend until all the alginate is dissolved.

Fill one small bowl with water and another one with the alginate solution.

Take the frozen mango nectar spheres out of the ice tray and gently place into the alginate bath. For the small spheres leave them for about 2 ½ to 3 minutes. For the medium spheres leave them for about 5 minutes.

Remove the mango spheres from the alginate bath using a slotted spoon and place them in the clean water bath. Rinse them gently and place the mango sphere in a container with mango nectar. Store them in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Assembly:

Gently remove the mango spheres from the mango nectar. And place on the firm coconut panna cotta. Garnish with strawberry and mint leaves. Serve cold.

If you enjoy Molecular Gastronomy recipes, you might want to check on this section of my Recipe Box.

Thank you so much for visiting Color Your Recipes and wish you all a happy 2014!




Spherical Yogurt with Strawberry Coulis

This is a fun recipe to try using molecular gastronomy.  The yogurt are made into almost spheres that pops.

This is one of the most fun thing I have ever done in my kitchen…as you might know (or not), I am a Pharm.D/biochemist by training, therefore I feel very comfortable in the lab, so when I heard about molecular gastronomy I was like “I need to try this…how come I have never thought of using my lab skills in the kitchen?” Anyway, to make the long story short, I did some reading through the internet and got myself some edible “reagents” and today I am so excited because I am sharing with you my very first “experiment”. I am expecting more “reagents” therefore I will have more posts to share in the future.

If you are interested, you can read all about molecular gastronomy by searching the internet, which by the way, I still do not understand why it is called this way, since every method done in the cooking process requires change of molecules.

This recipe is very simple, it is adapted from here with lots of changes…in spite of the recipe calling for plain yogurt, specifically not to use non-fat or low fat yogurt, claiming that fat-free or low fat yogurt contain less calcium, which is critical for this recipe. I went ahead and still used fat free yogurt. I personally don’t think that the calcium content of whole yogurt and non-fat yogurt would be that different being that calcium is water soluble and not fat soluble. Moreover, the difference in these yogurts should be the content of fat and not calcium.

Well, it was very interesting…when eating these spherical yogurt you feel the pop and a thin gelatinous membrane, almost like the salmon roes in sushi or the little balls filled with juices at frozen yogurt store.

Oh! One more thing…this method is called Reverse Spherification.

Ingredients:

Alginate Bath

200 ml of filtered water
1 g sodium alginate

1 cup non-fat yogurt

Method:

Prepare the alginate bath by mixing the sodium alginate in water, until the sodium alginate is totally dissolved. You can use an immersion blender. Once the sodium alginate is dissolved, let the solution rest in the refrigerator for approximately 24 hours or until all the air bubbles disappear.

When ready to start the process of spherification, place the sodium alginate solution in a bowl and in another bowl place clean and filtered water.

Scoop the yogurt using a half sphere measuring spoon and carefully pour it into the alginate bath. Make sure that the yogurt spheres do not touch otherwise they will stick together (which I experienced)

Leave the yogurt spheres in the alginate bath for about 2 minutes and carefully remove them using a slotted spoon.

Place the yogurt spheres in the clean water bath. Remove the yogurt spheres and serve with fruit salad, or berry coulis.

I served my yogurt spheres with strawberry coulis.

I hope you enjoyed this fun recipe…for more Molecular Gastronomy recipe please look here.

 

Did you know that spherification is the process of shaping liquid in spheres by a thin gelatinous membrane? The main “reaction” is the forming of the gelatinous membrane by combining alginate and calcium.

Thank you for stopping by Simple Recipes [dot]me….have a colorful day!

 




Red and Blue Bubbles

Before you ask…yes, this is another molecular gastronomy recipe. The technique  I used is called “reverse spherification”, and was based on Surprise Bubbles.

The fascinating thing is that  this technique is so simple that these colored bubbles were mainly made by my niece and nephew, 14 and 11 years old…

They had so much fun making and then eating these popping bubbles filled with grape juice…more specifically white grape juice. Initially we started with the non-color ones (original color of the white grape juice). Since it was kind of hard to see and manipulate the translucent bubbles, we decided to color them by adding a few drops of food coloring into the alginate solution. Erica chose red and Nick blue…and off we went, each one with their bowls of colored alginate bath and water…I played with the non-color ones.

They first removed the frozen half sphere from the freezer and dropped in the alginate bath for 3 minutes. Then they scooped the bubbles from the alginate bath and placed them into a bowl of water to remove the excess  alginate. After “collecting” lots of bubbles we just ate by “popping” one at the time in our mouth…a very fun experience, especially because these bubbles were like 0.3oz size and you sure feel the bubble exploding in your mouth and the refreshing juice.

Ingredients:

½ cup white grape juice or any juice of your preference
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon calcium lactate

400 ml of filtered water
2 g sodium alginate

Method:

Prepare the alginate bath by mixing the sodium alginate in water, until the sodium alginate is totally dissolved. You can use an immersion blender. Once the sodium alginate is dissolved, let the solution rest in the refrigerator for approximately 24 hours or until all the air bubbles disappear.

A few hours (or 24 hours) before the spherification, mix the grape juice with sugar and calcium until the calcium is dissolved. Carefully spoon in a silicon mold and freeze.

Drop the frozen juice in the alginate bath and let it sit for 3 minutes.

Scoop the bubbles using a slotted spoon and rinse them in a bowl of water.

