During our next Food+Design assignment, we were to make a unique Vessel or utensil for Thanksgiving. I thought this was an interesting take on the class direction, as traditionally we have created some form of food/product, but I still definitely was looking forward to it. On the first day that this was announced, we were put into groups with the people around us to brainstorm on post-it notes with any ideas that may come to mind that relate to Thanksgiving dinner. In my group, I came up with these initial ideas as seen below.

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My favorite ideas that I wanted to work with was the Cutting board idea and the twist tool. The cutting board idea was a cutting board with a compartment built in to store a chef knife. The twist tool was used to mix up the stuffing and other ingredients inside of a turkey. With this initial idea generation, I started looking through my kitchen at various items that resembled the cutting board as well as this twist tool. I found a lemon juicer item in my kitchen as seen here, and it was a good prototype of my initial thoughts.

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As for cutting boards, I found a few plastic ones in my kitchen to see what I could do. I then proceeded to sketch some alternative versions on post-it notes at home to see if I could generate some new innovations/alterations to the cutting board idea.

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As you can see, some of these sketches had food drips, some have the knife slots, and another one has handles on the side of the cutting board. At this point, I started seeing what I had around the house to make a few prototypes for the cutting board/food boards.

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(Knife on top)

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(Knife on side)

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(Board with handle)

With this initial iterations, I used cardboard boxes around the house, a chef knife to use as a prop, and a water bottle to serve as a 'handle' to get a feel for what it may look like. What I learned was that the cutting board would have to be really large if I wanted to create some sort of compartment in the actual cutting board itself to be able to store the knife in, and I realized that I didn't think an oversized cutting board would be too good of an idea because it would be too heavy and would defeat the purpose of potentially being easy to transport. I started doing a few more sketches and reiterated some of the board ideas from before with the moats for different items on the board. I thought that it would be beneficial to use for some sauces or dipping pieces if I were to change it from a cutting board to a food-type plating. I made another sketch and came up with this idea.

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With this idea, I would use a smaller piece of wood/board because I would not need all of the space to store a knife. The moat in the board could be used for sauce or butter. I then thought that I could use the board similar to a breadboard and the moat could be used to store butter. At this point, I decided to create a few more prototypes to see what I could do.

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(board with butter near handle)

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(Board with butter at end of board)

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(Board with wooden handle and hole for moat)

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(Board with rounded handle and hole for moat, butter prop)

With all of these prototypes, I used foam, cardboard, scrap wooden planks, a water bottle, and a stick of butter to test out the fit. I was beginning to like how the butter was fitting on the board, particularly the last prototype with the rounded handle. I decided I would start moving forward with this idea and bring it to the woodshop to see what I could do.

The next day, I went to Rockler to buy some wood. I consulted with an employee there, and he recommended me to using maple for wooden boards, as it is a dense wood that is traditionally used for cutting/food boards. I purchased a four foot piece of maple in case I needed to do more iterations in the woodshop.

Next I proceeded to the woodshop to try and create my board. I began my sketching on my long wooden board a nice rounded shape for the board. I decided to curve the handle to make it a bit more ergonomic down the road. Here is how my sketch ended up on my board.

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After sketching it out, I used the table saw to shorten my board and eventually moved to the band saw to start cutting out the shape around the handle.

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I picked up my wooden board, and I felt the weight in my hand. The board was a lot lighter than when it was four feet long, but still had a significant weight to it. I talked to one of the woodshop employees, Justin, and he told me to use a table sander. It was this mechanism that could sand off 1/16" for every time I 'fed' my board into the machine evenly. The sander would 'eat' my board and I would lover it one more rotation to take off 1/16" at a time.

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My board started off about 1 1/16" thick and I fed it through about 6 times. At this point, it was thinned out enough to take off a good portion of the weight while still feeling sturdy.

