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Sous vide caramelized bananas with coconut gel and snow by Les Petits Chefs and Chef John Placko

A Molecular cuisine session for kids bruleeing sous vide bananas with John Placko Les Petits Chefs Mardi Michels eatlivetravelwrite.com

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that when it comes to cooking with kids, I like to set the bar high. I mean, like, extremely high.  The boys are rarely fazed by dishes that may appear difficult (sushi springs to mind) because they don’t have pre-conceived notions about the level of difficulty of a particular dish.  John Placko’s last session working molecular magic with the boys was a standout in Term 1 and I was ecstatic that he agreed to come back and work with the boys again.

This week Les Petits Chefs  once again got to see the marriage of science and cooking thanks to the generosity of Chef John Placko of the Modern Culinary Academy. Yes, that guy – who has dined at El Bulli in Spain and Noma in Denmark (read his impressive bio here)!  Once again, he wowed the boys (and me!) with his magic machines and ingredients.

When I rushed down to the lab at 2.45 on Monday, Chef John had everything all set up for the boys:

Molecular cuisine session for kids with John Placko Les Petits Chefs Mardi Michels eatlivetravelwrite.com

Science lesson – or cooking club?

John had planned sous-vide caramelized banana with coconut gel and coconut snow for the boys and I knew they would love this. They got right to work immersing the bananas in a sugar-cinnamon syrup…

Sous vide bananas with John Placko Les Petits Chefs Mardi Michels eatlivetravelwrite.com

… and watched, fascinated as John sealed the bananas in food-safe sous-vide bags…

Sous vide bananas with Chef John Placko Les Petits Chefs Mardi Michels eatlivetravelwrite.com

We placed the bananas in a 60˚C water bath for about 30 minutes…

placing bananas in a sous vide bath with Chef John Placko Les Petits Chefs Mardi Michels eatlivetravelwrite.com

And when they were “cooked” we removed them and cut them in even-sized rounds…

Making sous vide bananas with Chef John Placko Les Petits Chefs Mardi Michels eatlivetravelwrite.com

And then…. the “most fun ever” (note that this is an often-used term in cooking club!) – brûléeing the bananas. With a “real” blow torch. So. Much. Fun.

Caramelized sous vide bananas with Chef John Placko Les Petits Chefs Mardi Michels eatlivetravelwrite.com

Meanwhile, we’d whisked coconut milk with agar-agar and sugar to make coocnut gel. The boys were intrigued with the agar-agar powder that neither looked nor smelled like seaweed ;)

Making coconut gel with Chef John Placko Les Petits Chefs Mardi Michels eatlivetravelwrite.com

While that mixture sat in the fridge to set (about 10 minutes), the boys got to work making coconut “snow”.  A little bit of coconut oil was warmed and mixed with maltodextrin (malto – what??? It’s derived from tapioca that has been specially designed to have a very low bulk density and is used to stabilize high-fat ingredients  which can then be transformed into powders i.e. truffle oil, chocolate, bacon fat, olive oil
). The boys were fascinated with the texture of the maltodextrin – it weighs nothing but then when you mix it up with the coocnut oil, it really did turn into fluffy, snowy flakes!

Making coconut snow with Chef John Placko Les Petits Chefs Mardi Michels eatlivetravelwrite.com

Meanwhile, a little more brûléeing was happening as the boys got ready to plate up…

Molecular cuisine session for kids bruleeing sous vide bananas with John Placko Les Petits Chefs Mardi Michels eatlivetravelwrite.com

Check out the coconut gel on the right below – SO cool :)

Sous vide bananas and coconut gel with Chef John Placko Les Petits Chefs Mardi Michels eatlivetravelwrite.com

I think they did an awesome job on the brûléeing (they were very careful to make sure it was evenly caramelized!)…

sous vide caramelized bananas by Les Petits Chefs and Chef John Placko Mardi Michels eatlivetravelwrite.com

And then we got to plating up – Chef John had brought in the finishing touch of some freeze-dried pineapple powder to continue with the tropical theme…

sous vide caramelized bananas with coconut snow and coconut gel and freeze dried pineapple by Les Petits Chefs and Chef John Placko Mardi Michels eatlivetravelwrite.com

Et voilà:

sous vide caramelized bananas with coconut snow and coconut gel by Les Petits Chefs and Chef John Placko Mardi Michels eatlivetravelwrite.comPretty professional looking, huh? I am SO impressed with this dish – and it was ridiculously delicious. Plus, I loved seeing the boys walking out to be dismissed with their magic ingredients and food – they were so excited and proud!

Chef John – you did it again – thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and your magic with Les Petits Chefs – it’s lessons like these that they will remember for a very long time.

Check out John’s Powder for Texture catalogue of “magic” ingredients and equipment and follow John Placko on Twitter.

Contests and giveaways

* Canadians: Have you entered my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer and attachment giveaway yet? Closes May 29th 2013 at 6pm.

** Hey Canadians, there are some cool prizes to be won over on the Canadian Lentils Love your Lentils site – a blogger, a home chef, and a voter will all win the chance to join Chef Michael Smith in Saskatchewan on June 23, 2013 for a culinary adventure. I have two recipes in the running!

Red lentil carrot soup with orange and cardamom
Lentil-ricotta gnocchi pan-fried in tumeric butter

Congrats to Jody who won my WORLDWIDE giveaway of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Cookbook!

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10 Responses to Sous vide caramelized bananas with coconut gel and snow by Les Petits Chefs and Chef John Placko

  1. Paula May 29, 2013 at 09:44 #

    Under Chef Placko’s guidance, Les Petits Chefs make molecular cooking so intriguing and fun. Great job everyone.

  2. Alex May 29, 2013 at 09:45 #

    I love the fact that you aim the bar so high for those boys! Your completely right – if you have no preconcieved ideas of how difficult something is, you just get on with it! Those boys are very lucky to have a teacher like you! :)

  3. Just for Foodies May 29, 2013 at 12:17 #

    Coconut snow?
    I’m so in!

  4. Kablooey May 29, 2013 at 16:38 #

    Holy Marcel Vigneron, Batman! That really looks fun. Very impressive job by the lads and great lesson for all of us about what can be accomplished when you don’t know you shouldn’t be able to do something. Maybe Mardi’s students using molecular gastronomy techniques will replace the bumblebee flying as the standard example of this lesson?

  5. yummychunklet May 29, 2013 at 17:24 #

    LOVE the look of those bananas!

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    […] bloggers include Dom’s fennel risotto, Jan’s pork belly with honey and apple cider glaze, Mardi’s caramelized bananas with coconut gel and snow, Helen’s rhubarb compote,  Jeanne’s 20 hour oxtail stew, and Luiz’ Tamago Onsen. I’ve […]

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