Video: Cooking Authentic Spanish Seafood Paella

Watch video at You Tube (14:54 minutes) . . . . .


Read also at Fine Cooking:

Paella: Rice at Its Best . . . . .

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Video: How to Wrap a Burrito Like A Pro

Watch video at You Tube (1:47 minutes) . . . . .

Batter and Breading Basics for Frying

J. Kenji López-Alt wrote . . . . . . . . .

Have you ever dropped a naked, skinless chicken breast into the deep fryer? I strongly advise against it. The moment it enters a vat full of 400°F oil, a couple of things start happening. First, the water content will rapidly convert to steam, bubbling out like a geyser, and the chicken’s outer tissues become drier and drier. At the same time, the soft network of folded proteins in its musculature will begin to denature and tighten, firming its flesh and squeezing out juices. Pull it out a minute or two later, and you’ll discover that it’s become quite stiff, with a layer of desiccated meat a good quarter inch thick surrounding it. This is when you’ll quite rightfully say to yourself, “Ah, I wish I had battered that first.”

Batters are made by combining some sort of flour—usually wheat flour, though cornstarch and rice flour are not uncommon—with a liquid and optional leavening or binding ingredients, like eggs and baking powder. They coat foods in a thick, goopy layer. Breadings consist of multiple layers. Generally, a single layer of flour is applied directly to the food to ensure that its surface is dry and rough, so that the second layer—the liquid binder—will adhere properly. That layer generally consists of beaten eggs or a dairy product of some kind. The last layer gives the food texture. It can consist of a plain ground grain (like the flour or cornmeal in a traditional fried chicken breading), ground nuts, or any number of dry ground bread or bread-like products, such as bread crumbs, crackers, or breakfast cereals.

No matter how your breading or batter is constructed, it serves the same function: Adding a layer of “stuff” around the item being fried means the oil has a tough time coming in direct contact with it, and thus has a hard time transferring energy to it. All the energy being transferred to the food has to go through the medium of a thick, air-pocket-filled coating. Just as the air-filled insulation in your house helps mitigate the effects of harsh external conditions on the air temperature inside, so do batters and breadings help the food underneath cook more gently and evenly, rather than burning or becoming desiccated by the fiercely energetic oil.

Of course, while the food inside is gently cooking, the precise opposite is happening to the batter or breading: It’s drying out, and its structure is getting firmer and firmer. Frying is essentially a drying process. Batters and breadings are formulated to dry out in a particularly graceful way. Rather than burning or turning leathery, a nice airy batter forms a delicately crisp, air-filled web of teeny-tiny bubbles—a solid foam that provides substance and crunch.

Breadings work similarly, though, rather than foamy in structure, they’re craggy. The nooks and crannies in a good bread-crumb coating vastly increase the surface area of the food being fried, giving you more crunch in each bite. In the ideal world, a batter or breading becomes perfectly crisp just as the food inside—say, a slice of onion or a delicate piece of fish—approaches the ideal level of doneness. Achieving this balance is the mark of a good fry cook.

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Read more at Serious Eat . . . . .

Video: Making Mochi Desserts at Morimoto with Master Pastry Chef Natsume Aoi

Mochi — pounded sticky rice — is most commonly seen in the US filled with ice cream and sold in the freezer section of a grocery store chain. Creating the traditional Japanese confectionary is a laborious process that many chefs rather not tackle; but pastry chef Natsume Aoi can’t imagine doing a menu without it. “I think I’m one of the few that would even attempt to do a hand-wrapped mochi [in a restaurant] where we can seat 400 capacity in two runs,” jokes Aoi, the pastry chef at New York’s high-volume Morimoto. “It’s not the smartest move to make.”

Still, for Aoi, having mochi on her menu — even one adapted to the western palate — is something that brings her closer to home. “Every restaurant that I have ever worked at, as long as I’m in a position to bring something to the menu, it will always be something that’s personal,” she explains. “I’m pretty far away from home and I need to have a way to bring that with me.”

Watch video at You Tube (6:57 minutes) . . . . .

How to Maintain the Sourdough Starter

PJ Hamel wrote . . . . . . . .

How’s your starter doing?

Fresh sourdough starter is a wonderful resource. Bread, pancakes, waffles, cake… there are so many delicious directions you can take with sourdough.

The key: maintaining your sourdough starter so that it’s healthy, happy, and ready to go when you are.

Once you’ve successfully created your starter, you’ll need to feed it regularly.

If you bake a lot of sourdough treats, you may want to keep it on your counter, at room temperature. While this means feeding it twice a day, it also means your starter will be ready to bake with at the drop of a hat (er, oven mitt).

However, many of us don’t want the commitment of twice-a-day feedings. If you’re a more casual sourdough baker, it’s possible to store your starter in the refrigerator, feeding it just once a week.

Let’s take a look at both methods.

But first, a word of advice. Sourdough baking is as much art as science. This method for maintaining sourdough starter is just one of many you might choose to follow. It doesn’t exactly match the process in our Baker’s Companion cookbook, nor some of our recipes online, nor what your neighbor down the street does. And that’s OK.

If you have a process you’ve successfully followed before, then hey, stick with it. Or try this one and compare. All good.

Maintaining your starter at room temperature

Room temperature is the best environment for the yeast and lactobacilli that inhabit your starter, and you can learn a lot about your starter by observing a twice-a-day feeding regimen with the starter at room temperature.

