Monday, April 12, 2010

Obsessed and Passed it on to my students...

So... I used to be a Chemistry Teaching Assistant. One of the sections that I had to cover was all about electrochemistry. I gave one of my students an assignment which was to do a creative writing mini essay on the topic of electrochemistry and this is what he came up with... Apple doesn't fall too far from the tree...

Upon first glance, electrochemistry and “Top Chef”, a hit television show on Bravo seem to have nothing in common. But when examined closely the two have many more similarities than you think. For instance, the chefs on “Top Chef” compete to create delicious dished under all kinds of circumstance, and as we all know, it is often near impossible to create a delicious dish without one extremely important ingredient- salt. This ingredient that is used to tickle the taste buds of judges, an ingredient that, when used correctly, may decide the champion chef, is also very important in electrochemistry. The salt bridge is an extremely important device when creating a battery. The purpose of the salt bridge is to regulate the flow of ions into the anode and the cathode so the transference of electron will be allowed to continue (and, thus the very transfer of energy that makes a battery power everything around us). So the next time you bite into a delicious steak and you feel the salt tickling your taste buds, take a minute to think about the salt bridge that was used to power your car battery to get the steak from the store, the electronic thermometer that was used to measure its temperature, and the very lights that allowed you to view its scrumptious texture the seconds before it entered your mouth.

Some say that becoming the top chef is all about desire. “Who wants it most” is a phrase thrown around the kitchen constantly- whoever has the most heart will become the premier chef. This is the same idea when talking about electrochemistry, Whichever element wants the electrons the most will become the site of reduction (the cathode) and the other side will become the site of oxidation (the anode)- likewise those who do not want it the most on “Top Chef” must surrender their knives (electrons) and go.

As you can see, there really is a shocking resemblance between “Top Chef” and electrochemistry, two seemingly unrelated subjects converging with several obvious similarities. Some say that the very premise of “Top Chef” was inspired by the subject of electrochemistry. So, nect time you’re tuned in to Bravo watching the new season of “Top Chef”, stop and pay homage to electrochemistry. And the next time, you’re studying electrochemistry, it couldn’t hurt to think a little about “Top Chef” either.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Seizing of Chocolate

There is some talk about the seizing of chocolate due to the presence of moisture. Small amounts of moisture can cause the cocoa fat to separate from the cocoa liquor when it is being melted. More moisture can be added to make this chocolate usable for cooking, but it can never be tempered again. This is a very important consideration when melting chocolate with butter to create a more malleable chocolate. I was curious about why it couldn't be tempered, and at at what point (and why at that point) enough moisture will have been added to make the chocolate mixture smooth and usable. It would also be interesting to look at these properties as they pertain to different chocolates. A milk chocolate contains milk solids, so I don't know if it will seize in the same way. Dark chocolate comes with varying liquor and sugar contents which may affect how a chocolate seizes. Without understanding why it does this, seizing could be affected by the crystal structure of a the chocolate as well.

There isn't any more information about why this happens... can someone help????? Chocolate will be sent your way if you help....

Monday, January 18, 2010

Thinking about Molecular Gastronomy

I am not one for subtlety... I like Chemistry and I like food, hence the ChemistFoodie blog name. As part of my PhD requirements here in the South I need to present a literature seminar on an area of science that has nothing to do with my research; (I make shiny, purty, girly crystals that get attached to magnets) so for me there was only one clear option: Molecular Gastronomy. This search for chemical relationships has taken me to find different books and a buttload of papers that talk about Molecular Gastronomy. My gripe is that most of the stuff does not go deeper into the chemistry and explain why is it that adding one specific chemical will give the flavor of mushrooms or lavender... It does tell me why beans are the magical fruit but ot stays there. I've contacted Super Richard Blais regarding his suggestions for books but I am wondering if; first anyone is reading this and if someone is if they can recommend a good Molecular Gastronomy book...


Monday, September 21, 2009

Saturday... First time for so much

Oh Saturday! How fond I am of you in my memory!

Saturday was a day of firsts... I tried so many things I have never tried before and it was all so dreamy...

First of all... and I am a little embarrassed to say this... Saturday was the first time I've ever had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I don't know why, but I've never tried them... I guess I was a little weirded out by the idea of sweet and salty together... Maybe it was the idea of the textures that was holding me back... but I faced my fears (just like Kim from Real Housewives of Atlanta) and took a bite out of one... and the sky parted and God smiled on me... and it was good. Really, PB&J is awesome... I might try to make a more grown up version in these upcoming days but right now... kiddie versions rock.

After my PB&J discovery I prepped myself for a more grown up dinner at Woodfire Grill. I was a little scared about what I was going to be served... I tend to be a little picky when eating. I don't like lots of stuff and I am allergic to that fine dining wonder; MUSHROOMS! I swell up like Dumbo whenever I eat one...

