Megnut

The recipe for Oysters Guggenheim Bilbao

oysters_guggenheim_bilbao.jpg

OMG OMG OMG! I found the recipe for Oysters Guggenheim Bilbao and this amazing photo (and also they have tons of other sci-fi cooking recipes too!). "What preparation does it undergo? It is simply warmed on the grill with a seasoning of juniper, and later dressed with four small cubes of lemon peel. It is placed over a gel made with the oyster itself, along with cockles, vegetables, and water, then gelatinized with aloe vera and lastly, to give it some color, the silver/titanium alloy is applied: a delicious gel that envelops the mollusk." Alas, it's way complicated and not something I'm likely to make at home.

Maybe we should call it sci-fi cooking

Barely cooked but warm, the oyster was coated in a smooth juniper jelly that exaggerated its bulges and curves, made shiny by edible titanium and dubbed “Oysters Guggenheim Bilbao”. Gourmet contributing editor Francis Lam reflects on eating an oyster by the chef Quique Dacosta, and on some amazing meals ingested under the theme of "molecular gastronomy." I randomly stumbled upon this FT article today that turned out to be the source of the quote I posted yesterday. And so you may be aware Lam doesn't care for the term molecular gastronomy.

So I’ve just been calling it sci-fi cooking. I don’t know why I called it that at first, it just kind of sounded fun. But writing this, a thought occurred to me: science fiction, at its heart, does not aim to show us what might be made possible by technology, but what we might make technologically possible by our values.

The truly exciting thing about this cuisine is not what the techniques and the technology can do. It’s that it shows us what the mind can do, what new rules we can make, what new logic, what new possibilities.

I kinda like that, sci-fi cooking. Perhaps I will use that from now on as I continue to write and explore this new frontier of cooking. And it goes without saying, I would very much like to eat Oysters Guggenheim Bilbao!

david_burke_and_bull.jpg
Photo from The Land & Livestock Post

Chef David Burke spent a quarter-million dollars for a prize black Angus bull to produce offspring that become his restaurant's steaks. His goal is to produce consistent high-quality steaks. But (and here perhaps I'm showing my animal husbandry ignorance) the bull is only offering 50% of his genes. Doesn't the cow have to be high quality as well? In Thoroughbred racing, just siring by a big winner doesn't produce a new winner. So does this really produce great steaks every time? Maybe good steaks for eating aren't as hard to breed as good horses for racing. Anyone who actual does know about bull breeding care to enlighten me? [via Serious Eats]

After much experimentation, I have perfected Wylie Dufresne's, allegedly patented yoghurt noodles. You can make them too if you purchase some transglutaminase online. And then you can have the fun of squeezing noodles into hot broth and watching them form. This would be like the best birthday party dinner for a bunch of kids, wouldn't it? You know, assuming they enjoy eating "a ginger and spring onion broth, with a tian of spring greens, crab, and a chorizo foam." In Manhattan they very well might! [thanks Jason.]

"'Molecular gastronomy' seems more like a theory than a practice. No one is breaking out the microscopes and cooking molecule by molecule." - Francis Lam on Molecular Gastronomy

There are more great quotes over at Josh's newish Food Section Quotables.

A recipe for stuffed quahogs, which are large hard-shelled clams. I love clams in all preparations, and this recipe for stuffed ones sounds delicious. Nothing says summer to me more than clams! Well, clams and ice cream, and warm humid weather, and the smell of the ocean, and and and...let's just say clams and leave it at that.

Gridskipper's got an annotated offal dining list for NYC. Not many places I frequent though I enjoy offal, but handy nonetheless. [via The Food Section]

carrots.jpgThe baby carrot is a product of frugality and an abhorrence of waste. "Baby carrots are not young carrots, but rather small pieces of carrots that are chopped and whittled down to look like small carrots." A farmer came up with the idea after having to feed large amounts his crop to livestock because their shape wasn't uniform enough for supermarket sale. I prefer carrots from the greenmarket, but you can't beat baby carrots for their convenience. [via Dethroner]

The Food and Drug Administration came up with a plan earlier this year for tough regulations on handling fresh produce according to the Wall Street Journal (which I don't have an account for, so this link is to a CNN story). Apparently Officials of the Department of Health and Human Services "gave the proposal a cold reception." Not sure how this connects to the post below about the F.D.A. not wanting regulations. Anyone have access to the WSJ article?

