Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Baking Soda In Green Purées

I was pretty sure the lower the pH a green vegetable was subjected to, the faster it would discolor. I read this study just to be sure, and then I tested the results using beet greens.
300g beet greens, chopped
10g olive oil
optional: salt and baking soda
Get a large pot as hot as you can without anything in it. Add the oil and immediately follow with the greens. Stir until they are completely wilted(10 seconds or so). Put everything into a blender(add the salt and baking soda if you are adding them), blend until smooth, and pour into a metal container sitting on top of an ice bath.

I did three different trails:
One with 3g of salt and 1g of baking soda, one with 3g of salt and a very small pinch of baking soda, and one without any salt or baking soda.
From left to right, a lot of soda and salt, a little soda and salt, nothing added.
The soda not only effected the color, but also the texture. You can see how tight and smooth the far left purée is compared to the others, the thinnest being the far right(it wouldn't even hold the drag I did).

A gram of soda made the purée unservable, as it tasted like baking soda.  A little bit of soda seemed to help a little, but assuming you chop your beets fine enough and blend for long enough, you can get an identical purée without any salt or baking soda.

Plate it up!

Spicy soy poached swordfish with warm radishes, beet green purée and pickled beets
This picture used the purée with a pinch of baking soda.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Warm Heirloom Shelling Bean Salad

The beans in this recipe are taken from this previous entry.
800g cooked shelling beans +100g beans
200g cooking liquid
80g olive oil
335g corn kernels
100g small diced bacon
75 ramp pickling liquid
50g bragg apple cider vinegar
40g scallion sliced into thin rounds
a good amount of fresh ground black pepper
Cook the bacon over medium heat in a medium size pot with a quarter of the olive oil until it is lightly browned but not crispy. Add the scallion and corn and cook until everything is heated through. Mash the 100g of beans with a fork to make a paste and add this to the pot. Add the rest of the ingredients over high heat and stir until the beans are heated through.

Plate it up!
Coconut oil seared quail over warm bean salad with lardo and sunflower sprouts

I didn't find that this salad needed any additional salt.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Cooking Fresh Beans - When to Salt?

I don't know where it started, but some people (you know the ones) say you shouldn't add salt when cooking beans. Now, I'm fairly sure these people are talking about dried beans, but I wanted to try this out with some fresh beans, because they are all over the market right now. I can always try dry beans later.  I got six different types, Perignon, Coco, Calypso, Pink Butter, Cannellini, and Flageolet. I tried them with and without salt, what follows is how to cook them with salt.
Salt and water brine, at a 3.2% salt concentration
Shelling Beans
Garlic Cloves
Thyme Sprigs
Black Peppercorns
Place the shelled shelling beans into a bag and cover them with the brine, they shouldn't be swimming in a lot of extra liquid. Add a few whole garlic cloves (I did not bruise or smash them, only peeled), sprigs of thyme, and black peppercorns depending on how much you like those things and how many beans you have. Seal the bag, making sure to get all of the air out, and place it in a pot of boiling water. Cover the pot and turn the flame down so it maintains a temperature between 205-210F. Cook, stirring every 20 minutes for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
The overcooked, unsalted calypso beans.

Properly cooked/seasoned beans (any mashed bits are from the garlic cloves)

I bagged all of the different types of beans separately, but I cooked them all in the same pot of water at the same time. They were all done, to what I thought was perfection, at the same time, regardless of the variety. The only exception was the unsalted. The unsalted beans were slightly over cooked and tasted watery (even after adding salt after cooking).
I conclude that cooking fresh shelling beans in heavily salted water is good for their flavor and texture. It seasons them on the inside and prevents them from overcooking. Be warned that cooking them in this high of a salt solution will prevent you from using this liquid directly(the beans are awesome on their own, they could even take more salt if you love that sort of thing,). However, the liquid will taste too salty to most people. You could back it down to 2.2% brine, but then the inside of your beans wont be as nicely seasoned. I prefer this method because you still can use all of that glorious bean cooking liquid to season other stuff and the inside of these beans are creamy and seasoned.