In the News: Molecular Gastronomy for the Home Kitchen!

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

By now, we’ve all heard of Ferran Adria and his kind of high-tech cooking that uses foamers and thermocirculators alongside pots and pans. Even with new books out by Adria and other food science-y chefs, this kind of cooking is largely inaccessible to most home cooks. Or is it? Take a look at what Andreas Viestad of the Washington Post has been doing…

Running behind schedule on a dinner party he was throwing for friends, Viestad says that he borrowed a few molecular gastronomy tricks to bring everything together. While this is nothing on par with what you might be served at El Bulli, there are some ideas we can take back to our own kitchens!

For a beef filet that he had been hoping to cook slowly, Viestad instead turned to sous vide cooking to get it done a little faster. Normally, you need some pretty hefty (and expensive) equipment for this kind of submersion cooking, but Viestad reasoned that the water from his kitchen tap was hot enough to do the job.

He submerged the vacuum-packed filet in the hot water and by the time he was ready for it, the internal temperature registered at 120°. After searing it over high heat, the temperature had risen to an acceptable 130°, giving him perfect medium-rare beef to serve his guests.

His quick dessert was less food science and more about modifying its presentation. Instead of baking his chocolate custards to firmness, he put them in the freezer. By the time he was ready to serve dessert, the sides had frozen to a pudding-consistency and the middles were still creamy. A bit of espresso poured the middle and he had a four-star dessert with a lot less effort.

Aside from these ideas for kitchen short cuts, one of the biggest things we’re taking away from this article is its lesson on flexibility. With guests arriving in an hour and dinner not even started, Viestad was able to let go of his original plan for cooking the meal and come up with new ideas on the spot. We’re not sure we’d be quite so cool in the same situation!

What do you think about his last-minute techniques?

• Read the full article: “Invite Science to the Party” by Andreas Viestad, Washington Post, 1/21/09