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The Science of Cooking Book


BOOK: The Science of Good Cooking▼

We’re really known in America’s Test Kitchen for getting under the hood of recipes and really understanding how they work and we’ve been doing this now for more than 20 years. We’ve got 40 people working in a Test Kitchen developing and testing recipes and couple years ago said you know we’ve learned so much about cooking we should sort of put all of that general information call all the best practices all the science that we’ve learned over 20 years into one big book to explain to people how cooking really uh you know the chemistry in the physics what’s really happening when you’re cooking let’s let’s tackle a few of those and we’ll start with very basic elements of cooking heat and time involved in preparing a dish and there’s a there’s like a balancing act with those two right yes I mean it’s you know it’s all about um you know balancing both of those things I mean when it comes to heat you know when when we’re cooking um you were often transforming foods uh into a either safer or more palatable state right uh you know I’m nobody really want to eat a raw steak uh uh you know I guess if you grind it up for steak tartare right there any of you yeah um but you know cooking it makes it uh much more palatable but you know cooking develops flavor you know the any food it’s browned is going to be more flavorful and I like the high heat and fast cooking tends to be more toward the flavor side right and slow cooking more for tender with me right and you know uh because at some point you move from developing flavor to accelerating the moisture loss and so generally you know a lot of recipes have uh the combination of those two things might start off with high heat but then go very gentle because what you’re trying to do is make sure that you don’t have too much moisture loss and you know people always ask me what’s the secret to a juicy steak and I like don’t overcook it that’s the secret that’s a good yeah well the higher that’s what’s happening is you know it the fibers are contracting and basically the more you cook it the more the muscle fibers contract been the more juices that get expelled and so a steak that’s cooked to 145 degrees gotta be well is always going to be less juicy than a steak that’s cooked to medium-rare which is about a hundred and twenty-five degrees and do I understand it correctly that browning the meat ahead of time does not seal in the juices as people might think it does absolutely nothing for sealing in the juices the only you can do to keep juices in place it’s not overcooked meat that the searing step that a lot of recipes begin with is really important for developing a browned crust and that brown crust makes the steak taste better but it does nothing to reduce it if you want to hold on to some juices once the meat is prepared you need to let it rest before you start carving it this is something that my parents have long said when they would bring a meat you know like a big steak off the grill when I was growing up they let it sit in the kitchen for a little bit before they started carving it up yet this is one of the biggest mistakes that uh novice cooks make is that you know they’re making the holiday turkey they’re making a big rose to making a steak and they immediately want to serve it because they’re you know it’s hot we gotta get it to the table quickly well the problem is that if you go to carve that holiday turkey or roast you’re gonna have a flood of juices all over your carving board and that’s because you know during the heating process um the fibers are really contracting and if you let that roast rest for you know small roast should rest 10 or 15 minutes larger rose maybe 20 minutes it will relax and we found that you can actually reduce the amount of juices that are lost by up to forty percent by letting the roast rest before you go ahead and slice and serve it as much as forty percent that’s a lot it’s the difference between you know dry tough meat that you need gravy for and and juicy meat and you know gone to all that work to cook it you don’t want to blow it now last you know finals now by slicing into it too soon and all the juices ending up on the cutting board where they don’t do anybody any good now carving up the meat that’s the end of the process at the beginning of the process for some people there’s marinating and you and your colleagues there at America’s Test Kitchen say no do not use acid based or acidic marinade but yes toward the brine or the salty versions yeah there’s a theory that uh acid-based mera not so with lime juice lemon juice wine vinegar will tenderize the meat and you know they don’t tenderize the meat they will make the exterior of the meat a little bit mushy but what they’re actually doing is drawing the natural juices in in the meat or the chicken out of it and though you end up with a dryer piece of food that’s a little bit mushy on the outside but it’s not really tender juicy if you use a salty meron odd um either that has salt itself or salty ingredient like soy sauce that salt basically penetrates into the meat and it’s like