Clear Pumpkin Pie Mixes Seasonal Comfort With Molecular Gastronomy

Allen Hemberger, Alinea
Allen Hemberger, Alinea

Some home cooks can’t tweak their Thanksgiving pumpkin pie recipe without their family members accusing them of sacrilege. But at Alinea in Chicago, chefs are nixing the dessert’s distinctive orange filling altogether. As Vogue reports, the three-Michelin-starred restaurant is serving up a version of the fall staple that’s perfectly clear.

The miniature slice of see-through pumpkin pie shares a few similarities with the traditional dish. It’s built on a pie crust foundation and topped with a dollop of whipped cream. But the content of the pie itself, which would normally be a rich orange-brown color, is a made from transparent gelatin. The true magic of the dish comes when you taste it: The course evokes that same warm, nostalgic experience as a slice of pumpkin pie that grandma would make.

That’s because the bite actually has pumpkin in it, even if you can’t see it. To create the dish, Alinea executive chef Mike Bagale and chef de cuisine Simon Davies prepare a “pumpkin pie stock” by making a conventional pumpkin filling, mixing it with water, and distilling the liquid in a rotary evaporator. This process gives them condensation that’s “basically pure aroma,” Bagale told Vogue. After seasoning the concentrated liquid and setting it in clear gelatin, the chefs have a bizarre-looking dessert that is, in essence, pumpkin pie.

Presenting familiar flavors in innovative packages is nothing out of the ordinary for Alinea. Opened by chef Grant Achatz in 2005, the restaurant has included on its menu helium balloons, interactive potato soup, and edible works of art painted directly on diners’ tables. To try the newest viral creation to come out of the kitchen, you must be willing to shell out a couple hundred bucks for the full tasting menu. Suddenly your family’s pumpkin pie recipe may not sound so boring after all.

[h/t Vogue]

The ChopBox Smart Cutting Board Has a Food Scale, Timer, and Knife Sharper Built Right Into It

ChopBox
ChopBox

When it comes to furnishing your kitchen with all of the appliances necessary to cook night in and night out, you’ll probably find yourself running out of counter space in a hurry. The ChopBox, which is available on Indiegogo and dubs itself “The World’s First Smart Cutting Board,” looks to fix that by cramming a bunch of kitchen necessities right into one cutting board.

In addition to giving you a knife-resistant bamboo surface to slice and dice on, the ChopBox features a built-in digital scale that weighs up to 6.6 pounds of food, a nine-hour kitchen timer, and two knife sharpeners. It also sports a groove on its surface to catch any liquid runoff that may be produced by the food and has a second pull-out cutting board that doubles as a serving tray.

There’s a 254nm UVC light featured on the board, which the company says “is guaranteed to kill 99.99% of germs and bacteria" after a minute of exposure. If you’re more of a traditionalist when it comes to cleanliness, the ChopBox is completely waterproof (but not dishwasher-safe) so you can wash and scrub to your heart’s content without worry. 

According to the company, a single one-hour charge will give you 30 days of battery life, and can be recharged through a Micro USB port.

The ChopBox reached its $10,000 crowdfunding goal just 10 minutes after launching its campaign, but you can still contribute at different tiers. Once it’s officially released, the ChopBox will retail for $200, but you can get one for $100 if you pledge now. You can purchase the ChopBox on Indiegogo here.

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Move Over, Mister Softee: Margarita Trucks Are Bringing Cocktails to Your Doorstep

The margarita man cometh.
The margarita man cometh.
Camrocker/iStock via Getty Images

If anything could possibly rival the appearance of an ice cream truck on a sweltering day, it would be the sight of a similar automobile emblazoned with the word margarita heading down your street.

Residents of San Antonio, Texas, can now make that dream a reality. La Gloria, a restaurant owned by chef Johnny Hernandez, is bringing its signature margaritas and other popular menu items right to people’s doorsteps by way of bright pink “Margarita Trucks.”

MySA reports that the first truck has already started making deliveries within 3 miles of Crockett Park in downtown San Antonio, but additional trucks will venture as far as Dominion, Stone Oak, Alamo Heights, and other neighborhoods in the coming days.


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“Today, safety is top of mind for everyone, and many of our customers are simply not ready to dine out,” Hernandez said, according to KSAT.com. “However, we know that doesn’t mean they don’t crave one of our famous margaritas.”

Those famous margaritas include La Gloria’s house recipe (on the rocks or frozen), as well as a variety of other refreshing flavors like prickly pear, mango, cucumber, and strawberry. The truck will also be stocked with a selection of taco kits and snacks like street corn, chips, salsa, and queso, and customers must purchase at least one food item with their alcoholic beverage.

Unlike ice cream trucks, the margarita trucks won’t exactly be cruising around town, ready to pull over for any spontaneous customer. Instead, they’ll operate more like regular food delivery services—you have to order and pay online in advance, and there’s an order minimum of $40.

While you’re waiting for some enterprising restaurateur to launch a fleet of margarita trucks in your city, learn how to make your own margarita at home with these priceless tips from a cocktail pro.

[h/t mySA]