Food, Photography and Lifestyle Blog

Archive for February, 2009

Testing my new Softboxes with Caviar and Balik Salmon, what Luxury!


 

Balik Salmon and Chinese Caviar

Balik Salmon and Chinese Caviar

 

 

Balik style home smoked salmon with Chinese Hybrid Kaluga-Schrenki Caviar (free of charge) which is of superb quality, much better then the farmed Italian or French Caviar nowadays. On the side you can see some condiments for the Caviar and some Bruschetta’s with different toppings. so yes dinner was a blast! Strobist: 1 softbox above and behind with 430EX 1 softbox slightly above left with 430EXII Would like to mention if you ever get to taste Caviar, try it the traditional way, on the soft part of a fist, lick it off and take about 1/2 a shot of Vodka, then let it all mingle in the mout for a few seconds before swallowing….oomph what an explosion of tastes.

I have to say my two small size softboxes give me pretty nice results, way better then using umbrellas for this kind of small table top things. Umbrellas spread light around the whole room so you dont get too much directionality…..this is solved now with these soft boxes. have to admit it was my first shoot with them and just did the “bath in light thingy” have to see how it works when i want to do black background darker type of shots, but I bet you for that I will need another flash and snoot at least to

add high lights. Also overdue are some mirrors, but hey you cant have everything and to be honest living in a Hong Kong shoebox, everything needs to be set up and cleaned away right afterwards again……this means that every shoot takes at least 2 hours, and its full of labor…..then again its a lot better then having a husband “couch Potato” I suppose, right Honey?

 

Salmon and Caviar

Salmon and Caviar

 

The Babies

The Babies

 

Bruschetta

Bruschetta

The best way to eat Caviar

The best way to eat Caviar


Obituary– Hans Ruedi Nussbaumer


 

Hans Ruedi Nussbaumer

Hans Ruedi Nussbaumer

 

how he wanted to be seen no doubt!

how he wanted to be seen no doubt!

Hans Ruedi if you hear me……have a good trip please!

Marco

enough said


Good equipment is half the job!


Its really true, good stuff makes half your work. So since yesterday I am the happy owner of two very small portable softboxes, bought from Ying Kee in Sham Shui Po at HK$ 250 each. Each comes with a bountifull ball head connector, a sliding mechanism to match up with the strobes and triggers….for portable and home style studio pretty good stuff I find, however I seem to have problems with white balance, so need to do some tests. The inner lining of the boxes is silver, and the cover is seemingly plain white, however if I dont manually adjust it seems everything comes out golden cast.

anyway here are the softboxes in actin:

Softboxes for Home Studios

Softboxes for Home Studios

Here a close up shot of the Soft box with the flash and triggers and ball head connected to a light stand:

Softbox close up

Softbox close up

As you can see my flashwaves triggers get in the way, but as canon flashes dont come with pc sync or any other connections…..this way will have to do for now….next time i wil try and find a hot shoe which can link the two via cable, so my flash can be positioned better.

The whole connection thing apart from my troubles is pretty much well done and the softbox sits pretty tight on the connector ring. The Ball Head also performs pretty well considering the weight resting on it, it did not slip at all. Only one minus I would say is that everything is connected by big butterfly screws which quite often can get in the way of each other.

Time for setting up and breaking down 2 of these units, the camera, etc etc, is quite considerable……I was left with only 15 minutes to shoot today, time was not on my side. but count on 20 minutes at least to set up and same for breaking down and putting everything away.

I am really eager to do another drink or food shot with these, but will need to wait till I really have some free time for that, I can only imagine how my lamb shot, or bloody mary shot would look like with these softboxes.

I forgot to mention the softboxes with ball heads and slider connection systems cost only HK$ 250 so its worthwhile to try and experiment with these without breaking the bank.

 

 

Ok so here some test shots with this setup:

My clock

My clock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Corn

Some Corn

Royal Albert Tea Cups

Royal Albert Tea Cups

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and finally my wee boys favorites

and finally my wee boys favorites

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh I forgot to mention I also got myself a spanking new tripod with ball head, finally one which i can put horizontal, or for that matter in just about any direction i ever wish to…..and well Alex will be happy to as he got my old one so at least hess got a bit of equipment to experiment about with:

Ballhead Tripod

Ballhead Tripod


Strobist shoot


Ok this is gonna be a quick one as its late, since this blog is also about photography I post now about our shoot tonight. Our means Malcolm, Anthony and myself. We met up at te carpark opposite the HSBC headquarters in Central, Hong Kong for a fun shoot, using strobes and available light at twilight and after dark.

I leave this with just a few shots now.

