My adventures recreating Alinea Restaurant’s food at home

PERSIMMON, Aroma Strip, Carrot, Red Curry (Part 2)

Persimmon, Aroma Strip, Carrot, Red Curry – Alinea recipe, pages 284-289.
This three-day recipe is worth the trouble if you want to take it on. Cake and ice cream! Continued from the Alinea Restaurant recipe for  

Alinea Restaurant recipe for Persimmon, Aroma Strip, Carrot, Red Curry

Day Two
I’ve just finished up branding a new restaurant here in San Diego, and am now ready to blog again. Sorry for the too-long hiatus, folks. Busy. Busy. Busy. I promise, I really didn’t wait months to finish this dish!


Aroma Strips
Crack those nutmegs! Or would that be “nutsmeg”, like “passersby”? I used a hammer to crack ’em up a bit. Or you could dispense with the whole rigmarole, and just use powdered.

Alinea component recipe for Aroma Strips

Mise en place:
mise en place for spiced aroma strips

Then I toasted the nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and cayenne on a sheet pan in the oven until they released their aromatic oils. Aromatherapy for home chefs!

toasting spices

Then I combined the toasted spices in a pot with water and sugar and brought it all to a boil. Removed from the heat and let steep.

Steeping mulling spices

After it had steeped and was nice and spicy, I strained the infusion into my Oster bar blender. I blended on high, adding the Pure-Cote a little at a time, and left running for TEN MINUTES. Yikes! Actually, I turned if off a couple of times, since the li’l ol’ blender wasn’t meant for such long spates of action. The instructions say to pass through a chinois again but I used a strainer. Good idea, it strained out more than several lumps of starch the blender hadn’t broken up. Then refrigerated until cool, about an hour.

blending the aromatic spices with a modified food starch

What is Pure-Cote® B790?

Pure-Cote is a low-viscosity, modified food starch produced from corn by Grain Processing Corporation. It forms clear, flexible films without requiring hydration or cooking. Products thickened with Pure-Cote dry into a crispy “glass” at room temperature. It forms clear, flexible films with excellent sheen that are fast-drying and flavor-free. It functions as a strong binder for seasonings on snacks and cereals, and as a smooth, glossy coating agent for confections and baked goods. It can be used to form fruit leather! Pure-Cote may be found here, here, and here.

I poured the starch onto a sheet of acetate. (I get mine at the local art supply store Blick Art Materials.)

Pouring out the spice liquid to form a sheet

And then held the sheet up in two hands, rocking the edges back and forth so the liquid would slide around to make an even coat, “creating a thin, translucent layer.” Then let the excess drip back into the bowl.

Draining the excess spice liquid

This part is easy: let dry overnight at room temp. The liquid hardened into a sheet. I cut several 1-inch squares and reserved to my prep area. I’ll skewer them with some stainless steel Alinea pins I bought awhile back at J.B. Prince for MANGO, Bonito, Soy, Sesame.

The finished spice aroma strips

Whole nutmeg
Whole dried cloves
Allspice berries
Cinnamon sticks
Cayenne pepper
C&H cane sugar
Pure-Cote B790 from Le Sanctuaire


Hyssop Glass
I decided to make a half-batch of this component recipe, and I’m glad I did. After making that whole batch of the Aroma Strips, I only used a few. And it’s not likely I’m going to very soon — unless I make direly needed sachets for the kids rooms!


When I can’t find a needed herb at farmers market, I’ll go to Walter Anderson’s, the local nursery. They have an excellent selection of culinary and medicinal plants from which to choose. Other times, I’ll head on over to Specialty Produce if I need microgreens. Or sometimes, if I have my s**t together, I’ll plan wayyyyyyy ahead, buy the seeds and grow them myself.

Hyssop leaves

I blanched a bunch of hyssop leaves in salted, boiling water. Then plunged them in an ice water bath to set. After they’d cooled, I drained them, put them in my Oster blender with some simple syrup, ice water and a dash of salt, and puréed.

Blending the hyssop leaves with simple syrup

Then I strained the purée into a smaller bowl and refrigerated until it was again cool (the less time heated, the brighter green it will stay). Just look at those beautiful green bubbles!

