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Aquafaba Meringues

Photo credit: veganbaking.net (vegan-baking/Flickr)

Photo credit: veganbaking.net (vegan-baking/Flickr)

Dr. Kent Kirshenbaum flew from NYC to LA to speak at our March 8th public lecture about the impact of what we eat, sharing the stage with Dr. Amy Rowat, Dr. Paul Thompson, and Chef Daniel Patterson. Impressively he brought along with him a case of hundreds of homemade vegan meringues for lecture attendees to nosh on after the event.

In lieu of egg whites, the meringues contained aquafaba, the liquid from canned chickpeas. To the surprise and delight of Science & Food guests, the airy confections were devoid of any chickpea flavor. Some reached for seconds (or guilty thirds) while others wondered how Dr. Kirshenbaum was able to transport the fragile cookies across the country without any of them breaking. (Note from backstage: all the cookies were in mint condition when we received the case from Dr. Kirshenbaum–until moments before the event when one of us volunteers fumbled during setup and dropped one. Oops!)

Whether you want to recreate Dr. Kirshenbaum’s aquafaba meringues because you loved them so much or you couldn’t make the event, we have the recipe below!

A Science & Food volunteer offers lecture attendees Dr. Kent Kirshenbaum's amazing vegan meringues.

A Science & Food volunteer offers guests Dr. Kent Kirshenbaum’s amazing vegan meringues.
Photo credit: Abbie F. Swanson (@dearabbie/Twitter)

Aquafaba Meringues

1/2 to 3/4 cup of liquid drained from a 15 oz can of chickpeas
1/2 cup sugar

1. Preheat oven to 215 °F.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat the canned chickpeas liquid at high speed until stiff peaks form.

3. Once peaks have formed, add sugar one tablespoon at a time. After all the sugar is incorporated, if the foam feels gritty, keep whipping until the mixture is smooth.

4. Spoon or pipe the meringue in 1.5 inch dollops onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets.

5. Bake at 215 °F for 1.5 hours.

6. After baking, turn off the oven and crack the oven door open to allow the cookies to cool to room temperature. Store cookies in an airtight container.


Alice PhungAbout the author: Alice Phung once had her sights set on an English degree, but eventually switched over to chemistry and hasn’t looked back since.

Read more by Alice Phung


Harnessing Creativity

Harnessing Creativity

Featuring Dave Arnold & Chef Lena Kwak

June 1, 2014

As part of our 2014 public lecture series, Dave Arnold (of Booker and Dax, the Museum of Food and Drink, and the Cooking Issues Podcast) discussed his latest culinary innovations and the role of creativity in food. He was joined by Chef Lena Kwak (of Cup4Cup) who shared her process of invention, research, and discovery in the kitchen.

Check out the highlights or watch the full lecture below.

Lena Kwak on the creation of Cup4Cup and the power of mistakes

“It was working with food that helped me get over the fear of imperfection. Making mistakes in the kitchen played a significant role in my recipe development. I found myself more daring [and] willing to experiment with different flavors and texture combinations…Take Cup4Cup. The original formula took me about year-and-a-half to finalize. A year-and-a-half is a very long time to make a lot of mistakes…. All the knowledge I gained through those mistakes has actually left me with [another] set of different products.”

Her biggest words of advice: “Go out there, makes mistakes—because you never know what those mistakes will lead you to.”

Dave Arnold on how to be creative in the kitchen

“What is important isn’t that you use a piece of technology or that you use a new piece of equipment. Really it’s that you try to understand what is going on while you’re cooking…. It’s to become unhinged in a very analytical way… that’s the whole premise of creativity.”

Dave Arnold uses gymnemic acid to flip our understanding of sweet foods

Dave Arnold gives the audience gymnemic acid to block their sweet taste receptors and then challenges them to try sweet treats like sugar, honey, strawberries and chocolate. He explains that erasing sweetness enables the taster to examine how other factors like texture and acidity influences the experience of sweet foods.

Arnold says this analytical approach to food is important: “Even if you have no idea why something happens, if you have a hypothesis … and you keep adapting and recording what your results are… you can get to the right place.”

Watch the entire lecture:

Christina Tosi

Christina Tosi is the chef, owner, and founder of Momofuku Milk Bar, called “one of the most exciting bakeries in the country” by Bon Appetit Magazine. Her desire to explore new flavors and push creative boundaries has resulted in never-before-seen desserts including “Cereal Milk” soft serve, “Arnold Palmer” cake, and corn cookies. Christina lives in Brooklyn, New York with her three dogs and eats an unconscionable amount of raw cookie dough every day. Read more

Zoe Nathan

Zoe Nathan is the co-owner of several Los Angeles restaurants, including Huckleberry Bakery and Café and Milo and Olive. An avid baker, Zoe honed her craft at Tartine in San Francisco where she learned the value of using color as a flavor. At her own restaurants, she has received widespread acclaim for her pastries.

