Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dr. Who Simmons Hall MIT

What better place to have a Dr. Who Event than MIT.
With weeks in planning and lots of help from my supportive and lovely spouse, and co-workers, it was a great event.
There plenty of vegan options:

Dr. Who Vegan Menu:
  • Tofu Fingers and Custard
  • Flying Polenta Tardis with Slitheen Black Beans and Pesto
  • Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Tofu Stir-fry
  • Silence Sauce (on the sauté station)
Vegan Dalek Cookies
(made by my lovely wife)
Vegan Dr. Who Bow Tie Cookies
(made by my lovely wife)

Tardis Sugar Cookies
(made by my lovely wife)

Sonic Screwdrivers (Dark Chocolate Dipped Pretzels)
(made by my lovely wife)

The Tardis welcomed the students and guests to the Simmons Dining Hall
(It's much bigger on the inside.)

Vegan Dr. Who Food
"Dr. Who?" "Yes."

Tofu Fingers and Custard

Flying Polenta Tardis with Slitheen Black beans and Pesto
(I tried to make it blue, but the blue food coloring and yellow polenta didn't play well.)

MIT Dr. Who Fans

MIT Dr. Who Fan

MIT Dr. Who Fan

House Masters Ellen and John at the party.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Eat Local

Once a year Bon Appetit has an Eat Local Challenge.
The Challenge is to highlight local ingredients which can be found within 150 miles.
One of the best ways to find local produce is your local farmer's market.
Possible advantages of eating local: 

  • less fuel is used in shipping
  • Product is often fresher
  • Supports the local economy
  • Uses ingredients which are not normally found in stores

These herbs came right from my yard.
(parsley, lemon thyme, oregano, rosemary, mint)

Apple Mint Chutney
I used local honey crisp apples, apple mint, tomatoes, baby leeks, and a local hot pepper
(which was not too and had nice flavor). 

This local corn was so sweet and fresh it did not need
any butter or salt.

Asian Pears

You can tell a fresh apple by how crisp it is.
These apples had a great crunch to them!

Local plums.
Just like apples, fresh plums are also crisp and have a bit of a bite to them.

Fresh peaches and nectarines in the background.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Driving in Boston, MA

Driving in Boston

I recently moved to Boston.
I haven't changed, but my cah has developed quite an attitude.

For starts, it has developed a hostility for getting washed.
When we drive by a car wash it veers away and growls.

It now honks at everyone, too.
I tell the car you can't do that.
It says "Yes, I can."
I say "No you can't."
Cah-"Yes I can."
Me-"No you can't."
I just gave up. You know what it is like to argue with a Boston car.

My car used to be a real good driver too.
But the other day we were going down the road and without notice my car cuts across two lanes, did a U-turn, cuts across two more lanes and stopped at the side of the road.
I was white as a ghost.
I yelled at my car. "What was that!"
Cah-"I found a parking spot."
Me-"But we are two miles from where we were going!"
Cah-"Yes, but look. 14 minutes left on the meter."

And it is not just my car. All cars with Massachusetts plates have attitude.
The other day I was in my cah at an intersection, that had no less than one thousand streets feeding into it, when someone's car drove right to the middle of the intersection, did a 360, and then just stopped.
The angry driver got out right there, slammed the door, and headed for the Dunkin' Doughnuts. I think he was putting the car on a timeout. Later he came back, got in the car, and drove away. This was really no big deal. I was still waiting at the light.

FYI-Waiting in traffic is not so bad in Boston. Yesterday while I was at a single stop light, I bought my wife some flowers, donated some money to charity, balanced my checkbook, and did my taxes.

Not my CAH

Still not my CAH

Monday, July 1, 2013

Kitchen Radios

Kitchen radios will never change.
They are the most sorry and broken down radios you will probably ever see. In some kitchens, it can be a cooks only source of sanity, so think twice before trying to remove  them!

This is a classic example of a kitchen radio.
Outdated (cassette deck), broken (held together with tape), and a broken antenna (this is a must).
I think someone has updated this one with an MP3 player cassette adapter. Nice.
Nice cheap radio with classic coat hanger antenna.
I think a cook was in a bad mood one morning
(or heard one too many culinary art career commercials) 

and took a meat tenderizer to this poor radio.
A creative dishwasher wrapped this one 
in a trash bag to keep it dry.
Classic rock is the most popular choice of music in the kitchen.
You will also hear some rap (dishrooms), classical (older cooks), and acid rock (younger chefs).
Country is rarely heard and pop dance music is becoming more popular.
One kitchen I worked in was rather large so there was up to four radios playing at the same time.
It messed with you as you walked around.
Do not worry cook. This radio will still be here in ten years.
Likely in the exact same place.

