June 30, 2007

Here is an example:

Courtesy of:
Read this and ask yourself: "Does this make me hungry?"

Agar Agar: An extract of algae, it is a gelling additive that has no aftertaste. (Works really well if you put it in a petri dish and grow bacteria on it.)
Calcium Chloride: Used in conjunction with Sodium Alginate, it can turn drops of a liquid solution into caviar-like orbs with soft-skin
Carrageenan: A gelling agent similar to Agar Agar
Dextrose: A variant of sugar that can be used to shorten the time needed for doughs to rise
Egg White Powder: Simply egg whites with the moisture removed, can be used in the same preparations as regular egg whites to achieve more concentrated flavors and textures because there is no additional water
Gellan: A gelling agent similar to Agar Agar
Glucose: A variant of sugar, it delays sugar re-crystallization and prevents moisture loss
Isomalt: A variant of sugar, used for sugar pulling and casting, it is resistant to humidity and stays flexible longer than regular sugar
Lecithin: Made from soy, it is a natural emulsifier that is commonly used to stabilize foams and create "airs" (Creating "airs" would we? Certainly putting them on...)
Sodium Alginate: An extract of seaweed, it is a cold gelling agent that is activated in the presence of calcium (i.e. a solution of calcium chloride)
Sodium Citrate: White odorless crystals that prevent fat globules from sticking together
Transglutaminase: Commonly known as Activa or meat glue, it is used to chemically bond two or more proteins together (Meat Glue? Is this how one would form a Ham?)
Trimoline: Invert sugar, a syrup obtained from beet and cane syrups, it is uncrystallizable
Xanthan Gum: Produced from maize and soymeal, it is used to stabilize suspensions and emulsions, a common subsitute for eggs and gluten.

Carbonation: The injection of carbon dioxide into a food product such as citrus wedges so that the juice squeezed out of it is carbonated (Fizzy Lemon)
Emulsification: The action of combining two insoluble products with each other, a common technique used to make mayonnaise (As a technique, I don't think this belongs, mayonaisse is pretty mainstream)
Oil Spherification: The use of an agar solution in cold oil to create liquid spheres of various sizes
Spherification: The use of an alginate solution in a calcified bath to create liquid spheres of various sizes (What happened to Tapioca? Is this like bubble tea?)
Vacuum Distillation: The use of a vacuum to separate alcohol from an alcoholic solution (Some call this Moonshine)

June 29, 2007

And the Rant continues...

I am only learning about Molecular Gastronomy (MG). I am not against it in principle, but as a molecular biologist/immunologist, I don't think that a physicist should have started such a field. Leave some things to the Old Wives; food is a biological imperative.

My main concern is that MG is an offshoot of Food Science, and NOT, the Science of Food. This trend is coming from the same Food Scientists that design "box foods". Is Kraft Dinner now going to be Haute Cuisine because it uses certain powders?

Food Science has existed for years.
It has been devoted to making things in Cans and Boxes edible and emulsified after being: Picked, Steamed, Boiled, Frozen, Stewed, Boiled, Stored, Dried, Reconstituted, Baked and Microwaved etc. (i.e., imagine other abuse). Just add fat and salt for flavor.
Few Chefs are chemists, and vice versa.
Food Science is NOT interested in preserving FRESH.
It is about marketability to masses who have lost their taste, or their time (a tragic testament to our culture).

I am not against the Science of Food; that is fascinating, and I love it. How can you complain about the Bugs that make Cheese (Dear Lord, Yes, more CHEESE!) , or Wine/Beer (see previous), or even yogurt! - Love the Bugs.

However, I do not like the trend of making lab techniques edible. Agar and deconstructed amino acids have their place and it is not in our bellies. MSG is a prime example. I know people that refer to MSG-containing soup as: "Poop-water."
Mmmm, Diarrhea is soooo sexy.

Picture Chemist: "But it's an amino acid, it is part of protein, it must be OK..."
To Be con't...

Regarding the last Post's photo: Its called an "ELISA" PLATE- stands for Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay. I put a lot of mouse blood on those trays - tomorrow its going to be 112 samples.

The rodent rock was painted by Beth James. Seeing as how she is dead now, (she doesn't strike me as a woman who lived by euphemisms such as "passed away"). I hope animal research will someday help people with the illness that killed her. (i.e., terminal brain cancer). I am in different field, so it may not be me. For Now

June 27, 2007

Is This Your Garnish?

I have decided, Broken Mice stays.
This will be a Lab Scientist's rant regarding the growing trend of "Molecular Gastronomy". Where does this trend end?
We must fight against Vat Food.

As you may be aware, animals are frequently used in research. This is currently accepted and may cure some diseases. However, if the "Gas" crowd is to be any indication then no stone will be left unanalyzed, and unfortunately, served (the minerals make it crunchy!).

Are we soon to find Rondentia on our plates? Rat stuffed with Agar? Mmmmm, just add a sprinkle of NaCl, a beverage comprising a squirt bottle of ethanol, and Dig in!

