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Absurdly, stupidly basic cooking questions (Part 1)


jhlurie
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Not sure I believe the formula.

On basic physics second law of thermodynamics I would expect the rate of heat transfer to be proportional to the temperature difference between the yolk and the water, leading to a log function, rather than that exponential in the middle.

Putting in some values, assuming water temperature of 75C, desired yolk temperature of 73C and a 50mm egg, and initital temperature t0 of 4C (fridge temperature) I get 16 minutes. That seems much too short to me.

I am also not sure about the quoted temperatures for coagulation. Yolks I've measured coagulate around 62C not 73C. Coagulation is not just dependent on temperature, but alao on the time at that temperature. For example eggs held at 63C for 10 hours come out set but creamy...

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  (There's also something about whether fresher or less-fresh eggs peel more easily, but I forget which. Sorry.)

IMO the older eggs peel easier than fresh eggs. I will actually look for an older date at the store if I am hard-boiling a lot of eggs.

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Not sure I believe the formula.

Don't want to highjack this thread because the info here is so useful so I'll just say that I read that cooking eggs is a 'simple' heat transfer problem.

I am also not sure about the quoted temperatures for coagulation.

I have seen the following table:

<55C = risk of salmonella

56-63C = soft white and runny yolk

65-70C = soft gel white and runny viscous yolk

73C = hardened white and soft gel yolk

77C = hardened white and soft yet hardboiled yolk

80C = hardened white and onset of green colour

90C = tough white and dry crumbly yolk

Source: Peter Barham "The Science of Cooking"

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Not sure I believe the formula.

On basic physics second law of thermodynamics I would expect the rate of heat transfer to be proportional to the temperature difference between the yolk and the water, leading to a log function, rather than that exponential in the middle.

I think it was meant to be log "base" e (log_e) as in natural log.

(Hello, my name is Behemoth and I am a math dork.)

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OK, I'm back with another one that arose today.  When I'm making chicken stock, the general rule is to add water to cover any parts that might be sticking out.  Well, a chicken (without air in the cavity) will still float somewhat.  I always have a little part that's sticking up above the water level.  Is this normal?  I typically flip them about halfway through just to make sure I'm getting all of the flavor out the bird/parts.

Oooh! Ooooooh! I have a story! I have a story! :jumps up and down, waving frantically: I have a story all about this, and I've just been telling it over on my foodblog:

Water to Cover

Edited by balmagowry (log)
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Hard-cooked eggs: Surely this was dealt with in eGCI? Well anyway: the key to beautiful eggs is to NOT OVERCOOK THEM. I prefer the Julia Child method: put in a pot with cold water, bring gently to a boil, turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. As for peeling them: I drain them immediately and run cold water over them, cracking the shells slightly. By the time the eggs are completely cool, the shells are easy to remove. (There's also something about whether fresher or less-fresh eggs peel more easily, but I forget which. Sorry.)

but...the end result MUST depend on what kind of pot you use. think aluminium or cast iron.

christianh@geol.ku.dk. just in case.

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but...the end result MUST depend on what kind of pot you use. think aluminium or cast iron.

Yes, it does. The results also depends on the shape and size of the pot, the amount of water in the pot as it begins to cool, the shape and size of the egg, the location of the pan as it cools and the ambient air temperature of your kitchen (assuming the pan is left to cool in the kitchen).

Edited by rbm (log)
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In many Joy of Cooking recipes, when melting chocolate and the likes, why do they say "above but not in boiling water", and what exactly does that mean? To place the bowl so that the steam is heating it? Or just a dumbed down version to remind people not to forget to use a bowl? I've always wondered about that.

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In many Joy of Cooking recipes, when melting chocolate and the likes, why do they say "above but not in boiling water", and what exactly does that mean? To place the bowl so that the steam is heating it? Or just a dumbed down version to remind people not to forget to use a bowl? I've always wondered about that.

I've always assumed it meant to use a double boiler or some such. I must confess, I almost never do.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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why do they say "above but not in boiling water", and what exactly does that mean?

I think it's a safeguard to prevent the possibility of steam condensation or the boiling water itself from spilling over into the chocolate. Water destroys the emulsifiers in chocolate and causes the cocoa butter and cocoa solids to clump together, seizing up the chocolate. If the bowl is high enough above the water, any condenstation will occur lower down from the rim.

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but...the end result MUST depend on what kind of pot you use. think aluminium or cast iron.

