Cloud Eggs: The Latest Food Fad Is Actually Centuries Old

Maria Godoy wrote . . . . . .

They’re seemingly unavoidable on Instagram these days: photos of bright yellow egg yolks nestled in a fluffy bed of egg whites, like the sun framed by billowy clouds. They’re called cloud eggs, and they’re pretty enough to look like a taste of heaven … which is probably why people are obsessively whipping them up and sharing their pictures on social media.

Yet the latest food fad du jour is actually a modern spin on a nearly 400-year-old recipe.

“They are basically a very, very old dish. It’s essentially something called Eggs in Snow, which the French have been making for centuries. And it’s suddenly taking off on Instagram,” says Daniel Gritzer, the culinary director at Serious Eats.

He points to a recipe for Oeufs à la Neige (eggs in snow), in Le Cuisinier François, a seminal cookbook published in 1651, just as France was beginning a revolution in cookery that would make it the culinary leader of the world for centuries.

Modern cloud eggs are simple to make, but look sophisticated. Recipes vary, but basically, you take an egg, separate the whites and yolk, beat the whites into a stiff foam and season to taste. Then you scoop the foam into a cloud-like form on a baking sheet covered with parchment, leaving a hollow in the middle for the yolk, and pop it into the oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit. In some versions, the yolk goes into the oven at the same time as the whites; in others, the whites bake first for a few minutes, then the yolk is added and the whole thing is baked for a couple of minutes longer. Baking times vary, but recipes generally call for around 5 to 6 minutes total.

The 17th century version was cooked a bit differently: Instead of hand-mixers or whisks, chefs used bundles of finely split sticks. The egg foam and yolk were placed on a buttered dish and baked atop of coals instead of in an oven. The whole thing was heated from above with a cooking tool called a salamander – basically, a hot fire shovel held over the dish. (Think of it as a 1600s version of a butane kitchen torch or a form of controlled broiling.) It was served with a sprinkle of sugar. These days, the name “eggs in snow” (or “snow eggs”) denotes a different dish: a dessert made of meringue poached in sweetened milk and served with a custard. (It’s a French classic, and was a favorite of famed food writer Craig Claiborne.) But the snow eggs described in that 1651 recipe were essentially the same thing as cloud eggs, agrees Paula Marcoux, a food historian who specializes in re-creating recipes using period cooking techniques.

Like today’s cloud eggs, Marcoux says, the 17th century recipe was likely a novelty dish meant to impress. “It’s just one of those things rich people did for amusement … kind of like today.”

And chefs of the era were also beginning to unravel the mysteries of cooking science. “Seventeenth century people are figuring out how proteins work – it’s the very earliest phases of what becomes fine French cooking,” says Marcoux.

Nowadays, chefs know that when you beat an egg white, you’re actually participating in a cool bit of biochemistry. Egg whites are mostly liquid, but they’re full of proteins. When beaten, those proteins unfold and bind with each other, creating a structure.

“They start to arrange themselves into a network, like a net, as they bond to each other and stretch out,” explains Gritzer. That structure traps the air introduced through beating, and also holds the water in egg whites in place. The result is foam.

It’s a touch of kitchen magic that has fascinated cooks for centuries.

“Even in 19th-century America, people were excited,” says Marcoux. And later, “in the 1950s, people were crazy about making meringue pies. It’s almost something home cooks tap into as a show-offy kind of thing. We see that happening in generation after generation of home cooks.”

In my home kitchen, I gave cloud eggs a whirl. On their own, they’re pretty but bland. But a dash of salt and pepper, a dusting of Sunny Paris spice blend (purple shallots, chives, dill weed, basil and peppercorn, among other things) and a generous sprinkling of grated sharp cheddar, all folded into the foam before baking, fixed things nicely.

As for cloud eggs’ 17th century counterpart? That was surprisingly scrumptious, says Marcoux. My queries had piqued her curiosity, so she tackled the 1651 recipe using historically accurate tools — hot fire shovel and all. She’d been skeptical beforehand, but “it was as delicious as it was silly!” she reported back.

So if you should encounter cloud eggs in the wilds of the Internet, instead of asking yourself, as The Washington Post did recently, “Uh, why is this a thing?” just know the answer is: Because we are human and there is little new under the sun — not even cloud eggs.

Source: npr

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The Basics on Genetics of Food

Tamika Sims, PhD wrote . . . . . .

“Genetic modification” and “genetic engineering” are terms we hear in relation to discussions about food production technology and the use of biotechnology for advancing our food supply. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a great glossary to help you navigate the difficult terminology. But beyond definitions, what does food technology really mean? To answer this question, we thought it would be good to drill down and discuss what the word “genetic” means and how it comes into play in food production.

“Genetic” refers to genes or DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), which is the substance inside of the cells of organisms (living things—plants, fruits, vegetables, animals, people) that gives them their identity. So basically, the DNA of a tomato orchestrates a tomato being red, round, and having a soft skin.

DNA provides the foundation for characteristics of a living thing, but what comes after DNA? DNA will eventually give rise to the production of proteins—these proteins will perform a number of activities within the cell. You can think of proteins as busy little machines that make sure an organism can function—live, grow, and operate. And also, they give an organism its identity: plant versus animal, big bird versus small bird, green pepper versus yellow pepper—these characteristic traits boil down to protein production. All proteins have a job to do and are programed for specific tasks for the functioning of all living things.

