Kale Caesar

According to the CBC: “McDonald’s kale salad has more calories than a Double Big Mac

NewImage

In a quest to reinvent its image, McDonald’s is on a health kick. But some of its nutrient-enhanced meals are actually comparable to junk food, say some health experts.

One of new kale salads has more calories, fat and sodium than a Double Big Mac.

Apparently, McDonalds is there not to braise kale, but to bury it in cheese and mayonnaise. And while that’s likely mighty tasty, it’s not healthy.

At a short-term level, this looks like good product management. Execs want salads on the menu? Someone’s being measured on sales of new salads, and loading them up with tasty, tasty fats. It’s effective at associating a desirable property of salad with the product.

Longer term, not so much. It breeds cynicism. It undercuts the ability of McDonalds to ever change its image, or to convince people that its food might be a healthy choice.

Chocolate Waffles

Too good not to share (inspired by: Chocolate-Hazelnut Waffles with Frangelico-Brown-Butter Syrup)

Ingredients :
6 oz. (1-1/3 cups) fresh ground whole-wheat flour
2 oz. (2/3 cup) natural cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup granulated palm sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3 oz. (6 Tbs.) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup yogurt
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup warm water

Directions:
Pre-heat waffle maker.

Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium sized bowl and mix thoroughly.

In a large bowl, whisk the sugar and eggs until smooth. Stir in the butter, yogurt, and vanilla until smooth. Mix in the warm water until smooth. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold until just mixed. It should still have some lumps.

Cook in waffle maker and serve warm.

Sedgwick, Maine versus the Feds

Maine Town Declares Food Sovereignty, Nullifies Conflicting Laws.” So reads the headline at the 10th Amendment center blog:

The Maine town of Sedgwick took an interesting step that brings a new dynamic to the movement to maintain sovereignty: Town-level nullification. Last Friday, the town passed a proposed ordinance that would empower the local level to grow and sell food amongst themselves without interference from unconstitutional State or Federal regulations. Beyond that, the passed ordinance would make it unlawful for agents of either the State or Federal government to execute laws that interfere with the ordinance.

Under the new ordinance, producers and processors are protected from licensure or inspection in sales that are sold for home consumption between them and a patron, at farmer’s market, or at a roadside stand. The ordinance specifically notes the right of the people to food freedom, as well as citing the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Maine Constitution in defending the rights of the people.

Andy Ellis pointed out on Twitter that Wickard v. Filburn disagrees, but it’s fascinating to watch the frustration with the political system. Think of it as a Tea Party for foodies, with hand-harvested Darjeeling milk.

Saturday Corn Baking

Well, following on Arthur’s post on baking bread, I wanted to follow up with “how to bake corn:”

baked-corn.jpg

Please go read “Baked Buttered Corn

A way to bring some happiness to the end of summer is to take this corn and simply bake it with butter. It’s fabulous. The starchy corn juices create a virtual custard and the long high heat transforms the flavors in a way that a quick boiling of the starchy corn can’t.

Fast, easy and yum. Works great in a toaster oven while you’re cooking other stuff.

Friday Bread Baking

bread

A few folks have asked, so here’s my general bread recipe in bakers percentages. In bakers percentages everything is based on a ratio compared to the weight of the flour. The formula for my bread is:

100% Whole wheat flour (I’m a geek, I grind my own)
72% Water (or whey)
2% Salt
1% Yeast

So if I’m using 1000 grams of flour, I need 720 grams of liquid, 20 grams of salt and 10 grams of yeast.

Mix everything together in a bowl. I highly recommend putting the liquid in first; it makes it much easier to do the mixing. Knead the dough until it is elastic and the window pane test works. Cover and let rise until the dough doubles in volume.

