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Archive for January, 2012

Boiling is appropriate for some applications, simmering for others. Below are some quick guidelines:

Boiling is good for:
1. Pasta – to keep the pasta constantly moving (so it doesn’t stick) and to speed up cooking time
2. Non-starchy, non-delicate vegetables – to speed up cooking time. Vegetables need to be cooked quickly to preserve their color and texture.
Simmering is good for:
1. Animal proteins like meats and eggs – this is due to the nature of their proteins – at higher cooking temperatures, more moisture is squeezed out as the proteins contract causing the eggs/meat to be tough. Remember this when making hard boiled eggs or when poaching chicken for chicken salad.
2. Starchy vegetables like potatoes as well as delicate vegetables like brussels sprouts – boiling water is too rough and causes the vegetable to break apart.
3. Long cooking vegetables like beets are also better at a simmer – since it takes a long time for the center of the vegetable to come up to the same temperature as the exterior.

 

A few other tips:
What is the difference between boiling, rolling boil and a full boil? For cooking purposes, these all generally means the same thing.

 What is poaching? Cooking -usually animal protein – in barely simmering water. Remember that proteins don’t react well to boiling so keep it at a very low simmer – like…barely bubbling at all.

Always start with cold water – It is often recommended to bring a pot of cold water to a boil or simmer, not warm/hot water. The reason for this is that the warm/hot water can pick up off flavors from your pipes and your hot water heater. So…it is best to start with cold water.

Hope this helps improve your cooking! 🙂

 

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Alright. I’m going to try something new and see if it will keep me interested. Originally, I started this blog to keep track of recipes. It progressed into something more and then got difficult and tiresome to maintain. I also…am tired of blogs in general. Recipe after recipe after recipe. Nothing new but a change in ingredients. Sure, people are making some fantastic things. And also are showing off their fabulous cameras and mad photography skills.  I’m thinking in a new direction – maybe a “back to basics” approach. Cooking based on technique – not recipes. How to do simple things – make sauces. Choose the best ingredients. Something like that.

So here goes. Today I’m starting with eggs.

Eggs:

Brown vs white? The difference between brown eggs vs white vs blue is breed of the chicken. The end.

Should you refrigerate eggs? If you are in the US, yes.  The reason is that in the US, during production, eggs are rinsed which washes away a natural protective coating on the egg. A new coating is added, but again, it’s not the egg’s natural protective coating.  This process doesn’t happen in other countries and is why you may see eggs sitting out un-refrigerated (also, they have less government mandates). Of course, keeping eggs refrigerated will always keep them fresher longer. But this explains a little bit why you may see un-refrigerated eggs in your travels.

Color of the yolk is dependent upon the type of feed given to the bird.

How to determine egg freshness:

Sure, you can use the date on the carton. But how often do you have a package in the fridge that is one, two, or dear heavens, 4 weeks past the expiration date? You could throw them out. But if you are cheap like me, you could throw caution to the wind and use them anyway.

One way to find out if the eggs are still usable is to submit them to the float test – submerge the eggs in a bowl of cold water (make sure it’s a bowl deep enough to be able to submerge an egg standing on end). If the egg stands up, but doesn’t float, it is old but still usable. If it floats, discard it. The reason that older eggs float is due to the fact that as the egg ages, an air pocket is created in the egg.

Now, just cause the egg floats, that doesn’t mean it is rotten per se. It just means that is more likely to be bad. The reason is that as the egg ages, carbon dioxide contained in the white escape through the pores of the shell and oxygen and other gases seep in. The loss of carbon dioxide makes the egg more alkaline and thus more susceptible to bacteria.

You can see the aging of the eggs after you crack them open too (this is after you have determined your old eggs don’t float, of course). Egg whites are made of two different parts – a thicker white around the yolk and a thinner white beyond that. In older eggs, the white is thinner all around – you won’t see the distinction between the thicker and thinner white parts. Additionally, the yolk of older eggs begins to flatten.

What about all that other stuff like cage-free, no hormones, etc? I’m not even going to discuss that. Kind of up to you to research and decide what is important for you. For me, I pick cage-free, no hormones.

Egg size? For most baking applications, you want large eggs but pay attention to what the recipe calls for. Extra large, jumbo, etc could screw up your baking so just be aware.

Egg yolk vs egg white: The fat is in the yolk. This is where the emulsifying power (lecithin) of the egg is. The egg yolk is responsible for making sauces and baked goods creamier. The yolk also contains a good majority of the egg’s vitamins and other nutrients and a little less than half the protein. The white is the part that when whipped, creates airy structures and rise (think Angel Food Cake).

On to cooking…

Hard Boiled Eggs

The trick to making perfect hard boiled eggs is that you don’t actually boil your eggs – this causes your eggs to be tough. Simmer instead

Using older eggs means easier peeling because of the air pocket (mentioned above). Remember that the air pocket will be at the wide end of the egg – so might want to start at that end for easier peeling.

Salting water helps to coagulate egg faster. Up to you if you want to do this/think it is necessary (for the record, I’ve never done it).

Two good ways to create perfect hard boiled eggs:

Cold water method (this requires you to be paying more attention to the cooking process):
Put eggs in cold water. Bring water up to a boil. When it comes to a boil, turn it off, cover and let eggs sit for:
12 minutes for hard boiled
10 minutes for medium boiled
5 minute for soft boiled

Immediately place eggs into ice bath to stop cooking. This also prevents the grey/green ring on the yolk.

You can see with this method that you need to be around at the moment the water comes to a boil in order to turn the heat off.  Which makes things harder to control if you want soft boiled. However, you can put cold eggs straight from the refrigerator into the pot, which is a plus

Hot water method:

With this method – you need to bring the eggs up to room temperature to avoid them cracking when you put them in the hot water. But overall, you have more control over how cooked your eggs are.

Bring a pot of water up to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer. Place eggs gently into water using a large spoon. Timing:

12 minutes for hard boiled

10 minutes for medium boiled

8 minutes for soft boiled.

Again, stop the cooking process by putting the eggs into an ice bath.

The advantage of this method is that you don’t have to be watching to turn the heat off when the water comes to a boil.

Hope this helps!

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