Chef Higgins discusses the influence of his travels on his creative process
Roost serves local, organic, and seasonal food in Greenville, S.C.
The Daily Meal caught up with chef Trevor Higgins to learn about how his travels have influenced his work. Higgins is the executive chef at Roost in Greenville, S.C., which serves "local, organic, and seasonal food of the highest quality, cooked with care and at an honest price." In addition to being inspired by his foreign travels, he is also influenced by his early childhood experiences in his grandparents’ garden in Cleveland, Tenn.
The Daily Meal: What has been your most inspirational food experience while traveling?
Trevor Higgins: I had the most unbelievable meal at a restaurant called La Buca in Parma, Italy. It was a simple dish of pork cheek raviolis with Parmesan and butter, but the way it was made, and how fresh it was showed that you don’t have to do a lot with simple and beautiful ingredients. It was the best meal I ever had.
TDM: What’s your favorite kitchen souvenir from your travels?
TH: The 20-year aged balsamic vinegar I got in Modena, Italy, from a lady who made it in her attic. I’ve had it for five years now, and only use it two or three times a year because I’m trying to stretch it out. It’s much stronger and sweeter than other vinegars — if you use an eye-dropper, three or four drops are all you would need.
TDM: If you could eat your way through one country, which one would it be and why?
TH: Thailand, because I’m not very well-versed in Thai cooking. It’s so foreign to me, but I’ve read a lot about it and want to learn more about it. I love spicy food!
Chef Trevor Bird shares cooking tips and recipes for busy parents
In Vancouver at least, it’s typical that both parents work, which can make dinner time more than a little hectic. To get some ideas on how to ease some of that stress, the Courier had some questions for Trevor Bird, chef/owner of Fable Kitchen, former Top Chef contestant, spokesperson for Real Canadian Superstore and, most importantly, parent to two-year old Leonidas (Leo).
Q: What’s your relationship with Real Canadian Superstore?
A: I am working with Real Canadian Superstore to inspire families to eat healthy all year long at great value. I love health and wellness and I’m a new dad so it was a natural fit.
Q: Does your wife work?
Yes, my wife works with teenagers and families affected by autism, she is currently getting her masters in science so she can further assist them. We are a busy house hold!
Q: I can only imagine the hours you work. How do you organize meals in your household?
A: We organize very carefully. We meal plan and then spend one hour twice a week getting everything ready, whether it’s chopping the ingredients up or pre-cooking the protein. Mason jar salads are a life saver. You can make 10 lunches using whole foods, in under an hour. Tip: First make a menu, then a shopping list. Once you have all your ingredients, get into the kitchen and start cooking.
Q: Do you have any other tips for busy parents struggling to find balance between work and family life?
A: I think with two career driven people and a two-year old in an expensive city, “a balance” is very personal. Whatever makes you happy. If you're not happy grinding for more than ten hours a day, make a change. If you enjoy working part time and you don't have much going on, make your life choices in that direction. It’s about meeting each other's expectations and being content with where you're at.
Q: Do you have a go-to healthy snack for kids?
A: My kid loves “sumas” (smoothies) so frozen fruits — and I can sneak some spinach in there with some peanut butter and honey.Mason jar salads can be served on a plate or straight out of the jar.
Q: Do you have a favourite healthy recipe moms and dads can make for dinner after a long day at work that’s relatively easy to pull together?
A: My mother-in-law cooked for us a couple months ago and braised a whole ribeye. I was shocked. Being a chef, I have never even thought about braising a meat I was taught to cook rare or medium-rare my whole life. It was the best piece of meat and it’s so versatile once it’s cooked. It’s great the night of, for sandwiches the next day, pastas the dinner after. The list goes on.
Q: Does wine help?
A: You need two bottles for the braised rib eye. One for the rib eye, one to share over dinner.
Trevor Bird’s time-saving recipes:
For busy parents who are always on the go, meal prep is really important to work into your schedule. If you can dedicate one hour, two days a week, you can ensure your family will eat healthy meals all week.
Mason jar chop saladMason jar salads can be made ahead to save time during the week.
This can be ready in your fridge and all you have to do is shake it and put it in a bowl. And if you don’t want to dirty extra dishes, eat it out of the jar.
Ready in: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Ingredients: chicken prep
50 ml No Name pure olive oil
On your prep day, turn oven to 250-F and let preheat
Season chicken with oil, salt and pepper
Place chicken on a baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes
Remove from oven and let cool. Place in fridge until ready to use (up to 5 days)
Chef’s Tip: The temperature may seem low, but you can literally forget about the chicken and it will still be moist. Once it’s cool, cube the chicken up for the salad. This salad can be made up to two days in advance. When you want it, simply take it out of the fridge and shake it. Place it in a bowl and eat it.
Salad prep for one mason jar
2 tbs broccoli florets blanched, cut into bite size pieces
Large pinch feta cheese crumbles
2 tbs bacon cut into small pieces and cooked until crispy
10 grape tomatoes, cut in half
Fill to top of jar with baby spinach
Chef’s Tip: It’s very important to build the salad layers in one-litre mason jars in this particular order so it doesn’t get soggy.
Braised rib eye with root vegetables and roasted potatoesSlow cooking a ribeye steak is an easy recipe for a family meal.
This is something you can easily cook all day long, in one pot and have a ton of leftovers for braised rib pasta, hash for breakfast, grilled cheese sandwiches, the list goes on and on — it can be a catalysts for many more meals. Have you ever braised a ribeye? Neither had I, until I saw my mother-in-law do it and it blew me away.
Ready in: 4 hours, 30 minutes
Beef bouillon concentrate to make 1 litre
6 carrots, peeled and cut in 2
6 parsnips, peeled and cut in 2
100 ml No Name Pure Olive Oil
1 heaped tbs whole grain Dijon mustard
2 tbs No Name red wine vinegar
Boil potatoes until they can easily be pierced with a fork (include this in your meal prep, they’ll keep fresh in the fridge for a few days)
Season the ribeye thoroughly with salt and pepper
Sear the meat in a large pot on all sides until it’s golden brown
Place in PC Dutch Oven (or oven proof pot) and place in stock, garlic, onions, carrots, parsnips and cover with lid
Place in oven for four hours until the bones can easily be pulled off, take out of the oven, let cool and get the potatoes going. The beef can rest and will stay hot with a lid on until the potatoes are ready
Turn the oven up to 400-F, take the potatoes and toss in oil and salt to taste and eat one to ensure good seasoning
Roast them for 40-50 minutes until golden brown and crunchy
If you want to thicken your gravy drain the liquid from the beef and skim the fat off with a ladle
Put in a pot and bring to a simmer
In a small bowl mix 1 tbs cornstarch and 1 tbs water. Slowly drizzle the cornstarch in and whisk. If you don’t want to use cornstarch you can use rice flour instead.