Setting up the lights

Setting up the lights

Yup thats me, credit goes to my buddy Ekmai

Yup thats me, credit goes to my buddy Ekmai

 

Ekmai in action

Ekmai in action

David Beckham

David Beckham

 

 

For more pictures see my Flickr stream.


Mallosol Caviar


Guest:   Chef do you have Mallosol Caviar?

Chef:    Yes we do Sir, what would you like, Beluga, Oscietre or sevruga?

Guest:   No Chef I just want the Mallosol, please.

Chef:    Time to provide some insights in Caviar!

 

Caviar Training for Service Team

(and apparently we should supply copies to guests as well)

Selection of Farmed and Wild Caviar

Selection of Farmed and Wild Caviar

 

 

What is Caviar?

What is this novelty that has such irresistible appeal to gourmets all over the world?

The classic definition is “the salted roe of a species of fish called Sturgeon”, although the roe of salmon or other species is also called Caviar.

Until industry and pollution came along, the sturgeon was found in rivers running into the Atlantic and Baltic, in the Rhine and in North American Lakes. Today most caviar comes from the Caspian Sea, caught by both Russia and Iran, or it is farmed.

Wild caviar is so rare nowadays that its cost prices are easily reaching HK$ 24.000 per half a kilogram. Of the varieties of Sturgeon producing Caviar, the Beluga is the largest, sometimes reaching 2,500 pounds and producing up to 130 pounds of Roe. The next size is the Oscietra, weighing around 400 pounds, producing roughly 40 pounds of Roe. The smallest of the Sturgeon family is the Sevruga, which weighs 60 pounds and from which only 8 pounds of Roe can be harvested.

Farmed Caviar as we sell now is only available Oscietra.

 

Preparation:

The Roe is taken from the fish, carefully sieved and all tissues and membranes are removed. Then it is washed in clean fresh water. Following this, the caviar master determines exactly how much salt to add and, by hand, blends the salt with the Roe. The amount of salt used depends on the grade of the sturgeon roe to be prepared, the weather, the condition of the roe, and the market for which it is destined.  Only after the salt has been added to the Roe does it become Caviar. Therefore there is no such thing as unsalted Caviar. Top quality Caviar is known as Mallosol. This word does NOT denote a type of Caviar, it simply means “little salt”, and it is used in conjunction with the words Beluga, Oscietre or Sevruga.

The Caviar we sell in NOT Pasteurized, which means it cant be kept long, pasteurized caviar can be kept without refrigeration for up to 12 months.

 

Serving:

Mallosol Caviar should always be served with white toast and unsalted butter, however nowadays people usually get it served with many more condiments, such as Blinis, which are buckwheat pancakes, chopped egg, chopped onion, sour cream, Lemon and sometimes even parsley.

For the Caviar we sell all those condiments don’t do too much good to the Caviar, so you are advised to let customers know they should try it first in the way you are about to try now, straight from the back of the hand, which for some reason brings the Caviar most to its right, or try putting a nice scoop in a shot glass of Vodka (or Champagne), ice cold and when you drink, remember to let the roe and vodka stay in your mouth for a while……you will feel the salty of the Caviar and sharpness of the vodka go away and make place for a subtle sweetness. Now try with some condiments, and see how extremely difficult it becomes to taste the real flavor of the caviar!

Important note: Caviar is always sold with a bone China spoon, or a Mother of Pearl spoon which is cut and polished out of oyster and other shells. If Caviar comes in contact with metal, it will oxidize and produce an awful taste, please remind guests to use the small spoons supplied only and don’t use any metal under any circumstances.

The Caviar will be served as shown here, on a big ice display, with a teardrop holding the tin of caviar. The Tin is opened in the kitchen but on simple request can also be opened in front of the customer. For the bigger tins, we will simply serve them on the ice dish, as we can’t produce the Ice carvings that big.


My thoughts on Molecular gastronomy


Its now several years after names like Ferran Adria, Herve This and others became well established as the New Top Chefs of the world, and I have followed this development with great interest. However my opinion is still I want my food to look like food.

I shiver at the thoughts of Foam, I do not like to deconstruct, only to construct it right back again, be it in another way or not.

Adding powders like Xanthan, Lecithin, Citras, Algin, Kappa and others make me worried, but why, I think its merely an older generation, I have never learned about these ingredients in school, and whilst I have them all in my kitchen I am still reluctant to serve them to my guests. Some of them are purely natural chemicals, derived from Algea etc, and some are manufactured chemicals.

True is that you when properly done can create some amazing results one example we saw on a demonstration was a modern way of presenting a classic onion soup, honestly it almost looks like a 1000 year old egg. 

