Xanthan gum, or just xanthan, is gluten-free and used extensively to thicken liquids; a great ingredient for turning thin liquids into savory sauces. It quickly hydrates or disperses at any temperature, making it one of the few ingredients you can add slowly and instantly see the result. Xanthan gum has a very neutral flavor so it mixes well with foods without masking their flavor.
When used as a thickener in low dosages, xanthan gum produces a weak gel with high viscosity. This means that when the gel is at rest it maintains its shape; when stirred it begins to flow again as a liquid and then resets once the agitation stops.
Salsas are a great way to add flavor to dishes. Roasting the vegetables first adds even more flavor to the salsa. Though if you're in a time crunch you can just use canned tomatoes and it will still turn out well. I love to serve this with a rich, heavy meat like lamb chops, chicken thighs, or braised beef. It can even work as a dip for chips!
The other day I was up for some Chinese food but I didn't feel like ordering the greasy, starchy takeout from around the corner so I decided to make some myself. I had some extra brisket in the freezer that I wanted to use up so I went for a pressure cooked version of Chinese Peppered Beef.
At this time of cantaloupe is just starting to come into season. They are tender and sweet and barely resemble the bland and watery winter versions. The local farmers market recently had some "Sugar Kiss" melons that I couldn't resist.
Even though cranberries are a staple for Thanksgiving sauces they are often overlooked for more traditional sauces. Their combination of tartness and mild fruitiness is a great complement to many BBQ sauces. I like to serve this BBQ on a smoked and sous vided brisket.
This soup is easy to put together, highlights the flavors of
strawberries, and is light and refreshing. Xanthan gum helps hold it together and traps the bubbles created from pureeing it, keeping it a little frothy.
This recipe turns a popular spinach-garlic dip into a foam for dipping. It can be served with roasted pita squares or even just vegetables and chips. This dip also works great as a sauce to perk up the flavors of steak or chicken.
Flank steak is full of beefy flavor and has a great bite to it. Serving it with chimichurri, a spicy garlic and parsley based sauce, is very popular in Argentina and other South American countries. This recipe makes an excellent choice for a party!
Cranberries are a great treat any time of the year. This recipe combines the tang from the cranberries with the smokiness from the ancho pepper. For a burst of flavor place on a crispy crostini and topped with with spices and mint. A great party treat!
This recipe takes classic homemade marshmallows and covers them in yummy chocolate. Mint and chocolate is a classic pairing and the soft marshmallows are a great way to hold them all together! A definite party favorite!
When I'm having wings I almost always reach for the honey-chipotle BBQ sauce. It's a delicate balance between the heat from the chipotles and the sweetness from the honey. Just be sure to make plenty, your guests will love it!
Beer braised brats are a great summertime BBQ dish. I really like it served with a strongly flavored Guinness mustard on a toasted bun with grilled peppers and onions. Since the grill is already hot from the veggies, finish the brats with a quick sear to caramelize the outside and enjoy!
This recipe makes a clean and fresh tasting pea pesto dip that works great with just about everything, especially grilled sourdough bread, carrot and celery sticks, as well as roasted vegetable chips. This party favorite is quick and easy to put together and can be made with defrosted frozen peas - however, if you have access to fresh spring peas it'll be even better!
This recipe combines lime and ginger which are two great ingredients to pair with the bold flavors of the sous vided sirloin steak. I like to add texture and brightness to the dish by combining them in a vinaigrette-style sauce that is drizzled over a crispy cabbage and pepper slaw topping.
This recipe tops sous vided chicken with a modernist froth to make a favorite dish that even pickier eaters tend to gobble up! By using xanthan gum in the teriyaki sauce you can turn it into a flavorful froth in a whipping siphon. Even a "basic" food can be the talk of the party!
What to serve your guests something a little different but exceptional for dinner? In this dish I topped sesame noodles with shredded duck legs because they can hold up to the strong flavors of the pasta. You can serve this entree either hot or cold. It's sure to be a hit!
This recipe infuses the flavors of shallot, lemon, and tarragon into a vinegar and then makes it into a light, bright vinaigrette. This pairing adds several base layers of flavor to the fish. For a modernist twist, thicken it into a sauce with xanthan gum!
Infused vinegars are a great way to add subtle flavors to vinaigrettes and sauces. When making your own sous vide can compress the infusion process into a matter of hours instead of week or months. I like to use this refreshing raspberry vinaigrette on spinach salad or as a sauce on white fish.
The star of most of my parties is meat and this blackberry-peach wrapped sous vided pork offering is no exception! It makes a fun presentation besides the additional sweetness and flavor from roasting the fruit complements the pork perfectly.
This recipe is a great crostini topping for any party, especially if some attendees might be less adventurous eaters! It resembles a more traditional dish but it have a subtle modernist touch. Garnishing the white bean puree with lemon zest pulls in even more highlights to the food.
By using the basic modernist ingredient of xanthan gum this recipe turns tuna into an upscale party favorite for any gathering. I serve the tuna squares with a pickled pear relish and an Asian accent sauce for a pop of flavor.
When watermelon is in season it's hard to resist. For some parties you need nothing more than to slice it and hand it out with paper towels for people to scarf down. However, sometimes you want something a little more refined and that's where this recipe comes in.
Sweet green grapes are another favorite snack of mine and they're a great party food because most people really like them. For this more upscale dish I turn them into a sweet, fizzy soup. The xanthan gum helps hold the particles in suspension and the carbonation effect adds a pleasant tingle and tang to it.
These Mexican inspired salmon bites pack a lot of flavor in a little package. The acidity from the tomatillos compliments the salmon perfectly and the crunch from the fried tortillas adds great texture.
Not all dishes that use modernist ingredients have to be super fancy in-your-face dishes that look like they came from Alinea. This red pepper pesto crustini is a great example. It is a simple, hearty snack that is great when served as an appetizer or set out as hors d'oeuvres.
This is a simple modernist vinaigrette to make and utilizes both xanthan gum and lecithin to strengthen and thicken it. I really like the sweet maple syrup with the tangy balsamic vinegar. This goes well on salads, especially ones with berries. You can also add a little more xanthan gum and use the vinaigrette as a sauce on fish or chicken.
Modernist foams come in many varieties. They can be made by blending, in a whipping siphon, or even using an aquarium bubbler. This recipe focuses on a different type: whipped foams, specifically whipped Methocel foams.
One of the nice things about modernist cuisine is being able to thicken liquids without significantly diluting the flavor of them. There are several ingredients that can do this and here I use xanthan gum to make a balsamic vinegar syrup.
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