Season gravy with PC® Whole Grain Dijon Mustard and No Name Red Wine Vinegar.
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And her top tip is to start the cooking process at the very beginning, in the garden. “Farm to fork has always been a great way to get my kids interested in food. Planting seeds in late spring for quick crops like radish, cress and salad leaves are easy, rewarding and encouraging, and they always eat them.”
Planting season starts soon, so now might be the time to sow the seeds of a new found interest that could have long term benefits, for the whole family.
Parents share their experiences of cooking with their children
Dipti Pandya, Co Meath
We are the O’Reilly family of six (parents and four children, Leela aged 14, Neel aged 12 and twins Aanya and Aarav aged 9) living in Kilcloon, Co Meath. My husband Paul O’Reilly and I both work in higher education. We have been working at home since March 13th, 2020, and our jobs have become busier than ever.
The O'Reilly family cooking together in Co Meath.
Our daughter, Leela, started helping with cooking and baking at a very young age, around six years. I grew up in a household where helping your mum and grandmother was part and parcel of growing up especially as my mum worked full time as an optician. I have simply carried on this tradition, as I have not known any different.
My parents are in London and my mother has severe dementia. My father is her sole carer and at 80 has just started cooking meals from scratch. Due to lockdown we, as a family, have not seen my parents since July 2019. This is the longest time in my lifetime.
Our intergenerational cookalongs [with both families in Ireland and London] came about as my dad has recently realised that cooking from scratch can pass time, taste better and be more fulfilling. The first dish was cauliflower cheese he had boiled the cauliflower and then rang me for help. This was more of a rescue tutorial!
My cooking with children tips are: The kitchen should become a family hub and not a “no-go” zone. Obviously this can mean a messy kitchen, but you can also teach them how to keep tidy as you go along. Children can be asked to get things and wash things to “help”, such as washing potatoes, despite some early grumbles.
Mary McLaughlin, Co Donegal
Patrick McLaughlin getting ready to cook with his mum Mary.
We have three boys aged 23, 10 and 9. Patrick (10) is my sous chef, and although we do at times all cook together, Patrick is the one who really loves food the most, and who has the most adventurous appetite.
I was a chef for many years, and I still love food. When we went into lockdown last year we were all having a good moan about not being able to go anywhere, so we had the idea that we’d cook things from all over the world. Whatever country we cooked from, we would try to learn a few interesting facts about. So far, in cooking terms, we’ve been to China, Thailand, Greece, France, India, Pakistan, Lebanon, Tibet, Italy, Spain, Colombia ,Mexico, America (deep south), Turkey, Russia and Hungary.
More than anything, we have great fun with food, and we try new things. Sometimes it’s not a roaring success, but that’s the exception rather than the rule, thankfully.
Karen Denning, Co Meath
Stefan Bodie (12) and Christian Bodie (14) cooking at home in Dunboyne, Co Meath. Photograph: Dara MacDónaill/The Irish Times
We have two boys, Christian aged 14 and Stefan aged 12. Before March 2020 both were good at helping, but since then, wow they have amazed me. During the summer, they bought Neven Maguire’s Midweek and Fast cookbooks. Both of them like the easy ingredients list and instructions that are set out in a format they can work with easily. They now produce meals like Beetroot Barley Risotto with Goat’s Cheese Crispy Buttermilk Chicken with Celeriac Slaw, and Orzo with Smoked Salmon, the way some people make toast.
The other thing I like is that we meal plan together at the weekend, going through the books (we have loads of cookbooks) looking for ideas. The way we try and do it is that there is something on each day of the week that gives a nod to what they each like. So there will be chicken, fish and beef in different formats most weeks.
Over the years I have gotten into the habit of putting aside an hour each evening to prepare and cook meals for dinner. This now translates to either Christian or Stefan doing it, with me acting as commis chef if needs be.
Phil Quinlan, Co Meath
Phil Quinlan, with his children Joe and Eileen, with some food they prepared at home in Navan, Co. Meath. Photograph: Dara MacDónaill/The Irish Times
I learned about the importance of cooking from my mother. A typical Irish mammy. I was left disabled following a football injury during my youth. Travel, and later cooking, became my passions.
My children love helping out. I’ve instilled in them the importance of cooking, and I’m visibly excited when I’m doing it myself. It makes sense to teach them now while I’m able – so they’ll cater for me when I’m not able.
Joe (6) is the mini chef, but only because he loves eating. His favourite is his black pudding pizza. He takes as much pride in dissecting the chicken carcass for the chicken pasta as I do. He also loves the power of the gas hob, but I feel it is necessary to supervise him still. Eileen (9) loves baking or making savoury snacks.
Eleanor Kilmartin, Co Dublin
Just yesterday my youngest lad, age 17, cooked the dinner first time ever I might add. He cooked Chilli con Carne from a Rachel Allen book. I left most of the ingredients out, the book open and the correct pot to use!
As I am working longer hours and don’t get home some evenings till 6.30pm, I don’t feel like cooking for five, especially when they are all at home for the day. My eldest lad is studying post grad medicine in his bedroom (I do feel sorry for him as he has yet to meet his class mates). He cooked the same dinner last week.
Two weeks ago I started the one night a week rule, where one of the adult kids have to cook a meal. So far, we’ve had three meals, one curry and two chilli dishes. They have all turned out really well (though I received a million texts asking which pot, which pan, how do I . . .?)
Deirdre Hyland, Co Westmeath
Deirdre Hyland’s children Cian and Alice were inspired to start cooking by a cookery book she bought for them.
My daughter Alice is eight and my son Cian is 11. In the past they would have been a little bit interested in baking cookies or buns, but not particularly bothered. I bought Cooking Step-by-Step, published by DK and it was a massive hit. For example, my son now takes ownership of making flatbreads as a side dish, and they both make their own pizzas from scratch every week. There are at least four or five dinners they can all but do by themselves (I bought them child-friendly knives), so it’s just the oven they need help with.
I think it’s also made my son, who isn’t picky with food but can be cautious, much more adventurous. My daughter will try anything! She is less engaged with the whole being able to do it for herself thing and instead enjoys cooking with me as a bonding thing.
Máirín Byrne, Co Tipperary
My little ones had a great day’s baking today as part of the home schooling programme in this house, all by themselves. They may not look as nice as Nigella’s but her recipes were followed and both turned out delicious. They have never worked with yeast before and they were amazed by the bread growing by itself.