So how did he create this? Well first in a Roner, you cook eggs at 65 degrees Celsius for an hour or two, yes that is correct you read it right. An egg cooked at this temperature does not get well cooked, the whites simply stay a bit like soft jelly, more liquid then jelly though, however the yolk does become a bit solidified due to its membrane around it. So you open your egg, drop the shell, and drop the white, and you are left with a perfect soft egg yolk.

Onion Soup the Molecular Way

Onion Soup the Molecular Way

 

Break the membrane and you are left with Onion Soup

Break the membrane and you are left with Onion Soup

 

 

Next the broth will be dropped in a bath with a “food chemical” while the broth is still floating the top exposed part stays “open” through here you can drop in the egg yolk. Then with your fingers you pinch the top of the broth closed and dip it under. Carefully mold an egg shape out of it, and leave it to set for a while until the membrane ios thick enough to support.

Remove the “egg” from the bath and rinse with water. Now you can steam this egg to heat it, and plate it on a bed of sautéed onions and croutons, est voila you have Onion Soup, a very classical dish presented in a very modern way.

A Roner is a simple water bath but with a heating element that is computer controlled and exact to the degree, a small pump pumps the water around to ensure an even temperature all over the water bath.

 

One of the fun and quite easy to achieve things to make is Caviar, Caviar can be made out of almost any liquid, here we will make with melon.

 

Caviar of Melon with Iberico Ham

Ingredients:

 250 Grams Cantaloupe Juice

 

Syringe Dropper

Syringe Dropper

2 grams Sodium Alginate

 For the setting bath:

500 Grams Water

2.5 Grams Calcium Chloride

Method:

Mix Sodium Alginate with 1/3 of the Melon Juice and blend. Mix in remaining 2/3, strain and set aside. (If you have a vacuum machine, use it to get rid of any air bubbles in the juice or let it sit in the fridge overnight to do the same.)

Dissolve the Calcium Chloride in the water. Now fill a syringe or a specially made device for this (see picture) with the Melon Juice. Expel it drop by drop into the Calcium Chloride Solution.

 Remove after 1 minute, strain and rinse in cold water.

My thoughts on Molecular Gastronomy, not good but also not bad, when used in the right way it can really be great, think of making a Pine Nut Oil Mayonnaise without the Eggs, now you can, think about salad Dressings in Supermarkets, how come the solid particles are perfectly suspended and why the vinegar and oil never separate…..now you know, because Molecular applications.

A retail set of ingredients to use

A retail set of ingredients to use

If you are interested in this kind of cuisine and would like to have a play, I suggest you start with downloading a few of the Hydrocolloid recipe Collections from this page http://khymos.org/recipe-collection.php at Khymos Website


Melting Chocolate Pudding


Melting Chocolate Pudding

Melting Chocolate Pudding

Melting Chocolate PuddingOne of our best selling desserts is this delicious “melting” Chocolate Pudding, and whats so fun about it its so easy to make, and can even be kept frozen, just thaw, and bake and its just like it was freshly made.

Makes 8 portions

 For the Pudding:

 400      Grams             Dark Chocolate

Close up

Close up

150      Grams             Sugar

1          Pieces              Egg

25        Grams             Vanilla Oil

400      Grams             Butter

150      Grams             Flour

 For the Vanilla Sauce:

250      Milliliter            Milk

50        Grams              Sugar

2          Pieces              Egg Yolk

½         Pieces              Vanilla Pod

 Method:

Melt the Chocolate, and butter by covering it with cling film in a dry bowl. Place in the Microwave and melt in 20 seconds. 

Royal Albert Tea Cup

Royal Albert Tea Cup

 Mix Egg with the Sugar and Vanilla oil, and beat air into it. Pour Chocolate Butter Mix into this bowl and sift flour on top. Fold all ingredients together until well mixed!

Now its time to butter and flour your pudding molds, once that is done, you can fill the Chocolate Pudding mix for ¾ in the molds. Top each mold with Clingfilm to prevent the pudding drying out. Keep refrigerated up to 4 days, or frozen up to a month.

 

 

When ready to bake, preheat oven at 188 degrees Celsius and bake Pudding for 10 minutes, you will see the Pudding has risen nicely and has a head on it.

 

To make the Custard Sauce, bring Milk with the Vanilla Pod to a boil, in a separate bowl mix Egg Yolks and Sugar. Once the Milk boils, turn of Fire and add hot Milk to the Egg Mix, stir, and pour the mix back into the pan. On a LOW fire you bring the temperature up to almost boiling, whilst constantly stirring to “set” the Egg Yolks.

 

When done, pour through a strainer into a storage box.

 

Place a spoon or two full of Custard Sauce on the plate and top with the Warm Pudding, which is filled with melting Chocolate Sauce!

 

Garnish as you like with Fresh Berries and Icing Sugar!

 

Oh and do drop me a note here if you liked the recipe J