Food And Cooking

Baking the Bread What Heat does

Baking seems simple to us put the well-risen, proofed dough in the hot oven and take it out when it is fully baked. If all went well (and there is no reason why it shouldn't), we place a still-steaming, irresistibly-perfumed, brown-crusted, mouth-wateringly beautiful loaf of bread on a wire rack, and we are ready to cut into it after a short cooling period. But the baking process is anything but simple. There is a series of very complex chemical reactions and physical processes that happen...

The stages of mushroom growing

In a commercial operation, mushroom cultivation is in temperature and humidity-controlled windowless greenhouses, tunnels or caves. There are five major steps to readying a mushroom for your pot. 1. Substrate preparation. Substrate is the organic material that the mushroom uses as its food source. Carefully preparing this determines both the size and quantity of the crop. Different cultivated species flourish in different substrate. All substrates are high in cellulose, which the mushroom...

How to bathe a mushroom

Cooks have been bickering for years about the best way to clean mushrooms. Button mushrooms come to the supermarket looking quite clean. But that is not clean enough. Handling on the way, perhaps chemicals sprays make another cleaning necessary. But wait until just before ready to use them. Cookbooks are filled with mushroom cleaning methods. According to the poplar kitchen myth, mushrooms absorb too much water when fully immersed and this is true. If you let mushrooms sit in water for several...

Hot chocolate and hot cocoa

There is a tremendous variation of recipes for such simple preparations as hot chocolate and hot cocoa. Neither cookbook authors, nor manufacturers agree on a single and simple best recipe. Obviously, people have different ideas about what best is. I looked through a number of old and new cookbooks, and the variety of methods and proportions are endless. The older the cookbook, the more complicated the method for preparation. Even the three major brands of American cocoa manufacturers...

Tastings How to make pure gluten

Even to experienced bread bakers gluten has the aura of a mysterious substance that forms like magic in kneaded bread dough. But gluten is a physical substance, nothing mystical. You can make gluten, see what it looks like and feel it in your hand. Prepare and knead a bread dough using bread flour until it is soft and supple, indicating that you have fully developed the gluten. Now continue manipulating the dough under running water. The water washes the starch out of the dough, and when it...

Tastings Example of Essential Oils in Rosemary

Although its impact can be powerful, the essential oil is a very small part of the plant, often making up only 0.2 to 1 percent of the total weight. The essential oils are within the cell walls. To release the oils, you have to break the cell walls. Crushing an herb or grinding a spice does exactly that. Heat intensifies the flavor and aroma as it drives more of the oils out of the cell walls. Nearly all herbs and spices need this application of heat before they fully release their aromatic...

The elusive truffles

Finally, let's focus on the elusive truffle, a fungus that most of us will never have the chance to taste because the demand far exceeds its supply. It is said to have a wonderful flavor but, like its highly overrated companion, caviar, it is reserved for wealthy diners. Truffle is also called earth nut. This name describes its natural habitat underground. The truffle is small and knobby, and one can mistake it for an acorn or a rock. It has no stem. The solid interior has the consistency of...

Types of cookies

According to the method you make them, cookies may be the following types 1. Rolled cookies are made from a chilled dough that is very low in moisture. Roll out the dough thin as you can, cut the cookies with a cookie cutter and place them on a baking sheet ready to bake. You can decorate them either before or after baking. Rolled cookies are time-consuming to make at home but commercially machines make them by the millions in minutes. An example for rolled cookie is the traditional holiday...

Chocolate and cocoa storage

Cocoa butter (the fat in cocoa beans) has a remarkably long shelf life. Among its numerous ingredients, chocolate beans include potent natural anti-oxidants (polyphenolic compounds) that protect the cocoa fats from rancidity. You may store chocolate and cocoa for years (some say indefinitely) without any deterioration in quality. Hershey's scientists claim that after two or more years baking chocolate loses some of its flavor and may even have some rancid flavor notes. To be on the safe side,...

Dried and sundried tomatoes

Dried tomatoes, also called sun-dried tomatoes, were possibly the most trendy vegetable on the American markets in the 1980s and they still somehow survived into the 1990s though they lost their tarnish. I also think that they are the most overrated vegetable. Their appeal is their appearance. Dried tomatoes dress up a plate or a dish with their pleasing shape, texture and color. It is the flavor that is somewhat overrated and often does not come up to expectations. The idea of drying tomatoes...

Cultured milk products

All cultured (also called fermented) milk products have varying amounts of lactic acid, which gives them their pleasingly tart, slightly tangy flavor. There's a difference between milk product fermentation and yeast fermentation that some people confuse. Milk product fermentation is by bacteria that produce lactic acid, while yeast (a completely different microorganism) convert sugar to alcohol in such things as bread dough, brewing beer and wine. Two different cultures of lactic acid-producing...

How we taste food

We have a collection of tiny sensing organs on our tongues, called taste buds. A large number of nerves lead from the taste buds to the brain, sending instant messages as soon as we put something in our mouth. Our olfactory (smelling) organs and taste buds work together to allow us to taste food. When you catch a cold and your nasal passages are filled, the odor of the food cannot reach your mouth. Even though your tasting organs are fully operational, food seems to have no flavor. Here is an...