Archive for October, 2011
This is effin cool. We centrifuged a can of pumpkin to yield a few tablespoons of a clear, orange pumpkin-flavored liquid. We saturated it with sugar and spiked it with pumpkin pie spice, then heated the mixture to 300F and cast it into hard caramel molds. Then, we spun the hard caramel in a cotton candy machine to make 2” puffs of pumpkin-flavored cotton candy. Then, we squeezed the puffs into the shape of a skull and cut out triangles for the eyes and nose. Finally, we put it on a stand with a candle behind it. Presenting the pumpkin cotton candy jack-o-lantern, as interpreted by Jet City Gastrophysics.
We had friends over for brunch last weekend, so I pulled out an old standby: brioche with a 64°C egg, maple syrup, pancetta and pea butter. It’s my version of French toast, you know, because of the toast part. I’m not trying to sound snooty when I say this is “as simple as can be” because you do need a sous vide machine and a centrifuge to make it. However, provided you have those tools, the recipe brain-dead easy. When I was growing up, we used to go for brunch at a diner that made “sweet pea guacamole” served alongside a Tex-Mex omelet. I loved the notion of having peas with breakfast, and once I discovered centrifuged pea butter, that was even more reason to work it into the dish. I’m sure there’s a “green eggs and ham” permutation of these ingredients, too; if you find it, please share.
Total kitchen time: 10 minutes + 3 hours centrifuge time + 1 hour sous vide time
Makes: 4 servings
- Make pea butter by blending 4lbs of thawed peas until smooth, then centrifuging at 1500 RPMs for 2-3 hours.
- Cook 4 eggs sous vide at 64°C for one hour.
- Meanwhile. cut 4 slices of brioche, about 1” thick. Toast on a flat-top grill with copious amounts of melted butter.
- Fry up 8-12 slices of pancetta. Pro tip: frying pancetta in a waffle cone maker keeps it from curling up.
To assemble, top the toasted brioche with an egg. Pour over pea butter and warmed maple syrup. Finish with slices of fried pancetta.
[Thanks to the Estevez family and my wife Rachel for helping me make a mess in the photo above]
This idea was inspired by a post I recently ran across on The Novice Chef that showed an egg cooked in a waffle iron. I thought that as pretty clever, so I ripped it off. However, I don’t have a waffle iron. I only have a waffle cone iron, which is great for making (duh) waffle cones, tuile, and other thin, ridged treats. I heated the iron to about 250F (checking the surface temp with my infrared thermometer), then unplugged it. These irons get so hot that, at full temperature, they’ll quickly scorch the eggs and you’re left with a flaky mess. I separated the yolk and white of one egg and cooked them individually. You are free to cook the yolk however you like – poach it, put it in a hemisphere mold and cook it in a combi-oven, cook sous vide in a bag, fry it, etc.
Now I’m going to make a logical leap to try to justify this playful experiment: with a waffled texture, the egg will hold more condiment on its surface. Butter, syrup, hot sauce, ketchup, pea butter, balsamic vinegar… they can all hang out in the shallow ponds created by the waffled surface. But who am I kidding? This was just fun.
Last week, I gave a talk at Seattle’s 0th ever Nerd Nite! My talk was titled “Food, Science and Electric Bacon” and was a similar history of Modernist cuisine and explanation of geeky food techniques that I presented at the International Food Bloggers Conference in New Orleans a few weeks back.
I’ll post the video of my “lecture” when it’s available, but in the meantime, give a listen to this Podcast I recorded with he wonderful folks at Nerd Nite. Unlike the video, this one’s work-safe.
My good friend and fellow Jet City Gastrophysicist, Eric Rivera, will be leaving Seattle next week to start his new job as Culinary Liaison at Alinea. This is a big loss for JCG and for Seattle, but we could not be more proud of Eric and his unbelievable trajectory. Eric and I first met over two years ago when we both frequented the same set of Seattle food blogger events. I recognized him as the twitchy Puerto Rican guy who talked really fast and blogged 9 times per day. A few months later, when Jethro got in touch with both of us to start an experimental cooking club, I discovered that Eric would undoubtedly be one of the world’s greatest chefs, one day.
In past two years, Eric, Jethro and I have created some pretty remarkable dishes and conjured ideas so crazy (and occasionally brilliant) that posting them on the internet would risk blowing your mind forever. If you don’t already know it, Eric is exactly the right kind of insane to become a revolutionary chef. Before he had even graduated from culinary school, he was staging at Noma, currently ranked the best restaurant in the world. At the point in their careers when most grads would be plating house salads, Eric was already Sous Chef at Blueacre. And, now, only 5 months after graduation, he’s on his way to a coveted position at one of the most respected, forward-thinking restaurants in the world, and we’re ready for him to kick some ass and make Seattle proud.
Go do great things, go learn from the best, and go make it your own. When you need someone to bounce crazy ideas off of, you know where to find us.
Below are a few of Eric’s dishes, which I had the pleasure of photographing over the past few months.