Field of Dreams

Ruby strawberries
gleam with early morning dew
oh! how they sparkle!
Gosh, for some reason it feels like forever since I’ve blogged.  
(Separation anxiety! It’s been two whole days!)
This past week has been pretty hectic.  
Now that I think about it, I made this dessert an entire weekend ago.  
I found inspiration in the combination of celery and strawberry, which I first saw in one of Chef Michael Laiskonis’ desserts, whom I draw immense inspiration from. 
At first glance, it seems awkward belonging more to the class of salads than desserts, I know.
But the slight floral undertones of the celery are play nicely with the sweetness of the strawberry, and the tartness of that same purée works magically with the ganache upon which it is splattered.
I am in love with Christina Tosi’s celeriac ganache.  I tweaked it only a tiny a bit, to fit my own tastes and needs, and good Lord almighty, I did not expect to get what I got.
Silky, creamy, and dare I say unctuous.
Sweet, a tad spicy, and woody.
Milky, but with immense body.
I mean, goodness!  If it’s the one thing you make from this blog, do it.  
For you and for me and for Chef Christina.
Sandwich it between cookies or slather it on a cake or a pie or whatever.  A cracker would suit me nicely, but I’m not below sticking my finger in the bowl and getting every last bit with a swipe.
It’s that good.  It’s indescribably delicious.  And I hate celery and celeriac, people!  
But I l-u-r-v-e-d this.
Also, a quick update from this weekend’s work:  
I had big plans for a dessert, one featuring classic flavors in unexpected ways.
It didn’t exactly pan out.  
My blueberry caviar were, um, mealy- using a thick blueberry purée instead of a juice was not my best call- and because I was making caviar, I couldn’t freeze them for reverse spherification.  
I braved onward, setting up a CaCl2 bath and attempting to incorporate some sodium alginate into the purée, but, it really, really did not work.
There were too many bits left in my purée, even after two passes through a fine-meshed sieve.
So, what did I do?
I gave up.  
“Totally fine,” I assured myself, as I  bookmarked my notes and my recipes for another day, “I’ll get it.  Just not this weekend.”
(However, I did make an entirely new dessert today.  I’ll post it sooner rather than later.)
Field of Dreams:
celeriac ganache
strawberry purée
white chocolate panna cotta
strawberry film
lemon ice cream
candied celery leaves
burnt pine nut brittle


Field of Dreams:

For the lemon ice cream:
adapted from Jeni’s
122 g milk
1 tsp cornstarch
75 g cream
33 g sugar
1 1/2 tsp glucose
Pinch kosher salt
11 g mascarpone
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Lemon zest, peeled with a vegetable peeler

Mix the milk, cornstarch, cream, sugar, glucose, and salt together with an immersion blender until smooth.  
Cook over low heat until thickened, about 6 minutes; drop the lemon zest in and let steep/cook along with it.  
Meanwhile, cook the lemon juice and 1 1/2 tsp sugar in a small pan until a thin syrup forms, about 3 minutes.  Set aside to cool.
Once the base is thickened, remove from heat and chill for at least 3 hours, until cold and even thicker.  
Fish the lemon zest out and churn in an ice cream maker.  
Pour in the lemon syrup while it churns.  
Spread into a loaf pan and freeze.

For the white chocolate panna cotta:
adapted from Saveur
6 tbsp milk
1/4 cup cream
3 ounces white chocolate
Pinch sea salt
1/2 tsp gelatin

Bloom gelatin for 3 minutes in 2 tablespoons of the milk.  
Meanwhile, heat the remaining cream and milk to simmering.  Add in the bloomed gelatin and stir to dissolve gelatin.
Pour the hot milk/cream over the chopped white chocolate and salt in a bowl.
Allow to sit for 1 minute untouched, then whisk to combine and smooth.
Pour into molds and chill until firm, at least 4 hours.

For the celeriac ganache:
adapted from Christina Tosi’s celery root ganache
70 g celery root purée (from 1 small celeriac, peeled and chopped, roasted at 400 degrees F wrapped in an aluminum foil packet with a drizzle of grapeseed oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper for 30 minutes, or until mushy-tender, puréed in a food processor until silky, then passed through a fine meshed sieve)
35 g white chocolate
10 g butter
12 g glucose
20 g heavy cream

Heat the white chocolate, butter, and glucose up together in a microwave, gently.  
Once mostly melted, mix with an immersion blender.  
Drizzle the cream in while blending.  The mixture should be very smooth.
Blend in the celery root; don’t overmix.  
Stop when the mixture is homogeneous and very, very silky.

For the strawberry film:

80 g fresh strawberry juice, mixed with 40 g cold water
1/2 tsp gelatin
1.5 g agar

Bloom the gelatin in 50 g of the juice mixture.  

Blend the agar into the rest of the juice with an immersion blender and simmer for 3 full minutes over medium heat.  
Stir in the bloomed gelatin until dissolved.  
Remove from heat and spread very thinly on a sheet pan lined with a silpat (has to be a silpat. Not parchment). 
Let cool and solidify for 5 minutes; you can then peel , slice, and use the sheet.
To cover the panna cottas, cut out squares of film about the size of your panna cotta, then lightly drape over top.  You can then cut the panna cottas into nice, even squares (Always cover the panna cotta with film before slicing.).

For the candied celery leaves and pine nut brittle:
Preheat oven to 175 degrees F.
Combine 2 tablespoons sugar with 1 tablespoon water in a small, heavy sauce pan.  
Heat until the sugar dissolves and the syrup thickens, about 3 minutes on low heat.  
Remove from heat and let cool to a warm temperature, cool enough that you will be able to dunk your fingers into it, about 8-10 minutes.  
Dip celery leaves into the syrup (you can make lots, I made about 6 as that’s all I needed), and squeeze most of the excess syrup off with your fingers.  It will be sticky; don’t scrape all the syrup off, though.  
Place on a parchment paper lined sheet tray and bake until crispy, 10-15 minutes; the sugar will crystallize.  I moved my leaves to a wire cooling rack on top of the sheet tray after about 8 minutes so that they would be crunchy all around.
With the remaining syrup, make pine nut brittle.  
Heat the syrup over medium heat until it turns amber colored.  
Working quickly, stir in a small handful of pine nuts and pour the whole mixture out onto a silpat lined sheet tray.  
Smooth it out as evenly as possible; DO NOT TOUCH the sugar because it is incredibly hot.  
Allow to cool to room temperature, then break up into small pieces.

To assemble:
Schmear a large portion of celeriac ganache onto the base of the plate.  
Splatter strawberry purée in a random and organic pattern on top.
Place two small cubes of panna cotta onto the plate, then add a quenelle of lemon ice cream.
Garnish with a few small pieces of pine nut brittle and candied celery leaves.

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