Basic Meringue (understanding the process)

 

 

 

 

 

Hi All

While writing some of the recipes I realized that some of the people that I know does not understand a few of the basis techniques that could help them achieve the best results when making preparations with eggs. A Basic meringue is one of the most important thing to understand if you want to be able to make cakes and baking mix as understanding how to use eggs on all this recipes is what makes the final product a success.

Meringue is a basic part of some mayor cakes and pastries as angel food cake, pavlova, Baked Alaska, Queen of Puddings, Key lime pie, Eton mess and lemon meringue pie

There are three main kinds of meringue recipe that you should know.

French meringue: this is the most basic meringue, is made by beating the eggs whites with fine sugar, this is not a really stable meringue and is normally keep  for a short period of time before start dropping.

Italian meringue: this kind of meringue needs a bit more of understanding, and is  achieved by boiling sugar syrup until you reach the ball point at around 116C and then incorporate eggs whites as on the french meringue. The result of this is a more shiny and stronger meringue that stays firm for many days,  this kind of meringue is usually used for cakes, decorations, souffles and some other kind of baking. The proportion of sugar is usually 30g for eggs white.

 

 

 

 

Swiss meringue: is prepared by whisking the eggs over a Bain Marie, and then whisk steady until the eggs cook, this will give you a more firm meringue that is usually baked or used as filling for tarts and fruits.

 

 

 

 

Well now that we all know the general information we need to come to the practical part. how to whisk or how much ? why to whisk? how all this work?.

For some time I have many of my chefs asking me those questions and it amazed me how little nowadays cooks know about the physics and chemistry of the general basic cooking. I would like to start recommending for some of you who are interesting on knowing how things happen! the following books “Mcgee on Food and Cooking” by Harold McGee and “kitchen Mysteries” by Herve this, the first is for those of you who like chemistry and want to understand every detail, the second is detailed enough to help you understand the process of cooking.

Now is time to explain the process on the recipe that we are looking at, let’s start from the beginning, keep your eggs at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before any preparation as the temperature of the eggs is essential to break the hydrogen bonds in the protein, and make them unfold and denature and in consequence trap the air particles on itself creating the bubbles that will make the whites to grow into a foamy texture.

Be aware of where  you are going to beat your eggs, the material of the bowl might help you or not. If you use a plastic bowl for example or any other material where the fats are easily stuck it will make it more difficult to lift your eggs as the bowls could have fats particles within its walls and in consequence make it difficult the braking up of the hydrogen bond in the proteins of the eggs. In the other hand if you use a copper bowl, it will react with the eggs and help on the denature of the proteins that will create better peaks when whisking your eggs. In resume, make sure that your bowl is clean of any fat, water or debris before adding the eggs whites.

When breaking the eggs make sure that not egg yolks fall into the whites because  the egg yolks fat will mix with the proteins on the egg whites and will reduce their ability  to brake and fold the air particles. Brake the eggs one by one on small containers or remequins to avoid having them contaminated with the yolks in case the yolk brakes.

Now that we have finally brake the eggs and place them into the bowl there are a couple of factors that will help you on the process of lifting the eggs whites.

Acidity: the addition of vinegar, lemon, lime or a similar kind of acid will help you to brake the proteins because of their electric charges. A bit to complicate to go in details but easy enough to understand that a touch of lemon juice or vinegar will help you to have faster whisk whites and steady peaks.

Salt: adding a pinch of salt before starting whisking the whites will help the eggs whites to coagulate easily when whisking the eggs.

Cream of tartar: also known as potassium hydrogen tartrate is a acid salt that is used as a stabilizing of egg whites  and increase their heat tolerance and volume.

Now how long should we whisk. The eggs white beating is classified in three stages according to the peaks they form when the beater is lifted: soft, firm, and stiff peaks. This is whisking your eggs from soft to hard, being stiff peak when your eggs form a stiff peak when lifting your whisk from the bowl.

Wow!! So much information just to make a basic recipe, but I am sure that after understanding the whole lot, you will never have any problems when whisking your eggs.

