Archive for July 2009

Candy facts

  1. Sugar is sucrose, a molecule composed of 12 atoms of carbon, 22 atoms of hydrogen, and 11 atoms of oxygen (C12H22O11). Like all compounds made from these three elements, sugar is a carbohydrate. It’s found naturally in most plants, but especially in sugarcane & sugar beets—hence their names.
  2. Sucrose is 2simpler sugars stuck together: fructose & glucose. A little bit of acid(lemon juice/cream of tartar) will cause sucrose to break down into these 2components.
  3. Sugar crystals are cube like & orderly arranged.
  4. When as much sugar has been dissolved into a solution as possible, the solution is said to be saturated, which is different @ different temp’s. The higher the temperature, the more sugar that can be held in solution. At high temperatures, the sugar remains in solution, even though much of the water has boiled away. But when begins to cool, there is more sugar in solution than is normally possible. The solution is said to be supersaturated with sugar. It is an unstable state as sugar molecules will begin to crystallize back into a solid at the least provocation. Stirring or jostling of any kind can cause the sugar to begin crystallizing.
  5. As sugar syrup is cooked, h20 boils away, sugar concentration increases & temp rises. Highest temp that it reaches tells what the syrup will be like when it cools.
  6. Use both candy thermometer & cold h20 test for accuracy.
  7. 1st test thermometer’s accuracy by placing it in boiling h20. It shd read 212F @sea level. If reads above or below this number, make necessary adjustments when cooking syrup. At higher altitudes, subtract 1° F for each 500 feet above sea level.
  8. 230-235F- Thread stage with 80% sugar concentration. Will form liquid thread that will not ball up in cold h20. Can pour on ice cream.
  9. 235-240F Soft-ball stage with 85%sugar concentration. In cold h20 forms soft, flexible ball. If ball removed from h20, will flatten after few moments in hand. To make fudge, pralines, fondant.
  10. 245-250F Will form firm ball in cold h20 that won’t flatten when taken out of h20, but remains malleable & will flatten when squeezed. To cook Caramels.
  11. 250-265F Hard ball stage with 92%sugar concentration. Forms thick, ropy threads as it drips from spoon & hard ball in cold h20. Ball will be hard, but you can still change its shape by squashing it. To cook gummies, marshmallows, rock candy.
  12. 270-290F Soft-crack stage with 95%sugar concentration. Bubbles on top will become smaller, thicker & closer together. In cold h20, solidifies into threads, that when removed from h20, are flexible, not brittle. They’ll bend slightly before breaking. To cook saltwater taffy, butterscotch.
  13. 300-310F Hard-crack stage with 99%sugar concentration. Highest temp in candy recipes. Forms hard, brittle threads that break when bent when dropped in cold h20. To cook toffee, nut brittles, lollipops.
  14. At higher temp’s than this, you will be on your way to create caramelized sugar.
  15. 320F- 100%sugar concentration. The remaining sugar is liquid & light amber in color.
  16. 338F- 100%sugar concentration. The liquefied sugar turns brown in color due to carmelization. The sugar is beginning to break down & form many complex compounds that contribute to a richer flavor. Caramelized sugar is used for dessert decorations & to give a candy coating to nuts.
  17. 350F- 100%sugar concentration. Sugar begins to burn & develops bitter, burnt taste.
  18. Caramalize sugar: Sprinkle 1/4c granulated sugar evenly on bottom of saucepan, heat on low till reaches 338F.
  19. Pralined almonds: When it reaches desired shade of amber, stir in 1/2c blanched, slivered almonds & spread on cookie sheet so don’t clump up. Toss before serving, pralined almonds, avacado slices, orange segments, butter lettuce, light viniagrette. Or pulverise in blender, store airtight & use in pie crusts or as topping for desserts.
  20. Caramelized onions: Add little sugar to onions as you finish sauteing them, raise heat slightly.
  21. Lollipops look like big crystals, but the fact is that sugar crystals are the enemy of successful lollipops.
  22. Lollipops, glass, rubber, plastic, wood, living tissue are all Amorphous solids i.e their atoms aren’t arranged in an orderly pattern.  If the atoms were arranged in an orderly, crystalline structure, the candy would be rock hard. The lack of order let’s it break easily into small pieces when you bite it.
  23. In early films, fake glass windows known as “candy glass”, made from sugar syrup were used for fight scenes as shatter realistically & was less sharp. In modern movies, fake plastic glasses are being used.
