Searzall the Sweets

I'm always inspired by new techniques to achieve delicious results. So when Dave Arnold of Cooking Issues posted a Kickstarter on the Searzall, I backed it immediately.

Searzall Flame On!

What is a Searzall? For industry folks, it's a torch attachment that diffuses the flame to eliminate off flavors, AKA torch taste. Primarily used to finish sous vide and low temperature cooked meats. For adventurous home cooks out there, an Eater article has described it as a hand-held broiler. All in all, it's portable intense heat on demand for searing anything to your heart's desire.

I didn't plan ahead when the unit arrived so there wasn't any meat ready for the treatment. Of course I couldn't wait to get it fired up. That left me thinking about what would benefit from applying crazy heat to? Sugar was the answer.

Searzall Candied Fennel
I happened to have some candied fennel kicking around. The caramelization added a level of complexity that was pleasant. It was good but not amazing.

Searzall Malted Milk Powdered Baby Corn
Inspired by elote and grilled corn, I dusted baby corn with malted milk powder. The seared malted milk powder was freaking delicious. Not to mention the roasted corn aroma.

Searzall Malted Milk Powdered Caramel Apple
After testing a caramel apple recipe, it got the malted milk powder treatment. Ridiculously good.

Caramelized Malted Milk Powered Gingerbread

With that method under my belt, it was waiting for a dessert application. Recently, I was coring out centers of cut gingerbread squares for filling and had the light bulb moment. The caramelized malted milk gingerbread nugget was born. It's a flavor and texture extravaganza. A description wouldn't do it justice. You'll have to wait until it's on the Mei Mei Street Kitchen menu again or buy a Searzall and try it yourself.

The Process
Warning: Before you use a Searzall, please be sure to read and follow all the instructions provided especially those relating to safety. It's a wonderful piece of equipment, but can be dangerous if used improperly.

  • Dust small rounds of cake with malted milk powder. In fact, this will likely work with anything that has a cake-like structure and anything with sugar in a dust or fine granule form.
  • Set up a wire cooling rack over a sheet pan on a surface that can handle the heat.
  • Set parchment paper on another sheet pan for the finished pieces.
  • Place one of the rounds on the wire rack on its side.
  • Light up the Searzall.
  • Move the head of the Searzall back and forth over the cake until the milk powder caramelizes. Bank on incinerating one or two to figure out the optimal height and duration of exposure.
  • Rotate the round and repeat the process until all sides are caramelized. You should use a spoon or tool to push the cake around so you don't burn your fingers like I did.
  • Place the round of cake on each end to finish the ends.
  • Place the finished piece on its side and allow it to cool. 
  • Cycle through the remaining pieces until you're done.
  • Suggest eating them with a fine drizzle of smoked dulce de leche on top.

Pre Searzall Malted Milk Powdered Gingerbread

Post Searzall Malted Milk Powdered Gingerbread

For more details on how the Searzall works, check out the Booker and Dax Lab YouTube channel. The Searzall has a ton of potential and I'm looking forward to seeing all the applications folks come up with.

As always, I hope this idea inspires you to create and keep the ideas bouncing.

Kojify All the Grains

Homemade koji has been on my list for a while. It was serendipitous when @geofflukas asked me to figure out the process for his fermentation focused brunch.

What is koji? It's the Japanese term for the mold Aspergillus oryzae. Scratching the surface, koji is used to ferment soy beans for soy sauce and miso. It also has the power to convert rice carbohydrates to sugars for sake. I encourage you to research and discover all the delicious products that are based on koji. You'll be amazed.

Popcorn Koji, Not a Blurry Pic
Searching for DIY options, I discovered @fermup's incubator to make koji and tempeh. I got in contact with @brandenbyers who generously provided everything I needed to make A. oryzae flourish. His help was key to my success.

The incubator only consists of four components: large cooler, aquarium heater, aquarium bubbler and 2" hotel pan (standard stainless steel tray that restaurants use). It is dead simple to put together and requires no customization. Then all you have to do is fill it with water, turn it on, set your hotel pan filled with grain/legume mixed with koji starter on the top, cover and wait.

Incubator Rig in Action
The incubator performs extremely well based on two important factors. The cooler's insulated environment allows for the temperature and high humidity to be easily maintained. The water bath at the bottom of the cooler provides heat capacity to keep the temperature rock solid as well as a reservoir for the humidity.

Thai Jasmine Rice with Koji Starter
Aside from tight controls on the environment, maximizing surface area is paramount for mold development. Prior to inoculation, the grains are "under cooked" so they remain separate and don't stick together. Long grain Thai Jasmine rice fit the bill.

Thai Jasmine Rice Koji
When the koji is done, you'll see a layer of white, fuzzy mold on top of the rice as seen in the clumps in the picture above. In my excitement, I didn't snap a shot until after I started breaking it up. The finished Jasmine koji smells and tastes amazing. Sweet and delicate. It was an excellent rice choice for the first run due to its high amylose content. Perfect for horchata.

Wetted Down Popcorn with Koji Starter
I went through my pantry to find a grain that maximized surface area for the koji to eat. Popcorn kernels were at eye level staring me down. Tons of accessible starch and maintains a great deal of separation, a perfect medium. The only minor issue was moisture content which was easily solved by adding a touch of water to wilt the popcorn.

Fuzzy Popcorn Koji
The koji thrived on the popcorn! The result was koji forward and not nearly as sweet as the Jasmine. Now I have to figure out what to do with it aside from eating it straight up.

On the next run, I decided upon steel cut oats because I was looking for a new breakfast flavor.

Steel Cut Oats with Koji Starter
After an overnight soak, the oats were ready for the koji without additional cooking. I did a quick 10 minute run in the steamer to make sure I killed off any unwanted beasties prior to mixing in the starter. The oats had a tendency to clump and stick. I did my best throughout the process to keep it fluffed up to make it koji friendly.

Steel Cut Oat Koji
The oats came out much better than I expected. The koji both fermented and sweetened probably due to the clumps creating a varied environment. A perfect breakfast cereal base.

Now go forth and kojify your favorite grains and legumes. Thanks to Branden and @fermup for developing a foolproof process. He was kind enough to put together a blog post that provides detailed instructions from start to finish. It also has a link to the incubator build.

Please share your koji adventures with us to keep the ideas bouncing.

Ogiri-Saro, Funky Sesame Paste

I had no idea what ogiri was until @geofflukas mentioned it after tasting a butternut squash seed tahini I made seasons ago. Ogiri is an African alkaline fermented seed paste used for umami. Time passed and I forgot all about it.

Mesquite Smoked Ogiri-Saro (Fermented Sesame Seeds)

Geoff called me a couple weeks ago to help him make lesser known fermented products from around the world. Of course, ogiri was at the top of the list. I did some research and discovered there isn't a whole lot out there on this flavoring agent. I was lucky enough to find a couple of references on Google Books that have pretty good detail on the processes.

