Thinking about the next dessert you are going to prepare to impress the neighbors? Here is a little hint that is actually going to be a fairly big for the 2012 food trends. Something that is locally grown, fresh, healthy and innovative in desserts.
Fresh herb infused oil.
I know. You just wanted to click on the home button of my blog just now, hoping to find a saner article to read, thinking “that’s it, he lost it!”
When you think about it, there is nothing mystical about making oil infused with fresh herbs and for that matter basil oil too. Yet, there are a few “good to know” tips you might want to read before going full speed in the wall. (Like I did on my first try, and as usual, not listening to the advices from my experienced colleagues)
Recently, I prepared a dessert for a TV show where I was using a fresh herb meringue served with a slow baked lemon tart. I based the success rate of my idea on the principle that meringue blend well with fatty elements (i.e.: in Italian meringue butter cream) and I thought it would blend well with basil oil too. And it did. Also, as I was talking about the idea on Twitter the other day, Jeremy (from the famous stirthepot.com) prompted me with a dish he had once which was a cod fish with basil meringue. Someone else did it before me, so it must be delicious and yes, it is REALLY good!
Basil oil can be used simply drizzled over fresh strawberries or blended into a preparation, such as the above meringue for example. It enhances the flavors and blend superbly with many dessert ingredients like cherries, lemon or chocolate to name a few.
To make a nice basil oil, try to get basil that looks nice and fresh. Starting with basil who is about to die isn’t going to help with the color and the fragrance. Get a nice bunch of basil and also a bunch of flat Italian parsley. The parsley is going to be our deep green coloring helper as the basil itself is a bit week after the blanching process. The other ingredient you’ll need is a nice grape seed oil, or any another oil which doesn’t have a strong fragrance. A good olive oil tends to mask the herbal tone and is not really recommended, unless you are really going for a perfumed olive oil.
Now that you have the three ingredients, here comes the process:
- Pick the basil leaves and the parsley leaves.
- Boil a pot water and prepare an ice water bath on the side.
- Blanch the basil and the parsley for about 1 minute in the simmering hot water.
- Using a strainer, take out the blanched herbs and plunge them right away in the ice bath – this will seize a maximum of flavor and color.
- Take the herbs out of the ice bath and squeeze the excess water. The key point here is to squeeze the water out, but not the essential juices.
- Using a bar blender, puree the herbs and add them to the oil.
- Leave it for 10 minutes and finally pass the oil through a double cheese cloth or a paper coffee filter.
Once your oil is done, it’s ready to use. And if you made a whole pot of it, you can keep it nice and green by freezing it. Freezing it? That’s something else altogether! You will notice that your oil becomes solid and with a little creativity, the next time you serve your world famous melting chocolate pudding, you might want to serve it with a piece of frozen basil oil on the top, it’s delicious!
You might have read that story on my blog colum from Asia Tatler Dining. :)