Why Your Recipe Calls for Cocoa Powder Instead of Chocolate

From deep, rich cakes and cookies, to brownies and other treats, the ingredient that brings some of your favorite chocolate desserts to life might not be what you expect. Instead of chocolate, these sweets often start with a hearty dose of cocoa powder. But do you know why?

Source: This Is Why Your Recipe Uses Cocoa Powder Instead of Chocolate

If Ruth Wakefield of the Toll House Inn had known that, we’d never have the chocolate chip cookie.  Well maybe we would, but I bet Nestle would be making a lot less money from chocolate chips.

Decorate Cookies Like a Pro with a Mesh Strainer

Sieve, heathens!  A flour sifter would work too…

As the video mentions, this is an easy way to get kids involved/introduced to cooking.  While some of the decoration requires good motor control – either way, evidence can be eaten 😉

Freeze Tofu for a Firmer, Chewier Texture

One easy step will remedy most of your tofu-related tribulations: As soon as you get home from the grocery store, drain your tofu and stick it in the freezer. (You can slice the tofu before freezing if you want it to thaw faster.) Freezing changes the texture of tofu drastically and almost magically: When ice crystals form, they create small holes in the tofu, making it far spongier, firmer, and chewier than it was before. No amount of draining, patting dry, or pressing tofu can minimize sogginess as much as freezing does.

Source: You’re Doing It Wrong: Tofu

This doesn’t quite work with the creamy Japanese style tofu in the shelf-stable packaging; it has to be the water packaged, coarser tofu. once you’ve thawed out frozen tofu, you can squeeze more water out of it without losing its structure. you can take coarsely chopped pieces of this transformed tofu and pulse it in a food processor for a great “crumble” similar to the texture of cooked ground meat, and in this state it absorbs flavor like a sponge.

I’ve seen recipes that recommend this method for kabobs. I used it in a stir fry recipe, and you can pretty much use it in any tofu meal in which you’re going for a drier, firmer texture.

The Easiest Way to Tell If Your Fish Is Properly Cooked

Cooking fish may seem a bit intimidating at first — what kind of fish should you buy? How do you keep it from sticking to the pan? — but once you take the plunge, the rewards are delicious. Knowing when the fish is ready takes a little know-how, and we’re here to help.

Source: The Right Internal Temperature for Cooked Fish

It can depend on the fish – you can tolerate some translucency, but it does come down to taste with some fish. Especially if it’s a thick cut of fish…

Raw seafood can carry Salmonella just like chicken, but it’s a lot more rare. Seafood of any kind can also have parasites. If the seafood has been thoroughly frozen at some point, that kills off most parasites; but if you bought fresh fish from the market, it’s coming right off the boat. Obviously, just consuming raw fish isn’t all that dangerous since sushi is a thing, but there are a lot of things to take into account when determining seafood safety. This tip practically guarantees it’s safe to eat, if that’s a concern of you have.

Blend Bread into a Dressing for an Egg-Free Creamy Texture

Salad can be a great healthy meal, but if you don’t want the calories and fat that come with a heavy dressing, try using bread as a thickening agent. You’ll get a rich, creamy texture without using eggs or mayo to get it. This is especially useful if you’re out of eggs, have an egg allergy, or are a vegan.

You don’t have to change your dressing recipe to make this work—just use bread where you would a thickener like mayo or egg yolk. As you blend the bread with the rest of the ingredients, the dressing will thicken. You can use this as an opportunity to get rid of bread that is getting stale.  Lots of breads do not have egg in them: challah, sourdough, foccacia…  Some, like sourdough, will contribute to flavour.

Another alternative would be: ground flax or chia seeds (1TBSP to 3TBSP water per egg needed, mix until thick) than bread. Easier, lighter, good for people avoiding carbs and gluten.  Egg substitutes have been covered in the past.

Sweat Vegetables Before Making Soup for a Smoother, Creamier Texture

Sweating your veggies is easy: simply put your prepped vegetables in a pot on low heat. Keep the lid on, and let them cook slowly. By keeping the lid on, you use their own liquid to “sweat” (aka steam) them. The technique is called à l’étouffée in French cooking, and it leads to soups and bisques with depth of flavor. You can also apply this to purees that are part of other dishes—like mashed potatoes, for example.

Source: Sweat Vegetables Before Making Soup for a Smoother, Creamier Texture

What Makes Peanut Butter Sticky?

Do not read the following if you are allergic 😉

Arachibutyrophobia is a proposed humorous name for the fear of peanut butter getting stuck to the top of your mouth, coined by Charles M. Schulz in a 1982 edition of his famed Peanuts comic strip. But why does peanut butter have such a tendency to get stuck in your palate when so many other foods don’t?

As it so happens, peanut butter contains a perfect storm of ingredients seemingly designed with the express intent of creating a peanut flavoured choking hazard. For starters, peanut butter, shockingly enough, contains a lot of peanut oil, which makes it incredibly difficult for your saliva to perform its normal task of helping in this first stage of processing food; as we all know, oil and water don’t really like to mix.

Source: What Makes Peanut Butter Sticky?

While I know natural peanut butter won’t be appreciated by everyone (heathens!), here’s something that can be: instead of sliced bread – use tortillas. Warm them in a pan on both sides, adding the peanut butter after you’ve flipped the tortilla. I like mind a little crispy, but if you like yours soft, just set the stove to a lower temperature and don’t cook as long.

Tip for natural peanut butter (or tahini/etc that separated): flip the jar upside down for a day or two before you open it. The oil will move to the bottom, more or less, and make stirring easier.

Food Pairing: Meat and Cheese 101

Let’s talk about pairing meat and cheese. If you’re setting out a nice cheese plate, you may want more on there than cheese alone. Honey, fruit, and crackers are easy enough additions. But cured meat adds substance and heft to cheese like nothing else.  Pairing cured meat and cheese isn’t that hard, but get the most out of your pairing, it helps to know some general principles.

Source: Cheese 101: The Unified Theory of Pairing Cured Meat and Cheese