Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Degree in Cell and Molecular Gastronomy?

Molecular Gastronomy

Yes, I finally graduated from my BSc in a Specialization of Cell and Molecular BIOLOGY! But these days as I search for jobs and cook I find myself falling further into the culinary aspects of the molecular world as opposed to Genomics. This whole Molecular Gastronomy craze both annoys and intrigues me. I truly believe in a whole and healthy meal; you know those ones that have been prepared the same way for generations. On the other hand I am constantly interested in the 'what, why, and how can I mess with it to make it better' aspect of life.


In comes this month’s Daring Cooks challenge, a recipe from Alinea the leading edge cookbook on molecular gastronomy. Supposedly this is the easiest recipe in the book as it doesn’t call for any ingredients or instruments that would have to be checked out of the lab. The idea was to present five different powders made from simple dehydrated ingredients to accompany a lush burre monte poached Skate wing.

For this challenge I decided to powder Capers, Lemon, Red Onion, Cilantro, and Field Strawberries from last weekend’s Quinn Farms raid. Everything was going well until the last minute of dehydration. You see I was one of the participants that didn’t own a dehydrator and had to “wing it” with the microwave. Each ingredient that I painstakingly attended to tried eagerly to burn in mere seconds after almost 30 minutes on low. Luckily I caught them before they all burnt to a crisp and most were salvaged. Needless to say I spent most of Sunday making and ruining powders.

Despite the small setbacks everything turned out wonderfully. The burre monte poached skate was tender yet juicy and each powder added a burst of flavour to every succulent bite. I really only made the strawberry powder for aesthetic reasons, but in the end it was one of my favourites. The lemon and red onion powders were transformed into an intensely flavourful complement to the Skate that I wasn’t expecting.

After the two days of dehydration and prep that went into this dish I don’t think that I will be making it again anytime soon, but I'm so glad to have tried it. Thanks to Sketchy's Kitchen for picking such a wonderful challenge and you can find the recipe for this and other challenges at The Daring Kitchen.

Daring cooks

15 comments:

♥peachkins♥ said...

very elegant photo! love it♥

Ninette said...

Congrats on your graduation! Your powders are lovely and so vibrant.

Audax said...

Beautiful beautiful beautiful photography somebody really knows how to use a camera! Your posting is wonderful very inspiring and yes everybody should do at least one MC recipe. I wonder what the other recipes are like if this is the easiest. Nice you could get skate to use. Congrats on your BSc in cell and molecular biology which I hope was a little useful for this challenge. Cheers from Audax in Australia

Lisa Michelle said...

I love how beautiful your powders came out, and the bokeh in the first photo is gorgeous! Not to mention, the flavors (namely the the field strawberries) and fish look and sound decadent! Extraordinary job on the challenge!

Lori R. said...

You made your presentation look so colorful, inviting. Sure looks pretty, just don't sneeze!!

Valérie said...

Great job, it looks fantastic! I love your presentation! I'm glad to know the microwave method worked with straweberries, as well: I was wondering how really juicy ingredients would react to it...

I completely understand your attitude towards molecular cuisine. I too am a little torn between "expand your horizons!" and "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

Can I ask where you found skate in Montreal? I admit I didn't really look very hard... Maybe in one of the open-air markets?

Sweet Kitchen said...

Great photo of the powders!

I thought the microwave method might be a lot easier but it looks like a lot of people had trouble with it. And I certainly understand your ambivalence towards molecular gastronomy!

Tina said...

Looks gorgeous! I am very interested in the strawberry powder. Maybe I will have to try it sometime!

Your pictures are fantastic!

Junglefrog said...

Ooo wow! I'm totally impressed! So it's official now? Do you have your diploma and all? Congratulations!!! That must feel so good after all the sweating behind stuffy books.

Your skate looks brilliant!! I actually skipped this months challenge. I started with making the powders (which all went wrong) and then figured I really could not find the time to finish this on time, so no skate for me, but yours looks very good!

Love the photos!

Hilary said...

Congrats on your degree, Christie!

What an interesting challenge, too. I must say I am completely baffled by the molecular gastronomy trend - I would watch Heston Blumenthal's show on the BBC last year where he'd be getting out his vaccuum and his goggles and I'd be thinking, "And WHY would I want to do this?" I would like to go to The Fat Duck, though!

Jenni said...

OOOh, Strawberry powder! That sounds lovely! The photography was great, especially the first picture of all the powders lined up! Great job!

singinghorse said...

You did such beautiful plating and the powders look really pretty. Great job!

Me! said...

Congratulations! The your pics look great. I've never dehydrated anything. Seems scary.

Margie said...

I love the way you plated the dish; your powders looks amazing! I could relate to your mixed feelings -- annoyance and intrigue -- about molecular gastronomy. Your strawberry powder sounds great, and that strawberry ice cream in your last post definitely caught my eye.

Beth said...

Your powders look so beautiful. I love the way they visually transform a seemingly ordinary piece of fish into something utterly intriguing, and I'm sure their flavors did the same thing.

I haven't ventured into the world of The Daring Cooks yet - still just on the baking side, but this challenge makes me want to give it a go. I live in Chicago and am dying (DYING) to eat at Alinea. I just need to save up $600 first. :)