Fun with Foam

With a basket of soon to be past their prime apricots, and a desire to try my hand at incorporating a foam into a dish, this creation was the result:

Habanero-Apricot Glazed Pork Tenderloin with a Honey Balsamic Foam, Three Chile Cheese Potatoes, and Haricots Verts

6-7 Apricots, halved, pits removed
1 cup simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar)
1 habanero, split
1 tsp. salt

Puree apricots with simple syrup until smooth.
Simmer liquid with habanero until reduced by about 3/4 (glaze consistency.)
Remove habanero and season. Reserve.

18 oz. Pork Tenderloin, trimmed of fat/silver skin.
Season with salt and pepper.
Sear all sides until golden brown.
Brush with glaze, and roast at 350 F on a rack until medium (internal temp of 150-160.)
Remove from oven, brush with more glaze and let rest, covered, about 10 minutes.

1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
2 T. honey
2 T. water
1 tsp. mustard powder
2 g. soy lecithin

Combine all with immersion blender and froth. Spoon foam from the top and serve.

2 large russet potatoes, peeled
1 anaheim, 1 poblano, 1 new mexico chile
1/4 cup colby cheese, grated
1 T. butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
canola oil, as needed
salt and pepper as needed

Rub chiles in oil, roast at 400 F for about 10 minutes (until skin is black and bubbly.)
Remove, cover with plastic, and let cool.
Remove skin and seeds/stems, dice.

Cook potatoes until soft. Run through ricer (smoother texture, can be mashed if desired.)
Combine riced potatoes, butter, cream, cheese, and chiles (off the heat) and stir to combine.
Season and serve.

Haricots Verts:
2 large hand-fulls Haricots Verts (about 12 oz. or two servings)
1 T. butter
Salt and Pepper as needed

Remove stem ends.
Blanch in boiling water for about 3 minutes.
Shock in an ice bath (to stop cooking.)
Saute in butter.
Season and serve.

The result is a fabulous and well-balanced meal, and if I may say so, my new personal favorite pork tenderloin preparation. The main point of this exercise was to experiment with the use of foams as a sauce, and I think in this application it worked well. The foam had a very strong flavor, with nice sweetness to complement the glaze, and some acidity to balance. If you were to use the same sauce in another, heavier form, the flavors would be too much and might overwhelm the pork and the glaze, so the lightness of a foam in this dish made it, undoubtedly, an asset.


Cooking Demonstration

This past Saturday at the beautiful Lake Austin Spa and Resort, I had the opportunity to conduct my first (hopefully not my last) cooking demonstration for the guests at the resort. The prospect of being the center of attention and explaining myself verbally while cooking was a little daunting, but all went well and I'm pleased to say it was a success.

The most challenging aspect of a cooking demo, from a chef's perspective, is that cooking for service and cooking for a demo are quite different animals. Dinner service is a hectic, exhausting and exhilarating span of several hours with few questions, and certainly no explanation required. Demonstration cooking is quite the opposite. The pace is much slower, the questions are endless, and every action requires thoughtful illumination. While many cooks prefer the back of the house for its limited interactivity with guests, demonstration cooking requires, at least temporarily, a modicum of sociability and even some charm and humor. Considering the current trend in our industry of chefs as brands and even empires, the cooking demonstration is a requisite skill for anyone who dreams of their 'own place.'

Given a relatively short time period, 45 minutes, I went with two light, summer dishes that, in my mind at least, are easily executable by the home cook.

Guatemalan Style Apples

4-5 apples, cored and sliced (Braeburn, Gala, or Cameo work best)
2 T. lime juice
As Needed, ground Black Pepper

Toss apples in lime juice.
Arrange on a platter/plate to serve.
Top with ground black pepper.

Seared Tuna with Asian Salad and Ponzu Tapioca ‘Faux Caviar’

Seared Tuna:
2 8-ounce Tuna steaks, about an inch think
2 T. grapeseed oil (or canola)
Salt and Pepper as needed

Heat a pan (smoking hot.)
Add oil.
Season one side of Tuna with salt and pepper.
Sear Tuna steaks on one side for about 45 seconds to a minute (season other side.)
Flip and sear 45 seconds to a minute.
Sear end sides about 30 seconds.
Remove from pan and let rest.
Slice thin.

1 T. soy sauce
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
¼ cup rice wine
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. chili oil

Whisk together.

2 large carrots, julienned
1 daikon radish, julienned (or 6-8 red radishes)
4 heads baby bok choy, stems removed, sliced
1 asian pear (or bosc) peeled and julienned
2 T. chopped cilantro

Toss together with dressing.

Ponzu sauce:
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup grapefruit juice
1 T. lime juice
1 T. honey

Tapioca Caviar:
½ cup Tapioca pearls (small or large)
2 quarts boiling water

Cook tapioca in water until only the middle is translucent.
Remove and rinse with cold water.
Soak tapioca in Ponzu sauce for 2 hours (more is fine).

Serve seared tuna shingled atop the dressed salad and finish with the faux caviar.