236 and 8 specials
Days Left until March 9, 2016:
So I got a little behind on my Good Eats Challenge,
but I am back with a vengeance. I think I needed a break after the
chicken disaster of 2015
I am combining episode 6 with episode 9 because they went better
with Sunday Supper - featured recipes are the French Onion Soup and Granita. One goal of this challenge
is to adopt Alton's methodical/mise en place cooking style and I am sad to report little improvement here, but I am learning lots.
Episode Six - "Churn Baby Churn"
Ice Cream, Sorbet and Granita
Recipe made: Coffee Granita
- Not prepared yet (Ice Cream
Ice Cream Machine (not used for Granita)
-Sugar is not just an ingredient of ice cream for flavor it is actually part of the chemical process.
-The sugar molecules prevent ice crystals from forming, otherwise the mixture would
just form a block of ice.
-There is a "sweet spot" for sugar content though - too much
and the mixture would be a pool of syrup and too little you will obviously have a brick of ice.
-Alton believes the best ratio is about 30% sugar.
-When making ice cream or sorbet, subbing in preserves for sugar is good because
it is an equal exchange in measurement (1:1) and it contains pectin which creates
a smoother, slower melting result.
-The old churn ice cream machines are still the best because they utilize a perfect
endothermic effect to make great ice cream.
-The creator of the old churn machine, Nancy Johnson, sold her patent for $200 in 1943.
-66% of ice cream is eaten by adults.
-Two basic types of ice cream - Philadelphia Style (American, less rich, not heated, only milk and cream frozen with sugar)
and the French/Italian Style (heated, incorporates eggs, usually very rich and more custard-like).
-During prohibition, many bars turned into ice cream parlors and they were so lucrative that they never reverted back.
-Vanilla outsells chocolate 3 to 1.
-Mexican vanilla beans are the most flavorful, even though Madagascar is the most popular.
-Ice Cream and Sorbet mixtures should be refrigerated before you freeze them - ice cream should age 6 - 12 hours in fridge for better texture.
-Anything called ice cream must contain at least 10% milkfat and the good stuff supposedly has more and weighs the most (makers can add lots of air to the product).
Thoughts, musings, other:
I am going to wait until summer to try the sorbet and ice cream recipes, plus I have never made granita before and it
sounded pretty interesting. It was super easy to make and if you like coffee, this is a great cold treat, it is kind of
like a coffee icee. It is definitely an item that you could combine with something else like chocolate mousse or in a
beverage. I will definitely be experimenting more with this in the future.
Episode Nine - "A Bowl of Onion"
Onions/French Onion Soup
Recipe made: French Onion Soup
-Historically, onions are kind of interesting; Egyptians swore oaths on onions, during the Civil War General Sherman insisted to Washington
that his men needed onions (rightfrigginnow) or else (they used them to keep open wounds sterile) and they have even served as wedding gifts?!
-Onions are members of the lily family and there are 2 general categories they fit into - storage and fresh.
-Fresh onions tend not to have the crunchy paper skin on the outside and include
Maui Sweet, Walla Walla, Texas 1015, and Vidalia.
-An introduction to the French term Terroir, which roughly means a sense of place or anything that grows
in the ground owes its flavor to the ground it grew in (oh I love the French).
-Terroir comes into play especially when discussing Vidalia onions. This type of onion
was created a bit by accident really. Georgia farmer, Mose Coleman, planted some onions
and discovered upon harvest that they were not the typical hot flavor, but sweet. It was found
that insanely low levels of sulfur existed in the soil and that is what gives the onions
Thoughts, musings, other:
I love french onion soup, in fact it might be one of my favorites, however as simple of a dish as it is,
people seem to screw it up rather frequently. Alton's recipe turned out great and I loved using the electric
skillet because I didn't feel like I had to watch it as closely as I would have if it were sitting on our
gas burner. I used Maui onions because I don't think Vidalia are in-season yet and for the wine I used 1 3/4 cup
of Sauvignon Blanc and 1/4 cup of Riesling type of wine (not sure the varietal as it was a leftover bottle
from a trip to Argentina and I couldn't decipher the label).
Strangely all the science talk from Alton got me thinking about poetry.
I was reminded of a poem I read a long time ago, appropriately named Onions, by one of my favorites - William Matthews.
It is about happiness or the irony of happiness and I am not sure what triggered it as I cook with onions
often, but suddenly there is was in my mind, clear as a bell. So I thought I would share it here:
By William Matthews
How easily happiness begins by
dicing onions. A lump of sweet butter
slithers and swirls across the floor
of the sauté pan, especially if its
errant path crosses a tiny slick
of olive oil. Then a tumble of onions.
This could mean soup or risotto
or chutney (from the Sanskrit
chatni, to lick). Slowly the onions
go limp and then nacreous
and then what cookbooks call clear,
though if they were eyes you could see
clearly the cataracts in them.
It’s true it can make you weep
to peel them, to unfurl and to tease
from the taut ball first the brittle,
caramel-colored and decrepit
papery outside layer, the least
recent the reticent onion
wrapped around its growing body,
for there’s nothing to an onion
but skin, and it’s true you can go on
weeping as you go on in, through
the moist middle skins, the sweetest
and thickest, and you can go on
in to the core, to the bud-like,
acrid, fibrous skins densely
clustered there, stalky and in-
complete, and these are the most
pungent, like the nuggets of nightmare
and rage and murmury animal
comfort that infant humans secrete.
This is the best domestic perfume.
You sit down to eat with a rumor
of onions still on your twice-washed
hands and lift to your mouth a hint
of a story about loam and usual
endurance. It’s there when you clean up
and rinse the wine glasses and make
a joke, and you leave the minutest
whiff of it on the light switch,
later, when you climb the stairs.