Sweet Corn Panna Cotta with Mango Sauce

By Tsz on January 30, 2012

Gastrophoria is a panna cotta flavored with sweet corn.

Naturally sweet, corn is a novel way to flavor desserts, especially when used in a creamy panna cotta. Taking a simple basic recipe, all you’ll need is some sweet corn to infuse the cream.

After the cream is flavored, you can then strain out the corn for a smooth panna cotta. However, since I detest throwing out good food, I prefer to blend the entire mixture for a rustic and more intensely flavored custard. It was just the right note to end my recent dinner party honoring foie gras.

Give this a try and let me know how it goes! Happy Eating.

Corn Panna Cotta
Serves 8

2 cups frozen sweet corn
3 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 silver gelatin sheets, 3×10″

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine whole milk, 1 cup heavy cream and frozen corn. Bring to a simmer, turn off the heat and let rest for 10 minutes.
2. Put the cooled mixture in a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour back into the saucepan and add the remaining heavy cream.
3. Add vanilla and sugar to corn puree. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves, taking care the mixture doesn’t boil.
4. In a separate bowl, bloom the gelatin sheets in iced water for 5 minutes. Once bloomed, add gelatin sheets to corn puree and stir until dissolved.
5. Pour the mixture into 8 custard cups and refrigerate until set.

Mango Sauce
1 cup mango puree
2 tbs sugar
1 tbs orange marmalade

1. In a small saucepan combine all ingredients and heat until incorporated. Cool mixture in a small bowl.

1/4 cup freeze dried corn
8 almond cookies

1. Spoon mango sauce over panna cotta. Sprinkle with corn garnish.
2. Serve with your favorite almond cookies and Enjoy!


Foodbuzz 24×24: Ode to Foie

By Tsz on January 29, 2012

July 2012. That is when foie gras will be banned from the state of California.

Because of this, I wanted to throw a farewell dinner to foie gras—an ode to Foie if you will—to honor the controversial and delicious ingredient of dreams. Thanks to Foodbuzz’s 24×24, I was able to indulge my desires with a small group of friends.

First stop was to find the elusive ingredient. While foie gras is abundant in restaurants, it’s rather non-existent in normal retailers. My go-to place for fine ingredients, Whole Foods, have already banned foie from all of their stores as it goes against their beliefs.

This sparked a need for me to explore more on the subject. Is foie production inhumane or is it politically marginalized? I learned more about foie as well as what goes on in farms. While I don’t have a full answer as I’m no expert on the subject, my conclusion and goal is to find foie gras that is responsibly raised and cared for as well as to consume the entire animal.

With these points in mind, I chose to purchase my foie gras and duck from D’Artagnan. They’re the exclusive distributor of Hudson Valley, a artisan foie gras farm in New York, where ducks there are raised cage free and individually cared for. The result is superior foie as well as excellent duck and the proof is in the taste.

Where most meats in the supermarket is bland (not to mention hazardous to your health) because the livestocks are on a steady diet of steroids and antibiotics, these ducks on the other hand were flavorful and unbelievably good.

So, armed with my foie gras mousse, ducks and a high-tech meat slicer, my friends and I embarked on a foie journey:

1. Foie Gras Two Ways : Foie Gras Macaron and Foie Gras Chicharrón (Recipe here)
I channeled my inner Sandra Lee with this creation, which showcases the delectable foie gras mousse in preparations, one savory (chicharrón) and one sweet (macaron).

2. Duck Proscuitto with Fennel and Apple (Recipe here)
I used to think traditional proscuitto was amazing until I had duck proscuitto, which is simply out of this world! Sweeter and somehow more succulent (if that is even possible), it doesn’t need much to transform it into a spectacular dish. All we did were toss some fennel, Granny Smiths and some some mixed greens with a light lemon vinaigrette before topping it with a few choice slices of the duck proscuitto.

3. Ginger Orange Magret Duck with Kasha (Recipe here)
A “by-product” of foie gras production is the wonderful accompany duck meat. With each breast weighing in an impressive pound, we prepared it like steak, pan searing it before finishing in the oven and topped with a little spicy ginger orange sauce. To soak up all the flavors, we made Kasha, a nutty buckwheat pilaf that is a staple in Eastern European countries.

4. Sweet Corn Panna Cotta with Mango Sauce (Recipe here)
Taking a breather from duck and foie gras goodness, we ended the night on a sweet note by having a panna cotta infused with sweet corn, one of the components of the (domesticated) ducks’ diet. The panna cotta is paired with a mango sauce, almond crisps and a little freeze-dried corn. Good way to smuggled in some extra veggies in your meal!

To prevent this entry from being an epic tome in length, I’ll be posting each recipe in their own separate page throughout the week. Thanks for reading and happy eating!