a brine and you are in effect brining the meat and the salt changes the structure of the muscle protein so they are able to hold on to the natural juices in the meat much better the salt also brings some of those flavors they’ve got garlic for instance in Marin odd when the salt is traveling throughout the osmosis into the cellular structure of the meat it’s carrying the flavors of the garlic with it and so you end up with more flavor being penetrated deep into meat when you’ve got salt rather than acid as the main ingredient I know that mushy meat tastes that you’re talking about and I never connected it to the meat literally being broken down by those acids and that’s basically what happens that outer layer right just gets that anyone who’s had it knows what I’m talking about its that yucky sort of mush days yeah and it’s really mostly about flavor um you know the main reason you want to marinate a piece of meat or a piece of chicken is for flavor not texture i mean people think oh you’re going to take a tough steak you know a cheap cut and somehow ameri not is going to transform it into filet mignon that’s not going to happen it might it’ll make it taste will like whatever it is that’s in the marin odd that’s the main reason you would be marinating something didn’t there used to be like a like a sprinkle that you could put on me that was supposed to help tenderize I did that basically do what you’re saying just make it mushy and not better yeah the the accent accent yes and it has an enzyme that’s derived from papayas believe it or not um it’s called papaya and it has the ability to make break down muscle fiber and make it mushy it doesn’t really make it tender but that’s basically what it was doing it was a dried version of something that’s in in papaya right and we don’t recommend that either at the Test Kitchen now you were you were talking about the flavors the key of course there are some uh elements that really boost flavor they’re known as glutamates and that they are controversial in some circles especially if you call it a monosodium glutamate uh how do glutamates work and what are the misconceptions around them well first of all let’s start off by explaining that glutamates are naturally occurring uh so red wine garlic onions tomatoes soy sauce uh Parmesan cheese all have naturally occurring glutamates uh and what the glutamates do is they uh stimulate with the fifth sense I mean we all grew up in met you know we went to an American school we learned though that there were four pace um sweet and salty and sour and bitter but there’s actually a fifth taste it’s called umami and a Japanese scientists discovered this about a century ago and now pretty much scientists around the world agree that they’re five paces umami is for lack of a better word meatiness or savoriness mmm um and uh you know it’s kombu seaweed have a lot of glutamates in it you know if you think about that savory quality of really good parmigiano-reggiano that’s because it’s rich in glutamate and so we will often in a lot of our recipes in the Test Kitchen use these ingredients that are rich in glutamates to ramp up meaty flavors so if we’re making a you know um beef and vegetable soup or we’re making a beef stew we often will use a little tomato paste which is a really concentrated source of glutamate in order to bring out the full flavor of the beef in it and so it’s a really you know it’s a really great way to make something taste better and more appealing and you a lot of restaurant chefs or to do this intuitively but the science here is pretty strong and what about people who we only have a short moment before the commercial break but people that say they’re sensitive to monosodium glutamate are they also sensitive to these naturally occurring forms yeah man it’s a complicated subject most of the people who think they’re so sensitive the msg might actually be sensitive to something else you know there haven’t been any studies to really document that sensitivity and these naturally occurring glutamates you know very everything from as I say onions to garlic to to seafood it’s very I’ve never really heard of anyone be allergic to that compound right we’re speaking with Jack bishop chef and editorial director at America’s Test Kitchen on PBS the new book the science of good cooking I have to say it is we get a lot of books here at eat drink explode they come to the door every couple of days this is my favorite that I’ve looked at so far and so we’ll be back in just a more in just a moment with more including how to make a perfect omelet you’re listening to eat drink explore we’re back into Randall white here host of eat drink explore radio with a tip for Central Coast wine tasting Eberle winery was recently voted wide array of the year by the world’s top sommelier and has one of the best local tours according to wine spectator Eberle winery open daily 10 to six and the wineries cave tours and wine tasting always complimentary it’s easy to fight do located on highway 46 east just three and a half miles from highway 101 now it’s time to plan your visit just head to Eberle winery calm the traditional light bulb a groundbreaking invention in