Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Watermelon, Feta & Balsamic

The stack, the salad & the sorbet
Things have been very quiet on the blog, I know.  I apologise, profusely.  It's happened for a couple of reasons, mainly being that for the past month I have lived and breathed our school fair.  The big day finally came and went on Sunday and only now, 3 days later, am I starting to feel some relief from it being over.

On Sunday night, after the big Fair day, I finished prepping for our consultant version of the Devil of A Cookbook class which is travelling it's way around the country with author of the cookbook, Fiona Hoskins, exciting many Thermomix customers. 

Having the consultant class was a great opportunity for us to see and taste all the dishes which Fiona prepares (much more professionally) at the class.  It's going to be such a fabulous class - some really simple, but elegant, dishes which taste delicious!  If you haven't yet booked for the Brisbane classes, do so - they'll really help you add to your Thermomix repertoire.

I was presenting Fiona's Watermelon & Feta Salad recipe, which is really lovely.  At the customer class, she also showcases a few different ways you can use those same ingredients, including an entree version and a canape version.  Not wanting our fabulous consultants to miss out, I thought I'd do the same.

It meant that I needed to do a balsamic reduction and also make some balsamic jelly.  As I was making them, I decided that I wanted to do something different with the jelly and form it into little pearls.  It was, of course, super easy with the aid of the Thermomix, so here are both of those simple recipes, if you'd like to try them out at any time.  They go very well with watermelon & feta!!!

Caramelised Balsamic Reduction
 
Ingredients:-
 
500g balsamic vinegar
50g raw sugar, honey or other sweetener
 
Method:-
 
Balsamic Glaze
1.  Place ingredients into TM bowl.  Cook for 25 minutes at Varoma temperature on speed 2, with MC removed and basket on top of the lid instead.
 
2.  After 25 minutes, check the consistency - it needs to coat the back of a spoon (you should be able to run your finger through it and it will stick to your finger but not run off, and your finger will leave a path through the vinegar on the spoon.)  If it needs longer, give it another 3 minutes and check again.
 
3.  Decant into a squeezy bottle, ready to dazzle people with your squeezy bottle patterns!
 
(See, I told you it was simple!)
 
Tips:-
 
You can use whatever sweetener you like.  You can reduce the quantity, just keep a 10:1 ratio of vinegar to sweetener.
 
Balsamic Vinegar Pearls
(adapted from Molecular Recipes)
 
Ingredients:-
 
100g balsamic vinegar
1.5g agar agar
Vegetable oil
 
Method:-
 
Nice cold glass of oil anyone?
1.  Firstly, fill the tallest glass you have with vegetable oil and place it in the freezer.  It needs to chill for at least 30 minutes.
 
2.  Pour balsamic into TM and cook for 1 minute at 100° on speed 1.  Add agar agar and dissolve, by stirring for 20 seconds on speed 1.
 
The finished pearls
3.  When the temperature cools to 50°, take the oil out of the freezer and fill a syringe with the balsamic mixture.  Slowly push droplets out of the syringe and let them drop into the oil (the more mixture you expel, the bigger the pearl).  As the droplets sink through the oil, they will set and become firm.  Continue until you have as many as you want - you need to work relatively quickly because the mixture will start to set and get harder to push through the syringe.
 
Tips:-
 
Next time I make these, I'm going to use 1g of agar agar, not 1.5g.  They were very firm, and I'd like to see if I could make them a little softer.
 
If you don't use a tall enough glass, there won't be enough time for them to set - I used a beer glass and it worked a treat.





5 comments:

  1. The Balsamic Pearls look amazing Brooke. Is is possible to make them ahead of time? I'm just wondering how long they hold their form, and whether they need to be stored in the fridge? Can't wait to give them a go. :-)

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  2. Might be silly question, but how did you get them out of the oil?

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  3. Oooh these both look fantastic :-) How long do they keep for ?
    Cheers

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  4. Donna - absolutely you can make them ahead of time. They will keep for as long as vinegar keeps (which I assume is ages!). Just keep them in the fridge in an airtight container.

    Hels - I tipped the glass into a strainer (you can re-use the oil).

    CR - As per Donna's answer, ages! :)

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  5. This post has made my day - so simple and so impressive! Thanks for sharing :)

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