Sunday, December 9, 2007

Dough bonding, dates, and salsify

In my notes from "Becoming a Chef," one advice was to ask a lot of good questions. My question to that is, how many is too many questions? And what constitutes a good question to a Chef?

Some good and some not so good questions answered on Day 2:
Q: What's the apple-rosemary puree ultimately for?

Q: Why do we have to let the pasta dough sit?
A: To give the eggs and flour time to bond. They tend to like each other, so the two elements get pretty cozy over time and thus shrink in size. You don't want to interrupt the dough-bonding experience if you don't want any surprises.
Not exactly how ChefX worded it, but my that's my layman interpretation.

Q: What is that?
A: Salsify (pronounced "salsifee")
Adam was peeling these long, skinny, branch-like things that looked like they would taste like tree. BBC Food describes it as, "Another member of the daisy family, salsify is one of the lesser known root vegetables. It's also known as the oyster plant as its root tastes slightly of oysters. The root of salsify is used in a similar way to any other root vegetable, in soups, stews or mashed. Try using boiled salsify in a salad to add a crisp delicate flavour."

Q: What is that?
A: Lamb.
ChefX has a lamb supplier from upstate NY. According to ChefX, she's "some lady" - a very cool, tough woman who's personality speaks to the fact that she squeezed out 3 (probably large) children. She drives the lamb down herself to RestoX in the wee hours of the morning and always waits in the car with a big cup of coffee. She also makes lamb yogurt (never had it, sounds interesting if not gamey), lamb cheese, and lamb milk.

The lamb lady led to a great discussion with ChefX about the deliciousness of yogurt in Germany and France and how it compares to...Dannon. We touched upon the over-produced, over-packaging of American food, and the loss of community and values that come with fresh cooking and knowing where your food comes from, etc, etc. All this from asking about the lamb. I think it was a good question.

Questions left unanswered on Day 2 (ChefX gave me a delicious date to snack on while I was rolling out the pasta dough):

Q: What's a date called when it's not in its dry state? Can you eat it when its fresh and if so, what does it taste like?
A: You're asking too many questions.
I had to google this one: There is no "fresh" form a of a date. The dry date as we know it is the fresh fruit in its fully ripened state. "The date fruit grows in heavy clusters suspended under the [date palm] leaves, and they are yellow in the early ripening stage, or kimri, the Arabic word for unripe. Some consumers enjoy date fruit in the next stage, khalal, meaning full sized but crunchy, while others wait for dates to reach rutab, ripe and soft. When the date fruit is allowed to sun dry on the tree, it is considered to be in the final tamr stage of ripening."


mimsi said...

i need to be studying, but i am choosing to catch up on your blog.
hopefully that will be on my exam about contraception?!?!?

maitri has officially been accepted into the tribe of the date lovers. david and i courted over dates, stuffed with crisp, fresh almonds (tip:keep in fridge to keep them crunchy and delish).
i am trying to get her to love dates as opposed to crappy chocolate. hmmmmmm... a losing battle. did you know dates have a lower glycemic index so it takes a while for the sugar to punch ass kick your insulin receptors. translation: good for sweet toothed people.

Undercover Cook said...

Mimsi, I'm glad I could provide you with an outlet for your pre-exam stress!

Good dates look and taste like candy, so I can see how Maitri would like it, but it also has an old-person flavor so she's smart for choosing the chocolate. I would.

The almond-stuffed dates sound yummy. Could use some of those right now...