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Cookthink - new reference



How to's and more from Cookthink.com, a complete cooking resource that answers the question - what are you craving?



 



Root Source: Brown Mustard

Fri, 29 May 2009 13:01:48 -0400

what you should know Are they right, those boosters, when they say that mustard is the world's oldest condiment? Maybe they are. Its storied history as a spice, a medicine and a metaphor has made mustard important to people from Nanur to Napa. But by the mid-1980s, the word had come to mean pretty much one thing in the U.S.: the sour water-paste of French's yellow mustard. It took a French accent and a Rolls Royce for Grey Poupon to finally break up the great American mustard monopoly and help bring about a browner, spicier era in mustardry. The king of the browns is Dijon mustard, some of which are French, some of which (like Grey Poupon) are not. What makes Dijon Dijon is the use of wine must and white wine in the mustard. (Other brown mustards can contain water, vinegar or grape must.) hot flashes The trademark heat in mustard -- that dash that starts on the tongue but seethes into the nostrils and then fades -- settles down as the mustard ages. "America's Test Kitchen" surveyed Dijons and found that fresh mustard is hotter. ATK's advice: buy small amounts of mustard and look for a date stamp on the bottle. let mustard be your muse In addition to hosting a National Mustard Day, the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum, in Wisconsin, sponsors an annual contest about the much loved condiment. what you need From Mount Horeb's online gift shop, you can order very own personalized mustard. Subscribe to a mustard of the month club. Order mustard seeds or a sampler from Raye's Mustard, in Maine, home of North America's last remaining stone-ground mustard mill. I would like to get to a point in my life where I use a mustard pot often and earnestly. Recipes for homemade mustard abound online. The basic formula: soak mustard seeds (usually a combo of brown and yellow) + water + wine and/or vinegar + spices and/or herbs + salt and pepper. Blend. Taste. Tinker. what you do Mustard adds tons of flavor without bringing with it many calories. On broiled chicken, a mustard and parsley crust also gives the dish more texture. Ditto for grilled chicken coated with mustard and herbs. Alongside the egg, Dijon mustard is one of the best emulsifiers around. Simply braised cauliflower shows off this mustard-tarragon vinaigrette. When I was little, there was a period when I ate mustard with everything. I still love bacon dipped in mustard. Call me immature.[...]



Root Source: Cumin

Fri, 29 May 2009 12:54:10 -0400

what you should know A fixture in both curry and chili powder blends (as well as in Indian masalas), cumin's smoky warmth has made it a key ingredient in spice mixtures and pastes across the globe. Cumin can fly solo, too. We love to rub it into lamb chops before grilling, or mix it into the cheesy filling of a burrito, or use it to accent a slaw or simple sautéed vegetable dish. a(cumin) For the longest shelf life, your cumin should be stored in an airtight glass jar and kept in a cupboard (or some other dark place). As with many spices, you'll get the most flavor from cumin if you buy whole seeds and then grind them as you need them. dry pan Lightly toasting cumin seeds in a dry skillet before using them helps release some of the seeds' aromas and lends a headier flavor to a dish. cue: men With mentions in the Bible and the writings of Apicius ("when one is tired of all seasonings, cumin remains welcome..."), cumin has a long history as a culinary and medicinal spice. Apparently, there's also an old superstition about how cooking with cumin can keep your lover from wandering, but if you think spices will help with that, your problems are bigger than cooking. what you need Ana Sortun's Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean is split into chapters based on spice and herb groupings. Chapter 1: Cumin, coriander and cardamom. Jane and Michael Stern's Chili Nation chronicles some of the countless versions of this alternate national dish, to which cumin often lends its musky smoke flavor. One easy and effective way to get more flavor into your cooking: buy your spices whole and spend $15 on a coffee grinder you use exclusively for grinding spices. Chip uses his All-Clad 8-inch fry pan mostly to toast spices. what you do Cumin flavors both a spicy Indian okra and the cucumber raita that can help offset the okra's heat. On a hot summer night, a steaming ragout or stew can actually have a cooling, cleansing effect. Try this delicious Indian style beef and sweet potatoes dish with a bowl of simple quinoa or basmati rice. Brys is big on isolating single spices in a dish, like in this grilled cumin veal chop. Or you could try a slightly more complex spice mixture with this grilled chili-cumin pork chop. With its tart citrusy flavor, coriander rounds out cumin. Their natural affinity is on display in these black bean burritos with carrots, zucchini and cilantro.[...]