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(Original board thickness)

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(New thickness, about 11/16" thick, I didn't start my ruler at 0" in the picture)

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(Side view; comparison of thickness of new board vs. original board thickness)

As you can see, the board lost a significant amount of its thickness, but was still sturdy. My next task was to sand the edge of the handles and board with a horizonal sander. I went from left to right on the handle against the grain of the handle until it had a nice curvature across the entire handle. I also made sure the board had rounded corners that could be finished later. A few times during this process, I burned the wood because the sander moved really quickly.

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After this step, I found a tool that would make the edges rounded and have a nice curve to them. The bit at the end of it was a half-circle and cut a nice curvature along the edges as seen here.

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Once I rounded both the front and back side of the food board, I needed to proceed to create the 'moat' for butter as seen in the prototypes. I figured that this board could be used for loaves of bread and butter, or cheeses to pair with crackers etc. I used a tool called a 'router' and started etching into the lines. This part was the most difficult, as it took me a couple of hours to figure the entire process out. This first picture shows the huge burnt crater I made.

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I decided to clamp some boards down to act as a wall in order for me to use the 'router' to create a plate-like surface. The bit at the end of the router was vicious and took away a lot of wood in a very short period of time. After persisting at using the router, I eventually got from the crater to this point.

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(Crater)

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(Pre-Sanding)

At this point, I used a Dremel tool to round out some of the edges of the 'moat' and to take off some of the excess wood. After this point, I needed to sand the entire piece. I used a small disc sander to sand the 'moat' as seen in the picture above. I spend about 1.5 hours doing this, and it eventually smoothed out all the rough spots from the router and Dremel tool. I used two different grades of sand paper and eventually got the 'moat' nice and smooth. I proceeded to use hand sandpaper of varying grades on the rest of the board and smoothed out all of the remaining rough edges. There were a few areas near the handle that needed a bit more work, and eventually I completed the entire sanding process.

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After this, all that was needed was a nice finishing coat. I applied a nice layer of mineral oil+beeswax substance as seen in the picture below. I let it sit for about an hour and wiped off the remaining excess parts. I think because my wood started out really light that the oil did not soak in and darken the board as much.

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After this, I had a pretty much complete product. In terms of functionality, I believe the board would be best used to serve small loaves of bread or dinner rolls with different spreads that could fit in the moat. The initial prototypes used butter, which fit perfectly in the moat. I thought about it more and I think that even liquid dips could be placed in the moat as it is relatively deep. Using cheeses or other liquid substances could be effective with the design of the breadboard. The ergonomics of the curved handle is nice and it feels like a chef knife. Throughout this entire process, I really enjoyed learning about the different iterations for tools/vessels that could potentially be used for Thanksgiving. As per usual, this is my finished product below.

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The Plate as a Canvas

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After receiving the assignment #3 of utilizing the plate as a canvas by manipulating cake with various design principles, I realized that I could congregate a lot of the different techniques we learned in class to apply to our plating. I was definitely excited to use a honey spice cake as a base, especially from a recipe from such an accredited pastry chef from La Belle Vie. My initial thoughts got me thinking about the main ingredients of the cake. Being that it was heavy with honey, ginger, and cinnamon, it reminded me a lot of a fall/autumn type base to the pastry in itself. From this, I decided to start brainstorming some initial components I could potentially add to my cake base. I created a list of ingredients and came up with this.

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As you can see, my initial ideas exemplified using some of the ingredients in the cake in their raw or altered forms. I also came up with a list of fruits that I could potentially use. I eventually decided to settle with apples and persimmons. I chose to use apples because they are in season and remind me a lot about fall. I also decided to use persimmon because they are considered a bit more exotic, and are also my favorite fruit. I remember growing up and my mom would always buy persimmons by the box load from the oriental store. I recently had a bag full delivered to my apartment from my mom during the last week, so I decided to utilize them into my plating.

