Day 2: Salt & Water
Recipes: Raw Zucchini Salad & Weekday Coq au Vin, respectively.
On Water – my impression:
The subtitle of this section is appropriately “The Unrecognized Miracle in the Kitchen“. Yes, you read that correctly – unrecognized. Ruhlman elaborates:
Water, like salt, is essential to the maintenance of life, and in the kitchen it is equally important as both an ingredient and a tool. (p.46)
In his discussion of water, he covers all aspects of it, including a bit of chemistry. It kind of sounded to me like an episode of Alton Brown’s genius (and sadly defunct) cooking show, Good Eats. There’s a methodical covering of how water is used in the kitchen, including direct cooking, indirect cooking, cooling and freezing, brine and flavor extraction. Holy moly, it is a lot of information. It’s increasingly clear that this book is specifically designed as a go-to tome for the home cook.
In my cooking experience, I was aware of and had used many of the techniques he discusses regarding water. Others, not so much (flavor extraction is an example). As a bit of a food nerd, this kind of stuff is like heaven for me.
Recipe: Weekday Coq au Vin
I don’t think I’m violating my stated intention of not printing the recipe by answering the obvious question – this qualifies for the “weekday” label because the recipe calls for the use of chicken legs, and not a whole chicken. Far less work, and thus, easier to prepare even after a busy day.
As an aside, here’s a bit about my shopping experience:
Owing to my admitted hatred of onion, I found out quickly that I am at a disadvantage even while shopping for ingredients. Why is that? Because I realized as I was standing in the produce section…I had no idea how to pick out a good onion. Yikes.
Thankfully, I love garlic. So I took what I knew about picking a good garlic bulb and applied it to picking out an onion. Crisis averted.
As I was cooking tonight’s dish, I made a pointed effort to resist the impulse to make myself a non-onion version along with the regular recipe. I am glad to say that while I still instinctively avoided the onion pieces as my husband and I had dinner…I found the Coq au Vin to be absolutely divine. Highly recommended.
And now, for something mildly related:
If you’re interested in a more stream-of-conciousness narrative throughout this quest, I recommend you follow my blog’s page on Facebook. Each morning, I will be posting that day’s sections and recipes. As I go shopping for ingredients, I am liable to give commentary if I have trouble finding things at the store…or simply admitting that my onion quirk causes me to chop onion in the worst way possible (at extreme arm’s length…I don’t recommend it).
If you’re on twitter, my twitter feed is even more spontaneous. I promise you, hilarity is bound to ensue.
I’m now off to enjoy some mulled cranberry juice that my husband made for me, and get further into The Grapes of Wrath…