Handbook of Indigenous Fermented Foods by Keith Steinkraus
Fermented Grain Legumes, Seeds and Nuts: A Global Perspective, Issue 142

I decided to try the Sierra Leone ogiri-saro first because it has the most readily available ingredient, sesame seeds. I put together a process based on what I read. It's actually very easy to ferment. All you do is boil the seeds, strain and wrap in a banana leaf. Then wait a week for the bacteria to do its work. Keep in mind the banana leaf does a wonderful job containing the ammonia smell. Do not open it up, stick your nose right on top of the seeds and take a whiff like I did. It's an awful smell.

Banana Leaf Wrapped Boiled Sesame Seeds

After the fermentation is done, hot smoke the packets for two hours. I decided on mesquite because I was sure it would stand up to the strong aroma. Another reason for smoking is to get the ogiri hot enough to kill the bacteria. This is followed by pounding into a paste with salt to taste. I figured it should be a little on the salty side to keep it shelf stable.

Finished Ogiri-Saro Paste

Ogiri-saro has a unique flavor that's well worth the effort. It's nutty, funky and has cheese notes. I'm looking forward to playing around with it. I'm also hoping that someone out there can help me source some so I can get a reference taste.

The Needs
  • 8 oz. hulled sesame seeds
  • 2-3 banana leaves depending on size
  • Butcher's/cotton twine
  • Medium size pan
  • Large size pot and towel to cover or ceramic crock with cover
  • Smoker
  • Mesquite chunks or chips
The Process
  • Add sesame seeds to 3 quarts of water in a pan
  • Bring to a boil
  • Simmer covered for 2 hours
  • Strain the sesame seeds to remove most of the water
  • Let the sesame seeds sit in the strainer until you're ready to package
  • Cut eight pieces of banana leaf approximately 12" long
  • Lay out four pieces in a row
  • Stack a second layer on each piece with the leaf fibers rotated 90 degrees
  • Split the sesame into four equal piles at the center of each of the leaf stacks
  • Fold each banana leaf stack around the seeds creating a disk/puck that is completely covered by the leaves
  • Tie the packet with butcher's/cotton twine
  • Stack the packets at the bottom of a stainless steel pot covered with a towel or a ceramic crock with a cover
  • Allow the seeds to ferment for 5-7 days at room temperature
  • Open a packet and check for an ammonia smell
  • Hot smoke the packets for two hours
Important: During the smoking process, monitor the temperature of the seeds to ensure it reaches the temperature to kill off the bacteria that drove the fermentation. I used 180 degrees F to be safe. 
  • Allow the sesame seeds to cool to room temperature
  • Pound the seeds into a paste and add salt to taste
Next up, raw sunflower seed ogiri.

As always, stay inspired and keep the ideas bouncing.

Epazote Sherbet

Epazote is strong enough to power through a frozen application. It adds a flavor dimension that has no equal. Once you try it, you'll be addicted.

Epazote Orange Sherbet

Aside from the flavor depth that shines through, it's the seed texture that drives. I love the micro-bursts and did my best to get as much into the base as possible.

Epazote Seeds Sinking in Sherbet Base

The Needs
  • (2) 6" lengths of epazote cut from the top of a full plant 
  • Basic sherbet recipe and ingredients (I'm pretty sure it'll work with just about any fruit. Here's AB's recipe.)
  • Blender 
  • Coarse mesh strainer, standard should work, so epazote seeds will pass through
Infuse the Juice
  • Pull the epazote apart over the blender pitcher into short strands and drop them in
  • Pour the recipe required liquid juice over the epazote (If needed, add a portion of the milk.)
  • Blend on high until the epazote is fully incorporated/tiny bits
  • Strain the juice into a medium sized bowl
  • Use the back of a spoon to stir and smash the remaining epazote seeds through the strainer
  • Scrape the back of the strainer to get the stuck seeds into the juice 
  • Follow the recipe with the epazote mixture in place of the juice

If you'd like to see more sweet epazote ideas, read the Dulce de Epazote inception.

As always, stay inspired and keep the ideas bouncing.

Dulce de Epazote

I like to bring flavor discoveries to @meimeiboston to bounce ideas and experiment. I had been chewing on epazote every morning for a few days trying to decide what to do with it. I had savory on the brain until @jacquelinedole pointed us down a sweeter path.

Jacqueline's Blueberry Shortcake w/ Epazote Whipped Cream

What does epazote taste like? I find it hard to describe due to the complexity and prefer not to toss out words that would lead you in the wrong direction. I will tell you that it can be used to make tea. Just get some, taste it and understand why you can't live without it.

Sprigs of Backyard Epazote

One of our first thoughts was ice cream, but we weren't sure if the flavor would be muted. We both agreed that whipped cream was the way to go. I steeped two healthy 10" sprigs in one quart of cream to see how the flavor would take. After it came to room temperature, we tasted it. Simply amazing. It added wonderful depth to the rich dairy. By far, the best part was the flavor bursts of seeds and bits of buds. 

Epazote Suspended in Cream

I strained out the epazote while making sure the pops of flavor passed through and tasted the spent sprigs. They still had a good amount of flavor so down the waste not want not candied road we went. Jacqueline gave me the ratio using honey, but we couldn't find any. I happened upon some agave and couldn't have been happier.

Agave Candied Epazote & Bottom of the Pan Syrup
I added the epazote to the hot syrup and allowed it to cool for a bit. Then I pulled out the sprigs and arranged them on a wire rack. Of course, we had to taste the syrup. Freaking delicious! Soda was the next logical step. Jacqueline poured a lemon seltzer over ice and I stirred in the syrup. It was brilliant. Pulling out the carbonator and doing a proper soda is on our list.

Candied Epazote Syrup

  • (2) 10" long, healthy sized epazote sprigs
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c agave syrup
  • 1/2 c water
  • Add everything except the epazote to a small pan
  • Heat at medium, stir until sugar dissolves then bring it to 230F
  • Remove the pan from the heat
  • Above the pan, pull the epazote branches off the main stem
  • Rub the epazote between your hands to release the buds and seeds into the pan
  • Put the epazote into the syrup and submerge
  • Allow it to cool to room temperature
  • Remove the epazote sprigs and set them on parchment or wax paper
  • Pour the syrup through a coarse mesh strainer to remove the remaining large bits and allow the flavor pops to pass
Only eat the buds and seeds off the candied epazote because the stems are pretty tough.

As always, stay inspired and keep the ideas bouncing.

Trail Mix Butter, The New PB&J

A month ago the idea of making trail mix butter popped into my head and I put it out there. @maxfalkowitz caught it and we bounced a few interesting ideas back and forth. The one that resonated with me was ice cream. Pure genius.

Trail Mix Butter Ice Cream with Honeycomb Candy & Smoked Molasses

Ok. What is this trail mix butter you speak of? It's simply processing your favorite snack combo of nuts, dried fruits and candy coated chocolate into a spread. However, the result is far from simple. The butter is a harmonious marriage of all the ingredients that's freaking delicious. A complex flavor bomb best described as peanut butter and jelly on crack.