Root Source: Quinoa

Fri, 29 May 2009 12:50:03 -0400

what you should know Are we less inclined to warm up to foods we're not sure how to pronounce? That's the only reason we can think of to explain why quinoa ("KEEN-wah") has yet to take off in the U.S. A "pseudo cereal" native to the Andes, quinoa is mild and slightly nutty, with a beautiful, pillowy texture that's a little like couscous. It's a farmer-friendly crop that grows easily in many different climates and at high altitudes. It's simple to process and prepare. It's gluten-free. It's easy to digest. Quinoa has all the goods that grains and seeds are supposed to have (dietary fiber and so on). The real kicker though? Quinoa has the highest protein levels (up to 20%) of all the cereals -- pseudo or otherwise. the case for quinoa This nutritional profile has led normally sober people to rhapsodize about the promise of quinoa. (Its potential as a hangover remedy was the subject of our first blog post.) saponin warning Raw, quinoa is coated in a toxic, bitter substance called saponin. Almost all commercially available quinoa has been de-saponinized. Still, go ahead and rinse your quinoa a couple of times before you use it. what you need Rebecca Wood loves quinoa so much that she wrote a whole book about it. If Wood's Quinoa the Supergrain is too narrow a study for you, pick up her award-winning The Splendid Grain, one of the very best single-subject cookbooks out there. (Wood has recipes and tips at her website.) Five years ago, Corby Kummer wrote in the Atlantic (sub. req'd) about a company called Inca Organics. The company works with thousands of quinoa farmers in Ecuador to supply worldwide food distributors. IO has a list of online retailers. Brys buys his quinoa from White Mountain Farm, one of the first large-scale quinoa operations in the U.S. what you do As with rice and pasta, it's next to impossible to make just the right amount of quinoa. We like to use leftover quinoa in burritos, stir-fries, salads and really anything that could use some texture. But leftover quinoa also shines as a breakfast grain. Try this quinoa with dried cranberries, toasted walnuts and honey. Once you try quinoa in the place of pasta for this ham, cabbage and sage dish that Brys assembled out of the ether one day, you may never go back. If you're a newcomer to quinoa, start with the basic preparation and go from there. One of Chip's favorite afternoon snacks is simply steamed quinoa mixed with sour cream and hot sauce.[...]



