Bel Cream Maker

I just discovered that there is such a thing as a home double cream maker!

There is a great post here: Cooking in someone else's kitchen: Another historic appliance.

I already sometimes make my own cream

I wonder if I can extend the process somehow to make double cream, take equal parts of this butter and more cream? I'll have to try it. If I can't get it to work, then I will need this handy Bel Cream Maker tool!

Pizza Time: Margharita madness! Assemble, cook, eat.

It's time to assemble the pizza.

First get your oven very hot.

Hot, hot, hot! As hot as it will go.

Here I am using two of my favorite toys, the Hamilton Beach 31199 Counter Top Rotisserie Oven and the Raytek MT6 Mini Temp Infrared Thermometer.

The oven has a huge (for a toaster oven) 1 cubic foot of space inside, and includes convection, so it can cook things real quick. Pre-heat your oven as high as it will go, the highest I could get mine was about 650F. Even higher would be better, so long as you don't start a fire!

Here I was using the oven pan, however I have since had much better result using a 12" terra cotta paver (unglazed) for about $2 from Home Depot.

Another blog of mine documents my attempts to create an oven that reaches 1000F. We'll see how that goes.

Meanwhile, assemble the pizza.

Take 4 or 5 of the oven dried tomatoes and arrange them decoratively.

Then tear pieces of mozarella and intersperse among the tomatoes.

If you want to be genuinely Italian, then hardly put anything on at all. If you want more - have more!

Lay a few basil leaves over the top of all this, then drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.

Season with pepper and smoked sea salt to taste, then carefully slide into the oven. How you do this is up to you, but obviously it's best to have a proper pizza peel (with a short handle, if you don't have a commercial sized kitchen).

Watch the pie carefully as best you can. Try and rotate it after a few minutes to get more even cooking. It will be ready when some of the mozarella starts to turn brown and bubbles slightly. The time will depend on your oven and how hot you can get it (hot, hot hot!)

Then let it cool for a minute or two - you don't want to burn your mouth!

Use your favorite pizza cutting tool to slice up the pizza.
I like to use the
Zyliss Slicer
because it gives you proper leverage to cut safely, and snaps apart for easy cleaning.

And here we have it, the perfect Pizza Margharita:

Pizza Time: Margharita madness! The dough and the sauce.

Hehe, more Heston madness.

For the dough, have 500g (about a pound) of flour, I used all-purpose, but there is probably some super dough with exactly 12% protein content. Don't know, don't care. Flour is flour to me.

Mix with water in a water-to-flour 17:30 ratio (hey do the math!)
If you are really nuts, you can prepare 1/3 of the dough 12 hours ahead of time, if you can tell the difference, let me know.

[OK, OK.
For the pre: 1/3 = 167g flour, 17/30 = 95g water.
For the final: 2/3 = 333g flour, 17/30 = 189g water.
Divide the dough into 5 equal balls and let rest out of the fridge for 2 hours.

Meanwhile, take half of your peeled tomatoes, cut nearly in half, and squeeze out the juice into a largish stainless steel pot. You are going to boil them to a mush, so no need to be gentle. If the tomatoes came on the vine, put the vines in too - more flavor apparently.
Careful with tomatoes - they are very acidic - so don't put them in a copper pan unless you like the taste of copper and no pan.
Bring to a boil, set to a very low heat, and simmer for ages. Two hours or more. Be sure to stir frequently so the bottom layer doesn't burn. You want a soft mush like thick spaghetti sauce. Alternatively, buy a jar of spaghetti sauce and use that.

Take one ball of dough. Using your hands flatten it out into a perfect circle. If you want to throw it spinning into the air be my guest, I just flattened it out. The dough will be as perfectly circular as you are a perfect person, so try hard.

Take a spoon, or better a ladle, and put some sauce on the dough. Use the back side of the ladle to squish the sauce nearly, but not quite, to the edges of the circle.

Your pizza base is now prepared!

I can't wait for Heston Blumenthal's next offering:
Further Adventures in Search of Perfection and I've decided to splurge on:
The Big Fat Duck Cookbook.

The latter isn't coming out until November of this year, and at $150+ I will need all of that time to save my pennies. I'm going to get a 5% discount for pre-ordering, which counts for a lot at this price!

Pizza Time: Margharita madness! The tomato prep.

OK it's time for a pizza.

Well, not right now. Since I like to take the longest possible time to cook anything, it'll be pizza time in 12 hours or so.
That's what happens when you base your recipes on Heston Blumenthal.

Buy some cheap tomatoes, roma are fine, any will do. Cheap counts, you want at least 7 lbs for all this fuss.

First step, prep the tomatoes. Take out the top part of the core near the vine and discard. Incise a cross in the side for easier peeling. Plunge into a boiling pot of water for 20 seconds (less if very ripe) then into an ice bath.

Keep half of the tomatoes for the sauce.

Halve them, and seed them out, then place on a cookie sheet. Save the seeds and juice for the sauce too.

Drizzle a little olive oil over them, and add a sprinkling of thyme and basil.

Slice up some garlic (I buy ready peeled - bad chef!) and place into the well of each tomato.

Add a powdering of sugar, and add fresh ground pepper and smoked sea salt.

Pop in a convection oven at 225F for 90 minutes, turn then 90 minutes more.


Heston Blumenthal's Twist in the Tail

I made Heston Blumenthal's Twist in the Tail recipe yesterday. Actually yesterday, the day before and the day before that too.

Because I have made a few of Heston's recipes before I pretty much knew what I was in for.

I knew if I was going to that much trouble, I wanted more meat, so I grabbed 5lbs of 7 bone chuck steak on special for 99c lb, and 2 lbs of oxtail at $5 lb (no special there) for the oxtail's truly great flavor.

I bought some cheapo red plonk for $5 for 1.5L, so overall I was able to keep the cost down and the yield high.

I got these really great vegetables, leeks, tomatoes, mushrooms, and on and on. Chop em up, fry em, and add them all in.
And with a sinking feeling I realized that they were all going to be discarded. Sad.

The result? An absolutely insanely great stew. And that is what Heston is all about: insane, and great.

Another relative commented on the interesting and subtle sweet notes in the stew.
I tried to wave it off as being the sweetness of the cooked onions, but nooooo, that wasn't good enough!
So I was shamefacedly forced to reveal that yes, I had caramelized some turbinado sugar in a reduction of red wine vinegar.

There is no limit to Heston's excess!

When relatives pointed out that is really was rather nice of me to go to all that trouble for them, I had to explain that I did this recipe for myself, to see if I could do it.

If I had actually made this FOR someone, I would have exceedingly bitter and eternally hateful thoughts about that person for making me feel obliged to go through such extreme torture for a stupid meal.

Carbonated Chicken Consomme - Chicken-up.

Today I tried my carbonated chicken consomme.

It is really quite strange, it has the mouthfeel of coca-cola or seven-up, the saltiness of potato chips, and of course the chicken/vegetable flavor.

I guess I will call it chicken-up.

It is quite filling (from the carbonation I suppose, the fullness likely won't last long). It would make a good amuse bouche starter for a summer salad lunch on a hot day.

I made chicken broth in the usual way, then clarified this with egg-whites and shells, then chilled it, then carbonated it.

Here is my carbonating system.