Who Made That Whisk?
By PAGAN KENNEDY for the NYTimes


whisk 
In 1963, Julia Child appeared on a television show called “I’ve Been Reading,” to promote her book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” While most guests chatted primly about their new releases, Child brandished a bulb-shaped whisk and then performed magic, inflating egg whites into snowy peaks of foam. “She told the audience that you needed a soft balloon whisk if you were trying to get air into a meringue, and a stiff whisk for mixing,” says Stephanie Hersh, who worked as Child’s assistant for 16 years. After Child’s bravura performance that day — 27 viewers wrote in to the station to demand more — she was given her own show and became one of America’s most-recognized TV celebrities. The whisk, with its soignée curves and the jazz-brush sound it made in the bowl, proved to be just as telegenic.


Of course, Julia Child did not invent this kitchen tool. Its origins can be traced to a handful of twigs. In the 1600s, European cooks improvised with wood brushes – one early recipe calls for a beating with a “big birch rod.” And by the 19th century, the gadget-loving Victorians popularized the wire whisk, which was just coming into vogue. Still, Child deserves credit for teaching American homemakers how to buy the right whisk and wield it with a snap of the wrist. “Before Julia, we used that little egg beater — the one that you wind up — or a fork to beat egg whites,” Alice Waters told me via e-mail. “My family never had a whisk.”

Waters went on to say that she procured some of her first whisks from Chuck Williams, founder of Williams-Sonoma, who outfitted cooks for their maiden adventures with soufflés during the ’60s and ’70s. He “brought in a lot of things that were recommended by Julia,” Waters noted.

As for Child herself, she collected whisks during her travels. “Any size, shape, color, she wanted to try it,” Hersh says. “She had hundreds of everything — vegetable peelers, ladles, whisks, you name it. She was a freak about utensils.”

WHISKED INTO THE PAST

Alexandra Cervenak, a historical interpreter at Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts, spends her days cooking in the style of a 1627 housewife.

How do you fluff up eggs? I usually use my knife. But there’s one recipe from the 17th century — or “receipt,” as they called it back then — that says you should mix stuff together with your hands.

So hands were the first whisk? Yeah, I suppose so!

It sounds as if you end up using your knife for everything. I do. Yesterday we had a little get-together of interpreters, a potluck. We were all reaching for the knives at our waists. Even when we’re not in costume, we keep wanting to use the knife. It’s like a phantom limb.

Of course, in a 17th-century settlement, you wouldn’t own many tools made of metal — so a whisk would have been unthinkable. Yes, anything that would have been made from metal, like a knife, would have to come out of England.

Read story: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/magazine/who-made-that-whisk.html?ref=magazine&_r=0

A gene mutation that breeders latched onto because it makes a tomato uniformly red also stifles genes that contribute to its taste, researchers say.  

tomatoeshttp://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/29/science/flavor-is-the-price-of-tomatoes-scarlet-hue-geneticists-say.html

Pasta Graduates From Alphabet Soup to Advanced Geometry

By KENNETH CHANG, NYTimes

Most people eating pasta might enjoy the taste or appreciate the texture of noodles cooked al dente.

Sander Huisman did, too — and then he wondered about what mathematical equation would describe the undulating shapes he was eating.

Mr. Huisman, a graduate student in physics at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, spends much of his days using Mathematica, a piece of software that solves complicated math problems and generates pretty pictures of the solutions.

“I play around with Mathematica a lot,” he said. “We were eating pasta, and I was wondering how easy these shapes would be recreated” with the software.

So that evening after dinner, Mr. Huisman figured out the five lines or so of Mathematica computer code that would generate the shape of the pasta he had been eating — gemelli, a helixlike twist — and a dozen others. “Most shapes are very easy to create indeed,” he said.

He posted one of them to his blog, thinking he would do a sort of mathematical-pasta-of-the-month for the next year. But he then forgot about them until someone asked for the recipes of the other pasta shapes, and he posted those to his blog, too.

Mr. Huisman, who studies fluid dynamics, is not the only who has been mathematically inspired by pasta. Several years ago, Christopher Tiee, then a teaching assistant for a vector calculus class at the University of California, San Diego, included in his notes a pop quiz asking students to match pasta shapes with the equations.

Meanwhile, in London, two architects, Marco Guarnieri and George L. Legendre, independently experienced a similar epiphany, also while eating pasta (spaghetti with garlic and olive oil, cooked by Mr. Guarnieri). Then Mr. Legendre went many steps further: He turned the idea into a 208-page book, “Pasta by Design,” released in September by Thames & Hudson, a British publisher specializing in art books.

“We were interested in, if you like, the amalgamation of mathematics and cooking tips — the profane, the sacred,” Mr. Legendre said. “I was actually speaking to someone in Paris last week who said, ‘This might have been a project by Dali.’ ”

The book classifies 92 types of pasta, organizing them into an evolutionlike family tree. For each, the book provides a mathematical equation, a mouthwatering picture and a paragraph of suggestions, like sauces to eat it with.

Mr. Legendre calls trenne, a pasta with the rigid angles of triangular tubes, a freak. “It’s a mirror universe where everything is pliant and groovy, and in that universe there’s someone that stands out, and it’s the boring-looking trenne with its sharp edges,” he said.

Mr. Legendre has even designed a new shape — ioli, named for his baby daughter — which looks like a spiral wrapped around itself, a tubelike Möbius strip.

“I thought it might be nice to have a pasta named after her,” he said.

He is looking to get about 100 pounds of pasta ioli manufactured, but that is still probably months away, because of the challenges of connecting the ends together.

 

How to make your own Crème Fraiche by http://www.food52.com/blog/3781_making_crme_frache_at_home

Creme Fraiche at grocery stores can be both difficult to find and expensive. Not to worry because making it in your kitchen is so simple.

Makes 1 cup

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons buttermilk

 

  1. You'll want to seek out a good quality heavy cream that is pasteurized, not ultra-pasteurized. If you can only find ultra-pasteurzed, it will work, but will take longer to thicken.
  2. To start, you want to pour 1 cup of heavy cream into a non-reactionary container (basically, any container that isn't made from iron or aluminum).
  3. Next, add two tablespoons of buttermilk to the heavy cream. Cover the bottle with a lid and shake until everything is thoroughly combined.
  4. Loosely cover the heavy cream mixture and allow it to sit out on your kitchen counter for 12-24 hours. Ideally the temperature in your kitchen will be from 72 to 78 degrees. My apartment tends to be on the cooler side, so it always takes mine a full 24 hours to thicken. After it's at the perfect consistency, transfer it to your fridge. The creme fraiche will be good for up to 2 weeks.

 

 

A kindergartner's yucky wet dream... can turn into a jackpot for tomorrow's daring chefs

Watch as 30 Rock SuperFan Robert Bishop (of Lunch Blog KC) and 30 Rock writer Tracey Wigfield conquer one of the show's most bizarre edible concoctions.

 

 

Full recipe text: http://www.lunchblogkc.com/2011/11/30-rocks-buffalo-chicken-shake.html
Lunch Blog KC: http://www.lunchblogkc.com/

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