Final Project - Fried Macaroni Cones - Joey / Annamarie

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To come up with an idea for this project, we started with idea generation. I thought it would be fun to work with a shandy beer, so we started with that. We thought of things that would pair well with orange, and found that goat cheese was an interesting candidate. We paired the goat cheese with fennel, and Annamarie being Italian, we decided to do a pasta dish. This is the ingredient map we came up with:

We aimlessly bought some fruit to work with as well, thinking they could pair with a macaroni or something.

Trying to come up with a way to incorporate the beer, we decided to do a shandy beer batter and somehow deep fry the pasta. We needed a vessel of some sort, and Barry recommended a cone. We bought a few different kinds of pasta tried a lot of different ways to roll a lasagna noodle into a cone before we found something that worked.

For the macaroni, we made a cheese sauce out of goat cheese and mozzarella at first, then added in the fennel leaves.

[macaroni pictures?]

We tried the two together and it tasted alright, but needed something more. We had the idea of a beer/cranberry reduction with honey so we tried that, but it really didn't work at all. We tried to add a corn starch to thicken it up but it turned out to be like a jelly and didn't work.

[sauce pics?]

For our interactive element, we decided on setting it up kind of like an ice cream bar, and scooping it in front of them and adding the "toppings".

When we made it for the food critique, we got some negative feedback and used that to make the dish better.

We needed more salt for flavor, and the cones were not crispy enough
and needed to be fried longer. In order to bring out the orange flavor, one idea was to add orange zest. We liked that idea because it added to the interactive element--we could add the orange zest in front of them before they ate it. The judges said they also couldn't taste the fennel in the macaroni, and the mozzarella was overpowering the goat cheese.

So it was back to the drawing board. We needed a new recipe basically. We started with the macaroni. When we made it again, we pureed the fennel and added it in for taste. We dropped the mozzarella and used parmesan cheese instead. We added salt, and the macaroni turned out nicely.

For the cones, we changed the way we were rolling them, made them wider, and collared the ends so they resembled little ice cream cones. Deep frying them was a LONG and painful process. Getting the temperature of the oil was hard and it took a lot of trial and error to get it right. To get them to taste salty we added salt as soon as they were done frying. We were able to whip out 90 golden brown crispy cones!

To top it off, we made a cranberry puree sauce. The judges feedback toward the sweet sauce was kind of negative, so we decided not to add any sugar to the sauce and found that the puree itself complimented the dish nicely.

Finally, we topped it off with some fennel leaves and orange zest in front of the user. For presentation and to add the user experience, Joey laser cut and crafted a stand for the cones to be displayed on like at an ice cream shop.

We put the fennel leaves for garnishing in a bowl, put the cranberry puree in a squeeze bottle, and put the oranges in a bowl. The color scheme worked well, and kind of resembled a Jamba Juice.

Recipe (we didn't work with a lot of measurements, sorry!):

Cones: Cook lasagna noodles and roll into cones. Pinch the ends so they stay together. Roll in a beer batter made with flour, beer, paprika, some corn starch, and a pinch of salt. Fry at 400 degrees until golden brown.

Macaroni filling: Cook macaroni, melt half parmesan cheese and goat cheese with butter, milk, and flour to create a sauce. Cook and puree the fennel, and add to taste. Mix in the macaroni.

Cranberry sauce: Cook and puree cranberries.

Put the macaroni in the cone, top with fennel, cranberry puree, and orange zest.


Utensil Design

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In class we started coming up with ideas for a utensil or vessel to create in the wood shop.

Unfortunately I lost my post its but here were the ideas in a list:

A cup that doesn't spill
Folding cutting board
Movable cutting board with handles
Choose your amount salt shaker
Bowl tongs (tongs that come together in a big sphere for picking up a lot of salad)
Cutting board with a hole and bag for catching scraps (no trips to garbage)
Mixing bowl with curved top so things don't fall out when you are mixing
Pie seperator
Cube cutter to cut kids food quickly
Handle that attaches to wine bottles for easy pouring and passing
Knife that toasts bread as you cut it
Reverse tongs (you squeeze to open)
Spoon that rests in pan

I started sorting through the ideas and eventually decided that on making a wooden spoon that rests in the pan so you don't drip everywhere. Of all the ideas, this was very feasible but also innovative and marketable. So I began sketching ways to make this possible.

I had multiple directions, one being an attachment that clips/rests on the pot so you can use any spoon. One spoon had slots to rest it horizontally, and one had a hook that allows the spoon to rest on the side of the pot. I was thinking the horizontal resting spoon could be problematic when it comes to balance/varying pot sizes. It would probably work if it were made out of a rubber, but out of wood I didn't think it would be very feasible.

I came up with an idea that combined the versatility of the attachment and the functionality of the hook spoon:

It has a hook attachment that slides up and down the spoon to accommodate different pot sizes/fill levels.

In order to prototype this hook mechanism idea, I came up with a very rough sketch model to test it.

