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Use Instagram to reverse engineer food

Leo Kent of Humans Invent writes about a new free service in Sweden that uses Instagram to find out how to make Asian food.

Ask CT Food is a new service people can use through Instagram to find out the ingredients and methods of cooking Asian food. If you’re at a restaurant and want to know how to make the Sushi that you’re about to eat, you can take a photo of the dish and CT Food will tell you how. We will then see the picture and, based on what the question is, reply as quickly as possible Luong Lu, who, along with co-creative Farnaz Sajadi and web developer Nikola Romcevic, created this concept for CT Food, says, “It is a very personal, almost 24/7 customer service right in your pocket. Everytime you have a question about an Asian dish at a restaurant you just snap a picture and then put in our username @askctfood. We will then see the picture and, based on what the question is, reply as quickly as possible.”

Reverse engineering the food in front of you

HOWTO make homemade "Cadbury's Easter creme" eggs


Ashley Rodriguez has tweaked a recipe for homemade "Cadbury's" Easter creme eggs from Instructables user Scoochmaroo and published it. The store-bought version of these glop-filled chocolate eggs always seem like a good idea until they get halfway down my oesophagus (whereupon they try to reverse direction); who knows, maybe a "small batch" homemade one with less HFCS and plutonium* will continue to reward ingestion all the way to my digestive tract's terminus.

½ cup Lyle’s golden syrup
6 tablespoons butter, softened
½ teaspoon salt
3 drops orange blossom water (optional)
1 vanilla bean, seeds removed (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cup powdered sugar
¼ to ½ teaspoon yellow food coloring
12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (or 1 bag bittersweet chocolate chips)

Homemade Cadbury Creme Eggs (via Lifehacker)

*Or whatever Cadbury's uses to attain that "Holy shitting Cthulhu, what have I just swallowed?" sensation

Candy Corn on the cob

An Instructable exists for this. It must be made. Alaskantomboy writes, in the prelude:

I experimented with fondant first, that was completely unsuccessful. Then I though of gluing it together with caramel (since I had a fresh bag of that around too). Too messy and too hard. Then, another light bulb went off.....cookie dough! Sugar cookie dough works perfectly (don't attempt with chocolate chip dough, the chips just get in the way and jeopardize structural integrity). It only took about 4 minutes to assemble and looked authentic.

Vegans: it can be done vegan.

(Photo: alaskantomboy. Thanks, Tara McGinley!)

The history and science of meringue, from a new book by Linda K. Jackson and Jennifer Evans Gardner

Meringue My friend Jen Gardner has co-written a gorgeous recipe book called Meringue, which is all about the featherweight delicacy that turns desserts into works of art. I asked Jen if I could include an excerpt that discusses the history and science of meringue, and she kindly gave me permission.

From Meringue:

Egg whites. Sugar. A pinch of cream of tartar or a dash of vinegar. And air.

Meringue. How can something be so simple, so divine, and yet so intimidating at the same time?

We both fell in love with meringue the same way. Though we grew up thousands of miles apart it was the first bite of our mothers’ lemon meringue pie, the fluffy topping still warm from the oven atop sweet lemon curd that made us swoon. But it was years before we fully realized how many different forms meringue could take -- and we were hooked for life. For Linda, it was the addictive meringue gelato at the world famous gelateria Vivoli in Florence; for Jennifer, it was a cloud-light meringue torte, le Vacherin, while living in Paris.

Our paths finally merged at a potluck “feast” at our children’s preschool. We spotted the desserts first -- Linda’s tiny, light-as-cloud meringue cookies flecked with chocolate, and Jennifer’s raspberry meringue tartlets -- amidst the store-bought cakes, cookies and one sad frozen lasagna. As the adults elbowed their toddlers out of the way to get to our desserts, our eyes met, smug smiles in check. It was friendship at first sight.

We always get the same reaction when we serve meringues. It seems that because they are so delicate and look so elegant, everyone -- even our friends who are experienced bakers -- assumes they are difficult to make. Not so. They may look intimidating, but they are actually quite simple to make. Even those with little or no baking experience can quickly master meringue.

Meringue is magical. It is incredibly versatile. It can be spooned onto pies, or piped into any number of beautiful shapes. It can be baked or poached, whipped into silky frostings, or folded into cakes to make them fluffier. It can be combined with ground nuts, chocolate or any number of flavorings. It can be formed into various vessels for Chantilly cream and fresh berries. And that’s just the beginning. We hope that Meringue will encourage you to embrace meringue as we have, and that it inspires you to create heavenly creations of your very own.

