The last time we visited Richard Kuo's Bowery restaurant Pearl & Ash, we sampled all of the cocktails on the menu. Most recently, we stopped in to try pastry chef Serena Chow's new summer desserts, titled, simply, Lemon and Blueberry.
Those one-word names belie the fastidious, multi-layered, multi-textured complexity of Chow's creations, which start with one simple component then spin off into many different directions, which, ultimately, come together as one cohesive whole.
Take, for example, the Blueberry dessert, which all began with Chow's quest to make a flawless blueberry sorbet.
"It started with the sorbet," Chow said. "I had to perfect that first. It's so hot out, I wanted to create something super bright and cold. And since blueberries are available right now, it made sense for the sorbet to be blueberry."
Chow started experimenting with the dish by cooking up a blueberry compote; one day, it occurred to her to spin the compote's excess liquid into a honey frozen yogurt base: she had her sorbet.
After that, the dessert's other components were added on: the compote, of course, as well as a tender crème fraîche cake; a crispy-crunchy "milk foam;" some micro lemon basil; and a drizzle of honey, that "gets chewy when it hits the cold sorbet."
The end result is a sort of deconstructed blueberry shortcake—albeit the most complex blueberry shortcake you've ever seen.
Chow's deconstructed lemon meringue pie is also based on one element: dehydrated lemon cake, which becomes flaky and crispy after a trip to the dehydrator.
"I wanted the texture of a crust without making a crust," Chow explained.
The lemon cake is only one of six lemony elements on the plate, which also features a lemon powder the cake is rolled in; lemon custard and lemon curd; a scoop of lemon sorbet; and tiny leaves of lemon thyme. A pile of brown butter milks solids become rich and crispy, reminiscent of that cookie crunch you sometimes get on your frozen yogurt.
The two desserts are featured on the summer menu, but will change seasonally, so check in with the restaurant for availability.
About the author: Lauren Rothman is a former Serious Eats intern, a journalism student, and an obsessive chronicler of all things culinary. Try the original recipes on her blog, For the Love of Food, and follow her on Twitter @Lochina186.