🎧 A computer learns about ingredients and recipes

A computer learns about ingredients and recipes by Jeremy Cherfas from Eat This Podcast
<img src="http://www.eatthispodcast.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/food2vec-banner.png"><br><br> Perhaps you've heard about IBM's giant Watson computer, which dispenses ingredient advice and novel recipes. Jaan Altosaar, a PhD candidate at Princeton University, is working on a recipe recommendation engine that anyone can use.<br><br> <audio class="u-audio" src="http://media.blubrry.com/eatthispodcast/p/mange-tout.s3.amazonaws.com/2017/food2vec.mp3" preload="none" controls="controls"><a href="http://media.blubrry.com/eatthispodcast/p/mange-tout.s3.amazonaws.com/2017/food2vec.mp3">audio</a></audio><br> <a class="button" title="download Eat This Podcast: A computer learns about ingredients and recipes" href="http://media.blubrry.com/eatthispodcast/p/mange-tout.s3.amazonaws.com/2017/food2vec.mp3">download</a><br><br> Subscribe: <a class="powerpress_link_subscribe powerpress_link_subscribe_itunes" title="Subscribe on iTunes" href="//www.eatthispodcast.com/feed/podcast/" rel="nofollow">iTunes</a> | <a class="powerpress_link_subscribe powerpress_link_subscribe_android" title="Subscribe on Android" href="http://subscribeonandroid.com/www.eatthispodcast.com/feed/podcast/" rel="nofollow">Android</a> | <a class="powerpress_link_subscribe powerpress_link_subscribe_rss" title="Subscribe via RSS" href="http://www.eatthispodcast.com/feed/podcast/" rel="nofollow">RSS</a> | <a class="powerpress_link_subscribe powerpress_link_subscribe_more" title="More" href="http://www.eatthispodcast.com/how-to-subscribe/" rel="nofollow">More</a><br> Support this podcast: <a href="https://www.patreon.com/etp">on Patreon</a>

Back in February I had retweeted something interesting from physicist and information theorist Michael Nielsen:

I found the article in it so interesting, there was some brief conversation around it and I thought to recommend it to my then new friend Jeremy Cherfas, whose Eat This Podcast I had just recently started to enjoy. Mostly I thought he would find it as interesting as I, though I hardly expected he’d turn it into a podcast episode. Though I’ve been plowing through back episodes in his catalog, fortunately this morning I ran out of downloaded episodes in the car so I started streaming the most recent one to find a lovely surprise: a podcast produced on a tip I made.

While he surely must have been producing the episode for some time before I started supporting the podcast on Patreon last week, I must say that having an episode made from one of my tips is the best backer thank you I’ve ever received from a crowd funded project.

Needless to say, I obviously found the subject fascinating. In part it did remind me of a section of Herve This’ book The Science of the Oven (eventually I’ll get around to posting a review with more thoughts) and some of his prior research which I was apparently reading on Christmas Day this past year. On page 118 of the text This discusses the classic French sauces of Escoffier’s students Louis Saulnier and Theodore Gringoire [1] and that a physical chemical analysis of them shows there to be only twenty-three kinds. He continues on:

A system that I introduced during the European Conference on Colloids and Interfaces in 2002 [2] offers a new classification, based on the physical chemical structure of the sauce. In it, G indicates a gas, E an aqueous solution, H a fat in the liquid state, and S a solid. These “phases” can be dispersed (symbol /), mixed (symbol +), superimposed (symbol θ), included (symbol @). Thus, veal stock is a solution, which is designated E. Bound veal stock, composed of starch granules swelled by the water they have absorbed, dispersed in an aqueous solution, is thus described by the formula (E/S)/E.

This goes on to describe in a bit more detail how the scientist-cook could then create a vector space of all combinations of foods from a physical state perspective. A classification system like this could be expanded and bolted on top of the database created by Jaan Altosaar and improved to provide even more actual realistic recipes of the type discussed in the podcast. The combinatorics of the problem are incredibly large, but my guess is that the constraints on the space of possible solutions is brought down incredibly in actual practice. It’s somewhat like the huge numbers of combinations the A, C, T, and Gs in our DNA that could be imagined, yet only an incredibly much smaller subset of that larger set could be found in a living human being.

