Brainstorming and Testing
To get started, I wanted to brainstorm all of the different seasonal fruits and vegetables that I had to pick from, so I went to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's website. There I found a list of all the fall grown items:
Since there were so many to choose from, I wanted to narrow it down to a few options and make some flavor maps from there. I picked 5:
I made a flavor map of pumpkin:
While doing the flavor mapping, I was trying to think of dairy options that I could stick in the sodium alginate solution and make a gel. I had some pumpkin puree and some cream cheese, so I experimented with that.
I mixed the puree in with the cream cheese and added some sugar because of the bitterness of the pumpkin. I was careful not to add too much as I didn't want to mask the calcium in the cream cheese too much to the point where it wouldn't gel. Upon tasting, I discovered that it didn't quite have the rich pumpkin flavor I wanted, however, it gelled nicely in the alginate (The orangish blob).
With that, I also tried gelling some apple crisp yogurt (The white circles). This had a really great fall flavor that I thought I might be able to use.
I made a flavor map for cantaloupe and apples:
I then decided to make an apple "salsa." This wouldn't have any tomatoes, however. I started with some chili powder for spice. I then chopped up a few mini snickers bars and added those. I also added some cinnamon, nutmeg, and bacon! To make the mixture a little more liquidy and thicker, I added a small amount of apple sauce and apple cider.
As far as the kale goes, I can make a mean kale chip. On top of that I added some feta and lime juice. While I liked this idea, I didn't continue much further with it.
For the squash, I knew that it could be paired with a lot of the same things that the pumpkin could. I tried roasting some with cinnamon and butter. I also tried steam baking with water. This worked well, but the squash got kind of stringy. I wanted to try and make it a little moister that would make it better for me to mash.
This is the point where I wasn't sure what to do next. I ventured to the restaurant Tilia for the out-of-class experience, and hoped for some inspiration. While all of the dishes were amazing, among my favorites was their take on "bacon and eggs."
I started thinking of pairing my squash mixture. The sweetness of the squash would pair great with the saltiness of the bacon. I then thought of gelling some plain vanilla yogurt. When I put them together, it lacked luster. I needed something that offered more of a kick. Then I tried sour cream. The mashed squash was yellow and tasted similar to mashed potatoes. This would work well with the sour cream, and be perfect for the yolk.
I didn't want to leave the bacon plain. I played around with mixing some caramel and honey together. I then drizzled this on the bacon, and it tasted amazing. I have come to my final project at last.
The Final Crit
The first step in preparation for the final critique was baking the squash. This needed to cook for 40-60 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
I then prepared the bacon by frying it in a skillet.
I started to make my caramel honey mixture with caramel bits, a dab of honey, and a little bit of water.
This was microwaved and then drizzled on to the crispy bacon.
When all of that was done, I grabbed some sodium alginate, and took some small drops of sour cream to it for the "egg white."
When the squash was done, I scooped it from the outside and put it into a bowl. I then mashed it up with butter and salt. I used this as a "glue" base for the bacon to sit on so it didn't slide off the spoon. On top of the bacon went the sour cream gels and a smidgeon of squash on top for the yolk.
In the end this dish was a mix of salty, savory, and sweet with textures ranging from creamy, gooey, crispy, and jelly.