If you’re willing to maintain your starter at room temperature by feeding it twice a day, here’s how:

Stir the starter well and discard all but 1/2 cup (4 ounces). Add 4 ounces non-chlorinated, room-temperature water (hereafter known simply as “water”) and 4 ounces King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (hereafter known simply as “flour”) to the 1/2 cup of starter. Mix until smooth, and cover. Repeat every 12 hours.
A note about room temperature: the colder the environment, the more slowly your starter will grow. If the normal temperature in your home is below 68°F, we suggest finding a smaller, warmer spot to develop your starter.

For instance, try setting the starter atop your water heater, refrigerator, or another appliance that might generate ambient heat. Or, set it near a heat source (baseboard heater, etc.).

Another option: set the container of starter on a folded dish towel laid atop a heating pad on its lowest setting.

Maintaining your starter in the refrigerator

For most home bakers, daily feeding is impractical; so you’ll need to store your starter in the refrigerator, and feed it once a week.

Take the starter out of the fridge. There may be a bit of light amber or clear liquid on top. Either drain this off, or stir it in, your choice; it’s alcohol from the fermenting yeast.

Remove all but 4 ounces starter. Use this “discard” to make pancakes, waffles, cake, pizza, flatbread, or another treat; Buttery Sourdough Buns is one of my favorite “unfed” sourdough recipes. Or, simply give to a friend so they can create their own starter.

Add 4 ounces lukewarm water and 4 ounces flour to the remaining starter. Mix until smooth, and cover.

Allow the starter to rest at room temperature (about 70°F) for 2 to 4 hours; this gives the yeast a chance to warm up and get feeding. After about 2 hours, refrigerate.

Getting ready to bake

If you’ve been maintaining your starter at room temperature, you may want to increase the volume of starter to the amount needed for your recipe. You can do this by feeding your starter without discarding; or by discarding, and feeding it 8 ounces flour and 8 ounces water.

If your starter has been refrigerated, you’ll want to both increase its volume, and raise its activity to a more energetic level. You can do this by giving it a couple of feedings at room temperature.

Take the starter out of the fridge, discard all but 4 ounces, and feed it as usual with 4 ounces water and 4 ounces flour. Let it rest at room temperature for about 12 hours, until bubbly. Repeat as necessary, every 12 hours, until you notice the starter doubling or tripling in volume in 6 to 8 hours. That means it’s strong enough to leaven bread.

For the final feeding, make sure you add enough flour and water to use in your recipe, with a little left over to feed and maintain the starter for the next time you bake.

For instance, if your recipe calls for 1 cup (about 8 ounces) starter, add 4 ounces each water and flour. If your recipe calls for 2 cups (about 16 ounces) starter, add 8 ounces each water and flour.

Once the starter is bubbling and vigorous, remove what you’ll need for the recipe and set it aside. Feed the remaining starter with 4 ounces flour and 4 ounces water. Mix until smooth, and allow the starter to work for about 2 hours at room temperature before putting it back in the refrigerator.

Troubleshooting your starter

Living creatures sometimes get sick, be they humans, pets, or even sourdough starter. If you find yourself becoming a sourdough doctor, here are some symptoms and possible cures:

If your starter lacks acidity

Feed with half whole-rye (pumpernickel) flour or whole wheat flour for a few days. The extra nutrition in the bran and germ can increase the starter’s acidity.

Be sure your starter has a chance to ripen (develop) fully before it receives another feeding; before you use it in a recipe, or before refrigerating it. An ideal feeding regimen for a starter kept at room temperature (in the low 70s) is two feedings a day at 12-hour intervals.

Find a slightly warmer (in the mid 70s) area in which to ripen the starter after its feeding.

If your sourdough is too acidic

You may be letting the starter ripen too long before using it. Once your starter is bubbling and vigorous, it’s time to make bread, feed it again, or refrigerate until its next feeding. Don’t let it become bubbly, rise, and then fall and start to “calm down;” that’s adding acidity to its flavor. Reduce the duration of ripening as necessary.

Ripen your starter in a slightly cooler area, so it doesn’t digest its meal of flour and water too quickly.

Reviving a dormant or neglected starter

Sometime you may find yourself with a starter that’s gone far too long without a feeding.

Covered in a clear, dark liquid (alcohol, a by-product of yeast that’s been deprived of oxygen), the starter will lack bubbles or other signs of activity, and will have a very sharp aroma.

Although the starter appears lifeless, its microflora will spring into action again as soon as they get a few good meals.

Stir the liquid back into the starter. Discard all but 4 ounces, and set the bowl or crock on the counter; you’re going to be leaving it at room temperature (at least 70°F) for awhile.

Feed the starter 1/2 cup (4 ounces) water and a scant 1 cup (4 ounces) all-purpose flour twice a day, discarding all but 1/2 cup (4 ounces) of the starter before each feeding. It should soon become healthy, bubbly, and active.

Sourdough starters are hearty, and easily resist spoilage due to their acidic nature. The pH of a sourdough starter discourages the proliferation of harmful microorganisms.

However, if your starter turns ominously pink or red; shows signs of mold growth, or smells decidedly putrid, throw it away and begin again. Luckily, in our experience, this rarely happens.

OK, after all of that – how about baking some sourdough bread? Our Rustic Sourdough Bread is a great place to start.

Source: King Arthur Flour