Yes, it does. The results also depends on the shape and size of the pot, the amount of water in the pot as it begins to cool, the shape and size of the egg, the location of the pan as it cools and the ambient air temperature of your kitchen (assuming the pan is left to cool in the kitchen).

You're being ironic, right? :unsure:

That method has worked for me with all kinds and sizes and shapes of eggs, in cheapo aluminum, Le Creuset, AllClad, etc etc.

It's great to know the science behind it all (thanks Jack et al); now may I please be allowed to forget it and just do what works? :rolleyes::laugh:

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I've heard of folks being able to press on the steak and know its doneness. What's the trick?

The flesh firms up as it cooks, so you can learn to tell the degree of doneness by touching.

They usually suggest that you turn your hand facing up, and then push lightly on the area between your thumb and forefinger with the forefinger from your other hand, noticing how it tenses as you move your thumb in and out. Meat that is very rare will feel like you hand at its softest - when it has the least resistance. As the meat gets more and more done, it will feel like the flesh of you hand as you move your thumb and the resistance of the flesh tenses.

You can learn this by trial and error if you have a meat thermometer, which never lies. Use one when you cook meat to your desired doneness, and spend some time testing and prodding the meat with you finger - you will learn what the different donenesses feel like.

Two important things to learn are that meat needs to rest in a warm place (110-120) and NOT on a cold plate or rack, so that the juices that come out of the cells during cooking can redistribute and be reabsorbed. And when you have a proper 15-20 minute rest, none of the juices will run out onto the plate when you cut the meat. But remember that the meat continues to cook during this time as the residual heat in it travels inward, and you need to stop the cooking time accordingly. A small piece of meat like a steak will go up a few degrees while it rests, a large roast will go up a good 10 degrees, so however you like it done, consult the chart and stop its cooking that many minutes (degrees) earlier, and let it rest somewhere that's about 120 degrees (an oven that was on for fifteen minutes and turned off, a heavy roasting pan that was heated up, etc.)

Hope this helps. It's how I learned it, and it works every time.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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In many Joy of Cooking recipes, when melting chocolate and the likes, why do they say "above but not in boiling water", and what exactly does that mean? To place the bowl so that the steam is heating it? Or just a dumbed down version to remind people not to forget to use a bowl? I've always wondered about that.

Place the bowl so the steam is hitting it and the bowl itself isn't in the boiling water. It'll keep you from scalding your delicate chocolate.

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What's the trick to doing that impressive flippy thing with the pan without making a mess in your kitchen?

Practice! :laugh:

Seriously, it's easier than you think. Go outside with your skillet (10" is a good size to start with) and a bag of dried beans. Start with a handful or two of beans in the pan and start flipping. When you get the knack of making them turn over en masse, add another handful and repeat. You'll pick it up fairly quickly, though you might feel a right fool while you're doing it. When you get back in the kitchen, start small - a fried egg, toasting spices to go in the mill/mortar, etc.

One other thing - once the food is in the air, pay attention to the pan, not the food. The food's got one direction to go, and that's down. If you make sure that the pan is under the food, gravity will take care of the rest.

Charlie

Walled Lake, Michigan

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Recipes almost never say, so I put a generic "Marsala" on my shopping list. Then I get to the wine shop, and I can choose between sweet or dry. (Or dry, very dry, Amontillado, etc., if it's sherry).

I rarely drink this stuff, so it's just for cooking. I get sweet Marsala for Zabaglione, but that's the only thing I'm pretty sure of.

Is there a Fortified Wine Rule?

The cardinal rule for cooking with wine especially fortified wine is: Use good wine. Cheap stuff will ruin your dish.

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Recipes almost never say, so I put a generic "Marsala" on my shopping list. Then I get to the wine shop, and I can choose between sweet or dry. (Or dry, very dry, Amontillado, etc., if it's sherry).

I rarely drink this stuff, so it's just for cooking. I get sweet Marsala for Zabaglione, but that's the only thing I'm pretty sure of.

Is there a Fortified Wine Rule?

The cardinal rule for cooking with wine especially fortified wine is: Use good wine. Cheap stuff will ruin your dish.

An excellent rule. I've usually heard it expressed this way: if you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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Peeling eggs: roll them under your on a hard surface such as a counter, applying a bit of downward pressure. Works like a charm for me.

The double boiler: even though I have replaced my old Revereware with some shiny new Cuisinart papots and pans, I may keep a sauce pan and try to find the insert they used to make (my mom has one and Mayhaw Man is trying to find one but apparently it's no longer made). It's a shallow stainless steel mixing bowl but the top fans out in two oblong ears, one on each side, allowing it to nestle into and sit in the top of the sauce pan.

