Aftelier Perfumes’ Chef’s Essences Review, Part Six: Coriander Leaf

ChefsEssencesAndSprays

Some of the Chef’s Essences and Chef’s Essence Sprays from Aftelier Perfumes. Photo credit: Mandy Aftel/Aftelier Perfumes

Previous Aftelier Perfumes’ Chef’s Essences Reviews

A couple of months ago I published three posts about Aftelier’s Chef’s Essences, which included an extensive introduction to the flavour essences, a brief review of perfumer Mandy Aftel and chef Daniel Patterson’s book Aroma (which inspired the development of the Chef’s Essences range), and a survey of my experiences using four of the Chef’s Essence Sprays: Litsea Cubeba, Black Pepper, Sarsaparilla and Violet (Alpha Ionone).

You can read my longer introduction to the flavour essences and about Aroma, as well as my experiences using Litsea Cubeba and Black Pepper in this blog post. You can read about how I used Sarsaparilla by clicking this link, and if the idea of cooking with Violet takes your fancy, click here.

A few days ago I reviewed Frankincense Chef’s Essence and earlier last week I reviewed the Magnolia Flower Chef’s Essence. These were both fascinating, “perfumey” flavours to work with and I found it creatively challenging to come up with uses and recipes for them. I think I discovered some winners though: I used them both in tea and created a lovely orange frankincense cake and a baked magnolia and honey custard, amongst other things. Click on the links to find out more.

If you don’t have time to read these previous posts, please do read on, as I give a brief introduction to the Chef’s Essences below. Today’s post focuses on the Coriander Leaf Chef’s Essence Spray. Scroll down to read my review of this essence and to find some suggestions for use and recipes.

What are Chef’s Essences®?

Put simply, Aftelier Perfumes’ Chef’s Essences are essential oils, natural isolates, resins and absolutes that can be used to flavour food and drinks. They allow the creation of magical, multi-dimensional, heightened and brand new flavour experiences. They seem high-tech, almost Willy-Wonka-esque, like something from the future, space-age. And yet, they are all based on natural ingredients. One or two sprays or drops of these essences will transform your food or drink into an experience like no other. Known flavours become dramatically intensified, others display flavour nuances and characteristics that you haven’t noticed before in the raw ingredient, and new flavour experiences become possible. Have you ever eaten Fir Needle or Tolu Balsam? I haven’t, and I know I want to experience these ingredients, not just as smells (which is how they are most commonly used and encountered), but as flavours too.

Chef’s Essences come in both concentrated form (5ml bottles with a dropper cap) and in spray form (30ml), in which the essential oils and natural isolates are diluted with organic grain alcohol. There are 17 Chef’s Essence Sprays to choose from and 54 Chef’s Essences in concentrated form. All of them can be purchased from the Aftelier Perfumes website. The sprays are very versatile and easy to use as they can be added both during and after cooking, to complete a dish.

I recently interviewed Mandy Aftel for my Thirteen Thoughts: Perfumer Interview Series, and we had some email chats back and forth at the time. In one of these emails I expressed an interest in writing a piece about Mandy’s Chef’s Essences. As Perfume Polytechnic is all about smell (not just perfume), and as this blog has explored phenomena such as synaesthesia, I thought this would be a very suitable and interesting topic for my readers. Mandy very generously offered to send me some samples of some of the Chef’s Essences Sprays. My Chef’s Essence Spray samples arrived beautifully packaged with a handwritten note from Mandy with some suggestions for use.

Chef's Essences

Mandy’s gorgeous parcel, along with a handwritten card containing some suggestions on how to use the Chef’s Essence Sprays.

When I first used the Chef’s Essences sprays I was struck instantly by how much more intense the aroma of my food had become. Particularly when sprayed onto something just before eating it, I experienced the sense of a strong and beautiful aroma hitting my nostrils first, followed by the taste of the essence as I ate the food. That two-part sensation: smell, then taste (combining to form flavour), is not something I really notice much when I eat food generally, so I think that the Chef’s Essences really highlight and intensify the aroma component of eating, almost as a separate and discreet thing. I noticed that my eating also became more mindful and I ate with more care and took more time to savour the smell, taste and flavour of each Essence. Each mouthful was a heightened, sensual, novel, intensified flavour experience.