See Zoe Nathan speak at our next 2013 Science & Food public lecture!

The Science of Pie
Featuring Chefs Christina Tosi and Zoe Nathan
Sunday, May 19 @ 2:00pm
Covel Commons Grand Horizon Room (map)
BUY TICKETS

Image credit: Emily Hart Roth

Image credit: Emily Hart Roth

What hooked you on cooking?
I wanted to do something with my hands and was searching for a way to express myself in a way that I could connect with people around me instantly. I loved being able to make something and have someone eat it right away and hopefully enjoy it and understand where I’m coming from. Plus it just makes me really happy!
The coolest example of science in your food?
For me it’s the process of baking. Working with so few ingredients, and then deciding on different processes that will create totally different things to eat. That’s why I never worry about someone stealing a recipe from me, because at the end of the day, it’s not knowing what goes into baking something that makes it special, it’s how you bake it.
The food you find most fascinating?
Bread. For exactly the same reason as above. It’s all about process. That’s why I laugh when people say, “You can only make great Sourdough in San Francisco, or Bagels in New York,” but then I see people try with bad ingredients and a sloppy process. If you care enough you can make great bread anywhere.
One kitchen tool you could not live without?
Mixing bowls!
What scientific concept–food related or otherwise–do you find most fascinating?
The concept I find the most important in baking is the process of caramelization. You can use all the right ingredients and even the right process, but if you don’t get the right caramelization and color on a bake good it simply doesn’t look or taste good.
Five things most likely to be found in your fridge?
Eggs, kale, milk (I have a 2 year old), Dijon mustard, cream cheese.
Your best example of a food that is better because of science?
I’m not a big fan of modern science in cooking, but I’m super happy to have freezers so that I can freeze my scones and biscuits so that I can put the maximum amount of butter inside without having it leak out. I’m happy for convection ovens so my baked goods get that extra little jump. I’m happy for steam on my bread oven so my bread gets that nice shine. I’m also happy for bright lights so my bakers can come in at 3 a.m. and still feel safe!
Your all-time favorite ingredient? Favorite cookbook?
Salt is my all-time favorite ingredient. I have so many cookbooks that I love I can’t choose one.
How do you think science will impact your world of food in the next 5 years?
Honestly, I think it’s mostly negative. I think a lot of people eat processed foods because they’re easier to get because science has made them taste good and last a lot longer than it actually should. Because of all the big advancements in technology people are also used to getting what they want quickly, but good cooking is a patient thing, so I think fewer and fewer people know how to cook. I also think young cooks who are obsessed with immersion circulators and cvap machines often don’t know how to cook a piece of meat on a grill or in a pan which is a shame because that’s how it tastes best.
Your standard breakfast?
Leftovers from whatever my son hasn’t eaten and he eats pretty well. When I actually take the time to make it for myself it’s oatmeal cooked in homemade almond milk.

Wendy Slusser

Dr. Wendy Slusser is an assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at UCLA. Her current research focuses on evaluating the LAUSD Nutrition Network and developing Nutrition Friendly School criteria. Dr. Slusser is also the Nutrition Director of UCLA’s Healthy Campus Initiative. Read more

Get Ready for Science & Food 2013!

Update: This contest is now closed.

Congratulations to our winner, Lysandra Sayer, who  took home a Juice Fountain Crush from our friends at Breville. Check out her winning tweet: Read more

Alex Atala

Chef Alex Atala is the chef and owner of D.O.M. in São Paulo, Brazil. In 2012, D.O.M. was ranked the fourth best restaurant in the world by San Pellegrino. As part of his vision for Brazilian cuisine, Chef Atala has worked with anthropologists and scientists at the Social Environmental Institute to discover and classify new food products from the Amazonian region. Read more

Science & Food 2013 Lecture Series

The 2013 Science & Food lineup is here!
Stay up-to-date with all the latest news by following us on Twitter or joining our mailing list.
2013Lineup
While waiting for the lectures, you can satisfy your science and food cravings by watching last year’s lectures and browsing our blog archives. Over the next couple of months, we will feature exciting new content here on the blog, including chef profiles, recipes, and contests. Don’t miss out! Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr to get all the latest Science & Food news.