Baking meringues is a classic and simple recipe which is mainly whisk egg whites with sugar cooked a really slow temperature for a relatively long period of time

Basic French Meringue recipe:

  • 4 eggs (separate the whites from the yolks)
  • pinch of salt
  • 220 gr of Caster sugar
  • the juice of half lemon and the zest

The first thing that you should know is that when making meringues your first enemy, to call it someway, will be the humidity as the whole process is only to make and keep the  the products as dry as possible, then try to not make them on a rainy day or just after baking as there will be a lot of humidity around that will make your meringues soft.

Now is time to follow all the recommendations explained before and put into practice your knowledge and common sense.

Pre heat the Oven at 120C. Whisk your egg whites into soft peak and start adding the sugar slowly but consistently  spoonful by spoonful without stopping whisking until all your sugar have been incorporated and you achieve a stiff peak, the best way to check it is by lifting your whisk and checking if the meringue does not move and make like a wizard hat, the consistency should be smooth and the sugar should be dissolved completely. One word of caution, make sure that you do not over beat the eggs as this will make the meringues collapse on the oven and crystallize .

 

 

 

 

By using a spoon or a piping bag make small round cones kind of shape on a silicon tray
(silicon baking mad) or a baking tray with silicon paper, make sure that you leave some space between the meringues to avoid getting stuck together. Place the meringues into the oven and reduce the temperature to 90°C. When you place the meringues in the oven, the initial slightly higher temperature sets their outsides. The lower temperature then dries the meringues rather than bakes them. Leave the oven on for 1 1/2 hour or until the meringues are crispy and sound hollow when tapped on the base. Turn the oven off and allow the meringues to cool in the oven – this will take 3-4 hours

The meringues will have a pale looking colour (not toasted colour), they will be crisp on the outside and slightly soft on the inside. Place the Meringues on a air tight container and keep up to three weeks.

Remember that the same process could be use to any kind of meringue recipe that you will need, from decorating ones to Souffles

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Kitchen Aid Blender

HI All

KitchenAid Blender

Well, it has been a while since I posted something on this page and I wanted to keep giving you my recommendations on what I consider are the great kitchen equipments for the house.

I have my kitchenAid Blender probably since 2006, and until today it has not given me any problems. I use the blender on daily basis for different preparations as I love to have proper consistency when I cook.

The Kitchen Aid Blender has 5 speeds that can be used for different cooking and procedures from crushing ice (great for those summer days when you want to have a nice mojito or ice frappe ) to really smooth soups, purees, baby food products or emulsions.

As you might understand this is a really strong blender and because of that it can bring some consequences if you do not know how to use the product properly. You can not have really smooth purees or emulsions unless you have the right temperature for it, but is the products are too hot you might be having problems when blending them as some of it might just fell out of the jar because of the heat, but this is something that could happened with almost any blender. On the other hand is really easy to clean and is  strong enough to do most of the general cooking jobs.

A really positive point is that even when it is a really strong piece of equipment it does not make much noise, my old blender that was half of this one was making double of the noise with half of the job.

Another thing that you should know about this blender is that the driving mechanism consists of a rubber toothed piece that transfer the engine strength to the jar blade and this part might waste or brake.  This is  is designed to protect the engine in case the blade is stuck while blending, but even so the blender comes with three year manufacturer guarantee and the only thing that you need to do is contact them and they will organise a replacement of the part, even so I can said is a solid product.

By Willchef

 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Willmer Colmenares

Rice pudding/ Arroz con leche

Hi all

I wanted to start this section with a traditional dessert but I was not sure what was good enough for this page until today.

My little girl have been with a flu for a couple of days and I wanted to do something nice  to try to cheer her up, then I remember that when I was little my grandma use to make me puddings when I was not feeling well and this recipe came to my mind in a flash. I hope that you enjoy it.

Arroz con leche/rice pudding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rice puddings and its varieties can be found on almost every country of the world and  because of the simplicity of the ingredients and the easy cooking methods used, it has made it an excellent and well known dessert around the whole world.

