Thursday, June 4, 2015

Iron Chef - Cupcakes

Chocolate Macchiato Cupcakes


Cupcake -
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup strongly brewed coffee, cooled to warm
1/4 cup milk
1 1/3 tablespoon natural vanilla coffee creamer
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
6 large egg yolks
1 rounded teaspoon instant espresso

Whip Topping -
1 carton of heavy whipping cream
1 tsp of vanilla


1. Place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Place paper liners in muffin tin.
2. Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Combine coffee, milk, and coffe creamer in a cup and set aside.
3. Cream butter and sugar together in the stand mixer (with the paddle attachment) on medium speed, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat yolks in one at a time.
4. Reduce speed to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture, then half of the liquid mixture. Scrape down sides, then beat in another third of flour mixture, then the rest of the liquid, then the remaining flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl and divide batter in half.
5. Leave half of batter as is. Stir instant espresso into the other half.
6. Drop batter into prepared cupcake liners by putting the espresso batter in as bottom half, and spooning the coffee (non-espresso) batter on top.
7. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, before removing them to a wire rack. Cool completely before frosting.

Whip topping-
1. Freeze clean metal mixing bowl for 10 minutes before-hand to make whipping faster
2. Combine ingredients into bowl and whip for 7-10 minutes or until thick.
3. Use spoon to top cupcakes and enjoy.

The Science of Whip:
Cream is that fat-enriched portion of milk that rises (or is forced by centrifugation) to the top of milk. Milk is a "colloid," a substance in which small, insoluble particles are suspended throughout another substance. In this case, those particles are fat globules—little droplets of fat—distributed in a water-based solution. If fresh, un-homogenized milk is left undisturbed, the lighter-than-water fat globules will eventually float to the top and gather together, where they can be skimmed away from the "skim milk" left on the bottom. "Creaminess" is kind of its own sensation; somehow it's fatty without being greasy. For that, you can thank emulsion: the large amounts of tiny fat globules suspended in a small amount of liquid. These things are really, really small; we're talking micrometers, way too tiny for our clunky tongues to distinguish as individual particles. Dense crowds of these minuscule globules is what allows for that seamless, luxurious mouth feel.

Iron Chef - Baked Health Chips

Baked Parsnip and Sweet Potato Chips

1 small sweet potato
2 parsnips
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cocoa rub (see chicken recipe here: )

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Peal parsnip, you can leave the peel on the sweet potato.
3. Cut veggies into good sized sliced
4. In a bowl, add the chips, olive oil and spices.
5. Use your hand to make sure all chips are coated evenly.
6. On a foil lined baking sheet, spread evenly and cook for 25-30 minutes depending on your oven.
7. Remove and serve

The Science of Baking Vegetables:
The vegetables cook quickly—many vegetables take only 20-25 minutes—but they still have a chance to brown nicely on the outside by the time they become tender inside. It’s very important that you cut the vegetables in pieces of about the same size. Unevenly sized pieces won’t roast and brown in the same amount of time, and you’ll end up with both over-roasted and under-roasted vegetables. If the vegetable pieces cover the pan sparsely, arrange them more toward the edges of the pan. Pieces near the edge brown better due to conduction.

Iron Chef - Chicken

Grilled Cocoa Rub Chicken

1/4 cup sea salt
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
Chicken thighs or breasts - 1 to 4 lbs*, de-bone or buy boneless.


Making the rub -
1. Stir the salt, cocoa powder, white sugar, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, chili powder, and black pepper in a small bowl until combined. Store in an airtight container.
2. Rub good amount of the spice mixture onto a serving of meat, and put into fridge for 3-24 hours to marinate.

