Life's too short to eat bad food - Me

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - Arthur C. Clarke

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Spice Shelf

Variety's the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavour. - William Cowper

The Spice Shelf is a random selection from amongst the useless potpourri that inhabits my skull.

Just a few notes out of today’s Taste section in the Buffalo News.

If memory serves, today marks Sara Moulton’s first appearance in the weekly food section. If so, I would like to welcome her to Western New York. While she is still doing great work today – her shows appear occasionally on PBS locally – her live Food Network show Cooking Live (1997 – 2003) is greatly missed. In my opinion, it is, bar none, the best cooking show to have ever graced the airwaves. Better than Jacques. Better than Julia.

In today’s recipe, for Buffalo style chicken tenders, Sara referred to our wings as “Buffalo-style”. This is the correct appellation. With that simple notation she moved even higher in my estimation, something I could never have thought possible.

The second item that caught my attention was reprinted from the Detroit Free Press on roast pork. It may be a minor quibble but the article states “(m)ost sources will tell you that searing seals in the juices”. Recent sources no longer tell you any such thing. The article refers you to the newest book from America’s Test Kitchen as the latest word on the topic. The book does in fact say this. I know, I’m reading it now. However, this canard has stood debunked for at least 20 years as reported by Harold McGee and others. It has been often noted.

As I said it’s just nitpicking, but it’s one of those things that just stands out for me.

The last piece that caught my eye is on French Onion Soup, one of my top five soups on the planet. I wrote an extensive post earlier describing my outlook on the soup. The article in today’s paper raised two red flags. The first was regarding the choice of onions for the soup.

I continue to maintain that good old ordinary yellow storage onions are the way to go. Save your money. Here is my reasoning:

As many authorities, particularly Russ Parsons, have pointed out, the difference in sugar content between Vidalia type onions and other harsher onions is minimal. The real difference is that sweet onions have less of the sulfur compounds than other, sharper onions. During cooking, these sulfur compounds cook off

The article calls for a 50-50 mix of storage onions and sweet Vidalia type onions, to my mind a waste of money.

My second issue is with the method of caramelizing the onions. While many have suggested the high heat method described in this article I stick to the low and slow method. This method may be more time-consuming, but it is actually less work. High heat requires constant attention. As was noted in Slate magazine: “That is the deeper problem with all the deceit around the question of caramelized onions. The premise is wrong. The faster you try do it, the more you waste your time. This isn't some kitchen koan. It's a practical fact.”

As our weather grows colder, I often think of onion soup with its raft of crouton and melted cheese. Just take your time. It’s worth the wait.

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
- Arthur C. Clarke

Life's too short to eat bad food -