Edible foams created with arugula, watermelon and soy lecithin.

A Typical (and A-Typical!) Taste-Testing Week in Tree House Kitchen

Another week of recipe taste-testing in Tree House Kitchen explores full-flavoured appetizers.

Taste-testing foams created with arugula, watermelon, and soy lecithin created the picture you see above and is an engaging full-senses experience! We paired these foams with shellfish for a combination truly reminiscent of the churning sea.

We had a fun week at the office taste-testing the final Tree House Kitchen menu for our Global Appetizers and Amuse Bouche, Tapas, and Small Tastes–Winter Style class!* We also suggested wine pairings to match for your at-home taste-testing. This demonstration-style class included some hands-on elements. We did most of the work and taught the recipes in concepts to not overwhelm students.

Our notes are included below for you to have a look into how our brains work here at Tree House Kitchen. Our wine expert had his work cut out for him!

We applied the same technique and artistry to a Global Appetizers-Spring/Summer Style class. In it, we dove deep into foundational tastes when testing ideas–developing a systematic understanding for our students and ourselves of what makes a good appetizer and how the unique elements in GREAT appetizers are pivotal ingredients to include in all your at-home creations. We shared many great ideas just in time for winter and holiday entertaining to get students thinking about next year’s summer patio parties.

If you wonder what inspires chefs, we are sharing how we think with the tips and techniques triple-tested at Tree House for success in your home kitchen.

Here is the class menu for our Global Appetizers and Amuse-Bouche, Tapas, and Small Tastes-Winter Season Style Menu, broken down into flavour elements:

  • Herbed potato cake slice with basil, Italian parsley, parmesan, smoked gouda, and prosciutto. Marinated lamb rack chop “pops” served with eggplant puree, carrot green pesto, and a touch of a lamb demi-glace-based sauce.
  • Chicken and chocolate chili appetizer: Full flavoured, round, and robust! Roasted sweetness of demi-glace onions, delicious bitterness from bittersweet chocolate, and a bit of acidity from tomatoes. Gumbo-like!
  • Oysters: Served with a series of garnishes such as preserved lemons, modernist fruit and leaf foams, mustard seed caviar with maple, and slightly bitter notes with a touch of acidity from vinegar.
  • Arancini two ways: Risotto-based farm vegetable arancini with vegetable stock is nicely balanced decadence with the saltiness of parmesan and vegetable sweetness, fried in a neutral oil. Served with naturally sweet beet and carrot puree. Grain cake balls–including wild black rice, black beans, red quinoa, and black quinoa–offer earthy, natural sweetness with a touch of bitterness from the black quinoa. These are fried with coconut oil.

We are always connecting to the earth in some way at Tree House and recently we harvested fresh Staghorn Sumac from the backyard (which is protected escarpment conservation land). Then we played with different methods of creating a bright red sumac tea and syrup. Sumac is refreshingly citrusy and when boiled down picks up really complex bitter notes that are mmmmm! (Think bracing citrus tea or antioxidants on steroids. Tannic elements of red wine or dark chocolate came to mind.) We may add elements of this to decorate plates that include herbed lamb meatballs with the addition of Chef Nancy’s maple-balsamic elixir or medium rare lamb rib “pops” with herbed potato cake.

Taste testing herbed potato cake with a balsamic-maple lamb meatball and sauce.

Pictured here is a riff on “meat and potatoes” in an appetizer: decadent herbed potato cake with a balsamic-maple lamb meatball and sauce made from rich lamb and beef demi-glace. For the class we decided lamb rack pops are a better lesson, but we loved these meatballs! 🙂

Finally, here are a few different tests of rice balls (arancini), working with risotto as well as grains like black quinoa. We were trying to find the perfect stuffing and grains for a nourishing whole foods experience with a golden brown, crisp crust. mmmmm!

Taste testing rice balls (arancini), working with risotto as well as grains like black quinoa.

Taste-testing in Tree House Kitchen is unique every week and we look forward to sharing our fail-safe techniques with you.

Update: We’re so proud of the work we’ve done in our hands-on teaching and dinner party classes. Working with you, our clients has played such an important part in the new direction of Tree House Kitchen as a food literacy company, specializing in problem-solving skills and resources for busy families, and community members – like you! We hope you enjoy reading about our past classes, and also where we’re headed moving forward. 

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