Cooking the Chicken -
1. Take chicken out of the fridge, place your cast iron grill pan on burner and turn stove on medium heat, allow pan to get warm (good way to test is hold the back of your hand about 5 inches from the pan and start to feel heat within 10 seconds).
2. Put rubbed chicken onto pan and cook on one side for 10 minutes, flip and let cook for another 10 minutes.
3. Flip again (going the other direction to get opposite grill lines) and cook for 5 mins, flip and cook for another 5.
4. Ensure chicken is done and enjoy.

The Science of Flavor:
Marinade is a mixture of seasonings used to flavor or tenderize food. Depending on the cut and type of meat, it may need a little assistance to bring it to a palatable range of tenderness. Certain plant and fungi enzymes and acids can break down muscle and connective proteins in meats, this can be done with marinade. Direct contact is the important point, since it is necessary for the chemical reaction to occur. This means that soaking a piece of meat in a marinade will only penetrate just so far into the surface of the meat. Puncturing the meat for the marinade to penetrate gives an uneven result, with the further undesirable side effect of allowing the meat to lose even more juices while cooking, therefore it's not recommended.

*If small amount of chicken is used keep leftover rub in airtight container, there will be a lot.

Cast Iron Grill Pan we used!

Iron Chef - Chili

Chili con Verdes

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onions, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
2 large carrots, diced
2 medium parsnips, diced
1 red pepper, diced
3 small zucchini, cut in small chunks
3-4 large kale leaves, stems removed, leaves roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt and pepper
4 cups pureed tomato
3 cups cooked red kidney beans
3 cup water

1. Add olive oil to large pot with remaining 1 teaspoon of the cumin seeds and the mustard seeds.  Cook on medium-low for 1 min until seeds begin to pop.
3. Add your all chopped vegetables (except the zucchini and kale) with cocoa powder, cinnamon, chili powder and good pinch of salt and pepper to the pot and sauté on medium for 10 minutes until vegetables begin to soften.
4. Add kidney beans, and tomato puree. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 mins.
6.  Add zucchini and 1 cup water. Cook for another 20 mins.
7. Add chopped kale leaves and remove from heat. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Kale leaves will become a beautiful vibrant green color.
8. Serve in bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro (optional).

Science of chili:

Day 9 - Meringue

Mile-High Lemon Meringue Tarts


Lemon Filling-
1 1/3 cup white sugar
4 tbsp corn starch
1 1/3 cup water
yolks from 2 large eggs (save whites)
2/3 fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp freshly graded lemon peel
2 tbsp stick butter
2 packages of ready-to-fill single-serve gram cracker crusts

whites from 8 large eggs
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sugar


Lemon Filling-
1. whisk sugar and cornstarch in the top bowl of a double boiler to mix
2. whisk in water, egg yolks, and lemon juice until smooth
3. Place bowl over double boiler, stirring often with the whisk
4. Boil, stirring constantly, 1 minute or until filling is translucent and thick.
5. Remove from heat. Add lemon peel and butter; stir until butter melts.
6. Pour fill each cracker crust completely full and put onto a rimmed baking sheet

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees frighten
2. Beat eggs whites, vinegar and vanilla in medium metal or copper bowl with a whisk until soft peaks form when whisk is lifted
3. Gradually beat in sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, increasing whisking speed and beating well after each addition until sugar dissolves
4. Beat 2 minutes longer or until stiff peaks form when beaters are lifted
5. Mound meringue high on each tart, spread to edge of crust, then swirl with back of a teaspoon.
6. Bake 20 minutes or until meringue is browned an instant-read thermometer inserted in center of meringue registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Cool completely on a wire rack, then refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 8.
8. If you wish to share one, use a small sharp knife dipped in cold water to cut through the meringue smoothly.

The Science of Meringue:
Just using water will not make the eggs into a foam. Egg whites are already 90% water and 10% protein. These proteins curl and fold together from being large chains of amino acids. Some of the amino acids will bond with water and some will repel water. The molecules while whipped bounce around. Add you whip the eggs it creates air pocket forming bubbles. These bubble make the foam.

