Friday, May 6, 2011

Food Trends: Dust

For the last month or so, I have been working with dusts.  A dust is dried fruit, either dehydrated or dried using a low temp oven (170-190F) and then powdered using whatever crushing implement is your favourite (food processor, coffee grinder or mortar and pestle, if you are that kind of person). This can be used with  any fruit or vegetable like those old Ronco commercials.  Make sure to put it into a air sealed container as any moisture will cause clumps.  An aside, what really is a vacuum sealed container?  Is anyone really removing all the air?

When the powder is added to water or rehydrated, it takes back the liquid which is a good way to infuse the fruit with another flavour.  I have tried tomatoes and apples so far.

Tomato powder:  used it in making an instant ketchup, like tomato paste--added to pasta, soups, etc, and at the 1970s party made a play on a traditional caprese salad.  Take a bocconcini ball, roll it in olive oil and tomato dust, attach a leaf of basil to the top using a toothpick and drizzle with olive oil.  It looks like a little apple and tastes really tomato-ey.  Even though I was using winter tomatoes, the drying brought out the best flavours including the sourness of unripe tomato. It worked.  I am looking forward to trying this with mozzarella and fresh garden tomatoes.

Apple powder:  I have really only used it with cheeses when trying to come up with a cheeseball recipe, as below...

1970s Blue Balls
Take a blue cheese that is soft enough to work with a room temp such as Geai Bleu.  Make small bite sized balls. Add some chopped dried apples, and roll in apple powder and toasted crushed walnuts.  Serve on crackers (black sesame work well).

The food trend is that this technique is cropping up all sorts of places. (Mandarin dust, wasabi pea dust) Some restaurants are even doing dusts of all sorts of stuff including a dust of chocolate.  Isn't that just warming chocolate and making pebbles of goodness? 

This is an easy technique that can be used to create all sorts of interesting illusions and allusions.  It is a technique that if used with good fruit and veg will yield good results.  Maybe this will drive the dehydrated onion soup and sour cream dip into a special occasion rather than always showing up at the potluck. Think about it -- banana and peanut butter dip without the bananas going all brown, or lemon powder on top of a white cake, or so much more.

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