Posts Tagged ‘egg’

Perfect egg yolks (part 2)

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011


Egg cooked for 40 min at 63.0 °C. The pictures were taken within 6 seconds and are shown in the order they were taken.

My immersion circulator is working again! And the first thing I decided to do was to cook eggs at 63.0 °C for 40, 60, 75, 110 and 155 min and show you the results. If you read my last blog post on Perfect egg yolks or have stumbled across the paper Culinary Biophysics: on the Nature of the 6X°C Egg you may recognize that these times correspond to egg yolks with textures similar to sweetened condensed milk, mayonnaise, honey, cookie icing and Marmite respectively. I used the iso-viscosity graph from the paper mentioned to determine the cooking times as shown below. (more…)

Perfect egg yolks

Monday, April 18th, 2011


Maybe I have a hangup on soft boiled eggs, but I’m deeply fascinated by how something simple as an egg can be transformed into such a wide range of textures. I’m talking about pure eggs – no other ingredients added. Playing around with temperature and time can result in some very interesting yolk textures – yolks that are neither soft nor hard, but somewhere inbetween. Two examples from the blogosphere are Chad Galliano’s 90 min @ 63.8 °C egg yolk sheets and David Barzelay’s 17 min @ 70.0 °C egg yolk cylinders (both bloggers giving credit to Ideas in food and Wylie Dufresne respectively).

In 2009 I wrote about my journey towards the perfect soft boiled eggs. Equipped with a formula I knew what I wanted, but it wasn’t so easy after all. Since then I’ve tried to model experimental data from Douglas Baldwin as well as data from my own measurements of egg yolk tempereatures when cooked sous vide (pictures of how I did this at the end of this blog post). I never got around to blog about the results, and now there’s no need for it anymore: The egg yolk problem has been solved! And the question that remains is: How we can utilize this in the kitchen?

The break through came this year (more…)

Superfast scrambled eggs

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

scrambled_eggs_1

Miss Silvia is full of surprises! She’s been around the house for a year, but only now did she reveal one of her hidden capabilities. Did you know that you can make scrambled eggs with the steam wand of your espresso machine? Me neither. It’s a brilliant idea and one can wonder why no one has done this before. I mean, espresso machines have been around for a while. And as it turns out – according to Kelly’s comment below this was done in San Francisco back in the 90′s. It seems as if the credits for rediscovering these scrambled eggs should go to Chef Jody Williams (and thanks to Jessica at FoodMayhem for posting this). I’ve tried it several times and it works very well. I’d even say that this gives you another reason to purchase an espresso machine with a proper steam wand! Many other reasons can be found in my first post about Miss Silvia. (more…)

Cooking by ratios – new book by Ruhlman

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

ratio-cover

kochen-backen-grundrezeptenOne of the more curious cookbooks I own is a German one entitled “Kochen und Backen nach Grundrezepten” (Cooking and Baking with Base recipes). It was first written in 1932 and has been updated regularily ever since. Each section typically has a standard recipe which indicates the ratios to use followed by suggested variations (just like The improvisational cook). It also has nice summaries of dos and don’ts (just like BakeWise and CookWise), and what really makes the book stand out is that is so compact yet still comprehensive. It’s one of those books I actually use when cooking. Many other books have a little too much text – you have to read a lot to pick up the key points. Anyway – the reason I mention this is that as I read about the new “Ratio” book by Michael Ruhlman (MR books, MR blog), the German cookbook was the first book that came to my mind.
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Towards the perfect soft boiled egg

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

egg-tray

Many cookbooks suggest the following for boiling eggs: 3-6 min for a soft yolk, 6-8 min for a medium soft yolk and 8-10 min for a hard yolk. If you are satisfied with this, there is no need for you to continue reading. But if you’ve ever wondered whether the size of an egg has any impact on the cooking time you should read on. And if you search the ultimate soft boiled egg we share a common goal! From a scientific view point, a cooking time of approximately 3-8 minutes to obtain a soft yolk is not very precise. A number of important parameters remain unanswered: What size are the eggs? Are they taken from the fridge or are they room tempered? Are they put into cold or boiling water? And if using cold water – when should the timer be started? When the heat is turned on or when the water boils? And would the size of the pan, the amount of water and the power of the stove top matter?

