Alton Brown’s Edible Inevitable show was an entertaining combination of TED talk, stand-up comedy, science experiment and rock concert. There wasn’t much cooking, but instead, we enjoyed two-and-a-half hours of watching Alton and friends “do things they can’t do on Food Network”. The husband and I weren’t fans of the constant burps and farts from the puppets, even if accompanied by their scientific explanation. But we did love Mr. Brown’s interaction with the theater’s ASL signers, who were sitting right next to us. They barely could do their job – and not just because his words were often technical geek-speak. The signers were cracking up while he made them pole dance and throw grenades and describe illicit drugs.
The husband and I were excited to sit in the front row (row PP). But we felt gypped: this particular show appears to be the only one that was not documented on AB’s Twitter or Instagram with an audience photo from the stage. Feh, we were right there. We also didn’t end up needing the ponchos which were thrown at us because the CO2-powered, chocolate-flavored parabolic projectiles were very targeted and short range. If that made little sense to you, take a refresher in physics and chemistry, or just see the show.
Alton’s ten main cooking lessons included “use salt” and “trout does not belong in ice cream,” and were each accompanied with stories, jokes and songs. But the best lesson of the evening was this: “The most important tool in the kitchen is the kitchen table.” Mr. Brown went on to explain that no matter how good your food is, it is poop in about 12 hours. He called out the losers who take pictures of food at restaurants. SIGH, yes, that’s me, and I felt busted for having done it even at our dinner right before the show. (Coincidentally: it contained brussel sprouts). We were advised to instead post pictures of the people you are with, and enjoy just sitting around the kitchen table, no matter what the meal includes. He reminded us all of this:
The miracle about food is its magical ability to connect human beings.
True that. Earlier in the evening, we had asked Alton for four battle ingredients (right after he told me that I suck at selfies). When he said “anchovies”, it was obvious that he was just having fun with us, and I braced myself for the ingredients which would come next. The perfect match to anchovies? I could have guessed; it’s gummy bears. Round the meal out with brussel sprouts and marshmallows, and we have a plate full of yuck. But I told myself I’d make whatever he suggested, so here we are. HELLO, THIS IS ALMOST LIKE PUTTING TROUT IN ICE CREAM. Just sayin’. BUT: I surprised myself by coming up with my solution pretty quickly. The train of thought went something like this:
- If I wanted a chance to actually eat something, the ONLY thing I would do with the anchovies was to turn them into some sort of fish sauce.
- If you say fish sauce, I think Thai food.
- If you love Thai food like me, you know that it’s loaded with palm sugar.
- What luck… I have two very sweet ingredients in my challenge which could substitute for palm sugar.
Voilà: Thai brussel sprouts.
I figured that melted gummy bears might work best for making a glaze which could be Thai-ed up with other flavors. But what to do with marshmallows? I didn’t think they would mesh so well with the Thai food, so I figured I’d add some other elements. Everyone knows that sweet potatoes are typically paired with them on Thanksgiving… so why not? It’s winter! It’s (very) snowy! We’re watching winter olympics! Winter vegetables can’t be more appropriate. Add some squash and kale and turnips to the plate, and we (hopefully) could have a very pretty presentation. Which might even taste good?
The lesson from the evening might be that I’m just plain gullible, and take too much at face value. Or that I really do suck at selfies. But the husband and I had a very fun date night with Alton. We laughed a lot and got sprayed a little with chocolate ice cream. Then, I really enjoyed living up to his silly food challenge. Was the dish the best thing I’ve ever eaten? Not even close. The anchovy-gummy bear glaze won’t win any awards, but the dish was tasty and fun to eat. It was something I would never, ever have tried to make, but I did it successfully and with good humor. Yes, I took pictures of the plating (sorry Mr. Brown … I can’t help myself). But we took photos of ourselves also! The big bonus is that we had fun sitting around that invaluable kitchen table and we made some good memories. Oh, and brussel sprouts now have huge new fans, and we’ll be enjoying them often. Any way you look at it, we win!
Medley of Winter Vegetables
IngredientsFor the roasted vegetables
- 16 brussel sprouts, halved
- 1 sweet potato, cut into cubes
- 1 turnip, cut into cubes
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups kale
- 2 Tbsp olive oil from anchovy tin
- 3 anchovy fillets
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 30 gummy bears
- 2 Tbsp cup chicken stock
- 1/2 tsp chopped ginger
- 1/2 tsp lemongrass
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- 1/4 cup red curry sauce
- 10 mini marshmallows
Rinse the brussel sprouts, sweet potato and turnip under some water. Put them in the microwave for a few minutes, then transfer to an oiled baking sheet, cut side down. Sprinkle with salt. Roast at 450 for a few minutes until the bottoms begin to turn brown.
Toss the kale in the anchovy olive oil and bake at 400 until crispy and browned, about 10 minutes.
In a small saucepan, combine anchovies, soy sauce, gummy bears, chicken stock, ginger and chili flakes. Heat until boiling. Break up the anchovies and simmer until thickened. Add lime juice and stir to combine.
Toss brussel sprouts into anchovy-gummy bear sauce. Brush a splash of red curry sauce on a plate. Add brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, turnips and kale chips to plate. Use a flame to roast marshmallows until browned. Top each potato with a marshmallow.