Back when I was the pastry chef for Krause Dining, I planned and executed the nightly menu’s two served desserts as well as the small plate of mignardises (at least three tiny sweets) to pass at the table. I tried to change these items regularly, but one dish I put together was hard to ever switch out. Mainly because it was the most delicious, interesting and beautiful dish that I ever created.
Apple-celery granita was layered atop vanilla panna cotta in a champagne flute. A wasabi glaze drizzle and pinch of black Hawaiian salt accented the layers and the presentation was finished with a dried Granny Smith apple chip and candy sugar sticks. After my recent post A Cookbook Story…with Recipes, someone requested this recipe, which made me happy that someone remembered the dish.
This recipe was one of the two hundred that were not included in The Cook’s Book of Intense Flavors. You’ll need a juicer to make it…
“Apple With a Kick”
APPLE, CREAM, WASABI
The bright, tart flavor of apple is beautifully contrasted by a creamy mouth-feel and spanked with an edge of heat. This combination is most intense when the tartness of the apple is the leading flavor. A more mellow flavor combination offers cream as the prominent note and would result in sauces or soups. In any combination, adding the wasabi requires the most sensitivity as it can quickly dominate the entire dish. For other applications, think of sauces for pork dishes, as apple in particular accompanies birds and game meats nicely.
APPLE – For purity of flavor, extract juice in vegetable juicer (or use a good quality natural apple juice) and use for a reduction, gelee or granita. Use raw apples for greatest texture and crisp flavor. Cooking softens the intensity of the apple’s flavor but brings out its natural sugars. Varieties that are nice all-purposes choices are Granny Smith, Pink Lady, and Braeburn.
CREAM – Use as the base for a savory sauce, soup, or starch. Whip, set with gelatin, or make into a custard for ice cream. For this combination, cream can be quickly take these ingredients in new directions by being the vehicle for interesting sauces. Don’t be tempted to replace milk for the cream, the richness of the finished dish is dependent on the additional fat in the cream.
WASABI – Best used as an accent and with restraint! Comes as a powder or paste and generally used as a garnish for sushi. Use the prepared paste for the most strength, or the powder when wanting to tame its heat with other flavors. It can be thinned down with a liquid (water, wine, or juice) to be used to drizzle or as an accent with a sauce. Go easy with it, you can always add more or have portions on the side for those who want it – you want to be able to taste the apple in the dish.
- Tart ice on silky cream with a wasabi spank
Granitas are a wonderful way to make a flavorful frozen dessert without using an ice cream machine.
1 teaspoon ascorbic acid, crushed from 2 vitamin C tablets (1,000-mg)
½ cup sugar
6 Granny Smith apples, skin on, cut lengthwise to fit in juicer opening or 1 ½ quarts of good quality apple juice
6 celery stalks, leaves cut off
Electric vegetable juicer
8 inch square baking pan
Place an 8 inch square, or similar sized baking pan in the freezer to chill.
Combine ascorbic acid and sugar in container that will both fit under your juicer and hold up to 1½ quarts of juice. Juice apples (or use juice) and celery into container. Skim any foam off of the surface. Gently stir until sugar is dissolved.
Remove chilled pan from the freezer and pour in sweetened juice. Put into freezer and set timer for 1 hour. Stir with fork or bench scraper once an hour until no liquid remains and granita has been chopped to a uniform size. Wrap with plastic wrap until ready to serve.
- Vanilla Panna Cotta With Wasabi Glaze
This is a wonderful, simple dessert that is very versatile. It’s perfect in the summer months because it doesn’t need to go in the oven. It has a custard-like quality, but because it is thickened with gelatin and not eggs, it is lighter in your mouth. It is delicious with whatever fruit is in season. More refined that whipped cream, it is not much more difficult to prepare.
1½ teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise with seeds scraped
4 parfait glasses, small bowls or ramekins
Put water in a small bowl and sprinkle with the gelatin. Set aside to soften.
Combine cream, milk, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds in a large saucepan. Over medium heat, stir to dissolve sugar and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and add gelatin. Whisk to dissolve gelatin in cream mixture. Pass through a fine mesh strainer and transfer to a measuring cup with a spout.
Evenly divide into four glasses, small bowls or ramekins. Chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Adding the sweet element of the juice as a liquid to thin down the wasabi does not diminish the kick it offers, but it does create some complexity that is well suited to the other flavor components.
1 tablespoon wasabi powder or paste
1 tablespoon orange juice
Mix together wasabi and orange juice in a small dish. It should reach the consistency that is freely falls from a spoon in a steady stream. Add more juice or water if necessary.
Place several drops of wasabi glaze over vanilla panna cotta, so that it barely covers the surface. Top with apple-celery granita and serve promptly.