Bill Woods

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Let It Bleed (Humanely): We Taste the Vegan "Impossible" and "Beyond" Burgers

@wallacegal -- What you haven't explained is how these burgers would cause any harm to bees. Or any effect at all.

Why Anything Slow Cookers Can Do, Others Can Do Better

Kenji, how about an article on converting recipes for one device to the others. E.g. 5 cups of liquid (oven) = 4 cups (slow cooker) = 3 cups (pressure cooker) ... or whatever the numbers should be.

My worst PC failure was an SC recipe which included tapioca as a thickener.

Excellent Beef Stew on a Weeknight? Thank Your Pressure Cooker

After that half hour is up, I rapidly release the pressure by opening up the vent on my cooker, ...

Lorna Sass (Pressure Perfect) suggests that explosive decompression is not the way to go with meat.

When you use the quick release and the pressure drops almost immediately ... to zero, the meat fibers compress, toughen, and become stringy and dry. ... As a result of my experiments, I have built a [15-min] natural pressure release into the cooking time of most meats.

Classic Split Pea and Ham Soup, With and Without a Pressure Cooker

if you immediately lift the pressure-release valve on the pressure cooker, the rapid boiling that occurs inside will shake up the contents so vigorously that the peas will essentially purée themselves.
Interesting trick. Is there any risk of the valve getting gunked up by the exploding peas?

Scrapcook: Flavor Your Beans With Leftover Smoked Meat

"For several weeks, my fridge was packed to the gills with leftover smoked meat, and there were only so many neighbors I could pawn it off onto."
Bet I'm not the only person living on the Peninsula who'd be happy to help dispose of your leftovers....

More seriously, "Cover the whole thing with water, add a couple of bay leaves, and set it on the stove"?
Wouldn't it be better to put it in the oven? More even heating, less chance of burning on the bottom?

The Best Pressure Cookers and Multi-Cookers

@DBJordan: "higher power translates into higher heat and higher achievable pressure."

Hmm. I don't think I buy it. Faster temp increase, sure. But I don't heat my stove-top pot on high anyway, for fear of scorching the food at the bottom of the pot. And once it's up to temp, it doesn't need much to keep it there -- low to med-low. All things being equal, an object at 250F (395K) will lose more heat than one at 240F (390K). Radiant flux will be about 5% more; convection, I dunno. But my pot is just naked metal; the electric is insulated, right? Even if it were at the higher temp, I'd think it'd take less power.

The Best Pressure Cookers and Multi-Cookers

" ... adjust ... the pressure manually at intervals of 0.5 psi from 1.5 to 12 psi."
That seems like the sort of feature you add because you can, not because it's useful. Do you ever use any settings other than the lowest, highest, and maybe one in between? But why don't electrics go up to 15 psi?

"Most [electric] pressure cookers gauge internal pressure via a temperature probe at the base of the unit."
So it's not really measuring pressure at all -- it's got a thermostat. Which is fine; probably easier to do, and controls what you really care about. Takes out the need for high-elevation adjustments too.

I sauté the aromatics in my PC, but for searing, I pull out the skillet. More area means fewer batches, and by the time I've deglazed it, it's halfway to being cleaned anyway.

Oyakodon (Japanese Chicken and Egg Rice Bowl)

@S McDowall -- Cook's has done this, and found that once the liquid gets down to 5% alcohol (I think it was) it forms an azeotrope, and doesn't reduce further because you're boiling off as much water as alcohol. Kenji may have written the article. So they recommend reducing the alcoholic component first, then diluting it by adding the rest of the water (stock or whatever).

We reduce the wine separately from the broth. In experiments, we found that wine and broth reduced together had as much as eight times more alcohol than wine reduced on its own first. Less booziness allows more wine flavors to come to the fore: While the alcohol burns off, the wine’s nonvolatile flavor compounds concentrate, making it taste richer and more complex.

"What Do You Mean, 'Biblical'?": Calculating the Ghostbusters Twinkie in Real Life

@phillamb168 -- I don't think microwaves will penetrate multiple feet into a batter containing a lot of water. On the other hand, a sufficiently-dense beam of neutrinos would evenly cook a Twinkie™ larger than the Earth....