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Sous-vide cooking joy

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

Having received a real kitchen gadget before the weekend, I certainly had to do some sous-vide experiments. While shopping I looked specifically for meat that was already vacuum packed in plastic bags as I do not have a food saver. There is actually a decent selection available and I got a 1.5 kg roast beef and a chicken breast (a particularily nice one, bred according to the Label Rouge principles). The nice thing about the meat I got was that the packaging had temperature suggestions. Even though I have books and tables and access to the internet it’s always nice to have this information available exactly when and where you need it. And as I dropped the meat into the water bath it occured to me that this was so simple (not that I shun complex recipes), so clean (I’m not afraid of a messy kitchen) and so convenient (I’m not at all a fan of fast food) that given the expected end result this is probably how very many people will prepare their meat in a not to distant future! So to all farmers, butchers and producers of immersion circulators – I hope you read this and act accordingly ;)


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Speeding up the Maillard reaction

Friday, September 26th, 2008


Ever thought about how pretzels and salt sticks get their nice brown color?

The products of the Maillard reaction provide tastes, smells and colors that are much desired and lend their charachteristics to a variety of foods. In this post I will focus on the factors that influence how fast the Maillard reaction proceeds. And more specifically I’ll give examples on how the Maillard reaction can be speeded up. This is not about fast food, nor is it about saving time. It’s more about controlling the browning reaction by speeding it up or slowing it down in order to get a desired end result.

The Maillard reaction is, to put it simple, a reaction between an amino acid and a sugar (there’s more on the chemistry at the end of the post). To speed it up you can do one or more of the following:
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10 elements of basic kitchen knowledge

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008


Salt in oil. According to Pierre Gagnaire, this is Hervé This’ main discovery. It allows him to sprinkle salt on dishes without the salt dissolving in water from the dish. Thereby the “crunch” of the salt is retained.

Rob Mifsud, perhaps best know for his Hungry in Hogtown blog has interviewed Hervé This. At the end of the interview Hervé lists 10 elements of basic kitchen knowledge. Some may seem obvious, but they are not, according to Hervé. Here’s the list so you can judge by yourselves:

  1. Salt dissolves in water.
  2. Salt does not dissolve in oil.
  3. Oil does not dissolve in water.
  4. Water boils at 100 °C (212 °F).
  5. Generally foods contain mostly water (or another fluid).
  6. Foods without water or fluid are tough.
  7. Some proteins (in eggs, meat, fish) coagulate.
  8. Collagen dissolves in water at temperatures higher than 55 °C (131 °F).
  9. Dishes are dispersed systems (combinations of gas, liquid or solid ingredients transformed by cooking).
  10. Some chemical processes – such as the Maillard Reaction (browning or caramelizing) – generate new flavours.

TGRWT #9: Chocolate tagliatelle with parmesan cream

Monday, February 25th, 2008

chocolate-pasta-5.jpg
Chocolate pasta suspended for drying.

For this round of TGRWT I decided to use the recipe (Chocolate Carbonara with Parmigiano Reggiano Cream and a Chocolate-Dipped Grissini Wrapped in Prosciutto di Parma) by Masaharu Morimoto which I’ve blogged about previously. I was quite intrigued by that recipe and wanted to try it! So here it is, converted to metric units with some small adjustments. The original recipe called for 4 eggs, but this rendered the pasta dough to hard. I added two of the whites which were left over from the sauce. BTW this is why one of should better weigh out eggs instead of count them (too bad I didn’t think about his from the beginning so I could have weighed the eggs I used). The original recipe called for bread sticks with chocolate and prosciutto di Parma which I skipped (but which nonetheless sounds like a good accompaniment – as you’re probably aware of meat and chocolate also go very well together!).

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TGRWT #8: White chocolate soufflé with caviar

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

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As a late (but just in time for the deadline) response to TGRWT #8 which was announced by Chadzilla in December last year – here is finally my write up on a recipe and a little on the background of this flavor combination which has become a classic in molecular gastronomy.

Heston Blumenthal introduced it around 2002 at The Fat Duck. It’s well worth reading what Heston wrote about this combination back then. He describes how salt can help bring out the flavor of many desserts. At one point he tried caviar and white chocolate – the effect was stunning. He then wanted to find out why this combination was so successful:

I gave some caviar and chocolate to François Benzi, who works for Firmenich, the flavourings and perfumes company based in Geneva. He was so surprised at the way that the caviar and chocolate melded together that he excused himself for half an hour while he tried to discover the reason behind the success of this union.