Throughout my idea generation phase, I started sketching some potential ideas to shape/mold the cake. With the persimmon and apple being round fruit, I decided to further develop that theme by utilizing curved lines and edges in some initial sketches. As seen in the right side of the image above, I decided to use odd numbers in some of the dots as well as making the focal point of my initial ideas with a rounded piece of cake on the left side of the plate. I also had some initial ideas for things I could shape or mold the cake into.

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As I decided to iterate my sketches a bit more, I ended up trying to utilize more design elements in that I wanted to use the rule of thirds for my focal points as well as creating contrast in elements by adding sharp edges to the rounded cake and fruits.

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I also tried using some curved edges with the golden triangle rule as seen here with some on my initial design sketches.

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Finally, I also thought about some different shapes I could potentially use as seen here.

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After some of these initial sketches, I decided to try and experiment with some cooking techniques. I used the cake we made in class and cut it up into a few different shapes.

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I started thinking about some different shapes, and decided that my rounded theme of having a round cake would work best for what I wanted to achieve. I was looking to complement the roundness of the base fruits, and I thought this would be the best method in doing so.

During the first lab, I was able to start melting some chocolate and playing with some of the different shapes and techniques to use in my plating. Diane showed the class some cool things you could do with chocolate and cold water during the first class, and it got me inspired to learn and test some different chocolate melting techniques. I first tried melting some Nestle chocolate chips.

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I then tried to create some shapes in cold water during our lab.

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As you can see, the chocolate did not form very well. I asked Diane what I could do to improve and she told me to use ice in my water, and use different chocolate. She referred me to the store 'Michael's' to buy some melting chips. She said that the melting chips are a lot easier to manipulate and form intricate shapes for decorations. She finally showed me how to use a shiny plastic sheet to form shapes. I started experimenting with the sheets and mad some basic dots with the chocolate. I realized that the Nestle chocolate would not work that well.

When I got home, I went to Michaels and started experimenting with different chocolates. I bought three kinds, dark, white, and peanut butter melting chips. Here is an image of me melting some of the white chocolate chips.

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Here are some dots I made with the peanut butter melting chips.

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During class, I got a cool 'doughnut' shaped mold from Diane, and was able to use them to make some cake pieces at home.

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After completing a couple of batches, I was able to use them for my iterations of platings.

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The next thing I did was I cut up some persimmons and decided to blend them.
I also thinly sliced about five pieces of persimmon and placed them on low-heat in the oven on a So-Pat that Diane lended to me as well. After I carefully blended the persimmon pieces, I put them in a bag like this to use as a puree for my dishes and put them in the fridge.

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After a few hours, I got back to work after the persimmon slices dehydrated. I started using some of the white chocolate and made some stripes for some initial plating ideas as seen here.

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As you can see, this was just an initial step as I tried some ideas out.

I had some doughnut pieces that I filled to the brim that did not have holes in the middle, so I tried another plating idea here.
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With this idea, I started adding some design elements such as the rule of odd numbers as well as utilizing colors that represented fall/autumn. The persimmon provided a nice, vibrant color to contrast on the white background. The chocolate was a nice strip I created with dark chocolate in a line.

Although this was a decent idea, I still felt I needed to utilize more design elements, so I went back and sketched out a final vision in what I wanted to see as elements of my final design.

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This design helped me utilize the golden triangle to use as focal points as well as additional elements to connect my components. Through the multiple batches of honey spice cake I created, I filled the mold to various levels, and with a few of them only filled half of a mold. This created a nice crescent-shaped piece of cake that helped me use from my final vision. I also tried cutting full pieces of cake to resemble empty space and crescent-shaped objects. Through using some of these ideas, I tried this plating with whole pieces of fruit.

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The white chocolate in this plating was used as a directional piece to lead to the other piece of the cake missing. The whole fruit was too dominant, and I decided to try a new re-plate.

With the cut pieces of cake, I also tried using some of the alternative elements that I have created, so I used the puree for lines as well as a thin piece of chocolate for a bridge to connect the two main components in this plating. I also filled the hole of the doughnut shaped piece with some cream cheese.

