I am a scientist who loves to cook because there are many similarities between working in a lab and cooking in a kitchen. I love to share my cooking experience with you and to inspire others to cook.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Lemon Posset

I can't think of any dessert that is simpler than this. No baking, no beating, no blending, and no kneading.

I came across this dessert at www.food52.com/recipes/3060_lemon_posset  and the first thing that caught my eyes was the simplicity of the recipe.

Ingredients: (6 medium servings)

2 cups of heavy cream (sounds like a lot per serving, right?! you just need to get over the thought)
2/3 cups of sugar
5 tablespoons of lemon juice (about 2-3 large lemons).

1. Boil the cream and sugar for 5 minutes. (Quizz of the day: why some recipes call for boiling the cream, while some strictly request simmering the cream?)

2. Adjust the sweetness and the sourness with sugar or more lemon juice according to your own preference.

3. Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes.

4. Pour the mixture and divide evenly into ramekins/glasses/cups.

5. Refrigerate for a couple of hours.

Something magical happens in the end. This is where chemistry takes place. This is where food molecules, in its essence, transform. Breaking down of the fat with rigorous boiling plus acid from the lemon juice, follow by chilling the mixture, turn liquid into semi-solid.

There are many ways to eat lemon posset. Some people might choose to eat it "plain", but think about lemon posset as a blank canvas or white paint. You can combine it with many things and it should taste good. The first thing that came to my mind was graham crackers and the reason was simple -- I happened to have unopened graham crackers.

Further magic happens in my mouth.

The tanginess of the lemon posset was beautifully balanced by the sweetness of the graham crackers and the silky smooth texture of the lemon posset was countered by the coarse crumbly graham crackers.

A spoonful of lemon posset and graham crackers in my mouth sent me briefly to a very happy place.

3 ingredients, 1 step.  How much more easier can it be?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Indian Style Cream Spinach (Palak Paneer)

This is a very popular indian dish that I discovered last year. As much as I love this dish when I first had it, I have only had it twice at the same place. Since I rarely cook Indian food, I thought it would be interesting to take on the challenge of recreating the flavor.

I will be lying if I told you I made Palak Paneer, because I didn't use any Paneer (cheese) in my dish. I didn't bother looking for it and I thought the flavor of this dish will not be diminished by the omission of cheese. Correct me if I am wrong.

There are many Palak Paneer recipes on the internet, they range from very complex to mildly complex. I picked a recipe which is pretty easy to follow.


                                                          Fennel Seeds and cloves

Here I copied the recipe from the website:

1 pound fresh green spinach
8 oz packet of paneer cut into cubes (I did not use this)
1 cup red chopped onion (1 onion)
1 cup tomato pureed (3 large tomatoes)
3-4 cloves garlic
1 1/2 inch ginger
2-3 thai green chili (I did not use this)
1 tsp fennel seeds
3-4 cloves 
1/4 cup heavy cream 
2 tbsp coriander powder 
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
3 tbsp olive oil/cooking oil (I used regular peanut oil)

                                                     Coriander and curry powder

1. Blanch the spinach for 30 seconds, remove from the pot and drain off excess water.
2. Instead of using a blender, I chopped the blanched spinach. 
3. Cook the onion, ginger and garlic for 1 minute.

4. Add the coriander, curry powder, fennel seeds, and cloves.
5. Mix all together and cook for a minute.
6. Add the pureed tomato and cook for 2 minutes.
7. Add the chopped spinach.

8. At this point, the tomato will release all its juice. Turn the heat to medium and slowly cook the juice down to a thick paste. 

9. Add the cream into the mixture. The amount is entirely up to you. 
10. Serve

There is no good way to photograph palak paneer since it is a meshed up spinach in cream  color. Not pretty, so I added sliced tomatoes to add color to the composition. 

In terms of recreating the flavor, I think I was 70% close to what was looking for. The flavors of the curry powder, coriander powder, fennel and clove is bold and intense. This intensity is balanced by the spinach and the tomatoes. Since I added the cream little by little, I was able to control how heavy I want the dish to be. Overall, I am very happy with what I made and it is definitely something to keep in my arsenal of recipes.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Peach Tart

I bought a box of peach from Costco and decided to make a dessert with it. One dessert that I saw over and over again in various blogs is peach tart. Since I do not have the necessary skill (yet) to make a tart, I decided to make a "tartless" peach tart. Let's just call this a "ramekin" tart. For the base, I decided to use the recipe for making creme brule.


The final step is to simply slice the peach and lay it over the creme brule. In a last minute decision, I made poured agar gel over the peach to give it a glossy look.

1/2 cup water, 1/4 tbsp of agar powder, plus sugar