Day 19: Chill
Special Note: This is the final section of the book. I know, it flew right by didn’t it? For those that might be wondering, it’s Day 19 because I covered two sections in the beginning (Water and Salt) on one day. My “Day 20” will be my attempt at a “conclusion” to this whole project. That will be posted on Monday, January 28th so I can have two whole days to obsess and re-write. Now, back to your regular programming…
Michael brings up an excellent point at the very start of this section – “When we define cooking, we almost always do so in terms of applying heat to food” (p. 322). Agreed. I think most people don’t consider that chilling food, or shocking things in an ice bath, or freezing things for that matter is also a form of cooking.
He explains further:
…few skills teach us as much about the way food and cooking work than understanding the power of stopping or reversing the application of heat.
The chilling-cooling technique can be divided into two categories: simply removing food from the heat or plunging food into coldness – in other words, gentle, gradual cooling or abrupt cooling. (p. 322)
I have had a bit of experience wielding this technique on a few occasions, most often where cooking fresh vegetables are concerned. I don’t always do this, but I try to cook them ahead of time, and then shock them in ice water so they don’t get overdone or lose their lovely color. It’s a great way to keep things well-timed in terms of getting meals together, as re-heating vegetables after they have been cooled rapidly is never an issue.
Midway through the essay for this section, there’s a photo guide to cooking and shocking fresh vegetables (in the case of the pictures, green beans). It’s helpful, and the pictures are fantastic (as all the pictures in this book are), but it kind of interrupted the “flow” of reading, if that makes any sense. I can be a bit of a stickler for stuff like that. On the other hand, it is a really, really minor quibble. I’m only mentioning it because it kind of stuck out for me personally.
Ruhlman goes on to provide a handy “list” of sorts by way of a part of the section titled “What Foods Can I Cook in Advance?“. I’d almost suggest that if a cheat sheet style of information from this book is ever produced, that list should be among the tidbits. That’s why this book such a handy reference tool for later.
There is also a small but significant part of the section devoted to “thoughtful freezing”, which mostly covers how to properly seal/wrap food for the freezer, and most important – don’t forget about it being in the freezer. Seems elementary, sure…but how many times have we all just let stuff go bad in the freezer? I’d rather not fess up – but I’m so guilty of that it’s embarrassing.
Recipe: Deviled Eggs with Blue Cheese & Bacon
I love deviled eggs. Love. Them.
For some reason, though, I almost never make them. When I came across this recipe (to which Ruhlman again gives Marlene Newell some much-deserved credit), I knew that I had to make it. Blue Cheese and bacon? YES, PLEASE.
Holy moly you guys, this turned out faboo. I have to say, while I love deviled eggs, I remembered why I so rarely make them…
It’s because they can be a pain in the butt to put the filling in. I know I could make things easier for myself by putting the filling in a baggie, cut the corner off and pipe it that way. But I somehow always convince myself that “meh, I’ll just spoon it in“.
Another reason I don’t make them all that often? Because after I have say…two of them…the texture of the filling is always just too smooth for me. So I enjoy them for like five minutes…and then I don’t want to touch them again until the next family gathering where someone made them. The great thing about this recipe is that the bacon totally breaks up that over-smoothness that I tend to not enjoy very much. Also? It’s bacon. So, that automatically made them spectacular.
Well, I’ll be off the blog for a couple of days so I can get my thoughts in order for the “end” of the project on Monday. Thanks to everyone who has been following along – it’s been more fun than you know. Have a lovely weekend!