I received a copy of her book from Nigella herself as a thank you for my [Inch House black-and-white] puddings that I sent to her, and my 10-year-old is obsessed with it ever since. She is a baker but loves helping with whatever is happening. We made a big batch of soup to share with granny and grandad the other day, things like that.
Win an online cooking class for your sports team or school class
Do you have a junior masterchef in your house? We want to see their culinary creations. Upload a video of no longer than 60 seconds, shot horizontally, with your mini Nigella or Jamie showing us their dish and telling us how they made it and why they love cooking.
Our judging panel, including Irish Times food writer Lilly Higgins and Irish Times columnist and former LA Times food editor Russ Parsons, will pick their favourites. A selection of entries will be shared on irishtimes.com. Prizes include a bespoke online class with Gareth Mullins for the winner’s school class or sports team and online cooking classes with Rozanne Stevens and Lisa Davies.
Closing date, midday, Wednesday, February 10th, 2021.
Details and entry form here.
Rozanne Stevens’s Roasted Veg Naan Pizzas
Rozanne Stevens’s Roasted Veg Naan Pizzas.
4 garlic and coriander naan breads (or plain naan bread)
250ml tomato passata
4 tsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp mild or medium curry powder
150g grated mature cheddar or mozzarella cheese
1 red pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 yellow pepper, sliced into thin strips
2 courgettes, sliced into thin discs
1 aubergine, sliced into thin strips
1 red onion, cut into wedges
2tbsp olive oil
2tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
How Molecular Gastronomy Works
Even if your culinary credentials are limited to boiling pasta and dumping on some canned tomato sauce, you undoubtedly have heard your share of cooking rules and old wives' tales. Preparing pasta has three well-known rules all by itself: add olive oil to the cooking water to prevent it from sticking, throw pasta on the wall to see if it's ready and rinse pasta after cooking and draining. Have you ever wondered if these time-honored techniques work? Why do they or don't they work? Is there a physical or chemical basis for what's happening to the food as it cooks?
These are the kinds of questions physical chemist Hervé This began to ask in the 1980s, inspired by a soufflé disaster in his own kitchen. The cheese soufflé recipe he was following gave strict instructions: Add the egg yolks two at a time. This, however, added in all of the yolks together and suffered the consequences.
Instead of giving up on soufflés, This started studying them, analyzing conventional wisdom to see what worked and what didn't. Soon, he was collecting "cooking precisions" -- rules like the one given for preparing soufflé above -- for a variety of dishes. As he did, This began to realize that a systematic, scientific study of food preparation had largely been ignored.
He set out to change that. This partnered with Nicholas Kurti, emeritus professor emeritus of physics at Oxford University, and the two physical scientists launched a new discipline: molecular gastronomy. At first, the field attracted few devotees. Then, as the two demonstrated that understanding the science of cooking could lead to amazing culinary creations, chefs and foodies began to salivate. Today, several renowned chefs have embraced molecular gastronomy to concoct seemingly bizarre dishes that are shockingly delicious. Consider snail porridge, what one diner has described as "successively savory, sweet, snaily, crunchy and tart … nothing less than magical" [source: The Independent]. Or nitro-scrambled egg-and-bacon ice cream. These are just some of the delights that await the molecular gastronomist.
But what exactly is molecular gastronomy? Is it science? If so, how can science revolutionize what is generally considered an artistic endeavor? This article will answer all of those questions by exploring every facet of molecular gastronomy -- the tools, the techniques and the ingredients.
Before you run into the kitchen (or lab), let's start with a basic definition to understand how molecular gastronomy compares to other related fields and endeavors.
Molecular Gastronomy: Art vs. Science
Molecular gastronomy is a relatively new term, one that has caused much confusion and controversy. Some of the confusion comes from trying to put a modern spin on a much-older word. That word is gastronomy, which, since the 19th century, has described the art of selecting, preparing, serving and enjoying fine food. If preparing food is an art form, then it must be an activity requiring creative skill and imagination, not technical expertise. And yet gastronomy, like astronomy and agronomy, say, seems to describe a rigorous, scientific field of study.
In 1989, Nicholas Kurti and Hervé This decided to intentionally emphasize the scientific elements of cooking by coining the term molecular and physical gastronomy. The addition of the words "molecular" and "physical" cast cooking in a new light. It was no longer magic and artistry, but molecules obeying well-known processes that describe the behavior of all solids, liquids and gases. Suddenly, the "art" of selecting, preparing, serving and enjoying fine food became the "science" of doing so.
This described molecular and physical gastronomy as the physics and chemistry behind the preparation of a dish, and he began testing the scientific validity of cooking rules and old wives' tales in a research environment that was part kitchen, part high-tech lab. He also organized the first International Workshop on Molecular and Physical Gastronomy in 1992 and presented the first doctorate in molecular and physical gastronomy at the University of Paris in 1996.
Not everyone embraced the field. Some critics complained that the new field overemphasized the scientific processes of cooking and failed to acknowledge intangible aspects of the craft, such as a chef's intuition or spontaneity. Others simply said it was too difficult and complex for average cooks in average kitchens. One such critic has been William Sitwell, the editor of Waitrose Food Illustrated. Sitwell argues that the modern interpretation of gastronomy lies beyond the grasp of most food lovers and home cooks. Even Heston Blumenthal, who applies the science of cooking to great success, has questioned the accuracy of the term.
In 1998, after Nicholas Kurti passed away, Hervé This officially changed the name of the fledgling field from molecular and physical gastronomy to just molecular gastronomy. He also began to ease his strictly scientific definition of the field. Today, This acknowledges that cooking involves more than just science and technology. It also involves art and love -- components that aren't so easily described by the behavior of atoms and molecules. In this new framework, molecular gastronomy is more properly defined as the "art and science" of selecting, preparing, serving and enjoying food. Others prefer a more fanciful definition, such as the science of deliciousness, which suggests that perception and emotion are just as important in cooking as physics and chemistry.
The emotional side of cooking may be difficult to quantify, but the science is becoming better understood every day. We'll begin to explore some of the science next.
Molecular gastronomy isn't the same as food science, which is concerned with analyzing the chemical makeup of food and developing methods to process food on an industrial scale. Molecular gastronomy takes advantage of many of the same scientific principles, such as the use of emulsifiers, but on a much smaller scale. In this respect, molecular gastronomy could be considered a branch of food science.