Chef’s Essences Coriander Leaf Spray

CHEF-SPRAY-CorianderLeaf-2

Coriander Leaf Chef’s Essence Spray – photo courtesy Mandy Aftel/Aftelier Perfumes

In Part Six today I will focus on Coriander Leaf Chef’s Essence Spray. As coriander is used widely in cooking, I like to think of this spray as a great replacement for the fresh herb, which isn’t always possible to get (depending on the season, or your location) or affordable. I’ve also had trouble growing my own coriander – it always bolts to seed much too quickly.

With this in mind, I’ve chosen to approach using this essence in a more practical way. I’ll provide some suggestions for use below, and also a couple of simple recipes.

This chef’s essence comes in both spray and dropper versions, and Mandy sent me a sample of the spray. If you’ve got the dropper version at home, please note that there is a ratio of approximately 3-5 sprays per drop of essence, and adjust the recipes accordingly, and also according to your personal taste!

You can use this essence anywhere that you would use fresh coriander. In terms of cuisines that use coriander, this includes Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, and Moroccan, to name but a few. This sharp, green, fresh herb is unlike any other, and Aftelier’s Chef’s Essence is a great replacement if you can’t get it fresh. It tastes quite like the original herb, but a little sweeter to my taste buds.

Mandy suggested pairing the coriander with citrus, and I tried it with both lemon and lime, which complimented the sharpness of the coriander flavour, which also has a slightly citrussy quality.

General Use Suggestions

Add Coriander Chef’s Essence Spray to guacamole or baba ganoush, try it on tacos and use it to dress chilli beans or Moroccan tagines before serving. Add a spray or two to margaritas, or to a glass of gin and tonic, instead of a slice of lemon.

How I Used Coriander Chef’s Essence Spray

Nasi Goreng

I sprayed 3-4 sprays of Chef’s Essence Coriander Leaf Spray to a bowl of Nasi Goreng, which is Indonesian fried rice, and added a squeeze of lemon. The two ingredients elevated the dish from simply tasty to delicious.

On Vanilla Ice Cream

This is one of the most unusual pairings I can imagine, but it’s sublime. Just remember to go easy with the coriander, as you can end up with a bitter taste if you use too much. Just one tiny spray onto a bowl of ice cream is all you need, and either wait a few minutes for the essence to meld with the ice cream, or stir it through to mix the flavour in. The sharp green herbal flavour contrasts with the creaminess of the vanilla ice cream and the sweetness of the ice cream in turn enhances the natural sweetness of the herb.

Simple Salad Dressing With Coriander and Lime

coriander_salad_dressing

Salad dressed with Coriander Chef’s Essence and Lime

This is so simple, it’s hardly a recipe at all. Dress a simple salad of greens, avocado and tomato with a drizzle of olive oil, a generous squeeze of lime juice, 2-3 sprays of Coriander Chef’s Essence Spray, and some salt and pepper. Toss to combine. So fresh and delicious!

Sweet Potato Wedges with Coriander Aioli

sweet_potato

Sweet Potato Wedges (Photo credit: Stacy Spensley https://www.flickr.com/photos/notahipster/3001628444/in/photostream/ Creative Commons License 2.0)

I based this delicious recipe on the Homemade Mayonnaise recipe from Molly Katzen’s classic Moosewood Cookbook. I changed a few ingredients to make this into a coriander flavoured aioli. This is fabulous with sweet potato wedges, regular potato wedges or chips, and also as a dip for any steamed vegetable, Provençale style. I first tried aioli in Avignon in 1999, served with a plate of simple, steamed and boiled vegetables, whilst sitting in a small restaurant near the Papal Palace. I always think fondly of that meal whenever I eat aioli.

Ingredients
(Serves 3-4 as a side dish, or two as a large snack, with plenty of aioli for leftovers)

For the aioli:
1 large egg
3 tablespoons white vinegar
2 small cloves raw garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1 1/4 cups oil (canola or olive)
20-25 sprays Coriander Chef’s Essence (approx. 6-8 drops, if you’re using the essence with the dropper bottle)

For the sweet potato wedges:
750g sweet potato, cut into wedges
olive oil to drizzle
sea salt flakes and pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 180º celsius. Wash and cut the sweet potato into wedges, leaving the skin on. Place on a baking tray lined with non-stick paper, drizzle with oil and sprinkle over salt and pepper. Toss and turn the wedges with your fingers to coat them in the oil. Place in the oven for about 20 minutes, but check to see if they need turning every 10-15 minutes or so. At the 20 minute mark, turn the oven up to 200º celsius and cook for a remaining 20 minutes, or until well cooked and nicely caramelised all over.

