Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Peep-a-palooza 2010!

In honor of the upcoming Easter holiday, Food/Science offers a science-tastic and marshmallow-riffic celebration of Easter candy offerings!

First, let's start off with a handful of Peepy-links:
Furthermore, here are some Easter recipes for all of your Easter cooking needs:
 And, for those of you who love to dye eggs, did you know that all you need is white vinegar and food coloring? It's true - DIY Easter Egg Dye instructions to the rescue! You can also dye Easter eggs with Natural Egg Dyes that you can find at the grocery store. Vinegar is often used when dyeing eggs because it helps to achieve a deeper color. Egg shells are about 95% calcium carbonate. This mineral is dissolved by the acidic vinegar and water solution, removing the outer surface of the eggshell and allowing the dye to adhere to the egg. In fact, if you leave an egg in pure vinegar long enough, you can dissolve the entire eggshell, leaving you with a "naked egg".

Finally, if you still have room after your brunch, Easter meats, and tons of colored eggs, I will gift you with this recipe for the Ultimate Easter Sammitch:

The Peepernutter S'more Sandwich:

1 hollow chocolate bunny
2-3 marshmallow Peeps
2 slices of white bread
peanut butter (or other nut butter)

  1. Cut Peeps in half lengthwise and arrange in a single layer on one slice of bread.
  2. Spread peanut butter on other slice of bread.
  3. Chop or crush chocolate bunny into small chunks and sprinkle evenly over peanut butter. Gently press them into the peanut butter so they stick.
  4. Assemble the sandwich by placing the peanut butter and chocolate topped bread over the Peep topped bread.
  5. Heat in toaster oven, sandwich press, or George Foreman grill until bread is golden brown and peeps and chocolate are soft. Alternatively, you can melt a little butter in a nonstick skillet and heat the sandwich for 1-2 minutes per side (a la grilled cheese) for a similar result.
  6. Enjoy your sugar rush!

Happy Easter!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

DIY Kombucha

There's a cool story over at the New York Times about homebrewing kombucha, a fermented tea. This stuff has recently become popular in bottled form at many health food and grocery stores, but apparently it's not so hard to make yourself.

(via BoingBoing)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Top 5 Songs About Food

At FiveTracks, check out the Top Five Songs About Food and rock out! I would have several songs to add to this list, including but not limited to:

"Cherry Pie" by Warrant
"Brown Sugar" by the Rolling Stones
"Peaches" by Presidents of the United States
"I Want Candy" by Bow Wow Wow
"Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk" by Rufus Wainwright

You could make a solid argument that any or all of the above listed songs aren't really about food, and I might not argue with you. For your enjoyment, here is, IMHO, possibly THE most artfully metaphorical song/music video of all time.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pi Bakeoff

The winners for Serious Eats' Pi Day Bakeoff (on 3/14, of course) have been announced. Nerdtastic deliciousness!

New research on HFCS

Researchers at Princeton have released the findings of their studies on the effect of High Fructose Corn Syrup on lab animals and it's not pretty. In studies published in the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, they show that male rats gained much more weight when fed water sweetened with HFCS compared to rats fed water sweetened with sugar (sucrose). They also performed the first long-term study of the effects of HCFS on rats and found increased weight gain and fat deposits as well as increases in circulating triglycerides, which in humans are risk factors for diseases including coronary artery disease and high blood pressure.

This info is sure to add to the already existing debate on the pros and cons of HFCS, which seems to be omnipresent in our foods. Over at The Kitchn there is a summary of the study as well as some interesting HFCS links, although I take exception with the title of their post - I don't think you can say that scientists have "proved" the risks of HFCS with this study, although it certainly does support the theory that HFCS is worse for you than sugar.

This study also doesn't address what I see as a separate but equally valid criticism of HFCS - that is is a highly processed and inefficiently produced food that is only popular because government corn subsidies have made it a cheap alternative to sugar. Basically, our tax dollars are going to companies that produce this stuff.

On a bright note, it's that special time of year when you can get wonderful, HFCS-free Passover Coke! For those who observe Passover, HFCS or any corn products can not be eaten during this time. So, Coke and other soda companies make sodas sweetened with sucrose - cane sugar - for passover. Look for a yellow cap on plastic bottles of Coke and the "OU-P" symbol that means it's kosher for passover.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

In honor of St. Patrick and the Irish (just for today, that's everyone on earth), I present you with Ten amazing facts about Guinness, everyone's favorite Irish beer. Well, my favorite Irish beer, anyway. Sláinte!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I've heard that fat is flavor...

... but apparently fat may also have a flavor. According to Australian researchers at Deakin University, people can taste certain fatty acids in an otherwise flavorless solution. This suggests that people can taste fat as a flavor, in addition to the previously known flavors: salty, bitter, sweet, sour, and umami (savory).

Receptors for the compounds that are responsible for these flavors have been found on the tongue, and before now, researchers have thought that these are the only things we can actually taste. Everything else we perceive as "taste" is actually processed by receptors in the nose - it's actually smell. That's why everything tastes flat and flavorless when your nose is stuffed up from a cold. The reason that the addition of compounds like fat and alcohol are often said to increase flavor is because many compounds that our noses detect are more easily dissolved in fat or alcohol than water (they are fat soluble rather than water soluble). So, adding fat or alcohol to dishes that contain these flavors allows them to be more easily vaporized and distrubted to our smell receptors while we chew. Hence, people say "fat is flavor" but no one wants to eat pure lard or down a shot of vegetable oil.

Incidentally, most fats we use in cooking are not pure fat and do contain compounds that we can smell, so we perceive them as having a flavor. Things like butter and extra virgin olive oil contain fat in addition to a complex mixture of compounds from their previous lives as milk or fruit that give them a discernible flavor when we eat them. However, this study is the first to show that we can actually taste fat on our tongues.

This study has to be followed up on, but I wonder if this means that there's another taste receptor (or more than one?) on the human tongue that is yet undiscovered. Exciting!

(study via BoingBoing)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Alcohol and cooking

I know I've been a very naughty food blogger lately and haven't been posting as much as I should. Be assured that I have not forgotten you, dear readers - I will have something original soon!

In the meantime, check out this neat article about alcohol's role in cooking from Fine Cooking magainze.
(via the Kitchn).

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The booze of the future!

...will make you feel less hungover the next day. Or, at least it's possible. So says a recent publication from Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. They show that oxygenating alcoholic drinks helps them be processed more quickly and efficiently by the body. Best line from this story?
However, until hangovers can be isolated and eliminated, regular alcohol will probably remain popular.
...Probably? History suggests you are right, madam! You can find the original publication here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The origin of cheese stretchiness

There's a great post today over at Serious Eats about what makes cheese stretchy and melty when heated, which is an important consideration when making pizza and other melty-cheese-based applications.