Bubbles of hyssop leaf juice

Mise en place:
Mise-en-place for hyssop glass

Now to blend the hyssop juice with some Pure-Cote 8790 modified food starch, just like with the recipe for the Aroma Strips. After it had blended for aboout 10 minutes, I chilled it again.

Hyssop leaf juice blended with Pure-Cote

Then spread it out on a prepared sheet of acetate, poured off the excess, and let dry overnight, just as before.

Hyssop glass, drying

Fresh hyssop leaves
Morton’s kosher salt
Simple syrup
Ice water
Pure-Cote B790 from Le Sanctuaire


Ginger Spheres
The spherification process I still find quite magical. This is a fun recipe to make, and not so hard at all. I bought a large hand of fresh ginger. When I buy ginger, I always go to Thuan Phat a local Asian market. They have better quality and at much more reasonable prices than the large chain groceries.

Mise en place:
Mise en place for the ginger spheres

I peeled and sliced it really thin, then put it in a stainless bowl. I brought some water, sugar and the calcium lactate to a boil in a small saucepan, then poured it over the ginger to steep, covered, for awhile. I buy my hydrocolloids (or “dubious white powders,” as my teen-aged son calls them) from several sources. Those in this component recipe I ordered from L’Epicerie in New York. I strained the infusion, and reserved the ginger for another use. (I actually later made a batch of ginger syrup to use in teas.)

Steeping and straining the ginger infusion

Then I filled a plastic, one-inch hemispheric mold with the liquid. These round molds can be procured on the Internet for little money, and come in quite handy! I use them all the time to make flavored ice “spheres” for drinks. Then popped the mold into the freezer, and reserved the leftover ginger infusion.

Filling the hemispheric molds with ginger infusion

To make the alginate bath, I whisked together some water, sugar and sodium alginate, and heated it in a saucepan, and blended it with an immersion blender until all the solids dissolved. Then I strained it into a large Pyrex bowl to cool. I wanted to see this…

Mixing the alginates with an immersion blender

At first it was clear. As it cooled, it thickened and grew a bit cloudy. But that’s not what I was fascinated with. Its texture reminded me of good old-fashioned, sci-fi movie slime! Think Ghostbusters. Or Alien. Alinea-Alien slime, woohoo!

Here’s what the ginger spheres look like in their molds:
Frozen ginger spheres

I carefully dropped a few of the frozen ginger spheres in the bath, and let them thaw, making sure they did not touch.

Frozen ginger spheres suspended in the alginate bath

As they are exposed to the alginate bath, their surfaces harden into a gel, encapsulating their liquid ginger interiors.

Ginger spheres encapsulating in the alginate bath

The longer you leave them in, the thicker their shells. As Spock always says, “Fascinating…”

Ginger sphere encapsulating

I removed each sphere to a water bath, to rinse off.

Rinsing an encapsulated ginger sphere

Then stored in them in the remaining ginger infusion. They’re beautiful!

Ginger spheres stored in ginger infusion

A finished ginger sphere

Fresh ginger, from Thuan Phat Market
C&H cane sugar
Calcium lactate, from L’Epicerie
Sodium alginate, from L’Epicerie


Crispy Carrot Foam
Now to make the tasty carrot “meringue…” 

You can buy carrot juice, or juice your own. I bought fresh carrots at the local farmer’s market and juiced them in my Breville Juicer. I love the taste of fresh carrot juice, it’s a lot sweeter than you’d imagine! In a medium saucepan, I brought the carrot juice, sugar and water to a boil, to reduce the solids. The let cool, and refrigerated.

Fresh carrots for crispy carrot foam

I combined some of the sweetened carrot juice with a measure of Methocel F50.

What’s Methocel F50?
Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose is a vegetable cellulose. The brand Methocel F50 is made by Dow Chemical. It gels when heat is applied, and when chilled acts as a thickener. I purchased my supply from Will Goldfarb’s company Willpowder.

Then I used a Cuisinart Smartstick immersion blender to shear the starch into the liquid. Once it was well mixed, I transferred it to a KitchenAid mixer fitted with the wire whisk attachment, and whisked on high. It took about 15 minutes to form stiff peaks.