Trail Mix Butter on Rye

Now that I had the key ingredient for the ice cream, I needed some guidance. I posted Max who supplied a few killer peanut butter ice cream recipe options. I figured all I had to do was swap out PB for TMB. The resulting frozen delight was amazing. The base was infused with every single flavor component of the trail mix. The tiny bits of dried fruit, peanut and candy were wonderful flavor and texture pops. After an overnight freeze, it had a nice soft serve consistency. Thinking less sugar on the next run to harden it up a bit.

Trail Mix Butter Ice Cream Churning

Trail Mix Butter (TMB)

  • 60g dried black mission figs
  • 60g flame raisins
  • 100g smoked dry roasted peanuts
  • 48g candy coated chocolates
  • 48g candy coated peanut butter pieces
Take all the above (or your favorite trail mix) and spin it in a food processor until you get a paste with tiny chunks. Reference the TMB on rye picture above. Yields more than the cup required for the ice cream.

Trail Mix Butter Ice Cream

As always, stay inspired and keep the ideas bouncing.

Hot Flame Raisin Clementine Bitters

I never miss an opportunity to char fruit over screaming hot coals after I'm done grilling. The caramelization and scorched bitter bits is an unforgettable combo. 

I saw clementines on the table and flamed citrus peel immediately came to mind. I started splitting them to put on the grill and saw a pint of flame raisins. Figuring raisins in clementine juice would bloom when intensely heated, I jammed one raisin into each segment of a few halves. Onto the grill they went.

Charred Flame Raisin Packed Clementines

Success! I ate one skin and all. It was a killer complex combination of flavors and textures. The raisins transformed into bursts of jelly and the skin tasted like smoky orange bitters. It was so good I couldn't help but bang out a cocktail. I grabbed the Boston shaker and muddled a packed clementine into a Negroni. Strained it into a glass of ice, added a touch of seltzer and kicked back to enjoy.

So the next time your grill is still hot, go ahead and put any fruit on and taste what happens.

As always, stay inspired and keep the ideas bouncing.

Charred Oak Barrel Seasoned Steak

I recently received a generous gift of vinegar barrel shavings thanks to @r8cheljane and @minus8vinegar. I've been brainstorming ideas on how to use them. Smoking was too obvious...

I love direct contact coal roasting after all is said and done with a grilling/smoking run. Nothing beats tossing root vegetables on, shutting the cover and harvesting deliciousness the next day. However, it sacrifices a significant amount of the product, which gets incinerated. Then I thought why not use the shavings as a sacrificial insulator? I was sure it would provide wood fired flavor to boot.

Oak Barrel Shaving Pressed Sirloin

I pulled a sirloin tip directly out of a marinate and pressed oak shavings as if I was breading. The wet coating was enough to adhere and soak the wood. I placed the steak directly on hardwood coals for 4 minutes, flipping every minute.

 Charred Wood Shaving Steak Tip

The result yielded flavors of a wood fired steak with hints of smoke. It was pretty easy to get the charred shavings off. A traditional wood grilled crust didn't happen and that's okay. This method has serious potential and deserves further investigation.

As always, hope you're inspired to create and keep the ideas bouncing.

Rhubarb Tinted Glass Candy

I still can't get enough rhubarb. I've been tasting it practically every day for the past couple of weeks and brainstorming ideas. How do I maintain the brightness and punch? What acidic ingredient can it replace? Don't overlook the crunch. So much potential and I'm sad the season is practically over.

In the past, I've used the microwave to make instant lollipops driven by citrus and vinegar. It only made sense to bridge this application with the tart stems.

Transparent Rhubarb Candy
The first run of rhubarb candy yielded a lovely fruit leather, but it wasn't quite what I was looking for. I attempted to remove more juice from the thin slices.

Rhubarb Candy Dome
I patterned the sweetened rhubarb on a cooking sprayed bowl to form a sweet and sour shell.

Carbonated Rum Cake on Rhubarb Leather
The liquid content was still too high so it didn't maintain shape. Regardless, it went well with carbonated rum cake, red bean malted milk foam and fresh rhubarb.

Rhubarb Leather

Note: Microwaves vary so you may need to alter durations and power settings
  • Slice rhubarb as thin as possible on a mandoline if you have one
  • Dry the rhubarb by compressing a single layer between paper towels
  • Cut out pieces of parchment paper the size of a dinner plate
  • Lay out slices rhubarb on parchment 1/2" apart
  • Microwave in 20 second increments until most of the juice is driven out
  • Dredge the rhubarb in granulated sugar
  • Lay out the slices on a new piece of parchment 
  • Microwave in 20 second increments until the sugar caramelizes
  • Allow it to cool to room temperature 

As always, keep the ideas bouncing so we can all benefit.

Rhubarb Jam, Sweet Savory Sensation

Last year I made a killer rhubarb chive flower IPA jam. Every flavor element harmonized and I probably ate a pint throughout the cooking process. It danced on the sweet savory line and was amazingly versatile. I put it on everything...

Stuck on gin, I decided to swap out the IPA this year. I was blown away once again.

Rhubarb Chive Flower Gin Jam Started

Things to consider:
  • Use sugar sparingly so you can taste all the elements
  • Put it on and in everything sweet or savory
  • Serve it at any temperature
  • If you're making a big batch, separate portions out at different cook times
  • Mix uncooked elements of the jam back in at the point of use

I hope this inspires you to jam with rhubarb. Please share what you come up with so we can keep the ideas bouncing.

Vinegar Reduction Gone Right

I'm working on a vinegar chewing gum. The difficulty with using straight vinegar is that the flavor and acidity concentration is not enough to shine through the base. Inspired by @r8cheljane, I decided to go with a vinegar gel center. I felt that a simple reduction would be a good start.

Spoon Suspended by Reduced Vinegar
On the heat, it was where I wanted it. Cooled down, not so much.

Pulled Concord Vinegar
It was like taffy so I stretched and twisted it for fun.

Vinegar Gum with Vinegar Reduction Center
The reduction spreads well and worked wonderfully between two layers of ice wine vinegar chewing gum.

There's lots of potential here. I plan on trying a "spun sugar" vinaigrette. What are you thinking?

Marrying Maple with Refreshing Rhubarb

Rhubarb deserves better treatment than just pie or jam. Nothing beats the tart crunch of a freshly cut stalk from the garden. Granulated sugar dipping is great for a quick fix but has limitations. Infusing syrup into rhubarb is the way to go.

Maple Infused Rhubarb
This yields both maple infused rhubarb and rhubarb infused maple. 

Rhubarb Infused Maple Infused Rhubarb
Continue to reuse the infused syrup to play with concentration.

The Process
  • Fill a cream whipper to recommended capacity with thinly sliced rhubarb
  • Cover the rhubarb with any syrup
  • Double charge the canister with whatever you have
  • Refrigerate overnight

As always, I hope this idea inspires you to create. Please share what you come up with. 

