Tag Archives: food science

Thanksgiving Turkey the Right Way: Braising [REPOST]

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published at The Finch & Pea on 20 November 2012.

Last Thanksgiving, I decided that I wanted a heritage turkey. Reading about the selective breeding1 and the bland tasting meat of commercial turkeys compared to wild and heritage turkeys. So, I asked The Fiancé. Prices may vary, but they are such that it is wise to ask your significant other for permission prior to purchase. She said, “yes” because she rocks.

When Thanksgiving morning arrived and my turkey had not, I worried. I called the farmer to ask when I should expect it. She told me, with concern in her voice, that the turkey had already been delivered – FOUR DAYS AGO. Like a condemned man, I went to my apartment building’s front office to ask if they had forgotten any packages for me. I knew my fears were confirmed as I opened the office door – I COULD SMELL IT.

The office smelled like spoiled meat. When the office worker found the package she proclaimed, “I got this a few days ago, I must have forgotten to give you a notice.” In what I think was a steady voice, I said, “That’s my Thanksgiving turkey.” Without missing a beat she replied, “We were wondering what that smell was.” To cap off the comedy2, the management office’s remedy was that they would buy me a new turkey – FOUR DAYS AFTER THANKSGIVING! I told them where they could stuff their turkey.

As a result, I found myself shopping for turkey on Thanksgiving day, without time to thaw a full turkey and cook it before dinner with my future mother-in-law. Clearly, the only thing to do was to make THE BEST TURKEY EVER. Continue reading

The Devil’s in the Details of the Modern Cupcake

Finished cupcakes croppedI teamed up with Red Ridge Farms – an Oregon Vineyard, olive oil press, and garden nursery – for a wine dinner event. We served a five course meal inspired by street food using Red Ridge Farms’ locally grown and pressed olive oils with wine pairings from Red Ridge’s wine label, Durant Vineyards. I always enjoy developing a menu, especially a tasting menu and especially tasting menus paired with wine (or beer or cocktails).Copy of Notes

While I had fun writing all the recipes, my time as a pastry chef makes me particularly partial to desserts. Therefore, we are going to focus on our sweet selection, the Malted Devils Food Cupcakes with Passion Fruit Cream Filling and Olive Oil Buttercream – and some of the science behind its chocolatey decadence. Continue reading

The Manhattan Project

VTR - Barrel-Aged Manhatten by Edsel Little (CC BY-AS 2.0)

VTR – Barrel-Aged Manhattan by Edsel Little (CC BY-SA 2.0)

If you were wondering what to drink while you watch Manhattanhenge, the choice is obvious – a Manhattan, preferably barrel-aged.

As I grew into manhood, my father promoted a strong set of core values in me – politeness, gratitude, compassion, kindness – as well as respect for a good glass of whiskey and Winston Churchill. What, you may ask, does Winston Churchill have to do with this classic whiskey cocktails and science? Glad you asked.

The most common Manhattan origin story states that it was created in 1874 at New York’s Manhattan club for a banquet hosted by Lady Randolph Churchill, Winston’s mother. That was the same year Winnie was born. I doubt he, of all people, would discourage the notion that helping coordinate the creation of the Manhattan cocktail in utero may have been early practice for coordinating the Allied victory in WWII. At the very least, the Manhattan and Winston are akin to each other. Watch out Jagermeister! Continue reading

Molecular Gastronomy != Food Science

My brother assures me that the title of the post is nerd for “Molecular Gastronomy Ain’t Food Science”. I hope this is true. He’s a very convincing liar.

The term molecular gastronomy has gone from niche jargon to a standard phrase in discussions of food. In many ways, molecular gastronomy is synonymous with modern cuisine. I find this ironic, because  it is anything but modern. Techniques have been honed and the array of available chemicals has expanded, but that is a difference in degree, not a difference in kind.

Two hundred yeas ago, if we wanted to make something like an aspic*, you would boil down pig skin to extract the gelatin. Today, we can buy a packet of powder from the store. The source of gelatin, be that a vat of boiled pig skin or a convenient sized packet), does not make the molecular processes that occur during the cooking different. Continue reading

Movie Food I: Mickey, Beanstalks & Jell-O

Imagination is one of the key tools in any great chef’s arsenal. The ability to imagine something new and different is the first step in creating it. Along those lines, these posts are a salute to some of my favorite fictitious foods from television, books, and movies. No surprise, Disney movies claim a few of those spots.

Disney’s Mickey and the Beanstalk
In this Disney short, Mickey, Goofy, and Donald find themselves at the top of the beanstalk and roaming across the Giant’s opulent table. While everything looks delicious, watching Goofy swim and eat his way out of a jello mold sparked a memorable food dream for me.

What are your favorite made up foods?