After seven years of discussions about food safety advice on the farm, the F.D.A. has issued only voluntary guidelines; not even hand-washing is mandatory. "Dr. von Eschenbach, the F.D.A.’s current commissioner, said: 'Guidances are the most powerful because they give us the flexibility to update science. Regulations are more cumbersome.'” You know, just in case someday science shows that hand-washing isn't useful. After reading this, I'm more scared of our food supply than ever.

Mean Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

2.04 cups all-purpose flour
0.79 tsp. salt
0.79 tsp. baking soda

0.805 stick unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
0.2737 stick unsalted butter, cold
0.5313 stick unsalted butter, melted
(1 US stick = 8 tablespoons = 1/4 lb.)

0.84 cups light brown sugar
0.10 cups dark brown sugar
0.54 cups white sugar

1.33 eggs
0.33 egg yolk
1.46 tsp. vanilla extract
0.17 tbsp. water
0.25 tbsp. milk

1.53 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

A Mean Chocolate Chip Cookie

After my best chocolate chip cookie search post yielded 26 recipes in 24 hours, I knew I had too many cookie recipes to bake each and every one. So like any good geek, I averaged the recipes to make the best cookie recipe ever, or what I call a Mean Chocolate Chip Cookie. Get it? Mean? Ha ha ha.

To begin, I compared all the recipes, removing any duplicates. You'd be amazed how similar chocolate chip cookie recipes are. Then I further whittled down the list by removing those that called for non-traditional ingredients (New Hope Mills buckwheat pancake mix, almond butter) or appeared in books that I didn't own (The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion, Union Square Cafe Second Helpings). That left me with twelve distinct recipes, which I entered in an Excel spreadsheet (download the spreadsheet).


This experiment called for scientific precision.

Here's where it got hard and I had to use math. I converted all the measurements to base 10 so I could enter decimals into my spreadsheet, e.g. 6 tablespoons of butter equals .75 sticks of butter. But it wasn't enough to just average ingredients. I also needed to account for differences in the directions. Some recipes called for cold butter, others for melted. So I averaged technique as well, taking into account various oven temperatures and recommended dough chilling times.

If you've ever baked, you know how precise baking needs to be. The idea of averaging a recipe struck me as both amusing and insane, and I was pretty sure the resulting cookies would be terrible. After all my calculations, I baked a batch. I had to make a few tweaks, e.g. my oven didn't have a setting for 354.17°F so I used 355°F. But I stayed true to the math as much as possible. I didn't check on how the cookies were doing, but simply baked them for 13.04 minutes. (I got that .04 by hesitating just a moment before opening the door after my timer went off!) And what do you know?


Clockwise from top left: 1.33 eggs plus .33 egg yolk, mixing, cookie upskirt photo, dough ready to bake

These cookies were pretty damn good! I'd expected the worst. I'd expected they'd be inedible, or burnt, or floury and gooey at the same time. I had a hint they might not be too bad when I tasted the dough. But when I pulled them from the oven, I was amazed. The first bite revealed a cookie crispy around the rim, warm and chewy on the inside. A few hours later, they were firmer, but still tasty. The best chocolate chip cookies ever? I'm not sure, but I baked A Mean Chocolate Chip Cookie. And that's enough for me.

A Mean Chocolate Chip Cookie

INGREDIENTS
2.04 cups all-purpose flour
0.79 tsp. salt
0.79 tsp. baking soda

0.805 stick unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
0.2737 stick unsalted butter, cold
0.5313 stick unsalted butter, melted
(1 US stick = 8 tablespoons = 1/4 lb.)

0.84 cups light brown sugar
0.10 cups dark brown sugar
0.54 cups white sugar

1.33 eggs
0.33 egg yolk
1.46 tsp. vanilla extract
0.17 tbsp. water
0.25 tbsp. milk

1.53 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS
Pre-heat oven to 354.17°F, or as close as you can get.

Sift flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl. Set aside.

Using a hand or stand mixer, cream butter and sugars until incorporated and smooth. Add vanilla, water, milk and eggs. Mix until all ingredients are combined. Add flour, salt, and baking soda and blend until fully incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.

Cover and chill dough in the refrigerator for 25 minutes.

Place parchment paper on one-third of cookie sheet, drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto sheet. Some cookies will be on parchment, others off. Cook for 13.04 minutes.