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After playing with some of the dark chocolate bags to make random shapes, I decided to cross hatch a bridge out of one and see what happens. I also curled the plastic sheets in the freezer when I was chilling the chocolate, and it created a really cool shape I ended up using in my future platings. Next, I decided to use a crescent-shaped piece of cake with a whole doughnut piece. I used the dehydrated pieces of persimmon as well. This is where I added the chocolate bridge as mentioned earlier as well. At this point, I wasn't sure how to use the apple yet, so I left it out.

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Through all of these iterations between lab 2 and the class presentation, here is how my final piece came together on the day of critique #3. During that morning, I prepped a lot of my materials beforehand at home, including saving the intricate chocolate bridge, some of the cake pieces and the persimmon puree. I also made another puree with persimmon and apple sauce to potentially use as another design element. When I got to class, I put the different elements together and this is how it ended up looking like.

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Alternate angle:
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As you can see, I brought many of the elements of my design from the night before, and added a few last pieces as well. I thought it would be a good idea to create a line of white chocolate around the rim to connect two new elements of the plating. On the upper left side, there is a boiled melon-balled honey-crisp apple I decided to add. I also have dots on the bottom left corner that are made of persimmon and apple sauce. Over the top right corner, there is the piece of cake that is doughnut shaped with the chocolate bridge connect the two main pieces of cake. The crescent piece in the bottom left corner is dipped in white chocolate on the ends as well as having a persimmon puree in the middle forming a pool. This element was added to give the overall plating more moisture. Finally, I have the dehydrated pieces of persimmon resting on top of the crescent-shaped cake, and I utilized the power of odd numbers in a few different sequences throughout the final plating. As you can see, I really wanted to emphasize the golden triangle as my focal points for my dish. The contrasts of the white plate and the bright colors of the fruit objects were also useful to help make the dish more interesting. Another contrast I used was the white and dark chocolate running right by each other. Overall, my final plating utilized many of the different design elements that I have been able to learn throughout the semester, and I am glad to have been able to iterate and reiterate to create this final fall-themed plating.

Amuse bouche Exploration

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Blog 2.1: Brainstorming

After conducting a bit of research on what 'amuse bouche' is, I quickly learned that it is a single, bite-sized hors doeuvre. I had never heard of the phrase prior to class, and I now know that it is derived of french origin. It is also a dish to be serve as a complementary addition from the chef to prepare for a meal.

A little more about amuse bouche. I actually have cousins who grew up in France, and I happened to reach out to them to learn a bit more about the origin of the dish. I learned that this phrase translates to be 'amusing the mouth' and is common in nicer restaurants. They were also quite jealous that I am taking a cooking class in which I am able to learn about the design that goes into food while in college!

Anyways, to start things off, I decided to do a little brainstorming. I knew that the assignment required us to use an in-season MN fruit or vegetable. I thought about a few initial items I could surround my creation with, and my brain went everywhere. I started by thinking about pumpkins and potatoes and apples. I also categorized things into sweet, sour, and other as seen here.

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Then I thought about my youth and realizing how I much I used to enjoy going to Apple Orchards to pick fresh apples and all of the leisurely activities that come with it. Through this, I realized I wanted to move forward with doing something with apples and pairing it with anything that would come to mind. I started by brainstorming a list of things that had apples in it. Look at this image, you can see I thought about quite a few different things.

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As you can see, I thought about a lot of forms of apples I could potentially use. I also decided to create a mind-map with Apples at the 'core' to try to brainstorm some initial ideas as well that would pair well.

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Another thing I decided to do to figure out some good things to pair apple with, so I went to foodpairing.com and explored their pairings maps. Here are some of my results.

