Like an artist with his palette of colors, Tyler Malek loves to play with flavors. For Malek, his canvas of choice is ice cream and his medium is the flavors of Oregon, created by the many farmers, chefs and food artisans who are often his collaborators.
“You can do pretty much anything with ice cream because it carries flavors so well and everybody likes it,” says Malek, “so we try to use it to showcase flavors people are passionate about.”
As co-founder and chief ice cream architect at Portland’s Salt & Straw ice cream shops, Malek has gained fame for combining unusual flavors with spectacular results, such as Pear and Blue Cheese, Melon and Prosciutto, Beer and Butterscotch Bread Pudding, and the infamous Cream of Bone Marrow and Smoked Cherries.
Malek says he first started experimenting with ice cream flavors as a culinary school student. Realizing that he didn’t have much experience with many of the ingredients he was using, Malek reached out to people in the food community to learn from their expertise. He started with chocolate makers but soon moved on to brewers, meat curers, tea makers and chefs who had a passion for particular ingredients.
Now he regularly teams up with local chefs to brainstorm new ice cream flavor ideas. He recently worked with chef Gabriel Rucker of Le Pigeon on a patatas bravas ice cream. “It was basically a variation on Spanish French fries,” says Malek. “… Being able to tap into Gabriel as a resource was a great way to build flavors. And the end result was phenomenal.”
When creating new ice cream flavors, Malek says he’s often working with various combinations of acid and saltiness to pair with the creaminess of the ice cream. When we asked him to share a recipe that he cooks at home when he’s not making ice cream, Malek went back to the same flavor trio for his Fresh Pasta and Sauerkraut Béchamel.
“This is really a base recipe for us to use up whatever we have in the kitchen,” says Malek. “You can use any kind of greens or spices to infuse into the pasta. The sauerkraut juice provides a really interesting acid to pair with the cream, but you can also use a nice vinegar, lemon juice or tomatoes. Then add something salty like prosciutto or Romano cheese to open up the taste buds.”
Recipe: Tyler Malek’s Fresh Pasta and Sauerkraut Béchamel
Seasonal Greens Fresh Pasta:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup semolina flour
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups greens
- Olive oil
- Pinch of salt
Lightly sauté the greens in olive oil and cook them until slightly wilted. Purée the greens in a food processor. Combine the flours and salt; lay the eggs and purée of greens on top. Start slowly mixing from the center out until all of the liquid ingredients are mixed in. Turn out the dough onto a tabletop and begin kneading together with your hands. Once it forms into a nice shiny ball of dough, wrap in plastic wrap and set off to the side. Rest the dough for about 10 minutes. After resting, portion out the dough into quarters. Using the first portion, roll through pasta roller on setting “0,” tri-fold the pasta onto itself and reroll on “0.” Incrementally increase the thickness to roll out a thinner pasta; sprinkle with semolina four when needed. Keep rolling until desired thickness. Cut the pasta and cook for about 1 minute in hot, salty water. Strain out the water and rinse with fresh water.
1 tbsp butter
1 clove shallot, sliced
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup sauerkraut juice
1 tbsp cream
Heat the butter and shallot until the shallot begins to caramelize. While still hot, add the flour and stir together until the mixture forms a paste. Reduce heat to low and add the sauerkraut juice. Stir this mixture until everything comes together and makes a thick sauce. Remove from heat and stir in cream.
Toss the pasta in the béchamel. Top with a slice of prosciutto and finishing salt.