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Absurdly, stupidly basic cooking questions (Part 1)


jhlurie
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My Mom always told me you salt for 2 reasons.

2) it raises the boiling temp of the water

There is an effect, but it's weak.

The ebullioscopic constant of water is the increase in boiling point caused by 1 mol of the thing you dissolve in 1 kg of water - that's SI units, obviously - and is about 0.515 K per (mol per kg). One mol of sodium chloride weighs about 60g, but it splits into two bits, doubling its effort; so about 30g of sdium chloride in 1 kg of water will raise the boiling point by half a degree centigrade. (Scientists like to use kelvin instead of centigrade to confuse non-scientists; physical chemists like to use peculiar mixed units like mols per kg to confuse everybody.)

So, to raise the boiling point by about 1 deg C you need 60g of salt per litre of water :blink:

(edited to add the 60g)

Edited by Stephen B (log)

Stephen

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My Mom always told me you salt for 2 reasons.

1) flavor

2) it raises the boiling temp of the water, and pasta tastes better and cooks faster in hotter water.

I heard of a third reason, that the salt makes tiny scratches on the surface of the pasta (like sandpaper) that helps the sauce adhere better. But this doesn't seem to make sense if the salt is dissolved. I usually add the salt at the last minute, just in case this is true.

Here is my stupid question. I was watching that "Tuscan Style" show the other day and Ciarello (sp?) said that you shouldn't use olive oil that is older than six months. Now, if olive season is once a year, wouldn't that mean we should go without for the rest of the time? Also, I come from a family that makes its own olive oil, and as far as I know, the area olive season was always great one year, not so great (much less production) the second year so by that logic we'd really be screwed. More likely he meant, if you have a five year old bottle of olive oil and you live in a damp humid climate and think it is a really good idea to store that thing near the window or over the stove.... but why didn't he say that? His whole thing with grey salt annoys me too. But he is on when I am getting ready for work.

Eh. On the other hand, I once saw a show where one guy said you should grind salt right when you use it so it is fresh. As far as I know, salt is a mineral with no oils to go stale. Would somebody please send these people to a science class?

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So, why is it called "corned" beef? Where's the corn? Seriously.

Someone explained it here once before but, um... I forget.

Thanks.

It comes from old English refering to the salt crystals. A form off rock salt was used that was the size of a corn kernal.

Living hard will take its toll...
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Seems like I need to find a How to cook Meat for Dummies 101....

I really learned a lot from The Complete Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly. It also has a recipe for the best coleslaw. We can eat the whole bowl. That's 5-6 cups of cabbage between the two of us! Obviously, no sense of portion control and no regards for the potential aftermath of all that cabbage! :laugh:

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Here is my incredibly stupid idiotic question:

How do I find glutinous/sticky rice? Do I buy it at the Asian market? What does the bag say (how will I identify that it is the right stuff)? It's not the same thing as the sushi rice, is it?

You need to find the rice labeled "Sweet Rice" on the bag. Here's a tip:

Glutinous rice always comes in smaller bags. Whereas medium grain and jasmine rices can come in huge 50lb bags, this type of rice is normally in the 5-10lb range. So...look for a brand that doesn't come in anything larger than 10-20lbs.

Sho-Chiku-Bai is the brand I normally like using.

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How do I find glutinous/sticky rice? Do I buy it at the Asian market? What does the bag say (how will I identify that it is the right stuff)? It's not the same thing as the sushi rice, is it?

Glutinous rice is often labeled as "sweet rice". It is a short grain rice while "sushi rice" or Japanese rice is medium grain like Arborio. You will find glutinous rice only in Asian markets.

Ruth Friedman

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So, why is it called "corned" beef? Where's the corn? Seriously.

Someone explained it here once before but, um... I forget.

Thanks.

It comes from old English refering to the salt crystals. A form off rock salt was used that was the size of a corn kernal.

I think there's an echo in this topic. :biggrin:

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Okay, this just came up over on THE RESTAURANT thread:

I've been leaving my pasta water unsalted my entire life, and apparently that's the wrong thing to do. So.

Salt in pasta cooking water. Why?

i read somewhere, don't remember where, that the boiling temp is reached faster, or the boils hotter (can't see that being possible) something about the boiling point.

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Marmish, I'm in total agreement about The Complete Meat Cookbook! It is absolutely beautiful, the stories are great, funny, entertaining and I've never gone wrong with any meat recipe in them. The meat charts are simple to comprehend....that's my go to book when I don't want to wade through gunk to get a great recipe...it is fabulous for any carnivore!

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Okay, I heard Mario on Molto Mario one time say that in Italy, the pasta water is supposed to be as saltly as the sea--which is going some, but since then I've been salting cold water and bringing it to the boil and there seems to be a difference in the sauce sticking to it.For the better.