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Blog 2.2: Initial Efforts
Through these initial brainstorming sessions, I decided to try a few initial ideas. My first idea had to be thrown out the window, as I wanted to use diced apples with nuts and rhubarb. After going to 4 different grocery stores, I realized that rhubarb is DEFINITELY NOT in season. I wanted to stew the rhubarb and use the liquids from the boiling to use as a bitter syrup with the apple and nuts. To replace this, I decided to try and stew ginger instead and try to boil it down. I got this idea from the foodpairings.com website. I took the liquid from the ginger and then proceeded to try and gel some of it. After doing so, I also tried crushing the almonds I had to add to the amuse-bouche. I scooped out an apple portion with a melon baller, and added the gelled ginger juice and nuts. Here is how it looked.

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As you can see, it looks a bit plain. I had the gelled ginger on the bottom, as it didn't gel very well. It was a bit runny, and I placed the spherical apple on top and sprinkled the crushed almonds around it. The flavor the of amuse bouche was also a unique contrast, but not in a good way. The apple was overpowering at first, and the ginger would kick in later. It was a bit spicy, but watered down. I could not taste the almonds and they were only there for texture. At this point, I decided to wrap it up and try something new. I also purchased a non-sweetened cherry juice and tried to add that to the amuse bouche.

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With the cherry juice, I tried to gel it as well and replace the gelled ginger in the same plate, but to my luck, it didn't gel well again. I'm not sure if I was mixing the gelling agent incorrectly, but I followed the same process as in class. At this point, I got a bit frustrated and decided to call it a day.

Blog 2.3: More Experimentation, Progress, and Sucess!

The next time I was able to work on trying some new things out, I thought about other ways I could prepare the apple besides just balling it out fresh. I went back to my original ideas and noticed 'baked apples' and 'apple pie'. I also wanted to try some alternate ways of preparing the apples, so I sliced them into thin slices as seen here.

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Right before I decided to bake them in my microwave oven, I took them out and wanted to try adding a few things before they got baked. See the diagram below to see how I decided to do with the apples and what they looked like after I baked them.

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Backtracking a bit, here is how I covered the different apples with graham crackers. I used an egg yolk and covered the apples with the yolk on a plate of crushed graham crackers. Here is an image of how that worked.

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After they were cooked, I took a little bite out of each one. They all tasted good (cinnamon, graham cracker, cinnamon and graham cracker, plain), but I realized that the cinnamon and graham cracker covered apple tasted the best. Through this process, I decided to cut the apple into wedge shapes as seen here. They look like mini apple pie slices!

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Next, I decided to do some experimenting with creams. I first tried using heavy whipping cream and placing it into a bowl of Sodium Alginate to form a gelled outside of whipping cream. After placing it into a bowl of Sodium Alginate, it dispersed and did not gel well.

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Once again, I had gelling issues. I wasn't sure if my Sodium Alginate mix was off, or if the whipping cream didn't have enough calcium, but it was quite frustrating. I decided that the whipping cream wouldn't be that good tasting anyways, and decided to try something more exotic with vanilla gelato.

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With the gelato, I grabbed a small scoop with the melon baller and placed it in a bowl of Sodium Alginate carefully. As I dropped it in, the gelato was starting to gel, but it was also MELTING! I took the piece out, and ate it quickly to see how it tasted. It did have a gelled layer around the melting glob of gelato, but it was not sustainable as there was no way it would hold together as it melted.

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Once again, I almost had a great gel, but didn't think about the melting factor. I would like to try gelling a melting object, but thought that it would be too risky on the final creation. I decided it might be better just to scoop out a ball of gelato quickly right after it came from the freezer.

The next thing I decided to try was to make a gel that FINALLY worked. After so many unsuccessful attempts, I altered the initial gelling agent by using a little less water when mixing it with the packet of gel powder. I then proceeded to create a separate bowl of lime juice, another ingredient I wanted to try that would give a sharp contrast to the sweet, Honeycrisp apples.

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After squeezing some lime into the small container, I also added a bit of honey to try and lessen the sourness of the lime. It was also listed as a good pairing on the foodpairing.com website. After heating up some water and creating the gel concoction, I finally added a portion of the gel agent to the lime-honey mix.

