Chiaroscuro LARGE


blackberry caviar, coconut mousse, coconut crumb, coconut yolk, blackberry puree

Chiaroscuro SMALL II

Hi!  To any newcomers, welcome to my blog, and welcome to my project for UChicago’s spring Festival of the Arts!

(I’ll post more explaining this post-presentation, for all you laypeople.)

////// Okay!  SO Hi!  Yes!  Presentation went off without a hitch. \\\\\\

I gave a 7-ish minute spiel about molecular gastronomy, this here blog, my weird love of reverse frozen spherification, and the three desserts you see here, which were funded by FOTA.

Hopefully I didn’t embarrass myself too badly (I definitely did).Chiaroscuro SMALL I

Contrast, made edible.  Fruity, creamy, crunchy, chewy.

Why are there so many seeds in blackberries?  Getting ultra-smooth puree is a pain in the ass.

Fragola LARGE


black pepper cheesecake, lemon curd, lemon sorbet, ginger black pepper sand, walnuts, candied lemons, creme fraiche, honey

Fragola SMALL I

Early summer on a plate.  Spicy, sour, rich, fresh.

PSA: candied lemons are so incredibly addictive.  So is lemon curd.  OMg.

Fragola SMALL II

For my live presentation, I made a deconstructed strawberry pie: strawberry yolk, yogurt cream, 5-spice milk sand.
Simple, delicious.



mango yolk, watermelon tartar, avocado mousse,  lime curd, creme fraiche, grapefruit


A play on tuna tartare with raw egg yolk.  Tropical, crunchy, herb-y, tangy.
(There is nothing quite like cold watermelon on a hot day, amirite?!)


Happy to provide any of the recipes pictured for my fellow molecular nuts!



Time and patience change the mulberry leaf into silk.


I have to come clean with a recent addiction.

I am hooked on The Sopranos.
It finally happened.  I started watching, and now I can’t stop.
Season 3 and still going strong.

I wouldn’t have expected myself to enjoy it as much as I do.
The complexities and fine details are what make HBO shows so great, and seeing as The Sopranos arguably started this vein of television (plot intrigue, very nuanced characters, lots of action and violence and detail), it is no exception.

It’s so bad.  I can sit and watch 3 episodes in a row and forget where I am.
It is an incredibly immersive show.

(In other Rachel-TV-addiction news: watching this and this and now this makes me want to cry and pee myself because I cannot wait one minute longer for Season 4 of Game of Thrones.  I. Am. So. Fucking. Impatient. Excited.
Currently reading A Sword of Storms… and… I just can’t even any more.  GEORGE.)


Anyways, let’s talk panna cotta.  A true Italian masterpiece.
Panna cotta = “cooked cream.”
This delightfully simple dessert originated in Northern Italy, and consists of cream, milk, and sugar being cooked together with a touch of gelatin (fish bones, in ye olde days, but, um, ick).
The resultant custard is softly set and light on the tongue, each spoonful melting to nothing.
It’s fast, easy, versatile, impressive and a great make-ahead dessert.
I clearly have nothing but good to say about panna cotta.

A note: a good panna cotta should be smooth and silky, not gelatinous or rubbery.
Especially panna cotta that won’t be turned out of its mold.
It shouldn’t be too firm: this is not Jell-O, people.  Thank god.


Since panna cotta has no eggs to dull the flavor, it’s a great foil for fruits, nuts, and other flavors.

This panna cotta is made with buttermilk, which cuts the cream and sits super clean on the tongue.
It adds a certain je-ne-sais-quoi, so that the base itself has some personality, and the dessert isn’t all about the toppings.
(I’m looking at you, fro-yo.)

You can let your imagination run wild; the flavor of the pudding itself is only slightly tangy, and not overpowering in the least.
While it’s refreshing on its own, I have a million and one ideas of toppings or mix-ins.

Here, I’ve topped each panna cotta with a splash of thick, round Grade B maple syrup, sweet and earthy,
a few fresh, plump, tart blackberries,
a smattering of crunchy, nutty pepitas,
and a hefty sprinkle of Maldon salt.

