This Week's Top 5 Hotline Questions

May  4, 2012

Do you use the Hotline? If you haven't been lately, you're missing out -- between discussions about favorite food science books and Italian meringue, questions about FOOD52 recipes, and suggestions for cooking baby purple artichokes, it's a lively place. Here are our top 5 Hotline questions of the week:

1. LeGremlin asked the FOOD52 community to recommend favorite food science books. Many people chimed in with answers ranging from Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking and Bread Science by Emily Buehler to Modernist Cuisine and Ferran Adria's A Day at El Bulli.

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2. @NealDMurray wanted to know "how to use small purple artichokes as a side dish to compliment grilled chicken or steak." pierino suggested:

Carciofi alla romana or artichokes roman style. Prep as directed above but use a melon baller or spoon to scoop out the hairy choke. Fill with a mixture of bread crumbs and mint. Braise in water with olive oil until tender. Serve at room temperature dressed with more olive oil. 

3. In an effort to make Italian meringue, workingstiff's syrup went completely crystal before having the chance to add egg whites. What can be done? Suggestions ranged for starting over and using a candy thermometer to using invert sugars and a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. On invert sugars, boulangere had this to say: 

Invert sugars (corn syrup, honey, invertase) contain a small amount of acid which acts quite literally as an "interfering agent," causing sugar molecules to spin around and attempt to bond with like poles, rather than opposite poles. Imagine trying to force 2 magnets together, as we all did as children. They literally cannot join and crystallize in the mode of "she told to friends, and she told two friends....." The moral of the story: corn syrup can be your friend. 

4. Our very own amanda asked for a nut/chocolate free, no-bake treat she could demo for her kids' class. Answers ranged from pudding and Rice Krispies Treats to strawberry lassis and hummus with veggies. 

5. And, ATG117 asked: "Is it okay to use eggs with a blood spot in general and in baking? I usually always throw them out, but I just tossed six eggs, so I'm beginning to wonder." Many answers ensued, including Maedl's response:

The eggs with tiny spots are fine to eat. If you are terribly squeamish, you can remove the spot with a spoon, but once an egg is beaten, the fleck disappears. Cage-free has EVERYTHING to do with it. The chickens are allowed to be chickens and lead a normal life that includes contact with a rooster. Remember, the basic purpose of eggs is reproduction, not to provide humans with food!

And so began a long discussion about white eggs versus brown eggs, cage-free eggs versus organic eggs, and Grade A eggs versus Grade B eggs.



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I'm Laura Loesch-Quintin, a food writer and photographer, as well as the voice behind the recipe blog gourmette•nyc. Originally from Philadelphia, I was raised in a French-American household where vinaigrette, cornichons, and clafoutis were (and still are) staples. When not cooking, writing, or photographing, I can usually be found exploring the food markets of New York City.