Sherbet Shines with an Unlikely Partner

Take sherbet to the next level by replacing the citrus with quality vinegar. It adds wonderful depth of flavor that shines through.

Cola Concord Grape Vinegar Sherbet Float

I am patiently waiting on summer fruit to get here after a late start. In the meantime, I continue to seek bright and refreshing ideas to keep cool. Sherbet filled the immediate void. It's a wonderful combination of everything that's great about ice cream and sorbet. Untapped potential worth investigating. Give it a shot and you'll understand.

Guidelines for hacking a sherbet base
  • Replace the lemon juice with a delicious vinegar of your choice
  • Replace the dairy with a mix of equal parts cola and sour cream
  • Start with half the amount of sugar
  • Adjust sugar and vinegar to taste after the base is mixed
If you don't have an ice cream machine, try the ChefSteps dry ice process. It's a good time.

As always, please share your ideas so we can all benefit.

Refreshing Reconstitution - Customize Your Dried Fruit

Dehydration of fruits is a tasty concept born of preservation. Due to the concentration in flavor and sugar, it's not pleasing to eat very many without a hunk of cheese, bar of chocolate or handful of nuts to compliment. Mixing them into a backdrop like bread, yogurt, salad or granola is driven by the transformations as you chew. Reconstituting and adding them to a sauce, braise or soup brings depth. I could go on. We all have methods that we know and love, but here's what else.

Ice Wine Vinegar Infused Golden Raisins

I recently discovered that using a rapid infusion technique with golden raisins and ice wine vinegar is delicious. The puffed up former grapes became rebalanced bursting bites that transformed the pasty center into a delightful jam. It became fruit again.

There's lots of potential with infinite combinations of dried fruit and flavored liquid. Maybe a Bloody Mary tomato or olive oil olives? I hope you'll give the process a shot and share what you dream up.

Equipment: 1 pint (1/2 liter) cream whipper, 2 CO2 chargers

Instructions: Add a 1/2 cup of golden raisins to the cream whipper canister. Pour in enough vinegar to cover the raisins. Pressurize the unit with two charges. Refrigerate overnight. When depressurizing, the vinegar will foam so make sure you set up a catch cup. Don't toss the sweetened vinegar. It makes for a great soda.


Museum of Food and Drink's Meet & Greet
Held on Friday July 19th from 4 to 6 PM ET


Hi all, welcome to @mofad’s Q&A on Twitter. We have the @mofad team under this handle and Dave Arnold as @cookingissues. #mofad

Q & A

Q2 @cookingissues When did you first have the idea to open a food museum and why do you think it’s important? #mofad

A2 I was at the Museum of Natural History and realized food need a museum on that scale. #mofad

A2 I also realized starting a museum like that is impossible. The solution: start with groups of individual exhibitions #mofad

A2. Make each exhibition as cool and thorough as any exhibition at a larger museum. That's the way to grow. #mofad

Q3. Everyone, what would be your dream exhibit at @mofad? #mofad

A3: Monster “fish tank” labyrinth immersion circulator demonstrating a whole array of low temp cooking techniques. #mofad

@ourcookquest MOFAD meets aquarium, awesome. #mofad

@mofad A3: An exhibit showing what happens scientifically when fermentation occurs. #MOFAD

@_Mark_S Another pet topic here at MOFAD HQ. #microbes #mofad

@mofad A3: Traveling pop-up 'food court', representing different immigrant influences in America. Everything $5 or less. #mofad

@matthewjennings Good idea. Maybe rotate the offerings depending on which region / city it's in. #mofad

Jean Dough ‏@ourcookquest
What would you make for this? RT @matthewjennings A3: Traveling pop-up 'food court'... #mofad

@mofad @matthewjennings A food truck roundup is one way to make such an idea a reality. Makes sense w/#mofad pop up to have mobile partners.

A3: Next pop up exhibit: an oversized chile roaster with serious BTUs. Could tumble roast all sorts of goodness! #mofad

@ourcookquest We'd have people sneezing for miles around! #mofad

@mofad A3: I'd love to see flavor/texture/temperature preferences in major food cultures and how they are acheived. #MOFAD #crunch 

MuseumOfFoodAndDrink ‏@mofad
@_Mark_S We're fascinated by this, too. (Why do Americans hate natto and tororo?) #mofad

Q4 @cookingissues will the @mofad focus on American cuisine? Or more general culinary trends? #mofad

A4 Excellent question. Sometimes we will focus on American topics, but we are interested in the whole world. #mofad

A4 NY is a great place for MOFAD because New York, more than any other US city, represents what happens when the world comes together #mofad

Q5: Everyone, what do you think was the tastiest time in history? #mofad

A5 Throughout history and cultures, people like things that taste good. #mofad

@mofad A5: Now. #mofad

Right now with all the serious creativity, sharing & tech! RT @mofad Q5: Everyone,what do you think was the tastiest time in history? #mofad

@mofad A5: Hmm.. probably Medieval Times. #MOFAD

Nice. Going old school there. RT @IronWhisk @mofad A5: Hmm.. probably Medieval Times. #MOFAD

@mofad Isn't the best time right now? Seriously. What don't we have now that there was
before? #mofad

@PrfctLitlBites Well, we can't eat Steller's Sea Cow anymore. That was so delicious we drove it extinct. #mofad

RT A5 @entreedallas: @PrfctLitlBites @mofad @CookingIssues I hate it when things delicious themselves into extinction. #mofad

@PrfctLitlBites What about Thai cuisine pre-chiles? #mofad

A5 Hannah says: the height of imperial China, only if I were a Qin emperor #mofad

@cookingissues A5 The whole how much should we manipulate food argument. Some things are best left alone. #mofad

A5 Emma says: Japan (more specifically Nagasaki) at the height of Portuguese and Dutch trading #mofad

Q6 How about the reasons to keep backing the kickstarter even though we've made our goals? #mofad

A6 Picture @mofad, now picture a guy with his pants pockets turned inside-out #mofad

A6 We've got just enough to fund the puffer, thanks to all of you, but need help moving forward with other programs #mofad

A6 The kickstarter goals were the bare minimum needed to exhibit the gun. We are by no means flush. #mofad

A6 More backing means we grow faster, can go more places, and it sends a message to NYC govt that we have broad support. #mofad

@mofad A6: Exceeding fundraising goals means ed programming & outreach/education opportunities. #mofad

A6: you guys taking the puffing gun on the road? What would it take to hit the west coast? Sure @evankleiman would like to know. #mofad

@ourcookquest It would take the enough backers and enough resources. We would love to do it. #mofad

@matthewjennings So true! We can't grow without cash. (Sad truth) #mofad

Q7 Have you tried puffing anything unusual? Would meat products like dried shrimp, bottarga & pork skin work? #mofad

