Sunday, December 16, 2012

Welcome!

Welcome to my new blog!  This is my first posting and I hope that you enjoy the bits of wisdom that I find!  I love cooking, and I love good food and friends. 

I teach classes, some "healthy style" and some well, full fat, flavor and all of the gusto!  I will sometimes ask my classes if they think that I've added to much salt.  When a chef salts their food, we "singer" (to rain in) from above to evenly distribute the salt.  And I do admit, it looks, well, kind of flashy, like a bartender pouring shots!  I also almost always use kosher salt, which has larger crystals than the normal table salt. When I teach classes, so many people think that I am using too much salt because I salt almost every step of the way, just a little bit.

So, as you can tell, I've been thinking a lot about salt lately.  It's my favorite seasoning, and it makes a tremendous difference in baking, and in savory foods.   

I know in baking that if you don't salt, foods tend to be flat and not as flavorful, and that in savory they tend to be "one note."

Since I cook from scratch all of the time, I control the amount of salt that goes into everything that I make, and it's much less than prepared foods.  I found the following article on Linked In and thought it most interesting:

Salt in Baking Recipes
Baking without Salt...a no no
Courtesy: America's Test Kitchen
Can I omit the salt in cake and cookie recipes?
Salt is a flavor enhancer that is just as important in sweet foods as it is in savory ones, so we assumed that a cake or cookie made without salt wouldn't taste as good as one that included it. Still, we wanted to understand exactly how the flavor would change. To do so, we tasted two batches of yellow layer cake and sugar cookies: one batch with salt, the other without.
The flavor differences in the cake, which called for ¾ teaspoon salt, were astounding. The cake prepared without salt tasted blandly sweet "like cotton candy." Tasters called it "mild," "flat," "dull," and "boring" and could barely detect any vanilla flavor. The cake that included salt was also sweet, but the flavors of butter and vanilla were much more balanced and pronounced. The differences were more difficult to nail down in the sugar cookies, which were coated generously with sugar and contained only ¼ teaspoon salt. Still, some tasters could detect the flavors of butter and vanilla more readily in the "salted" cookies.
How does salt work its magic? While many cooks think of salt as simply a flavor enhancer, it can also mask less agreeable tastes like bitterness. We proved this theory true in the test kitchen by adding a pinch of salt to inherently bitter foods like coffee and eggplant, and the perceived bitterness was cut in half. By suppressing bitterness, salt allows more desirable flavors--including sweetness and spices--to come through. Ingredients that can contribute bitter flavors in baking include yeast, leavening agents, proteins in flour, bittersweet chocolate, and vanilla.
To summarize, if a recipe calls for a pinch of salt, don't be tempted to omit it. Otherwise, you might be left with a singularly sweet and sugary dessert with little complexity. Also, be sure when baking to use unsalted butter so that all the salt comes from a single source and the finished product doesn't actually come out salty.

This is Chef Terri again:

So my two  cents worth?  Use salt, go sparingly, since you can't take it out once it's been added, but you can always gradually add it in!  I know this review is about baking, but it is the same for savory foods also.  That is why I tell everyone to salt as you go, and taste as you go, you'll have a much better finished product in the end.

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