Chemists classify all matter into three groups: elements, compounds and mixtures. An element, such as carbon, hydrogen or oxygen, can't be broken down into other substances. A compound is composed of two or more elements joined chemically in a definite proportion. Compounds -- water, ammonia and table salt are examples -- have properties that are separate and distinct from their constituent elements. Finally, a mixture is a combination of substances that aren't held together chemically and, as a result, can be separated by physical means, such as filtration or sedimentation.
All prepared food dishes are examples of a mixture known as a colloid. A colloid is a material composed of tiny particles of one substance that are dispersed, but not dissolved, in another substance. The mixture of the two substances is called a colloidal dispersion or a colloidal system. The accompanying table shows some of the most important types of colloids you come across in cooking.
The colloidal systems described above involve only two phases, or states of matter -- gas and liquid or solid and liquid. Sometimes, especially in food preparation, more than two phases are involved. Such a colloidal system is known as a complex disperse system, or CDS. The classic example is ice cream, which is made by churning a mixture of milk, eggs, sugar and flavorings as it is slowly chilled. The churning disperses air bubbles into the mixture by foaming and breaks up large ice crystals. The result is a complex substance involving solids (milk fats and milk proteins), liquids (water) and gases (air) in at least two colloidal states.
To aid in the description of complex disperse systems found in food preparation, Hervé This devised a method -- a CDS shorthand, if you will -- that could be used for any dish. His method abbreviates phases with letters and uses symbols and numbers to represent processes and sizes of molecules, respectively. For example, the shorthand for aioli sauce, a mayonnaiselike emulsion of olive oil flavored with lemon juice and garlic, would be written as:
O[10-5, 10-4] ÷ W[d > 6 x 10-7]
O[10 -5 , 10 -4 ] ÷ W[d > 6 x 10 -7 ]
The O stands for "oil," the W for "water." The forward slash means "dispersed into." The numbers indicate sizes of the molecules. Showing molecule sizes is important because the size of solid particles in a colloid helps determine its properties. The particles dispersed in milk range from 3.9 x 10 -8 to 3.937 x 10 -5 inches (1 x 10 -7 to 1 x 10 -4 centimeters) in diameter.
After developing his system, Hervé This undertook a thorough analysis of French sauces. Most cookbooks will tell you that there are hundreds of French sauces, which are generally classified into white sauces, brown sauces, tomato sauces, the mayonnaise family and the hollandaise family. This discovered that all the French classical sauces belong to only 23 groups based on the type of CDS used to make the sauce. Not only that, This found that it was possible to move backward from a formula to a brand-new sauce never before prepared in any kitchen. In other words, you can use This' CDS system to invent new recipes from scratch.
Understanding colloids is just the beginning. Molecular gastronomists take advantage of other scientific principles to prepare world-class dishes. We'll cover those next.
Spherification, Flash Freezing and Other MG Tricks
Molecular gastronomists use special techniques, ingredients and cooking principles to encourage certain chemical reactions to occur. These reactions, in turn, produce startling new flavors and textures. One popular technique is cooking meat sous vide, a French term that means "under vacuum." Here's how it works: First, you pour water in a pan and heat it to a low temperature. The exact temperature varies depending on the type and thickness of the meat, but it never exceeds the boiling point of water (212 degrees F, 100 degrees C). For steak, the water temperature will be about 140 degrees F (60 degrees C). Next, you place your meat, along with seasonings, into a heat-safe plastic bag, seal it and place it in the hot-water bath. The meat cooks slowly in the heated water and retains its moisture. After approximately 30 minutes, you remove the meat from the bag and place it in a hot frying pan. Sear the meat briefly on each side before serving. When you cut into the meat, you will find it to be juicy, tender and delicious.
Another interesting technique is spherification, which involves making liquid-filled beads that, to use the words of a writer at Gourmet magazine, "explode in the mouth with a pleasingly juicy pop" [source: Abend]. Ferran Adrià, the chef of El Bulli Restaurant in Spain, first developed the technique and has since perfected it for a variety of dishes. Spherification relies on a simple gelling reaction between calcium chloride and alginate, a gumlike substance extracted from brown seaweed. For example, to make liquid olives, you first blend calcium chloride and green olive juice. Then you mix alginate into water and allow the mixture to sit overnight to remove air bubbles. Finally, you delicately drop the calcium chloride/olive juice mixture into the alginate and water. The calcium chloride ions cause the long-chain alginate polymers to become cross-linked, forming a gel. Because the calcium chloride/olive juice mixture enters the alginate in the shape of a droplet, the gel forms a bead. The size of the bead can vary dramatically, making it possible to create jelly-shelled equivalents of everything from caviar to gnocchi and ravioli.
Flash freezing can also be used to create fluid-filled fare. It's simple: Expose food to extremely low temperatures, and it will be frozen on the surface, liquid in the center. The technique is typically used to develop semifrozen desserts with stable, crunchy surfaces and cool, creamy centers. At Chicago's Alinea restaurant, chef Grant Achatz uses flash freezing to create a culinary delight consisting of a frozen disk of mango purée surrounding a core of roasted sesame oil. As a San Francisco blogger and food lover relates, the dish arrives with instructions: "We were instructed to allow the whole thing to melt away on our tongues. An extraordinary dance of sweet, tangy, salty, icy, creamy, oily . " [source: Gastronomie].
Flavor juxtaposition is one of the most important tenets of molecular gastronomy. Hervé This says juxtaposition can be used to intensify a more flavorful ingredient by pairing it with a much less flavorful ingredient. Or, you can combine two dominant flavors, such as chocolate and orange, to reinforce the taste of both. Either way, understanding the molecules responsible for flavors is helpful. Molecular gastronomists have learned that foods sharing similar volatile molecules -- those that leave food as a vapor and waft to our nose -- taste good when eaten together. This concept has led to some unusual flavor pairings, like strawberry and coriander, pineapple and blue cheese, and cauliflower (caramelized) and cocoa.
If you want to test some of these techniques, you'll need the right equipment. On the next page, we'll review some essential tools of the molecular gastronomist.
Cooking with Liquid Nitrogen, Vacuum Machines and Syringes
The recipe for liquid olives, which calls for 1.25 grams (0.04 ounces) of calcium chloride, 200 grams (7 ounces) of green olive juice, 2.5 grams (0.09 ounces) of alginate and 500 grams (18 ounces) of water, sounds more like the materials list of a high school chemistry experiment and hints at one important piece of equipment every molecular gastronomist must have: a scale. A good digital scale is indispensable and can even be used for nonculinary tasks, such as evaluating nutritional content or even calculating postage.
