Winter is reserved for the following pleasures:
- Layering —bundle up and embrace your marshmallow identity
- Festivities – Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, CNY
- FOOD FOOD FOOD
If you cook or like to cook and/or eat, I highly recommend The Science of Good Cooking (Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook).
I am a devoted fan of America’s Test Kitchen; not only do I consider it the BEST cooking show ever (ever ever ever… ‘echo’ sound effect, trail off), I am in love Christopher Kimball, Cook’s Illustrated editor-in-chief. The show—with its Tasting Lab (taste-test food products, first by a tasting panel and later by Kimball. FYI, Kimball has hypersensitive taste buds and he usually guesses correctly what people like and dislike), Equipment Corner (reviews and ranks kitchen gadgets), and Science Desk (discusses the science behind a technique)—wonderfully combines science with good cooking (literally).
The Science of Good Cooking introduces over 400 recipes and 50 basic cooking principles. And here’s a very helpful holiday baking tip that I read recently.
Do you know that you should fold, not stir, your batter for brownies?
The difference between a fudgy and cakey brownie comes down to how much you stir. When you combine water and flour, you get gluten — the network of cross-linked wheat proteins. For brownies, you want to minimize the development of gluten as much as possible. Although the addition of eggs, fats, and sugars to brownie batter slows protein unfolding and bonding, there is still a danger of overmixing. To avoid overmixing, take a spatula and fold wet and dry ingredients together.
That is really interesting… and shocking because I have just realized that for the past 5+ years I have been baking my brownies incorrectly. (GASP, a holiday emergency!)
Note to self: I solemnly vow to fold my brownie batter form this moment on.