  24. The world’s largest lollipop is @ Bon-Bon Land in Denmark. It’s peppermint-flavored & weighs over 3,000lbs.
  25. Cornstarch/c.flour in British- gives smooth texture.
  26. Corn syrup- acts as interfering agent in candy recipes. Long chains of glucose molecules in it keep sucrose molecules in syrup from crystallizing, resulting in clear glassy lollipops instead of grainy, opaque candy.
  27. Glycerin- sweet, slippery, colorless liquid that’s made from fats & oils & is most often a by-product of the soapmaking process. It’s used in many soaps & cosmetic products, cake icing, as a lubricant, to make nitroglycerin—an ingredient in dynamite! (Note: glycerin itself is not an explosive substance, so it’s safe to use in your kitchen!). It helps give the candy a soft, creamy consistency. Be sure to purchase food-grade glycerin.
  28. Citric acid- Or “sour salt”, is available as colorless crystals or powder that adds tartness & gives limes & lemons their sour taste.
  29. Cream of Tartar or potassium bitartrate is a fine white powder that is a by-product of wine making process. Tartar forms naturally during fermentation of grape juice into wine & is deposited on the sides of the wine casks. It is an acid, so an  “interfering agent,” which inverts sucrose into fructose & glucose & thereby helps to prevent crystallization of the sugar syrup.
  30. Lollipop making: Prepare either a marble slab or an upside-down cookie sheet (air underneath the sheet will help the candy to cool faster), by covering it with parchment paper & spraying it with oil. If using molds, prepare the molds with lollipop sticks, spray with oil, place on a cookie sheet or marble slab. Stir with wooden spoon on medium heat 1c sugar, 1/3c corn syrup, 1/2c h20, 1/4t cream of tartar till sugar dissolves. Now stir with pastry brush dampened with warm h20 to dissolve any sugar crystals hanging to the sides of pan. Stop stirring as soon as syrup starts to boil. At this point, you have dissolved the crystal structure of the sugar. Stirring or other agitation is one of the many factors that can encourage the fructose & glucose molecules in syrup to rejoin & form sucrose—crystals of table sugar.  Let boil with candy thermometer in pan without stirring to 300F. Drop of syrup in cold h20 shd form hard, brittle threads that break when bent. Remove imm’tely as will harden quickly. Cool to 275F, add color, 1/4-1t flavor(vanilla, almond, anise, maple, lemon etc), 1-2t citric acid(optional). Quickly pour syrup into molds, cool 10mts so hard. If not using molds, pour 2″ circles on greased marble slab or cookie sheet, place a lollipop stick in each one, twisting the stick to be sure it’s covered with candy. Wrap individually in plastic wrap or cellophane, seal with tape or twist ties. Store in cool, dry place.
  31. Sugar syrup is extremely hot. If get burned, run cold h20 for several minutes, but donot apply ice.
  32. Saltwater taffy is a candy. To give it its light but chewy texture, you’ll be pulling it & pulling it for up to 15mts. Stretching it out & folding in 1/2 over & over again, aerates it, which makes it lighter & chewier. Even lollipop & other candy’s get pulled this way to make them less rock hard & more brittle. It is made with ocean h20, widely available @sea side vacation spots.
  33. Salt water taffy making; Bring to boil stirring with wooden spoon 2c sugar, 2Tc.starch, 1c light corn syrup, 2t glycerin(optional), 3/4c h20, 2Tbutter, 1t salt. Then cook undisturbed till 270F or soft crack stage. Wash down sides of pan with pastry brush dipped in warm syrup while syrup cooks as even single seed crystal might fall in & encourage recrystallization. Remove, stir in 3drops food color(optional), 1/4-1t flavor(vanilla, lemon, mint) gently, pour onto greased marble slab or cookie sheet, cool, with greased hands pull taffy until light in color & has a satiny gloss i.e 10mts. Roll into long rope of 1/2″diameter, cut with greased scissors or butter knife to 1″ long pieces, let pieces sit for 1/2hr before wrapping in wax paper or plastic wrap & twisting ends of the wrapper.
  34. On a humid day, once the candy has cooled to the point where it is no longer evaporating moisture into the air, it can actually start reabsorbing moisture from the air. This can make the resulting candy softer than it is supposed to be. That’s why dry days are recommended for candy making, although the effects of humidity can be somewhat counterbalanced by cooking the candy to the upper end of the appropriate temperature stage. Cool weather is also recommended for candy making, b’cos—generally—the faster candy cools, the less chance it has to form unwanted crystals.
  35. 2kinds of candies- Crystalline candies contain crystals in their finished form, such as fondant & fudge. Non-crystalline or amorphous donot contain crystals, such as lollipops, taffy, caramels.
