Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Cooking for Geeks

Mike's last post gives me a chance to kill two birds with one stone with this post. About a month ago Brennan and I were in south Florida and were fortunate enough to be in town the same time that Jeff Potter was doing a Q & A about his new book, Cooking for Geeks. We had the chance to meet and talk with him about his new book and I just received my signed copy in the mail this week. The book is great, it takes a strait forward, logical approach to explaining the chemistry, process and magic of cooking. I have only scratched the surface of this book, but it has a much different feel to it as opposed to other books written by long time professional chefs(maybe chefs get a little to emotional about their food sometimes). Either way, I would definitely recommend that cooks stop what they are doing right now and run out and get this book.
Now, to answer Mike's question, what I know about Tapioca Maltodextrin is that it is considered a transformational hydrocolloid. Meaning that it transforms fats or oils into powders. It is water soluble so milk would not work because it has water content. Maltodextrin, however, is incredibly useful in conveying flavors in a "nonlipid form" as Jeff says in his book. I made powder from duck confit oil last week and the flavor is beautiful. If I could, I would just "cut and paste" all of Jeff's words on the subject but that might deter you from getting the book. Its a must have. Use about a 60-40 ratio of fat to maltodextrin for best results, and pass your powder through a sieve to fluff it up.
Cooking is a close relative of chemistry. Cooks will benefit by simply accepting it, sure, some cooks over do it, but when you can understand how things work results become more gratifying. Till next time..............

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