Here are some other tools you might need to master molecular gastronomy:
- Vacuum machine. Remember the sous vide steak we talked about last section? If you really want to do the job right, consider a vacuum sealer. A good model will evacuate the air from plastic bags and then seal the bag tightly closed. You can also buy a thermal bath to provide precise heating of your water bath.
- Hypodermic syringe. You may shudder at the sight of a needle, but you may have to overcome your fear if you want to practice molecular gastronomy. As we've already seen, syringes are helpful in the process of spherification. Some chefs also use them to inject liquids into meat to enhance flavor and texture.
- Liquid nitrogen. At a temperature of -321 degrees F (-196 degrees C), liquid nitrogen will flash freeze any food it touches. As it boils away, it gives off a dense nitrogen fog that can add atmosphere and drama to food preparation. Unfortunately, liquid nitrogen must be transported in specially made flasks and can be dangerous if it touches skin. A safer alternative is the Anti-Griddle, described next.
- Anti-Griddle. The Anti-Griddle, a product of PolyScience, looks like a traditional cooktop, but it doesn't heat up food. Its -30 degrees F (-34 degrees C) surface instantly freezes sauces and purées or freezes just the outer surfaces of a dish while maintaining a creamy center.
- The Gastrovac. Manufactured by International Cooking Concepts, the Gastrovac is three tools in one: a Crock-pot, a vacuum pump and a heating plate. In its low-pressure, oxygen-free atmosphere, the Gastrovac cooks food faster at lower temperatures, which helps the food maintain its texture, color and nutrients. When the food is done warming, you restore the pressure and create what ICC calls the "sponge effect." The liquid rushes back into the food, bringing intense flavors with it.
Of course, you'll need to have a well-stocked spice rack to accompany your high-end gadgets. We've already discussed alginate and calcium chloride -- the two chemicals needed for spherification. Another important gelling agent is methylcellulose, which congeals in hot water, then becomes liquid again as it cools. Emulsifiers are a must for maintaining a uniform dispersion of one liquid in another, such as oil in water. Two popular emulsifiers are soy lecithin and xanthan gum. Finally, more and more molecular gastronomists are turning to transglutanimase, a chemical that causes proteins to stick together. Because meat is protein, chefs can do inventive things with transglutaminase, such as removing all fat from a steak and gluing it back together or fashioning noodles from shrimp meat.
Now we're ready to put everything together. In the next section, we'll present three recipes for a molecular gastronomy-inspired meal.
Molecular Gastronomy Recipe Redux
It's not the goal of molecular gastronomists to reduce cooking to a collection of dry calculations and lifeless formulas. Rather inventive cooks are trying to make their creations even tastier, with the help of a new technique or by tweaking an old favorite. Let's see how they might transform this traditional meal.
Caviar, the classic upscale hors d'oeuvre, is prepared from the eggs of certain fish species. With a little kitchen chemistry, you can enjoy a new kind of caviar -- apple caviar -- first developed by Ferran Adrià, the chef of El Bulli Restaurant who experimented with spherification.
Here's the basic recipe you can find detailed instructions on the StarChefs Web site. Gather one-and-a-quarter pounds of golden apples, along with some alginate, baking soda, water and calcium chloride. Puree the golden apples, freeze for half an hour and then skim off the impurities and strain. Next, add the alginate to the apple juice while heating. Remove from heat and add the baking soda. Now prepare a calcium chloride solution by dissolving calcium chloride in water. Finally, use a syringe to add your apple juice mixture to the calcium chloride solution one drop at a time. As you do, you should see beads, or "caviar," form. Cook for a minute in boiling water, strain and rinse in a cold-water bath.
For the main course, we're going to have duck à l'orange. The classic French recipe directs you to roast the bird in an oven for about two hours. Roasting browns the meat and adds flavor through a series of chemical changes known as Maillard reactions. These reactions cause sugars and amino acids in the meat to cross-link. This, in turn, creates the compounds responsible for the pleasing color and flavor. Unfortunately, cooking meat at high temperatures also has some negative effects. Most notably, the muscle fibers contract and shorten, forcing out water and making the meat tougher.
A molecular gastronomist overcomes this by taking advantage of microwave technology. When meat is prepared in a microwave, it warms to 212 degrees F (100 degrees C) and remains at that temperature as long as it contains water. Microwaving meat is faster and more efficient than roasting, but doesn't produce the beneficial Maillard reactions. To get the best of both worlds, molecular gastronomists would brown the meat first in a skillet, inject Cointreau (an orange-flavored liqueur) into each piece with a syringe, then finish the cooking in the microwave.
Homemade vanilla ice cream is last. The best ice cream has abundant air bubbles and small ice crystals, which makes the finished product light and smooth. Traditionally, you would place your ingredients in an automatic ice cream maker to churn and freeze the mixture. Churning folds air into the material and breaks up ice crystals. But there's a limit to how cold an average machine can get. Most rely on your kitchen freezer, which reaches a temperature of 0 degrees F (-18 degrees C). A molecular gastronomist uses a simpler technique: He or she pours liquid nitrogen directly into the ingredients, which will flash freeze the mixture and create extra-small ice crystals that result in the smoothest ice cream possible.
If you're dying to make this classic dessert in a cutting-edge way, start with a basic recipe, like this one from the Food Network. After you've prepared the ice cream mixture, don your safety glasses and gloves and add liquid nitrogen while stirring with a wooden spoon. Stop when the ice cream reaches your desired thickness.
Up next, we'll talk about some chefs who have embraced molecular gastronomy.
Chef Antonio de Benedetto is on a quest, to change the world with his delicious Italian food. His apprentices are Mirko Piras, a young man born with Down syndrome, who dreams of becoming a great chef ‘just like Antonio’ and Jessica Berta, an ambitious waitress who’s also set her sights on a career among the pots and pans. Their tiny kitchen is the beating heart of a revolutionary restaurant and hotel like no other. Both are staffed by young men and women living with Down syndrome, who come from across Italy to train and work in hospitality, so they can take their place at the table of life.
Chef Antonio’s Recipes for Revolution, is their closely observed story, told in first person by Antonio, Mirko and Jessica. It’s a journey through their lives and loves, dreams and dramas.
The feature documentary is completed - supported by Screen Australia, Film Victoria, Antidote Films, Soundfirm, AndyInc, and Melbourne International Film Festival. The Australian Premiere will be MIFF 2021.
Masterchef&rsquos Robin Gill: &lsquoUnnecessarily brutal kitchen scarred me for life&rsquo
First impressions, unfortunately, are usually lasting. Fresh from my failed attempts at repeating an appalling Leaving Cert, I decided I would become a chef. I chose to dive right in at the deep end and landed a job at a highly regarded and extremely busy brasserie.