A few more ideas: add chopped fresh peaches to the base before it sets, then top with caramel and pecans and more thinly sliced peaches.
Stir some melted white chocolate into the base, top with pomegranate seeds and chocolate ganache.
Zest a lemon into the base, top with honey, hazelnuts, and raspberries.


While we’re talking about addictions, I also need to mention Maldon sea salt.
It’s been a craze for a long time, but I never felt the urge to give into the fad.
I refused that little white rock box during many a grocery trip.  Then one day, I gave in.

And thus did it begin, my love affair with this stupid salt.
I put it on everything, from chocolate to broccoli.
I love the crunchiness; I love the pure sea flavor; I love the look of those flakes.

You saw it on these tarts and these chocolates, and now, here, on panna cotta.
A little dusting of salt can truly make the difference between a blah dessert and a lively, exciting one.


How amazing are these little teacups?

I purchased them from a girl who lives in my house, at our house auction.
I fell in love at first sight and was willing to outbid anyone who dared go against me.

They are seriously precious; the color palette could not be more my aesthetic.  (Seriously, just take a look at my Pinterest color board.)
In addition, I love that they’re different sizes and shapes.  So dainty and adorable!

I want to (re)learn how to throw, so that I can make more plates and cups and cake stands… Oh my.
This cannot be good.


Buttermilk Panna Cotta
adapted from Donna Hay
makes 4 small ramekins
2 teaspoons gelatin
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
pepitas, maple syrup, berries, flaky sea salt, to garnish

Mix the gelatin with 2 tablespoons of the cream and set aside to bloom.
In a small saucepot, combine buttermilk, heavy cream, and sugar.
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent a skin from forming.
Remove from heat and vigorously whisk in the gelatin, ensuring that all of it dissolves.
Pour into molds and set in the fridge until firm, at least 2 hours.
Garnish with berries, a splash of maple syrup, and a sprinkle of pepitas and flaky sea salt.

Herbes de Provence

Long time no post, I know.
Especially WISE posts. 
Things have just been, well, busy, in all senses of the word.
In the last two weeks, I’ve run a marathon, completed 4 AP tests, hosted a (very large) pre-prom party, and made 2 full plated desserts.
And many other baked goods.
I’ve begun to lay out my presentation (I have to talk for how long?! ).
 Mr. B and I spoke about the general format of it- he approves (phew).
It’s feeling more and more real each day that passes…
I only have x number of hours left to finish my health course and finish the final push for WISE.
Great!!! Wonderful!!! No pressure!!!
Luckily for me, now that I have a better sense of research, I have a better handle on what I need to include.
Example: this dessert technically had 3 or 4 sources of “research,” even though only one of them was a tangible recipe.
Often, research is just perusing the internet, looking for sources of inspiration: a photo, an ingredient (I just saw a picture of a cornbread-like cake and I am now intent on incorporating that somehow…), a recipe, or a flavor combination… (tarragon? rosemary?)
The basil fluid gel in the photo is a recipe from Johnny Iuzzini’s Dessert FourPlay;
 the inspiration for a buttermilk panna cotta came from an article from the Kitchn; 
an easy to understand guide about how to temper chocolate originated from Serious Eats’ Sweets section; 
the real movement behind this dessert came from my garden, where I found hardy lavender plants staying strong and fragrant, even after a tough winter, creeping speedwell spreading all over the raised beds and peeking through tall grass, and abundant basil plants (three, to be exact) taking over my kitchen windows.
Nature is a beautiful place to find inspiration; I wanted this to be a floral dessert which showcased the spicy sweetness of basil and paired the delicacy of lavender with a tart, creamy element.
The adorable little flowers didn’t hurt, either; along with some microbasil, they represented the fresh, spring feel to this dessert, much like the first blooms in my yard.
(No recipes today; I may use this for my presentation… but then again, I might not.  On va voir.)
P.S. has my blog been loading as a black, plain format for anyone else other than myself?  For the record, it’s supposed to be a peach color with Georgia font, not the black Arial that seems to be loading occasionally.  A quick refresh should fix it, but I’m not sure what the underlying problem really is.
Herbes de Provence
basil fluid gel
dark chocolate and basil truffle
bittersweet ganache
lavender and buttermilk panna cotta