  36. One way to prevent the crystallization of sucrose in candy is to make sure that there are other types of sugar—usually, fructose & glucose—to get in the way. Large crystals of sucrose have a harder time forming when molecules of fructose & glucose are around. Crystals form something like Legos locking together, except that instead of Lego pieces, there are molecules. If some of the molecules are a different size & shape, they won’t fit together & a crystal doesn’t form.
  37. A simple way to get other types of sugar into the mix is to “invert” the sucrose by adding an acid to the recipe. Another way is to add a nonsucrose sugar, such as corn syrup, which is mainly glucose. Some lollipop recipes use as much as 50% corn syrup; this is to prevent sugar crystals from ruining the texture.
  38. Fatty ingredients such as butter interfere with crystallization by getting in the way of the sucrose molecules that are trying to lock togeter into crystals.
  39. When you make rock candy, you can see the shape of sugar crystals on a giant scale. The key is giving them lots of time (about 7 days) to grow. As the water evaporates, sugar crystals form on the string or stick & the shapes that they form reflect the shape of individual sugar crystals.
  40. Rock candy making: Bring to boil 4c sugar, 2c h20 stirring with wooden spoon, carefully pour in jar, cover jar with wax paper. Hang a string 2/3 as long as jar’s depth with weight from middle of pencil. Dip the string into the sugar solution, remove it, lay it on a piece of waxed paper, straighten it out, let dry for a few days. As water evaporates from the string, small crystals of sugar will encrust the string. These tiny seed crystals provide starting points for larger crystals. Future growth will be concentrated around these points. Gently suspend the string in the solution & let sit at room temp, undisturbed, for several days.
  41. 2methods will contribute to the growth of the crystals on the string. Supersaturated solution is unstable—it contains more solute (in this case, sugar) than can stay in a liquid form—so the sugar will come out of solution, forming what’s called a precipitate. This method is called precipitation. The other is evaporation—as time passes, the water will evaporate slowly from the solution. As the water evaporates, the solution becomes more saturated & sugar molecules will continue to come out of the solution & collect on the seed crystals on the string. The rock candy crystals grow molecule by molecule. Finished rock candy will be made up of about a quadrillion (1,000,000,000,000,000) molecules attached to the string.
  42. At the end of the week, the crystals on string shd be clearly defined, with sharp right angles & smooth faces of various sizes. In the field of crystallography, these are called monoclinic crystals. Their shape is determined by the way the individual sugar molecules fit together, which is similar to the way the shape of a pile of oranges is determined by the shape of the individual oranges & the way they stack together.
  43. Try adding food coloring or flavoring to your sugar syrup before making the rock candy.
  44. Caramels are the chewy candies made by cooking sugar, cream, corn syrup & butter to 245F. Brown color comes from Maillard’s reaction betn sugar molecule(aldehyde group)  & nitrogen part of protein molecule(amino group) in the cream. The rich brown color of toasted nuts & barbecued meats, that put in self tanning lotion also comes from the Maillard reaction.
  45. Caramel was 1st invented by Arabs & was used as as depilatory i.e remove hair from body.
  46. What happens during Maillard’s reaction & caramelization are not well understood.
  47. Caramel making: Stir on medium 1c heavy cream, 1c sugar, 1/2c corn syrup, 1/4t salt with wooden spoon till sugar dissolves, add 4Tbutter, stir till melts & mixture begins to boil, Cook without stirring till above 248F, mix in well 1/2t vanilla, pour in butter greased/wax lined pan, cool, cut to 1″squares, store in airtight container, between layers of waxed paper. In 1-2wks, their texture changes. They may become gritty & crunchy around the edges.
  48. Fudge is a crystalline candy, so unlike lollipops, caramels & taffy, crystal formation is desirable, but @ just the right time for firm but smooth texture.  The key to successful, nongrainy fudge is in the cooling, not the cooking. 2 other candies also deliberately employ sugar crystals. One is fondant, a wetter version of fudge that you find inside soft-center chocolates. The other is rock candy, for which a sugar solution is left for days to form enormous crystals.
