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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

cooking précisions

Being a food enthusiast, how can I let this pass by unmentioned?

Hervé This (pronounced Tees/Tiss) formulated the delectable chocolat chantilly over a dozen years ago.

Following his Grandes Écoles diploma in physical chemistry, he apparently was intrigued by what he calls "cooking précisions" when
One night, he invited friends to dinner and made a cheese soufflé from a recipe that said to add the egg yolks two at a time. "Because I was a rational man," he says, "I decided to put in all of the yolks together. It was a failure."
He then started testing these "cooking precisions" — rules he gleaned from disparate sources like 19th- century cookbooks, old wives' tales, and the tricks of modern chefs — to see which ones held up (the skin on a suckling pig really does crackle more if you chop off its head right after roasting) and which didn't (a menstruating cook won't ruin mayonnaise).
The standard way to hard-boil eggs in Europe and America—10 minutes in boiling water—is not ideal, says Hervé This. The trouble, he notes clinically, is that 212 degrees Fahrenheit is far higher than the temperature at which the egg whites and the yolks coagulate. Egg whites are made up of protein and water (yolks contain fat as well). As eggs cook, their balled-up proteins uncoil into strands, and the strands bind together to form an intricate mesh that traps water. In essence, the proteins form a gel, a liquid dispersed in a solid. Boiling causes too many egg proteins to bind and form dense meshes, "so there is less sensation of water in the mouth," says This. Voilà: rubbery egg whites and sandy, grayish yolks.

Molecular Gastronomy as a field of study, pioneered by Hervé This, has been around for a while. Especially with my baking fiascos, I started getting very curious about it. I haven't begun to even scratch the surface and already I find it quite fascinating. While my experiments in the kitchen are not so scientific, at least it is helping me pay attention to some "old-wives tales" passed on by my mom :-)

Enough of the rambling... today I just have a very simple yet wholesome recipe I enjoyed making, especially because it is the garden bounty:

Roasted Grape and Cherry Tomatoes

Recipe is very simple. Toss the tomatoes with some olive oil, sliced garlic, some chopped herbs (rosemary, marjoram, basil), some salt and roast it in a 400°F oven for about 8-10 minutes till skin blisters and the aroma is irresistible :-)

Our garden has started fruiting tomatoes in bunches and there was only so much of fresh, sweet, raw cherry and grape tomatoes we can share (and consume), so, I decided to roast some for an afternoon snack. The sample red chili in the picture is a paprika, the long green ones are kung pao chilies, and the light green one is some kind of large wax pepper, plus the yellow pear tomatoes...

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