Apr 2017

Kitchen Lab & The Robot Cook

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* Pic - One of the dishes I made for with Mat from Kitchen Lab to demonstrate uses of the Robot Cook *

This post is a snapshot of some of the creative work that I do as a development chef and consultant … and I’ve stuck in a wee recipe at the end too.

One part of what I do as a chef is to consult with restaurant suppliers, ingredients or equipment companies etc and I wanted to show a little of what that consists of on the blog. So having recently had the pleasure of a visit from Mat who runs ‘Kitchen Lab UK’, that seemed like a great example to write a little about.

Kitchen Lab is a relatively new UK restaurant supplier focused on high quality professional kitchen products. I’ve worked with Mat before on various things going back over a few years and we did some consultation for Waitrose cookery school together not too long ago. Its great to get to work with people like Mat who are passionate and fun, and I find that those are the working relationships that last and bloom.

Mat wanted to do some work together using the new ‘Robot Cook’ (a new machine from Robot Coupe) and also using some of the ‘Special Ingredients’ products (Special Ingredients are another company I work work closely with and will feature in future blogs I’m sure). The focus of our session together this time was to put the Robot Cook through its paces, give it a good testing and write some recipes and techniques showing off what it does.

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* Pic - Measuring ingredients during the recipe writing and testing *

The selling point of the Robot Cook is that it blends or stirs but can also heat food up 140C with accuracy to within one degree. Mat had already tested out making soups and puree’s in it so I wanted to look at its temperature control specifically by focusing on precision dessert work. We stated with chocolate tempering which worked great. I thought this would be a really good test of the machines temperature control and ease of use, and something that chefs and potential buyers would be interested in. Once I got used to how the machine works it was easy to neatly temper chocolate by setting it to the desired temperatures in sequence. I made some chocolate decorations which you can see in the picture at the top of this post.

Then we made a few different gels and puree’s using different ingredients - agar, carageenan, xanthan gum, ultratex etc etc - all made entirely in the Robot Cook. Aswell as making a couple of different light ‘Airs’ with lecithin and also powdered chocolate using ‘Zorbit’ maltodextrin. The idea being to construct a couple of properly delicious desserts but also to pack in as many examples of techniques with the Special Ingredients products as possible.

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* Pic - Lining up some of the ingredient we would work with *


Over the morning the thing I was most pleased with myself about was that a hunch I had about using the Robot Cook to caramelised white chocolate worked out better than I could of hoped. I wanted to do something that utilised the fact that the machine could heat up to 140C and I figured that trying to caramelised white chocolate was a good bet. The most common method for caramelising white chocolate that people use is to roast it in the oven, but a couple of years ago I found out I could get a more consistent result and make much larger batches by cooking white chocolate sous vide for longer periods of time while it slowly browns. This is because it isn’t truly caramelisation that is taking place but a Maillard reaction which gives you the browning and caramel flavours. You can read much more about my technique and the science of it HERE so I won’t get bogged down in it in this post. So I figured if I could caramelise white chocolate sous vide at 90C in a few hours then I could hopefully do it in the Robot Cook at 140C in much less time. In the end the result was better than we could of hoped, the white chocolate was continually stirred in the machine stopping it from risking burning, and after just 20 minutes we had this beautifully caramelised white chocolate. Thats pretty cool and its great to have an idea work out so well first try.

To put a few techniques together I made a caramelised white chocolate panna cotta set with iota and kappa carageenan, then we garnished this with the tempered dark chocolate (sprayed a metallic blue) and paired it with a rose air and fresh orange. This was pretty good first go and after a bit of fine tuning a pretty cracking modern dessert.

The second dessert we made also uses a number of techniques (I won’t go into full detail to keep this short) and is based around coconut cherry and dark chocolate, a flavour combination I’m really fond of.

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* Pic - The Cherry, Coconut and Dark Chocolate Dish *

At the end of our morning together we had given the Robot Cook a really good test, written a bunch of recipes and made and photographed a couple of really smart modern desserts. This sort of work I really enjoy and I’m glad I get to do. I’m picky about the projects I take on and who I work with because I have so little free time I only want to work on interesting things, and sessions like this are a good example I think of working hard at something but the process being a pleasure.

This blog has now gone on longer than I meant it too, and future posts are likely to be shorter, but here to finish off is the simple caramelised white chocolate panna cotta recipe we worked on that day.

150g Caramelised White Chocolate
200g Single Cream
50g Caster Sugar
0.6g Kappa Carrageenan
0.3g Iota Carrageenan

First make the caramelised white chocolate using your preferred method (we made it in the Robot Cook but you can do it Sous Vide or in the oven)
Next combine all the ingredients in a pan and heat to a simmer. 
Hold the mixture at this heat for two minutes. Then simply pour the mix out into dishes and allow it to set. 

I hope you enjoyed the post and found it interesting :)