How do we get from DNA to proteins? The “building blocks” of DNA are called nucleotides, and these are arranged in specific sequences to make a strand of DNA. You’ve heard that DNA is double stranded…well, maybe you’ve heard. DNA is typically made of two strands of nucleotides that are intertwined —think of two ribbons twirled together and they are being held together by an attraction between the nucleotides on each ribbon.

The DNA sequence of nucleotides is not random, it is a “code” that gets read or “decoded” to eventually make different proteins. Here are the steps:

1) The DNA sequence (or code) first gets “read” (transcribed) by cell machinery (made of proteins, called enzymes).

2) The transcribed DNA will yield a single-stranded (one ribbon) RNA or “ribonucleic acid.”

3) The RNA has a sequence of nucleotides (different than the DNA) that will then be decoded by cell machinery (translated).

4) Translation of RNA will yield the production of multiple proteins.

As described, RNA is “translated” into proteins—which are made up of a chain of molecules linked together in a strand called amino acids. To picture a protein, envision a strand of beads (like a necklace) and each bead is an amino acid. The whole necklace is the protein.

So now circle back around to “genetic modification” and “genetic engineering”—when these terms are being used, essentially what’s being discussed is the altering of the DNA sequence to give rise to the modified production of proteins. This will then change the way an organism lives, grows, and operates.

DNA sequences can be changed by the insertion of a stretch of new nucleotides, the removal of nucleotide(s), or swapping one nucleotide for another. All of these methods have an influence on protein production. For example, the cells of mushrooms produce a protein that causes mushrooms to turn brown as they age or get bruised. By manipulating the protein production in a mushroom you can change this characteristic and stop the browning process from occurring.

Hopefully this sheds some light on the term “genetic” and what it means to modify genes. It’s quite the process, but scientific advances in the realm of genetic modification are set to positively impact our food supply.

Source: International Food Information Council Foundation

Brown Rice Breakfast Bowl with Mango and Coconut Milk

Ingredients

2 cups water
1 cup uncooked short-grain brown rice
14 oz can coconut milk (full fat or light)
1 Tbsp raw honey
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp sea salt
2 ripe mangoes, peeled, cored, and diced
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes or chips
sliced natural almonds, optional

Method

  1. In medium saucepan, bring water and rice to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 55 minutes. Turn off heat and steam, covered, for 5 minutes.
  2. In medium bowl or blender, whisk or blend coconut milk, honey, turmeric, cardamom, ginger, pepper, and salt.
  3. To assemble, spoon rice into serving bowls and pour coconut milk mixture on top. Top with diced mango (about 1/2 mango per person), coconut flakes and almond. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

Makes 5 servings.

Source: Alive magazine

In Pictures: Home-cooked Breakfasts

Breakfast Ideas

Aerobic-plus-resistance Combo Workout May Suit Obese Seniors Best

Kathleen Doheny wrote . . . . . .

Older, obese adults need to shed weight, but dieting can worsen their frailty. A new study addresses this conundrum, suggesting seniors take up both aerobic and resistance exercise while slimming down.

Engaging in aerobic and resistance exercise while losing weight enabled study participants to maintain more muscle mass and bone density compared to folks who did just one type of exercise or none at all, the researchers found.

“The best way to improve functional status and reverse frailty in older adults with obesity is by means of diet and regular exercise using a combination of resistance and aerobic exercise training,” said study leader Dr. Dennis Villareal. He’s a professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

More than one-third of people age 65 and older in the United States are obese, according to the study authors. Obesity worsens the typical age-related decline in physical functioning and causes frailty, while weight loss can lead to harmful declines in muscle mass and bone density.

The researchers wanted to see what combination of exercise, along with dieting for weight loss, might be best. They randomly assigned 160 obese and sedentary adults, age 65 or older, to one of four groups: weight loss and aerobic training; weight loss and resistance training; or weight loss and a combination of both types of exercise. The fourth group served as controls and didn’t exercise or try to lose weight.

After six months, physical performance test scores increased by 21 percent in the combination exercise group, but just 14 percent among those who only did aerobic exercise or resistance exercise, Villareal’s team said.

The researchers also found that lean body mass and bone density declined less in the combination and resistance groups than in the aerobic group.

One strength of the study is its evaluation of several regimens, said Miriam Nelson, director of the Sustainability Institute at the University of New Hampshire.

Such research is critical, as ”the majority of [older] people are either overweight or obese,” said Nelson, who wasn’t involved in the study.

While many studies of obese or overweight older adults focus only on exercise and weight loss, “this is really looking at health,” she said.

“Health in aging is really [about] functioning,” Nelson said. Maintaining muscle strength and bone density is essential to remain mobile and functional, she pointed out.

“All these multiple factors are what dictate to a large extent somebody’s ability to be independent, healthy and to live life to its fullest as they age,” Nelson added.

At the outset of the study, participants were mildly to moderately frail, according to the authors.

The researchers assessed the seniors’ physical performance, muscle mass and bone health over the 26-week study.

The overall winners, the combination group, exercised three times a week, from 75 to 90 minutes each session.

Aerobic exercises included treadmill walking, stationary cyclingand stair climbing. Resistance training involved upper-body and lower-body exerciseson weight-lifting machines. All groups also did flexibility and balance exercises.

The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Source: HealthDay


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