Place egg, salt, vinegar, 2 tablespoons of the oil and crushed garlic into a tall measuring jug (one that holds 4 cups is a good size). Using a hand-held blender, process for a few seconds. Now, keeping the motor of the blender running, slowly drizzle in the remaining oil, and blend until the aioli thickens and all the oil is incorporated. Add the Coriander Chef’s Essence and stir in thoroughly with a spatula. Use the spatula to scrape the aioli out into a bowl for serving.

Pile the wedges onto a plate, dip into the aioli and enjoy. Magic!

This is enough aioli for several meals, as it is very rich! You can serve the leftover aioli with steamed vegetables, more wedges, or spread it on sandwiches.

Consume the aioli within a few days as this recipe uses raw egg.

Note: if you don’t have a hand-held blender, a food processor or regular blender will do the trick just as well. This is a foolproof aioli – I’ve never had a problem with this recipe in the 20+ years I’ve been making it!


I hope you’ve enjoyed Part Six of my review of Aftelier Perfumes’ Chef’s Essences. Have you tried any of the range? If so, please let me know in the comments box below which ones you’ve tried and how you used them. I would love to hear about your experiences!

You can buy Coriander Leaf Chef’s Essence Spray here. You can peruse and purchase the rest of the Chef’s Essences and Sprays online at the Aftelier Perfumes website. The website also has suggestions on how to use the various flavours, as does the Aftelier Perfumes Pinterest account.

Acknowledgements

Warmest thanks to Mandy Aftel for providing me with generous samples of seven Chef’s Essences to sample and review over the last few months. It’s been such a fun creative challenge for me!

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Aftelier Perfumes’ Chef’s Essences Review, Part Five: Frankincense

ChefsEssencesAndSprays

Some of the Chef’s Essences and Chef’s Essence Sprays from Aftelier Perfumes. Photo credit: Mandy Aftel/Aftelier Perfumes

Previous Aftelier Perfumes’ Chef’s Essences Reviews

A couple of months ago I published three posts about Aftelier’s Chef’s Essences, which included an extensive introduction to the flavour essences, a brief review of perfumer Mandy Aftel and chef Daniel Patterson’s book Aroma (which inspired the development of the Chef’s Essences range), and a survey of my experiences using four of the Chef’s Essence Sprays: Litsea Cubeba, Black Pepper, Sarsaparilla and Violet (Alpha Ionone).

You can read my longer introduction to the flavour essences and about Aroma, as well as my experiences using Litsea Cubeba and Black Pepper in this blog post. You can read about how I used Sarsaparilla by clicking this link, and if the idea of cooking with Violet takes your fancy, click here.

In my last blog post I reviewed Magnolia Flower Chef’s Essence Spray, which was a very interesting floral note to work with. If you’d like to read about that and try some of the recipes I came up with, including Magnolia Gen Mai Cha tea and Magnolia and Honey Baked Custard, click here.

If you don’t have time to read these previous posts, please do read on, as I give a brief introduction to the Chef’s Essences below. Today’s post focuses on the Frankincense Chef’s Essence. Scroll down to read my review of this essence and to find several recipes using frankincense.

What are Chef’s Essences®?

Put simply, Aftelier Perfumes’ Chef’s Essences are essential oils, natural isolates, resins and absolutes that can be used to flavour food and drinks. They allow the creation of magical, multi-dimensional, heightened and brand new flavour experiences. They seem high-tech, almost Willy-Wonka-esque, like something from the future, space-age. And yet, they are all based on natural ingredients. One or two sprays or drops of these essences will transform your food or drink into an experience like no other. Known flavours become dramatically intensified, others display flavour nuances and characteristics that you haven’t noticed before in the raw ingredient, and new flavour experiences become possible. Have you ever eaten Fir Needle or Tolu Balsam? I haven’t, and I know I want to experience these ingredients, not just as smells (which is how they are most commonly used and encountered), but as flavours too.

Chef’s Essences come in both concentrated form (5ml bottles with a dropper cap) and in spray form (30ml), in which the essential oils and natural isolates are diluted with organic grain alcohol. There are 17 Chef’s Essence Sprays to choose from and 54 Chef’s Essences in concentrated form. All of them can be purchased from the Aftelier Perfumes website. The sprays are very versatile and easy to use as they can be added both during and after cooking, to complete a dish.

I recently interviewed Mandy Aftel for my Thirteen Thoughts: Perfumer Interview Series, and we had some email chats back and forth at the time. In one of these emails I expressed an interest in writing a piece about Mandy’s Chef’s Essences. As Perfume Polytechnic is all about smell (not just perfume), and as this blog has explored phenomena such as synaesthesia, I thought this would be a very suitable and interesting topic for my readers. Mandy very generously offered to send me some samples of some of the Chef’s Essences Sprays. My Chef’s Essence Spray samples arrived beautifully packaged with a handwritten note from Mandy with some suggestions for use.