A7 We haven't puffed a lot in the gun...yet. Just a couple of test puffs. #mofad

A7 pork skin (any skin) would clearly work. I have wondered about dried shrimp and scallops --and casein gels. #mofad

A7 in principle, anything that can get soft with heat,  without blowing apart, and set on cooling, can be puffed. #mofad

@CookingIssues A7 except for PDiddy. ;) #mofad

@ourcookquest While I can't puff Sean Puffy Combs, I bet I can puff dehydrated cock's combs #mofad

@CookingIssues A7 do you have a dream cereal puffing dough flavor combo? Sweet and savory please. #mofad

@ourcookquest We will definitely be doing some savory work. #mofad

@CookingIssues voting for fish sauced cream of mushroom puff #mofad

@cookingissues A7: is the puffing gun difficult to break? How well does it clean if you put something crazy in it? #mofad

@ourcookquest You clean the gun by tumbling bolts inside of it. No joke. #mofad

@cookingissues very cool. It's all about being industrial. What about residual smells? Sanitation easy? #mofad

@ourcookquest That's what the early cereal gurus wanted -bland, easy to digest pre-cooked starch. Puffs with no milk no sugar no salt #mofad

Q8 Any plans on looking backward to key moments in food/drink history as well as pushing forward? #mofad

A8 Absolutely. One example is looking at how spices drove the Age of Exploration. #mofad

A8 The history of food is vitally important to our mission. We use food as a lens to view history, culture, and science. #mofad

A8 Another: prohibition and how that changed beverage culture in the US #mofad

A8 The temperance movement that pre-dated prohibition is actually tied into the same cultural wave that spawned breakfast cereal #mofad

@cookingissues always thought it would be wonderful to see a cookbook library archiving how home food preparation developed & fads 2 #mofad

Q9 Is overall goal to provide an experience to get folks interested in general, or to really delve into each exhibit? #mofad

A9 Both. #mofad

A9 I don't want anyone to say a bigger museum could do a better job on the subjects we tackle. We must delve in. #mofad

A9: Been to many museums that are general and they turn me off. #mofad

A9 At the same time any exhibit we do has to address larger issues in the history, economics, science, and culture of food in general #mofad

Q10 Why is the puffing gun your first exhibit? #mofad

A10 The puffing gun sits at a great intersection of science, culture, and history. #mofad

A10 It's a lot of what @mofad wants to do wrapped in a shiny, 3200-lb package. #mofad

@mofad can you elaborate on your A10? #mofad

A10 Besides the fact that we just love the Puffing Gun so damned much, it really is a good self-contained starting point for us. #mofad

A10 Plus, the puffing gun is only a preview of a much larger exhibit to come on cereal #mofad

@ourcookquest @mofad Q10 would make a great essay. <--why I asked abt a print companion for #mofad

Q11: What do you want us to try puffing in the puffing gun? #mofad

@matthewjennings @PrfctLitlBites @_Mark_S what do you guys want to put in the puffing gun? #MOFAD

@ourcookquest @matthewjennings @PrfctLitlBites I want to make rice cakes with puffed pork skin, dried shrimp and black rice. #mofad

@_Mark_S Sounds amazing. Puffed black rice is apparently pretty easy to make at home. #mofad

RT @aaronhoskins @_Mark_S @matthewjennings @PrfctLitlBites Pretty sure the talented @brooke_mosley did a Rice Krispie treat like that #MOFAD

@CookingIssues Bringing the rice cake out of the shadows. Maybe puff some peppercorns? #MOFAD

@CookingIssues can you puff ground grains like cornmeal to make micro puffs? #mofad

@ourcookquest I'd think so. #mofad

@ourcookquest Most likely. The guy who discovered puffing (Alexander Anderson) did this with cornstarch #mofad

@CookingIssues would be interesting to find out the optimal sized puff for best texture experience. #mofad

A11: @harold_mcgee wants to try puffing green coffee beans. No guarantee it would be delicious. #mofad

A11: azuki beans, chewy ginger candy, cardamom and nitrogen shattered bubble gum. #mofad

A11: @ourcookquest All at once? Could be good as a topping for anmitsu. #mofad

A11: Piper at @bookeranddax wants to try puffing hot dogs. #NotGoodWithMilk #mofad

Made me think corn dogs! RT @mofad A11: Piper at @bookeranddax wants to try puffing hot dogs. #NotGoodWithMilk #mofad

In my twenties I made a cereal for myself with sugared pork rinds and bean shaped marshmallows. Piggles and Beanies. #GoodWithMilk #mofad

A11: @cookingissues What about tofu skin? #mofad

@mofad A11: Seaweed, BBQ, Gin & tonics...sorry they are on my mind today. #MOFAD

A11: @matthewjennings Seaweed definitely puffable, at least according to a Japanese co. that makes mini puffing guns. #mofad

Which ones? @_Mark_S @matthewjennings @mofad A:11 I'm also interested in pork skin, but also grains in general. #MOFAD

A11: @cookingissues Will you be developing a custom puff ingredient that you can use in a drink? #mofad

@ourcookquest I can't puff stuff for my business in the museum's gun #mofad

Needs a tshirt. RT @CookingIssues: @ourcookquest I can't puff stuff for my business in the museum's gun #mofad

I want to puff grass (any old Stan Freberg fans out there?) #mofad

@mofad @PrfctLitlBites Legumes? Could we do: alfalfa, clover, peas, beans, lentils, soybeans, peanuts? #puffthemagicPUFFINGGUN #mofad

@ourcookquest @_Mark_S @matthewjennings @mofad Been playing with freekeh & bulgur a lot lately. Love to see it puffed #mofad

A11: @PrfctLitlBites Great suggestions. Farro's been getting a lot of love, and freekeh's feeling left out. #mofad

@ourcookquest Herbal things. Can I puff a sage leaf? Pesto bits. #mofad

Can the puffing gun fit up the Yale College TD Bell Tower, and if so will you puff some delicacies over Harvard-Yale weekend? #MOFAD

@RaviDGoel Not in the bell tower, but we could do it on the quad! #mofad

@ourcookquest @CookingIssues @RaviDGoel I want a full auto-puffing gun. #mofad

@kitchenmage These days, commercial puffing guns are fully automated. Ours... not so much. #mofad

That's what interns are for. ;) RT @mofad @kitchenmage These days, commercial puffing guns are fully automated. Ours... not so much. #mofad

@CookingIssues More science to investigate. My geek-cook mind is racing. So many flat things need puffing! #mofad

Puffed malt. That is all. #mofad @mofad @ourcookquest

@amytmaster Perfect. Maybe we can double-puff malted milk balls. #mofad

Don't forget ground green coffee! RT @mofad @amytmaster Perfect. Maybe we can double-puff malted milk balls. #mofad @cookingissues

Q12: Will there be opportunities for traveling exhibits to visit other parts of the country? From @SustainFood4T #mofad

A12 If we can get the money and the interest we would love to visit other parts of the country with our exhibits #mofad

