Alton Brown: my favorite, and only, Food Network obsession. I can take or leave the others (not in the market for hot chicks, however, Giada’s got some cooking chops), but his show, Good Eats, we DVR with religious fervor. There are evenings when my husband and I plop down with dinner and settle in for an evening of back-to-back Good Eats, soaking in his food science wisdom and crack pot humor. He confesses he flunked chemistry in high school and college — I call bullshit on that one. But it doesn’t matter…he makes cooking fun for those new to the craft and rejuvenates interest in those who’ve been cooking forever.
And his show titles rock: Crustacean Nation? Squid Pro Quo? The Fungal Gourmet? Fabulous…
When I watched his episode on salts (from Season 1), I switched to flaky kosher, finally understanding the restaurant industry’s obsession with these salts. Sure, I always had kosher in the cupboard but didn’t use it very often. Now, I’m a Jewish salt using fool… These days, the iodized is getting jealous. See a bit of the episode.
I didn’t realize how many people enjoyed Alton’s lessons until I witnessed the crazy-for-Alton crowd at a recent appearance in Atlanta. And he’s just as wacky in person as he is in on the show. A couple of tidbits…
#1. Horrified when his young daughter returned home from a sleepover raving about a delicious cheese in a can, Alton created his own. He placed heavy cream, smoked paprika, industrial powdered cheese (the one that adorns Cheetos), and salt in an aerosol whipped cream container. Then, he added a unique flavor, using a smoker and applewood chips and sent the resulting smoke directly into the container. Voila, all natural Cheez Whiz is born. Who knew fake food could be that easy to replicate?
#2. Culinary tech geeks have been fascinated with liquid nitrogen since Richard Blais popularized it on Top Chef. Me included. Using the eerie, smoke-like element, Alton crafted Red Bull sorbet:
In a mixer, he put 2 cans of Red Bull (if you’re a hater, like myself, you can substitute pretty much any liquid), 2 c. simple syrup (equal portions sugar and water), 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, 1 Tablespoon vodka (for consistency – since alcohol doesn’t freeze, it keeps the sorbet from being too icy). Once it’s combined, add 1 liter liquid nitrogen. May have to add more since Red Bull takes a lot to freeze. The liquid nitrogen canister cost $300 and filling it costs $25.
He made both recipes it look easy, but, hey, that’s what he’s paid to do… if it looked hard, none of us lazy cooks could muster the courage to experiment. With a down-to-earth, you-can-do-it-too attitude, he educates the masses and beholdens them to create more in their home kitchens. And Alton must be doing something right… he’s in his 10th year of production.
I adore Alton! I brine a turkey every Thanksgiving and my family gives thanks to Alton. I would love to see him live. Thanks for sharing some of he experience!