Degas the dough, cut and preshape into rough loaves. Be very gentle here. Let rise again. Degas and shape into loaves. Let rise one more time. Preheat oven to between 400 and 450^F (lower temperature for larger loaves) with a cast iron skillet or metal pie plate on the floor of the oven. When the loaves are doubled in volume place them in the oven then pour a 1/4 cup of water into the cast iron skillet. Bake until the interior temperature of the bread is 195F or sounds hollow when you thump the bottom. This will take between 20 and 45 minutes depending on how large your loaves are.

This is what science is for

In “The Quest for French Fry Supremacy 2: Blanching Armageddon,” Dave Arnold of the French Culinary Institute writes:

Blanching fries does a lot for you – such as:

  • killing the enzymes that make the potatoes turn purpley-brown. Blanching is always necessary if the potatoes will be air-dried before frying.
  • gelatinizing the starch. During frying, pre-cooked fries form a crust faster than raw ones, and they can be cooked at higher oil temperatures than raw fries – which is easier for workflow.
  • pre-salting the interior of the fries. We blanched two batches of fries, one in boiling 3% salt water, one in boiling plain water. The plain-water fries tasted like crap next to the salt-water ones. All subsequent tests fries were blanched in a 3% salt solution.
french-fry-science.jpg

It’s easy to think of science as just being good for building computers and the internet, extending average lifespans, giving us goretex, nylon and vulcanized rubber. Some people may worry that it’s in the weeds when worrying about string theory. But science is an approach to problems. The testing of ideas to see how well they work, rather than loving the idea.

And Dave Arnold, along with Harold McGee and others, and driving the intersection of science and cooking. And while they’re likely to skewer quite a few cows along the way, the results are worth it.

76% Organic

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The back does explain that it’s 76% organic petite sirah, and 24% non-organic grapes. I just thought it was a pretty funny thing to put on the front label, and wonder which consumers are going to be more likely to buy it, knowing that it’s 76% organic.

St. Cajetan’s Revenge

For some time, I’ve watched the War on Bottled Water with amusement. I don’t disagree with figuring out how to reduce waste, and so on and so forth, but the railing against bottled water per se struck me as not thought out very well.

The major reason for my thinking is that I never heard any of the venomous railing against water extending to any other drinks that come in bottles. To my mind, it seemed that a Coke, hey, that’s okay, but if you start with one and take out the sugar, the caffeine, the artificial flavors, and CO2 you end up with water. Coke okay, water evil.

Me, sometimes all I want is a cool drink of water. More often, I want something a little more. I’m very fond of those fizzy waters with a bit of essential oils in them, as well as iced tea. But I don’t want the sugar. I want an artificial sweetener even less, and often when faced with decisions, water is what’s available. When I’m traveling nearly anywhere, I think I’d rather have it in a bottle, thanks.

The prejudice against water comes from thinking that it’s just water. Rarely is there such a thing as just water. The only just water there is is distilled (or in a pinch deionized) water, and that is itself special because it is unusual for something to be just water.

And now, I can’t help but think, “Uh huh” as I read, “Millions in U.S. Drink Dirty Water, Records Show.”

The summary is that more than 20% of US water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last five years. The violations include sewage bacteria, known poisons and carcinogens, parasites, and so on. Mid-level EPA investigators say that the government has been interested in other things and just not enforcing things, and they don’t think change will happen.

Security isn’t just going after terrorists, it’s basic thing. Like water.

Tabletop Science

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Mordaxus emailed some of us and said “I hope this doesn’t mean MG has jumped the shark.” What was he talking about?


Apparently, ThinkGeek now has a “Molecular Gastronomy Starter Kit.” For those of you who’ve been hiding in a Cheesecake Factory for the past few years, molecular gastronomy is the art of using science to do things to food beyond your typical applications of heat with fire or its close analogs, acids baths beyond marinades, combinations harder to achieve than hollandaise, and whipping things without egg whites. See, it’s really a continuum and continuation of what chefs have been doing for years. Really, poaching eggs and poaching jolt cola are all about understanding and using the chemicals available in your kitchen in new and interesting ways. Ten years ago, not a lot of people brined their chicken, and twenty years ago everyone but the Japanese overcooked their tuna. Wasabi wasn’t a normal ingredient. Kitchens change. There’s chaos and experimentation. Some of what emerges is good, and some of it’s embarrassing. Some of it’s the home Sous Vide kits, and some of it’s the starter kit.