I had no regrets in passing up the chance to go to college as I felt I had some catching up to do and had wasted enough time and parents’ money over the years – this was my chance to show everyone I could do something and I would stick with it no matter what hopefully with some success.
I have now been cooking professionally for 18 years, in some of the best and toughest kitchens in Europe, and I can honestly say my early experience was the most unnecessarily brutal and has scarred me for life.
Keen as mustard and with a brand new set of knives, I set foot into the kitchen full of energy and excitement. The hustle and bustle of cooks from different lands running around frantically trying to get ready for the lunch service instantly drew me to this new world – this was the place for me. To say I was fresh is an understatement.
Within my first few weeks, I had several cuts and burns, and as my body adjusted to the 18-hour days I would literally fall into bed fully clothed only to wake up panicking and dreaming about the job. I loved how much I was learning and tried to write down everything, as the weeks and months flew by. I would make mistakes along the way, as you would expect. But what I did not expect was the behaviour in the kitchen.
There was a senior team of about five guys, from head chef down to CDP [chef de partie] – they were the pirates running the ship and seemed quite close. It started with silly pranks such as asking me to run to the basement walk-in to count produce, and on my return sneering and making degrading remarks.
Then there was the aggression, where I had hot soup thrown at me, then forced to clean the mess. For no apparent reason, they all seemed to suddenly dislike me. When I asked a question, I was either threatened and/or screamed at. The quiet evenings were the worst as they had more time to be cruel.
Once, they were all standing around a bucket of garlic, peeling it down. I walked up to try to take part and reached in to grab some garlic. They all suddenly stopped chatting, began to glare at me and the horrific intimidating silence was broken by one of the group calling me a “f***ing queer”. I walked away while they were all laughing, and struggled to hold the tears back. This continued for months, and I dealt with it by retelling the stories to my pals and turning it into humour.
We were permanently understaffed, as many of the new cooks would not last the day. So, I began to move up the ranks, to improve and manage my own section.
‘It is a Friday lunchtime with 250 covers on the book and there is a backlog of checks that we cannot keep up with. One of the cooks screams at me and throws me four duck breasts and asks me to get them on cooking. I am nervous as I do not know how, so I throw a couple of pans on full blast and add two huge ladles of oil. The oil instantly starts to smoke.
I suddenly recall having seen the duck breast going into a warm pan with no oil, skin-side down, and go back to question the chef. He screams at me to “just cook the f***ing thing” so I panic and throw one breast in first, a flame spurts up and I throw in the second one. The oil splashes up to my neck, chin and face and hot oil covers one-third of my face. I’m rushed to hospital.
I’m out of the kitchen for two weeks and paid for one. The doctor tells me I should take two months. Upon my return to the kitchen, the men are standing around my section reading my recipe book and making jokes. I grab my book back and one of them barks: “Have you got the recipe for the duck?” To which they all crack up laughing.
In the evening, one of the waitresses asks me about my burn and a chef shouts: “Get the f**k away from him, he has Aids, just look at his f***ing face.” Embarrassed, I go back to my station.’
I wanted to prove that I could cope and do my job . . . before I left. That day came when I was finishing a week where I had successfully smashed every service, running a two-man section solo. I had cleared a section to set up an area where I could lay plates to prepare for the slamming we were expecting.
A chef grabbed me and asked me: “What the f**k are you doing, you retard, f**k off over there and strain the stocks.” That was it! I had had enough. I had worked incredibly hard and was mirroring what a senior guy had done the week before that helped us get the food out in time. I threw down my apron and told him to strain it himself. I walked down to change and gather my things, and completely broke down.
As I write this, I am fighting back the tears. There is no reason for this kind of behaviour – it didn’t make me a better cook. They couldn’t staff the kitchen and the team all broke apart a few months after, with the head chef walking out.
Thankfully, this is not commonplace, but is does happen. If you asked me to name them, I honesty couldn’t. It’s as though I’ve blocked them out.
My career improved from then on. I worked in better kitchens and worked harder and harder and travelled the world. They did not stop me from sticking with it.
I have set up my own restaurants where there is the most incredible warm and loving atmosphere. The businesses are run with passion and hard work – without fear. There is no bullying and there never will be. Everyone is as important as the next and everyone has a say. Ideas and creativity are embraced. The people I am blessed to work with are not my “staff”, they are my family and they know that.
This article appears in a special Food Month glossy winter food and drink guide. Free with The Irish Times on Friday, November 4th
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Home cooking: Why NYC chefs are opening their houses for dinners and backyard brunches
Chef José DeJesus hosts a public dinner series dubbed "Breaking Bread" in the Bronx. Photo Credit: Steven Simione for The Trevor Project
Being friends with a chef likely has lots of perks: restaurant connections, food trend insight and of course, dinner invitations. But even if you don’t have any best-bud culinary masters in your life, you can now dine at their homes.
As supper clubs become more popular, and sites like EatWith and ChefsFeed (formerly Feastly) gain traction, people are looking for more special, individual dining experiences. And New York chefs are following suit by opening up their homes to the public, with private dinners in their one-oven kitchens to brunches in their Brooklyn backyards.
Cooking in their own spaces can allow for more comfort and creativity — as well as struggles coordinating family schedules — but no matter what, it always ignites their favorite experience: unifying strangers with food.
Chef Edouard Massih recently hosted his first ticketed brunch at his home in Greenpoint. Photo Credit: Edouard Massih
Personal space, professional duties
Chef José DeJesus started hosting public dinners at his home in the Bronx, the borough he grew up in, about two years ago. Starting a supper club had always been a goal, and after he completed “Hell’s Kitchen” season 18 he had a newfound sense of confidence and determination. But, as he scouted locations throughout NYC priced at $1,000 per night, it seemed like it wouldn’t be cost-effective.
At the time, he and his in-laws had just bought a three-family house in Morris Park. They had to do a lot of renovations, so his wife suggested they center the kitchen design around his supper clubs. So, they cut out a window in the wall between the kitchen and dining room, where two guests can sit and watch as food is being prepared and interact with the chefs. They also have a table in the kitchen that seats six additional guests.
He spent the past year hosting pop-ups around the Bronx and Manhattan and plans to bring the series back to his home in July.
“It’s been a lot of fun, being able to create and giving people an experience they can’t get anywhere else, especially in the Bronx,” he said of the series, dubbed “Breaking Bread.” “People are shocked to watch us prepare a seven-course meal for six people on four burners and one oven.”
DeJesus said it’s also comfortable using the same appliances he knows really well, and not having to travel with equipment. The only really blurred lines come with choosing dates that work with his family’s schedule — and not inconveniencing his in-laws and children if they come down to see a bunch of strangers in their kitchen.
