Archive for the Food experiments at home Category

Tollhouse Cookie Dough Recall: E. Coli

Posted in Food experiments at home, Food in the news with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2009 by restaurantouring

The FDA found some E. Coli in batches of Tollhouse Cookie dough. Try not to eat the dough raw! For more deets, check the news.

EDIT: So, apparently it’s a voluntary recall. This means that there may or may not be an E. Coli contamination in these batches of cookie dough, so here’s an idea: BAKE THE DAMN THINGS INSTEAD OF EATING IT RAW. Dumbasses. . . .

And if you still want cookies, but you’re afraid of the store-bought stuff, you can make your own in just a few minutes if you have a few basic ingredients on hand. Check out Michael Ruhlman’s blog post about a chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream bowl for the recipe.

On a completely unrelated note, unless she really, really, really likes Tollhouse cookies (How’s THAT for a smooth connection? Segues can kiss my ass), check out The Art and Times of Diana Ho for info on shows and art galleries and such in the New York area (you can find her online portfolio here). I’ve been meaning to add her to my blogroll for a little while now, but I am a lazy sod — was reminded when I checked my blog stats and saw some traffic being directed my way from her blog. Quid pro quo. I love the smell of social networking in the. . . . damn, it’s already 3:30 in the afternoon!

Honda Crave Contest

Posted in Culinary ruminations and other random thoughts, Food experiments at home with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2009 by restaurantouring

20090503 Chipotle Meatloaf

So, the competition is over. I submitted my savory dish for the competition, but I’m not too confident in how the picture turned out (Pictured above. Chipotle-spiked meatloaf. Roasted red pepper coulis. Smoky Chipotle BBQ sauce. Bacon mashed potatoes. Mac and Cheeses: cheddar, lots of freshly grated parm, and a habanero pepperjack. I know it’s cropped on the right. Still working on that / I have been too lazy to fix it. Click on it to see the full picture on my Flickr account). I was dumb and waited too long to make the dish, so I had too little time to remake it.

20090504 Chocolate Lava Cake 019

Also, I fell asleep/passed out on my bed last night when I should have been making an entry for the dessert competition. Molten Chocolate Hazelnut “Kiss” Cake. Orange-raspberry coulis. Tahitian Vanilla creme anglaise. I thought I was clever with the kiss part, but only because my body was sleep deprived and because my brain is addled.

I woke up this morning cuz the fire alarm went off — not because something was burning, but because I fell asleep on top of it (and all my freshly laundered clothes, which now have lots and lots of wrinkles in them thanks to my fat ass) and apparently, it detected carbon monoxide emanating from my nether regions. Just kidding, it was sticking into my back (I took it down last night when I was roasting peppers in the broiler and threw it on top of my bed).

I always do this. Procrastinate, that is. And I liked how the dessert picture came out, too. Sigh.

Moral of the story: I suck.

Also: I got a 38 dollar parking ticket because I fell asleep and forgot to move my car last night. Alternate side parking, FTL.

Cooking with Wine

Posted in Food experiments at home, General food knowledge, Home cooking and more with tags , , , on November 30, 2008 by restaurantouring


The late, great Julia Child proclaimed in the 1970s that you should never cook with a wine that you wouldn’t drink.  Her reasoning was that as the wine reduced in your food, flavors concentrated.  If the wine you cooked with had a good flavor, it would taste better as it reduced.  If the wine you cooked with had a bad flavor, the bad flavors would concentrate as the wine reduced.  Things seemed to make sense.

Of course, another aspect to this good wine / bad wine debate involves the tannins in wine, as well as general balance of flavor.  Thus, contrary to what Ms. Child advised, it may not be a bad idea to cook with cheap wine, either.  The idea is that as a good wine reduces, so do the tannins (besides the good flavors of the wine).  Too high a concentration of tannins and you potentially have bad tasting food on your hands, despite how nice the wine was that you used.

On the other hand, if you used a cheap wine, the flavors could potentially get better as things reduced and reached a better balance of flavors and tannins.  This has the added benefit of the fact that if you screw up the dish, at least you’re not wasting all that good wine for bad tasting food.

This all seems to make sense, despite the two schools of thought being at odds with each other.  So which camp should you choose to side with?

I say drink the good stuff and cook with the cheap stuff.  Not just because I’m poor (low level government employees/chumps like me don’t make a lot of money, despite the corruption that is the whole of New Jersey).  Note that I did not say that you should cook with bad wine.  Bad wine is bad wine, no matter how you look at it.  Not much can be done to improve a bad wine.  But there are plenty of cheap wines out there that don’t taste too bad after some cooking — especially if you’re cooking something already heavily flavored with it, like a well-seasoned beef stew or braise.

Likewise, there are plenty of good-tasting wines out there which you could potentially ruin by cooking it.  Besides, if it’s the good stuff, wouldn’t you want to drink as much of it as possible?  That way, you’re getting the pure flavor of the wine, without having all the tastiness get masked up by your food.  Flavorful dishes, like red wine braised short ribs, can hide the more subtle qualities of a good wine more than other foods cooked with wine, so it seems like there is tremendous potential for tremendous waste here.  If you want to cook with wine, I say you’re better off finding something less expensive with a similar flavor profile.

Experiment.  Try different wines.  If you find a wine you like to cook with, keep it in mind.  Stick to that wine if you’re really happy with it, but I say always leave your options open.  Try everything.  Be objective.  Taste your food.  And enjoy it.  Especially that fancy bottle of red you’ve been aging for ever.