Root Source: Marjoram

Fri, 29 May 2009 12:46:04 -0400

what you should know Marjoram is oregano's calmer, sweeter fraternal twin. Oregano = zesty + peppery + lemony. Marjoram = delicate + floral + round. The two are often used interchangeably, but if you get up in their mix you'll see some big differences. the tear-smell test Get a fresh sprig of marjoram and a fresh sprig of oregano. Tear an oregano leaf in half. Hold it up to your nose. Smell that piney resin? That jolt? It's sharp, isn't it? Almost one note. Okay, wait a few minutes, then do the same thing with the marjoram. Smell the complexity? The spice is still there but it's perfumed, heady. Almost soapy. (If you use too much of it, that soapiness can take over a soup or sauce.) the short and long of it You hear conflicting views about the best use for marjoram. First, you hear it's a great sauce and stewing herb that lends some woodsiness to long-cooked dishes. Then, you hear that marjoram should be added at the end of cooking so that you don't lose its delicate flavor. We're marjoram centrists. When we're roasting, grilling or broiling something, we like a lot of marjoram and we like it on its own. The high heat tames that soapiness, leaving a delicate floral taste to contrast the meat. In sauces, salads, and dressings, where the marjoram's more potent, we like to use it sparingly and we taste as we go. what you need Claudia Roden was born in Egypt, where most of the cultivated marjoram in the world comes from. She's written many great books on the food of the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Right now, we're into her new Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon. Can you survive without a Zyliss herb mill? Yes. Do you feel a little dignified when you use one? Yes. Is it up to you to decide if that kind of dignity is worth $12? Yes. Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs versus Herbs and Spices: The Cook's Reference. In a steel cage match between the two, we're not sure who would come out on top. They're equally good. what you do Next time you're feeling like a quesadilla, stow the cilantro and try mixing marjoram and coriander with Monterey Jack. Against the cheese's gooey richness, the marjoram brings in a little lemon that the coriander picks up on and rounds out as orange. It's a match made in cielo. We liked a toned-down version of moros y cristianos, the famous Cuban dish of black beans and rice. Though usually you'd use dried oregano, we think that fresh marjoram gives it more complexity. Marjoram is underused as a flavoring for root vegetables. With carrots and Brussels sprouts roasted at high heat, marjoram highlights the sweet and woodsy qualities of the vegetables. But if you really want to talk about marjoram and roasting, you've got to talk about lamb. To see what the herb's all about, try this seared and roasted rack of lamb inspired by one of Brys' favorite cooking shows, Take Home Chef. [...]



Root Source: Pecorino

Fri, 29 May 2009 12:42:20 -0400

what you should know For too long, pecorino has been Italy's other hard cheese. Unlike Parmigiano-Reggiano, a cow's milk cheese made in northern Italy, pecorino cheeses are made with sheep's milk (pecora means "sheep") and they usually come from southern Italy and Sardinia, terrain too dry for mooing. Most are grana: hard, aged, granular cheeses. But beyond that, "pecorino" can apply to any number of cheese styles. (Tasting notes at the blog.) grate it yourself, sloth Most pecorino imported to the U.S. is sharp, "grating" cheese. In the time it has taken you to read this far, you could have grated 1/4 cup of pecorino. Unless you have to, don't buy grated pecorino. Seriously. keep it under wraps When hard cheese is left out uncovered, the exposed surfaces oxidize and dry out. So unless you buy your pecorino by the wheel, it's best to store it in the crisper of the refrigerator. Pecorino is durable enough to tightly wrap in plastic wrap. Change the wrap every other day or so to let the cheese air out, but always rewrap it tightly. And for fullest flavor, let the cheese come to room temperature before using it. try the rind Some pecorinos are brushed with olive oil. Others are rubbed with tomato paste. Others are wrapped in walnut leaves. And so on. Taste the rinds to get closer to the cheese. You may not like it, but at least you'll have tried. what you need The pungent graininess of Pecorino Romano and other hard grating pecs can be a lot to handle on its own. Try some shavings with a dollop of a spicy-sweet mostarda, the popular Italian fruit and mustard condiment. I have one essential cheese tool: a Microplane grater. I use it almost daily. The Microplane's been so touted that it's almost not worth mentioning here. Almost. If you don't live in New York, you should visit Murray's the next time you're there. In the meantime, get affineur Rob Kaufelt's new book, Murray's Cheese Handbook: A Guide to 300 of the World's Best Cheeses. Rather buy American-made? Some of the best hard cheeses in the world are being produced in the U.S. My favorite monger, Boston's South End Formaggio, sells several pecorino-esque cheeses from Vermont: Woodcock Farm's Weston Wheel and Peaked Mountain Farm's Vermont Dandy. what you do Pecorino is classic for grating over pasta. It elevates already classic fusilli with sausage and broccoli raab. Cold winter weather doesn't necessarily demand a comforting, warm dish. This fennel, orange and pecorino salad tastes bright and fresh -- just the thing when you've got the winter blues but don't feel like cooking. Tangy Pecorino Toscano makes a perfect crown for a mild hors d'oeuvre of lentil bruschetta with basil.[...]