  49. Fudge making: Bring to boil stirring on med-low with wooden spoon 3oz unsweet chocolate chopped to 3 1oz squares, 3c sugar, 1c half n half, 1Tcorn syrup, 1/4t salt, imm’ly stop stirring & clip candy thermometer to side of saucepan, being careful not to let it touch the bottom. Let cook undisturbed until 235-240F. While it cooks, wash down the sides of the saucepan with a pastry brush dipped in small amount of warm h20 to loosen & dissolve any sugar crystals clinging to the sides. Remove saucepan carefully, let cool undisturbed to 110F. At this point, a slight skin should have formed on the top. Be patient—this may take a while! (Alternatively, you may pour the mixture onto a marble slab at this point & allow it to cool on the slab—this is the way that professionals make fudge.) Add 2t vanilla, 3T butter, stir with wooden spoon. Add warmed in microwave slightly 1c nuts &/ dried fruit chopped(optional) just before mixture completely loses its gloss. Stir constantly till fudge “sets up”, i.e 15-20mts. Mixture gradually changes from glossy to dull, lighten in color & stiffen. Be careful not to beat too long or too hard—this can result in a coarse, grainy fudge, as can stirring while the fudge is still too hot. Pour into greased square pan, press with hands or greased spatula, let cool for several hours @ room temp, remove from pan to cutting board, cut to squares. Store airtight between layers of wax paper.
  50. If nuts added are too cold, the temp difference may “shock” the fudge & cause it to solidify too quickly.
  51. When you chew a roll of wintergreen-flavored LifeSavers candies with mouth open in dark room, in the mirror you see the candy sparkling & glittering, b’cos you are making light with friction. This process is called triboluminescence. Tribo=to rub, lumin=light.
  52. When you crush sugar crystals, the stress in the crystal creates electric fields. Like the electric fields in a lightning storm, these electric fields can rip the outer electrons from molecules. When the molecules recombine with their electrons, they emit light. In addition to blue & violet light, the crunched crystals produce UV light, which you can’t see. Wintergreen oil converts UV light into visible blue light.
  53. Microwave 2marshmallows in paper plate on high for 1min. In 20secs, you’ll see them puffing up to 4times their size. Remove, wait few seconds, pull off, make into whatever shape you want. It will stay in that shape & get hard & crunchy.
  54. Marshmallows are mostly sugar & water wrapped around a bunch of air bubbles. When you cook marshmallows in your microwave oven, several things happen at once. The microwave makes the water molecules vibrate very quickly—which makes the water heat up. The hot water warms the sugar, which softens a little. The hot water also warms the air bubbles & so gas molecules move around faster & push harder against the walls of the container. Since the sugar walls are warm & soft, the bubbles expand & the marshmallow puffs up. If it puffs up too much, some air bubbles burst, and the marshmallow deflates like a popped balloon. When you take the marshmallow out of the microwave & it cools off, the bubbles shrink & the sugar hardens again. Also it’s dry & crunchy b’cos some of the water in the marshmallow evaporates when the marshmallow is hot. Don’t microwave a marshmallow for more than 2mts, as will turn dark brown & makes a stinky, sticky mess.
  55. Dip a toothpick into food coloring & draw a face on marshmallow before putting in the microwave. As the marshmallow puffs up, the face will get bigger & bigger.
  56. Ancient Egyptians made a puffy white treat out of honey & the dried, carrot-shaped root of the marsh mallow plant, which grows in fields & swamps. Today we still call these candies marshmallows, but now they’re made with sugar & gelatin. Marsh mallow root is still used to make some kinds of glue.
  57. It is possible to cool purified water to temperatures below freezing (32° F) & have the water remain liquid—this is called supercooled water. The addition of a seed crystal to supercooled water will trigger the formation of ice crystals. The trick here is that the water must be clean. Any impurities in the water drops, such as dust particles, can trigger ice crystal formation, preventing the water from becoming supercooled. The smaller the drop, the greater the chance it will not have an impurity.
  58. Stretch a plastic wrap over the mouth of a bowl, with eye-dropper, place 6 1/8″small water drops, freeze 5mts. Crystalline solids will be opaque & others transparent liquid. Touch the transparent liquid drops with a piece of ice from the freezer, or sprinkle some ice crystals scraped from the wall of the freezer onto the drops. They rapidly freeze solid.


