Fine Cooking April 1: Gelatinous Dangers

This week's Fine Cooking (dot) com article comes a bit early, because I wanted to ensure that it was available on April first. It's all about some non-obvious but prevalent concerns about gelatin. Everything in it is, to my knowledge, true. But it's a bit silly*, so I decided to do it today.

Inspired by the post, Jennifer told me to seek out this video:

*- Perhaps "a bit sillier than normal" is a better way of putting it.

Fine Cooking Thursday: For Butter or Worse

A special for the new issue of Fine Cooking is to let people online read my whole article without paying for the site. Woo! So run to Fine Cooking (dot) com and learn whether adding oil to butter will raise its smoke point. There's tips on clarifying butter, what ghee is, and all that stuff in there as well. This is also a good opportunity to view the difference between my fully-edited columns vs. the normal stuff you see on my blog. Of course, just because you've gotten a chance to read my article, there are still plenty of good things in the new issue, so after you've posted your thoughts on Fine Cooking's site, please do pick up a copy of the new issue. It's packed with all sorts of interesting information and lots of good recipes.

Fine Cooking Thursday: Like syrup for candy

My question this week involves the substitution of rice syrup for corn syrup in candy making. Is it a good idea? Will it all go horribly wrong? There's only one way to know for sure. As a special feature for The Food Geek readers, I'm going to include some alternate text that didn't go into the original article. It's like a bonus feature on a DVD. Woo! I had a metaphor that just wasn't really working for me nor a select group of test readers, so I cut it. I could have made it work, but it didn't seem necessary, so I figured there was no reason to force the issue.
Corn syrup, on the other hand, is mostly glucose. The reason it's so, well, syrupy is because it's not just single molecules of glucose all hanging out by themselves, but chains of glucose. Sometimes they're short chains, sometimes they're long chains. It kind of like, and I want to stress that this is only a metaphor and should in no way put you off candy making, it's kind of like a big can of worms. Some of the worms are little ones, some are big long ones, but they all flow around each other and keep things moving slowly. The reason why you put the corn syrup into the candy is because, when you just have single sugar molecules by themselves, then the sugar molecules want to bunch together to make crystals. It's really keen and useful for certain kinds of candies, but not as useful for others. What the corn syrup does is get in-between the sucrose molecules so, while they would normally join hands together, they instead try to keep from touching anything in case, for example, it might be a big worm.
4B72FB8B-4DFB-40BB-9238-C19AAC38756D.jpg Anyways, it's no room full of kittens, nor is it a thoroughly extended metaphor about a party, but for those who like knowing some of the (shhh!) secrets of the writing process, there ya go.

New on Beans and Salt Water

Another Thursday, another mystery solved. This week, I answer a question from twitter about a common bit of advice in cookbooks: should you avoid putting salt in the cooking water for beans? Although I love writing these, I need more questions from readers. Please comment, tweet, or send me feedback to let me know what questions you may have about food or cooking. I can't do it without you.

Latest Article: The Party

Another extended metaphor completed, this time explaining how to stabilize egg white foams. As with most things eggy, egg foams are somewhat complicated. Significantly moreso than whipped cream. This question came, not from twitter, but from a comment on this site, so there are plenty of ways to ask me questions for the Fine Cooking articles. meringue.jpg

The Food Geek on Fine Cooking…dot Com!

No, this isn't a rehash of the earlier post about being in Fine Cooking Magazine. Though, it can be restated, I am being published in Fine Cooking Magazine. So you know. Run out and get a subscription. Tell them I sent you. No, aside from that, I also have a weekly blog on The official title is Kitchen Mysteries with The Food Geek, and the first article is Toffee Troubles. Kitchen Mysteries is the equivalent to the local Food Mystery. In a nutshell, I take questions from readers (preferably through Twitter, but feel free to you my contact form or email me if you know my address) and answer them. Ideally, I'll answer them correctly and fix whatever problem has been plaguing one of you. If not, I expect that my incredibly smart legion of readers will chime in and show me how much I have left to learn (preferably in a nice way, but it's the Internet, so I'll understand if it's otherwise). So, please, read, comment, favorite, digg, whatever it is you kids do these days. I look forward to making many more of these.