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Adding it all to a custard cup, I ended up placing it in the fridge, and hoping that it would finally form into a formed gel. At this point, 30 minutes elapsed, and I carefully opened the fridge. Cautiously grabbing the custard cup, I was quietly hopeful that it would form. I looked down into the cup, and this is what I saw.

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IT WORKED! I was able to finally create a gel that I could add to my amuse bouche spoon! I quickly cut up a few pieces and rolled it out onto a cutting board as seen here.

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Carefully, I decided to start crafting a nice arrangement on a spoon with all of these created elements of a potential amuse bouche. I used the melon baller to scoop a nice ball of vanilla gelato out of the jar and carefully placed the baked apple wedge on top of the gelato.

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Finally, I placed a nice square of the lime-honey gel at the tip of the plate.

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Anxious to try the amuse bouche, I grabbed the ladle of the spoon and tried it. My first thoughts were that it reminded me of a pie a la mode, the cold gelato starting the bite, then the crunch of the graham crackers and sweetness of the apple kick in. Suddenly, the sharp sourness of the lime-honey gel kicks in at the end of the bite and alters the entire experience. Although it is a sharp sour, it is a great contrast, as it reminds you of a granny smith apple, or the two extremes of how sweet and sour can vastly differ. Nonetheless, I felt as if my final idea for the amuse bouche was coming together quite nicely. The only things I considered changing for the critique day was to add balls of lime-honey juice mixed with Calcium Chloride and placing into the Sodium Alginate to make small balls of gel with the squares to give even more contrast.

Blog 2.4: Critique Day - Final Recipe

This is a quick recollection of my process for the day of the critique. I definitely gathered all of my materials and brought them to class 15 minutes early so that I would have a little over an hour to prepare my amuse bouche. As I arrived to class, I knew that the lime-honey gel would take the longest to make, so I decided to make that first. I quickly squeezed a few limes to get some juice and added some honey. I also boiled some water to create the gelling agent and placed a 1:1 ratio into the custard cup. I went through the process a lot quicker than before, and I gave myself about a little under an hour for the lime-honey to gel.

The second thing I did was prepared the apples. I underwent the same process as my final creation. I sliced about six thin apple slices, covered them in egg yolk, sprinkled some cinnamon on top, and finally hand crushed some graham crackers on a plate and covered the apples with it. I had the oven preheating to 250 degrees and placed the apples in the oven on a 15 minute timer.

At this point, I tried to make a minor change to my amuse bouche by trying to make some lime-honey balls with Calcium Chloride and Sodium Alginate. I tried mixing different combinations of Calcium Chloride and lime-honey juice together to try different ratios so that I could form some little balls to be created from the Sodium Alginate. I also added a drop of food coloring (green) to make it more visually appealing with the lime balls. After trying a few different ratios of lime-honey and Calcium Chloride and dropping them into separate dishes of Sodium Alginate, I was able to form some small gelled balls. However, when I transferred them into a bowl of cold water, they would burst, as the gel was too thin. I asked a professor on some possible solutions, but at this point, I was running a bit low on time (~15 minutes), and I needed to make sure that my original gel was formed in the fridge. I decided to scrap this additional idea unless I had time at the end.

Going back to the fridge, I checked my lime-honey gel, and surprisingly, it was still quite runny. I started to panic a bit, and knew that I only had around 10 minutes to prepare 10 spoons, but my gel wasn't forming well. I decided to think quickly on my feet and but the lime-honey gel into the freezer to see if it would form quicker in colder conditions. I then proceeded to grab the gelato out of the freezer and sliced the apples after pulling them from the oven. I placed all of my spoons out onto a cookie sheet and quickly added 10 melon balls of vanilla gelato onto the spoons. I then placed the baked apple wedges on top of the gelato, and quickly ran to the fridge to grab the gel in hope that it had formed. To my surprise, the freezer actually worked, and it formed quick well! I had about two minutes at this point, and quickly diced small cubes to be placed at the tip of the amuse bouche spoons. Quickly wrapping up, I finished in the nick of time, and my amuse bouche final creation can be seen below!