Ingredients:

  • 250 gr of white short grain rice (Valencia rice or similar) you could use a most rich variety as Arborio rice ( medium grain rice) or similar for a more whole cook look on the rice pudding.
  • 1lt of milk
  • 100 gr of Sugar
  • 4 aromatic cloves
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 2 lime
  • 1 lemon
  • Cinnamon powder
  • 40gr of Butter

Arborio RiceDemerara SugarAromatic ClovesLime and Lemons

 

 

 

Cinnamon and ClovesDiced Butter

 

 

 

Products:

  • Rice: almost any varieties of white rice can be used for this dish depending of what are you looking for and what do you have available. I do like a really creamy rice pudding and for this recipe I like to use a variety of rice that have a lot of starch, Today I have used a risotto rice variety: Arborio rice
  • Milk: the quantity of fat on this dish will tell you the consistency and creaminess of the dish but if you want to avoid the fat, is not a problem if you use a low fat milk and add some egg yolk to add consistency. Even so I will still recommend full fat or semi skimmed.
  • Sugar: you can use any kind of sweetener for this dish: brown sugar, white sugar, honey, Demerara sugar, sugar cane or any other that you will prefer, in my country we normally use Panela or Papelon. As I am really far from my country we have substitute this for Demerara sugar
  • Lime and lemon: on this occasion we will only need the skin of the lemon and the lime. you can use a knife and remove the skin without using the white part of the skin or use a Zester
  • the rest of the ingredients can be eliminated or substituted depending of what you prefer on some areas of the world they add raisins, dates, liquors, coconut milk, almond milk and similar

preparation:

  1. Place the milk, the rice, the sugar, the Cinnamon stick, and half of the lime and lemon zest on a sauce pan and put into the fire at medium heat, mix time to time to make sure that it does not stick on the button of the pan.
  2. Cook slowly to make sure that the rice absorb the milk and the spices and it cooks to the right consistency with out overcooking, if you use to much heat you will finish with a dry rice, probably not cook, and you will need to add more milk to rectify the heat what will make the rice soft outside and still hard inside .
  3. When the milk has reduced to almost nothing and the rice is cook, start adding the pieces of butter slowly and mixing constantly to make sure that you get a creamy consistency.
  4. Remove from the heat and from the pan when you have reached the desired consistency.
  5. Finish with a bit of cinnamon powder and a bit of the lime and lemon zest.

 

 

 

 

 

Understanding the cooking: there are really little techniques involved on this dish but there are a few things that you should be aware of.

  1. There are some recipes where they recommend to wash the rice. The only reason for doing this will be that you are not interested to have a creamy rice as you are eliminating part of the starch by washing the grain, if you are not looking for a creamy consistency try using a thinner rice, eliminate the fat from the recipe or as I mentioned wash the rice before cooking it.
  2. I have found some recipes where they pre-cook the rice on boiling water before cooking it on milk, the reason for this is to do this dish faster by precooking the rice the only thing that is achieved is reduce the cooking time. I still prefer the long process as you will have a really milky taste on the rice.
  3. In some cultures they like the rice pudding really liquid or really thick, to achieve this you need to understand a couple of things. To get the rice thick you will need a starchy rice grain, some fat on the recipe and you could use some egg yolk (at the end of the cooking) to get a more compact rice. To make it more runny but at the same time creamy the easiest way is to add more liquid on the recipe.
  4. On certain areas of Latin America we add raising to the rice pudding but previously we marinated them with rum or any sweet wine, add them last minute or you will have a darker rice because of the raisins.

 

 

 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Willmer Colmenares

Kitchen Aid

Link

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

 

The kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer is a great chef tool that now days it could be use for almost every day to day preparation and cooking at home.

It comes in a lot of different colors and with a great variety of accessories like, pasta sheet roller and cutter, ravioli maker, grain mill, can opener, citrus fruit juicer, sausages stuffer, ice cream maker, vegetable slicer-shredder and many other accessories, which could help you on all day to day cooking.

I have had an industrial Kitchenaid mixer in all the kitchens that I have been working on and i have purchased one for my house as well,  which have been a great help specially if you have kids, this will help you with all your kids treat like Cookies, cakes, pastry doughs or ice cream at home, and will help you produce good food for your little ones with out the stress part of mixing all the time.

I have manage to buy this machine and the Blender that goes with it what is an amazing duo on your day to day cooking

One of the most important things regarding this piece of equipment is that is quite strong and versatile but there are a couple of things that you should keep in mind, if the machine is forced and the motor is damaged the machine become really unstable.

