Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cutting onions...

While I am still buried on this new project, here is another fun food fact from Cook's Illustrated.

Published July 1, 2009. From Cook's Illustrated.

Can the way you cut an onion affect its flavor?

We took eight onions and cut each two different ways: pole to pole (with the grain) and parallel to the equator (against the grain). We then smelled and tasted pieces from each onion cut each way. The onions sliced pole to pole were clearly less pungent in taste and odor than those cut along the equator. Here’s why: The intense flavor and acrid odor of onions are caused by substances called thiosulfinates, created when enzymes known as alliinases contained in the onion’s cells interact with proteins that are also present in the vegetable. These reactions take place only when the onion’s cells are ruptured and release the strong-smelling enzymes. Cutting with the grain ruptures fewer cells than cutting against the grain, leading to the release of fewer alliinases and the creation of fewer thiosulfinates.

Bottom Line:
CUT WITH GRAIN = LESS PUNGENT

CUT AGAINST THE GRAIN = MORE PUNGENT

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bhinda/Bhindi...aka Okra

I love okra! It is sad that so many people (maybe its just the cousins in the family) do not like this yummy veggie. There are so many ways this veggie can be made, stuffed, fried or in soup! Here is one of my favorite ways.





Bhinda/Bhindi/Spicy Okra

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb okra
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3-4 medium garlic cloves
  • 1 jalepeno, finely minced (or more for added spice)
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) of coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon amchur
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chilli powder (optional)
  • salt to taste
Directions
  1. Clean okra. The method I learned from my mother, take a damp towel/paper towel and individually clean the okra.
  2. Cut okra. For this recipe, I like to cut them into 1/4 rounds. That is start cutting at the top or bottom and work your way to the other end. Leave out the tops of the okra.
  3. Heat oil in nonstick pan (one with a large flat surface). Add cumin and jalepeno. When cumin brown, add the onion and garlic. Sautee until the onion gets translucent (clear) and starts to brown.
  4. Add okra, salt and spices. Stir gently.
  5. Cover for 10 minutes and open up. Make sure the steam from the lid doesn't fall into the pot. Stir gently and cook for another 10 minutes covered. When you open, the okra should be bright green and ready to eat. You can cook further uncovered if you like your okra crispier (the way I do). The key is not not over sitr or the okra will be mushy.
  6. Enjoy with rice or roti or just plain.

Random Tip...tomatoes!

Although I experiment, I don't get a chance to put up the recipes. So until I get more free time, here is a tip that I thoguht was useful. Now that tomato season is upon us and all the amazing varieties are at the Farmer's Market....The tip is from Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen:

"How can I prolong the shelf life of a tomato?"
"We’ve heard that storing a tomato with its stem end facing down can prolong shelf life. To test this theory, we placed one batch of tomatoes stem-end up and another stem-end down and stored them at room temperature. A week later, nearly all the stem-down tomatoes remained in perfect condition, while the stem-up tomatoes had shriveled and started to mold. Why the difference? We surmised that the scar left on the tomato skin where the stem once grew provides both an escape for moisture and an entry point for mold and bacteria. Placing a tomato stem-end down blocks air from entering and moisture from exiting the scar. To confirm this theory, we ran another test, this time comparing tomatoes stored stem-end down with another batch stored stem-end up, but with a piece of tape sealing off their scars. The taped, stem-end-up tomatoes survived just as well as the stem-end-down batch. "

Happy eating!