What’s for dinner? At Lowman’s house, it may be a cricket torte

April 3, 2012
By Bill Krueger
lowman_rwinstead

Photo by Roger Winstead '87

Meg Lowman, a research professor of natural sciences at NC State, is the director of the new Nature Research Center at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences that is opening later this month.

Lowman, or “Canopy Meg,” as she is known for her work researching the canopies of rain forests, is also the subject of the cover story in the spring issue of NC State magazine.

The story looks at Lowman’s journey from the rain forests of Australia to the gleaming new interactive science center in downtown Raleigh. The story notes that Lowman doesn’t just study different sorts of critters in the rain forest. Sometimes she eats them, as well.

And here are a few of her favorite bug recipes, from The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook by David George Gordon:

Chocolate Cricket Torte

1 cup butter

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate

6 ounces semisweet chocolate

4 eggs, separated

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup strong liquid coffee

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1 cup Crispy Crickets, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Butter the inside of an 8-inch springform pan and dust it lightly with flour. In the top of a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter and allow to cool to room temperature.

3. Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and coffee. Then add the chocolate mixture, chopped walnuts and Crispy Crickets.

4. Whip the egg whites until they stand in soft peaks and fold them into the chocolate mixture.

5. Bake for 30-40 minutes (the torte’s center should be moist). Allow the torte to cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Bugs in a Rug

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons champagne vinegar or other quality white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or dill

2 cloves garlic, minced

24 frozen house crickets, thawed

12 chunks canned pineapple

6 slices very lean bacon

12 toothpicks

1. Combine the oil, vinegar, mint and garlic in a bowl. Marinate the crickets and pineapple in this mixture for 8-12 hours.

2. Preheat broiler.

3. Cut each slice of bacon in half, lengthwise, then into thirds.

4. Place one cricket on top of a pineapple chunk, in a lifelike pose. Wrap a strip of bacon around both. Impale another cricket with a toothpick, gently pushing the cricket to the wide end of the pick. Pierce the bacon, cricket and pineapple chunk with this toothpick to hold these items in place. Place the toothpick on a baking sheet and repeat with rest of toothpicks.

5. Broil for several minutes on each side, or until the bacon is brown.

6. Serve hot.

Ants in Pants

1/2 cup western thatching ants or other large-bodied ants, oven baked

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into chips

1/2 teaspoon Grain Marnier, or orange extract to taste

4 ounces unsalted butter

1 tablespoon corn syrup

1. Combine the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in the top of a double boiler set over hot (but not boiling) water. When the ingredients are evenly blended, stir in the Grand Marnier. Remove from heat and allow the chocolate to cool to 90 degrees. The chocolate will be shiny and will coat the finger well.

2. Drip small amounts of the melted chocolate on a sheet of foil or parchment paper, forming 10 or 12 1-inch-diameter discs. Quickly pile up a spoonful of the baked ants in the center of each circle, then cover with the remaining chocolate. Refrigerate.

3. After the chocolate has set, use a spatula to transfer each chocolate bundle of Ants in Pants to a plate.

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