    Add a comment July 27, 2009

    Bread facts

    1. Comes in 1000’s of forms.
    2. All involve cooking milled grains+h20.
    3. Range from thinnest flatbreads to fluffiest brioche.
    4. Matzoh is amazingly simple as flour+h20 baked till crisp.
    5. Raised breads, on the other hand, involve the complex interactions betwn flour & leaveners that give them their porous, tender quality.
    6. Leaveners come in 2forms: baking powder/soda & yeast.
    7. Baking powder/soda work quickly, relying on chemical reactions betn acidic & alkaline compounds to produce CO2 necessary to inflate dough or batter. They r used for delicate structure, ones that rise quickly as CO2 is produced, such as quick breads like cornbread & biscuits.
    8. Yeast, on the other hand, is a live, single-celled fungus. There are about 160 species of yeast & many of them live all around us. Comes in little paper pkts as beige granules. It lies dormant until it comes into contact with warm water. Once reactivated, begins feeding on the sugars in flour & releases CO2 that makes bread rise @ a much slower rate than b.powder or soda. Yeast also adds many of the distinctive flavors & aromas we associate with bread.
    9. But leavening agents would just be bubbling brews without something to contain them. Here’s where flour comes in. There are lots of diff types of flour used in bread, but wheat flour is most commonly used in raised bread is wheat flour. This is because wheat flour contains two proteins, glutenin and gliadin, which, when combined with water, form gluten. As you knead the dough, the gluten becomes more and more stretchy. This gum-like substance fills with thousands of gas bubbles as the yeast goes to work during rising.

    Add a comment July 15, 2009

    Starchy vegetables facts

    1. Squash, potato store well b’cos of less moisture & thick skins.
    2. If tubers don’t have any blemishes & r stored in cool place away from light, can last a long time.
    3. Under a microscope, the starch granules packed inside the potato cells appear as smooth oval shells. When you bake a potato, the starch granules absorb the moisture within the potato. Within the confines of the potato skin, moisture soon turns to steam that expands with great force, separating the starch granules & making a fluffy baked potato. If skin hasn’t been pierced before baking, explodes.
    4. When potatoes are boiled, starch granules absorb not only the internal moisture but also some of the surrounding water. Extra water contributes to making potatoes gummy when mashed. To avoid this problem, once the potatoes are boiled, drain them well, return them to the pot, cover, place them back briefly on the warm element to evaporate some of the excess moisture.
    5. Mashed potatoes- Don’t mix too long or too vigorously as ruptures starch granules & causes to spill their moist starchy contents, resulting in mashed potatoes that are wet & pasty. Some cooks claim that heating milk or butter before adding them to mashed potatoes can make for a more pleasing texture in the finished dish.

    Add a comment July 15, 2009

    Cranberry sauce

    1. Need 3ingredients-cranberries, sugar, h20.
    2. Cranberries are naturally rich in pectin, so gel easily under right conditions. The ingredient proportions & cooking time determine too runny sauce/perfectly thickened/a gel that’s firm enough to cut with a knife.
    3. Boil 1c h20+1c sugar till dissolves, add 3c fresh cranberries, simmer stirring occasionally till berries are translucent, 1/2berries pop open & release their pectin. Will thicken as it cools.
    4. If want a cranberry mold that holds its shape, continue to boil so more pectin is released & thickens to set into a firm gel i.e 217°F (103°C) on candy thermometer. If cook longer, will turn rubbery.
    5. If too much sugar, difficult to get to the gel point b’cos sugar raises the boiling point of the mixture. So no tricky ingredients.

