Modernist Cuisine

A few – now famous – chefs started playing with food – experimenting with ingredients to see how different cooking methods changed the appearance of them. A modernist’s goal can be concluded to keep the surprise factor in good food.

For me there always was the differentiation between cooking and baking: cooking comes from the heart and baking comes from science. That is how it has been for thousands of years. And now there is the science of molecular cooking: science combined with the heart.

Some chefs associated with the term choose to reject its use, preferring other terms such as multi sensory cooking, culinary physics, experimental cuisine and my favorite: modernist cuisine. Ferran Adrià of El Bulli (Spain), prefers the term ‘deconstructivist’ to describe his style of cooking.

Ferran Adrià is considered one of the best chefs in the world. Examples of his unusual dishes that have been criticized include frozen whisky sour candy, white garlic and almond sorbet, tobacco-flavored blackberry crushed ice and Kellogg’s paella (Rice Krispies, shrimp heads and vanilla-flavored mashed potatoes).

Ferran said he has “turned eating into an experience that supersedes eating.

For me there still are two different kinds of chef of the world. The other chefs of the world do not excel in presentation or the usage of molecules. They serve their food à la française or family-style. No special decorations except for a plush of curled parsley, a few sprigs of rosemary or chives. Those dishes burst from local grown fresh ingredients. Read all about their dishes in ‘Cuisine de Paysan’.

I agree chefs like Ferran Adrià and Heston Blumenthal do exceptional things with food. The food they create looks more than amazing, the thought behind it extraordinary, the creativity incomparable. Surrounded by an army of young, devoted chefs in training, they experiment and do all kind of wild flavor and texture combinations.

Other chefs associated with this cooking method include Grant Achatz, José Andrés, Sat Bains, Richard Blais, and Kevin Sousa, just to name a few.

In February 2011, Nathan Myhrvold published the Modernist Cuisine, which led many chefs to further classify molecular gastronomy versus modernist cuisine. Myhrvold believes that his cooking style should not be called molecular gastronomy.

Looking for the mechanisms of culinary transformations and processes (from a chemical and physical point of view) in three areas of culinary movement:

1. The social aspects

2. The artistic elements

3. The technical components

Presentation is one of the main point what makes using molecular methods special. Playing with the senses of our body: nose, eyes, ears, touch, taste

Nose – the sense of smell is a tool to attract an individual’s attention. Smells are usually associated with upbringing, emotion, learning and even culture. This sense creates memories that go a long way back: for example the memory of smelling grandma’s apple pie or fresh baked cookies even before eating them brings a smile on your face.

Eyes – The sense of sight is the most focused on sense by marketers. Different colors effect the senses different: red and orange reflect to warmth, blue and green have a cooling effect on the senses. The sense of sight is also stimulated by different shapes, which goes back to the time we were playing with various shapes (square, cylinder, arch, triangle, etc.) in different colors. These toys encouraged interaction, imagination and creativity.

Ears – The sense of hearing is a powerful sense. The ears are capable of picking up all sorts of information and can contribute to people’s feelings.

Touch – The sense of touch encourage people to interact with the product.

Taste – The sense of taste is the sensation produced when a substance in the mouth reacts chemically with taste receptor cells located on taste buds in the mouth, mostly on the tongue. The sensation of taste includes five established basic tastes: sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness, and umami (pleasant savory taste from Japanese umai “delicious” and mi “taste”). This sense stimulates mechanisms of aroma release and the perception of taste and flavor.

Modernist cuisine encouraged interaction, imagination and creativity and creates an opportunity to experience sensations that ‘normal’ gastronomy lacks.

Experiences with gravity, balance, and geometry learned from our toy blocks also provide intellectual stimulation, and in the modernist cuisine it allows or maybe better says gives the consumer an experience that differs from ‘eating a meal’.

However any chef calls his cuisine, the goal is the same – being different and – set tradition aside and create dishes that tickle, sparkle, explode, amuse, surprise.

