Monday, 28 April 2014

Carotine Butter.

I found a recipe on line at a great site called ChefSteps ( A yummy sounding butter that is , apparently, more carroty than carrot. It can be used melted to saute things like oysters or as a dip for prawns or can be used as a spread to add a carrot taste. Apparently this will work for any high pigment vegetable such as tomatoes. I'll see how this goes and will let you know. Thoughts of red chili butter already taking shape.

The site tells you the science behind the preparation but, essentially, you need equal measures of clarified butter and carrot juice. Clarified butter can be created by heating butter over a low heat and, once melted, removing the whey as it floats on the surface. Put the melted clarified butter and the carrot juice into a fast blender (I used the trusty Bammix) and blitz it until the emulsion breaks. Now pour into a pan deep enough to leave a good 4cm above the liquid. Bring to the boil and scoop off the froth that form. This is the cellulose and other non-fat soluble items in the carrot juice. Once the froth is cleared off, cool the butter over iced water and place in the fridge to set.

Once set, run a knife around the edge of the pan and lift out the butter disk. Discard the liquid left in the bottom of the pan. Dry off the butter and store (fridge - weeks. freezer - year).

This is my resulting pat of carotene butter. As you can see, I shaped it up and split it into 4  for storage. I'll try a few other butters in the near future and will post the results.

I mentioned the butter to a friend at my social club, another foodie, and he mused on what potted shrimps made with carotine butter would taste like..... Watch this space :)

Saturday, 26 April 2014

A Day At Play

New toys are always fun. Got up this morning and shot up to the market to buy some ingredients to play with in the new chamber vac. I have been reading a lot about 'instant pickles' and compressed fruit/vegetables so I returned with the spoils. Apples, rhubarb, turnips, pineapple, dragon fruit, nectarcots (I assume a nectarine apricot cross) and a bag stuffed with herbs.

We left the market and headed off for the 'Artisan Market' in Tweezledown. A pleasant 35 minute walk (unless you are carrying half a market garden and have a bad back). After a 45 minute  stroll around the stalls we left with some pork and peppercorn pate, some garlic sausage and some spice raclette cheese. Lunch in the Tweezledown pub (a fantastic lamb and apricot curry) and it was off home to play.

Once through the door and having put the perishables in the fridge, I set about learning the abilities of the beastie. No photographs today, but I will repeat the recipes that worked at later dates and show you the before, after and ingredients.

First into the vacuum was the nectarcots. I boiled up 250ml of Sauvignon Blanc vinegar, 80ml of maple syrup, 150 ml filtered water and 7g of salt. Meanwhile, I quartered the 8 nectarcots and popped them into a large bag along with 150 ml of brandy. Once the brine was bubbling, I poured it on top of the fruit and brandy then popped it into the chamber vac, on a 45 second cycle 7 second seal. There was an exciting time at the bottom end of the pump out as the water and alcohol boiled off just before the bag sealed. A few seconds later the vacuum was cleared and the pickled nectarcots went into the fridge. Apparently good for 3 months.

Some apples in cider and strawberries in white rum (for some jelly cocktails to be mentioned at a later date) soon followed. At this point, objections were raised that nothing had been tasted yet so I prepared a small bag of sliced strawberries in white rum for us to try. The strawberries sucked in a good measure of rum in a minute and were a great snack. Can't wait for the cocktail proper.

As a finale I popped some apple 1/8ths into a small bag with some maple syrup and compressed them. I also balled some watermelon and it underwent the vacuum treatment. These joined the potato salad with instant pickled red onion slices in basil oil  as an accompaniment  to our cheese, pate and sausage from the artisan market with a nice bottle of Rioja. A nice end to a busy day.

Once I am over the excitement of the new toy and have had a chance to get some recipes sorted out I will publish both photographs and ingredients up here. If you are brave enough to throw caution to the wind and buy one of these great machines then you can them out. Otherwise, you will have to take my word for how great the products are.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Needed a kick start

Having played around with some molecular cooking techniques I had quickly come to realize that if I was to be spontaneous in my cooking then I was going to need a chamber vacuum sealer to clear the bubbles out of the variety of substances whisked into liquids. Either that or I had to wait 24 to 48 hours for the bubbles to leave through gravity. I finally bit the bullet and purchased one of these beauties :

This rather large beast is the SousVide Supreme ChamberVac VP122 (available here : It arrived today and once the wight lifting exercise was over (it is around 56 lb in weight) I started to play.

My first bit of fun was the same, I suspect,  as most people who invest in one of these. Compressed fruit or vegetables. I had purchased a small watermelon for this very purpose. Having cut the fruit into inch thick, quarter slices, I placed some slices in a vacuum bag. Placed the bag in the machine. Set the vacuum time to 35 seconds to give a full vacuum and a 6 second seal. Once I had pressed the start button, the machine went through it's process and when the beep sounded I was able to remove the bag. This is the change that the fruit undertook



As you can see, the fruit is compressed, translucent and appeared much juicier when eaten. There was no change in flavour but the texture felt richer in the mouth. The reason for the change is that the alveoli (air filled cells) in the food burst under vacuum. Then, when the bag is sealed and the vacuum released then 15lb per square inch of air pressure crush the now empty alveoli leaving the fruit more dense.

Now I have this great gadget I hope to post more new experiences such as maple pickled turnip, olive oil pickled tomato as well as some molecular recipes.