We can’t wait to see you at the 2013 Science & Food lectures!

Primitive X Modern: Cultural Interpretations of Flavors
Featuring Chef Alex Atala
Wednesday, April 17 @ 7:00pm
Moore Hall 100 (map)

Chef Atala will discuss his approach to food and how his cooking has been impacted by science. Atala is renowned for pioneering regional cuisine using indigenous Brazilian ingredients and works closely with anthropologists and scientists to discover and classify new foods from the Amazonian region.

Edible Education
Featuring Chef Alice Waters, Dr. Wendy Slusser, and Chef David Binkle
Thursday, April 25 @ 7:00pm
Royce Hall Auditorium (map)

Chef Alice Waters will be joined by Professor Wendy Slusser and Chef David Binkle to provide and informative discussion on initiating change in how we eat through school lunches, edible gardens, and healthy campuses.

The Science of Pie
Featuring Chef Christina Tosi and Chef Zoe Nathan
Sunday, May 19 @ 2:00pm
Covel Commons Grand Horizon Room (map)

Chefs Christina Tosi and Zoe Nathan will share their perspectives on inventing desserts, with a particular emphasis on pie. Here, the students of the Science & Food undergraduate course will present results from their final projects, including live taste tests of apple pies. Final projects will be judged by a panel of esteemed local chefs, scientists, and food critics including Christina Tosi, Zoe Nathan, Jonathan Gold, and UCLA Professors Andrea Kasko and Sally Krasne.

René Redzepi and Lars Williams on Deliciousness

René Redzepi and Lars Williams of Noma and Nordic Food Lab finally made it to UCLA!

We had quite an adventure leading up to their lecture, which involved mole crabs, sand fleas, live crickets, lost luggage, liquid-nitrogen-seaweed ice cream, and much more.

René Redzepi spoke about the pursuit of ‘deliciousness’:

“It’s not about creating dishes, but understanding deliciousness…to provide knowledge and scientific concepts for chefs.”

René’s ideology was born when he had a eureka-moment while grating and preparing horseradish.

“Some days the horseradish was sweet, some days it was acidic, some days, spicy to the point where I had to walk away. Sometimes the shape was short, sometimes long. How is it that we’d be able to create a consistent menu, with such variable changes week by week, season by season?”

He voiced what he thought was the answer.

“A chef’s intuition, combined with scientific know-how.”

Hence, the birth of the Nordic Food Lab. This is Redzepi and his team’s solution to creating a medium between food and science. Here, his talented team delves into the concept of deliciousness: how can they create and optimize using the ingredients that natures provides? (Remarkably, a good deal of their experimentation happens inside a houseboat shored in the picturesque Copenhagen harbor).

Head of Research & Development at Nordic Food Lab, Lars Williams, introduced a sampling of their recent experiments including how to modify and generate unique flavors using local and natural ingredients. One of the team’s favorite recent topics is fermentation, and a delicious example they shared was barley koji. The procedure is as follows.

  1. Crickets are blended up and mixed with barley
  2. The mixture is left to incubate, during which time, enzymes (such as amylases and proteases) in the barley and cricket guts, as well as microbes, take action.
  3. The resulting moldy mass is transformed into a nutty sweet delectable treat. (They did state they wanted to increase the amount of critters on the menu).

Nordic Food Lab also experiments with native Danish ingredients, such as seaweeds: a delicious example was their seaweed ice cream, which was created by extracting flavors of dulse into ice cream. To determine the optimal conditions for flavor extraction, they did a series of experiments to quantify levels of glutamate, aspartate and alaninate. You may be familiar with glutamic acid as a flavor enhancer, monosodium glutamate or MSG, more commonly known as small, powdery white crystals at the Asian market, or heavily-dosed out in Chinese food.

These are just a couple of examples of cutting-edge work emerging from the Nordic Food Lab; the possibilities are endless, and it will be exciting to follow their progress as they explore and share these exciting new innovations. Check out their recent publication to learn more about Seaweeds for Umami Flavor in New Nordic Cuisine.

For those you who didn’t get to taste the cricket sauce (or just can’t get enough), hit up LA Weekly’s Squid Ink for an additional recap of last night’s lecture.

Nathan Myhrvold and The Science of Barbeque

Last night, Nathan Myhrvold, of Modernist Cuisine, kicked off our inaugural Science and Food Public Lecture Series with a succinct and entertaining lecture on the science of BBQ.

After the lecture, the eloquent Evan Kleiman moderated a panel discussion and Q&A session with Nathan, Amy Rowat, Jon Shook, and Vinny Dotolo.