Tuesday, July 14

July 09 Daring Cooks Challenge: A trip through hell!

Okay, not really, but this one was a a lot of work, and through either bad karma, or just bad luck, I didn't even get to eat the dish as a whole. (Oh yes, there's a fun story with this one)

This challenge was hosted by Sketchy, from Sketchy's Kitchen

This challenge was an introduction into the world of Molecular Gastronomy, the most of which I had encountered was on Food Network, watching Wylie Dufresne make ice cream with liquid nitrogen.

No worries, this is considerably easier, but still not the thing to make for a quick dinner for the kids. ;P

The challenge? "Skate, traditional flavors powdered", from the Alinea at Home cookbook.


I didn't even know what skate was, before this challenge.

(Turns out that it's a fish, in the same family as manta rays. Fun)

I did a lot of substitutions. A lot. Since this recipe is SO labor intensive,and I still didn't do it very well, I'm going to copy and paste the recipe.

But first, here's what I substituted, and my horrible awful stories to go along with them.

Instead of skate, I used flounder. After poaching it, I tried a piece, and spit it out. It was like mush! This was the end of me ever getting to try the whole dish. Too many other things to do to bother with getting more fish, and cooking it again! I still have all the powders, so if the fancy strikes, I can try it.
I made a garlic powder, just to see if I could. Easiest powder ever to make...but everything it came into contact with smelled like garlic for a couple of weeks. It was awful!
Plus, I made all of my powders with a BLENDER! (for lack of better equipment) So very few of them actually came out...powdery, hahaha.

Oh goodness, this was an ordeal. I certainly hope the next challenge is a little less trying.

Left to right: Red onion, tomato, carrot, lemon, basil

Almond, pineapple, apple, lemon, ginger

Stupid fish!

(I also made: garlic, kiwi, chive, and parsley)

"Skate, Traditional Flavors Powdered - with changes

  • 4 skate wings
  • * Beurre monte
  • * 300g fresh green beans
  • sea salt/kosher salt
  • 1 banana
  • 454g butter - 4 sticks
  • 300g lemons
  • 5g citric acid/vitamin c tablet
  • 150g cilantro
  • 150g parsley
  • 100g dried banana chips
  • 300g spray dried cream powder (or powdered milk)
  • 100g cup minced red onion
  • 200g capers (brined, not oil)

* For green beans, slice each beans into very thin rounds (2 mm)
* Beurre Monte - 454g butter (4 sticks, 1 pound) cubed and cold, 60g water. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil, remove from heat and whisk in the butter 1 cube at a time. This should from an emulsion. Keep this heated, but under 195 degrees. The emulsion will not break - this is your poaching liquid.

Powders - prepare ahead of time
caper / onion
lemon powder
cilantro/parsley powder
'brown butter' powder

once dried, all powders should be pulsed in a coffee grinder/spice mill/morter and pestle then passed through a chinois or fine mesh strainer.

citrus powder
300g lemons
1000g simple syrup
5g citric acid/vitamin c tablet

zest 300g of lemons (10.6 oz), remove the pith from the zest and poach in the simple syrup three times. dry with paper towels and move to a dehydrating tray. 130 for 12 hours. pulse the zest in a coffee grinder, pass through chinois, and mix with citric acid/vitamin C powder.

If you do not have a dehydrator, place in microwave for 8 to 10 minutes at medium powder. Once dried, follow the other instructions.

cilantro/parsley powder
150g cilantro
150g parsley

blanch the parsley in boiling saltwater for 1 second, submerge the leaves in ice water for 3 minutes. Dry on paper towels and place on dehydrator tray. 130 for 12 hours. grind and pass through chinois.

If you do not have a dehydrator, place in microwave for 30 seconds, turn over leaves and microwave for another thirty seconds. They should be dry by now, pulse in coffee grinder, pass through chinois and reserve.

onion powder
100g cup minced red onions

dehydrator - 130 for 12 hours
microwave at medium power for 20 minutes.

pulse in grinder, pass through chinois

Caper powder
200g capers (get the ones packed in brine/vinegar)

run the capers under cold water for two minutes to remove some of the brine.
dry on paper towels and dehydrate for 12 hours at 130 degrees.
microwave instructions are unclear. Dry them as much a possible with paper towels, the microwave on medium for 1 minute. Check the moisture content and stir them. repeat for 30 second intervals until they are dry. If you use this method, pleas post the time needed to dry the capers.