When he returned, the response was that both the chocolate and caviar contain high levels of amines. These are a group of proteins that have broken down from their amino acid state but not so far as to become ammonia. Amines contribute to the desirable flavours that we find in cooked meats and cheeses, among other things.

Some might object to using caviar but remember that there is no need to turn to sturgeon caviar as this species is endangered. I used caviar from Capelin which costs less than $4/€3 for a box of 50 g. As I have never tasted the “real” stuff I’m not the right person to judge about similarity or difference in aroma. And in case you also wondered about the terminology – roe is the fully ripe egg masses of fish whereas caviar refers to processed, salted roe. I decided to make a soufflé and based the recipe loosely on one of the soufflé recipes in my Larousse Gastronomique.

white-chocolate-caviar-3.jpg

White chocolate soufflé with caviar
40 g white chocolate
30 g flour
1 dL milk
35 g caviar
3 eggs, separated
nutmeg

Melt chocolate on very low heat. Add 1/3 of the flour and stir, heating gently. Add a 1/3 of the milk and mix thoroughly. Add another 1/3 of the flour, then more milk and so on. Add finely ground nutmeg. Add 3 egg yolks and heat until right before the mixture sets (yeah – I admit – this is not very precise…). Then add the caviar. Beat egg whites stiff and fold them in. Pour into greased soufflé dish and bake at 220 °C for about 15 min.

Verdict: Aromas blend well together, but when eaten alone it’s perhaps a little bland. But I’m quite sure that it could be succesfully incorporated into a menu together with something acidic. The texture was nice, but the soufflé quickly falls together once it’s removed from the oven (I’ll have to post more on the chemistry of soufflés some other time – Hervé This has written a lot about this).

If you try to make this – note that white chocolate doesn’t behave excately like butter when you add the flour. It all got very thick, very fast – that’s why I started adding milk early. I also guess you have to be really careful when heating the whtie chocolate, but I didn’t do any stress tests here.

white-chocolate-caviar-1.jpg
This is what the mix looks like before I folded in the egg whites.

For my first attempt at this recipe I used 20 g flour and 15 g caviar. The result was that the caviar sedimented before the soufflé had set, besides the fact that one could hardly taste the caviar at all. On my second attempt however, there was enough flour to keep the caviar suspended until the soufflé set. And one could actually also taste the caviar.

white-chocolate-caviar-4.jpg

And now on to the chemistry behind:
I promised that I would come back with more information about the chemistry behind this pairing, but there isn’t very much information out there. There is one paper on aroma development in block-milk which used in the production of white chocolate. This paper lists a couple of volatiles, but only with their relative peak areas. Turning to caviar (or roe), there is a recent paper on flavor characterization of ripened cod roe, and this paper includes qualitative information about odor intensity.

Comparing the list of volatiles, the following volatiles which contribute substantially to the odor of ripened cod roe are also found in block milk (followed by odor thresholds in water, given in ppb, taken from this page):

2-butanone (50000 ppb)
2-methylbutanal (1 ppb)
3-methylbutanal (0.2-2 ppb)
pentanal (na)

Of these, the first has a high odor threshold, so it’s not likely to be an impact odorant in block-milk (and white chocolate). The methylbutanals however probably contribute to the overlapping aroma of roe and white chocolate. I didn’t find any threshold value for pentanal.

One group of compounds which was not mentioned in the paper on cod roe odor from 2004, but which was mentioned in a Russian paper from 1967 are amines (Golovnya: “Gas-chromatographic analysis of amines in volatile substances of salmon caviar”). Considering the fact that trimethylamine has a threshold in the range of 0.37-1.06 ppb, and that trimethylamine is found in block-milk suggests that it might contribute significantly to the odor of both white chocolate and roe. I guess the reason trimethylamine (and the whole range of other, closely related amines) is not found in the odor analysis in the 2004 paper has to do with the analytical method used.

The fact that amines are crucial is further supported by the Guardian article I quoted from in the beginning where Heston Blumenthal describes how he turned to François Benzi, a flavor chemist at Firmenich, to find out why white chocolate and caviar is such a good match. Benzi concludes that it is due to the presence of similar amines in white chocolate and caviar.