Imagine a dish looking like a main coarse but being dessert with orb shape topped with orange foam that dissolves on your tongue and leaves behind a velvet texture flavored with Cointreau, or caviar on top of your brownie, which turns out to be a -in your mouth melting – chocolate mousse with small balls that look like caviar but are made of raspberry puree or juice.

So, in short, modernist cuisine is a great way to present food with unlimited possibilities in shape, color, texture, flavor and surprises.

This cuisine method introduces new tools, ingredients and methods into the kitchen:

Carbon dioxide source, for adding bubbles and making foams

• Foams can also be made with an immersion blender

• Liquid nitrogen, for flash freezing and shattering

• Sous-vide (low temperature cooking)

• Maltodextrin – can turn a high-fat liquid into a powder

• Lecithin – an emulsifier and non-stick agent

• Hydrocolloids such as starch, gelatin, pectin and natural gums – used as thickening agents, gelling agents, emulsifying agents and stabilizers, sometimes needed for foams

• Spherification – a caviar-like effect

• Syringe, for injecting unexpected fillings

• Edible paper made from soybeans and potato starch, for use with edible fruit inks and an inkjet printer

• Presentation style is often whimsical or avant-garde, and may include unusual service ware

• Unusual flavor combinations (food pairings) are favored, such as combining savory and sweet.

by chef Yvonne van Uffelen Stephens

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Pampoenkoekie Recipe

Pumpkin is one of the most popular and loved vegetables in South Africa. There are so many varieties, you will never get bored with them. You can cook it in so many ways. Boil it in a little bit of water, mash and serve or roast it in the oven and serve with a filling.

One of my favourite ways of using pumpkin is through pampoenkoekies. It is a wonderful addition to any meal… You can use many types of pumpkin and in South Africa the most common pumpkin used is Herbert Squash. When we lived in England we could not find it though, so we tried butternut. It worked wonderfully…

The trick is to make sure the pumpkin is very dry. If it is watery, the pampoenkoekies will stick and won’t be easy to make. I know there are many people all around the world, including my wonderful husband, that believes that vegetables should be savory and sweet things should be eaten after the main meal, not with it, but trust me when I say, it is wonderful.

If you are happy with eating pumpkin for dessert, then why not? Just serve the pampoenkoekies with either cinnamon sugar or the sauce that follows at the end of the recipe. People will be impressed…


2 cups of pumpkin (1 medium size butternut squash)
4 tablespoons of flour (mix white or brown rice, tapioca and chick pea flour in equal quantities)
2 teaspoons of Gluten Free baking powder
1 egg

# If you are not a celiac, you can just use regular wheat flour and baking powder instead of the mix


1. Boil the pumpkin in a bit of water until soft (between 10 and 15 minutes). Make sure the pumpkin is very dry before using. Mash the pumpkin.
2. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and egg. Mix well.
3. Warm up a bit of oil in a frying pan. Place spoons full of pumpkin in the pan and fry on both sides until light brown.
4. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top or make a sweet syrup to pour over.

Sweet syrup:

1 tablespoon of butter/margarine
3/4 cup of water
3/4 cup of milk
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 tablespoon of corn flour

1. Bring the butter, water and sugar to the boil.
2. Mix the corn flour with a little bit of water and add. Let it boil for about 2 minutes.
3. Pour warm syrup over the pampoenkoekies instead of the cinnamon sugar.

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Delectable Crumb Cake!

Easy to Make Tasty to Eat Crumb cake is one of the oldest and traditional recipes. Reckoned as Streuselkuchen; where Streusel means ‘crumb’ and Kuchen refers to ‘cake’. The dessert was born in Poland and is now prepared and served throughout the world with adaptations. The baking family recognizes it as a flat one-inch fermented dough, coroneted with a thick crumbly topping.