Whipping carrot juice with Methocel F50

I spatulaed it out to a smooth layer on a silicone mat and dehydrated in my American Harvest dehydrator at 130°F for about six hours, until it had dried out.

Carrot foam in the dehydrator

It stuck a little bit, but was quite dry and crumbled easily.

Dehydrated carrot foam

I broke it up into smaller pieces, and reserved to a tightly sealed plastic container in my prep area.

Crispy carrot foam

Fresh carrots, from Little Italy Mercato farmer’s market
C&H cane sugar
Methocel F50, from Willpowder


Pistachio Brittle
If you’ve ever made peanut brittle before, then you can do this too. I used California pistachios for this dish, way easier than finding Iranian pistachios. This is basically the same component recipe as that used in RASPBERRY, Goat’s Milk, Red Pepper Taffy, Pistachio. Only this time, I had no problems with the domestic supply of pistachios. 

I toasted the pistachios on a sheet tray in the oven, until they released their oils. Smells good! Then got another tray ready with a silicone mat.

Toasting pistachios in the oven

I combined the water and sugar in a large saucepan and brought to a boil. And boiled it vigorously until it reached the “hard-crack” stage, 342°F on a candy thermometer. That takes a while.

For brittle, cook the sugar to the hard-crack stage (342 degrees F.)


Pg. 288, Pistachio Brittle

Change second set of temperatures from “240°F (116°C)” to “342°F (172°C)”.

I removed from the heat, added the baking soda then the pistachios, and stirred quickly. BE VERY CAREFUL HERE. Make sure you take it off the fire before you add the baking soda. It foams up superduperfast! Boiling hot sugar is very dangerous, and can burn badly.

I poured it out onto the prepared sheet tray, and let it cool. Finally, after it had cooled, I broke it up into smaller pieces, and reserved to a tightly sealed plastic container in my prep area.

Home-made pistachio brittle

Shelled, unsalted pistachios
C&H cane sugar
Baking soda


Pistachio Shortbread
I’m not a baker. Baking. I always seem to have trouble with it. Maybe that’s because I’ve never really like measuring out the ingredients. Much to my surprise, this component recipe came out well — despite my slovenly ways! 

Just as in the previous recipe, I toasted the pistachios on a sheet tray in the oven, until they released their oils. Then I ground them up in a food processor.

California pistachios

Mise en place for the pistachio shortbread:
Mise en place for the pistachio shortbread

I combined the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla in the stainless bowl of my KitchenAid mixer. Then beat together with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Switched to slow speed and incorporated the eggs. Then with the mixer still running, I slowly added the ground pistachios and flour, until it was completely mixed and forming a cookie dough.

I prepared a sheet tray with parchment paper, and sprayed with PAM. Then rolled out the dough on it, to a depth of about a quarter-inch, and refrigerated until it hardened up a bit. Removed, gave the top a slight egg wash, and popped in the oven at 350°F for about 15 minutes.

Pistachio shortbread dough

I let the shortbread cool on a rack, and as with the previous recipes, broke it up into smaller pieces, finally reserving to a tightly sealed plastic container in my prep area.

Pistachio shortbread chunks

Shelled, unsalted pistachios
Challenge unsalted butter
C&H confectioner’s sugar
Morton’s kosher salt, to taste
Vanilla bean
Pastry flour


Pistachio Powder
This is easy to make. Although, the final flavor depends on the quality of the pistachio oil you procure. So splurge!

Mise en place for the pistachio powder:
Mise en place for pistachio powder

I mixed the pistachio oil, sugar and salt in a bowl, then added tapioca maltodextrin powder until it incorporated the oil.

Mixing in the maltodextrin

I had to use quite a bit more maltodextrin than called for by the recipe to get a dry enough powder. But once I did, it was quite delicious!

Pistachio powder

Pistachio oil
C&H confectioner’s sugar
Morton’s kosher salt, to taste
Tapioca maltodextrin, from Willpowder


To be Continued…

Next, PERSIMMON, Aroma Strip, Carrot, Red Curry (Part 3)

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