Monthly Archives: June 2010

White chocolate rice pudding with caviar

The kind of surprising combination of white chocolate and caviar apparently came together for the first time when Heston Blumenthal realised that the two share the right combination of chemical compounds to complement one another brilliantly when served together. Subsequently, he introduced it as a dish at The Fat Duck in 2002 (I think it was wafers of white chocolate with caviar served on top, kind of like odd little caviar blini).

For some reason, when I think of unconventional but apparently complementary flavour combinations like this, my mind imagines the two flavours coalescing into one to produce a new but vaguely familiar flavour. And you know what? I really need to learn not to do that. Sometimes that just doesn’t happen.

For me, with this rice pudding dish, the flavours didn’t merge at all. I got the cloying sweetness of the white chocolate, then the saltiness (and slight fishiness) of the caviar, rather than both flavours and sensations at the same time, so I didn’t quite get that complementary effect that I was hoping for with the sweetness and saltiness kind of tempering each other. The temporal discrepancy kind of ruined it for me because I’m not a fan of caviar as it is, but I had been willing to give it a go if it was going to be transformed by the white chocolate. Apparently not. I understand on a theoretical level how the sweetness and saltiness can work in concordance, but… not for me and not in this dish. Maybe in a different format…

However, people who are bigger fans of caviar than I might adore this dish. Only one way for them to find out. (Or you could just make the white chocolate rice pudding component — that’s quite lovely by itself.)

Red velvet truffles with chocolate mirror glaze

Red velvet presents endless possibilities, does it not? I’m still on my quest to convert red velvet into as many culinary formats as possible, and this times, it’s truffles. This is adapted from the concept, over at Bakerella.com, of cakes balls (I see no point in linking to the recipe because it’s one of those ones with ingredients like “one pack of red velvet cake mix”, “one tin of cream cheese frosting”… firstly I can’t buy any of that stuff here in Australia and secondly I don’t want to because I’m perfectly happy to make a proper cake from scratch… but you can go find the recipe over there if you really want to). The red velvet cake balls basically involve baking the cake, crumbling it, and mixing the usual cream cheese icing into the crumbs to make a mixture that can be molded into balls. I wasn’t entirely sure this approach would be a huge success because it means losing the usual amazing texture of red velvet cake. But I gave it a go and it turned out pretty well (although I still somewhat lament the loss of the cake’s beautiful texture).

Yuzu tart

The fact that yuzu is pretty much unavailable as a fruit in Australia is almost heart-breaking. I’ve never seen it at a fruit shop or farmers’ market, and a bit of internet searching seems to suggest that there are a few growers in Australia, but the fruits aren’t widely distributed. You either have to buy yuzu seeds or saplings and grow your own fruit, or live close enough to an orchard that you can just buy the fruit directly from the grower. Information seems to suggest that there are at least two yuzu growers in south-east Queensland, which means… yuzu road-trip? Am I that keen for yuzu? Probably. It’s kind of amazing.

I still haven’t quite worked out a way of describing yuzu, but then again, you can’t describe all tastes as a combination of other tastes. The closest I can get is to say it’s like a sharper lemon with a mandarin aftertaste, except, well, definitely a bit different from both. I had a yuzu tart (with blueberry mirin coulis) at Ki in Toronto, and that was my first exposure to yuzu. Even as a fan of basically all citrus, I was suitably impressed by yuzu.

Banana pancakes with maple syrup and Nutella powder

I always seem to have bananas hanging around that need to be used because I buy them with many intentions then forget about them. So I put a couple of them to use in banana pancakes. This could probably work with any pancake recipe you want – just mash up one banana and add it into the batter.

I stumbled across the existence of Nutella powder just the other night, and the cornucopia that is my kitchen cupboard just happened to have the two necessary ingredients for making Nutella powder: Nutella and tapioca starch. Ideally you use tapioca maltodextrin, but tapioca starch makes a more than adequate stand-in. I got mine from a Chinese supermarket ages ago when I needed it for making pão de queijo. All you have to do to make Nutella powder is blend the Nutella and tapioca starch together in a food processor in a ratio of 3:2 by weight (e.g. I did 120g Nutella to 80g tapioca starch and it made a heap that will last possibly forever — and it does keep well in an airtight container). The tapioca starch is more or less flavourless and binds the fat in the Nutella and you end up with a kind of desiccated Nutella that’s slightly less concentrated in flavour but adds an interesting textural dimension to, say, banana pancakes.

So I made the Nutella powder and pancake batter the night before, woke up the next day, cooked the pancakes, sliced some banana over the top, poured over some maple syrup, and added a liberal amount of Nutella powder. The result was two people feeling much too full for 9 o’clock on a Sunday morning.