eighteen seventy nine other groundbreaking ideas from that time the whalebone corset the pedal operated submarine and the two-story outhouse we’ve come a long way since then it’s time our light bulbs did the same visit energy savers gov and learn about energy-saving light bulbs see these new bulbs are more efficient than the old ones like a text message is more efficient than a carrier pigeon they last longer too like how we humans last longer now that doctors use antibiotics instead of leeches and they cut down on our energy costs because in our own groundbreaking age of aeroplanes and moving pictures we deserve a light bulb that saves us some cash saving energy saves you money learn more at energy savers gov brought to you by the US Department of Energy and the Ad Council Randall white here host of eat drink explore radio with a tip for Central Coast wine tasting Eberle winery was recently voted wide array of the year by the world’s top sommelier and has one of the best local tours according to Wine Spectator Eberle winery open daily 10 to six and the wineries cave tours and wine tasting always complimentary it’s easy to find two located on highway 46 east just three and a half miles from highway 101 now it’s time to plan your visit just head to Eberle winery calm the e trick explore media radio show you are currently enjoying isn’t a local affiliate commercial break live programming will return shortly did you know you can watch a live video simulcast of our Sunday morning and Thursday evening shows from your computer smartphone or tablet device and to top it off it’s free simply head to eat drink explore calm or download our free app from the Google Play or Apple App Store if you have a suggestion for an upcoming guest segment send an email to radio at eat drink explore com we’re always looking for fresh ideas 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Bishop chef and editorial director at America’s Test Kitchen on PBS the new book the science of good cooking you can find it at a local bookstore near you or online we have links under today’s program summary at eat drink explore com Jack when we left off we were talking about glutamates and how they really ramped up fluke fruit flavor I just purchased some fish sauce the other day for a recipe that I was making people you find it a lot in Asian cooking that’s high in glutamates is it not it’s a really concentrated source of glutamates mean fish sauce works much the way soy sauce does in a lot of Asian recipes and just you know brings out our other flavors and uh you know it has a very intense smell but when you’re using it in recipes you don’t really quite uh pick that out quite as much as you do if you just take a whiff of the bottle of fish sauce yeah it cooks off pretty quickly and every time I use it somebody says wow this tastes great now we know why it’s the glutamates that are in there now I’m more of a bean person than a meat person I want to address a concept in the book that recommends using a brine prior to cooking and then cooking with salt I personally don’t pre-soak of the beans i don’t use salt when I’m cooking and I use a pressure cooker I love how the beans come out but then when I looked at the photos in the book I did realize my beans do kind of fall apart I typically end up mashing them anyway so I so I don’t concern myself with that but if you bright them ahead of time apparently and use salt while cooking you really get a nicely shaped being at the end for us but we are our goal is to get a beam that is creamy in the middle but still has an intact skin and so it’s not really simply a aesthetic issue you know if you’re if you have the skin split it can make the dish very starchy now if you’re trying to mash the beans or refried beans obviously that’s a good thing but if you’re using the beans let’s say in a pasta soup I’m not sure you really want all that starchiness from the beans and so if you can get the skin to cook up tender but intact and the inside to be creamy that’s the goal and we found that rather than just soaking the beans which basically just cuts the cooking time to view soak the beans overnight you know if they would take two hours on the stovetop to cook normally if you were taking them right out of the bag they’ll probably take 90 minutes if you soak them they also just hydrate a little bit better and they cook a little bit more evenly if they are soaked and if you add some salt to that soaking liquid and in fact brine the beans they also tend not to burst when you go to cook them and so we recommend brining the beans you’re cooking dried beans before you cook them what I love about this book is it breaks so many myths that people pass along to each other and one of the things that I had been told the reason why i don’t use salt one is for health reasons but secondly is i was told that it would make the beans hard that when you cook them but uh that’s not the case no no if you go way overboard and put way too much salt in you can slow down the absorption of the water by the beans but the main reason why being sometimes don’t cook properly is because your water is hard uh and there’s really nothing that the salt is going