It worked really well, but it was critical that the hook attachment would be able to slide up and down, because some pots are high and some are low, and if the hook gets covered in pasta sauce it's going to drip everywhere and defeat the purpose of the spoon.

When I went to the store to buy wood I was trying to find a nut/bolt mechanism to make it it slide, when I had another idea that I sketched out.

This idea had a hook/peg mechanism that fit into holes along the handle of the spoon. I was pretty confident that I could make this, and it solved my design problem.

Since I already had a wooden spoon, I started designing from it. I found it to be way too big for the pots I have at my apartment, so I came up with a smaller size that was easier for me to use. The spoon I have has a burn mark, so I quickly did some research to see if the spoon would burn if it was resting on a pot, but I found out that it wouldn't.

After a day in the wood shop, I came up with my final product and started using it.



Plating Project

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Here is a rough list of ideas/ingredients I came up with after the first lecture:

For my plating design I was inspired by skyscraper architecture. I had a few inspirations I was thinking of working with that I came up with like furniture, music, and patterns, but the architecture inspiration stood out to me the most because it gives a vertical element to the plate, something that's pretty more unique to food. I also knew it would be familiar, so I took that as a challenge to not make it tacky (such as being very literal by adding streets, trees, buildings, etc...)

To begin I cut half of the cake I was experimenting with into a bunch of shapes and started playing with them like blocks. I was just trying to create something relatively interesting that I could work off of in the future.

Some were more abstract and some were more structured. I wasn't too thrilled with anything I made out of the cake but I was just experimenting. Here's a few pictures of what I was doing:

I also started experimenting with ways to design on the plate. I wanted to dust cinnamon because it went well with the cake.

That looked pretty bad and I had no control so I started working with stencils and creating shapes. I used a strainer to sprinkle through for more control after one of the critics in class showed me how.

I was getting interesting gradients, so I decided to play with that and add powdered sugar for contrast. I ended up creating three "tones" with the cinnamon and powdered sugar.

I was going to make a design with the gradients and stencils on the plate, but then I realized it was taking away from the architectural inspiration I had. It started to look like random blocks of cake on top of a pretty pattern, not a building. So I ended up using the gradient idea as a shadow to enhance the structural aspect of my design instead of distracting from it.

Before I threw it away I quickly played with a little bit of design with honey. It didn't turn out so well.

For critique in class, I knew I needed to work on the structure of the cake. So I went online and looked at buildings for inspiration. The ends of the cake provided interesting curves to work with, and they reminded me of the Sydney Opera House.

So what I was planning to make in class for critique was kind of inspired by a mix of the Opera House and the Sears tower in Chicago.

I tested it out before class critique and made this:

At the end of class that day I ended up with this:

I wanted to abstract the idea of streets with the honey, but it ended up being pretty messy. There were a few things wrong with my design. The cake looked very dry and gross. There was no color or garnish. There was little visual interest apart from the gradient.

In order to fix these problems I did a few things. First I chose a garnish, a strawberry, and worked with color and contrast using red. I dyed the honey with a tiny bit of beet puree to give it a pop of color and contrast with the plate.

I also glazed the cake with a mix of honey and water to give it a moist/shiny appearance instead of a dull, dry appearance.

Before:

After:

For my final plating, I really pushed the darks and lights gradient and made it fill much more of the plate than before. I used a simple strawberry garnish for color and contrast. The dots of red honey were organic and sporadic because I wanted it to contrast with the structure and geometry of the building and shadow. I didn't want to overwhelm or take attention away from the structure on the plate with the garnish and honey, but I wanted to balance it out, which is why my design was very minimal.

Spoon Project

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So to start I just made a really small list of ingredients I thought would be fun to work with, and a list of seasonal ingredients.

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After I had a small list going I started to think of things I could put on a spoon. When I was coming up with ideas I realized they weren't very creative because I was just thinking of making small portions of dishes and putting them on a spoon. So I stopped coming up with these "dish" ideas and just started to think more in raw ingredient combinations.

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I wrote down a food pairing list for bacon at the bottom, but I was looking at the Food Bible for other ingredients as well, I just didn't write them down. I turned these long lists into smaller food pairing webs of ingredients I was interested in working with.

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Looking at the food webs I thought the sweet and savory bacon combination was pretty interesting, so I went forward with that and started thinking of fewer, more closely related flavor pairings. I ended up with this:

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One major aspect of the project was texture manipulation. I began with gelling two of my ingredients, maple syrup and apple cider. The apple cider gelled really well:

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However, the maple syrup did not gel well at all. It was crystallized and had a really terrible texture. It basically made me gag. It was out of the picture.

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Now that I had my gelled ingredient, I wanted to see how many different textures I could get from the sweet potatoes. I mashed them for a mushy texture, caramelized them in maple syrup for a chewy texture, and fried them two different ways for a crunchy texture.

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My favorite was the mashed and the caramelized, it had good texture contrast and I thought the maple syrup would add to the other ingredients.