Root Source: Beet

Fri, 29 May 2009 12:37:17 -0400

what you should know If it's ugly, the old produce adage goes, it must be good. Nothing proves this so convincingly as the subsoil family of dark taproots, homeliest among them the beet. The beet may not be much to look at on the outside, but what really defines it is the sweetness of its flesh, which is usually a vibrant red, yellow or orange. Its high sugar content and hardiness have made it a fiber-rich workhorse in northern climates such as the Ukraine, whose national dish is the beet-based soup called borscht. (The family of America's most famous beet farmer, Dwight Schrute, came from Germany.) keep the beet Stay away from beets that are soft or that have wet or bruised spots. You want smooth, firm beets. In the refrigerator, they'll keep for a month or so. Before cooking, gently scrub the beets. To prevent them from "bleeding," wait until after you've cooked and let them cool a little before you peel them. it's chard When you can, buy beets with the tops still attached. When you get them home, lop off all but a half inch or so of the greens and store them separately. Cook the greens just like you would chard, which is actually a beet that's been bred as a leaf vegetable. what you need Peeling with the OXO 7" Good Grips swivel peeler is like writing with your favorite pen. With its thick grip, you can get an easy peel that doesn't maul the beet. (It won't keep your hands from staining pink, though. If soap doesn't get it out, try lemon juice.) In her book Chez Panisse Vegetables, Alice Waters lets beets and other roots shine with as little embellishment as possible. We endorse this. For borscht, you've got to have a good loaf of locally made bread. Slice it, toast it and drizzle it with butter or oil. Or just tear a chunk off for sopping. what you do You can do no wrong by simply roasting beets. (Wrapping or covering them in foil makes them easier to peel). While they're still warm, peel and toss them with quality vinegar. Waters insists that the vinegar highlights the sweetness of the beets. We agree. That sweetness is the perfect canvas for playing around with contrasting flavors. Grate raw beets and toss them in a salad with frisee, walnuts and creamy fresh goat cheese. Depending on where you find yourself in the world, borscht (or barszcz or bartsch or bors) can range from a cold, light broth to a hot, meaty stew. Here's a delicious but simple vegetarian borscht. [...]



Root Source: Lemon Zest

Fri, 29 May 2009 12:32:18 -0400

what you should know Our anti-fruit sauce zealotry got some people worked up last week. As a gesture of fruit-love, we decided to make peace with this week's root source on lemon zest. why zest? James Beard chose the perfect word when he wrote that the lemon is "irreplaceable" in cooking. Lemon dignifies whatever it touches. Zest, the outer, yellow surface, is the intense, perfumed essence of the lemon. As a bright flavoring or finish, it acts like a spice or an herb. When you zest a lemon, you're basically taking the color from it and using that color to enliven something else. 5 zest notes 1. Buy firm, thick-skinned lemons that are heavy for their size. 2. Non-organic lemons have been sprayed with pesticides and other treatments. They've also been handled, dropped on the floor, and who knows what else. Before zesting a lemon, scrub it with a brush and a little soap and water. Then, rinse it well and dry it. 3. Zest only the outer yellow surface of the lemon. Avoid the bitter, white pith just below the surface. (And unless you're a "fruit detective," also avoid the pith helmet.) 4. Don't zest the lemon until you're ready to use it. 5. Then again, get in the habit of zesting every lemon you buy. If you're not using the zest right away, it will keep for a few months in the freezer. what you need How you zest a lemon depends on what kind of zest you want. For a fine, airy zest, use a Microplane or some other fine grater. For a julienne cut, use a zester. For longer, thicker strips of zest, use a vegetable peeler. Cookbook author Lori Longbotham specializes in desserts, but in her comprehensive Lemon Zest, she features some delicious savory dishes as well. what you do As a nod to the last days of winter, brighten a dish of collard greens and white beans with lemon zest and hot sauce. As a nod to the first days of spring (one more week), get outside and grill a New York strip with a spicy gremolata vinaigrette. As a nod to arborio rice (why not?), try this cremini mushroom risotto that highlights the natural affinity between thyme and lemon. Sealed inside parchment paper, lemon zest perfumes a salmon, fennel and potato papillote. [...]



