My attitude to food and cooking is, fairly obviously, one of near uniform excitement. Despite this there are times when I become seriously frustrated and tired of the whole process. I had one of these moments this evening.

Having already done 9 shifts this week and road tested a new dessert (a post on this soon) I found myself back in the kitchen testing further. I had already started the process, making a micro chicken stock but suddenly felt pretty deflated, tired and slightly pissed off. The stock was fine, given what was available, but I could barely be bothered to test the agar clarification I had made it for.

I finished the whole thing in a hurry and left it to chill, I went upstairs to watching something crap on iPlayer. When I came back down for a drink I strained the stock and saw this magically clear stock appear in the bowl. I couldn’t help but punch the air with excitement.

It was like someone had thrown a switch and suddenly I couldn’t help but go a step further with the process. I took that clarified stock and made the base for a brown butter puree. This was something I used in my dessert earlier this week, and is usualy sweetened and loosened with agave nectar and water. I used the clarified stock instead to make a savoury version.

The result was quite sublime, but it’s definitely showing promise. I think I need a more concentrated stock, the brown butter notes dominate too much at the moment.

The real point isn’t the success or not of this test, but how little it can take to change your mood. The smallest success, something so basic really just reminded me why food is so exciting. It also means that I never need to go through the ballache of an egg white raft to clarify anything. It was just so envigorating.


Agar Clarification

Ludicrously easy. Take your base liquid, weigh it. For every litre of liquid add 2g of agar, heat to a simmer for a minute. If you don’t want to heat whatever it is, juice, etc, then hydrate the agar in some water and mix this into the base. Chill it over an ice bath for 30 minutes and then break up the gel that forms with a fork/whisk/finger. Strain through 3 layers of muslin (I used jaycloths). Stare with joy at your clear liquid.

Credit for this technique goes to the wonderful team at Ideas in Food. If you don’t have their book you must buy it immediately.

I will post an explanation about why this process works when it’s not 11.30pm.



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