Chef Edouard Massih is a bit newer to the game — he just hosted his first ticketed at-home brunch in his Greenpoint backyard on June 15. He always had casual get-togethers with friends in his yard — which he calls “a hidden gem in the middle of Greenpoint” — and they suggested he share his space and recipes with more people.
Diners enjoy a brunch in chef Edouard Massih’s Greenpoint backyard. Photo Credit: Edouard Massih
He already had permits in place for his catering business, which he does full time, and aside from that, he had to consider setup, décor and the one thing he couldn’t control: the weather. Luckily he was met with a gorgeous day.
“I am my most creative when I cook professionally in a personal space because I can test more recipes and ideas whenever they pop into my head,” he said.
“For research and development, it’s helpful to have all my ingredients, recipes and cookbooks in one place. My kitchen transforms into a huge playground with all the utensils and equipment needed to bring an original and inventive meal to life.”
What to serve
For Chef David Burke — who has started more than 20 highly praised restaurant concepts, including the acclaimed Park Avenue Café and the David Burke Tavern on the Upper East Side — the food possibilities are what drew him most to the idea of a more intimate dinner setting. The David Burke Tavern is the bottom floor of a town house, and he lives on the upper floors. He recently decided to convert his home office on the middle floor to be a small dining space.
Burke and his team cook in the restaurant kitchen and carry the food to the second floor, where they explain details one-on-one about the history of dish, the inspiration, the cooking process, etc. It also allows him and his staff more flexibility and creativity of ingredients.
“If something is ultra seasonal, or too fancy for everyday American dining, we can make it for this,” he explained. “Things like sweetbread, quail or rabbit, that won’t really sell on everyday menus. Or more complex dishes that are too difficult to execute when we are really busy in the restaurant.”
Chef David Burke converted his office at the David Burke Tavern, where he also lives, to be a small dining space. Photo Credit: Astrid Stawiarz
For Massih, the setting influenced his brunch menu directly.
“I wanted my menu to complement the outdoors by using more seasonal produce, highlighting fresh veggies, and showcasing zesty flavors,” he said. “For example, I offered a seasonal homemade pickled board with a variety of goods like pineapple, cauliflower, watermelon rind, tomatoes … Then I paired it with some light Mediterranean cheeses such as goat cheese, feta, and labneh to create a colorful summer rainbow spread.”
An intimate feel
All three chefs attest the at-home meals allow for a much more personal experience for diners as they form connections with others in a small space over food. It’s educational as well, as they can openly ask chefs questions about the food they’ve prepared and techniques for cooking.
“Being a home environment, we want people to feel that we are genuinely concerned about providing value, allowing them to learn, be fed well and get knowledge,” Burke said. At his dinners, he always has accompanying wine pairings by a winemaker, who informs on that level, as well.
Massih was equally impressed by how much people connected over food, saying they “came in as strangers and left as friends.” It probably helped that everything was served “family-style.”
Guests enjoy a meal made by chef José DeJesus. Photo Credit: Cecilia Burgos
“It truly was my dream come true to invite strangers into my backyard, cook for them, and share my love for Lebanese food with my local community,” he said. “I have been living in Greenpoint for over five years now and it was my first time ever sharing my space and recipes with locals.”
Guest Marcy Krever, who found out about the event via Instagram, felt the same from the other perspective.
“I loved the experience … I met a fellow who works in hospital ORs, a half-Iranian, half-Colombian woodworker who’s also a bartender (I’ll definitely go to his bar), Edouard’s cousin from Australia, and a host of others too,” she said of the social aspect. “The prevailing attitude seemed to be to form a community, rather than silo ourselves with the partners and friends with whom we’d arrived.”
Book Club: North, The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland // Bacalo Potatoes with Carrots and Fennel
The Book: Iceland is at the very top of my travel wishlist. The dramatic landscapes and vast, untouched wilderness have me aching to throw my hiking boots in a bag and hop on a plane across the Atlantic. In reality, I’ll be getting on planes to a lot of different places in the next few months – Colombia, Chile, and Charleston for starters – but none of them will be going to Iceland. I certainly can’t complain about the wonderful places I will be going, but that doesn’t mean I can’t daydream about Iceland at the same time. The book North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland, is one way to amp up my daydreaming. It’s a cookbook, sure, but I have to say that it feels like more than a cookbook to me. The interviews with food producers and stories of life on the island are as important to the book as the recipes themselves. The book is organized not by meal or by region, but by producer – a chapter for the arctic char smoker, one for the salt maker, and for the birch and mushroom forager. It was truly fascinating to learn about rugbraud, the hearty rye bread that is baked in underground geyser ovens, and about Siggi Henningson, a fisherman who spends his afternoons rapelling over cliffs to collect seabird eggs, not for himself, but for the entire town. The structure of the book and the stories paint a clear picture of where Iceland’s food comes from, on both land and sea.
I knew in advance that many of the recipes in North would be too esoteric to ever make at home, but was thoroughly intrigued anyway. The flavors throughout the book are consistent and coherent: smoke, salt, rich dairy, bright pickles, oily fish, and grassy herbs, the foods of a cold and isolated island. The fact that some ingredients may be hard (or impossible) to find outside of Iceland (seabird eggs, anyone?) is readily acknowledged, and many substitutions are offered – the authors have even provided an email you can reach out to with questions. The recipes also skew towards fine dining more than rustic eating – one of the authors is, after all, the chef at Dill. But although I know that I will never go to the trouble of making Lumpfish Roe with Smoked Mayonnaise, Beer Vinegar Jelly, and Horseradish Cream (smoke your own oil to make your own smoked mayonnaise, make your own beer vinegar and then turn it into jelly, you get the picture), other recipes can certainly be tweaked to fit into my repertoire – like Fennel Salad with Cottage Cheese and Spiced Nuts, or Poached Cod Cheeks in Roasted Cod Soup. Whether or not I find myself cooking from this book regularly, it’s so full of general inspiration that it deserves a place on my bookshelf, esoteric recipes or not.