Flipping Out for the Perfect Spanish Tortilla (Tortilla Española)

So what is the difference between a tortilla and a frittata? Just that one's Spanish and the other's Italian?

Key Limes? More Like Key LIES

The [Keys'] uniquely alkaline soil mellowed the limes' astringency, and abundant coastal rains fueled their growth to lemon-like proportions."
This seems like something Mexican growers could match, by adding limestone to their soil and sufficient watering.

Serious Eats Recommends: 5 Food-Focused Books, Podcasts, Movies, and More We Love Right Now

The ice story is also told in Stephen Johnson's How We Got to Now, which is a book and a miniseries.

Anyone else looking forward to the second season of Shokugeki no Sõma? The first is available on Hulu and YouTube. "Putting the food back in 'food porn'"!

The Best Way to Cut a Mango

I also use the technique described by @BostonAdam. It works better than the 'score and invert' one.

Drop Everything and Make Thai Coconut Sticky Rice With Ataúlfo Mango

I like mangos, but have trouble getting the flesh separated from the peel and seed. How about a lesson?

The Right Way to Sauce Pasta

Instead of adding salty pasta water to get starch into the sauce, what about mixing some cornstarch in a little water and adding that?

Charred Salsa Verde: The One Salsa to Rule Them All

Tasty. Next time, I'll try cutting the onion in thick slices, for easier blending and more char.

The Food Lab: Follow the Rules for the Best All-American Beef Stew

@buz, @onthelevelbaby -- I don't see the applicability of sous vide; certainly you're not going to want to stick your circulator into a pot of stew. I suppose you could put a bag of stew into a water bath. Or cook the meat, and then assemble the stew....

It seems to me the alternative method is the pressure cooker.

The Food Lab: Follow the Rules for the Best All-American Beef Stew

@Su-vide Sam -- Which is why I usually brown the meat in a skillet and then dump it into the stew pot. Fewer batches to brown and if the fond looks dark, I can throw in an extra deglaze step and start over. One extra pan to clean, but the deglazing does most of that anyway.

22 Supermarket Items You Should Leave on the Shelf (and What to Get Instead)

#3 ... I'd recommend Better Than Bouillon Beef Base, ... The only downside is that it also contains lots of sodium, which makes it impossible to reduce like a traditional beef stock.
Is that even an issue? Why add X cups of water and X tsp of BTB, if you're going to reduce it to 1/2 X cups of stock? Just add half as much Base to start with. (And make up the diff with more cheap wine?)

Stew Science: Should You Marinate the Beef First?

For an additional test, I marinated beef in red wine overnight, then cooked it in chicken stock alongside unmarinated beef, which I also cooked in chicken stock. In that case, even after the long stewing time, the flavor of the marinade came through.
This seems to say that this marinade had an effect.

Familiar but Fresh: Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs With Bacon

@Copperkettle218 (11:52AM) -- Where's the upvote button?

Use the Pressure Cooker to Make Full-Flavored Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup) In 30 Minutes

@Kenji -- "a pressure cooker will behave exactly the same in Bogotá as it does in Death Valley, regardless of the fact that air pressure in Bogotá is lower than in Death Valley."
Well Kenji, I don't have a degree from MIT, but I don't see any way for the cooker to tell the absolute pressure inside it. An ordinary pot will have 1 atm of pressure pushing up on the lid; it doesn't fly off because it also has 1 atm pushing down on the lid. A pressure cooker will have about 2 atm inside, but 1 atm is only about 15 psi, meaning if the hole in the lid is about 1/4in * 1/4in, it only takes about a 1 lb weight to hold in the pressure of 1 extra atm.

And pressure cooker makers seem to agree with me. E.g.:

Pressure Cooking at High Altitudes
... A rule of thumb to remember is to increase the cooking time by 5% for every 1,000 feet above the first 2,000 feet [above sea level]

Kenji's Favorite Recipes of 2015

That pressure-cooked chicken stew is in my regular rotation.

Ounces and Grams: Why Mass Is Not the Best Way to List Ingredients

"Which raises the question: If we're scaling up a recipe that calls for gold leaf, do we use the avoirdupois ounce or the troy ounce?"
If I haven't dropped a decimal place, 1 troy ounce (trounce?) works out to 10 square meters of gold leaf. Which raises the question — what kind of recipe uses gold measured in ounces?


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