Pork Rib, whole

A few weekends ago, I was at a barbecue with my family, and my cousin, Matt, (who is a barbecuing genius) allowed me to tag along and help him smoke all the meats. It was amazing! There’s so much science behind smoking and slow cooking, it’s too much to cover in just one post, but I’d like to get us started with a mystery Matt asked me about himself. What causes a “smoke ring” to form around smoked meats? If you’re not familiar, a smoke ring is a region of pink colored meat usually seen in the outermost 8-10 millimeters of smoked meats. [Continue Reading…]

Cookies (Control) 3

Have you ever worked with a recipe that called for baking powder, but all you have is baking soda? You sit there for a minute debating whether you really need to go all the way back out to the store to buy baking powder. How different are they, anyway? They look the same; they’re used in similar recipes in similar amounts; they’re both supposed to leaven batters, and their names even sound the same. But don’t be fooled! Despite their similarities, using the wrong one can impact your food’s color, texture and flavor. [Continue Reading…]

French Fries

French Fries. Source: Brett Jordan, Flickr Creative Commons, Jan 9, 2012

Frying is a cooking technique that has been used for centuries. Sautéing, stir-frying, pan frying and deep frying all operate on the same principles – what differentiates them is how much fat is used in cooking. It can range from a very thin layer (sautéing and stir-frying) to enough to fully submerge an entire piece of food (deep frying). The biggest benefit to frying is speed. Fat is much better at transferring heat than either air or water, so frying cooks considerably faster than baking or boiling. Plus, the fat imparts a crispy crust and a richness and depth of flavor that is, to many folks, irresistible. [Continue Reading…]

Caprese Salad with Basil Foam

As I mentioned in my previous post (Soy Lecithin: Why is It in Everything?), lecithin will create a foam when whipped into a watery liquid. I thought it might be fun to try this technique on a Caprese salad, which is typically layered tomato, fresh mozzarella, and basil. Here, I substituted the basil with a foam made from fresh basil, water, and soy lecithin. It’s a delicate and beautiful addition to the salad, and would be sure to wow guests at a party! The beauty of the lecithin foam is that it allows the authentic flavor of the ingredients to shine through. Foams made with egg whites or cream bring lots of their own eggy or creamy flavor to the mix. With lecithin, you just get pure basil-y freshness. Yum! [Continue Reading…]

Dark Chocolate 60%

Have you ever noticed soy lecithin on the ingredient statement of your pre-packaged food? It sometimes seems like it’s in everything! It makes you wonder–how could one little additive be so pervasive? Well, because it’s really useful.

What does it do?

First and foremost, it’s used as an emulsifier, which means it makes oil and water mix together, which they ordinarily would never do. That’s why you often see it in creamy salad dressings, mayonnaise, reduced-fat buttery spreads and other foods that have a hefty portion of oil. [Continue Reading…]

MSG Crystals

MSG Crystals. Source: James R Coffey, Wikinut, Dec 2010

A bigger, better version of this article was posted on September 16, 2014, complete with more research and clearer explanations. Click here to go there: MSG: A Complete Guide to Health and Nutrition.

Monosodium glutamate, aka MSG: a mysterious ingredient maligned by many, understood by few. Described as “the essence of flavor” by some Asian cultures, it’s highly revered for adding that special something to recipes and processed foods. [Continue Reading…]

Dark Chocolate Mousse (landscape)

You really can’t go wrong with this rich dark chocolate mousse! It’s the perfect Valentine’s Day dessert for two. The bittersweet chocolate will really wake up your tastebuds and win you endless compliments. If you or your date have a bit of a sweet tooth, pair this with a few Vanilla Meringue Cookies to bring out the sweeter notes. If you prefer semisweet or milk chocolate, you can simply use those instead of the bittersweet chocolate. I’ve tried this recipe with both bitter- and semisweet chocolates, and I loved it both ways. [Continue Reading…]

Vanilla Meringue Cookies Meringue cookies are really something worth treasuring. They’re so light, it’s like biting into a cloud! A sugary, crispy, melt-in-your-mouth, can’t-eat-just-one cloud. Best of all, these delightful and unique cookies require only 4 ingredients and just a few minutes prep time. In fact, everything you need is probably already in your pantry! And you can make them into any shape you like. I made some heart shaped cookies for Valentine’s day, but I also made a bunch of plain ones that are simple to create and perfect for any occasion. These cookies are part one of a two-part Valentine’s Day dessert, so stay tuned for the big finale! [Continue Reading…]

Beef Shell Steak and Sweet Potato

If you’re anything like me and my husband, you know that there’s nothing like simply seasoned, perfectly cooked food to send you over the moon. This dish is beef shell steak (also known as a strip steak). This cut is basically a porterhouse (T-bone) steak with the filet (tenderloin) removed. I chose boneless, but you can buy these bone-in as well. Just like other fine cuts of beef, the shell steak is best prepared with a high, dry heat. That means on the grill, in a skillet, or under the broiler. One of the greatest things about fine steak is that it finishes cooking in no time! The simple seasoning is meant to enhance the flavor of this superb cut of beef without overpowering it. The same principle applies to the sweet potato (one of my favorite veggies). In this case, your side dish is going to take much longer than the steak itself, so let’s start there. [Continue Reading…]

Struggling with lactose intolerance?
Find out more about the condition, and how to avoid its uncomfortable symptoms. Find out more!
Gluten explained!
A no-nonsense look at gluten, what it is, and the role it plays in baked goods. Find out more!
Hate brown fruit?
Why sliced fruit turns brown, and how to stop it! Works for apples, bananas, pears, peaches, grapes, potatoes, eggplant, and avocados. Find out more!
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