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The gelato did melt a bit prior to the critique, but it still ended up perfectly fine. I hope you enjoyed this blog of my creation of an amuse bouche!

Blog 1.6 - The Finale

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I wanted to write a short blog post on the final adjustments I made during the day of the critique. Going into the day, I was really tired due to a lot of student group obligations in combination with papers for a Senior capstone class, so I was not able to sleep too much the night before.

On my arrival, I had all of my ingredients ready, but it took me a few minutes to get things situated. My brain wasn't ready to face the pressures of cooking with a 60 minute timer ticking away, but after about 5 minutes, I was ready to tango!

As I went through my process from the night before, I made two key changes that I think ultimately led to my best effort during the day. First, I did not want to bring my rice cooker in, and tried cooking on the stove with my rice. I had only practiced cooking using a pot in class in the week prior, as well as a couple of times over the weekend with varying results. During the first class period, I actually managed to BURN my rice in-class during our lab. Over the weekend, I made some tweaks with my stove at home, but I knew the conditions were not exactly the same (gas vs. electric stove, pot thickness, etc.) As I cooked my rice in class, I add a little more water to ensure that it would cook and not burn, as well as make it more sticky.

A second major change I made was that I changed to short-grain rice in class during the critique to have a stickier rice for my rice balls. I did not have any at home, and thus was only able to practice the week before. To my avail, I luckily cooked the rice fine, and everything went smoothly with my rice cooking.

With my vegetables all diced up and ready to be stir-fried, I ended up cooking them in a fryer with garlic and oil. I also combined some oyster sauce with Hoisin sauce to add some savory flavors with a bit of water to steam and soften the vegetables. Finally, when it was done, I separated the liquids from the stir-fry and put it off to the side. I placed the stir-fry as a base, and put the rice balls on top after I formed them into perfect spheres. I then topped the balls with some black pepper and drizzled them with the separated liquid flavors from the stir-fried vegetables and let it soak into the rice. Finally, I topped them off with a bit more stir-fry and black pepper.

Below is my final product. Voila!

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Blog 1.5: Stir-Fry Rice Balls

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After creating the stir-fry 'ants on a log', I decided that I wanted to try a similar direction, but instead, some sort of appetizer dish with stir-fry rice balls. Going through my groceries, i decided to use sweet petters, broccoli, carrots, and mushrooms.

WIth these ingredients, I decided to chop them into small diced pieces as seen here!

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After this, I steamed some long-grain rice, and added additional water to ensure that it would be sticky. After the rice was cooked, I took some out to let it cool.

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The vegetables were to be stir-fried, but quickly since they were sliced so thin. I started by warming some olive oil and garlic on the stove at a medium setting. Then, I threw the vegetables in and stir-fried them until them were softened and flavorful. I added oyster and hoisin sauce, but sparingly just for taste.

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After the completion of this stir-fry, I set it aside to let it cool, and put a bit on a plate. I then proceeded to grab some of the rice, and form it into a ball. I placed a bit of stir fry on the plate, and set the carefully crafted ball on top. I finally sprinkled with black pepper for aesthetics.

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I tried rolling the rice to get the vegetables to stick to the rice, but the rice was not sticky enough. In order to combat that, i pushed vegetables into rice when it was warmer, and want to try short-grain rice to see if that will work better. The warmer rice did in fact work better, and my almost finalized product is seen here.

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I can't wait try creating these stir-fry balls in class!

Blog 1.4: Adjustments

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Thinking about ways I could adjust my dish, I thought to myself, "maybe I could scale the size of the veggies down"?

Through these thoughts, it got me thinking - the sauce needs to also be simplified. There is too much going on, and sometimes, simplicity is a great solution.

