Currently Under Experiment in the LAB

At any given point in time there are usually a number of recipes I have at various states of development in the LAB kitchen. Often I’ll see a type of produce at the markets that is just coming into season or I see a bag of something at the back of the cupboard that needs to be used and it sparks a thought. Otherwise I will just get an unreasonable yearning to incorporate beer into a recipe or another food blog will remind me of a recipe I used to make.

Really my head is the first test-tube in the LAB. From the first twinkle in my eye, a recipe will often spend many hours running around my head, usually while I’m in a lecture and I should be paying attention. During this time, thoughts of flavours come and go that would pair well until a dish starts to come together. Often I’ll start researching a bit about the ingredient: it’s source, how to cook it and what other people do with it.

Then we get to cooking. Often this goes well and it becomes dinner or breakfast and will get posted, but sometimes it needs more tweaking, especially with ingredients that are new to me. So I thought I’d let you in on experiments that are currently underway in the LAB that will grace your screens over the next few weeks.

At the moment the LAB has a few projects in various stages:
Homemade Vanilla Extract – this is not a LAB recipe, but I’ll post it because it fits the LAB philosophy
Chestnut Tarts
The Volume Ratio for Dough to Pan
Husband-Approved Healthy Chocolate Mousse
A beer version of one of the above

Vanilla Extract
I’ve been seeing a lot about making your own vanilla extract and given I have recently acquired a sweet-tooth and I’m going through vanilla extract en masse I thought it was worth a try. So I caught a big hairy spider and put it in a jar of vodka…

Of course it is actually vanilla beans, but I thought it looked a lot like a spider in a jar. Homemade vanilla extract is as easy as 1 cup of vodka to 3 vanilla pods sliced length-ways. Shake it once a week for 8 weeks and voila! Once it’s ready in 8 weeks I’ll test it in some recipes and then let you know how it goes.

I guess the only trick is getting cheap vanilla beans and vodka. For the vanilla beans I’d recommend looking in Indian grocery stores, I got 3 for $3.75.

Chestnut Tart
I saw some chestnuts at the markets and then the thought of chestnuts hijacked my brain. However having never cooked with them before and finding out that they’re not the friendliest little nuts in giving over their tasty guts I’m still working on the final version. So here is a delicious failure (this is before it was cooked).

I was still very happy to eat them, but the flavour was too monotonal so I’m going to give it some ‘highlights’ and the texture was not all I was after.

Sandwich No Knead Bread

The recipe is right on this one but I’m really interested in getting the biggest loaf I can out of my pan without it turning it into elephant-man bread. On top of the bread turning into curtains, I also managed to melt plastic-handled knife in the oven this day so I had a “Dali-Day” I guess.

Husband-Approved Healthy Chocolate Mousse
There are some beautiful healthy chocolate mousse recipes, but dear husband, bless him, doesn’t like coconut. This is a problem because coconut oil is a nifty ingredient as it is liquid above 24 degrees and solid below that, so it helps achieve a beautiful texture without lots of naughty cream. Also, although coconut oil has many reputed health benefits, it is very high in calories. So I’m working on a super-low calorie alternative with the same creamy texture.

A beer version of one of the above
I had just one recipe in mind, but looking at the other experiments in the LAB, I think I could probably find the right beer to incorporate into any of the chestnut tarts, bread or mousse. Hmmm…maybe I will.

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