If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, even a brief glance, you were not surprised, I’m sure, at the title of this post.
I kvetch quite a lot, especially on this soapbox in my little corner of the internet.
Fun, if not somewhat depressing, fact: 1 out of every 3 posts on this blog has been labeled with “whining.”
1 out of every 10, “Stupid.”
3 of every 20, “WISE.”
At least I have that ratio going for me… WISE>Stupid.
I won’t lie and say that my project has been going especially super duper well, simply because it has been somewhat stagnant in the last two weeks, primarily due to the fact that I have 4 finals within the next two weeks and 4 APs the two weeks following.
Needless to say, that has been consuming a lot of my time, energy, and, frankly, willpower.
I wanted to make something yesterday with basil, as we have two basil plants which have outgrown their welcome flourished, Lord knows how or why, in our kitchen.
It’s difficult for me to push WISE to the forefront of my mind and my worries these days.
I itch to get in the kitchen, but I have to force myself to work on other homework, else I fall behind (speaking of which, I already am behind…).  
I am relieved that my timeline for WISE is so much longer than my other classes; it may be only a few week difference between my APs and my WISE presentation, but I’ll be darned if it doesn’t feel wonderful not to have added pressure in yet another class.
I know there are still things I haven’t gotten to.
I know there are topics that are in dire need of attention.
I know because I read my project proposal once through, yet again (I found a typo! Send help!!!), and realized that while I have gone above and beyond certain expectations that I had had, I am also lacking in more than a couple.
About the dessert, ’cause that’s what we really care about around here:
I found this dessert by Michael Laiskonis (the plating makes me want to cry, it is so beautiful. And no, I am not joking.  I love that stinking cylindrical panna cotta so much.  How could you not?  It’s a little tube of beauty.) and ran with the inspiration.
First, I kept things small- the plate that you see is a tiny little tea saucer, though it looks rather large in the photos.  
Secondly, I loved the way he cut the strawberries- it’s unconventional and transforms them into a new, unfamiliar element which attracts the eye.   So yeah, I copied him there.  
Third, I had no idea that basil seeds, like flax and chia seeds, were mucilaginous.  Steeping them in basil syrup is so logical but so unexpected.  
It heightens the herbaceous and spicy notes of the seeds, while activating their mucilage-producing quality.
Yucky name, lovely texture- sort of “squeaky,” as Laiskonis describes it.
Stick with me for a few more weeks, guys.  
We’re in it for the long haul.
P.S. humblebrag… sorry not sorry… Look at that quenelle!!  Best one yet!  I’m figuring out more and more tricks:
boiling water
small spoon
NO drying off the spoon
a tall, plastic container with a rim for the ice cream.
Hallelujah, I might have quenelling down by the time I have to present.
strawberry curd
tomato spheres
balsamic reduction
steeped basil seeds
basil ice cream


for the strawberry curd:
1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
pinch salt
1 egg
1 tablespoon butter
Bring the strawberries, sugar, salt, and lemon juice to a boil.  

Allow to simmer until the strawberries have broken down into a smooth mush consistency. 
Whisking vigorously, add the egg.
Cook over medium-low heat until the curd thickens.
Whisk in the butter.
Chill until use; press plastic wrap right onto the surface of the curd to store.

for the tomato spheres:
1/2 cup of tomato juice, freshly pressed out of a few tomatoes
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch salt
1 teaspoon agar
2 cups canola oil, chilled in the freezer for at least an hour
Stir the salt, sugar, juice, and agar together in a microwaveable, large container.  
Microwave on HIGH for 30 second bursts, until the mixture boils.
After the first burst that it boils, microwave it twice more, for a total of 1 minute 30 ish seconds of boiling in the microwave.
Remove the oil from the freezer (put it in a wide, large bowl).
Using a syringe, drop the liquid tomato gel into the oil.  It will congeal into little spheres.
Remove from the cold oil by straining the spheres out (the oil is reusable), then rinse in cool water and use.