A 1,323 pound wheel of Dutch cheese is on view at Grand Central today in New York. It's the world's biggest wheel of cheese! How can you not see that? There will also be cooking demos and other cheese activities.

No free cones in Midtown! Riese Snubs Midtown on Haagen Dazs Free Flavor Day Apparently Riese Restaurants owns three of the four midtown HG locations, and they're not honoring free cone day. So check the link before you make the trip. [via Eater]

Free sticky toffee pudding ice cream today at Häagen-Dazs stores! It's "new flavor day", so you can get a free scoop of Sticky Toffee Pudding or Cinnamon Dulce de Leche today only between 4 -8 PM. And here I was worried we'd never see STP again since it was no longer for sale at my Whole Foods. But maybe it's in the permanent rotation now. Yay! [thanks Erin!]

Screaming for quality ice cream

Bi-Rite Creamery, San Francisco
Photo from my visit to San Francisco's Bi-Rite Creamery, Jan 2007.

Cold Stone Creamery: Rich and empty, nauseatingly sweet and vaguely artificial, it's the Paris Hilton of ice cream. "Mix-ins are a great concept, in theory. Ice cream is delicious. Cake and candy are delicious. Simple digestive mathematics dictates that combining the two should double the delicious...Whereas a visit to Ben and Jerry's or Häagen-Dazs leaves me wanting more, a visit to Cold Stone leaves me wanting a salad and a shower." Salon takes a look at the mix-in ice cream trend and what that's doing to plain old ice cream.

It's funny, there's a Cold Stone near my parents' house and on a recent visit I stopped in because I was really craving a hot fudge sundae. I couldn't even tell if they sold hot fudge, I didn't see any signs of it and I couldn't find it on the giant menu board. But they had it, so I got a "small" (it must have been three scoops) of sweet cream ice cream and hot fudge. And I too couldn't finish it. It was OK, but nothing great, and a bit of a disappointment given my craving. The ice cream really had no flavor at all, it just tasted cold, if that makes sense.

I worked at Herrell's Ice Cream in Harvard Square, and so I've served my fair share of mix-ins. But at least there, the ice cream was also good quality, so if you opted not to mix, you could get a solid cone, or a great sundae (fresh homemade hot fudge, real whipped cream). Why are quality ice cream shops so hard to find? Lately I've been dreaming of opening a little ice cream store in my neighborhood in Manhattan, where you could get a decent scoop (not a huge size) in a tasty homemade cone, and you could also get sundaes and shakes and malteds. I guess in the meantime, I'll make my own, and hope a Cold Stone doesn't open in my area any time soon.

"Big Ideas for a Small Plant" is a new original documentary series from Sundance Channel "focused on environmental topics with interviews with forward-thinking designers and features on green products and alternative ideas that may transform our everyday lives." Tonight's thirty-minute episode (airing at 9 PM and again at 11:15 PM) is called Eat. It covers three green-related food topics: eating locally, fertilizing organic crops, and green fine dining. You can also download the episode via iTunes if you miss it tonight, or don't get the Sundance Channel.

I watched a screener of it and enjoyed it. I think it's especially good as an introduction to many of the issues I talk about on this site regularly, like sustainable and humane farming and food practices. Also, they profile this burger place in Lawrence, KS called Local Burger that uses all locally-sourced meats and their food looks amazing. Next time I'm in Kansas, I'm so going there!

paris_food_map.jpgMy friend Chris is in Paris now and he's compiled a Google map of places to eat mainly carbs, some meat, and even some vegetarian. Looks like he's going to be busy while he's there! And that map will be useful for anyone else looking for some tasty spots to eat.

Cork’d has been acquired by a newly formed company with Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV at the helm. You may have played around with Cork'd, the wine social networking site that I love but never spent enough time on. Glad to hear it's found a new home and I look forward to seeing how it develops.

Researchers discovered that children who drank farm milk were much less likely to suffer from hayfever and asthma. ""The results of this study indicate that all children drinking farm milk have a lower chance of developing asthma and hayfever. However raw milk may contain pathogens such as salmonella or enterohaemorrhagic E coli and its consumption may have serious health risks. We need to develop a deeper understanding of why farm milk offers children this higher level or protection and investigate ways of making the product safer, while retaining these protective qualities."

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