Shannon Bennett: Cucumber, pear, flowers and musk

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 4 people

  • 1 telegraph cucumber, halved widthways and thinly sliced into ribbons
  • 1 nashi
  • 1 tbsp flower petals, such as nasturtium, borage and garlic flowers
  •  
  • Musk sticks
  • 1½ tsp liquid glucose
  • gold-strength gelatine leaves
  • ¼ tsp musk flavouring (see note)
  • 1 small drop red food colouring
  • 150 gm pure icing sugar, sieved
  •  
  • Pear gel
  • 3-4 ripe beurre Bosc pears, quartered
  • ¼ tsp agar-agar (see note)
  • ¼ tsp lemon juice
  •  
  • Olive oil powder
  • 30 gm (¼ cup) maltodextrin (see note)
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
01   For musk sticks, combine glucose, gelatine and 25ml water in a saucepan over low heat, stirring with a whisk to dissolve (2 minutes). Stir in musk and colouring to combine, then whisk in icing sugar, transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 4-5mm nozzle, pipe into 10cm lengths onto a tray lined with baking paper and set aside to dry (overnight). Cut one musk stick into 5mm pieces and reserve remaining sticks for another use. Musk sticks will keep for 1 month in an airtight container.
02   For pear gel, juice pears in a juicer then strain through a fine sieve into a small saucepan, bring to the boil over high heat, simmer to remove impurities (2-3 minutes), skim to produce a semi-clear liquid (discard solids), then transfer 125ml to a clean saucepan (reserve remainder). Whisk in agar-agar and set aside to absorb (8-10 minutes), then simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, until very slightly thickened (3 minutes). Set aside to cool, then refrigerate until set (8-10 minutes). Pulse in a small food processor with lemon juice and 2 tsp reserved pear juice until smooth, then transfer to a small squeeze bottle and set aside.
03   For olive oil powder, pulse maltodextrin and olive oil in a small food processor to combine, season lightly to taste with sea salt and set aside.
04   Pipe dots of pear gel onto serving plates, top with cucumber ribbons. Thinly slice nashi on a mandolin, cut into 4cm-diameter discs with a cutter, arrange on top, scatter with olive oil powder and musk, drizzle with a little extra pear juice, scatter over petals and serve.
Note Musk flavouring is available from Iced Affair and other cake decorating suppliers. Agar-agar is a setting agent derived from seaweed and is available from health-food shops. Maltodextrin is available from body building suppliers and Simon Johnson.

This recipe is from the April 2011 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

Recipe:

SHANNON BENNETT , MARK BRIGGS, HEIDE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, MELBOURNE

Photography:

WILLIAM MEPPEM

Styling:

LISA FEATHERBY

Drinking Suggestion:

MINERALLY WHITE WINE FROM A COOL CLIMATE SUCH AS NORTHERN ITALY, NORTHERN BURGUNDY OR NORTH-EASTERN SPAIN , suggested by ELIZABETH FAIRWEATHER

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