Ask a Robot to Tell You What to Cook

Watson—the supercomputer and Jeopardy star can now help you figure out what to make based on the ingredients you have on hand.

Well it can’t help you you, at least not yet. But the demo is pretty impressive:

If you give Watson a few ingredients and cuisine specifications, it can help you with recipe ideas. I had a few things in the kitchen, but I didn’t know what to make with them — ground turkey, frozen peas, dried mushrooms, canned tomatoes. I live in San Francisco, so it’s easy to get Asian and Mexican spices. […]

“If you can understand what’s in an actual ingredient,” [IBM engineer Steven] Abrams says, “so what is in butter, what’s in strawberries, what’s in chocolate. What are the key flavor compounds that give them those pleasant sensations? Then, you can make predictions about what’s going to be pleasant, what’s going to be sweet and spicy and salty and savory.”

Read/listen to I’ve Got The Ingredients. What Should I Cook? Ask IBM’s Watson {npr}.

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parm is one of my all-time favorite dishes. It’s fast, easy, and (sort of?) healthy. I’ve gotten my process down to a science.

I’m going to break it down in 3 steps. All measurements are guestimates; serving size is 2-4 people.

Step 1: Make the sauce!


You can buy sauce from the store, but making it from scratch is easy and can be tweaked to match your taste.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 2–3 cloves of garlic
  • splash of white wine
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Directions:

Mix all of the above ingredients in a medium saucepan with a spoon, and heat gently for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat while you prepare the rest of the meal.

2. Eggplant communion

Ingredients:

  • plain breadcrumbs (about a cup)
  • flour (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 1 medium eggplant (I prefer organic eggplants; avoid the humongous ones because they tend to be on the seedy side).

Directions:

Slice the eggplant into 1-inch slices, so you’re left with 5-7 good sized discs, depending on the size of your eggplant.

Next prepare three shallow bowls. Fill the first bowl with flour, the second with 2 eggs, the third with breadcrumbs. You want to put enough in the bowl so it can easily cover your eggplant slices.

Rub the eggplant slice in each bowl, making sure to cover evenly and thoroughly. Refill as necessary.

flour
flour

flour
breadcrumbs

eggs

Finally, lightly fry the breaded slices in a tablespoon or two of olive oil.

3. All Together Now

Ingredients:

  • Fresh mozzarella, sliced (I prefer the “log” from Trader Joe’s.)
  • Olive Oil
  • Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º. Line up the eggplant slices on a cookie sheet, leaving a couple of inches between each slice. Top with mozzarella and a healthy dollop of sauce.

 

4. Bake
Bake for 15–20 minutes, until cheese is good and melted.

Sprinkle each slice with a hearty pinch of Parmesan cheese, and enjoy!