The real question is what’s going to emerge next in the market, and what’s going to emerge in your kitchen?

Make the Smart Choice: Ignore This Label

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He said the criteria used by the Smart Choices™ Program™ were seriously flawed, allowing less healthy products, like sweet cereals and heavily salted packaged meals, to win its seal of approval. “It’s a blatant failure of this system and it makes it, I’m afraid, not credible,” Mr. Willett said.

[…]
Eileen T. Kennedy, president of the Smart Choices™ board and the dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, said the program’s criteria were based on government dietary guidelines and widely accepted nutritional standards.

She said the program was also influenced by research into consumer behavior. That research showed that, while shoppers wanted more information, they did not want to hear negative messages or feel their choices were being dictated to them.
“The checkmark means the food item is a ‘better for you’ product, as opposed to having an x on it saying ‘Don’t eat this,’ ” Dr. Kennedy said. “Consumers are smart enough to deduce that if it doesn’t have the checkmark, by implication it’s not a ‘better for you’ product. They want to have a choice. They don’t want to be told ‘You must do this.’ ” (“For Your Health, Froot Loops™“)

Yes, every single one of these is a better choice than a petri dish full of salmonella. Guaranteed, or your money back.

I’ve added ™ marks where I think the New York Times™ should have included them.

Via JWZ.

Umami, or why MSG tastes so good

It’s appetizing news for anyone who’s ever wanted the savory taste of meats and cheeses without actually having to eat them: chemists have identified molecular mechanisms underlying the sensation of umami, also known as the fifth taste.

The umami receptor’s shape is similar to that of sweetness receptors, he said, and his team’s research could eventually suggest alternatives to sugar. But more work is needed to determine exactly what happens when signals are sent from tongue to brain.

Molecular mechanism for the umami taste synergism” By Feng Zhang, Boris Klebansky, Richard M. Fine, Hong Xu, Alexey Pronin, Haitian Liu, Catherine Tachdjian and Xiaodong Li. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 106 No. 52, Dec. 30, 2008.

Via Wired, who didn’t link to the article, and so we won’t link to them.
“Science Behind Mysterious ‘Fifth Taste’ Revealed,” By Brandon Kim, Wired Science Blog, December 22, 2008.

Fake Fish and Security

fish on a dish.jpg
There was a very interesting article in the New York Times, “Fish Tale has DNA Hook,” in which two high school students used DNA testing to discover that nearly 1/4 of the sushi they tested and identified was mis-labeled. The article only identifies one of the vendors:

Dr. Stoeckle was willing to divulge the name of one fish market whose products were accurately labeled in the test: Leonards’ Seafood and Prime Meats on Third Avenue. John Leonard, the owner, said he was not surprised to find that his products passed the bar code test. “We go down and pick the fish out ourselves,” he said. “We know what we’re doing.” As for the technology, Mr. Leonard said, “it’s good for the public,” since “it would probably keep restaurateurs and owners of markets more on their toes.”

I was amused by this, but Robin Hanson had an interesting comment:

This is a huge fraud rate. Will diners continue to tolerate it? Probably, yes – I suspect diners care more about affiliating with impressive cooks and fellow diners than they do that fish is correctly labeled.

I think that there’s a related phenomenon in software security. It’s hard to accurately identify secure or insecure software. It’s usually easier to look at other elements of what makes a program useful. Which makes for a very fishy market.

Photo: “Dinner at Masa: O! Fishy fishy fishy fish” by mobil’homme.

The Omnivore’s Hundred

I find it interesting that security people and foodies are strongly correlated. Or at least are strongly correlated among the ones I know. Very Good Taste has a list of things called The Omnivore’s Hundred, a list of things worth trying, modulo this and that. You mark things you have tried, and mark things you would never try or try again.

