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“Airs & Spheres” – Adventures in Molecular Cooking [5]

Molecular Gastronomy Class #2 – “Airs and Mozzarella Spheres”

Molecular Gastronomy Class, MyLastBite.com“Laboratory Work” was the title of the second Molecular Gastronomy class I attended in February, and it was so much more fun than the first. Instead of learning just one recipe throughout the afternoon, we were allowed to work on several. My favorites included: Airs, Mozzarella Spheres, “Wine” Caviar, and Hot Ice Cream.

Like the initial class I took back in November, this was also taught by Chef Michael Young at Sur la Table in Los Angeles. I was joined again by husband Peter and food-lovin’ nephew Cody and fellow foodblogger Phil (My Life as a Foodie) and his friend, Jill.

Before coming to class, I was most excited about learning how to make “airs”. Since purchasing Ferran Adria’s el Bulli (molecular gastronomy) mini kit, I hadn’t yet had the courage to try out the Lecite, which is part of the ‘EMULSIFICACIÓN’ Group. Lecite is a natural soy lecithin-based emulsifier, and it’s ideal for making flavored airs (links below).

As it turns out, making foams and airs was easy: add the Lecite and whip until frothy!

Recipe for Carrot Air:

18 oz carrot juice
3g lecithin (aka lecite), food grade

Place the carrot juice and lecite into a large bowl and blend with a stick-blender until foaming. Scoop out whipped “air” from top and serve.

Making Carrot Foam, MyLastBite.com
In photos: Cody and Peter, Carrot air, Phil, Jill, Cody and Peter

I’ve had mozarrella spheres at the Bazaar several times, so I really enjoyed learning how to make them in class!

Molecular Gastronomy Class, MyLastBite.comRecipe for Mozzarella Spheres:

250 g Buffalo Mozzerella
150 g Heavy Cream
5 g Calcium Lactate (1.25%)
Tomato Juice (optional)
1 L. Water
5 g Sodium Alginate (0.5%)

1. Mix mozzarella with cream and calcium lactate.

2. Fill bowl with water and add sodium alginate.

3. Stir until dissolved.

4. Transfer mozzarella mix to alginate bath.

5. Allow 2 minutes for setting

Optional: Inject spheres with tomato juice and serve. Note: We had a difficult time injecting the tomato juice, so I would probably leave that part out if trying for the first time.

Making Mozzarella Spheres, MyLastBite.comIn photos: Trying to inject the mozzarella balls with tomato juice.

Making the apple caviar was easy this time around, since I’ve made it several times myself at home. After our group finished making the caviar, Peter said “to heck with apple juice, where’s the alcohol?” Chef Young overheard and handed Peter an open bottle of wine, and that’s when we REALLY started having fun. The wine caviar was fantastic, and it will make for a whole new twist on “Wine and Cheese” nights for sure!

Making Wine "Caviar", MyLastBite.comRecipe for Apple Caviar

9 oz. Apple Juice (or wine, we used red)
2 g (.07 oz.) Sodium Alginate
18 oz. water
2.5 g (.09 oz.) Calcium Chloride 

1. Mix the sodium alginate with 1/2 of the apple juice and blend until dissolved.

2. Mix in remaining juice, strain and allow to sit to remove any air bubbles.

3. Dissolve the calcium chloride in the water.

4. Fill syringe or squeeze bottle with the juice mixture.

5. Softly expel mixture into calcium chloride bath drop by drop.

6. After a minute, remove gently with a tea strainer and rinse gently in cold water.

Making Apple "Caviar", MyLastBite.com
Apple Caviar

Wine "Caviar", MyLastBite.com
Photo above: Peter’s wine “caviar”!

When Chef Young said he would be demonstrating how to make “Hot Ice Cream”, all I could think about was the deep-fried ice cream balls I used to order at El Torito restaurant, but this was nothing like my favorite high school dinner-date treat! It was also the most difficult “recipe” of the day. So difficult, that we all pretty much just watched our instructor take us through each step over the stove.

Recipe for “Hot Ice Cream”

With my good buddy Phil, MyLastBite.com306 g Whole Milk Yogurt
230 g Cream Cheese
80 g Agave Nectar
154 g Water
1 Vanilla Bean, scraped
1 Pinch of Sea Salt
11.55 g. Methyl Cellulose (1.5%) 
Ice bath 

1. In a blender puree together the yogurt, cream cheese, agave nectar, vanilla and salt. Blend just until the mixture comes together as a smooth puree, but do not aerate.

2. Heat the water to a boil. As soon as it’s boiling remove from heat and whisk in the methyl cellulose.

3. Once the methyl cellulose is dispersed, add it to the blender and puree until the mixture is homogenized, again do not aerate. 

4. Prepare ice bath. Pour mixture into a bowl and chill in ice bath. Set the ice-cold mixture rest in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably overnight before poaching the ice cream.

5. When ready to make hot ice cream, heat a pot of water to a boil. When the water boils, shut off the heat and scoop the ice cream base.

6. As you scoop, wipe the edges of the ice cream scoop and then immerse the scoop and its contents into the hot water. You will see the ice cream set, and then dislodge it from the scoop. The ice cream should poach for about one minute for small scoops and longer for larger scoops. Depending on the size you may have to turn the heat back on to keep the water hot.