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I'll have to look for a more authoritative source but I found this interesting

Many of these organisms live at temperatures hotter than the normal boiling point of water, but at the intense pressures of the sea bottom, salt water's boiling point is ten or more degrees higher than the 100 C (212 F) of fresh water under "ordinary" conditions.

The quote is from

http://www.sff.net/people/benbova/extreme.html

I assume they mean ten degrees F higher. That's still a significant number. If unsalted water reaches a rolling boil at 212 F and salted water (it would have to be about 3.5 % salt as the ocean is - pretty damn salty) reaches a rolling boil at 222 degrees shouldn't it meant that the pasta cooks at a higher temp int he salted water and therefore cooks faster? I'm not trying to be contentious - just trying to satisfy my curiosity.

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It's the pressure that makes it hotter, not the salt. So if you boil water in a pressure cooker or at the bottom of the ocean, it's much hotter than 100 degrees. The amount of salt you add when making pasta doesn't make a difference.

edit: Also, Thai/Vietnamese sticky rice is a long grain rice, not short or medium grain. It looks like Jasmine rice only it's opaque when raw and is more brittle.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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Regarding the mold on cheese - it is almost as simple as when it tastes bad, it's not good - but that does take some familiarity with the cheese. For example, I've had a cheese with a black crust with white fuzzy mold growing on it - one of the scariest-looking things I've ever eaten - and it was delicious - but you can be sure I would have been hesitant to try it had the cheesemaker not been there himself.

And just want to add that cheese rinds - except waxed of course - are edible - it's just a matter of personal taste. But I've been warned that I might not want to eat the rinds of big hard cheeses - because they get rolled across the floor.

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"Why does my creme brulee go from solid to pudding consistency when I brown the top? It was fine before!"

Because I'd put it under the broiler for 5 minutes in a futile attempt to brown the top. Everything got nice and hot, but not quite hot enough to caramelize the sugar (which was about 2X the thickness it shoulda been.)

Well, at least I got the answer I needed before plodding into that again... and yes, I got over my cheapness and got a propane torch.

"Give me 8 hours, 3 people, wine, conversation and natural ingredients and I'll give you one of the best nights in your life. Outside of this forum - there would be no takers."- Wine_Dad, egullet.org

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How do I find glutinous/sticky rice? Do I buy it at the Asian market?  What does the bag say (how will I identify that it is the right stuff)?  It's not the same thing as the sushi rice, is it?

Glutinous rice is often labeled as "sweet rice". It is a short grain rice while "sushi rice" or Japanese rice is medium grain like Arborio. You will find glutinous rice only in Asian markets.

Funnily enough, at my local Pathmark I managed to procure a small bag (under 5 lbs) of Nishiki sushi grade rice. Perhaps it depends on your area, but it was promising to know that the buyers at the supermarket know about short grained sticky rice.

Edited by ellencho (log)

Believe me, I tied my shoes once, and it was an overrated experience - King Jaffe Joffer, ruler of Zamunda

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2) How do I effectively thicken stew gravy. I make a really flavorful boeuf bourgognone but the sauce is always runny and I can never thicken it (I have tried lots of stuff).

Same way you'd thicken gravy itself. Use a roux. Mix equal parts flour and butter (oil or crisco if you prefer) and brown in a little pan. Lighter colored rouxs give you thicker gravies and sauces.

A roux is equal parts butter and flour? Who knew? Apparently everyone but me :blink::biggrin:

A roux is actually equal parts flour and any fat, not just butter.

Bill Russell

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So, why is it called "corned" beef? Where's the corn? Seriously.

Someone explained it here once before but, um... I forget.

Thanks.

Glad we can play tag--I actually know this. Before refrigeration curing, of course, was the main method of preservation. It was apparently called "corning" because the salt pellets used were about the size of corn kernels. These days brining is done instead of dry curing, but the name remains.

I think this is partially correct. The term to "corn", meaning to preserve in brine, is British in origin. "Corn" the cereal is not.

Likely "corn" in this context refers to salt granules.

\Corn\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Corned (k?rnd); p. pr. & vb. n. Corning.] 1. To preserve and season with salt in grains; to sprinkle with salt; to cure by salting; now, specifically, to salt slightly in brine or otherwise; as, to corn beef; to corn a tongue.

2. To form into small grains; to granulate; as, to corn gunpowder.

3. To feed with corn or (in Sctland) oats; as, to corn horses. --Jamieson.

4. To render intoxicated; as, ale strong enough to corn one. [Colloq.]

Corning house, a house or place where powder is corned or granulated.

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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Oooh, oooh, my turn! I thought of this while reading Nose to Tail Eating - what's "double cream", translated to North American?

Todd McGillivray

"I still throw a few back, talk a little smack, when I'm feelin' bulletproof..."