Doctor Delicious

I love the new path that Popular Science is taking, adding in more and more food to their science culture. From the Ideas in Food articles to working with Ted Allen on his show, Food Detectives, they have been making the science of food even more popular.* Speaking of Ted Allen, in July he wrote an article about Dave Arnold, dubbed "Doctor Delicious." Dave is the mad inventor of molecular gastronomy, coming up with equipment and techniques to do amazing things with food. He's not the chef; he's the guy who's giving the chef's their boost in the science and technology department. *- See what I did there?

FoodPairing is now 200 times better

I've written about FoodPairing before, which has always seemed like a great and useful kind of site, but I've never used it. As a brief introduction, FoodPairing gives a graphical representation of which foods go well together, and which foods can be substituted for other foods. It is a beautiful site, and suffered from only one flaw, which was that I could never quite understand what the graphs meant. Did this line mean that it was a pairing, and were these other lines substitutions, or did it work the other way around? Would each of these things pair with the other, or was it a one-item-only sort of thing? Very confusing. Now, however, everything is different. The FoodPairing folk have made two changes that have completely revitalized the site and will make it the reference I have always dreamed of. First, they have separated the what fits well with… graphs from the What can replace… graphs. Not having them do double duty makes them so much more readable. Second, and most importantly, they wrote a section on how to use the FoodPairing site and graphs. Instructions make all the difference. So run run run to FoodPairing and learn to use a combination of rosemary, peppermint, and sage to replace basil, or learn that chocolate pairs well with cheese. Run!

The Food Geek Is Now in Fine Cooking

Big news! There have been hints on my twitter feed for months now, but all of the pieces have been made public, so I can make at least the first of my big announcements: The Food Geek is now a regularly appearing column in Fine Cooking Magazine. The first column, which is about the Maillard reactions as they apply to chicken piccata, appears in the February/March issue, which should be on the stands, well, any time now, and is currently available to subscribers of their web site. Fine Cooking announced in their December/January issue that they are undergoing a big redesign and lots of changes. I am pleased to be part of those changes. There'll be more, and I'll let you know as soon as I can about the next one.

Twitter Cookbook 1.0

To start of the new year properly, Mike Tremoulet, a.k.a. @coffeemike, has compiled the Twitter Cookbook. It's a collection of recipes from folks on twitter, compiled into a single book that available electronically or, for the cost of creation*, a print on demand book. There is a Food Geek recipe on there, but I think the real value is from all the non Food Geek recipes. It was created in a very short time frame as an example of what can be done with the power of social media and Creative Commons. *- Which looks to be $21.40 right now.

Making Vinegar

vinegar.jpgThe Ideas in Food folk, Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot, have a regular food science column called "Kitchen Alchemy." The most recent one I've seen is Making Vinegar at Home. As we have discussed, I'm a big fan of making things that people normally don't think they can make, and vinegar definitely qualifies. This is a good companion article to the Good Eats episode on the same subject. Via Make.

Food Timeline

Serious eats asks:
How long before The Food Timeline makes the rounds on all the blogs
And I say that I'll do my part right away. The Food Timeline is a, er, timeline of food. Food history, rather. It's a series of links organized by time, telling us important tidbits and giving us a chance to understand the context. For example, I did not realize that the koolickle (Kool-aid Pickle) is a recent invention (2007 from all accounts), nor that Peanut Butter cookies were invented in 1933 by the Pillsbury Flour Mills Company. Pre-history, apparently, involves water, ice, salt, shellfish, non-shell fish, eggs, mushrooms, insects, and rice. From there we find that the first real non-whole foods are bread, beer, and soup. All of which are related, if you think about it, and can easily make a whole meal. In any case, like the medieval recipe translations, this looks to be a quick stop for anyone wanting to learn about the history of food. Because it was created by a reference librarian and IACP member, there is even information in the "About this site" section about citing the site. It is properly copyrighted and not creative commons, so be sure to cite properly if you use information from the Food Timeline.

Lesson Learned: Possible; Robert Irvine is back on television

I would probably have skipped this story had I not made a big deal of it before, but it should be noted: Robert Irvine is returning to Dinner: Impossible. The official story is that Iron Chef New Guy was just filling in until, I dunno, Irvine was contrite enough or something. Probably most of it was that he has a very vocal fan base who thinks that what he's done is not so bad. The press release says that he has worked hard to ensure that the record is straight and that he is sorry. I look forward to more abuse of him by the producers, and I hope that this is the end of whatever controversies surround his past. I still think he should go up against an iron chef one-on-one, though. Perhaps Symon, as a kick-off to the new series. That seems appropriate. via FNCrazy