YMCA Gastronomy Recipes April 25-30

YMCA Growing Chefs! Ontario Cooking Classes

Food preparation incompasses all areas of life: math, languages, art, and SCIENCE! On April 25th-30th Growing Chefs held Molecular Gastronomy classes and prepared (or should we say experimented with!) the following: 



Spinach spaghetti (agar agar)

Tomato juice balls (sodium alginate/calcium lactate)

Olive oil powder (tapioca maltodextrin)

Parmesan foam (soy lecithin)

Spaghetti with tomato sauce 


  • 2 bunches of fresh basil
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 kg ripe tomatoes, or 4 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 960 g dried spaghetti
  • 30 g Parmesan cheese


1. Pick the basil leaves onto a chopping board (reserving a few baby leaves to garnish), then roughly chop the remaining leaves and finely chop the stalks.

2. Peel and finely slice the onion and garlic. If using fresh, cut the tomatoes in half, then roughly chop them or carefully open the tins of tomatoes.

3. Put a saucepan on a medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the onion, then cook for around 7 minutes, or until soft and lightly golden.

4. Stir in the garlic and basil stalks for a few minutes, then add the fresh or tinned tomatoes and the vinegar.

5. Season with a tiny pinch of salt and pepper, then continue cooking for around 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6. Stir in the chopped basil leaves, then reduce to low and leave to tick away. Meanwhile…

7. Carefully fill a large pot three-quarters of the way up with boiling water, add a tiny pinch of salt and bring back to the boil.

8. Add the spaghetti and cook according to packet instructions – you want to cook your pasta until it is al dente. This translates as ‘to the tooth’ and means that it should be soft enough to eat, but still have a bit of a bite and firmness to it. Use the timings on the packet instructions as a guide, but try some just before the time is up to make sure it’s perfectly cooked.

9. Once the pasta is done, ladle out and reserve a cup of the cooking water and keep it to one side, then drain in a colander over the sink and tip the spaghetti back into the pot.

10. Stir the spaghetti into the sauce, adding a splash of the pasta water to loosen, if needed.

11. Serve with the reserved basil leaves sprinkled over the top and use a microplane to finely grate the Parmesan cheese, then sprinkle over.


Tomato sauce balls



  • 225 ml vegetable stock
  • 30 ml tomato paste
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp basil
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 grams sodium alginate

Curing solution

1 L water

3 tbsp calcium lactate


Combine all ingredients for tomato sauce, and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Blend calcium lactate with water.  Fill syringe with tomato sauce, slowly drop into the curing solution, let sit for 3 minutes, then transfer to a plain water bath to rinse.  If not using immediately, store the bubbles in olive oil.

Spinach noodles


  • 2 cups of spinach, packed
  • ½ cup water
  • 5 grams agar agar


Blend all ingredients together in a blender, and then heat over medium heat until mixture boils and begins to thicken.  Let mixture cool slightly, and fill a container with cold water.  Pipe mixture using a syringe into a long plastic tube, and then place tube into cold water until cooled and solid, about 3 minutes.  Using an empty syringe, blow the finished noodle out of the tube and continue to make noodles.  


Parmesan foam


  • 500 ml milk
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 8 grams soy lecithin


In a medium saucepan, scald milk by just barely brining to a boil and removing from heat, and add cheese.  Let cool slightly, add soy lecithin and buzz using an immersion blender, and remove foam while buzzing into another clean container.  Continue to use the immersion blender to make as much foam as possible.


Olive oil powder


  • 40 grams olive oil
  • 22.5 grams tapioca maltodextrin
  • 1 gram salt


In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients until olive oil separates and forms a powder with fairly fine pieces.  If necessary, add more tapioca maltodextrin to make mixture more finely powdered.  


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