Root Source: Pork Tenderloin

Fri, 29 May 2009 12:27:31 -0400

what you should know Here's a widespread practice that we'd like to see scaled way back: pairing pork tenderloin with fruit. Don't think it's that widespread? A challenge then: flip through the indices of your cookbooks until you find three pork tenderloin recipes in three separate books. just let it be savory There's nothing inherently wrong with pairing pork tenderloin with fruit. It just shows a collective failure of imagination that it is all anyone ever seems to want to do with this leaner, milder cut more prized for its tenderness than its flavor. As with a filet mignon, a generous seasoning of coarsely ground salt and pepper paired with high heat can transform a pork tenderloin. temp, not time The key to a juicy pork tenderloin: temperature. You can cook a tenderloin in just about conceivable way, but always have your meat thermometer ready. You cannot reliably use a timer and expect a juicy tenderloin. It's that simple. While the National Pork Producers Council has for years recommended a blistering internal read of 160F, we're glad to see more and more people champion medium-rare and medium pork. We've been consistently pleased by pulling pork at 142F. We let the meat sit covered for 5-10 minutes, during which time the temp will tick up a few more degrees. what you need Cooking pork tenderloin gives us an excuse to wield our favorite kitchen tools: a pair of OXO Good Grips tongs (Chip) and a Taylor instant-read digital thermometer (Brys). No one's favorite kitchen tool is butcher's twine, but when you need it, you need it. And often for a whole pork tenderloin, you need it. You may not need Peter Kaminsky's Pig Perfect or Bruce Aidell's Complete Book of Pork, but owning either or both means you'll never need another email like this one to remind you of this next point. Which is that, in the past several decades, pigs have changed dramatically. What used to be a lush, fatty meat has been bred into something leaner, less marbled. Across the country, certain small-scale producers specialize in heritage pig breeds like the Berkshire and the Red Wattle. We urge you to try these breeds. Compared to most of the supermarket cuts (with Niman Ranch as an exception), they're juicier, they're tastier, and they're more humanely raised. To save them you have to eat them. what you do Get back to basics. Forgo the fruit, the marinades, the rubs. Forget everything you've heard about the tenderloin's blandness. Track down a good quality cut. Season and moisturize it in a simple brine, then sear and roast it. Using just a few ingredients and direct high heat, let the meat speak for itself. Or, instead of a brine, try Mark Bittman's twice-seared pork medallions (video) with a good pan sauce. (Not a fruity one, though.) Sticking a tenderloin in the freezer before using it in a stir-fry helps keep the meat firm as you thinly slice it. We love this clean, textured stir-fry of pork, eggplant, red peppers and basil.  [...]



What is pate sablee?

Mon, 18 May 2009 08:37:04 -0400

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Pâte sablée
is the richest of the French short pastry crusts. It is used to make sweet flans and tarts.

A pâte sablée is made with butter, flour or powdered almonds, butter, egg, sugar and flavored with vanilla. It has more calories than a pâte brisée or pâte sucrée and the most flavor.





What is a pate a bombe?

Mon, 18 May 2009 08:36:54 -0400

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A pâte à bombe is the French term for a mixture used as a base for making chocolate mousse and other mousse-like desserts.

It is made by pouring a sugar syrup that has been cooked until it is 121 degrees celsius (249.8 farenheit) over egg yolks and whipping the mixture until it is completely cold and has transformed into a uniform, unctuous, airy mass.