Apple, horseradish, celery juice and leaves
For years, I've really, really loathed three things for their dental floss-like texture: rhubarb, celery, and frisee. I got over my frisee issues by being fed a really nice, non-floss-like frisee salad (with poached egg, lardons, red onion, and black truffle at Central. Thanks to one of the dishes in The French Laundry Cookbook, I don't hate rhubarb anymore, either. Not that I ever crave it, but I have warmer, more gentle, less squicky feelings about it.
I just don't get celery. I don't get it at all. It's like stalky, watery dental floss. When I was little, my mom would fill the channel of a celery stalk with peanut butter, and give it to us as a snack. I'd lick the peanut butter right out and leave the celery. Celery on a vegetable tray at a party? Makes me mad. Vegetable trays, in general, make me mad because they're usually pretty gross and tasteless, but the added insult of having celery on there just makes it that much worse. And there's only one good way to ruin a Bloody Mary -- and that's plonking a stalk of celery in it. Like I wanna gouge my eye out when drinking what otherwise is a lovely, lovely beverage.
Cooking my way through The French Laundry Cookbook and now the Alinea cookbook is supposed to be about not just trying new things, but also about second (or third or fourth) chances for some foods. It's about being open to different preparations and flavorful combinations. But again with the celery? Alright, FINE. I'll give it a(nother) shot. I mean, what's not to love about apples and horseradish? Maybe I wouldn't even taste the celery at all!! A girl can dream...
The first thing I needed to make was the apple juice for the apple spheres. I juiced three Granny Smith apples in my juicer:
I brought the juice to a boil, and skimmed all the brownish scum that rose to the top:
I strained the juice through a chinois into a bowl nesting inside a larger bowl filled with ice:
I stirred in simple syrup, salt, and citric acid, stirred to dissolve, and poured the apple liquid into a squeeze bottle so that I could more easily fill the spherical molds:
The book suggests that you might want to make up to twenty apple spheres because they're fragile and therefore prone to breaking apart when you pin them and dip them in a horseradish mixture later on. So, I did what I was told and made extra ones -- 18 of them -- 9 in each mold. And then I freaked out that all 18 would fall apart and I'd be left with just CELERY JUICE to drink at the end of this, and I might possibly have cursed under my breath. Or out loud. Yeah, definitely out loud.
I put the apple liquid-filled molds in the freezer and let them harden overnight.
The next morning, I made the horseradish liquid for the outer shell coating. I peeled and diced horseradish root and put it in a Ziploc bag with some salt, cocoa butter powder, and white chocolate. I sealed the bag and put it in a large stockpot of boiling water, and let it cook for 20 minutes.
I strained the contents of the bag into a small bowl, and stirred in the white wine vinegar with my immersion blender.
I used a turkey-lacing pin to hold each apple sphere and dunk them, one by one, into the horseradish liquid:
They looked nice and frozen to me, but they were delicate and had the potential to break apart, I could tell. They were kinda crystal-y and looked like little frozen mini shards of ice in a compact little ball. But, I must gloat for just a second: not one single sphere of mine broke or splintered or fell apart. Wooo-hooo!!!!!! Every single one got poked with a pin, dunked in the liquid, and put back on the mold to go back in the fridge so that the apple could melt now that it was encased in a quickly hardened horseradish shell.
Ladies, I know it looks like the Brazilian room at the day spa blew up on that tray, but trust me: most of the spheres were nice and smooth. Only a few had some extra drizzles and bumps on them.
The apple spheres needed to be in the fridge for about five hours so that the frozen apple sphere could melt within the hardened shell, so the only thing I had left to do was make the celery juice.
Gah. I can't even stand looking at the stuff. It's just so... so... celeryish.
I resentfully and loathingly cleaned all 20 stalks and cut them into 2" pieces, and blanched them for about 30 seconds:
I juiced and strained every last bit of that stalky dental floss, which resulted in the most lovely green liquid:
Hhmmmmm..... maybe it wouldn't be that bad.
I stored the liquid in the refrigerator until the five-hour mark was up, and the apple spheres were all liquidy inside. I whisked in some salt and simple syrup, and filled six shot glasses about halfway with the juice. Then, I gently placed an apple-horseradish sphere inside, and topped that with a few flakes of sea salt and a small celery leaf:
The horseradish-apple sphere broke apart in my mouth quite easily, and the combination of tart apple liquid with the sharp heat of the horseradish was intense. It made my cheeks flush! The celery juice buffered it a bit, but I actually like how confidently those flavors slammed my palate.
I thought I might have issues with the texture of the horseradish shell as it disintegrated, what with the cocoa butter powder and white chocolate in there, but I barely noticed it at all. It wasn't slimy or silky or slippery, like I thought it might be.
And the celery juice? I actually kind of liked it. Seriously! It was smooth and fresh, and really complemented all the other flavors that were slammin' around.
NOW what food am I gonna be mad at? HUH!?!?!?!
Up Next: Peanut, five other flavors
Resources: Apples, horseradish, and celery from HMart; David's kosher salt; citric acid from L'Epicerie; cocoa butter powder from InstaWares; El Rey Icoa white chocolate; Domaine Des Vignes white wine vinegar; Maldon sea salt.
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