7. Once the ice cream is set, remove the scoops and drain briefly on a paper towel and place into serving dishes. As the mixture sits, the ice cream will melt.

Please note: I did not test this recipe myself, but it was fascinating to watch and was delicious. My Cody nephew thought it would be perfect on a freshly-made waffle.

Making "Hot" Ice Cream, MyLastBite.com
Photos: Phil, Chef young, Jill, Cody and Peter. “Hot” Ice Cream made with Methyl Cellulose.

Class Date: 2/22/2009
Sur la Table, Los Angeles (at the Grove)
Cost $89 

Sur la Table Cooking Classes

Mentioned Above:

All photos from this molecular gastronomy class

Where to buy molecular ingredients

Molecular Gastronomy Class, MyLastBite.comMolecular fun at home

About Texturas (in English)

About Texturas Lecite (airs)

Albert & Ferran Adria Textura site (spanish)

All recipes above adapted by Chef Michael Young

Domenico Ristorante (Chef Michael Young)

Why I call it “Molecular Cooking”

The el Bulli kit!

Check out My Life As A Foodie’s awesome Podcast of our class!

Wine Caviar by my friend Phil

Adventures in Molecular Cooking 4

Adventures in Molecular Cooking 6

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Filed under Molecular Cooking, Recipes

Chef Michael Young

I first met Chef Michael Young at Sur la Table, when he was my instructor at a Molecular Gastronomy class, and he’s the one I credit for kick-starting my “molecular cooking” Fruit "Caviar", MyLastBite.comobsession. If he didn’t make it seem so fun and attainable, I would have never been able to make fruit “caviar” at home.

Before arriving to the class, I imagined that Chef Young would be an older “scientist-looking” gentleman, or maybe an aloof “know-it-all”, arrogant chef. I couldn’t have been more WRONG. Chef Young was friendly, knowledgeable and I just have to say it… super cute!

My husband just laughed when I made a comment about our “hot” instructor (because I’m old enough to be his mother, well maybe his aunt, okay I’m settling for big sister!), but I thought it was perfect that the teacher showing us how to make molecular candy, was in fact a piece of eye candy himself. And in case anyone is thinking of taking his class for non-molecular reasons, Chef Michael Young does indeed have a beautiful girlfriend. 

Chef Michael Young, MyLastBite.com

A few weeks after the class, Peter and I invited Chef Young out for a bite to eat. It turns out that he lives near us in Studio City, so we met up at Max Restaurant on Ventura. I love the angus burgers and potted chicken liver (that I eat with french fries), and Chef Young hadn’t been there since they remodeled the restaurant. Over dinner (and bottles of wine that he graciously brought to share), we learned that Chef Young graduated (with honors) from Boston College, and holds a degree in Italian Literature. Needless to say he is fluent in Italian and is certified by A.I.S., the Italian Sommeliers Association.

As he was telling us about his cooking experiences in Italy, I realized… he is NOT just a cute, young, up-and-coming chef… he is so much more. Articulate and highly experienced, he is currently preparing for the opening of Domenico Ristorante (as Executive Chef), which is scheduled to open next month in Silver Lake. 

While writing this post I couldn’t remember the details of his work in Italy so I asked Chef Young for a copy of his bio. I blame it on the wine, but it was all so interesting that I wanted a recap :

While his name may be misleading, Michael Young is an American chef of Italian descent.  He speaks Italian fluently and has traveled and worked extensively throughout Italy, including the 2-star Michelin “Ristorante Ambasciata.”  He lived in and frequently revisits Parma, the gastronomical capital of Italy.  “While I am Southern Italian in my heart, living in Northern Italy gave me a whole different perspective.”  Michael attributes his skill at making homemade pasta and his never ending love and appreciation of charcuterie, cheese and mostarda to his time in Parma. Chef Michael Young, MyLastBite.comMichael has worked in many of the top Italian kitchens of Los Angeles including Valentino, Il Grano and Drago.  “My proudest moment was opening Piccolo Cipriani (now Piccolo) with Stefano DeLorenzo and Antonio Mure`.  It was wonderful to see a restaurant so true to its ideals open and blossom.” Most recently, Michael served as a Chef Instructor at the Le Cordon Bleu program in Pasadena, where he taught International Cuisine and helped run the school restaurant.  He also served as a point person for guest chefs from Italy and France.  “The highlight of my teaching experience was to work side by side with my idol and close friend Daniel Rossi (former chef of Citrus).” Michael identifies his role models as Piero Selvaggio, Angelo Auriana and Salvatore Marino.  “Piero showed me what it means to be the constant professional and to remain sincere in all things.  Angelo (longtime chef of Valentino) taught me how to run a kitchen.  Finally, Sal demonstrated that if you do things the right way and work as hard as you can, people will eventually take notice.” 

I’m so looking forward to the opening of Domenico Ristorante because I haven’t yet tasted Chef Young’s cooking, and you can bet my husband and I will both be there as soon as it does!

Domenico Ristorante
1637 Silver Lake Boulevard
Los Angeles 90026

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Molecular Gastronomy Class, MyLastBite.com

My Fruit “Caviar”

Update 5/3/09: Domenico Ristorante is OPEN

chef michael young domenico ristorante silverlake silver lake


Filed under Eating Out, Food Events (festivals, classes, etc.), Molecular Cooking