I found it via Cygnoir, who also gave a pointer to an easy-to-fill-out web page that will give HTML.

My results of that page are below.

—————————————–

The Food tasting meme


  1. Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
  2. Bold all the items you.ve eaten.
  3. Cross out any items that you would never consider eating (or eating again)
  4. Optional extra: Post a comment http://www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

To make the filling out of this form and generating the HTML for it a bit easier, [info]reddywhp has played around with some PHP. Go to http://reddywhip.org/lj/foods/ and fill it out there. After filling it out, you will be given the code to copy and paste into your blog.

Livejournal users, remember to use your LJ-Cuts!

  1. Venison
  2. Nettle tea
  3. Huevos rancheros
  4. Steak tartare
  5. Crocodile
  6. Black pudding
  7. Cheese fondue
  8. Carp
  9. Borscht
  10. Baba ghanoush
  11. Calamari
  12. Pho
  13. PB&J sandwich
  14. Aloo gobi
  15. Hot dog from a street cart
  16. Epoisses
  17. Black truffle
  18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
  19. Steamed pork buns
  20. Pistachio ice cream
  21. Heirloom tomatoes
  22. Fresh wild berries
  23. Foie gras
  24. Rice and beans
  25. Brawn, or head cheese
  26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
  27. Dulce de leche
  28. Oysters
  29. Baklava
  30. Bagna cauda
  31. Wasabi peas
  32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
  33. Salted lassi
  34. Sauerkraut
  35. Root beer float
  36. Cognac with a fat cigar
  37. Clotted cream tea
  38. Vodka jelly
  39. Gumbo
  40. Oxtail
  41. Curried goat
  42. Whole insects
  43. Phaal
  44. Goat’s milk
  45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $120 or more
  46. Fugu
  47. Chicken tikka masala
  48. Eel
  49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
  50. Sea urchin
  51. Prickly pear
  52. Umeboshi
  53. Abalone
  54. Paneer
  55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
  56. Spaetzle
  57. Dirty gin martini
  58. Beer above 8% ABV
  59. Poutine
  60. Carob chips
  61. S’mores
  62. Sweetbreads
  63. Kaolin
  64. Currywurst
  65. Durian
  66. Frog’s Legs
  67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
  68. Haggis
  69. Fried plantain
  70. Chitterlings or andouillette
  71. Gazpacho
  72. Caviar and blini
  73. Louche absinthe
  74. Gjetost or brunost
  75. Roadkill
  76. Baijiu
  77. Hostess Fruit Pie
  78. Snail
  79. Lapsang souchong
  80. Bellini
  81. Tom yum
  82. Eggs Benedict
  83. Pocky
  84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
  85. Kobe beef
  86. Hare
  87. Goulash
  88. Flowers
  89. Horse
  90. Criollo chocolate
  91. Spam
  92. Soft shell crab
  93. Rose harissa
  94. Catfish
  95. Mole poblano
  96. Bagel and lox
  97. Lobster Thermidor
  98. Polenta
  99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
  100. Snake

How about a little fire?

pizza-fire.jpg

At WD-50 I saw something done to the potatoes that makes a cook scream, “yes!” A method of cooking the potatoes with an explanation using true understanding of the molecules inside the potatoes and the effects of heat on them.

The potatoes are peeled, sliced, and cooked in a water bath at 65 degrees celsius for 30 minutes. The potatoes are transferred to an ice bath to cool completely. At this point the potatoes are still crisp, seemingly unchanged. Once cooled, the potatoes are cooked just as you would have had you just peeled them. If the potatoes are seemingly unchanged, you might ask what on earth did they just do?

For the answer, you’ll have to read Today’s Secret Ingredient…Heat at TastingMenu.

And the McGee article she refers to is “The Invisible Ingredient in Every Kitchen.”
There are few things more chaotic than fire, and few emergent results more yummy than a nice pizza cooked in a brick and wood oven.

Photo: January 6th by Lili’s One-a-Day.