Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Jeff Cooper, author of “Cooking for Geeks,” makes ice cream in 30 seconds using liquid nitrogen. (The recipe is in the book.) Cooper is holding a book signing at 6 p.m. Monday at Toscanini’s ice cream in Central Square, Cambridge.

It’s a natural: Toscanini’s ice cream, the rec room of entrepreneurs, students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and visitors for the annual Ig Nobel Prizes, is hosting a book signing Monday for Jeff Potter and his “Cooking for Geeks.”

The book combines 101 recipes, 21 geek-celebrity interviews (Caterina Fake, of Flickr, Etsy and Hunch, for instance, and Xeni Jardin, of Boing Boing) and much discussion of the science behind cooking — the simple chemistry that explains what makes cooking work, but also looks at more exotic techniques.

Perhaps the most exotic is cooking with liquid nitrogen, which would appeal to what Potter calls “the über-nerd, who’s unafraid to try anything … maybe a bit too unafraid,” as well as the type most likely to have liquid nitrogen handy.

To these folks Potter offers the following warning from an accident report at Texas A&M:

The cylinder had been standing at one end of a ~20’ × 40’ laboratory on the second floor of the chemistry building. It was on a tile-covered, 4–6” thick concrete floor, directly over a reinforced concrete beam. The explosion blew all of the tile off of the floor for a 5’ radius around the tank, turning the tile into quarter-sized pieces of shrapnel that embedded themselves in the walls and doors of the lab… The cylinder came to rest on the third floor leaving a neat 20” diameter hole in its wake. The entrance door and wall of the lab were blown out into the hallway. All of the remaining walls of the lab were blown 4 to 8” off of their foundations. All of the windows, save one that was open, were blown out into the courtyard.

But there are other kinds of geeks — which helped the first printing of Potter’s book sell out before shipping — and Potter writes for them all, even the beginner geek:

Regardless of which type of geek you are, as long as you have “the courage of your convictions” to pick up the spatula and try, you’ll do fine. The goal of this book is to point out new ways of thinking about the tools in that box full of kitchen gear.

Gus Rancatore, the founder, owner and very public face of Toscanini’s, loves all the geekiness that packs his place. (He invented Internet ice cream — Nerds candy in vanilla ice cream — for the year’s ROFLCon on Internet culture.) He calls Potter’s book “lots of fun, and educational about the science of food and cooking.”

But there are other reasons for the book signing party to be in Toscanini’s. One of the videos Potter has posted online is about how to make ice cream in 30 seconds.

How do you do it?

With liquid nitrogen.

The book signing is at Toscanini’s , 899 Main St., Central Square, Cambridge, from 6 to 9 p.m. An RSVP is requested but not required. See the Facebook event page: http://bit.ly/cfg-tosci. There will be some copies of the book available to buy. Copies can be ordered at http://www.cookingforgeeks.com/amazon/. There will also be a demonstration and sampling of Barismo coffee and a new Luminaire coffee maker from a group of Olin College students, Rancatore said.