I’ve been reading a cookbook without recipes lately. I’ll publish a proper review on it within the month but I couldn’t resist sharing an experiment that was inspired by the Faviken cookbook now (the book is a bit of an instant cult-classic and offers a take on food that most of us would never imagine and isn’t everyones cup of tea).
The book is very clear that they want to share their views and thinking on cooking but not leave exact copies of their approaches – it’s more about understanding a certain approach to cooking and challenging each of us to create our own take on it should we choose. When I read about air-dried root vegetables, I couldn’t’ resist. Here’s my before and after:
I started with equal parts orange beets (4), carrots (2.5) and 0.25 parts radish (about 4). I cut them into matchsticks (using a hand slicer that’s much like a mandoline) to ensure that they were equal sizes and would dry in the same time 9something I’ve learned using our dehydrator).
Unlike Faviken, who dried them after nicely separating them on parchment and moved them twice a day to ensure they actually dry (the part of the veg in contact with the parchment doesn’t get equal airflow), I placed a baking tray (it looks like a grid) on a cookie sheet and scattered them roughly (including in layers). This was far less precise but still guaranteed airflow and allowed me to save a heck of a lot of time while still drying a lot of product. I left them in a warm space (ironically on top of my dehydrator which was on for part of the process and tossing a slight bit of ambient heat) for 3 days tasting as they developed. I am consuming them in their chewy state and if I left them longer they would eventually become crunchy (much like when we used our machine to dehydrate beets which eventually became beet powder).
Faviken uses these as garnishes. You could use them as soup or eat them as is (keeping in mind that 2 or 3 pounds of product will dry into a cop of shreds). I believe I successfully replicated something similar to what I saw in their book and I definitely succeeded in dehydrating without a dehydrator.
What do I think of them? I really wanted to dislike them. They are a special kind of ugly – simultaneously frail and grisly. They feel like an experiment made for the sake of experimenting and seem too precious to me.
But I can’t hate them. I actually kind of like them. A lot. I love the idea that they dehydrated outside of the machine (great for small batches or people without dehydrators) and actually provide a decent use for root vegetables that have gone a little soft as these had. Additionally, they are super sweet (drying removes water but the remaining flavor is intense) and they contain all the nutritional qualities of uncooked beets, carrots and radishes. I wouldn’t eat them as a main course but I’m having a difficulty trying to keep my fingers out of the tasting bowl. To top it all off, they took very little work.
Have you air-dried anything? Would love to hear your stories and/ or tips?