Thanks God the Herve This’s book has to go back to the library. I’m becoming obsessed. The man’s appetite for experimenting is infectious; he inspires you to go play in the kitchen.
This intrigued me: making a cheese or foie gras ‘sauce’ with just heat and water. This would be an emulsion; in the simplest terms the fat molecules grab onto the water molecules and they form a stable substance. Mayonnaise is the classic example of an emulsion.
After you had the emulsion, M.This hypothesized that you could then turn it into foam if you whisked it over chilled bowl in an ice bath.
I’m intrigued by the idea of transforming an ingredient without using chemical stabilizers. They have a place; I just want to see how far I can push without using them.
The first experiment was with a piece of duck liver mousse. Setting up a make shift double boiler, I melted the mousse. It stayed lumpy until a bit of water was added and then it just relaxed and became a smooth mousse sauce. Cool. Then I whisked it, over a bowl of ice water, and while not’foam’ in the current sense, it was a frothy whipped liver mousse. I stuck in the fridge to see if it would remain stable.
Next was a piece of Gorgonzola dolce (or sweet gorgonzola), it’s soft and creamy, and fatty. It also melted sort of lumpy until the water was added. It came together as a whipped Gorgonzola fairly quickly, and I kept whisking to see if I could incorporate more air, and make the foam lighter. It separated, or curdled. Damn.
The next step was to feed my experiments to my in-house taster.
Round 1: cool liver mousse served with warm sherry. I liked it; my taster didn’t like the cool/warm contrast.
Round 2: cool liver mousse served a sliced cornichon. Honestly, the original block of mousse was sort of tasteless, so the cornichon overpowered the mild mousse.
When I do this again, I’ll use a better quality mousse, and I want to try serving it on a slice of roasted apple.
The cheese was more challenging. I remember M.This saying that whipping or whisking would break up the small lumps, so I re-melted the sauce and whisked unit I had a tasty, but somewhat unstable sauce. This was served napped over pear-ricotta ravioli. Is that this cheese sauce is a perfect Italian ‘sauce’; just the pure ingredient, no other conflicting flavors or focus.
I think I need to experiment with other cheeses to see which have the right fat content, and won’t curdle or separate as quickly.
After all these ‘experiments’, I served a main course of a simple, satisfying roast poussin. I have to keep the taster happy or he might not be so willing to just open his mouth and eat whatever I give him.