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HOWTO bake a cake inside the skin of an orange


Here's a cute idea from CHOW and Chris Rochelle for baking chocolate cakes in campfire coals, using scooped-out orange peels as molds:

Cut the tops off about 10 oranges and scoop out the pulp. Fill the oranges three-quarters of the way with chocolate cake batter (cake mix works fine), then put the orange tops back on and wrap each orange in aluminum foil. Place directly onto the smoldering coals of the campfire, avoiding any intense flames, and cook for about 30 minutes, turning once or twice.

I've had sorbet served in an orange and pate served in an orange (AKA "meat fruit). Both were delicious. You could probably do a whole meal inside of citrus peels.

Step Up the S'more: 7 Ideas for Campfire Treats by Chris Rochelle (via Neatorama)

HOWTO make a cocktail that looks like outer space


Given a black light, some tonic, some gin or vodka, and pink lemonade concentrate, you can mix a cocktail that looks like the aurora borealis:

Aurora is TCCs black light phosphorescent take on jungle-juice. Originally conceived in 2006, it is a drink that is pink in natural light, but glows aqua-marine in black-light. Thus, it represents the two main colors of the aurora-borealis. So, without further ado here is the recipe. (Originally, the drink was made with just pink-lemonade, but was later modified to use Rose’s Mojito Passion).

Aurora Jungle-Juice (Thanks, Matthew!)

Alternative uses for specialized cooking gadgets

Chow rounds up some delicious alternative uses for waffle-irons, ice-cream makers, and slow cookers. The criteria are: "(1) the food should taste as good or better than when made in the conventional manner, (2) the cooking time should be equal to or shorter than normal, and (3) the method should use the appliance in a way that’s totally different from what it’s known for." They were a lot more thorough with the waffle-iron than the other two (muffins, brownies, and hash browns), though slow-cooker souffle sounds lovely.

Soufflé
To make this Smoked Cheddar Soufflé in a slow cooker, start by filling a small saucepan with water and bringing it to a boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and let the water simmer while you prepare the soufflé. Follow steps 1 through 5 of the recipe, without preheating the baking sheet.

Once the soufflé is ready, pour about 2 cups of the simmering water into the slow cooker and place the soufflé dish in the water (the water should come a third to halfway up the sides of the dish). Cover the slow cooker and cook the soufflé on high until it has puffed and is set in the middle, about one hour and forty-five minutes.

Common Appliances, Uncommon Uses - Feature - Food News - CHOW (via Neatorama)

Piñata cookies

Cookies filled with candies, shaped like burro piñatas. The creator of this chimera is the Louis Pasteur of compulsive eating.

SUGAR COOKIES WITH A SURPRISE INSIDE (via Reddit)

Just look at these BBQ'ed Banana Boats


Just look at them.

Banana Boats (via Neatorama)

Chocopornoholic cook book comes to America

Americans rejoice! Chocolatier Paul A Young's chocopornoholic recipe book Adventures with Chocolate is out in the USA, in mouth watering goodness. I reviewed the book in 2009 when it was released in 2009, and for those who've missed it, I've included it below. Paul was good enough to supply some images from the book for an accompanying gallery as well. This is my favorite chocolate in the world, and the recipe book is pretty much edibly good.

Adventures with Chocolate: 80 sensational recipe is chocolate genius Paul A. Young's first foray into cook-books, and, like his wonderful shops in London, it's playful, inspiring, delicious and surprising.

Young's gifted touch with truffles, brownies and drinking chocolate have made his Islington store a fixture in our orbit around London. My wife's pregnancy was eased with his sea-salt caramels; we celebrated the birth with kalamansi truffles. The baby practically melted when she first tried a crumb of his cherry brownie. I am visited by Paul's chocolate in my dreams. I have been conditioned to start salivating when I reach the end of Camden Passage, and by the time I reach the shop, I need a bib to catch the dribble.

And here are all of Paul's secrets, laid bare in a superbly designed and printed book whose pornographically chocolated pages make you want to surreptitiously taste them (I tasted them. Tasted like clay-coated heavy paper stock). Paul's recipes are easy to follow and are equal parts inspirational (he makes it clear enough that even ham-fisted me believes that I can make them) and aspirational (in reality, it's a lot more likely that I'll just pop in on the Camden Passage shop and buy another box). And his essay on how he became a chocolatier, as well as his essays on buying and preparing chocolate, are sensational.

And truth be told, there are some recipes here I'd like to try for a special occasion: the savory chocolate recipes, if only because Paul doesn't actually sell these in the shop and I want to find out what a honey-cured bacon, Stilton and chocolate sandwich tastes like, or sip some cocoa-bean infused vodka, or try a salted black-olive bar with 600g of Ghanian tempered 68% dark chocolate.

Adventures with Chocolate: 80 Sensational Recipes

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