I’d been planning on doing this recipe a few weeks ago but one thing or another had stopped me from cooking it nevermind writing about it. As it happens, this was quite fortuitous because reading a post over on Conor Bofin’s excellent One Man’s Meat blog I was alerted to a competition Glenisk are running in conjunction with the Blog Awards Ireland 2013. I would normally use their Greek yoghurt anyway (we go through tubs of the stuff every week) so it’s seemed like a perfect confluence of coincidences meant I was assured of winning. Or maybe that’s pushing things somewhat.
I had initially planned on flavouring the yoghurt with homemade rosewater and even managed to get some edible roses thanks to guys at Fallon & Byrne only to realise that I’d confused the flavour I was looking for with orange blossom water. Still, it wasn’t a complete waste: I now know how to make rosewater! I also revisited a trick I’ve not used in a while by spherifying the yoghurt because I thought the final plating would look better with one sauce rather than two.
Trickery aside, the main focus of the dish is the carrots, which are really at their best in the summer. I found some lovely multi-coloured ones when I was looking for the roses in Fallon & Byrne as well as the chantenay variety, which I used for a nice garnish. Of course, just adding some boiled carrots to the plate would be a bit boring so I used the classic Modernist Cuisine pressure cooked carrot soup recipe as the base for a puree and I also made some pickles for a nice hit of acidity.
For another layer of freshness, I made a tarragon emulsion with a base of cucumber juice: a quick spin in the blender with some grape seed oil and xanthan gum makes for a very versatile sauce that takes less than five minutes to prepare from start to finish.
For the pickled carrots
100ml cider vinegar
2 large carrots, peeled into ribbons
For the yogurt & orange blossom spheres
2.5g sodium alginate
100g Glenisk Greek yogurt
5ml orange blossom water
For the braised fennel
15g fennel seeds
1 fennel bulb, quartered
For the carrot puree
2.5g baking soda
For the tarragon emulsion
100ml cucumber juice
50ml grape seed oil
0.4g xanthan gum
10g tarragon leaves
2.5ml lemon juice
For the carrots
8 long, thin carrots, peeled
6 baby chantenay carrots, peeled
- For the pickled carrots, place the cider vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a saucepan.
- Bring to the boil and stir to dissolve to the sugar and salt.
- Add the carrot ribbons to a clean jar and pour in the hot pickling liquid.
- Allow to cool before sealing and placing in the fridge for 12 hours.
- For the yoghurt & orange blossom spheres, pour the water and sodium alginate into a blender.
- Blend for 1-2 minutes until the alginate is fully incorporated into the water.
- Pour the liquid into a small bowl and leave in the fridge overnight for all the air bubbles to dissipate.
- Mix the yoghurt, water, orange blossom water and honey thoroughly.
- Using a hemispherical measuring tablespoon, gradually submerge a scoop of the sauce into the alginate bath, flick contents of the spoon into the bath just before the spoon becomes fully immersed.
- Leave to sit for thirty seconds and then using a slotted spoon remove the sphere and place in a bowl of water.
- Repeat five more times and reserve the spheres in the fridge.
- For the braised fennel, melt the butter in a sauce pan over a medium heat and add the fennel seeds.
- Place the fennel quarters in the pan in a single layer and add the water.
- Pour in the water and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and cover the pan with a lid.
- Leave to simmer for an hour, turning once halfway through. Reserve and keep warm.
- For the carrot purée, melt 40g of butter in a pressure cooker.
- Add the carrots, baking soda and a splash of water and mix thoroughly to spread the baking soda evenly.
- Bring the pressure cooker to full pressure over a high heat, shaking the pot occasionally to prevent the vegetables from sticking to the bottom.
- When up to full pressure, reduce the heat and cook for 20 minutes.
- Depressurise the cooker by running colder water on the lid.
- Transfer the browned carrots pieces to a blender with the butter and puree until very smooth (you may need to add some water to help the blender). Season and reserve.
- For the tarragon emulsion, combine the cucumber juice and xanthan gum in a blender and blend in a few short pulses until the gum is fully incorporated.
- Add the oil, tarragon and lemon juice and blend on full until the sauce is emulsified and smooth. Season and reserve.
- For the carrots, bring a pot of heavily salted water to the boil.
- Add the carrots and boil for four minutes until al dente.
- To plate, place two quarters of fennel near the top of the plate; lay two of the thing carrots lengthways between the fennel; lean two more carrots on the fennel quarters; place three spheres around the fennel quarters; roll up the pickled carrot ribbons and place around the plate; halve the Vichy carrots and place around the plate; smear a spoon of the carrot puree in front of the fennel; dot some puddles of the tarragon sauce around the vegetables.