    Add a comment July 14, 2009

    Cheese fondue facts

    1. Well aged, firm natural cheese blends more easily than mild cheese since as cheese ripens, protein is more easily dispersed & also higher the temp it can tolerate as it melts.
    2. Wine(inexpensive fine too) is also imp b’cos its acids encourage the softening of cheese, it’s lower boiling pt allows cheese to melt @ low temp & prevent it from becoming stringy.
    3. When cheese gets too hot, its protein called casein, can coagulate into a toughened mass, squeezing out liquid & fat. So use pots specially designed for cheese fondue to insulate the cheese from the heat.
    4. For best results, heat the wine until little bubbles appear, then add grated or coarsely cut cheese by the handful. Stir constantly to coax the cheese & wine to blend & don’t let the mixture boil.
    5. Cornstarch helps bind cheese with liquid, so add 1T/1lb cheese grate @ the beginning or blend 1Tcornstarch+ little kirsch(cherry brandy) once the cheese is melted.
    6. Since fondue toughens as it sits, don’t make it wait.

    Add a comment July 14, 2009

    Alcohol facts

    1. Its acids help tenderize meat & poultry.
    2. Unique in flavor, adds richness & depth to many foods.
    3. Alcohol’s boiling point is lower than that of water, so many cooks assume that little or none of its potency remains after cooking.
    4. Research tells a diff story. Cooked food can retain 5 to 85% of the original alcohol depending on how the dish is prepared, when it’s added & how thoroughly it’s incorporated with other ingredients.
    5. To substitute, use 7/8c meat/veg broth(or apple, tomato or grape juice) for each cup of wine in savoury dish. To mimic wine’s acidity, add 2Tlemon juice/vinegar. In desserts, replace with fruit juice+dash balsamic vinegar.
    6. If recipe calls for orange liqueur, try frozen orange juice concentrate & grated zest of fresh orange.
    7. Alcohol lowers the freezing temp of liquids. Most table wines freeze at about 15ºF (-10°C).
    8. B’cos sherry is a fortified wine ie has a higher alcohol content, it can stand even lower temp’s than table wines without freezing completely.
    9. Tartaric acid is the most plentiful acid found in grapes that contributes acidity, flavor & helps maintain wine’s color. Precipitated tartrate crystals are a byproduct of the wine industry. After being precipitated out in the wine-making process, they become cream of tartar, an acid used in baking.
    10. Wines with lower alcohol contents than sherry can actually freeze. When this happens, ice crystals form. However, because ice takes up more space than the same amount of water, the ice usually forces the cork out of the bottle, or even breaks the wine bottle.
    11. It’s now trendy to serve sherry over ice with a slice of orange. This would save chilling the sherry.

    Add a comment July 14, 2009

    Pear facts

    1. They r popular fall & winter fruits.
    2. Pears are one of the few fruits that don’t ripen successfully on the tree. They’re picked when reached full size, but before the onset of ripening. If left on the tree to ripen, they become mealy & unpleasant in texture.
    3. Pears ripen from the inside out, so you can’t judge their ripeness by looking at the skin. To test if a pear is ripe, apply gentle pressure near the stem end. If it gives slightly, it’s most likely ready to be eaten.
    4. Their unusual ripening process has its advg’s as can be ripened as needed. Couple of days before you plan to eat, put in brown paper bag to capture ethylene gas, that most ripening fruits give off. Ethylene also affects changes in color & flavor, converts starch to sugar, causes fruit to soften.
    5. If don’t want to wait for them to ripen completely, bake in desserts.

