By Bryna Kranzler
Maybe this isn’t how you have fun with your kids, but it is how I do.Last summer, when Jesse was home for a visit, we had a free day together so I broke out a molecular gastronomy kit we had bought, and decided to have fun with it. After watching the video about all the amazing things we could do, we picked a few projects.
First we thought we’d make fruit caviar. So we pureed some peaches and squeezed the grapefruit…
then mixed each juice with sodium alginate.
And dropped little pearls of it into a mixture of calcium citrate in water.
Although Jesse had gotten an A in AP Chemistry, and I had been in Honors Chemistry (back at a time before molecular gastronomy existed and the laws of chemistry were different), it hadn’t occurred to either of us that citric acid (we had added OJ to the peach puree to thin it) might interfere with the ability of sodium alginate to gel.
So that didn’t work. Or look very appetizing.
So we decided to make balsamic vinegar caviar. Start by putting a cup of oil into the freezer to chill.
After heating balsamic vinegar and agar agar, we extrude droplets of it from the syringe that arrived with the kit into the cold oil. It worked!
This is what Balsamic Caviar looked like when we were done:
So we got more ambitious and decided to make balsamic spaghetti.
Worked beautifully (even if it looked more like squid ink pasta)
We set it aside to serve over fresh strawberries. So we mixed some peach puree with agar agar, and that worked, too!
Peach puree spaghetti
On to the main course: Goat cheese spheres, which we would serve with balsamic spaghetti.
First we blended water and calcium algenate.
Next, we combined goat cheese with a little milk and calcium lactate, and dropped it into the mixture of water and calcium algenate.
Voila! Goat cheese spheres with heirloom cherry tomatoes, balsamic spaghetti, olive finishing salt and olive oil.
But that was only the appetizer and Jesse needed dinner, too. So he sautéed garlic and heirloom cherry tomatoes in olive oil with fennel seed and chilies, then removed them while he sautéed pasta.
Once the pasta browned, he added back the sautéed garlic and heirloom cherry tomatoes.
We finished off dinner (since we’d had the strawberries with balsamic spaghetti for a snack) with a ‘simple’ dessert: Peach spaghetti, fresh raspberries, and one of my homemade cranberry-kumquat-ginger macaroon.
The process took 6 hours, and was some of the most fun we’ve ever had together.