Preparation of a crumb cake is an easy process; however, many ingredients are involved in the making. The two-stepped method includes, the making of a flat dough and a crumbly topping separately; which are then backed together.

The mellow, dense and divine dessert can be served at breakfast, brunch or can be enjoyed at any hour.

Just Streusel

The topmost part of a crumb cake is the thickest layer, after which the desert is named. The preparation is a swift process that can involve various ingredients. Sugar, butter, all-purpose flour (1:1:2 ratio) are the basic ingredients. However, depending on your taste buds you could even add crushed pistachios, almonds, cashews or cinnamon. Mix sugar, butter and cinnamon in a bowl and pour the contents into the all-purpose flour. Get your hands to mix the contents for a better consistency of the crumbs.

Once your crumb top is ready, let the preparation sit for a considerable time of 30 minutes.

The prepared streusel can also be combined with muffins, puffed pastries, coffee cakes or apple crisps.

The Traditional Crumb Cake Recipe

The core ingredients are flour, shortening, egg yolks, milk, baking powder and salt. It is recommended to use the cake flour for the dough. These ingredients are mixed together to form a smooth and consistent batter. For better results, the dough is allowed to rise for 30 to 40 minutes. Once ready, the slurry is then poured into a flat oven tray and the streusel is spread on the top. The combination is baked at 325 degrees for 45 minutes.

This German dessert can be crowned with whipped cream and topped with cherries to entice the taste buds. It can also be candied with caramel and chocolate sauce to enhance the sweet tones.

Variants and fillings

The Crumb Cake Recipe can also be prepared with various fillings, mostly fresh and sour fruits such as berries, rhubarb, cherries, gooseberries, or adding a shortening to the dough. At times, yeast is replaced with the use of baking powder. The recipe is evolved to use apricots or dry fruits to make it more delicious. Culinary experts add a ribbon or layers of species, coconut, sweet cream, jam, dried fruits, etc. to make the desert luscious and tastier. Some preparations also recognize the subtle use of ginger or a lemon rind in the base layer of crumb cake.

Eat the Sweet and share the joy!

Crumb cake is a healthy dessert with notable calorific value. However, added butter and sugar might drastically increase the kilojoules of a health conscious person. But a pie of this super-licious dessert; once in a while, would definitely satiate any sweet tooth!

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3 Easy Crowd Pleaser Menu Items That Use Crispy Fried Onion

If you own or manage a restaurant specializing in home or family cooking, you know how important it is to be able to offer delicious comfort food favorites that satisfy your customers’ taste buds as well as the needs of their budget.

One way to infuse your menu with taste, variety and creativity, while keeping your profit margins at a desirable level, is to source versatile food products that can be used in multiple recipes without additional cost or preparation on your part. For an example of this, let’s take a look at three easy but sure-to-please dishes that all use crispy fried onion as an ingredient or topping:

Mom’s Crispy Fried Onion Meatloaf

Ingredients (for an entrée for one):
1/2 cups fried onion
1/2 lb. ground beef, seasoned to taste
1/3 can condensed tomato soup
2/3 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/3 egg

How to make it: Crush most of the fried onion in a bowl, then mix in the meat, Worcestershire Sauce, and most of the soup. Shape into a loaf and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. Spoon remaining soup and onions over the top, then bake for another 3-5 minutes.

This dish is a favorite with both kids and adults-and it also has the added advantage of using other commonly sourced ingredients like ground beef and eggs. Plus, it can be expanded and served family style to the entire table, and it will easily heat up later at your customer’s home if they decide to take the leftovers to go.

Ideas for side items: Classics like steamed green beans and mashed potatoes are sure to please, especially when they’re offered steaming hot with plenty of melted butter or cream gravy. Or, you can get a little creative by serving Mom’s Meatloaf with tender green peas, gourmet macaroni-and-cheese, scalloped potatoes, roasted carrots or fried corn on the cob.