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What's the trick to doing that impressive flippy thing with the pan without making a mess in your kitchen?

Practice! :laugh:

Seriously, it's easier than you think. Go outside with your skillet (10" is a good size to start with) and a bag of dried beans. Start with a handful or two of beans in the pan and start flipping. When you get the knack of making them turn over en masse, add another handful and repeat. You'll pick it up fairly quickly, though you might feel a right fool while you're doing it. When you get back in the kitchen, start small - a fried egg, toasting spices to go in the mill/mortar, etc.

One other thing - once the food is in the air, pay attention to the pan, not the food. The food's got one direction to go, and that's down. If you make sure that the pan is under the food, gravity will take care of the rest.

This is where an early training as a jacks player can really stand you in good stead! :wink::laugh: Seriously - if you've ever practiced flipping single-handed (I was taught that only sissies flip with both hands - no challenge in it at all), if you can get all 10 to the back of your hand in one move and back to the palm in another, then you've got it made: it's only one small lateral step from flip-jacks to flap-jacks. (:groan:)

Also - I first started doing the flippy thing, not with crepes, but with mu shu pancakes, which are made of a firmish dough, rolled together in pairs, and cooked dry. Much MUCH less messy if you blow it! That's the kind of practice that can really give you confidence before you start messing around with thin batters and melted butter....

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<snip)

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

<snip>

The United States D(epartment) O(f) E(nergy) has this to say:

As soon as any of the salt dissolves in the water, the boiling point of the water will begin to rise -- by about one half degree Celsius for every 58 grams of salt dissolved per kilogram of water. In fact, any non-volatile soluble substance will raise the boiling point of water.

So you see, you’re adding such a relatively small amount of salt to the pasta water that the increase in boiling temperature is so small that it has, for all practical purposes, a negligible effect on cooking time. It DOES, however, add or enhance flavor.

--------------

Bob Bowen

aka Huevos del Toro

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In many Joy of Cooking recipes, when melting chocolate and the likes, why do they say "above but not in boiling water", and what exactly does that mean?  To place the bowl so that the steam is heating it?  Or just a dumbed down version to remind people not to forget to use a bowl?  I've always wondered about that.

Place the bowl so the steam is hitting it and the bowl itself isn't in the boiling water. It'll keep you from scalding your delicate chocolate.

But isn't the steam hotter than the water itself? Or am I imagining that?

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In many Joy of Cooking recipes, when melting chocolate and the likes, why do they say "above but not in boiling water", and what exactly does that mean?  To place the bowl so that the steam is heating it?  Or just a dumbed down version to remind people not to forget to use a bowl?  I've always wondered about that.

Place the bowl so the steam is hitting it and the bowl itself isn't in the boiling water. It'll keep you from scalding your delicate chocolate.

But isn't the steam hotter than the water itself? Or am I imagining that?

Sorry, bleu. You're imagining it.

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

Eat more chicken skin.

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I may keep a sauce pan and try to find the insert they used to make (my mom has one and Mayhaw Man is trying to find one but apparently it's no longer made).  It's a shallow stainless steel mixing bowl but the top fans out in two oblong ears, one on each side, allowing it to nestle into and sit in the top of the sauce pan.

Owen,

Is this what you're talking about?

Clickity

Click here for the Google page I got. The first (non-sponsored) listing has gobs of inserts.

Pass the info onto Brooks if it's what you're looking for.

 

“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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What's the trick to doing that impressive flippy thing with the pan without making a mess in your kitchen?

Practice! :laugh:

Seriously, it's easier than you think. Go outside with your skillet (10" is a good size to start with) and a bag of dried beans. Start with a handful or two of beans in the pan and start flipping. When you get the knack of making them turn over en masse, add another handful and repeat. You'll pick it up fairly quickly, though you might feel a right fool while you're doing it. When you get back in the kitchen, start small - a fried egg, toasting spices to go in the mill/mortar, etc.

One other thing - once the food is in the air, pay attention to the pan, not the food. The food's got one direction to go, and that's down. If you make sure that the pan is under the food, gravity will take care of the rest.

At school, we practiced with a piece of dry toast - that way you'll know if you're flipping it right, as it does a complete turn in the air, and there's no little pieces to fly all over the place.

It's all about pushing the pan away from you, then quickly pulling it up and back towards you. The hand holding the pan should make a little circle, away from you, up, and back. It takes practice...

“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.”

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