Dried beans and salt. Dried beans and soaking.  Ask some chefs and they’ll tell you add salt in the beginning and the beans will never get soft.  Some chefs have suggested that salt slows the rehydration of beans.  Others say, the slower the rehydration, the better the finished bean (fewer broken ones), so it’s important to soak them overnight.  Others say it doesn’t really matter, or it depends.  One thing that is demonstrably true is that you don’t have to soak your beans overnight; if you want beans for dinner, put them in water and cook them till they’re tender or at least edible, no soaking, no blanching, just put them in a pot and cook them. Wanting to get to the bottom of this, though, and having little scientific knowledge of bean cookery myself, Read On »

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I’d long been taught that the germ of garlic released enzymes that changed the flavor of garlic. In Skills class at the CIA in 1996, my chef instructor said in the finest starred restaurants you’d find that the cooks removed the germ before mincing, but that for our purposes it was unnecessary. That same chef, 5 years later, now asked his class to always remove the germ because it did affect the flavor.  Harold McGee discusses garlic and its science in his book. I too noticed differences, not that the garlic was bitter, as some claim, only that if the garlic sat for a while before using it developed to me an off flavor. This blogger did a test finding that the flavor was different but not worse, in fact that the garlic with the Read On »

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A couple years ago, nosing around in McGee’s On Food and Cooking, I came across his suggestion that one could make neater poached eggs by getting rid of the liquidy, flyaway whites before poaching.  And it works! (There’s really no point in adding acid to the water.) Regrettably, I left my good perforated spoon at a Macy’s demo and was left a generic slotted spoon with a shallow bowl and the egg always wanted to jump out. So when my friend Mac suggested we make some kitchen tools, a great perforated spoon was high on the list.  And here it is, The Badass Perforated (aka Egg) Spoon, now available at OpenSky, a new, still evolving e-commerce site (follow me there for weekly special deals they put together).  It not only easily holds any egg, but Read On »

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Yesterday was 92 degrees.  This morning was low sixties, with that wonderful slate sky that descends in fall and the chill wakes me up and makes me want to cook.  There’s still corn the farmers market, fat kerneled and juicy, still very sweet, still aching to be baked.  The green beans are getting big and tough and can be roasted (hot oven, chilli flakes, cumin, smashed garlic, 20 minutes).   The chillis are vivid and the jalapeno plant that Donna planted in the spring is loaded down with fat hot ones.  I got a jar of chilli’s pickling, more or less this recipe here out of this awesome book, only I’m going to let set out at room temp to get them fermenting a little before putting them in the fridge. I’ve got a best friend Read On »

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Cool surprise in today’s CSA.  Okra!  Something I almost never cook, and something that when I’ve had it, is cooked into slime. The key to cooking okra is to not cook it too much.  Saute it in a tablespoon of canola oil in a hot pan, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes if you want some heat, till tender but still crunchy. When I was working on Return To Cooking with Eric, he sauted them this way and served them on mahi mahi with a citrus vinaigrette. They’re delectable.  Truly, and so rarely do I eat them, they taste and feel like a delicacy when prepared this way. Or, cook okra the southern way, dipped in butter milk or egg, rolled in a corn-meal-mixture and fried.  That’s delicious, too.  Goes great with Carolina barbecue! Summer Read On »

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