for the basil seeds:
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sugar
10 basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade
1 tablespoon basil seeds
Bring the water, sugar, and basil leaves to a simmer just to dissolve the sugar.
Strain out the leaves.
The syrup should be a loose consistency.  
If it is not, simply add more water 1/2 a teaspoon at a time.
Sprinkle the basil seeds over the syrup and mix gently.
Allow to sit and become mucilaginous.  
To use, strain the syrup with a sieve.

for the basil ice cream:
adapted from Jeni’s
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons half and half
1 heaping teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon mascarpone
10-15 basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade
1 vanilla bean, scraped
3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon light corn syrup
pinch kosher salt
pinch gelatin (scant 1/8 teaspoon)
Bring the vanilla bean, the vanilla seeds, the half and half, the sugar, the salt, the corn syrup, and the basil leaves to a boil.
Reduce heat to a simmer and whisk cornstarch in very well.

Place mascarpone in a bowl; strain the hot ice cream base over the mascarpone; discard basil leaves and vanilla pod; whisk well to dissolve mascarpone.
Sprinkle gelatin over the top of the mixture and whisk to combine.
Allow to cool to room temperature, then spin in your ice cream maker until smooth and creamy.
Store in a plastic container in the freezer.

for the balsamic reduction:
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
Bring to a boil over medium heat in a small saucepan.  
Allow to boil for 15-20 seconds, then remove from heat.
The reduction should be only slightly looser than a syrup.

to assemble:
micro basil leaves
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
Smear a tablespoon or so of strawberry curd in a curve around your plate.
Place a large mound of whipped cream on the base of your plate; create a small well in the center with the back of a spoon.
Slice the very tips of the strawberries very thinly; place a few around the plate.
Spoon 1/4 teaspoon piles of basil seeds around the plate.
Garnish with micro basil leaves.
Splatter balsamic reduction across the side of the plate.
Place 1-2 tablespoons of tomato spheres in the well of your whipped cream.
Quenelle a scoop of basil ice cream and balance it on top of the spheres.
Serve immediately.


This was not supposed to be a Christmas themed dessert.
I swear.
It was meant to be a beautifully vibrant expression of three of my all-time favorite flavors:
 pistache, framboise, et rose.
Pistachio, raspberry, rose.
I had dreams about the beautiful red spheres of raspberry that I could make; I drooled over the thought of a pistachio pain de gênes; I practically fainted when I pictured candied rose petals, topping the whole shebang off.
This dessert was the very first baking I did when I got home from my vacation.
Let’s just say that I was just a little *ahem* antsy to get back in the kitchen.
I had been planning this dessert out for ages, diligently typing out recipes on my phone on the plane ride to the islands.
It makes sense, then, that this was an especially ambitious dessert.  
Highly involved, many components, and many, many opportunities for human error to enter into the system.
I wasn’t entirely happy, as it became very clear very quickly, with the color scheme of this dessert.
The raspberry was so vibrant that it looked garish next to the muted greens of the pistachios.
The white meringues were too much of a contrast with the rest of the plate, and the rose petals which I had candied were pink, not red, and looked like sliced red onions on the plate. 
So, lesson learned: ease back into my work, lest in the throes of relaxation my creativity has silently slipped into a less tasteful realm.
Also, pink rose petals look like onions.
Pistache et Framboise
vanilla goat cheese panna cotta
raspberry gelée
raspberry curd
rosewater meringues
raspberry and rose cubes
pistachio pain des gênes
raspberry spheres
chopped pistachios
(candied rose petals)
I currently don’t have my WISE journal (it’s being evaluated… eep!), and I didn’t make a dessert this weekend, so I guess I’m “behind” a week in terms of desserts.  
I’ll probably make one during the week, to catch up, and I’ll be back to regularly scheduled posts soon.
I think.
Pistache et Framboise

Raspberry Rose Cubes
80 g raspberry purée, strained twice through a sieve
1 teaspoon rosewater
5 g sugar
1.2 g agar
Bring juice and sugar to a simmer, add the agar and mix with an immersion blender. Strain and pour into a rectangular pan, then put into fridge to set. Once set, cut into cubes.

