roasted chicken
Deep frying your Thanksgiving turkey is popular for a reason – it happens to be the same reason that Lipitor is popular, but that’s beside the point.  Unfortunately, every year, 10 million* Americans start house fires from attempting to fry their bird.  And in addition to the arson hazard, deep frying a turkey requires a ton of oil, which, let’s face it, you’re not going to filter and reuse.

Luckily, the folks at Char-Broil have created The Big Easy Oil-Less Infrared Turkey Deep Fryer, and were kind enough to loan me a unit for testing.  This cooker looks and works just like a conventional turkey fryer, except it uses no oil.  Instead, a ring of gas burners heat up the inside of the cooking chamber, roasting your meat evenly and allowing the fat to drip down, with no risk of flame-ups. 

Rather than test the machine with a turkey, though, I thought I’d try out a few other dishes.  Check out my video review after the jump.

Reading time: 2 min

Community Kitchen 2 
‘Tis the season of giving, and particularly, giving back.  Unfortunately, hunger remains a pressing issue in Western Washington.  Every day, far too many individuals and families don’t know where they’ll find their next meal.  Luckily, Seattle is home to more than a few fantastic role models for the fight against hunger.  One such leader is Chef Maxime Bilet, a member of the Intellectual Ventures team and co-author of the Modernist Cuisine book (available in March 2011).  I had the chance to ask Maxime about his work with the Hunger Intervention Program and how modernist cooking fits in with fulfilling basic nutritional needs.

What does the Hunger Intervention Program do, and why is it important to Seattle?

The Hunger Intervention Program (HIP)is a local non-profit here in Seattle whose mission is to provide nutritious meals and basic cooking skills to the homeless and hungry. HIP’s new initiative is the Community Kitchen – an incredible initiative to help empower homeless and low income families to feed themselves by providing hands-on training in food preparation, safety, and nutrition education. They have recently begun using the community kitchen to reach out to mentally disabled patients.

Reading time: 3 min

chorizo meringues
Thank you, Spain, for one of the best flavor combinations on earth: chorizo, Manchego cheese, and olives.  Any combination of the three yields an irresistible tapa (Spanish snack), and this recipe is no exception.  Turing the chorizo into a savory meringue is a nod to the textural transformations that Spanish chef Ferran Adrià pioneered, and which are now a hallmark of modernist cooking.  Plus, it’s crunchy! 

Makes: about 50 pieces
Total kitchen time: 2 hours (20 minutes working time)

Shopping list:

  • 1 dry-cured chorizo (available in the deli sections of finer grocery stores)
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp. Cream of Tartar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 lb Manchego cheese
  • 50 Spanish olives
  1. Preheat your oven to 300°F and set the top rack in the middle position.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and dust with flour (adding a little cooking spray to the parchment helps the flour stick).
  2. Cut off about 4” of the chorizo and slice thinly.  Use the remaining chorizo for a snack while you’re cooking – you deserve it.  Blend the sliced chorizo in a small food processor until it is broken apart.  This should yield about 1/2 cup.
  3. Add the egg whites and cream of tartar to the bowl of your stand mixer, with the whisk attachment installed (you can use a hand mixer, but mixing times may vary).  Beat the egg whites on medium-high for about 2 minutes, or until they hold soft peaks.
  4. Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a small bowl.  With the mixer running on medium-high speed, slowly drizzle in the sugar, cornstarch and salt.  Continue mixing until the egg whites are glossy and hold stiff peaks.  Finally, mix on high speed for 45 seconds until the egg whites are stiff.
  5. Carefully fold the ground chorizo into the egg white mixture.  Spread the mixture in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet until it is about 1/2” thick (this will occupy nearly the whole baking sheet).
  6. Bake at 300°F for 90 minutes, or until the top is light brown and firmly spongy to the touch.  Remove the meringue and transfer to a cooling rack.  Let cool 10 minutes. 
  7. Slice the meringue into 1 1/2” squares and top with a thin slice of Manchego and an olive.

I was hoping to find a way to make the meringue using my whip cream charger instead of the stand mixer.  I did come close by rendering the oil from the chorizo and adding it to egg whites and cream of tartar.  It foamed on its way through the charger, but without the sugar, the foam just wasn’t strong enough to hold up in the oven.  Oh well, that’s the fun of experimenting!

Reading time: 2 min
Page 1 of 3123