Well... I've never liked scallops when they are small, but Saturday had me facing the biggest, juiciest, plumpest? scallops I've ever seen... and they were ok... I guess scallops is something I will never really like... One of the other delicious products that I've never had is quail. That little piece of poultry heaven. The preparation in that kitchen was amazing... It was delicious. Another thing wcich is kinda funny is I've lived in the South for close to 3.5 years now and I've never had corn grits and fried okra which makes me a bad bad bad southerner... Well... my issue with okra is that when I was growing up my dad had a garden full of it and I could never forget the sliminess of it and for some reason the thought of okra made me have a great gag reflex... Corn grits are just weird in my head so I try to stay away from them. Saturday changed it all. Yummy yummyness of delicious proportions.

The last thing which to me has to be one of the most incredible inventions came with dessert... wait for it CANDIED BACON, juicy thick, delicious CANDIED BACON... Heaven...

I am excited about trying soo many new things...

PS... I also have a newfound love for kale...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Woodfire Grill

My name is Evy and I am a Top Chef junkie... I am such a junkie that I own the Top Chef cookbook and Wednesdays at 10:00 are sacred... In the spirit of my junkyness I decided to start trying out the restaurants that some of the cheftestants work in. This is limited to those restaurants in Atlanta or South Carolina. I started with Woodfire Grill, owned by Kevin Gillespie and YUM!!!

We decided to go with the 5 course tasting dinner and to me it was a great idea not knowing what we were going to get and tasting what the chef believes are his best recipes.

As soon as we were seated, we were given the amuse bouche... Fried Okra with garlic aioli. I hate okra and I totally despise Fried Okra (sorry Jennifer) but this was amazingly good. I was happy.

The tasting started with olive oil poached shrimp on a shrimp toast with microgreens and some type of aioli. It was divine, the shrimp felt like butter and to be honest I have never tasted such delicious and tasty shrimp. I was in heaven.

The second course was Pan-Seared Diver Scallop on top of a Lima Bean puree with Bacon Jus and Smoked House Bacon. I do not love the texture of Scallops, i find them chewy and weird but the taste was incredible. I still do not like scallops so this was my least favorite dish of the night. The puree was really good as was the Bacon, I found the bacon jus a little sweet but still amazing.

While we waited for the third course we were given an intermezzo... Green Beans. As you can see I sucked at paying attention at the name of this course. The green beans were good but they had too much acid which made them a little bitter.

The Third Course was my first OMG!!! It was roasted quail on top of peppered corn grits with raised greens. I've never had grits before and if they all taste like those ones I have been converted. They were delicious and amazing and a little piece of heaven, however they were nothing compared to the quail. HOLY JESUS! (not really trying to be blasphemous here) That quail tasted so incredible, so delicious, and so amazing that I was upset that my plate wasn't bigger. After it was over I kept wanting more.

Before the Fourth and Final Main Course we were given another Intermezzo to clean our palate. This was an orange sherbet. It was good, nothing earth shattering but good.

The Second OMG!!! came from the Fourth Course, Wood Fired Pork Loin with Dried Sherry Jus and Creamed Greens. The creamed kale was like butter in my mouth, it was tasty and delicious. The pork was stupendous with and without the sherry jus. Another piece of heaven... Ahhh... Just thinking about it now makes me happy...

The dessert course... OH Lord... The dessert Course, we were given different desserts. Manuel was given the moist chocolate cake. maple panna cotta. brown butter cream sauce.
chocolate ganache. toasted pecans. I was given the banana fritters. milk chocolate mousse. banana bavarian cream salted caramel. candied bacon. At first I was apprehensive... HOW DARE THEY NOT GIVE ME CHOCOLATE! but they gave me bacon and candied bacon which should be one of the wonders of the world. There are so many things that were right about that dessert that I can't even start mentioning them... Another thing that I want to say was that neither Manuel or I wanted to share our desserts... they were THAT good. The salted caramel was delicious and I really wanted to lick the plate afterwards... which might have been a little frowned upon but I did not care... I almost cried when a piece fell off the plate and into the mantel but I quickly applied the 5 second rule, there was no way I was going to let anything ANYTHING go to waste.

So in summary... Woodfire Grill is awesome and a great place for great food. My final grade is A+. Next in line... Probably Flip Burger but cannot disregard Eno and Pura Vida..

I am Evy and will still be a Top Chef junkie...

Friday, November 21, 2008

White Chocolate Mousse Tarts

This is my recipe of the day...

  • 14oz sweetened condensed milk (a can)
  • 6oz white chocolate chopped
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 12 graham cracker mini crusts

You need to chill your mixing bowl and the electric mixer beaters

I found it better to use a water bath to melt the chocolate with the condensed milk. When both things are mixed add the almond extract and mix well. Let it rest to ambient temperature.

While the mix is cooling , get your bowl and the hand mixer beaters out of the freezer. Start beating the whipping cream in medium speed until soft peaks start forming.

Fold in the chocolate/condensed milk/almond mix into the cream.

Using a spoon add the mix to the small graham cracker crusts.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.