Q13 Going back in history is there any food that U don't know how they made it? (ie food equiv of the Pyramids) from @rubydeubry #mofad

@mofad @rubydeubry #mofad Roman liquamen. No-one knows just how they made it No-one is gonna experiment, either, as the base is rotting fish

@CatzInCowbridge Sally Grainger has been studying and making that stuff. I have tasted some of it. Pretty damned good. #mofad

A13: @CatzInCowbridge Fish sauces could be their own mini exhibit. Japanese ishiri is probably pretty close. #mofad

@mofad @CatzInCowbridge @cookingissues been working on a fish sauce cured bacon! #mofad

#mofad I believe trumpets may have to be involved (in the Proclamation) as well ;)

@ourcookquest It is. Sally Grainger's guts-only 3 year old mackerel Garum is a dead ringer for aged Japanese squid-guts Ishiri #Love #mofad

Q14 Why does sticking your hand in a bag of lentils feel so good? Curious about the feelings touching food inspires. @Erin_Fairbanks #mofad

A14 Peter likes the way the interior of fava bean pods feel. So soft. #mofad

A14: Like how some types of kale are sticky when you tear it. Also quite delicious. #mofad

Q14 Smashing your fingers through buckets of rice or dry beans like iron-fist kung-fu trainees doesn't feel great. But I am weak. #mofad

Q15: Will there be a restaurant in the museum? With puffed stuff?? from @amytmaster #mofad

@amytmaster Most certainly. The whole idea is to tie the restaurant into the exhibitions, to make a holistic experience. #mofad

A15. Once the museum has a space with 3 full-sized exhibits, we will probably have at least a cafe. #mofad

A15 And DEFINITELY no wraps. @cookingissues hates wraps. #mofad

@mofad Chicken club? What planet you from? I eat Turkey Clubs and they is awesome. #mofad

@mofad All good people hate wraps. #mofad

Aren't egg rolls just fried wraps? RT @mofad A15 And DEFINITELY no wraps. @cookingissues hates wraps. #mofad

@ourcookquest Fried wraps are great #Chimichanga #mofad

Fried wraps + lettuce even better #KoreanSsam #winning #mofad

Can @cookingissues suggest a coating so it stays crispy? RT @mofad Fried wraps + lettuce even better #KoreanSsam #winning #mofad

What if you made the wrap interesting using a different grain & nixtamalization? RT @CookingIssues @mofad All good people hate wraps. #mofad

Q16 Where do you think the food industry is heading? We're organic but food is still processed. From @thesugarchef #mofad

A16 Sometimes I am hopeful, sometimes baleful about the prospects of the food industry. One of the reasons to start the museum #mofad

A16: I have the fear that organic will not end up being as beneficial as local with the commercialization. #mofad

Q17 What other demonstrations do you have planned after Boom? from @amytmaster #mofad

A17 We have a lot planned. One is called Food Forum - take controversial food issues and bring experts together to debate #mofad

Q18, take 2: What will be in the museum? Will any of the exhibits be edible? from @HeritageRadioNetwork #mofad

A18 At MOFAD you will see, smell touch and taste real, live food. Another reason for brick and mortar. You can't eat the internet. #mofad

Examples please. RT @CookingIssues A18 At MOFAD you will see, smell touch and taste real, live food... #mofad

Q19 @cookingissues what are your sons' ideas for exhibits? from @ourcookquest #mofad

A19 Booker only wants to think about Russ and Daughters salmon and fish roe, Dax just wants to blow stuff up. #mofad

Q20 Is it feasible you think to puff larger hunks of stuff: fist-sized rather than pellet-sized? from @PopSciEats #mofad

@PopSciEats You have to heat through to the core of the product before the outside scorches. I don't know the upper size limit. Yet. #mofad

Q21 Will the museum have more of a domestic or international bent? from @amytmaster #mofad

@amytmaster Both. To the extent that the history of US food is the history of its immigrants, I don't always have to choose. #mofad

How much money would it take to make all of your @mofad dreams come true? #mofad @ourcookquest

@amytmaster We will roll out in a number of iterations. Puffing gun:150k, Full sized exhibit+gallery 2-3mil, 3 exhibit space 23 mil. #mofad

@amytmaster By the time I'm dead I want the museum in a huge space --100's of millions of dollars (as long as we are talking dreams) #mofad

Q1 What is your favorite breakfast cereal? #mofad

A1 Frosted Shredded Mini Wheats and Life #mofad

@mofad A1: Golden Grahams. #mofad

A1 rice krispies! @mofad Q1 What is your favorite breakfast cereal? #mofad

A1 Cocoa rice krispies to yield crazy sweet chocolate cereal milk! #mofad

A1: Honey Nut Cheerios #mofad

A1: Honey Graham Os! #mofad

@mofad A1 Cocoa Puffs #mofad

@matthewjennings Good one! Do they even make those anymore? #mofad

@IronWhisk A classic. (Though not made in a puffing gun.) #mofad

@mofad A1: Steel cut oats #MOFAD

A1 Sweet cereal was forbidden fruit for Peter as a child so he has a weak spot for Cinnamon Toast Crunch #mofad

@_Mark_S Delicious. Not RTE (ready-to-eat), but we'll let it slide. #mofad

@mofad A1: fave puffed cereal would have to be cap'n crunch! #mofad

@nanasmamee One of our faves. According to our cereal personality test, Cap'n Crunch lovers live on the wild side. #mofad

@mofad good to know! 😜#mofad

I wonder if cocoa nibs can be puffed to make a cocoa puff analog #mofad

Puffed ground coffee for micro bursting caffeine delivery. #mofad

@ourcookquest ground coffee is already partially puffed --coffee puffs as it is roasted. Bet we could puff green beans and post roast #mofad

@CookingIssues what about coffee beans then? #MOFAD


That wraps MOFAD's first Twitter Q&A. Thanks everyone. <24hrs left on our Kickstarter, help us break $100K  #mofad

If we hit $100K, Dave @cookingissues does lemonade cleanse, Peter does Special K diet, Emma does Cowboy Diet. Bring the pain! #mofad

Enjoy the weekend everybody! #mofad

@mofad Can't wait to see this become a reality. Huge thx to @CookingIssues for all the ways you've influenced me & the culinary world #mofad

@mofad @CookingIssues thanks for taking the time to let us know what #MOFAD is all about. The potential of this museum is simply amazing.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the #mofad chat!

Museum of Food and Drink's Meet & Greet Tweetup

BOOM! The Puffing Gun

Update: Thanks to the MOFAD team, Dave Arnold and our food community, the tweetup was a huge success. Check out the MOFAD Q&A page to see everything that was shared for you to learn all about this amazing museum. Enjoy!

Please join us on Friday, July 19th from 4 to 6 PM ET for the #mofad Q&A tweetup. We are holding this event to give you an opportunity to chat with Dave Arnold of Cooking Issues and the MOFAD team about the Museum of Food and Drink and its first pop up exhibit: BOOM! The Puffing Gun and the Rise of Breakfast Cereal.

