Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Special Snowflake Studio: latest collaborative work with The Center for Genomic Gastronomy

Aside from the supperclub, I also do consulting work as part of Special Snowflake Studio. Here are some pics of my latest work, focusing on plant-based protein and upping the antioxidants on the plate to promote "Healthy Ageing Populations" in the Netherlands (yes, British spelling). I'm looking forward to seeing the recipes and accompanying text published in book form. Since I met Zack and Cat of The Center for Genomic Gastronomy last year, I've been fortunate to collaborate with them and develop recipes for 3 projects: Plantetary Sculpture Portland at Recess Gallery, Edible: The Taste of Things to Come exhibit at Science Gallery Dublin, and this latest, Healthy Ageing Populations Netherlands.

 This is my favorite of the recipes from Science Gallery Dublin: a vegan ortolan. This is a cruelty-free version of one of the cruelest dishes ever devised. An ortolan is a beautiful tiny songbird. In some countries, people trap the bird and pluck out its eyes and stuff it into a black box to gorge on grain. This cruelty is made additionally ridiculous by the ignorance of bird's circadian rhythms; the pineal gland in the brain governs circadian rhythms, not the eyes and there are light sensors in the brain that detect light through the skull, in addition to the eyes. The birds are then drowned in armagnac and then roasted and served whole. Eating this dish is also given additional theatricality with white napkins placed over diners' heads to either "concentrate the aromas" or to "hide one's face from God" because of the decadence and cruelty of the dish. Taster notes list the fatty foie-gras-like richness of the flesh, the bitterness of the guts and the crunch of the bones. My challenge was to create these sensations with vegan ingredients.

Below are all dishes created for the Netherlands project.

Green Tea pasta with tender egg and brown butter sauce
Araucana eggs, matcha powder and tipo 00 flour
425-degree roasted cauliflower florets

Roasted Cauliflower soup with Seed Saver Granola

huitlacoche and corn: yowza

Who needs beef when you've got supergrains?

Huitlacoche, aka corn smut or Mexican truffle
Huitlacoche and cornmeal super grain burgers. Huitlacoche, aka corn smut, Mexican truffle, is a fungus that grows on corn. It is sweet and smoky. Huitlacoche feeds on the corn and creates lysine, an amino acid missing from corn. (Important nutrients in corn such as niacin are not bioavailable unless soaked in an alkali such as ash or calcium carbonate. The Mesoamericans (Aztec, Maya, Inca) figured this out but Europeans never did. That is why there can be famine even when there is plentiful corn/polenta. Researchers in the American South finally figured this out and thus pellagra was finally eradicated. Sorry, I digress. Basically, huitlacoche + corn is a complete protein as the lysine and the other amino acids in corn combine to create a "complete protein" that contains all 8 essential amino acids. These "burgers" also contain quinoa and amaranth, protein-rich grains.

Chickpea crepe (so simple: water, chickpea "flour," )

Chickpea, olive oil and Dutch cocoa cake

Beet, blueberry and rhubarb crumble

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