Archive for November, 2010
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.
‘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.
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)
- 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
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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!
So, you’re ready to make Organic Cheetos and Spherified DRY Lavender Soda Bellinis, but you can’t seem to find sodium alginate and calcium chloride at the neighborhood market. Don’t worry – you’re not alone. Luckily, there are a number of online suppliers who can easily fill the “Modernist” shelf of your spice rack. Here are a few of the better sites for finding tools and ingredients for your foray into future food.
- http://www.lepicerie.com – a huge collection of spices, flavorings, additives and tools. Sold in small and large quantities.
- http://chefrubber.com/ – targeted at pastry chefs, they carry a wide variety of molds and confectionary tools, as well as serving pieces and and decorating supplies.
- http://www.le-sanctuaire.com/ – a full line of molecular gastronomy chemicals, as well as a very impressive collection of tableware and specialty foods.
- http://www.dcduby.com/ – For our Canadian friends, they carry a relatively complete selection of molecular gastronomy ingredients.
- http://www.tienda.com/ – Carries the complete line of Texturas products. This is the brand created by Ferran Adriá, and offers accompanying recipes for use. Although convenient, you pay a premium for the brand name.
- WillPowder (via Amazon.com) – Great prices on large quantities (1 lb.) of common molecular gastronomy chemicals. Next-day delivery available through Amazon.
If you’ve found a great supplier for chemicals or tools, please leave a link in the comments!
Seattle Weekly ran its first-ever specialty foods guide this week and I was honored to be featured on the cover! Head over to www.SeattleWeekly.com to check out the contents. You might learn some new tips and tricks!
Sure, you claim to avoid fast food chains and only shop at the farmers’ market. But the numbers tell another story. Data recently made available from data.mint.com shows where the people of Seattle are spending their food dollars. The data is based on the credit and debit transactions of Mint.com users in the greater Seattle area.
I am thrilled to announce that SeattleFoodGeek.com won the King 5 Best of Western Washington viewer’s poll for Best Food Blog! This is a great honor, and I want to thank everyone who voted. Thank you! I was honored to be included in such a talented pool of nominees, including CakeSpy, Java Cupcake, Vegan Score, and Seattle Local Food.