Would you braise it, or grill it? Better yet: Autoclave! This style of steam bake is sure to make the meat bone-meltingly tender. Keep all the bits in. The spleen makes it yummy.

Jackson Labs will have to design a whole line of new transgenic mice for “Gas” Restaurateurs. You can have mice that provide the enzyme for bean digestion (if your beans are “unprocessed” and not referred to as some Lectin derivative), or better yet, Alcohol Dehydrogenase. The rodent cure. Eat your meal, drink your face off and feel fresh and pretty in the morning.

Take that anti-GM, Organic crowd. It’s the first season of Survivor with a garnish of Posh on.

I suppose one rodent animal would be acceptable, a classic Hassenpfeffer (refer to bugs bunny for explanation). Although, Rabbits always looked like Cats gone wrong and stupid.

Perhaps rabbits are successful because cats realized they didn’t want to be good eating. Target someone else.

Cheers, Here’s to creatures who know how to do rodents right.

Eat food, think stuff.

Lamenting the Zza.

Pizza never happened. We were all to Lazy to go to the store to buy the requisite ingredients; we needed olive oil, cheese and fresh basil. The Young One offered to go, but he is too young to go on his own.
Damn- give it a couple of years.

So what to do?
Naturally if you are too lazy to go to store, then you are too lazy to cook. The ultimate solution: Take-out!

Had a coupon: 3 pizzas, three toppings, plus cola, salad for 26.99 + tax/delivery (~2.50). Ordered extra topping for at 0.75 cents each. Should come to ~33.60, which is what the phone guy told me. No problem.

Pizza guy comes, order comes to 38.50! Insanity!
I suck it up and pay him (with tip because I don't want to be an ASS). Thinking all the while, "Oh, well if the pizza is good, then that extra $5 is not going to change my life."
Open the box the box: I ordered ham, pinneaple, bacon and Bl. olives. Unreal, No Bacon , no Bl. olives. Those were the clinching ingredients for me, so I paid extra AND didn't get what I wanted. Whoopee. i was not impressed.

Did I do anything? No.
Had good service for years and won't complain about one screwup but, IT STILL BUGS ME.

I wonder if by writing this down, I am immortalizing my sense of outrage. I could have let it go, but now the suffering will be drawn out for eternity - or until the server crashes.

June 24, 2007

Sugar meat, part Duh.

First, I let it sit too long - two days in fact, due to not being inspired enough to cook it.
Second, and this is the "duh" part, sugar will also draw water out of meat. The biochemist in me was not speaking very loudly when I came up with this plan. As a result, the meat came out kind of dry.

Osmotically speaking, this makes perfect sense. Water goes from lesser concentrations of solutes to greater concentrations of solutes. Solutes being things such as salt, or this ill-formed plan: sugar.

I need to design a marinade at physiological salinity, or slightly more if I want salt to enter into meat ( the whole brining concept - Yum)

Molecular Gastrononmy? Not so much, as I find this trend of laser cooking, foam-making, water-bath poaching, liquid nitrogen freezing, test-tube serving, pipette dispensing, chefs rather disgusting and a bit unecessary. Why pay thousands for a water bath when you can use a double boiler?

When you have cultured flasks full of bacteria (basically liquid protoshit), you do not want your dinner dispensed in that same style of glasswear. For me, its like saying that a toilet seat has a nice design so why not place the hors' dourves on it? Or better yet - the soap dish would make a lovely dessert plate. Bathroom sink soup anyone? I can go on, but won't.

Sometimes science, and common sense can find itself in the same place.

Flavorwise, the combo worked great, especially with the deglazing, and it combined well with my cilantro pesto. The Man didn't like it, but he is not a huge fan of this flavor combo anyway since he doesn't like ginger and meat.

Tonight: The Man will make pizza. This is his forte and will be accomplished true to scratch starting from olive oil scented dough, and finished with fresh basil and unccoked roma tomato sauce with anchovies, spanish chorizo, and sundried olives. I look forward to the discussions, disagreements, and ultimately, the cooperation that will inevitably result from this endouvor.

On that note: Breath air, Think food.

June 22, 2007

Sugar Meat

No, this is not a reference to young tender man flesh. Maybe another day.

I have decided to try this approach to cooking pork chops.

Take meat off bone, or be smart an use loin chops without bones.
Slice really thin, like what you would see at a Korean butcher shop. Its easier if partly frozen.

My goal is a dry marinade (if that exists), thus I have sprinkled the sliced meat with brown sugar, freshly grated garlic, fresh ginger chunks, chopped green chilis and seranos. Then mix with two spoons to combine the flavors. Let marinade for several hours -more if you have patience. DO NOT use salt - will take out moisture. Black pepper, also a nice addition.

My plan is to fry meat in wok in hot oil, and deglaze with soy and med. dry. sherry. I started with dry rub so as to cause meat to sear well.
I also have a cilantro pesto type thing that I will use as a garnish/sauce.

Serve with grain.
I will let you know how it works out.

June 18, 2007

Maybe I'll give this another try. Don't know what happened to all my clever pictures...
I woke at 4 am thinking about bean recipes. Wierd.