Chef's Essences

Mandy’s gorgeous parcel, along with a handwritten card containing some suggestions on how to use the Chef’s Essence Sprays.

When I first used the Chef’s Essences sprays I was struck instantly by how much more intense the aroma of my food had become. Particularly when sprayed onto something just before eating it, I experienced the sense of a strong and beautiful aroma hitting my nostrils first, followed by the taste of the essence as I ate the food. That two-part sensation: smell, then taste (combining to form flavour), is not something I really notice much when I eat food generally, so I think that the Chef’s Essences really highlight and intensify the aroma component of eating, almost as a separate and discreet thing. I noticed that my eating also became more mindful and I ate with more care and took more time to savour the smell, taste and flavour of each Essence. Each mouthful was a heightened, sensual, novel, intensified flavour experience.

Chef’s Essences Frankincense Spray

Frankincense Chef's Essence by Aftelier Perfumes (Photo courtesy www.aftelier.com)

Frankincense Chef’s Essence by Aftelier Perfumes (Photo courtesy http://www.aftelier.com)

In Part Five today I will focus on Frankincense Chef’s Essence, which is a really interesting and unusual, “perfumey” flavour to work with. It took me a while to come up with some interesting uses and recipes as I have never eaten frankincense before and it is not widely used in cooking. Apparently it is used in Oman to flavour ice cream, and the smoke of the incense from a combination of aromatics – including frankincense – is used to flavour Kanom Kleeb Lumdual, a Thai cookie.

Despite its limited use in food and my unfamiliarity with it, as frankincense is one of my favourite perfume ingredients I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try it. As I’m familiar with frankincense as a smell rather than a food ingredient, I tried to think like a perfumer, pondering which ingredients would combine well with frankincense in perfume, and then tried to base recipes on these combinations. Immediately I thought of citrus: frankincense always blends well with citrus in perfumes, so this gave me the idea to create a frankincense and orange cake.

I should mention here that Mandy Aftel made up my sample of the Frankincense as a spray, for ease of use, but currently the Frankincense is only available to order as an essence in a dropper bottle. I have provided instructions on how to use both the spray and the dropper bottle (and the relative quantities) in the recipes below.

How I Used Frankincense Chef’s Essence Spray

Frankincense Black Tea

Mandy suggested trying the Frankincense Chef’s Essence with tea, and it is divine! As a lover of tea I will be adding this regularly to my tea-drinking repertoire. The frankincense adds the most beautiful woody, resinous, pine-like flavour to the tea. It’s great with milk and sugar too.

To make two cups of Frankincense Tea

Place 1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons of black loose-leaf tea of your choice in a pot for two and spray two sprays (or use 1 drop of essence) of Frankincense Chef’s Essence onto the dry tea leaves. If you’re using the chef’s essence with the dropper bottle, give the leaves a thorough stir with a teaspoon to distribute the frankincense evenly. Now boil the kettle. This gives the frankincense a minute or two to infuse into the dry leaves. Fill the teapot and steep for 3-5 minutes for maximum flavour. Enjoy black or with milk and sugar.

I used T2’s Morning Red tea, which is a blend of Assam and Keemun teas and is quite a strong brew with a tiny hint of smoke.

Orange & Frankincense Almond Polenta Cake

orange and frankincense cake

Orange & Frankincense Almond Polenta Cake

As I wrote above, combining citrus with frankincense seemed like an obvious combination as these ingredients blend well in perfume. As with the tea, the piney, woody, resinous notes of the frankincense really come to the fore in this recipe and compliment the orange beautifully. I set about modifying a recipe from Sophie Dahl’s cookbook Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights, and changed enough of the ingredients and flavourings that I think I can safely call this my own!

Ingredients
(Makes 10-12 slices)

100g butter, softened
225g raw (granulated) sugar
3 eggs
1 cup plain organic wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup polenta
1 cup ground almonds (almond meal)
1/3 cup plain yogurt (thick, Greek-style or pot-set)
Juice and zest of 1 large orange
**20 sprays (or 5-6 drops) Frankincense Chef’s Essence (see note below **)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180º celcius/350º fahrenheit. Grease and line a 20cm baking tin with non-stick baking paper (I used a tin with a removable base).

