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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Top cooking tips from Ferran Adria

Ferran Adria's Top Tips for Home Cooks

(If you are reading this post on a RSS reader, you might want to click through to Chez Pim for the video.)
Can't score a reservation at elBulli for this lifetime? Try a few of Ferran Adrià's top tips for home cooks and make your own elBulli Lite™ meal at home.

In this video clip Ferran Adrià shows home cooks a few good tricks. Some are rather neat, like a frozen Mojito you can keep in your fridge for a whenever Mojito fix, or using a simple peeler to make rather sophisticated-looking petals of avocado, or some very pretty bites of bread and chocolate seasoned with salt and olive oil. There are also one or two Sandra Lee moments in there: a bit of rum in this, vodka in that, and also an odd, whipped concoction made with mayo and canned tuna, and then mayo lightened with whipped cream. On second thought, that last one is probably more a testament to the Spaniards' love of all things mayo-ed - there are myriads more in the clip. Heh. Oh, yeah, and who knew Ferran read Martha Stewart Living?

If you followed his advice then a kitchen without a Siphon and a good stick blender would be entirely unworthy of your cooking talent. I agree with him on the stick blender, and I actually have a lot of fun with a Siphon, but I should warn you that though the Siphon itself is inexpensive enough, it's the cartridges you need to make the thing fizz that'll kill ya. On second thought, with the Mojito para todo el dia, who cares about an overdue credit card bill or two, yeah.

I don't know what show this clip originally aired, but it appears to be a TV show in Spain. My friend Roge, the blogger behind PistoYNopisto sent the link to me and I had a lot of fun watching it. The video is long, nearly an hour. Consider yourself warned. That's an hour of your life you won't be able to take back. Don't come crying to me afterwards.

If you didn't feel like spending a whole hour watching this thing. Here's the list I made from it – the snide comments are entirely my own, of course. By the way, if you want to buy anything he recommends (or a close approximation thereof), I've put them together in my Amazon Store for your shopping convenience.

1. Use a Japanese Mandoline. It's cheap and performs beautifully. I totally agree with him on this. I've been using it for years and swear by it as well.
2. Use a microplane grater. I agree here as well.
3. Dress a salad with an eyedropper and a non-aerosol mister. Use an eyedropper to pick up droplets of fragrant oil and use as accents on a salad, or make vinaigrette then spray on to the salad for the lightest dressing application. I don't know, the mister is a good idea but the eyedropper thing is a little, well, retentive.
4. Use ceramic knives. Razor sharp and you'll never have to sharpen it, ever. But, as I found out the hard way, if you drop it, it will shatter into little pieces and there's no repairing. Be warned.
5. Mojito in a Siphon. Pomelo or lime juice and rum into a Siphon makes a frozen Mojito in a jiffy. You can even keep the Siphon cool in the fridge for Mojito para todo el dia – appeals to the hidden alcoholic in all of us.
6. Use squeeze bottles to apply sauce to a plate. Or paint it onto a plate using a pastry brush.
7. Create petals of avocado with a peeler.
8. Use hard plastic to make your own fun shape ring molds.
9. Use a juicer to juice vegetables, like asparagus, for quick, no-cook savory soups.
10. Use infrared thermometer. Get a quick read of surface temperature from afar.
11. Use a blender to pulverize tortilla chips and use the crumb for coating prawns or other seafood for frying or baking.
12. Use a silicon pad. Nothing sticks to it.
13. Use a jewelry/science scale for perfect measurement. Especially great for measuring spices down to a tenth (or one-hundredth) of a gram when your recipe calls for it. What you don't have a recipe like that? Geez, I can't even talk to you right now.
14. Make a meringue in a hurry. Eggs, sugar, just a little beating, into a Siphon, et voila.
15. Use kitchen torch to burn sugar for crème brulee (or crema catalana).
16. Use Superbag to strain stock and sauce. Unlike traditional chinois, you can sqeeze the bag to get all the flavor out of everything. You can order Superbag from Le Sanctuaire, or you can use my economical alternative.
17. Make melon soup with grated melon flesh, water, blend with a stick blender.
18. Make a quick frappe. Juice, vodka, frozen cubes of juice, all go into a stand blender et voila.
19. Frozen caramel made in a Siphon from melted caramel ice cream. Yo Sandra! Well, ok, it's actually kind of a good idea. I love me some Häagen-Daz too.
20. Make easy carrot air. Carrot juice in a bowl wrapped in plastic with a little opening to stick in a hand blender.
21. Yogurt sauce made with yogurt (doh!), curry powder, olive oil, and apple cubes. Look kind of good actually.
22. Iced coffee made with espresso and ice cubes made with coffee. Didn't Martha suggest using frozen cubes of tea in iced tea a long time ago? Hey, Ferran Adria reads Martha Stewart Living, who knew?
23. Lighten mayonnaise with olive oil.
24. Make a "personal mayonnaise", spiking plain old mayo with capers, anchovies, and chives.
25. Make a vanilla butter, vanilla, butter, and sugar.
26. "Lighten" mayonnaise with whipped cream. Note the quotation marks.
27. Make your own mayo.
28. Make your own guagamole – with olive oil!
29. Make a chocolate nest. Pipe melted dark chocolate into a hotel pan lined with ice. You've got to see this one. It's fun and entirely doable.
30. Make a chocolate bread. Tiny slices of bread, a chocolate on top of each, go under the grill for a few moments until the chocolates slightly melt, sprinkle some salt and olive oil. Voila, a very sophisticated chocolate bread.
31. Make liquid bonbons, basically a chocolate mousse with a little Bailey's in it.
32. Tomato and mozzarella soup, made with tomato seed sacks and mozzarella soup made with blended cheese and the brine water.
33. Mint scented olive oil, with mint leafs blended right into the olive oil. Interesting.
34. Another one of Ferran's Sandra Lee moments, this one pumping up Gazpacho from a box with mini basil and olive oil.
35. A further testament to a Spaniard's love of mayo – blended mayo with tuna packed in olive oil.
36. Pump up supermarket jams with crushed fresh fruits.
37. Make a quick almond "praline" with almond blended with olive oil. Use it on salad or fish.
38. Blend yogurt and fresh fruit to make your own flavored yogurt.
39. Make green olive oil, with pitted green olives, a little brine water, blended with olive oil emulsion. Ferran claims this is good on lots of things, even a steak.

Phew. Enough genius to last me a week.

Check out my Amazon Store if you want to buy any of this stuff.


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