Lemon Filling

Meringue topping


Ready to eat

Day 8 - Pizza Sauce

Ultimate Pizza Sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves
1 (8 oz) can + 2 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
6 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
3 tsp dried basil
3 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 small bay leaf
1 tsp fennel seed

1. In a large skillet, melt butter with the oil. Add the onion, celery and garlic and saute until soft and transparent.
2. Add tomato sauce and tomato paste and stir until smooth
3. Add remaining ingredients and bring to slow simmer.
4. Simmer fro 30-60 minutes.
5. Remove the bay leaf and spread sauce on your prepared pizza dough.

Science of being Saucy:
Tomato sauce adds a “bright” flavor to a pizza. That brightness is the acidity found in tomatoes. This acidity is why some people experience acid reflux after eating pizza. If that happens to you, add a tiny pinch of baking soda to your tomato sauce. This will help neutralize the acid in the tomatoes. It’s all in the layering of the dough and the sauce, too. The contrast between the crispiness of the dough and the dampness of the tomato sauce is irresistible, therefore, more is better.

Sauce used on pizza

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Day 8 - Cheese

Mozzarella Cheese

1 gallon milk, not ultra-pasteurized
1 1/2 tsp citric acid powder, dissolved in 1/4 cup room-temperature water
1/4 tsp liquid rennet, dissolved in 1/4 cup room-temperature water
1 tsp cheese (flake) salt or kosher salt

1. Pour the milk into a large pot. On medium-low heat slowly to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir slowly and continuously to keep from scalding.
2. Once the milk reached 55 degrees, pour in the citric acid mixture and stir well. Keep heating.
3. When the milk hits 88 degrees, add the rennet mixture and stir well. Right around this time the milk will start to thicken, and you'll see little white flecks sticking to your spoon as it starts curdling.
4. Once the milk is in the 90 degree range, it should be noticeably curdled. Stir very gently.
5. Once between 95 and 105 degrees, the curds will be thick. Turn off the heat once they start separating from the sides of the pot.
6. Let the curds rest for 5 minutes.
7. With a perforated or slotted spoon, ladle the curds into a bowl. Pour any excess whey back in the pot.
8. Using a microwave, heat the curds for 60 seconds. Drain off any excess whey, then fold the curds over once, then once again. This is to distribute the heat evenly
9. Microwave again for 30-40 seconds, pour off the whey
10. Sprinkle salt on cheese, fold over twice and back into the microwave for 30-40 seconds. Pour off any excess whey.
11. Stretch the cheese and fold it back on itself. If it tears its not hot enough; just repeat microwave process. Continue to stretch it a few times for a more stringy cheese.
12.Roll cheese into small balls. If you are going to refrigerate the cheese for later, drop it in a bowl of ice water to get the temperature down quickly. Otherwise, just dig in while it's still warm.

The Science of the Cheesy: Milk is made up of spherical globules of milk fat trapped in a three-dimensional matrix of milk protein, which is called casein (or casein micelles). Most of the milk-water, along with lactose and some minerals, are removed as liquid, called whey, during cheese making. In most milk, casein micelles are the milk proteins that contain a pH level of 6.5 and it carries a negative charge. We want a low acidity, i.e. higher pH, which results in a cheese that stretches and melts well. Heating the milk and adding food grade citric acid to the milk help reduce the pH level to between 5.2 - 5.4, which is what you want when making mozzarella cheese. Getting your milk’s pH right at the curd stage will mean you will have a higher success rate making mozzarella when you’re get to the heat and knead stage. When rennet is then introduced to the milk, the rennet collapses the outer layer, or walls, of the casein micelles.  This means there is nothing in between the casein micelles to keep them apart. They bind together, condense the fat cells and drain the whey, making a protein chain. The stretch properties of mozzarella depend on the interactions between casein micelles. The more the casein network is interconnected, the more the cheese stretches.

Finished product

Cheese shredded over top of pizza