I also cooked apples in a few different ways. I had the idea of just serving it raw, and also cooking it in bacon grease. The bacon apples were too soft though, and the crisp apple contrasted better with the other ingredients. (I also tried applesauce but when paired with the other ingredients things just got really mushy.)

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Finally, I used little caramels to give it a chewy element. I played with melting the caramel, but the chewy texture added the most to the spoon.

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I created many different spoon combinations to try out all of these different textures together, while slowly adding ingredients to get the best combinations. I decided on doing two textures for each main ingredient--gelled apple cider and crisp apple, soft bacon and crispy bacon, and caramelized sweet potatoes and mashed sweet potatoes. Here are a few of the spoons that led me up to the final:

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My final spoons used caramelized sweet potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, crispy bacon, softer bacon, gelled apple cider, honey crisp apple, a piece of caramel, and cinnamon. I was really happy with how the apple cider gel kind of turned into a liquid while you were eating it and I put it in the middle to be sure it was chewed. It complimented the spoon nicely.

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Rice Project

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Before I began cooking anything I just came up with a list of rough ideas and flavors I was interested in using, disregarding if it was actually possible or not. Some of my favorites involve liquid nitrogen but I was told I couldn't bring that. I also thought of things like taking a rice krispy bar and using it as a delivery device for fried rice (not a dessert), and making pizza and breadsticks out of rice. I don't know if that's possible but it would be cool.

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I decided to go with making ice cream out of rice. I've never heard of that before, so it sounded pretty original, to me at least. I looked up recipes online and found a lot of them required an ice cream machine. After searching for a while I found this really vague recipe:

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There were no pictures and the instructions were kind of vague but I just wanted to see what it ended up making. The first time I tried this the milk and rice burned and I had to throw it out. The second time I lowered the heat. This is the rice cooking in the milk:

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I wanted chocolate ice cream so I added dark chocolate:

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This is what the rice ended up looking like after it was done cooling in the fridge and I added the cream:

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It tasted good, had texture like ice cream, and my roommates enjoyed it, but I thought it was pretty boring and it needed something else. I couldn't just serve that. So I went back to my list of ideas for something else. In class we talked about flavor and texture contrasts and I wanted both. Over that weekend, I went to Sebastian Joe's in Uptown for ice cream. My friend got chocolate ice cream but it had cayenne pepper in it. The contrast of cool/spicy was unexpected and really interesting--I've never had something like that before. I actually had cayenne pepper at home and even put it on my list.

Another thing I was looking for was texture contrast. My friend Neva who was with me is Japanese and she introduced me to mochi, a sort of gummy/starchy/chewy/slightly sweet rice dessert. She suggested frying mochi until it's crispy and chewy.

So I looked up how to make mochi, and there were a ton of recipes. I found one for homemade mochi from short grain rice, not potato or rice starch. Basically it consisted of pounding rice with a mortar and pestle, but I didn't have one. I figured this could work just as well:

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Before I started making the mochi, me and my roommates took the ice cream I had made before and tasted it with anything we had in the kitchen--strawberries, raspberries, soy sauce, Nutella, mustard (yeah, gross), carrots, mint, coco puffs, crackers, mango, peach, lemons, salt, beer, just anything really. We found a lot of good combinations, especially the fruits, but we thought peanut butter was the best tasting.

So I had to come up with a peanut butter mochi recipe. I blended the rice until it was super fine, almost powdery. I soaked it in sugar water for 1 hour, then started cooking it. At this point I had really no idea what I was doing, I just knew that the rice had to be pasty.

Here is the rice cooking:

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And then I added peanut butter:

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And here it is all pasty and stuff. I added some milk as it cooked until the rice was super tender:

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To make the mochi you roll the balls in a potato starch or a corn starch until it's no longer sticky. I played with different amounts of starch and found that it all tasted pretty much the same.

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When I fried the mochi, I played with different thicknesses and found thin "patties" to be the best. Thick "patties" were chewier in the middle and thin ones were crispier.

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Toasting it was a good idea, it tastes like peanut butter toast. I remade the rice cream but this time I added cayenne pepper until it had a nice kick to it:

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I played with some plating techniques and decided to serve the rice cream ontop of the toasted mochi with chocolate syrup and peanut butter to enhance the flavors. You can really taste the rice in the dish which makes it interesting, but I served it with the syrup and peanut butter to enhance the flavor and make it less bland.

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I tested it out with some friends and my roommates. They really enjoyed it, and said it was really good, but would rather have it in a smaller quantity because of the heat. 6/10 friends even requested some milk after eating it. So I thought, why not include some milk with the dessert? It pairs nicely. When I serve this on Wednesday, I'm going to serve it in a single bite sized amount, which will increase the texture contrast between the cream and the mochi. I will also serve it with a shot of milk to cool down after the heat of the cayenne pepper. It will be one short experience but I think it's the perfect amount for something like this.

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