The other thing that has happened on all the machines that I have worked with is that the plastic pieces on the machine get broken really fast. on an industrial kitchen you get use to have the kitchen aid mixer with out the speed handlers but I never realized of this until I bough mine and a year after the parts where getting broken.

something else that you need to be aware of is that you will always be better of buying this machine from new or from a person that you know or have confidence with as you might have this machine on web sites as Ebay for a really good price but those machines might been repaired and resell.remember what i said about motor damage? well you will buy the machine thinking that is in perfect conditions and after some use you will realized that the engine have been damaged and repaired what will leave you with half of what this machine is really capable of.

By Willchef

Crab Tian

Crab Tian, sesame dressing, avocado puree, blood orange

This is a simple and well balanced dish that could be easily prepare for a casual dinner or as an appetizer.

The main technique involved in this dish is the ” Emulsions ” where a fat is mix to a another product, in this case we have an emulsion on the mayonnaise as well as on the avocado puree.

Sesame mayonnaise:

  • 2 Eggs yolk
  • 280 ml of vegetable oil
  • 10ml of sesame oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 25ml of sherry vinegar
  • 1tsp Dijon mustard
  1. First of all, put the egg yolks into the bowl, add the crushed garlic, Dijon mustard, salt and a little freshly milled black pepper. Mix all of these together well. Then, holding the oil in a jug in one hand and an electric hand whisk in the other, add drop of oil to the egg mixture and whisk this in.
  2. However stupid it may sound, the key to a successful mayonnaise is making sure each drop of oil is thoroughly whisked in before adding the next drop. It won’t take all day, because after a few minutes – once you’ve added several drops of oil – the mixture will begin to thicken and go very stiff and lumpy. When it gets to this stage you need to add a teaspoon of vinegar, which will thin the mixture down.
  3. Now the critical point has passed, you can then begin pouring the oil in a very, very thin but steady stream, keeping the beaters going all the time. When all the oil has been added, taste and add more salt and pepper if it needs it. If you’d like the mayonnaise to be a bit lighter, at this stage add tablespoons of boiling water and whisk it in.
  4. Mayonnaise only curdles when you add the oil too quickly at the beginning. If that happens, don’t despair. All you need to do is put a fresh egg yolk into a clean basin, add the curdled mixture to it (drop by drop), then continue adding the rest of the oil as though nothing had happened.
  5. Add the sesame seed and check the taste.

Avocado Puree

  • 3 harsh avocado
  • 50ml milk
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 8 drops of Tabasco sauce
  • 2 limes (juice)
  • salt
  • white pepper corn
  • coriander
  1. Take the stones off the avocados and place the avocados  on a mixer, add the rest of the ingredients (apart from the oil) and mix until smooth, add the oil slowly until you have a really smooth creamy puree, seasoning..
  2. Reserve the puree on a container covering the surface of the puree with oil and cling film to avoid oxidation or the browning of the avocado. the key to avoid oxidation of the puree is to cover all surface that could oxidize from the air contact or by adding an acid or antioxidant to make sure the color is really green

For the Crab Tian

  • 100gr of White Crab Meat
  • 50gr of shallots onions (cut really small: brunoise )
  • 1 long dutch red chilli (cut really small: brunoise )
  • 1 coriander fresh (cut into Chiffonade )
  • salt
  • freshly ground white pepper corn
  • 1 tbsp of sesame mayonnaise
  • sesame seeds (black)
  • 2 tbsp of avocado puree
  • blood orange segments
  1. Mix the crab meat, with the shallots, chilies, coriander, a bit of the sesame mayonnaise and the black sesame seeds. mix well and check seasoning.
  2. Place the mix of the crab on the plate and top with the blood orange. As you can see on the picture i used a small ring to place the crab meat uniformly and top it with the blood orange segment.
  3. Decorate with a spoon of the avocado puree by using placing the puree around the Crab Tian .

Alternatives:

  • You could prepare the same recipe with an already prepare mayonnaise and add a touch of the sesame oil and the Dijon mustard but i would recommend you to use kewpie mayo instead if you can have it available

By WillChef