Small World

The additional byproduct of catching this episode was that it finally reminded me why I had thought the name Jaan Altosaar was so familiar to me when I read his article. It turns out I know Jaan and some of his previous work. Sometime back in 2014 I had corresponded with him regarding his fantastic science news site Useful Science which was just then starting. While I was digging up the connection I realized that my old friend Sol Golomb had also referenced Jaan to me via Mark Wilde for some papers he suggested I read.

References

[1]
T. Gringoire and L. Saulnier, Le répertoire de la cuisine. Dupont et Malgat, 1914.
[2]
H. This, “La gastronomie moléculaire,” Sci Aliments, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 187–198, 2003 [Online]. Available: http://sda.revuesonline.com/article.jsp?articleId=2577 [Source]
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Chili prep for dinner tonight

Chili prep for dinner tonight

Instagram filter used: Juno


Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

  • Servings: 15-20
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A modifiable crock pot chili recipe

I always prefer a chili recipe with a higher proportion of meat, so this recipe goes much heaver in that department than most. Naturally, high quality ground beef can be substituted for the somewhat healthier turkey if preferred. The beans can be cooked in with the chili simultaneously, but I typically prefer to cook them separately for better doneness and quality as well as well as closer control of the overall soupiness of the chili.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 6 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 – 1.5 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on one’s tolerance for heat)
  • 3 pounds ground turkey (preferably dark meat), (could substitute ground beef)
  • 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
  • ground pepper
  • Two 28-ounce cans of (fire-roasted) diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 medium to large onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 green peppers, diced
  • 2 cups crushed corn tortilla chips
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 4 stalks of celery, finely diced
  • 4 carrots, finely diced

Ingredients for pinto beans

  • 3.5 cups of pinto beans
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1.5 teaspoon of bouillon (or 3 cups of chicken broth)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

Optional ingredients for toppings and serving

  • sliced scallions or 1/2 raw onion chopped
  • shredded/grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • sour cream
  • chopped (pickled) jalapeno
  • corn tortilla chips (or cornbread or white rice)

Directions

  • Bring the pinto beans, onion, garlic, and bouillon in a large pot with an equal amount of salted water to a low boil. Then reduce the heat and cook on low for 3-4 hours until done. Add additional water if necessary during coooking, but don’t allow the beans to become too soupy. Stir regularly to prevent burning to the bottom of the pan.
  • Put the tomatoes, celery, carrots, onions, peppers, cocoa powder, vinegar, oregano, garlic, crushed tortilla chips, and a teaspoon salt into a covered 6+ quart slow cooker over low heat for 6 hours.
  • While the above are beginning to cook, heat the oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat with the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin and cayenne and cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly, until the mixture is dark red and dry in texture. Add the ground turkey, previously seasoned with 1 teaspoon salt, and cook while stirring and breaking up into smaller pieces, until mixture is thoroughly combined. (The turkey doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through but should ideally be browned for better maillard reaction and subsequent flavor).
  • When the oil, paste, and turkey mixture is done, mix it in with the tomatoes, celery, carrots, et al, and finish cooking. Stir occasionally.
  • As the turkey/vegetable portion and the beans are done, mix them together in equal measure, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve with scallions, cheddar, sour cream, and pickled jalapeno over tortilla chips. (One could also substitute cornbread or even rice for the tortilla chips for alternate variations.)


Optional cocoa powder may seem a bit out of place in most chilies, but it can serve two functions here: it adds some depth of flavor (without being chocolaty as one may expect) while simultaneously thickening the sauce in the chili.

The celery, carrots, onions, and peppers are all also optional: they can be used to enhance/modify taste, but also add to not only the overall heartiness, but make the dish more veggie friendly for children without detriment to flavor or presentation.

I suggest serving the chili on a bed of tortilla chips (which can also function as a makeshift spoon or eating implement), but it can also be great with cornbread or even served over rice as additional options.

