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The Food Party!

By Laura Stec

E-mail Laura Stec | Follow this Blog

About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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Welcome to The Food Party! - Kitchen Science Tip #1

Uploaded: Oct 7, 2013

With a surge of interest in all things food, we launch this blog spot as a place to chew the fat and chat. What's hot and what's not? Got a lot? Then we want YOU because The Food Party is a potluck and your tasty point of view is icing on our cake. Everyone is a food expert (most of us do eat three times a day). Share your perspective in this weekly salon of culinary conversation and delectable discovery.

To start - a look at the science of cooking. Here's one of my best kitchen tips, followed by a super invitation for you and yours.

Kitchen Science Tip #1: Vegetables have secrets!

What's their secret? Vegetables are sweet.

If you find yourself saying, "vegetables aren't sweet Laura," then consider the lowly onion. Bite into it raw and yoweee! That's not sweet. But chop it up and start to sauté – what happens? Pieces start browning, carbohydrates start caramelizing and then….? Ahhh, sweet surprise! This amazing transformation can happen to ANY vegetable, not just onions, but it requires a temperature of 330°F or higher .

So, are you smarter than a fifth grader? What temperature does water boil at?
Answer: 212°F or 100°C

Throw out the addition of moisture in this chemical equation, if you only boil (god forbid) or steam your veggies, the temperature doesn't get hot enough to bring out those "secrets." Secrets are revealed with the high, dry heat of grilling, roasting, sautéing or broiling; 375°F - 425°F is often the best range. Yep - some do like it hot!

Kitchen Science Tip #1 is a perfect example of how the chemistry of cooking can humble the Top Chef in us all. In culinary school they taught us to "keep water as far away from vegetables as possible." Now you know why too.

Got the bug? Here's the invite: Please join me and 45,000 of my closest foodie friends for Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science . This FREE course is offered by the online university edX. Anyone can sign up. You can take actual exams or just audit the class, and the homework is performed in your, my (and our) kitchen. We'll chat about the results weekly and learn together thru the class and this blog.
Google: spu27x/science-cooking-haute-cuisine to sign up. Do it now! Class begins Oct 8 (but you can join any time).

And by the way, this is not just some fly-by-night online class. It's Harvard, baby, taught by renown university mathematicians and physicists, teamed with east coast chefs and culinary experts. Class "meets" twice a week. I'll post a new class discussion after the Tuesday lesson.

Science and Cooking is self guided - but what better motivation can you ask for than a bunch of fellow Food Partiers?

Who's in? Let's eat!

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