Remove from the water and they are ready to be served.

If you enjoy this Molecular Gastronomy recipe you might want to check on Spherical Yogurt or Honey Caviar.

Did you know that “spherification” is simply a gelling reaction between calcium and alginate which is a gum like substance removed from brown seaweed. So by adding calcium, we just replace what the manufacturers removed from the seaweed, therefore the gelling texture.

Thank you for stopping by Simple Recipes [dot] Me and have a great week!




Tangerine Chiffon Cake

After purchasing many of the tangerines, known as cutie I found myself with too many tangerines in the fridge. So I decided to make a cake using the fresh squeezed juice from the tangerines. You can substitute with orange juice or even lemon juice.

In order to keep the cake light, I used sour cream frosting and garnished with honey caviar. The cake turned out awesome, the slightly citrus flavor of the tangerine, the tartness of the sour cream and the sweetness of the honey caviar were just a perfect and delicate balance in my palate.

Oh! Be aware that this recipe is for a small cake, 6 inches cake size…

Ingredients:

Chiffon Cake

2 eggs, separated
51 g cake flour
5 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup freshly squeezed tangerine juice
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoon canola oil
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Sour Cream Frosting

1 cup sour cream
3 to 4 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 325F.

Cover a 6 inch round pan with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, salt, baking powder together, whisk to make sure all the ingredients are combined thoroughly.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. With the mixer running, slowly rain in the remaining 2 tablespoon sugar. Continue to beat the whites until stiff peaks form when the beater is lifted. Set aside.

In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks until pale yellow add the vegetable oil slowly and then the vanilla extract. Continue beating until the mixture turns slightly thick. Pour the egg yolks into the dry ingredients, mix gently and add the tangerine juice and Grand Marnier. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry until completely smooth.

Fold the beaten whites into the rest of the batter by gently spooning one-third at the time. Fold in the white slowly and carefully using a spatula. Be very gentle as you fold in the whites so you not deflate them. Gently fold in the remaining third of the whites.
Spoon or gently pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Place the pan in the middle of the oven and bake for 30 minutes at 325F and then 3 minutes at 300F, and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Remove from heat and invert the pan over an inverted cup. Set the pan aside in a quiet place until cooled completely, approximately 1 hour.

Sour Cream Frosting

In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients.

Assembly:

Cover the cake with the sour cream frosting. Refrigerate for approximately 2 hours.

Garnish with honey caviar.

Serve cold

If you enjoy this simple recipe for tangerine chiffon cake you might want to check on Chiffon Cake with Lemon Curd or Chocolate Chiffon Mini Cupcake.

Thank you for stopping by Simple Recipes [dot] Me and have a great week!




Honey Caviar

This is a fun recipe using molecular gastronomy method to make little bead of honey. The main ingredients beside honey is agar-agar, which is from seaweed.

Playing with “molecular gastronomy” again…this time I used agar-agar, which is a vegetarian version of gelatin.

Apparently this can be done using gelatin if you have difficulty  finding agar-agar. I have the feeling that if gelatin is used the texture might be more chewy…something that I will try to make in the future since I love chewy texture.

I must admit that I was reluctant to use agar-agar, because the image of bacteria growing in petri dishes always come to my mind when talking about agar-agar; all this due to years and years of working in microbiology lab…I literally had to block these images from my mind when I started to make this honey caviars.

This recipe is much easier than the Spherical Yogurt; most of the ingredients are commonly found in the kitchen, with the exception of the agar-agar which can be substituted with gelatin.

These little honey caviar or pearls can be used with anything that you want to serve with honey, like cheese, yogurt, cake and the list goes on and on. Besides, they look very “cute”.

Before I go on to the recipe, I just received over the weekend the new issue of Desserts Magazine, and the current issue is available free to non-members, so if you would like to browse the magazine please check the link here

One more thing before I share the recipe, this method is called “Gelification” and is based on a recipe featured in Cookistry.

Ingredients:

1g of agar-agar
3 tablespoons of water
6 tablespoons of honey
¾ to 1 cup of canola oil or any other unflavorful cooking oil
Water and ice

Method:

Place the vegetable oil in the refrigerator.

Mix the agar-agar with the water and place in low heat. Slowly add the honey, stirring constantly until the agar-agar is totally dissolved. It might take a while and needs boiling. You will know when there are no more particles in the liquid.

Let the agar-agar/honey mixture cool until start to thicken a little. If you leave it too long a big gel will form.

In the meantime, remove the oil from the refrigerator and place in an ice bath, so the oil is kept icy cold.

Using a dropper drawn the agar-agar/honey mixture and drip in the cold oil. As soon as the droplets of honey fall into the oil you will see little pearls forming and slowly falling to the bottom of the oil bowl. Let the caviars sit for a while in the oil so they turn firm.

Gently with a slotted spoon or small strainer scoop the caviars out of the oil and rinse in cold water to remove the oil. Drain well and the honey caviars are ready for you to add to anything you wish.

I served the honey caviars with plain yogurt…so good!

If you enjoy this “molecular recipe”, you might want to check on the Spherical Yogurt.

 

Did you know that gelatin is made from collagen from animal bones and skin while agar-agar is made from seaweed? Agar-agar is very popular in Asian cuisine and are sold as powder or translucent strands.

Thank you for stopping by Simple Recipes [dot]me…have a colorful day!