Newark, NJ 07105
Phone: 1 (800) 327-8246


Berthillon : La Vie En Rose (and Ice Cream)

By Tsz on January 12, 2012

Gastrophoria is savoring an ice cream cone from Berthillon on the Seine.

The time or weather isn’t important—though it’s best to go right after a light drizzle as that’s when the air in Paris smells sweetest. All you need is a few euros for this experience (ok ok, provided you’re in Paris already).

When you’re at the counter, be sure to greet your server with a simple greeting of “bonjour, monsieur (or madame),” and pick two of the most unusual flavors that you’d like to try—this is no time to be conservative! Now, mosey over to the Seine and situate yourself on one of their many benches and enjoy the scene.

I had the marrons glacés (candied chestnuts) and caramel au beurre salé (salted caramel) during my stay and they were magnifique! Not too sweet and flavor-packed, this isn’t your usual ice cream from the states. Chunks of delicate candied chestnuts are disbursed throughout the chestnut ice cream while the salted caramel was aggressively seasoned—picture the taste of the burnt sugar topping in crème brûlée with just a touch of salt. I alternated between the two to keep things fresh—just like diving into a swimming pool after a stint in the sauna (another experience you’ve got to try out if you haven’t already).

C’est la vie en rose.

31 Rue St.
Louis-en-l’Ile, Paris, France
Phone: 33-1-43-54-31-61


Ngu Binh : The Inception Mochi

By Tsz on January 11, 2012

Gastrophoria is Banh It Kep Banh Ram from Ngự Bình. Or as I like to call it, the Inception mochi.

Just as Inception explores the idea of a dream within a dream, this gem of a dish is a study of a mochi within a mochi. Savory dried shrimps are wrapped within a chewy steamed mochi before stuffed inside another steamed, then deep fried mochi. This double-decker creation is then topped with a fragrant blend of green onions, fried shallots and savory dried grounded shrimp.

Once you take a bite, your taste buds will travel to a dream state of flavors and textures. There’s the shatteringly crunchy exterior that tastes of caramelized toasted rice—similar to the crispy rice bits stuck to the bottom of Bibimbap stone bowls or Paella pans. The mochi then gives way to its hot, elastic steamed interior flavored with shrimp. To take it to the next dream level, dip the creation into the provided nuoc mam spicy fish sauce. Chew, chew and repeat.

The only thing that will bring you back to the present is the kick—the realization that you have ran out of Banh It Kep Banh Ram.

Fortunately, there are other dreamy dishes offered by Ngự Bình. Since they feature Central Vietnamese cuisine, you won’t find the usual suspects of pho or springs rolls.

Instead, give the Mit Xuc Banh Trang a try, which is a warm jackfruit salad topped with herbs, crushed peanuts and slices of pork sausage, to be eaten with rice and sesame crackers. This dish also plays with your perception as this is the complete opposite of a sweet dish. The jackfruit is savory and tastes not unlike a hybrid of bamboo and mushrooms.

There’s also the Banh Beo, the little saucers of tender steam rice cakes topped with chicharon, ground shrimp and green onions. Spoon a little sweet nuoc mam and enjoy.

While the two previous dishes are ethereal, the Mi Quang is bold and in-your-face with flavor. Golden colored turmeric noodles are showered with crunchy rice crackers, plump shrimps, pork, herbs and banana flowers before bathed with a spicy pork based broth. Have a glass of iced water close by—you’ll thank me later.

A big thank you to The Ravenous Couple for introducing me to this new world of Vietnamese cuisine and the Gastronomer and Astronomer as my fellow explorers. Without you all, this gastronomic meal would not have happened.


Ngự Bình Restaurant

14072 Magnolia Street

Westminster, CA 92683

Phone: (714) 903-6000


Cochon Butcher : Pork Belly Sandwich that’s Worth the Wait

By Tsz on January 10, 2012

Gastrophoria is a pork belly sandwich from Cochon Butcher.

As far as sandwiches go, this is not one of those quickie sandwiches (ahem, Subway) that takes a minute to slap together. This one requires a considerable amount of time to make and thus demands patience. But like all good things in life, it’s well worth the wait.

Once you make an order, the cook meticulously places generous slabs of pork belly in a skillet to slowly render out the fat and fully sear them into an even golden brown crust. There’s no need for an appetizer as the smell and sound of crisping pork will get you salivating just like Pavlov’s dog.

While the pork is sizzling away, the cook slathers hearty white bread with chili-lime aioli and tiles on thin slices of cucumber and fresh mint leaves. The finished pork belly is then carefully positioned on top before being wrapped in butcher paper. The residual heat from the pork wilts the cucumber and marries the different components into a prize sandwich.

As this sandwich is mammoth, it’s best to share with friends. Extra brownie points if you bring one to them along with a bacon praline and Bloody Mary after an adventurous night on Bourbon Street!

Cochon Butcher
930 Tchoupitoulas Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone: (504) 588-7675