Goat Cheese Panna Cotta
1 ounce goat cheese
1/4 teaspoon gelatin
1/4 cup cream
1 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sour cream
Bloom gelatin in 1 tablespoon cold water. Being cream, scrapings from the vanilla bean, and sugar to a simmer, then blend in goat cheese until melted.  Add gelatin and blend with immersion blender, then add in the sour cream.  Pour into shallow bowls and chill until set.

Pain de Gênes à la Pistache
56 grams pistachios
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch salt
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
4 tablespoons butter, softened and cut into chunks
21 grams flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 6-inch cake pan.
Pulse pistachios, salt, and sugar into a finely ground meal in a food processor.  Add eggs and butter and pulse until thoroughly combined. Add the flour and baking powder and pulse until combined.
Spread batter into pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Raspberry Spheres
100 g raspberry purée
25 g sugar
2.4 g calcium lactate gluconate
500 g low calcium water
2.5 g sodium alginate
25 g sugar
Prepare the alginate bath: heat water just to dissolve sugar, then add in sodium alginate and blend until completely dissolved. Allow to settle and  cool overnight.
Blend the puree, sugar, and calcium lactate gluconate until homogeneous. Spoon into hemispherical silicon molds and freeze until solid.
To make the spheres, drop the frozen purée into the bath and leave for 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and rinse in clean water.

Raspberry Curd:
adapted from Luscious Berry Desserts by Lori Longbotham
3 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
5 ounces raspberries
2 egg yolks
Pinch salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Bring raspberries and sugar to a boil, then press through a fine mesh sieve.  Whisk in the egg yolks and salt, then bring to a simmer over low heat, whisking constantly.
Once the curd comes to a simmer, remove from heat and whisk in butter until curd is smooth and silky.

Raspberry Gelée
1 teaspoon gelatin
1.1 ounces water
4 ounces frozen raspberries, thawed
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Bloom gelatin in water.
Boil raspberries and sugar together, then press through a fine mesh sieve.
Stir in lemon juice and gelatin mixture, then use immediately and place in refrigerator to set.

Rosewater Meringues
60 g egg whites (should be two-ish, feel free to just use 2)
75 g sugar
Pinch cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon rosewater
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.  Line a sheet pan with parchment.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the eggs until foamy.  Add in the cream of tartar and continue to whisk.
Slowly start adding the sugar, as the egg whites whip.
Continue to whip until the meringue is very stiff.
Beat in the rosewater.
Form large mounds using two spoons.
Bake for 11/2 hours, rotating midway through.
Turn off the oven, crack it open a bit, and allow the meringues to finish drying (the oven should be completely cool when you pull them out).

Candied Rose Petals
From Alice Waters
Unsprayed rose petals
1 egg white
1 cup superfine sugar
Brush the petals on both sides with the egg white, then lightly dip the petal in the sugar.  Lay them out on a wire rack and allow them to dry at least a few hours to overnight.

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.


Le soleil se reveille.
Les villes sont illuminées; le petit matin scintille avec des rayons de soleil.
On apprécie toujours les couleurs vives.  
Le jaune clair se transforme et devient le jaune doré.  
Le soleil s’étire et ainsi, le jour est réalisé.
The sun rises.
Cities are illuminated; the dawn sparkles with sunbeams.
The bold colors are always appreciated.
Pale yellow morphs and becomes gold.
The sun stretches and thus, the day is realized.

I’m dreaming of bright sun and warmth.  The winter is dragging its feet out the door, and I’m ready for the transition from gray to green.
I mean, really.
This tropical produce-inspired dessert didn’t help much.
I don’t know whether my desire for a beach inspired the dessert, or whether the dessert inspired the desire.
Dessert-inspired desire or desire-inspired dessert?
These mango spheres, which look like farm-fresh yolks, were just short of mind-blowing. 
You can actually handle them like egg yolks; they’re not overly delicate, but when they hit your tongue, they release a lovely mango purée, fragrant and sweet.
I was so enamored with them that I also whipped up a small batch of sticky coconut rice (black forbidden rice cooked in coconut milk with a pinch of glutinous rice flour, then topped with a reduced coconut milk and jaggery sauce) to serve underneath them as a pre-dessert; it was a textural play on sticky rice with mangoes, a popular dish where I live.
I wish the fennel purée had been a bit smoother, but the fibrous nature of fennel was working to my detriment.  I was content with the flavor (mild, gingery, and a creamy foil to the acidic lime and pineapple), but I wish it had been just a bit silkier.  
I know that root vegetables tend to make smoother purées, so in the future, I may stick to roots rather than bulbs like fennel.
I plated this dish to look like its namesake: a sunrise.  I played around with the look of a sunny-side up egg, also an indicator of morning.  
With a tropical flavor profile and nouveaux textures, this dessert wakes you right up.
Ginger-fennel purée
Brûléed pineapple
Lime pâte de fruit
Coconut flan
Mango spheres