to do to effect that um you can add a little pinch of baking soda if you’ve got really hard water uh you know hard water just means that you’ve got a lot of calcium and magnesium and other minerals in it that are really slowing down the absorption of uh the water into the beans or you can of course use bottled water which would get around the issue of hard tap water alright it’s breakfast time right now a lot of people either cooking eggs are preparing to cook eggs I and the key with this are the proteins right yet so eggs are basically proteins that are coagulating meaning that they are turning from liquid to solid and you want to encourage that in the tappan but you don’t want it to happen such weight it squeezes out all the moisture and then you did you do that you end up with sort of tough dry eggs so fat is always an important part of any egg recipe because it sort of lubricates the protein strands so that they coagulate in a sort of loose way rather than in a tight network and so when you’re cooking like an omelet you want to beat some fat into the into the mixture or you want to use more yolks um both of those things I mean when we are cooking an omelet we will dice up a little bit of butter into small little pits and stir that into the eggs so that as the omelet is cooking the butter is melting and the fat that’s in that butter is coding those proteins in the eggs and you end up with a very you know nicely set soft tender omelet and the water that’s also in the butter is really important because the butter about eighteen percent water and rest is fat and water turns to steam and that makes the eggs a little bit lighter in failure I was going to at my next question was good the above fat matter because in our home we use a lot of olive and grapeseed oil really for cooking just about everything but in that case there is no water content that’s right any oil is a hundred percent fat you know that’s one of the big differences between butter and oil is that the water content in the butter which can be a good thing in some recipes were could be a bad thing depending on what the recipe is now on the same topic of eggs a lot of people like to poach their eggs but end up with if you don’t have one of those sort of double boiler poachers if you’re actually doing it in the water it can turn into egg drop soup if you don’t if you don’t do it right so what are your recommendations add some vinegar to the water that’s the first thing so you’re changing the pH of the water and that will help whites coagulate more quickly so that they don’t become so feathery and spread out second thing is um bring the water to a boil then turn off the temperature and slide the eggs into the pan and then cover the pan and what the residual heat in the pan poach the eggs the reason you’re doing this is you leave the heat on the water is going to come back to a boil and those big bubbles are gonna basically blow apart the egg and so you’re going to end up with egg drop soup so little bit of vinegar bring the water to boil turn it off and then add the eggs put the cover on and use residual heat to cook the eggs and I guess if your end goal is egg drop soup then you don’t want to put vinegar in the water people one is there is there an opposite method to make sure that it all does feather out uh yes I mean stirring constantly as you add the eggs adding the eggs in a steady stream and adding some cornstarch to the soup before you add the eggs so that the soup itself is a little thicker mmm and that way the eggs are going to be suspended more easily in the soup and that if you add you you just added to sort of playing brought the liquids really not that thick and you end up often with the eggs drop it all the way to the bottom of the pot well so many more great categories we can’t even get to if you want to learn how to make the perfect pie crust you name it they’re they’re all handled in this one book and I’ll say it again the best book to be dropped off at our door here at a trick explore in a in a really long time if not in ever I didn’t say that very well but you get the point Jack bishop chev an editorial director at America’s Test Kitchen on PBS thank you so much for your time today my pleasure and that does it you can hear more segments from this week’s and previous week’s show online at eat drink explore com+ we provide links to all of our guests website as well including Jack’s there so you can order the book I don’t forget to download our smartphone and tablet device apps via the Apple Store and Google Play it is absolutely free thank you too Patti Piper and my terrific co-host who had to take off early today Cora Adam on our studio producer and the woman working the phones Anthony R&R Oh in charge of audio Ricardo tailed OC oh my husband and our director of social media i’m your host randall white saying for all of us your dietrich explore radio we’ll catch you back to your next week and challenge i’m listening to the eat drink explore radio program if you missed any of our segments today for them online or through our free Apple and Android apps catch you back right here next week.

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