Leftovers can be refrigerated or even frozen (for several weeks) if necessary.


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Cream Scones Recipe

5 parts flour : 1 part sugar : 1.5 parts butter : 1 parts egg : 2 parts cream : 1.5 parts fruit

Cream Scones

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Light, flaky classic scones with full flavor

Ingredients

  • flour (all purpose generally yields better results than cake)
  • sugar
  • baking powder
  • salt
  • unsalted butter (cold)
  • fruit: usually dried currants, raisins, chocolate chips, or other fruit
  • egg
  • heavy cream
  • fruit zest (orange, lemon, grapefruit, other)
  • cinnamon
  •   Mise on place for scone ingredients

Other fats could be substituted for the butter, but butter generally tastes best here.  For the small handful of health conscious non-professional home cooks, absolutely do not substitute milk for the cream, otherwise the fat ratio for the recipe will be thrown completely off and your results will be horrifying.

Ratio

5 parts flour : 1 part sugar : 1.5 parts butter  : 1 parts egg : 2 parts cream : 1.5 parts fruit

Other ingredients (approximately per part)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt per part
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 oz zest

Professional kitchens scaling the recipe beyond 75 oz of flour, may wish to use 1.25 parts of sugar for more even results.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until mixed thoroughly.
  3. Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until the lumps of butter are just larger than the size of a pea. Any smaller and the scones will be tougher and less flaky.
  4. Mix together the cream, egg, (optional currants, raisins, fruit), and the zest, then mix into the flour/butter just until the dough comes together.
  5. Do not overwork the scone dough or the resultant scones will not be light and flaky. You should preferably be able to still see small chunks of butter in the dough.
  6. Roll the dough out into a disk about 1.5″ thick.
  7. Brush a light layer of cream (or milk) onto the top of the disk and sprinkle on a nice layer of cinnamon and sugar.
  8. Using a dough scraper cut the dough into eight equal wedges and place onto cooking sheet.
  9. Put the sheet of scone dough into the oven at 450 for 12-15 minutes until golden brown, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Cool for a few minutes and then enjoy fresh with clotted cream and fresh fruit.

Step-by-step photos

Follow the instructions in the captions below:

Ingredients for making scones
Ingredients for making scones

Mise on place for scone ingredients
Mise on place for scone ingredients
Close up of scone ingredients
Close up of scone ingredients
Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt
Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt
Put the cold butter into the flour mixture.
Put the cold butter into the flour mixture.
Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the lumps of butter are just larger than the size of a pea.
Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the lumps of butter are just larger than the size of a pea. Any smaller and the scones will be tougher and less flaky.
Mix together the cream, egg, and the zest, then mix into the flour/butter JUST until the dough comes together.
Mix together the cream, egg, (optional currants, raisins, fruit), and the zest, then mix into the flour/butter JUST until the dough comes together.
Do not overwork the scone dough.
Do not overwork the scone dough or the resultant scones will not be light and flaky.
Roll the dough out into a disk about 1.5" thick.
Roll the dough out into a disk about 1.5″ thick.
Brush a light layer of cream (or milk) onto the top of the disk.
Brush a light layer of cream (or milk) onto the top of the disk.
Close up of the dough disk with cream. You should preferably be able to still see small chunks of butter in the dough.
Close up of the dough disk with cream. You should preferably be able to still see small chunks of butter in the dough.
Sprinkle on a nice layer of cinnamon and sugar.
Sprinkle on a nice layer of cinnamon and sugar.
Close up of the texture of the dough.
Close up of the texture of the dough.

Using a dough scraper cut the dough into eight equal wedges and place onto cooking sheet.
Using a dough scraper cut the dough into eight equal wedges and place onto cooking sheet.
Put the sheet of scone dough into the oven at 450 for 12-15 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Put the sheet of scone dough into the oven at 450 for 12-15 minutes until golden brown, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Cool for a few minutes and then enjoy fresh with clotted cream and fresh fruit.
Cool for a few minutes and then enjoy fresh with clotted cream and fresh fruit.
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