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Oooh, oooh, my turn!  I thought of this while reading Nose to Tail Eating - what's "double cream", translated to North American?

think that would be heavy cream for you guys..

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So, why is it called "corned" beef? Where's the corn? Seriously.

Someone explained it here once before but, um... I forget.

Thanks.

Glad we can play tag--I actually know this. Before refrigeration curing, of course, was the main method of preservation. It was apparently called "corning" because the salt pellets used were about the size of corn kernels. These days brining is done instead of dry curing, but the name remains.

I think this is partially correct. The term to "corn", meaning to preserve in brine, is British in origin. "Corn" the cereal is not.

Likely "corn" in this context refers to salt granules.

\Corn\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Corned (k?rnd); p. pr. & vb. n. Corning.] 1. To preserve and season with salt in grains; to sprinkle with salt; to cure by salting; now, specifically, to salt slightly in brine or otherwise; as, to corn beef; to corn a tongue.

2. To form into small grains; to granulate; as, to corn gunpowder.

3. To feed with corn or (in Sctland) oats; as, to corn horses. --Jamieson.

4. To render intoxicated; as, ale strong enough to corn one. [Colloq.]

Corning house, a house or place where powder is corned or granulated.

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.

Gosh I love this website! I learn so much. Thanks for the education on "corned beef".

Regarding salt in pasta water, some chefs on the Food Network (Sarah Moulton, for one) have said "Salted water takes longer to come to a boil". So I bring my unsalted pasta water to the boil (it's supposed to come to a boil faster with a lid on, too) and once boiling, then I add my salt.

Here is my stupid question. I was watching that "Tuscan Style" show the other day and Ciarello (sp?) said that you shouldn't use olive oil that is older than six months.

I think he meant you shouldn't use a bottle of olive oil that's been open for longer than six months. He was addressing the possibility that after 6 months of the bottle being open you could have rancid oil. Or at least, it won't be as fresh tasting as a new just-opened bottle of olive oil would taste.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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How do I find glutinous/sticky rice? Do I buy it at the Asian market?  What does the bag say (how will I identify that it is the right stuff)?  It's not the same thing as the sushi rice, is it?

Glutinous rice is often labeled as "sweet rice". It is a short grain rice while "sushi rice" or Japanese rice is medium grain like Arborio. You will find glutinous rice only in Asian markets.

Funnily enough, at my local Pathmark I managed to procure a small bag (under 5 lbs) of Nishiki sushi grade rice. Perhaps it depends on your area, but it was promising to know that the buyers at the supermarket know about short grained sticky rice.

Please note that the rice used to make sushi is not the same as sticky/sweet/glutinous rice. The latter has a much more chewy, gluey texture and is the type of rice used in Chinese dishes such as rice steamed in lotus leaves, eight-treasure rice pudding, and bamboo-wrapped rice parcels (tsung-tse). This rice, ground into a flour, is used in sweets such as deep-fried sesame balls and mochi.

The problem is nomenclature. Sushi rice is seen as "sticky" compared to medium-grain or long-grain rice, but there is an entirely different variety of rice that is called "sticky" (or "glutinous" or "sweet") for lack of a better name, which is distinctively sticky and chewy in texture.

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Oooh, oooh, my turn!  I thought of this while reading Nose to Tail Eating - what's "double cream", translated to North American?

think that would be heavy cream for you guys..

Richest to leanest:

  • Clotted cream: 55 to 60%
  • Double cream: minimum 35%, but in England usually around 45%
  • Heavy whipping cream: minimum 35%, usually 36 to 40%
  • Heavy (or "whipping," but not "heavy whipping") cream: about 30%
  • Single, coffee or light cream: usually about 18%
  • Half-and-half or half-cream: 10 to 12%, usually about 10-1/2%

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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OK, I would like to play too:

There has been some talk about how to select rice, but I'm befuddled when it comes to cooking it. My mother must never know, but I never paid attention to the rice/water ratio.

Is there a rule of thumb for ratios when cooking short grain rice?

How about long grain?

Timings? White rice and brown? Uncover or don't? Simmer or boil?

There must be general proportions and guidelines.

Risottos and pilafs I do ok with.

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Oooh, oooh, my turn!  I thought of this while reading Nose to Tail Eating - what's "double cream", translated to North American?

think that would be heavy cream for you guys..

Well, actually, the only thing we have that comes close to double cream is . . . double cream imported from Britain. Heavy whipping cream here weighs in at 35 to 40 percent butterfat, while double cream is about 48 percent. I suppose creme fraiche comes closest in texture, but it still doesn't have the fat, and the flavor is quite different.

Since there's really no widely-available substitute for double cream, I left it in Nose to Tail as it appeared originally.

And for all the rice-challenged: have a look at the USA Rice website. It's actually pretty helpful.

Edited by Suzanne F (log)
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