What do you want to know about the museum or the puffing gun? Do you have any other questions you’d like to ask the MOFAD crew? Tweet your questions using #mofad anytime before and during the chat. We’ll select some to post during the tweetup. Please do your best to limit the characters to 125 to allow us flexibility for adding question prefixes.

We organized this tweetup because MOFAD is going to change the way we learn about food and they won't succeed without our community support. They only have until 9 PM on Saturday, July 20  to fund the effort on Kickstarter. Please take the time to check out the explosive video at and consider a contribution. Each and every dollar amount, no matter how big or small, counts.

Please feel free to post @mofad to find out more about their effort.

Official abbreviated link to the Kickstarter:

Here are some brief instructions for those of you new to Twitter # chats.

Option 1: If you only plan on quickly checking out the chat & posting a few tweets.
·         Use the Twitter search function during the time of the chat and search for: #mofad. This will display all of the tweets with #mofad.
·         If you want to post a tweet to the chat, add #mofad to any part of your post.

Option 2: If you plan on chatting for an extended period
·         Log onto:
·         Type in: mofad

A Place for Meeting...

Mache from the Rooftop Garden

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time. I’m hoping what I learned from Chef Steve Johnson of Rendezvous will be just as informative to you regardless of the time and place you read this.
It was a cold day with snow on the ground and I was thankful when the kitchen staff let me in. Shortly after I warmed up, Chef shows up and asks me if I’d like a cappuccino. Who could refuse?

We ended up at the bar and struck up a conversation about his citrus trees growing in the restaurant. He discussed the difficulties with the bugs that were a constant battle. He was only able to yield one grapefruit that was zested for use at the bar. He segued into how he had this amazing Meyer lemon jam from a friend's tree. "It was one of the best things I tasted that year." At that moment, I knew this was going to be a fun conversation.

Chef Johnson was flattered that he was being interviewed on the heels of Chef Jose Andres and Harold McGee. I expressed to him that my interest in people of the food world was not based on popularity but what I could learn and share with others.
He began to talk about how On Food and Cooking influenced him. He bought the book shortly after it came out and it was his bedside bible. “I took the book to the beach with me on summer vacation … while my friends were reading paperback detective novels. Once I started reading the book I couldn’t put it down. Twenty years ago, I was completely fascinated by what was inside that book.”
“This is it. It’s exactly what I’m looking for. I understood better the science of cooking and the why behind the how. You take those two building blocks and it completely advances your knowledge. For me, that book is one of the top five influences on my career.”

The Questions

What inspired you to move to France in ’76 and become a chef?
He discovered an interest in language early on and found he had a knack for it. He took a French class in the eighth grade and it blossomed from there. Eventually, he targeted a college with an abroad program that put him in Montpellier his junior year.
“It was that point in time that I came into contact with all these flavors. [There were] … approaches to food and ways to think about food that I never encountered before. It was an awakening for me for sure.”
He was fully immersed in the culture, which in France meant food. Chef also came to understand that he preferred to work on his feet. When he returned to the U.S., he got a job washing dishes in a restaurant. His parents were not pleased.
He worked his way through the ranks and chose jobs with skills of interest. “Little by little I fashioned myself a culinary education designed around trying to recreate in a professional setting my experiences as a young person in France.”
How did food impact you as a child?
“I was born in a rural small town in Central Ohio in ’56. …in that part of the world, people ate differently than they do now. My mother’s father had an enormous vegetable garden and we ate out of it a lot. He was very generous. When he went to visit neighbors, he would bring a basket of vegetables as a gift and he was a very popular man in our town… “
“I enjoyed spending time in the garden. I thought it was a wonderful place. I was impressed at an early age by the way he gave food that he grew himself as gifts to other people and made them happy. A very early lesson in how food can be a vehicle to give pleasure to other people. In the heart of every cook, there’s that sentiment or motivation.”
What are you working on? What’s new?
“My approach is I’m a tinkerer. I’m not a big concept guy. I like to go to work, put on my apron and fiddle around. That’s how I go about my business.”
“My ingredients mostly come from local and seasonal sources. There are no big wow discoveries.”
He frequents the farmers' markets, finds what looks interesting and works his magic. He also goes through seed catalogs, tries out what strikes his fancy and utilizes what works.
“I’ve fallen in love with Maras, a pepper from Eastern Turkey. I spend a lot of my time week in and week out trying to find out new ways to use this ingredient. It has a smoky kind of quality to it much like ancho peppers, but they’re not smoked. I get rough cut milled that still has oils in the flesh. It has a moderate heat to it. I use it to make chicken soup and sautéed squid. I’ll use it for anything.”
What’s the oldest piece of equipment in the Rendezvous kitchen that’s irreplaceable?
“Two 24” double handled cast iron skillets. We use them multiple times every single day.”
His crew was cooking some pears when I arrived. Just prior, pork shoulder for the cassoulet. Later on they plan to saute mushrooms.
“They’re indispensable. One piece of equipment beyond a chef’s knife and a pair of tongs would be a cast iron skillet. Hands down. I have friends who moved into a cottage and I gave them a cast iron skillet for Christmas. It’s the most obvious first gift.”
What profession would you pursue if you were not a chef?
“Late in life I came to appreciate the marine environment. I am fascinated by the natural world. I don’t want to say marine sciences because it sounds too lofty… I might have been a deck hand or a marine biologist.”

The Winter Bounty

In the middle of the interview, I got a tour of the Rendezvous rooftop garden. We managed our way up a metal ladder and a set of cinder blocks posing as stairs with snow crunching under our feet. I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw.
Like any garden, there are tools, compost and an owl.

The flat rooftop has full sun exposure. I was fascinated by his irrigation system that was simply condensed water from the restaurant’s air conditioning units.

“By using these vegetable crates from deliveries, lining them with cardboard and setting them in the puddles…  Roots pick up water as they need it. We run these units from Memorial to Labor Day. When the sun is the hottest throughout the middle of the summer, I have an abundant supply of water. April, May, Sept and October…  natural rain supplements. It takes care of itself.”

“November through April, I compost with earthworms. When it was a warm day, I gathered earthworms from the bottom of the crates and put them into the compost pile.”

He showed me wintered over mint, chives, sage, thyme, lavender and horseradish. Crates were strategically placed to take advantage of the limited sun of the season. 

"This is mache. It’s a lettuce. It’s extremely hearty. It’s not uncommon to see it growing in the snow. It’s a slightly bitter green. Also referred to as corn lettuce.”

