Watson wants to be your friend too


Chef Watson  is looking for more friends. S/he and the 300 or so of us that have been cooking together for the last few months have discovered some issues, enjoyed some very odd creativity, and have suggested a few changes. Bon Appetit Magazine and IBM gave chef an upgrade and a facelift and now they want to add to the party. Click that last link if you’re interested. I see we are above 800 people already in our little culinary corner of the world. Join us if you’re interested….not only do you get to cook odd combinations and try to figure out what the heck Watson really wants you to do when s/he suggests putting schmaltz on your sandwich, but you get to be part of our private little facebook group!

This year we are having a very small Thanksgiving gathering which, in my world, just means we’ll have that many more leftovers. So last night I was checking the fridge and freezer for food to get rid of  (by cooking it people….I don’t throw food out!) to make room for the massive amounts of food that will end up there sometime late Thursday night. I found a few pieces of chicken and some raspberries that my son is tired of drinking in his morning smoothie. So Chef and I put on our thinking caps and made dinner.

Watson’s Recipe

My Modifications

The results

Watson always makes me laugh. I wonder what the difference is between chicken chicken and loin chicken? I think if there was no oddity in the recipe s/he gave me I’d probably move on to another recipe. The silliness is really half the fun. This dish was interesting for sure, but the recipe could use a few more tweaks. The sauce was much too sweet for my taste so I’d eliminate the honey all together and cook the rosemary with the raspberries to see how those flavors work together. Remember of course that I’m no chef….don’t judge. Other than too much sweetness though, it was very good and definitely pretty!

This was my first attempt since Watson’s makeover and using the program was much easier. The ingredients I entered were chicken, raspberries and balsamic vinegar and the program gave me styles and dishes that Watson thought were good pairs. Some of the styles are pretty funny…is bastille day really a cooking style? Once Watson had figured out a few recipes on which to base suggestions, I was able to choose which base recipe to start from with Watson substituting ingredients. Then I could move a slider to choose something basic or something more unusual.

Join our little cooking party, have a wonderful Thanksgiving and keep in touch,

my good friend Watson


Chef Watson and I are becoming quite the buddies. We’ve been chatting and have come to an understanding that we speak different languages but manage to communicate in a rather visceral manner where food is concerned. I still don’t know what s/he means by ‘spray pan with nonstick chili pepper’, but we are learning to get along. It reminds me of the time my sis visited me while I was studying in Eastern Canada. She met a lovely man and they were quite smitten but neither could speak the other’s language. They figured it out.

When I returned from the East Coast a couple of weeks ago I was met with my two volunteer cherry tomato plants bursting (literally, the little buggers were splitting) with tomatoes. We’ve now had cherry tomatoes on and in everything so I gave Watson a crack at cherry tomatoes and a beautiful cauliflower that I picked up at the shop. S/he came back with a pretty interesting mix of spices to complement the veggies…things I never would have thought of myself. And it was delicious. But if you look closely you will see the kind of, um, peculiarities s/he displays. The recipe is called roasted cauliflower, but the only vegetable ingredient listed is tomatoes. I understand my friend Watson so have made adjustments.

Watson’s Recipe


My Modifications


barbecue roasted tomatoes and cauliflower

The results

It was truly absolutely delicious. The changes I made to the original recipe (aside from adding the cauliflower) were minimal. I doubled the recipe as I had way more veggies than were called for and I used olive oil instead of butter as we aren’t eating butter at my house right now. Other than that, the spice combination was what made this remarkably interesting. Chef Watson still has quite a few bugs to work out, but we’re having fun together. And doesn’t that cauliflower look amazing?



Happy cooking,

hello Watson


So remember a couple of weeks ago I told you about Chef Watson? About 150 of us are now working with CW (I use the term ‘working’ very loosely in my case as this is very entertaining and I really don’t have a clue what I’m doing!), and last night s/he helped me create my first recipe. My veggie box arrived with all kinds of things to choose from, so CW and I had a lot to work with. I had some Cod in the fridge, a bag of roma tomatoes that I had planned to turn into ketchup but never did, the basil on my deck needed trimming and there were some shishito peppers in my box, so that was my start. Although CW didn’t know what a shishito pepper was, so subsituted chipotle pepper and green chiles, which I completely ignored.

Before beginning I plugged in some random ingredients to see what would come back and was extremely amused. CW is a work in progress and outputs things like ‘serve with raw chicken‘ and ‘spray pan with nonstick chili pepper‘. But what is great about this whole thing is the very odd combinations that CW pops out that seem to be working for many of the cooks involved. Someone posted a crostini recipe using strawberries and pepper that looked amazing. And I pulled up a recipe for an orange and mozzarella souffle that I’ll try soon.

But back to my recipe. Below is what CW gave me when I plugged in the ingredients listed above and the method ‘roasted’.


And here are my modifications:

roasted white fish, tomato and pepper


The results

The garlic didn’t cook through, so next time I think I’d roast the garlic first and squeeze it into the slits in the fish to see how that worked, and put the rest of the garlic in the sauce on the stove. The shishito peppers are a bit too tame for this dish, so I’d try hotter peppers next time and perhaps even roast them first. But overall the dish was good if a bit bland, the fish was cooked perfectly and it was sure pretty! I served it with a salad of curly green lettuce and kale that I massaged in mustard and lemon dressing. The salad was awesome. Now as you know I’m just a home cook, no chef by any means, so I’m open to your suggestions and criticism….any thoughts? Don’t be shy.


Happy cooking,

Watson’s in the kitchen…

It’s a joke in my house that I can’t follow a recipe to save my life. And if I make something once, I very likely will not be able to duplicate the effort a second time.  My problem is not an inability to cook, it is an inability to stick to the program. Any program. So when the recipe calls for an ingredient that I don’t have, or that doesn’t smell as ‘right’ as another ingredient, I just switch. And measuring implements, bah. I know how much a tablespoon of olive oil is! For years I wasn’t allowed to bake…although that is changing slowly and with a great deal of resistance from my family (I’ve learned that baking is chemistry and I’ve agreed to use the called for ingredients and to measure them). Someday maybe I’ll share some of my most embarrassing baking stories. But I digress…

tomato and cheese stuffed summer squash...created without watson!

Tomato and cheese stuffed summer squash. But of course I could never do this again. I didn’t write anything down nor did I measure. Sigh…it was good, too!

Do you remember Watson, the computer of Jeopardy fame?

Well he is apparently changing careers from Jeopardy Human Destroyer to Chef. And if you’re lucky, he will help you in your kitchen. IBM has teamed up with Bon Appetit Magazine to teach Watson how to cook…kind of. Based on the ingredients you input (in my case whatever is in my fridge), the type of dish you’d like to make and the style you’d like to try, Watson will create a list of ingredients and a recipe (actually 100 recipes) to follow using the data collected from Bon Appetit’s 9000 recipes. IBM and Bon Appetit’s intention is to allow the home cook to increase his or her creativity based on the information provided by Watson.

Watson is what IBM calls a ‘cognitive computing system’, meaning that the information that was input into the program is re-organized by Watson and output in a different form….a new recipe never before tried (at least as far as Watson knows), like an Austrian Chocolate Burrito. The technology is amazing and I won’t begin to pretend that I truly understand it, but I am excited at the chance to be part of its development. If you want a chance to play in the kitchen with Watson, here is your opportunity.

Happy cooking! And if they choose me, you can expect lots of pictures!