Once dry, pulse and sift the powder. Mix it with the onion powder.

Brown Butter powder

100g Dried banana chips (unsweetened if possible - many are coated in honey - the freeze dried ones would be brilliant)
300g spray dried cream powder

If you cannot find the cream powder, you can substitute Bob's red mill non fat dry milk powder, or even carnation instant milk powder. The substitutions will alter the flavor a little, but you will still get the general idea.

preheat the oven to 350 degrees, sift the cream powder into a fine layer on a silpat or on parchment. bake for 4 minutes, then remove for heat. If it bakes for too long, it will burn. Be very cautious with all powders in the oven. They all go from browned to burnt in a few seconds.

grind the banana chips in a coffee grinder and mix with the toasted cream powder. Pass this through a chinois and reserve.

* For green beans, slice each beans into very thin rounds (2 mm) * Beurre Monte - 454g butter (4 sticks, 1 pound) cubed and cold, 60g water. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil, remove from heat and whisk in the butter 1 cube at a time. This should from an emulsion. Keep this heated, but under 195 degrees. The emulsion will not break - this is your poaching liquid.

Prepare the skate - 50G v shaped cuts are recommended
Bring 100g water, 100g beurre monte, and green bean rounds to a boil over high heat. Cook until the water has evaporated (about 3 minutes), when the pan is almost dry, remove it from heat and season with 3g salt

bring 300g water and 300g beurre monte to simmer over medium heat, add skate wings and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and flip the wing over and let rest in pan for two more minutes. Transfer to warming tray lined with parchment and season with 5 grams of fine sea salt.


Take the tip of a small spoon and make a small mound of the citrus powder, the onion-caper powder, and the cilantro parsley-powder. Swirl these around in a hurricane type pattern. I found that it is easier, and you get finer lines if you lightly shake the plate to flatten out the mounds, then swirl the spoon through it to get the pattern.

peel the remaining banana into very think slices (3mm) fan three slices on the plate, place green beans on top and place skate wing portion on top. On the tall edge, sprinkle the brown butter powder.

Substitutions The Skate can be replaced with flounder or cod. If you can get skate that is not 'prepared' IE - Skinned- get the fish monger to prepare it for you.

The powdered cream can be omitted completely, just replace it with more banana powder, or pineapple powder. Possibly non dairy creamer, but I have NO idea what would happen if you tried to brown it.

The poaching liquid is pretty much butter - it could be replaced with other poaching methods. Water, wine, bay leaf, garlic clove, pepper, etc. Try to go easy on the salt in the liquid if you use a replacement."



  1. I think, no, I'm positively sure you have every color of the rainbow in those powders, and then some! The flavors are mouth watering..and the way you arranged them so simply in lines, looks gorgeous! Fantastic job!!!

  2. Haha, yeah, getting the rainbow of colors (ie, the only reason I used carrot) was a success, at least :P

  3. I agree, your powders do look like the rainbow. Beautifully done!

  4. I suggest halibut if you try again. I beurre monte poached some last night for another dish and it was out of this world. My new favorite way of making poor man's lobster.

  5. So sorry you didn't like it, at least the photos came out lovely (that always helps!). I especially like the first one, the colors are great.

    I am a Daring Baker and considered being a Daring Cook, now I am a little scared!!

  6. Wow your pixs are fabulous like painters pigments on a plate - sorry to hear about your troubles on the challenge. But it seems like that you did learn a lot of new skills and techniques. Wonderful effort - bravo - and I saw your pix on the food porn site congrats. Cheers Audax

  7. I'm sorry the fish didn't turn out the way you had hoped, but your powders look divine! Beautiful job making all of them =D.

  8. Wow. I'm impressed with the amount of effort you put into this. And your photos are awesome!!

  9. very colorful! I recently made nutella powder.