He fashioned a greenhouse so the rosemary bushes would survive the winter. Their size over the years made it difficult to transport them seasonally up and down the ladder. It was built with windows from a local restoration salvage house. It was strategically set over a vent from the restaurant that heats it throughout the winter. The biggest plants were celebrating their fifth anniversary. The melting snow and occasional rain was enough to keep the plants watered throughout the winter. 
“So we use this rosemary to flavor the roasted chicken broth. Also use it to flavor the pizza dough that we use for grilled pizzas and flatbread for bar snacks. We make this pizza dough in large batches two or three days a week.“
“[The garden] bigger last year and it will probably get bigger next year. Herbs work best because they are most tolerant of conditions. I grow some cherry tomatoes up here for fun so I can snack while I’m up here.”

The Takeaway

I learned a lot about Chef Johnson that day. The food he serves is a glimpse into how he was raised and his adventurous pallet rooted in his Southern France experience. A tinkerer who developed his own rooftop irrigation system and greenhouse with resources that would otherwise be wasted. A gardener who grows his own ingredients influenced by his grandfather’s generous spirit. A Francophile in touch with flavors of the Mediterranean sewn into the cuisine he serves. Chef Johnson has made Rendezvous a restaurant of its namesake. A wonderful place to meet up and get some downright solid food made by someone who truly cares about making people happy. I must get back there and see what's new.

The Where

Rendezvous in Central Square
502 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 576-1900 

OCQ Tweet Up: Food Idea Marathon - All day, all night

Please join us on Wednesday, March 23rd for the #OurCookQuest Food Fest marathon chat. We have folks lined up to post ingredients for you to respond with your immediate inspirations, recipe links, or whatever else comes to mind. There will be one ingredient posted every ten minutes from 8 AM EST to 1 AM EST the next day. That's seventeen hours of continuous food chatting and 102 total ingredients.

Swing by for an hour block to chat with a handle you know, pop in and out to comment on ingredients posted or join in because you are interested in the current theme. We organized this tweetup because we all know how much people who love food enjoy sharing their ideas and knowledge.

Here's the list of our eighteen generous volunteers who will be tossing out inspiring ingredients. Below are their start times, handles, themes and ingredient number assignments.

8am - @eatingtheweek - eat right with color - In1 to 6
9am - @poodle_power - breakfast - In7 to 12
10am - @veryculinary - dessert - In13 to 18
11am - @savvyhost - TBD - In19 to 24
12pm - @vagablonde515 - Mediterranean - In25 to 30
1pm - @authorjane & @silvanamondo - hungry for spring - In31 to 36
2pm - @heather_atwood - TBD - In37 to 42
3pm - @culinaryvixen - perplexing produce - In43 to 48
4pm - @thedailypalette - seasonal - In49 to 54
5pm - @ridining - sustainable seafood - In55 to 60
6pm - @oursweetlife - Italian -In61 to 66
7pm - @familyfoodie - ethnic food - In67 to 72
8pm - @ourcookquest - a surprise - In73 to 78
9pm - @chefatthemarket - farmers' market - In79 to 84
10pm - @bethanyrydmark - Zanzibar - In85 to 90
11pm - @nieceymo - sweet - In91 to 96
12am - @kimhonan - TBD - In97 to 102

Here are some brief instructions for those of you new to Twitter # chats.

Option 1: If you only plan on quickly checking out the chat & posting a few tweets.
  • Use the Twitter search function during the time of the chat and search for: #ourcookquest. This will display all of the tweets with #ourcookquest.
  • If you want to post a tweet to the chat, add #ourcookquest to any part of your post.
Option 2: If you plan on chatting for an extended period

OCQ Tweet Up: Joining Local Food Forces

A new #TweetUp started to connect everyone who has an interest in supporting local food. Our first chat was held on Wednesday, February 16th and it was quite the success. It was wonderful to see folks sharing knowledge and learning. The enthusiasm made me see how passionate people are about good food. There were a lot of amazing folks who truly appreciate the efforts of their favorite farms, purveyors and restaurants.

OCQ is all about community and the local food pages below were created to share what we learned about local.

Check out the informative Q&A exchange on local food basics and thoughts on being a locavore -

We started a nationwide local food master list to make it easier for you find what's available your area -

Future #OurCookQuest chats will be scheduled at least three days in advance. The tentative date for the next one is March 16th at 10pm EST. The focus is farmers and their plans for Spring. Please encourage your favorite farms to join the chat to tell us about their products and help spread the word on better food choices. If they're not on Twitter, swing by and be their advocate.

Food tastes so much better when it's grown by people who care about what you eat.

OCQ's "Special of the Week" Recipe Contest, A Community Supported Effort

Ingredient Guessing Game*


Thank you for your interest in the community supported recipe contest.  It is community supported because:

1. The prizes are being donated by generous parties.
2. The judges are from all over (US & Canada) and have a wide range of culinary experience.
3. A large group of food enthusiasts took the time to spread the word to bring you here. 

The focus of this contest is fun and I hope everyone who is involved has some. We're glad you're here to showcase your creativity and look forward to seeing what you come up with.


Background Story

I recently had an exchange with Lisa Waddle of  It started with her tweet about Sustainable Sundays being the new Meatless Monday. A few tweets later, I proposed a recipe contest.

That was the easy part. The daunting task was organizing the event and I knew that I couldn't do it all myself. I decided to use the power of social media to find volunteers. I pounded the pavement and was able to find a lot of generous folks willing to spare their time and donate to the prize pool.


What Do You Have to Do to Enter?
(See the Contest Rules page for all the requirements prior to submitting your entry.)

Come up with a recipe that has a catchy name. The use of alliteration is suggested, but not required. For example: Turmeric Tomato Turkey Tagine.

Highlight the recipe with a local/sustainable ingredient from a purveyor you support.

Snap a couple of pictures (one plated, one in process).

Email it to us.

Contest Rules Page


What Do I Have the Opportunity to Win?

There is a prize pool that is building. Most of the contributions are recently released cookbooks from well known authors. A good portion of them are signed copies.

The current prize pool contributors are (listed in alpha order): Chef Jose Andres, Melissa Clark, @Cooks_Books, Suzanne Cope, Chef Stuart Reb Donald, Amanda Hesser, @HiddenBoston, Evan Kleiman & yours truly.

Prize Pool Donor Page

We will keep the prize pool open for donations until the end of the first judging stage. Please tweet us at ourcookquest if you know anyone who's interested.


Who Else Wins?

One local/sustainable purveyor from each of the winning recipes will have a featured post on Local In Season to help promote their efforts.


What's Up With the Picture?

Each of the seven ingredients above start with the same letter as each day of the week. The first fully completed entry contestant to guess the seven dry/dried ingredients will win a single prize from the pool.


Sincere Thanks

A huge community of food enthusiasts made this happen. We couldn't have done it without your support.

I want to start by thanking all the judges on the panel for sacrificing their free time to make this all possible. I hope that we'll learn a little more about each other and share culinary knowledge as we go through the process.

Your Judges Page

A big shout out to our prize donors! We recognize that their wonderful contributions are key to gaining all the attention and excitement. Brilliant!

Last, but not least, I want to thank all of OCQ's followers for supporting our efforts and getting the word out.

* Photo inspired by Jane Ward and her daughter.