The Food: One of the recipes that felt approachable enough to try was for Bacalo Potatoes with Fennel Ribbons and Sorrel Ash. I had to be a bit generous with my interpretation of this recipe, taking inspiration as much from the headnote and author Jody Eddy’s description of the ways they ate this throughout their trip, as from the recipe itself. The base of this recipe is creamy mashed potatoes mixed with bacalo, or salt cod, a combination sometimes called brandade. As written, the potatoes and cod are served topped with sorrel ash, roasted carrots, fennel ribbons, soft boiled eggs, and freshly grated horseradish. Since both sorrel and horseradish are hard to come by without planning ahead, I nixed them and decided to take a more rustic approach to the meal – serving the mash on hearty whole grain bread spread with mustard (a decent replacement for the pungent horseradish). I also skipped the eggs, as once you smear potatoes on toast you don’t feel like you need that many more things on top. Although I usually try to stick to the letter when testing recipes for cookbook reviews, here, I don’t feel bad about it. Eddy writes ” One night, Gunnar served it on toast another, he substituted smoked haddock, an ideal replacement for the cod. The profusion of herbs he added was dictated by whatever we foraged that day.” It’s a recipe that is more idea than science. I’ve written it here the way I made it, inspired by the instructions in North.
Recipe Shortlist: Salted Cod Tartar, Dill Mayo, Dulse Powder Parsnips Three Ways with Arctic Char Roe Cauliflower, Seabird Eggs, Burned Butter Roasted Lamb Shoulder, Braised Cabbage, and Pickled Onions Smoked Lamb with Skyr and Nutmeg Stone Bramble and Cottage Cheese with Whey Caramel and Whey Granita Red Beet and Rosemary Sorbet, Almond Cake, and Sugared Almonds
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Disclaimer: I received a review copy of North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland from Ten Speed Press, but I was not otherwise compensated and all thought and opinions are my own.
‘What better education could a chef have?’ – St John alumni reflect on their time there
Ravneet Gill, pastry chef and founder of Countertalk: St John 2015-2016
I was about to leave the restaurant industry when I applied for a baking job at St John. It was meant to be an interim position but I loved it so much that I ended up staying for a year and a half – it made me want to continue working as a chef.
We used to joke that St John cares more about their staff than their customers. You’re encouraged to be friends and socialise outside of work. They make great staff food – toad in the hole, mushrooms on toast, carrot and coriander soup, a full English breakfast every Monday – and after your shift you can have a drink at the bar, cost price. The ethos seems to have always been there – I think it filtered down from Fergus Henderson. He’s always very approachable, always at the bar, open to talk to anybody.
Since then I’ve worked at a couple of restaurants started by St John alumni and they had the same ethos. Last year I set up an organisation called Countertalk, which is all about staff welfare and getting people in hospitality better treatment. It’s definitely possible. St John is proof of that.
James Lowe, chef-owner of Lyle’s: St John Bread & Wine 2006-2011
When I first ate there in 2003, the choices they were making weren’t obvious. At the time everyone was obsessed with Gordon Ramsay and super-fancy food whereas Fergus’s food was very bare-boned, based on flavour and simplicity. Nose-to-tail cookery is what St John has become synonymous with, but I’d go further and say the food is very commonsense. That’s the way we describe our food at Lyle’s. We’re very careful with what we throw away. There’s a real focus on, is it true to its ingredients? Have we made sure it’s not too fancy? These are all things carried over from St John.
Within six months of starting at Bread & Wine as sous chef, I ended up taking over the kitchen. I felt untested, but it was an opportunity to learn. I always thought of it as my own restaurant – and now at Lyle’s, I really want the people I work with to feel like it’s their restaurant too. I love Fergus’s idea that people within a restaurant are what give it character. They hired people based on personalities rather than CVs, and I learned to see the value in that. It makes for a more interesting team, and hopefully better food.
When I started cooking, I was told that kitchens were environments where bullying was rife and you had to work mad hours. It was easy for me not to go down that route: Fergus didn’t have bullying in the kitchen St John had a six-shift week. They just challenged all the norms.
Lee Tiernan, chef-owner of Black Axe Mangal: St John Bread & Wine 2003-2013
I was at catering college in south London in 2003 and needed to do a two-week stage in a restaurant to complete my qualification. I called St John to see if they’d take me. I didn’t think for one minute that they’d offer me a full-time position, because I didn’t know my arse from my elbow, but four days into my stint, one of the chefs handed in his notice and the head chef Ed Lewis said: “Do you want a job?”
One of the first things I had to do was butcher a sirloin and a shoulder of beef. I was shaving and brining pig heads and roasting bone marrow, all sorts of stuff. I remember butchering a Middle White pig one day and throwing the skin away. Ed came over and said: “We don’t throw anything away here really, nothing gets wasted.” He showed me a box in the walk-in fridge full of skin and salt and said: “If we have a busy night and I need a starter, I’ve got one here.” As Fergus says, if you’re going to kill an animal, it’s only polite to eat the whole thing. What better education could a young chef have?
I left in the autumn of 2013, by which time I was head chef at Bread & Wine, but if I’m honest I don’t think I’ve really ever left. I still feel like part of the family. I call Trevor “uncle”, I call Fergus “boss”, and I’ve gotten to know them on a more personal level. I’d like to think that Trevor and Fergus are proud of how my wife Kate, who worked at St John for nine years, and I have carried ourselves since leaving. You don’t want to let your parents down, you want them to be proud of you, and I want Trevor and Fergus to be proud of us as well.
In a large bowl, whisk together Miracle Whip, milk, sugar, vinegar and salt.
Add carrot and cabbage. Mix to coat cabbage with the liquid mixture.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
TASTING NOTES: The cabbage flavor stands out with this slaw. The creamy tangy sauce is more complementary than dominant.
EQUIPMENT: Large bowl, measuring cup, 2 measuring spoons and large mixing spoon. Add a knife or grater and cutting board or food processor if buying heads of cabbage instead of bags of shredded blends.
PRACTICALITY: If you buy shredded cabbage or have a food processor, this coleslaw lands on the easy end of the practicality scale. If you're shredding or chopping by hand, it inches into the "this feels like work" end of the scale.
HACKS/INSIGHTS: In all honesty, the amount of cabbage is a suggestion, so don't sweat getting it to the perfect amount.
Use less cabbage or make more of the liquid if you like a creamier coleslaw.
This recipe needs time to develop the coleslaw flavor. Plan accordingly. Make it the night before serving.
AIR FRYER WISCONSINITES UNITE: What else should I be making in my air fryer? Brats? Cheese curds? A kringle? Send me your favorite recipes, tips and tricks for making the most of this kitchen gadget.
Please keep sending your questions, feedback and recipes you'd like reviewed. I'm always happy to consider a favorite family recipe for the No Budget Cooking Series.
ABOUT THIS SERIES: I test recipes found on food packages in my very average kitchen with my moderately above average cooking talent and meh presentation skills. I'll provide some insights and basic cooking tips. If you don't find these stories useful, hopefully you find them entertaining.