Pantry Salad

Ingredients: Just about everything you can think of! Empty the refrigerator and the pantry (or in your case, the walk-ins) and blow your customer’s mind:
• Iceberg lettuce
• Sprouts
• Tomatoes
• Black and green olives
• Avocado
• Bacon bits
• Shredded or crumbled cheese
• Chopped raw broccoli, carrots, squash, and/or cauliflower
• Diced cucumber
• Top with crispy fried onion

Add a hint of seasoning and layer in the dressing, then mix well and serve chilled in a nice big wooden bowl. You may have to charge a bit extra for this hearty salad, but your customers will go crazy for its over-the-top goodness, made extra complete with the crispy, tasty finish of fried onion. Suggest as a main course and pair with a cup of hot homemade soup as the perfect appetizer; or your customers might also want to split an order before they tackle their main course.

Not Yo’ Mama’s Cheeseburger

When making this snappy variation on the classic cheeseburger, marinate or grill your hamburger patty in Worcestershire sauce and melt a slice of American cheese on the patty before topping with fresh crispy fried onions. Or, for something even more out-of-the-ordinary: Prepare a brown gravy with mushrooms and spoon over the patty right after its comes off the grill, topping with crispy onion before you add the bun or serve.

French fries are the obvious choice for your cheeseburger side item, of course. But you can also consider homemade potato salad, a giant overstuffed baked potato, tater-tots or a small version of the Pantry Salad.

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Orange-Oreo Pie, an Easy, Dreamy Frozen Dessert

My mother was a fabulous baker and famous for her orange sponge cakes. Neighbors and friends would come by, drop off the ingredients for a cake, and pick up the finished dessert later in the day. Interestingly, my mother never charged a penny for her expertise or labor.

I still remember the first time I tasted her orange cake with chocolate frosting. Although I was very young, I realized this was a fabulous flavor combination. Paring orange and chocolate has led chefs and home cooks to create a boggling array of recipes. Some taste more like orange and others taste more like chocolate.

Enter the search words “orange-chocolate combination” on the Net and dozens of photos will appear. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of recipes on the Net. As much as you want to bake a cake, or cookies, or another dessert, you may not have time to do it. Making an easy-fix frozen dessert is the answer to your dilemma.

I was yearning for an orange-chocolate dessert and created this recipe. It begins with a store-bought Oreo cookie crumb crust. Of course you can always buy a package of cookies and make your own crust by following the standard graham cracker crust recipe and omitting the sugar. However, the store-bought crust saves you time and it’s good.

Next, I added Neufchatel cheese for richness. Although this cheese tastes like cream cheese, it has only one-third the calories. You don’t have to add sugar to the pie filling because condensed milk is already sweetened. Sugar-free whipped topping adds more sweetness and chocolate chips add crunch. Orange-Oreo pie is a sweet ending to any meal and here’s my recipe.


1 store-bought Oreo cookie pie crust

8 ounces Neufchatel cheese, room temperature

14-ounce can condensed milk

zest of 1 large orange

4 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

1 teaspoon pure orange extract

8-ounce carton frozen, sugar-free whipped topping, defrosted

1 cup mini chocolate chips

Sugar-free chocolate sauce for garnish


1. Remove cover from pie crust and save.

2. Put Neufchatel cheese and condensed milk in large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat these ingredients at medium speed until all lumps are gone.

3. Add orange zest, orange juice concentrate, and pure extract. Beat one more minute to incorporate flavors.

4. Gently fold whipped topping into cheese mixture

5. Fold in mini chocolate chips, making sure they are evenly distributed.

6. Spoon pie filling into chocolate crust. (There is a lot of filling, but it will fit if you mound it in the middle.)

7. Cover pie with plastic lid. Press rim closed and set pie in freezer for at least three hours.

8. Take pie out of freezer. Remove lid and let stand at room temperature for about five minutes.

9. Cut pie into wedges and drizzle with sugar-free chocolate sauce. Makes 8 servings.

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