But maybe with those braised short ribs, rather than in those beef short ribs, yeah?

Miracle Berry Experiment 1.5

Posted in Food experiments at home with tags on November 8, 2008 by restaurantouring
Pardon the mess

Pardon the mess. My room is a reflection of how hectic my life is. The cleaner it is, the calmer it is, and vice versa. Sometimes I like to clean because it centers me, if that makes any sense.

So I took the seed from the first miracle berry I tried and I planted it in a little plastic cup with some potting soil. Hopefully it’ll grow, although I doubt it for some reason. We’ll see.

A Little Info on the Miracle Berry

Posted in Food experiments at home with tags , on November 5, 2008 by restaurantouring

So, it’s come to my attention that some of my three readers (yes, this blog is now 33.333% more popular!) don’t know what a miracle berry is. Why they didn’t bother to Google or Wikipedia this information is beyond me. This is as much as I know about the berry so far:

The miracle berry or miracle fruit is a fruit that grows in West Africa. The interesting thing about it is that when you eat it, it makes sour and bitter things taste sweet for a brief amount of time. The active component in the miracle berry is a glycoprotein that scientists have dubbed “miraculin.”

Miraculin is a protein (with loose carbohydrate chains) which binds to certain receptors on your tongue. As far as I can figure, sour and bitter food molecules latch onto the miraculin, and the miraculin stimulates the tastebuds that are geared towards sweet things. In a way, I guess miraculin is kind of like capsaicin (the chemical in chillis responsible for the sensation of spiciness). The difference is that capsaicin jams itself into whatever tastebuds it can, and sends a shitload of signals to your brain, which is interpreted as heat and pain.

Okay, so maybe they’re not all that similar after all.

I’ve heard that miracle berries don’t work for everyone. Sucks for them. Anecdotally, it seems that miracle berries affect people slightly differently (since I thought limes were disgusting while my roommate adored slices from the same lime).

Miracle berry is available in a few forms: paste, pill, and fresh berry. The best place to look for miracle berries is on the internet. You can even buy the tree itself, but you’d have to grow about 50 to 100 berries yourself to break even with the cost of the plants.

Heat seems to destroy the miraculin, which makes sense, since heat coagulates proteins. It’s best if you keep the berry or juice or pill, etc. on your tongue for about 30 seconds, to ensure that the miraculin coats your tongue. This way, you can maximize the effects of the miracle berry. The effects of the miracle berry last for up to half an hour, during which sour foods really do taste sweet.

I personally have not had much luck with bitter foods tasting sweet, since I didn’t have very many bitter foods on hand.

That’s pretty much all I know, so, in the words of the wise Porky Pig, t-t-t-t-t-that’s all, folks!

Miracle Berry experiments, Part 1

Posted in Food experiments at home, Home cooking and more with tags , on November 3, 2008 by restaurantouring

A new gourmet grocery store opened by the trainstation on South Orange Ave. near my apartment.  They sell each berry there for $5.  They’re tiny.  The one I got was the size of a largish blueberry.  The pit inside is huge, about the same proportion of fruit to pit as a mango, maybe worse.  The berries themselves taste reminiscent of grapes, but they’re not very tasty overall.  Here’s the breakdown of what I tried, in no particular order, except for as they come to mind:
lemon = delicious.  Probably my favorite. The miracle berry seems to bring out the true flavor of the lemon, which is normally hidden behind all that acidity.
lime = nasty and bitter, but my roommate loved it the most. Perhaps it hit us differently. Perhaps I got a lime affected by citrus greening. Fucking citrus psyllids. . . .
coffee = tiny hint of sweetness and a richness reminiscent of chocolate, although that’s probably just the coffee itself.
jasmine tea = tiny hit of sweetness
dark chocolate (80% cacao) = mildly sweet.  Just the right amount of sweetness, in my opinion. I tried it again after the effects of the berry wore off, and I didn’t notice much of a difference. Perhaps the miracle berry didn’t even do anything?
kiwi fruit = tasty, but perhaps less so since the acidity was totally nullified. Either way, I loved it.
orange = particularly sweet.  Like the kiwi, this one was also probably less tasty because the acid was totally nullified.
cheap merlot = still awful.
a shot of raspberry vinegar = disgusting, but probably because the effects of the berry were wearing off.
manchego cheese = the same.
cornichons = veeeerry interesting and tasty. Complex and rich. Hard to describe. Tasty.
pickled cocktail onions = sweeter than the cornichons. Normally they are more sour, so it makes sense to me.
chipotle mustard = sweet. Too sweet. Kind of flat-tasting without the sourness.

That’s all I tried. I didn’t have beer. I hear beer tastes like a milkshake on miracle berry.

It’s important to note that my roommate and I split a single berry because I felt outraged at paying $5 for a single berry. We each bit off a piece, chewed thoroughly (we were Fletcherites for 20 seconds), and held the juice on our tongue for 20 seconds to ensure that our tongues were as coated with miraculin as possible. I’m ordering my own plant online for $95, which is old enough to bear fruit (2-3 years old). I just have to figure out when it’s supposed to bear fruit (season). Interestingly, though, even at such a low dose, the effects were significant and obvious. My assumption is that with larger doses, the effect is more pronounced and persistent. The effects of our experiment lasted about 15 minutes. I can’t wait to try more.

My epic dessert pivots around the usage of miracle berry, and I hope to God someone hasn’t already made a dessert like mine. It’s so hard to be original these days. Right when you think you’ve come up with an original idea, you find out that someone, somewhere, has already been there and done that.