Archive for the ‘recommendations’ Category

Notable new books from 2013

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

books-2013-collage
Browsing through books published in the last year (+ some from 2012), these are the ones I found particularly interesting in the field of food and science:
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Nordic food lab

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013


Tables set and decorated for the best lunch at a scientific conference ever!

I mentioned in my blog post on “The Emerging Science of Gastrophysics” symposium held at the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters in Copenhagen that we were treated with what was for me the best conference lunch ever. Later on the same day we even had a chance to visit the Nordic food lab, located on a house boat anchored up in Christianshavn, right next to restaurant noma. Here are some pictures and impressions from the lunch and the following visit to the Nordic food lab. (more…)

Harvard science & cooking lectures 2012

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

The popular Science & Cooking lectures at Harvard are back again (in fact they started September 4th). Classes are filmed and freely available via Youtube and iTunes. Like in previous years the public lecture series is given alongside the course “Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to the Science of Soft Matter” which is reserved for currently enrolled Harvard students. The course is a joint effort of The Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (“SEAS”) and the Alícia Foundation. The line-up for 2012 is quite impressive:
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Gastrophysics symposium in Copenhagen

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

On August 27-28 the symposium “The Emerging Science of Gastrophysics” was held at the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters in Copenhagen. The symposium poster said “interdisciplinary”, and with presentations by scientists in fields ranging from physics and chemistry to neuroscience and psychology I think it lived up to its name. In this post I share with you what I found interesting and useful from my own, subjective perspective. I must admit that I didn’t understand everything presented. Perhaps this is even a general challenge for the whole field. It illustrates how difficult it is to do science that is simple enough for chefs to understand yet scientific enough for scientists. César Vega and Ruben Mercadé-Prieto’s study on egg yolks is perhaps one of the best examples of a paper that manages to balance the two. A couple of the presentations were very successful at this, and I think that if we continue to meet at similar symposiums we will see many more papers that manage to catch the attention of chefs and scientists at the same time.

Throughout the symposium (more…)

The Emerging Science of Gastrophysics

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Next week, on August 27-28, an interdisciplinary symposium entitled “The Emerging Science of Gastrophysics” will be held at the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters in Copenhagen. I’m sorry to inform you that participation is by invitation only. However, having been included among the invited speakers, I promise to report back here with my impressions from the symposium. Considering the seminar on molecular gastronomy in 2011, the many Danish authors in the 2010 review on molecular gastronomy, the Nordic Food Lab (and their links to Noma) and now the upcoming symposium on gastrophysics, one can easily argue that Copenhagen is becoming an international hotspot for those interested in “the scientific study of deliciousness”.

From the program: (more…)

Maximizing Food Flavor by Speeding Up the Maillard Reaction

Monday, June 4th, 2012


Is there a way to speed up the browning of onions? (Photo: Frying onion from Bigstock)

An idea that struck me once was to add baking soda to browning onions. I chopped an onion, melted butter in a frying pan, and added the onions together with a pinch of baking soda. And voilà (as Louis-Camille Maillard himself would have said): the color of the onions changed faster than without the baking soda. The taste of the browned onions was remarkably sweet and caramel-like, and compared with conventionally browned onions, they were softer—almost a little mushy. By the addition of baking soda, I had changed the outcome of an otherwise trivial and everyday chemical reaction, and the result seemed interesting from a gastronomic perspective!

The idea of the baking soda addition was not taken out of the blue but based on (more…)

Modernist cuisine at home available for pre-order

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

What a surprise to see tweets about the new Modernist cuisine at home which will be available for sale in October and is available for pre-order already! Interestingly this book is not an extract for food enthusiasts of the 2400-page Modernist cuisine. Rather, it’s a new book focusing on equipment available to enthusiasts (sous vide is included, but no rotary evaporators or centrifuges), techniques and recipes. There are more than 400 recipes, all of which are new. The printing quality is the same as in Modernist cuisine, so while you’ll think twice before turning the pages with greasy fingers it’s a good thing that the single volume is accompanied by a spiral bound kitchen manual on washable paper!
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The new journal Flavour went live today

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

It’s quite amazing that two journals so relevant to gastronomy and science have gone live within little more than a month. Last month we saw the appearance of International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science, and today the first few articles in Flavour appeared, a few days ahead of the official launch event on March 28. If you’re in London you should consider attending the seminar “Flavour and the new nordic cuisine” jointly hosted by the London Gastronomy Seminars, the Centre for the Study of the Senses and BioMed Central, the publisher of Flavour.

The articles that appeared today include a paper on umami from the Nordic food lab, a study which shows that you take smaller bites of food with a strong aroma and finally an interesting paper exploring why you often perceive taste and smell as one. Oh, one more thing – did I mention that Flavour is an Open Access journal? I suggest you check out their content section immediately!

First issue of International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science is out

Saturday, February 18th, 2012


I first wrote about this journal in March 2009 and finally it is here, the International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science. The official launch of the paper version was during Madrid Fusion 2012, but last week the electronic version became available. All 10 articles, nearly 80 pages in total, are available for free download. At the moment I’m not sure if IJGFS will remain an open source journal, but let’s hope so! I see no point in listing all the contributions here, just head over to the table of contents and start reading!

Recreational kitchen mathematics: Cookie tessellations

Thursday, January 19th, 2012


Is there a way to avoid all that extra dough in between the cookies? (Photo: Christmas Tree Cookie Cutter from Bigstock)

It should come as no surprise that food, chemistry and mathematics meet in baking. For once I will leave the chemistry aside for a while and turn to the mathematical aspects of baking. More precisely I will delve into geometrical problems encountered in baking. When cutting cookies from a rolled out dough or placing cookies on a sheet for baking you actually attempt to solve a mathematical problem known as a packing problem. The purpose is to maximize the distance between the cookies and maximize the size of the cookies, paying attention that the cookies should not touch. Many will perhaps start with a square packing (see below), but soon figure out that a hexagonal packing will fit even more cookies onto the rolled out dough or onto the baking sheet (especially when the dough/sheet is large compared to the cookies). The optimum way of placing 2-17 circles in a square are shown below (and the solution for up to 10.000 circles is also available).

My challenge for you however is a different one as I’m interested in eliminating the leftover dough when cutting cookies. To achieve this the cookies cannot be circular. Using a square cookie cutter (or simply a knife) would be the easiest way to leave no gaps, but how cool are square cookies? What I’m really looking for are cookie tessallations which are aesthetically pleasing, and at the same time transferable to a baking sheet. Oh yeah: a tessallation “is the process of creating a two-dimensional plane using the repetition of a geometric shape with no overlaps and no gap” according to Wikipedia. So – no gaps – no leftover cookie dough! (more…)