Book Club – Oct 29th, 2009

The following is a guest post by Tim Hwang.

Last week I had the pleasure, along with the eminently awesome Martin and Laura Wattenberg, to swing by Jeff’s place and get a taste of the stuff he’s been cooking up lately for his book. The long and short of it was that it was epic — completely blew my usual humdrum geek-dude diet of ramen and cold delivery pizza right out of the water. At this point, I have to admit that I’m thinking that it’ll be worth picking up the book to fend off the approaching onset of malnutrition and scurvy (to which I’m sure geeks world-round will have Jeff to thank once this book comes out)

I admit, I haven’t seen Jeff for awhile, mostly because he’s been completely swept under getting his book all together. In point of fact, he’s got all the pages of his book pinned all across the wall, like Russell Crowe’s character in that one scene from A Beautiful Mind. Jeff’s missing all the requisite paranoia about espionage and a government conspiracy, of course, but seeing his obsession for the past few months laid out on a wall was a treat. The project is really coming together.

In any case, beyond that rambling preamble, there’s the main part: the food. The meal for the evening was in three, delicious parts.

  • Sous-vide Lobster Tails
  • Lobster-mushroom souffle
  • 30 second chocolate cake
A previous guest blog post referred to Jeff Potter simply as “the magical Jeff Potter.” I like that. Not, of course, because the guy has magical powers or something, but instead because he does wacky things like DECIDE TO COOK LOBSTER TAILS IN A VACUUM SEALED BAG OF BUTTER in a water bath and it turns out so sweet and delicious. He explained that the original recipe calls for something like a gallon of butter or something obscene like that. Valiantly, we took the modest road and just made do with a few sticks of the stuff. Jeff explained how the butter basically played the role of a heat conductor, poaching the lobster at just the right level.
Afterwards, we moved onto the souffle, using a combination of the leftover lobster in the claws, and some cheese and mushrooms that we chopped up for the purpose. Jeff showed how the whisking of egg whites, either with an upward motion or a side-to-side motion close to the whites, could control how much air was mixed into the resulting foam.
Finally, we tried out a recipe that Jeff most recently found online, to make a chocolate cake in a mug in 30 seconds (play at home!). This was a neat one (a close cousin, I figure, of the much discussed Diet Coke Cake), essentially using a small bit of flour to create a microwavable, kid-friendly dessert. Tips: use cake flour and a bit of salt, we discovered that our all purpose-flour gives a more bready texture (which definitely comes with its own joys), and the chocolate flavor would have improved a bit from the addition of everyone’s favorite condiment.
All in all, it was a solid evening, see below for more photos from the event!

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