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Petri Dishes 


If you're in a cooking rut—say you've cooked everything in Mastering the Art of French Cooking twice and can't find the inspiration to bring wooden spoon to pot—maybe a pinch of transglutaminase is all you need. Transglutaminase, an enzyme that makes noodles firmer and milks creamier, is the subject of one of the classes that molecular food experts Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot are teaching this week at Madrona Manor.

The couple, whom the New York Times refers to as "the chic geek's answer to Alton Brown," are the authors of Ideas in Cooking, which combines chemistry and biology to scientifically explain why certain dishes work better than others. "I think that anyone who really enjoys cooking can always benefit from learning more about what's happening in the kitchen," Aki Kamozawa.

The couple will cook a five-course meal at Madrona Manor on March 16, and will teach classes on transglutaminase, liquid nitrogen, eggs and aroma March 14-15.

"Aroma is a really fun thing to play with," adds Kamozawa. "It adds a whole new level of flavor because if you can't smell, you can't taste. If you can do something to accentuate the aromas of your food, you're going to make your food taste better."

Whether or not liquid nitrogen ends up in one's repertoire, Kamozawa says she still hopes students "get a little bit of education, information they wouldn't necessarily know before, and I hope they have some fun.Cooking should always be fun."

Classes and dinner March 14-16 at Madrona Manor. 1001 Westside Road, Healdsburg. Classes, $100; dinner, $90. 707.433.4231.

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