For the coconut flan:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
Big pinch sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degreees F.
Place 1/2 cup sugar in a heavy saucepan and heat until it caramelizes and turns a deep amber, about 7 minutes.
Immediately pour into a 9-inch cake pan, swirling to coat the bottom.  If it hardens before you coat the entire bottom, simply heat the cake pan up over low heat on a burner until the caramel becomes liquid again.
Put a kettle on to boil.
In a bowl, whisk the eggs, vanilla, and second sugar measurement together briskly until lighter yellow colored and foamy.
In another saucepan, heat the salt and coconut milk until simmering.
Whisking constantly, slowly stream the hot milk into the eggs until all is incorporated. Pour into caramel coated pan.
Place the pan in a deep roasting pan and pour the boiling water in until the water is 3/4 of the way up the sides.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the flan is set around the edges but still slightly wiggly in the center.
Leave in water bath for 5 minutes, then remove from the bath and move to refrigerator for at least 12 hours.
To turn it out, place a plate with a slight rim on top of the cake tin, and quickly flip over.
To cut circles, use a circular cookie cutter.
For the mango spheres:
100 grams frozen or fresh mango
2 g calcium lactate gluconate
For the bath:
1400 g low-calcium water
65 g sugar
6 g sodium alginate
Purée the mango until very smooth; push through a sieve to remove any particulate matter; mix in the calcium lactate with an immersion blender.
Pour into a hemispherical mold and freeze completely.
For the bath:
Heat up the sugar and water until sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes.
Add in the alginate and mix very well with an immersion blender.
Allow to sit for at least 6 hours to allow any air bubbles to escape.
Remove the purée from the mold and place frozen spheres directly into alginate bath.  Leave for 4 minutes; do not allow the spheres to touch each other.
Remove with a slotted spoon and place in clean water.  (Do not serve immediately because the cores will still be frozen; wait at least 1 hour.)
To store, either store in clean water or water mixed with mango juice in the fridge.  Can be stored for up to one week.
For the lime pâte de fruit:
Adapted from the October 2010 issue of O magazine
1/4 cup lime juice
Zest of one lime
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon powdered pectin
1 1/4 cup sugar
Lightly oil a 6″ pan.
Combine sugar, juice, zest, applesauce, and pectin in a heavy bottomed saucepan.  Heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching, until mixture reached 225 degrees F.  Stir in some green food coloring, if desired.
Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle extra sugar on top.  Allow to cool completely, then cut out small cubes, toss in sugar, and allow to completely firm up overnight.
For the ginger-fennel purée:
Okay.  I’m going to be honest.  I roasted a fennel bulb, threw in some grated ginger, added some heavy cream, some white chocolate, salt, etc, until I was satisfied.  There wasn’t a… um… recipe per se.  I just winged it; I’m sure you can do the same.  Sorry!

For the brûléed pineapple:
Clean a pineapple, remove the core, and cut into desired shapes.  (I did a rectangular prism).  Sprinkle with sugar, brûlée, then flip onto the next side.  Repeat for at least three of the longer sides so that all visible sides

To assemble:
Schmear the purée on the base of the plate.  
Place 2 pieces of brûléed pineapple flush to the bottom of the plate.  
Arrange 3 lime pâtes de fruit organically around the plate.
Slide a flan above the pineapple; do not let it touch the purée.  
Finally, using a slotted spoon, transfer two mango spheres to the plate.