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A Cocktail-a-Day #7: Champagne with Cointreau Caviar [Molecular Mixology]

IMG_0042

Today has been a tough day. Got laid off.

Yeah.

Mixed feelings. I have been fantasizing about quitting for last few months, of taking 6 months and going back to India, living there for 6 months, getting in touch with my roots, experiencing life, and in general doing everything I have ever wanted to.

And now that it’s actually a reality, the lack of an income stream is front and center of my mind. It’s like a bad migraine that refuses to go away. It’s constantly there, making sure that you know it is there.

Initially, when I found out, I was elated. Now, I would have all this time to do whatever I wanted. Blog more. Finish up all the projects that I never had the time to. Get involved in the arts scene more. Start a business. Go traveling. The world was my oyster.

But four hours later when the reality set in, my mood changed. I have a headache that refuses to go away.

What am I going to do? Travel and “find” myself? That’s just idealistic bullshit. Everyone fantasizes about going traveling and getting into adventures and living life. But I wonder if that happens in reality. Haven’t read Eat.Pray.Love, but I bet it’s nothing like what happens in real life. I would love to join a culinary institute in India and learn how to cook Indian food from scratch. But I have no interest in being a chef (for now anyways). I can just stay in Calgary and learn from my mum..haha.

And how the hell am I going to pay for this condo (although admittedly, this is my only real major expense)? I am going to have to cut back on pretty much everything. I had a pretty casual relationship with savings…now I am going to have to really pay attention when I didn’t have to before.

An engineer by training, I find the profession keeps me intellectually occupied (and handsomely compensated) for 5 days of the week. But it also takes up a lot of my time. I have 6.5 years of experience that I am kinda walking away from if I decide not to re-join the workforce (if that’s an option at all). I am going to drain pretty much all of last year’s savings. What if I don’t get rehired…ever? I don’t really have that much experience. It’s going to be tough to re-enter the workforce if I take a break for two years. All my friends/classmates are going to be ahead of me in terms of experience and compensation. How am I going to deal with that?

I would love to be able to work 3-4 days a week, preferably remotely, and have a long weekend every weekend. I think that would be the ideal situation. There’s money to be made food blogging, but my impression is you need a lot of unique/niche content and the latter has to be very good. I don’t envision myself public speaking or writing books – I am not that good and am not sure I want to be. This is definitely more of a hobby than a full-time passion that I would quit everything for.

Anyways, I am rambling. Here’s today’s concoction.

Recipe

Found a recipe for my first molecular mixology experiment online at molecularrecipes.com (See previous post on Molecule-R Molecular Mixology Kit).

The recipe is as follows:

Caviar Ingredients

140 g (5oz) Cointreau

60 g (2oz) water (filtered water or with low calcium content)

1.6 g sodium alginate (0.8%)

Calcium Bath

500 g (18 oz.) water

2.5 g calcium chloride

Preparation

Below is the step-by-step notes of making the caviar. I have left my notes and observations where appropriate.

1.  Prepare calcium bath. Dissolve the calcium chloride in the water and keep it in the fridge while you prepare the Cointreau mix for the caviar.

2. Mix the sodium alginate in the water using an immersion blender until the sodium alginate is completely dissolved, i.e. no visible clumps of alginate.

3. Once the sodium alginate is dissolved, mix with the Cointreau.  Pass it through a sieve to eliminate some of the air bubbles created by the immersion blender. **I found that leaving the alginate mix on counter top for 15 min.. didn’t do anything. The mix still had lots of bubbles suspended even after an hour I made the mistake of blending the Cointreau with the alginate instead of adding it after dissolving the powder.

4. Remove the calcium bath from the fridge. Fill a syringe with the Cointreau mixture and expel it drop by drop into the calcium bath. The syringe needs to be high enough for the drops to sink when they get in contact with the bath but not too high or the drops may break into smaller drops creating “baby” spheres. Leave the caviar "cooking" for about 1 minute in the calcium bath and then carefully remove it using a sieve. Then rinse it very gently with water to remove the calcium.

5. Consume immediately since the jellification process continues even after removing the caviar from the calcium bath and will eventually convert into a solid gel sphere with no magical liquid inside. **They are not exaggerating here. At the end of my shoot, there was no liquid inside – the spheres were all a chewy clump.

Learnings

I had a pretty hard time making a perfectly round sphere…more sperm shaped than spherical. The basic problem was the thickness of the sodium alginate Cointreau. The fluid was too viscous to make a clean “break” – I was instead left with little tails as shown below.

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I also didn’t follow instructions properly. I don’t have a weighing scale, so I couldn’t measure exact proportions of the Calcium Chloride. Also, the Molecule-R kit comes with Calcium Lactate whereas the recipe called for Calcium Chloride – not sure if it matters – but that could have made a difference.

The Molecule-R kit says to leave the alginate mix standing for 15 min. but even after an hour, air bubbles did not collapse. The air also made the caviar lighter than liquid,  causing them to float on top instead of sinking to the bottom. The picture below shows the tiny air bubbles trapped inside the caviar.

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The final result wasn’t very good. The caviar floated instead of dropping to the bottom of the coupe due to all the trapped air. I made some more caviar spheres after a few hours and those sank to the bottom fine. I am guessing 15 min. is too short.

Well, an interesting first experiment with spherificiation. Lots more to come. Stay tuned!

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2 responses to “A Cocktail-a-Day #7: Champagne with Cointreau Caviar [Molecular Mixology]

  1. dishnthekitchen June 11, 2013 at 12:56

    Well I could tell you that maybe this is an opportunity…If it was me, I would be off to India. Sounds like you have lots of support in that direction, so go!
    Can I learn from your mum?

    • Kiran Somanchi June 11, 2013 at 17:52

      hahah…yeah, I will let her know you are coming 😀
      But seriously, yeah, I think I am going to enjoy my summer in yyc (it would be shame to leave during the 3 best months of the year) and then head over to India during winter when you aren’t sweating in sweltering 35 deg C, 100% humidity heat~

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