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Showing posts from April, 2012

Why Onions Make You Cry

Here in the Atomic Kitchen, we bring the gamut of emotions. We like to make you laugh.  Today, we might make you cry.  Fair warning: you may need a box of tissues as we explain why cutting onions makes you cry.

Your tears are primarily water.  Saline. Salt water.

Onions can be divided into two categories:  Sweet and Storage.  Sweet onions have a much higher water content, and have a limited shelf life.  They have a milder reaction with your eyeballs and tear ducts because of that high water content.  We're going to address yellow, white and red onions used in cooking – the “storage onions” sometimes referred to as “dry onions,” with a relatively low water content.

You're embarking on a fantastic recipe.  You've got a sharp knife at the ready.  You peel the skin off the onion and place it on the cutting board.  Shortly after making that first slice, your eyes tear uncontrollably.  These do not feel like “Oh, the suffering of humanity!” tears.  They burn.  What is going on?

Lurk…

Going Curdless: Tips to Avoid Curdling

A good rule of thumb for cooking with dairy products, including cream, milk, eggs, butter, cheese and mayonnaise, is:  patience!

Sauces made with milk,  cream and cheese may curdle for several reasons:
not enough fat content.  Skim milk will curdle more than heavy cream, and low-fat creams and cheeses are more likely to curdle than their whole-fat compadres.too high heat.  Cream sauces must be cooked at low temps. Use a thermometer to ensure temperatures stay lower than 175 degrees F.too much acid.  Cream should be added last (with exceptions like lemon juice). Wine can be very acidic, and should be reduced.  any ingredients should be of medium temperature before cream is introduced, as it will separate at boiling.
How curdling occurs:
Dairy fats combine to form a rubbery mesh, which squeezes out water.

One possibility to prevent curdling is Carrageenan.  There are three kinds, and Lambda Carrageenan is best for sauces because it is water soluble. It is derived from red seaweed.  80% of th…

Love Me Tender: Natural Tenderizers

Meat derives much of its flavor from fat.  The ideal cuts have fat “marbled” in its texture.  Some cuts of meat are simply tough.  Many meat tenderizers are available on the market.  The critical ingredient in most of these is papain.  As you might guess, papain comes from papaya.  I was not able to figure that out on my own.  I though it came from the Pope.

Good news!  You can tenderize your meat without a packaged meat tenderizer or papal intercession. 

Liquify or smash ripe papaya to create a tasty marinade that will tenderize your meat using natural papain.  You can also wrap meat overnight in paw paw leaves to reap the benefits of papain.Use fresh pineapple.  It contains an enzyme, bromelain, that quickly tenderizes meat in 30-60 minutes.  It will add flavor to the meat, which may be good, or not.
Use a meat mallet to pound chicken, beef or pork.  It breaks fat tissue, increasing tenderness.   
Be sure to use fresh pineapple and papaya.  Canning and bottling destroys these enzymes…