(See: My Machines Blog)
Reception is always a problem in kitchens.
This one took the coat hanger a step further by leaning it against a pipe.
Well, I guess some things do change.
Still no antenna.

Friday, May 3, 2013

vegan creme brulee demo at MIT

If you want to draw attention: Do a front-of-the-house demo on Creme Brulee and then allow the diners to torch their own dessert!

MIT student finishing the final step of their creme brulee 
At a 'Meet the Chef' event I drew in patrons to  talk by first burning some creme brulees and then simply asking them if they would like to try it. After a quick demo I handed them the torch and off they went.

Start with a good creme brulee Recipe which includes the right flavor and texture.

For texture, I do not use egg replacer powder because it is not a common kitchen ingredient. This leaves cornstarch and flour. Cornstarch is too rubbery and flour too gummy. But if mixed  in the right ratio, you can get the right texture

Get the right flavor by using coconut milk, sugar and brown sugar. The brown sugar gives the custard a rich flavor which complements the caramelized sugar topping.

Use super fine sugar for the topping because it melts evenly.

I have used propane torches, refillable butane torches, and an electric heat gun to burn creme brulee. I found the propane torch to have issues with being turned upside down for long periods of time causing the flame to go out, and too heavy to hold for long periods of time. An electric heat gun, which some people have made work, blew the sugar all over the place even on the lowest fan setting. A small butane torch works great and is easy to use, even for the novice.

Mix the sugar, brown sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt
in a bowl. Slowly pour it into the boiling coconut milk/vanilla mixture.

Pour into dishes
The sugar topping only stays
crisp for about one hour
vegan creme brulee


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Vegan Mint Caviar for Saint Patrick's Day (molecular gastronomy style)

Vegan Mint Caviar (molecular gastronomy)
vegan mint caviar has the consistency of 
Jello with a sweet minty taste

Yield: 1½ cups

¾ cup mint syrup, cooled (recipe below)
1 sachet (2g) sodium alginate
¾ cup water
1 sachet (5g) calcium lactate
4 cups water

1)      In a small saucepan, combine sodium alginate with ¾ cup water using an immersion blender until smooth. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Pour into a small bowl. Place in refrigerator for 10 minutes.
2)      Mix ¾ cup sodium alginate mixture with ¾ cup mint syrup. Set aside.
3)      In a separate, medium sized bowl, whisk together the calcium lactate with the 4 cups of water until dissolved. This is your calcium bath.
4)      Fill an eye dropper, syringe, or pipette with the mint syrup mixture and drip it, one drop at a time, into the calcium bath.
5)      Collect the mint caviar with a slotted spoon or a fine strainer.

Serving Suggestion:
·         Serve by itself in a single spoon as a ostentatious after dinner dessert.
·         Use it as a garnish for ice cream or yogurt.

Sodium Alginate and Calcium Lactate
are available online

make mint syrup

In a small saucepan, combine sodium alginate with ¾ cup water with an immersion blender until smooth. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Pour into a small bowl. Place in refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Mix ¾ cup sodium alginate mixture with ¾ cup mint syrup. Set aside.

In a separate, medium sized bowl, whisk together the calcium lactate with 4 cups water until dissolved. This is your calcium bath.

Fill an eye dropper, syringe, or pipette with mint syrup mixture
and drip it into the calcium bath.

Collect the mint caviar with a slotted spoon
or a fine strainer.

vegan mint caviar

vegan mint caviar close-up
vegan mint caviar
mint syrup
Yield: ¾ cup

½ cup water
½ cup sugar
½ tsp. peppermint or spearmint extract
5 drops food coloring

1)      In a medium saucepan, whisk together all ingredients.
2)      Bring to a boil.
3)      Boil for 5 minutes.
4)      Cool to room temperature.

for more molecular gastronomy recipes visit

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Quinoa is a healthy whole grain with all eight essential amino acids.

Basically cook quinoa just like rice: Rinse, add water, bring it to a boil, cover, and simmer until tender. The ratio of quinoa to water is 1 part quinoa to 1 1/2 parts water. After it boils it will take about 20 minutes until it is fully cooked. Add more water if you like a softer quinoa.
Add your favorite seasonings, vegetables, etc. to add flavor if desired, although it is good plain. Serve warm or cold. 

Mediterranean Quinoa
with tomatoes, olives, and onions

Quinoa comes in three common varieties:
White (or golden), black, and red.
The black and red cook up more al dente while the white can be just a bit mushy at times.

To save money, mix the more
expensive black or red quinoa with the less expensive white.
Quinoa can be cooked in a steamer in an uncovered hotel pan.

Black quinoa salad with cranberries, apricots, roasted pumpkin seeds, fresh mint, and an orange juice and lime dressing.
quinoa tabbouleh salad
(made with leeks)