In thinking this, I decided to calm my jets and try a new iteration of what I was to be doing for this assignment!

Blog 1.3: Frying Up some Veggies

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After coming off a lackluster and bland tasting initial creation, I decided to try and move towards another idea I had, which was a play on the snack 'ants on a log'. I looked into my fridge and found that I had carrots and onions in which I could use to be used as my bases for my logs. The carrots were chopped down the core to get a nice flat piece.

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I also decided to slice my onions into quarters and peeled back a few layers to act like saucers to use while also learning more about the textures after a few different cooking techniques.

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After chopping up these vegetables, I also threw a couple of cups of rice in my rice cooker (long grain) so that I could use them to be my ants. the dinner from the night before, I actually saw a cool idea from a local restaurant, "Obento Ya", where they used black sesame seeds to infuse into the rice, and I thought it might be something to consider while innovating with the dish!

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With the vegetables chopped and ready, I started by blanching them in a steaming pot of water. This was done to soften as well as reduce the flavor of the vegetables for later. Afterwards, I decided to quickly fry them to darken and harden the vegetables in olive oil as seen here.

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In doing so, I had nice flat pieces of carrots as well as curved 'saucers' that were made of onion. After taking them out of the oil, I decided to try and create some savory sauce from common stir fry sauces such as oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, and soy sauce, as well as a non-traditional sauce, balsamic vinaigrette to create a unique yet familiar flavor to top of the logs.

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I then proceeded to construct my dish by placing globs of my cooked rice on top of my vegetables. I then drizzled my sauce on top of each of these morsels of food to look like this.

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At the end, I decided to take a bite.

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Ehh, it was alright. Carrot was still kind of hard. Sauce was not that good. Adjustments still needed to be made. Til next time!

Blog 1.2: Rice and Broccoli (Attempt)

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This week, I started to try some experimenting with some of the ingredients I had readily available in my fridge. I really wanted to see what I could do with different variations of water levels in rice with my rice cooker, so i learned the "different" stickiness levels I could get to based on amounts of water.

As for trying out a new food dish, I started trying something simple. The first food experiment I tried was steaming rice, and steaming broccoli as well. I wanted to play with the plating and design of the rice with the broccoli, and ended up creating this...
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As you can see, this was pretty basic, and ended up being quite bland to say the least. I then tried adding a few elements to the dish, including lime juice, sriracha, black pepper, but the dish was not tasting very good. After trying this route, I decided to wrap things up and move in a new direction.

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As I got home from school today, I realized that my favorite foods as of recent was having vegetables mixed with a variety of sauces to please my hunger. I also have enjoyed cooking rice in my new rice cooker my parents got for me before the school year started.

This got me thinking, "How should I go about innovating these two ingredients?" As I started brainstorming, a few things came to mind. A few things I thought of revolved around using Chinese broccoli and rice together. I also wanted to try and find a way to make sauces from scratch to add to steamed white rice to see what kinds of flavors an textures were created.

As I started brainstorming, I thought about more of the ingredients placements. I wanted to try and create scenery with my food. I wanted to potentially use the Chinese Broccoli as a tree, and use a mound of rice to hold it up. I would then add the sauce around the rice and form an island around it.

Another idea I started thinking of was the reinvention of the snack "ants on a log". I wanted to utilize a flat steamed vegetable and cut through the heart to create a flat surface. Some initial vegetables that came to mind were carrots, Chinese broccoli, Bok Choy, and eggplant. I would then go and steam the vegetables, create some sort of vinaigrette or sauce to place onto the vegetable and place dabs of rice or lines of rice on top of the vegetable base.

My final idea revolved around making rice porridge, but completely altering the flavor to reflect a certain extremity (sour, savory, sweet) of flavor. I would also crush the rice up to create smaller peeves of grains to alter the texture.

These consist of my initial ideas and I definitely will put some of them to the test throughout the next few days.