Greetings, minions! Your Kitchen Overlord is now keeping a dossier on certain chefs of interest. These records are called the Food Blogger Interviews, or FBI Files for short. Come back every Thursday for a peek at my findings.
Today, I’m interrogating the Star Trek recipe blog, Food Replicator. She not only gives up information about her own blog, but also implicates others for their quality cooking before giving up her recipe for Plomeek Soup. See for yourself.
While I have you strapped to this chair, tell me about your geekiest recipe and the inspiration behind it.
Since my entire blog is devoted to geeky cooking, it is hard to pick one recipe! I’ll go with Plomeek Soup, because it is so iconic in the Star Trek Universe (first introduced in The Original Series: Amok Time when Spock threw it against the ship’s wall). In developing the recipe, the main consideration was that Vulcans are known to be vegetarian, and that the soup is described as being fairly bland – so no strong flavours or spices here. And of course from watching the episode, the soup is red in colour, hence the beetroot base.
I see. So what inspired you to start a food blog?
I had a previous food blog (which was also a bit geeky – cooking the dishes of the fictional detective Nero Wolfe) so I wasn’t new to the concept of the food blog – but with Food Replicator it was definitely directly inspired by other geeky food blogs such as the Drunken Moogle and Gourmet Gaming. I was having a conversation with my husband about how much I enjoyed those blogs, and off handedly said that if I was to do one, it would of course be Star Trek related. Naturally this was too good an idea to pass up, and thus Food Replicator was born!
What cuisine, technique, or trend has had the biggest impact on your cooking?
Fergus Henderson’s ‘Nose to Tail’ cookbooks and philosophy and cooking charcuterie – and more general considerations around ethical meat eating. I really do think we have a responsibility to use as much of an animal as we possibly can, and I try and do that in all the recipes I create. Plus, my previous nose to tail cooking experience has really given me an advantage with most of the Klingon recipes!
What fictional food do you wish was real?
Clearly I think all Star Trek food should be real – that’s why I started the blog! While I have a lot of fun coming up with substitutions and representations of fictional Star Trek food, I must confess that I would love it if Klingon gagh was real. Because then I wouldn’t have to work out how to make it – I am really keen to make it but so far have not successfully come up with a recipe!
What dish do you make/bake that impresses you the most – the one that makes you step back and say, “Damn, I’m good!”? What dish impresses others the most? Are the two the same?
I am always impressed when I make charcuterie (including bacon, terrines and my favourite, aged sausages such as chorizo) – I am always amazed that you can put a bunch of ingredients together and then just leave them and they end up so different (and so delicious). In the same vein, pickles generally (any sort – pickled vegetables, pickled octopus, olives, etc) I always find impressive. As for what impresses others the most – probably my decorated cupcakes, cookies and cakes. Naturally I have made geeky cakes too (athough somewhat bizarrely no Star Trek cake requests have come in yet!). So there is quite a difference between what I’m impressed with and what others are impressed with!
Is there a dish you’ve tried to create but just can’t master?
When macaroons first became popular, I tried several times to make them with not much success. I whipped the eggs as directed, I counted the number of stirs/folds I used to combine the eggs with the almond meal, I timed how long they were in the oven to the second. My best batch would be considered just OK – almost presentable, but not great. I ended up deciding I didn’t like them much anyway and they weren’t worth the effort. However, I still feel a sudden rush of rage when I see a perfectly presented macaroon!
Slow food or molecular gastronomy? Defend your answer.
Can I say both?! If I am pressed to choose one I would probably go with molecular gastronomy, because that is pushing forward and creating new techniques which can then be used in all parts of cooking. We have already seen how the sous vide technique has become almost mainstream and is now used by many chefs. Plus, molecular gastronomy definitely fits into the Star Trek culinary world – I am waiting for Ferran Adria to create a Samarian sunset!
How do you feel about 3D Food Printers or other technologies bringing us closer to a Star Trek Replicator future?
I am all for it, naturally! I think regardless of the technology we use to create food, humans (and other races too, when we get to that part of the Star Trek universe!) will always want to experiment and find new recipes and dishes. I also don’t think having technology such as 3D Food Printers will stop people cooking in a more traditional manner.
Sure, on some level they’re all your babies, but what’s your single favorite kitchen tool?
I would have to say my KitchenAid mixer. I didn’t have a mixer for so long and after my long-suffering husband had helped me hand grind and stuff sausages one time too many, he snapped and went out and bought one for me (with the sausage making attachment naturally!). Now I use it for all sorts of things, including sausage making of course, but also whipping egg whites, making cake batters and kneading bread dough.
Why do you think so many people are convinced the fire demon that lives in the hot box will burn down their house if they attempt this “cooking” business?
I think there’s such an industry built up around making cooking complicated when it really isn’t. There is such a big mystique around cooking that there really shouldn’t be. I would suggest starting with some simple recipes of things you know you like, and work your way up. Once you’ve made food for a little while, you learn how different ingredients go together and you can start experimenting and making your own food. I also think that ‘failure’ is a word bandied about too frequently in relation to cooking. If it’s edible, even if it didn’t turn out the way you want, it’s not a failure, and you will learn for next time.
If you had to fight a celebrity chef in our Thunderdome, who would you pick and what would be your preferred weapon?
Anthony Bourdain, not only because I think he’s great, but also because he would have a weak liver and constitution from all the eating and drinking he does. Plus he could tell some great travel stories after I’d defeated him! I’d defeat him using either a Lirpa from the Vulcan Pon Farr ritual, or an Anbo-jyutsu staff, because who doesn’t want to defeat someone with something which is basically a giant q-tip?!
Pimp your favorite food bloggers:
Joe Pastry – super entertaining baking blog, providing baking history, techniques and science all in one!
The Old Foodie –daily doses of historical recipes, techniques and menus
Michael Ruhlman – Cookbook author, recipe creator and general sharer of cookery techniques
Give us five edible reasons people need to visit Food Replicator:
Hasperat – This Bajoran delicacy will have your eyes watering, but you’ll soon be wanting more!
Rokeg Blood Pie – Klingon Rokeg Blood pie, made from actual blood – good for fortifying all warriors before they head into battle!
Balso Tonic – This Trill drink will fortify you and help make all your parts feel whole again
Gingerbread Communicator – The iconic Star Trek Communicator – in gingerbread!
Plomeek Soup – Vulcan soup, used to soothe troubled Vulcans, but beware of some Vulcans throwing it against the wall!
That Plomeek Soup sounds good. Why don’t you share the recipe with your fellow minions.
(Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a starter)
2 garlic cloves
2 small-medium sweet potatoes, peeled
3 small-medium beetroots, peeled
3 sticks celery
1 litre vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
Parsley for garnish (optional)
Start by peeling the beetroots and then the sweet potatoes. Wear a pair of gloves when peeling the beetroots if you don’t want to get pink hands! Then chop up all the vegetables, including the onion and garlic cloves, into chunks. Don’t worry about making them too exact as they will all get blended at the end.
Start by sauteeing the garlic and onion in vegetable oil until soft. Then add the rest of the vegetables and cook for a few minutes. Add 750ml of the stock, reserving the rest. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until all vegetables are quite soft, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Ladle portions of the vegetables and stock into a blender and blend until smooth. Alternatively, you could use a hand blender if you have one. When all the soup is blended, check the flavour and add salt and pepper to taste. At this point, check the soup’s thickness – if too thick, add the remaining vegetable stock as needed.
Serve and garnish with parsley if desired – although I’m sure the Vulcans would consider this highly illogical.