    Add a comment July 14, 2009

    Baking facts

    1. Eggs play an imp role in transforming liquid batters to cake, etc. Protein in eggs coagulates during baking as the temp increases & becomes firm, which is what gives shape to baked goods.
    2. Egg proteins are very sensitive to heat. Yolks begin to coagulate at 149ºF/65ºC & whites @ 140ºF/60ºC. If cooked long @ high temp, become tough & rubbery. To keep crustless quiches tender/get custards set but still remain silky, cook in “brain-marie” i.e bake in h20 surrounded bath to insulate from direct heat.
    3. Separate yolks from whites & stir yolks into the batter along with their liquid. Beat whites till light & fluffy, fold into batter at the last minute to lift the batter, though how much depends on what other ingredients are in your recipe. Heavier ingredients, such as oatmeal, will lessen the egg whites’ leavening effect. So more egg white need to be incorporated for extra lift.
    4. When eggs only are used as leaveners, try lightening the batter itself by using APF+cake & pastry flours so less gluten developed & batter rises more easily.
    5. Baking soda & powder release CO2, which gives fluffiness. For recipes that tend to be dense, chewy, these are not used.
    6. Creaming butter & sugar rather than melting it, adds air pockets to batter, which inflate as you cook & create light texture. For denser ones, just melt.
    7. Bain marie- French term for a dish that’s surrounded by a water bath & baked in the oven.
    8. If allergic to milk, substitute carbonated beverage such as ginger ale which cause air bubbles.
    9. Shortening- makes breads moist & tender.
    10. A high oven temp quickly converts any moisture present to steam, a very powerful natural leaven.
    11. When baking soda added to moist, acidic banana/pumpkin breads, CO2 released quickly & would escape by the time batter is mixed together. So better avoid baking soda.
    12. Angel food cake- Unique b’cos contain beaten egg whites for leavening & no fat used. Without the fat, there’s no tenderizing effect on the batter & the gluten develops more easily, which can rslt in a gummy mixture. So imp to use low gluten flours like cake flour/cake+pastry flours. Also sugar has strong effect on volume of finished product as it rises the temp @ which batter sets, giving cake extra rising time before its structure firms. Since stretches batter extensively, sugar contributes to cake’s very tender texture.

    Add a comment July 14, 2009

    Meat & fish facts

    1. Fat in most fish is invisible, intermingled with the tissues as oil. High-fat fish are more distinctive in flavor than lean ones b’cos their flavors are dissolved in their fish oils.
    2. Fat in meat surrounds the muscles & is often removed, though it is visible in some cuts of meat as marbling i.e white lines that look a little like a road map or a river delta).
    3. In meat, connective tissue binds together bundles of fibers within the muscle, surrounds the individual muscles, & attaches muscle to bone.
    4. Fish has shorter muscle fibers & less but tender connective tissue than meat which makes it cook faster. Connective tissues in fish are also transformed to gelatin at a much lower temp than in meat. As connective tissues dissolve, muscle fibers separate easily & the fish becomes flaky, a sign that it’s ready to eat.
    5. Protein content of fish & meat are each approximately 15% to 20%.
    6. If the meat has thawed in friz, then it’s okay to refreeze. Make sure it doesn’t sit in the “danger zone”—40°F–140°F (4°C–60°C)—for more than 2hrs. If thawed outside, cook before refreezing.
    7. Freezing turns the liquid within the cells into frozen crystals, which shear a delicate cell wall rather quickly. As meat thaws, contents of the cells seep out & meat fibers are prone to drying out as they cook. Freezing food as fast as possible minimizes the loss of liquid, b’cos when ice crystals form quickly, they remain very tiny. If the process of freezing & thawing is repeated, greater moisture losses occur & quality of the meat lessens.

    Add a comment July 14, 2009

    Brinjal/aubergine/eggplant facts

    1. Varieties- fat & shiny ones, small elongated dark purple Japanese, pale lavender Chinese ones.
    2. Buying- shd be firm & shiny so seeds inside are still small & flesh will not have accumulated the bitter phenolic compounds as in overripe & puckered ones.
    3. Storage- Once harvested, don’t stay long in friz b’cos of their tropical origins. Use as soon as possible.
    4. If worried that they might be bitter, salt pcs liberally & let drain 1hr to trigger osmosis, which draws out excess moisture & bitterness along with it. Then wrap in paper towel & press to collapse air cells & remove more h2o, so absorbs less oil.
    5. When heated, brinjal tissues collapse quickly due to their higher moisture content & also pectin rapidly changes form, so cells r no longer held tightly together.
    6. When fried, their spongy texture absorbs lot of oil. As air pockets collapse, some of the oil is released & oil still left in its tissues contributes to the soft, buttery texture that’s so appealing. Oil also carries the essence of added herbs & spices, onion, peppers, anchovies, parsley, garlic & lemon juice.
    7. If want to cut down on oil, roast/bake/grill them.
    8. It combines well with other late summer veggies.

    Add a comment July 14, 2009






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