Author Archives: btwitten

Creme Brulee: The Science of Sexy [Repost]

Editor’s Note: Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we are reposting a slightly updated version of Ben’s crème brûlée recipe that was originally posted 31 August 2012. Not only is it delicious, but we have found the eggucation contained within will make all your attempts to cook an egg more successful. The recipe is the same, but we have updated the recipe PDF.

I have promised you sexy food, and the science behind it. Therefore, crème brûlée. Look at all those accent marks! Sexy, right? And, why not start with eggs – queen of ingredients, bringers of life, denizens of diner griddles, the heart of fluffy meringues, and the soul of silky custards. Crème brûlée is sexy because it is simple. Smooth, creamy custard1 contrasts with a thin, crisp layer of smoky caramel. Every flavor and texture is a balance – creamy and crisp, sweet and bitter, light and deep – harmonizing to enhance and elevate the dish.

Click image for printable PDF (74kb)

Click image for printable PDF (74kb)

If you want to know the steps to making crème brûlée, use the recipe above (PDF – 74kb). If you want to know how crème brûlée becomes sexy keep reading. The science of sexy can be unlocked by understanding the properties of its simple ingredients. Continue reading

The Last Supper

“The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci


I recently received, as a gift, My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals and My Last Supper: Second Course by Melanie Dunea. As the titles suggest, the books ask chefs about their ideal final meal on Earth.

The gift was very appropriate because I regularly ask people this question. It was, I believe, one of the first questions I asked The Wife when she was still The-Really-Interesting-Woman-I-Want-To-Date, and it is a question that I ask everyone that I interview for a job. During one such interview, another manager exclaimed, “That’s a really morbid question.”

I couldn’t disagree more. Continue reading

Food, Remembered: Mom’s Fried Eggplant

For many people, eggplant can be an acquired taste. Not many kids eyes will light up at the idea of eggplant for dinner. I was an exception there, because I was introduced to eggplant via my mom’s fried eggplant. Since eggplant has roughly the same absorption abilities as a kitchen sponge, the fried eggplant had little choice but to taste like deep-fried goodness…so, naturally, I loved it.

Even today, when I eat freshly grilled eggplant with nothing more than a brush of olive oil and some rosemary, I reminisce about my mom’s fried eggplant.

Eggnog – Alcohol & raw eggs make the season bright [Repost]

Originally posted on 21 December 2012, the Traditional Egg Nog recipe has passed independent replication by Josh Witten.

My father is a very clever man. Long ago, as a Christmas Eve was coming to a close and we were preparing to plate up our milk and cookie offering to Santa, my dad stopped us with a suggestion. Arguing that, because our name was near the end of the alphabet, we were going to be one of the last houses Santa visited. Therefore, the jolly old elf would be very cold and tired of milk. Instead, we should leave him some bourbon to warm him up. It didn’t take long for our young minds to realize that a warmed up and happy Santa was much more likely to leave us better loot. As it happened, Dad had some of Santa’s favorite bourbon (parents know these things), which by amazing coincidence was also my dad’s favorite. I would hazard to say that this was the creation of our family’s traditional Christmas drink: alcohol.

In the spirit (or spirits) of my family’s holiday tradition, this post is going to celebrate my personal favorite Christmasy holiday drink: eggnog. Continue reading

Mushroom Soup for Fungus Day

Editor’s Note – Thanks to Michele we now know that today is the inaugural UK Fungus Day. There was a Fungus Day last year, but it was confined to Wales and, therefore, was “National” Fungus Day (and in the minds of the English did not count anyway).

Ben first gave us this recipe over a year ago (18 September 2012) and we thought it would be a fitting tribute to a long overdue day in tribute to fungi. 

This week’s recipe is a bit of a two-for-one. The “main” recipe is a fall favorite of mine, mushroom soup (PDF – 770kb). This recipe only has five ingredients (not including salt and oil, which are staples, not ingredients), the most important of which is not, in fact, the mushrooms. It’s the stock (PDF – 115kb). Just replace the mushroom with any number of vegetables and we can still make a delicious soup – as long as we start with good stock. So, if we want to understand the science behind great mushroom soup, we need to understand the science behind good stock. Continue reading