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Showing posts from March, 2012

Cooking With Beer

Beer can be a useful cooking ingredient in two ways: as a reduction for sauces, gravies, soups and baked goods, or as an add-in flavoring.  Three ways – in a glass as an accompanying beverage while cooking and during the meal.

First, what are you cooking?  Different beers work best toward distinct ends. 
"There's 32 different styles of beer and each style lends itself to something different," said Brian Marin, chef/owner of the Beer Bistro in Toronto, which uses beer as an component of nearly every dish served. 

He and other chefs recommend:
Porters and full-bodied dark beers:  red meat, game and stews. 
European and British pale ales that are light on hops:  chicken and pork. 
Sweeter stouts:  braised meats, stews, pizza dough and chocolate desserts. 
German and Czech pilsners:  cheese fondues.
Belgian fruit lambics: duck and fowl. 

American pilsners, predominantly rice driven, do not pack enough flavor for most cooks to find them useful.  But you can experiment with any …

Can A Cup O' Joe Treat Your Asthma?

Physicians have known about the beneficial effect of coffee for treating asthma and COPD symptoms since at least 1859, when its effects were documented in the Edinburgh Medical Journal. How does coffee help treat asthma, to what degree, and what side effects might be encountered?

Briefly, let's look at asthma. It is caused by a constriction of the bronchi, which can be allergy-induced, exercise-induced, environment-induced or stress-induced. Studies indicate asthma may also be exacerbated by vitamin D deficiency. Typical treatments for severe asthma include theophyllin or epinephrine – which is in the adrenaline family. The key to treating asthma is to relax the bronchial tubes to allow oxygen to pass.

Coffee helps on two levels.

First, the chemical composition of caffeine is similar to that of theophyllin. It is in a class of drugs, methylxanthines, which are very close to adenosines, which may mean nothing to anyone who doesn't weat a white coat. Caffeine binds to a…

Public Enemy #1 for Knives

The next time somebody tells you, “You're not the sharpest knife in the drawer,” you might want to reply, “Thank you! The sharpest knives aren't kept in the drawer.” I'll tell you why at the end of the blog.

The sharpest cooks have the sharpest knives. Knives are actually fragile tools that require much care. When used properly, a sharp knife is safer than a dull knife, so keep it sharp and keep it safe.

 Maintaining your chef knife and cutlery can be a challenge, but your reward is safer food handling, better looking and better tasting food, says cutlery expert Robert Ambrosi, owner of Ambrosi Cutlery, founded in 1930. Here are some ideas that will keep you cutting and chopping, and not mashing and squeezing.

Before you slice that tender corned beef this weekend for St. Patrick's Day, think about your knife. What is Public Enemy #1 for your expensive knives? It's your dishwasher. Never put your chef knife in the dishwasher. Dishwashers blunt your knives w…

The Exponential Yummying of Onions

Caramelized vegetables are a tasty preparation method, although the process is a bit more complex than it may seem on the sweet surface.  Caramelization occurs by altering the chemical properties of foods containing sugars, which includes almost all fruits and vegetables.  The end result is a heightened natural sweetness that invigorates the flavors for your main dishes, casseroles and side dishes.

Here's a mathematical equation to simplify the caramelization process:

heat + sugar = flavor change (isomerization) + color reaction (polymerization)
Caramelization is a form of browning, not to be confused with Browning, the poet, or the Browning automatic rifle, which was a favorite of Bonnie and Clyde. It entails roasting or heating for onions, leeks, shallots, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms and many other vegetables, to a temperature between 120 degrees and 212 degrees Farenheit.  The objective is to reduce the water content and initiate two chemical reactions – isomerization and poly…