Cream together the softened butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, then add the eggs, one at a time, whisking them in. Sift the wheat flour and baking powder over the butter/egg/sugar mixture, add the polenta and almond meal, and stir it all together. Add the yogurt, orange juice and zest, and the Frankincense Chef’s Essence and stir to combine well.

Pour into the cake tin you prepared earlier and place in centre of the oven for about 40 minutes. Check at the 30-35 minute mark as this cake has a tendency to brown round the sides and on the bottom quickly. Don’t worry if it does brown as it helps create a lovely, slightly crunchy, caramelised “crust”. The cake is ready when it is firm and slightly golden on top and if you insert a skewer or knife into the middle, it should come out clean.

Remove the cake from the tin if you’ve used a tin with a removable base and pop it on to a cooling rack. Otherwise, let the cake sit in the tin for 5-10 minutes and then invert it onto a rack to cool.

This cake is delightful served warm with cream, and has a lovely texture from the tiny amount of polenta used, which adds a nice crunch and grit to it, while the almond meal and wheat flour result in a surprisingly light and fluffy cake.

**The frankincense in this cake is a delightful accompaniment to the orange, and I’ve used a moderate amount here so that it didn’t overwhelm the other flavours. If you’d like a more pronounced frankincense taste, spray 4 sprays of frankincense evenly over the top of the cake when it has just come out of the oven – this will add a lovely resinous layer of extra flavour to the top of the cake. The heat of the cake will help soak up the essence. Alternatively, you can add one spray per slice when you serve the cake. If you’re using the original dropper bottle instead and want a more pronounced flavour, add 1-2 more drops of frankincense to the batter before baking the cake.

Candied Almonds With Frankincense and Cinnamon

almonds1

Candied Almonds With Frankincense and Cinnamon

These are so yummy as an afternoon snack or even after dinner. They are not too sweet, and the salt counterbalances the sweetness. The cinnamon and the frankincense are an interesting match. I borrowed this recipe by Amy Johnson of She Wears Many Hats and altered the flavourings and quantities for my version below.

Ingredients
(makes enough to fill a medium size jar)

175g raw almonds
30ml honey (1/8 cup, or 2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon sea salt (I used Murray River salt flakes)
1 tablespoon muscovado or coconut sugar
20 sprays Frankincense Chef’s Essence (or 4-5 drops if you’re using the dropper bottle)

Method

Preheat the oven to 160º celsius/325º fahrenheit

Heat a non-stick frying pan to a medium heat on the stove. Add honey and cinnamon and heat until it melts and warms up. Stir. Tip in the almonds and stir to coat them. Remove from the heat, add the sugar and salt and stir again to combine. If you’re using the Frankincense Chef’s Essence in the dropper bottle, add it along with the sugar and salt and stir well. If you’re using a spray bottle of the Frankincense, wait until later before adding it (read on)…

Place almonds on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Try to spread them into a single layer so that they cook evenly. Cook for 13 minutes or so, checking at about the ten minute mark to make sure nothing is burning. Turn them if necessary.

Remove from the oven and cool for about 10 minutes on the tray. At this stage you’ll have to get your hands into the almonds to pull them off the baking paper and break up the clumps. They will be quite stuck together at this stage, but they are also easy to break apart, so don’t worry. If you’re using a spray version of the Frankincense, spray the still-warm almonds now with 20 sprays of the frankincense. Toss and stir the nuts quickly and well, so that the frankincense flavour infuses into the warm, toffee-coated nuts.

Allow the almonds to cool fully before eating them, for maximum crunch! These are addictive, so you might want to make a double batch.


I hope you’ve enjoyed Part Five of my review of Aftelier Perfumes’ Chef’s Essences. Have you tried any of the range? If so, please let me know in the comments box below which ones you’ve tried and how you used them. I would love to hear about your experiences!

You can buy Frankincense Chef’s Essence here. You can peruse and purchase the rest of the Chef’s Essences and Sprays online at the Aftelier Perfumes website. The website also has suggestions on how to use the various flavours, as does the Aftelier Perfumes Pinterest account.

Mandy Aftel also sells her own Frankincense Oolong tea at the Aftelier Website, for those of you who aren’t so keen to DIY!

Coming Soon…

A review of Aftelier Perfumes’ Chef’s Essences Coriander Leaf Spray, including a recipe for a delicious Coriander Aioli. Stay tuned or follow this blog so you don’t miss out!

Acknowledgements

Warmest thanks to Mandy Aftel for providing me with generous samples of the Chef’s Essences to sample and review.