Allen Hemberger, Alinea
Allen Hemberger, Alinea

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]

Live Smarter
A Simple Trick for Keeping Lemons Fresher for Longer

Lemons don't get much respect in the average refrigerator. After taking a slice or two to punch up drinks or add to a recipe, the remaining wedges can often be pushed out of view by incoming groceries and left to go to waste.

But the folks at Food52 have come up with a solution to get more use out of those lemons by keeping them fresher longer. Because citrus needs moisture in order to remain fresh, all you need to do is place your lemon in a bowl of water before putting it in the fridge.

Another idea: Put them in a sealed plastic bag and make sure you remove all the air to prevent mold growth. You'll get up to three months of freshness with this method. If your lemons are already cut into wedges, you can expect they'll last three to four days.

The "hack" also works for oranges and grapefruits. As for freezing, you can do that, too, but the resulting mushy fruit is probably best left for making juices.

[h/t Food52]

The Top 10 Pizza Chains in America

Pizza is a $45.1 billion industry in the United States. Here are the top pizza chains across this great nation, based on gross sales in 2016.


Pizza Hut is truly enormous. Raking in more than $5.75 billion in 2016, the chain is best known for its red roof architecture. The style is so distinctive that the blog Used to Be a Pizza Hut collects photos of former Pizza Hut restaurants now turned into other businesses.


With more than $5.47 billion in revenue, Domino's is nipping at Pizza Hut's heels. For decades, Domino's offered a guarantee that your pizza would arrive in 30 minutes or less, or it would be free. The policy was terminated in 1993 in the U.S., and Domino's has since focused on expanding its menu with pasta, sandwiches, and other goodies.


Photo of the exterior of a Little Caesars restaurant

Founded in 1959 by Mike and Marian Ilitch, Little Caesars focuses on carry-out pizza at ultra-competitive prices. Using slogans like "Pizza! Pizza!," "Pan! Pan!," and "Deep Deep Dish," the chain offers hot cheese pizzas for just $5.


Headquartered in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, Papa John's was the first national pizza chain to offer online ordering in the U.S., way back in 2002.


Papa Murphy's offers exclusively "take and bake" pizza, where the ingredients are put together in front of you, then you bake the pizza at home. It's the only large chain to offer this kind of pizza, and it's a smart business model—stores don't need pizza ovens!


California Pizza Kitchen

The first California Pizza Kitchen launched in 1985 in Beverly Hills, California. The focus is on gourmet pizza, including a line of relatively fancy frozen pizzas. In many locations, CPK also offers gluten-free crust as an option, making it a favorite for gluten-intolerant pizza lovers.


Pasquale “Pat” Giammarco founded Marco's Pizza in 1978. The Toledo, Ohio-based chain is now the country's fastest-growing pizza chain, with more than 800 franchised locations across the U.S. as well as in Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and India. They specialize in what they've dubbed "Ah!thentic Italian."


In 1958, Bill Larson concluded four years of US Navy service and got a job at a pizza parlor in San Mateo, California. A year later, he founded his own: Round Table Pizza. Using a King Arthur theme, Round Table has often featured knights and shields in its logo. The knight theme originated when Larson saw drawings of King Arthur's court eating pizza.


The brainchild of two Georgia Tech students, Mellow Mushroom opened in Atlanta, Georgia as a one-off pizzeria. Today, it boasts more than 150 locations, and is regularly inching further westward.


Macaroni and cheese pizza from Cicis

Cicis is the world's largest pizza buffet chain. It features all sorts of wild stuff including a macaroni-and-cheese pizza.

Source: PMQ Pizza Magazine