A simple (visual) guide to eggs - take 2

(click image for larger viewing options on flickr)

This week I finally had a chance to work in some more of the great feedback I got on the egg infographic from earlier this year. Thanks again to all those who provided encouragement and constructive feedback. I know there's always room for improvement, but here's my humble attempt at V2. Once again, the standards and regulations referred to in this infographic are U.S. specific. If you'd like to learn more about eggs, the original egg infographic post has more explanation, background information, resources, and some great suggestions in the comments.

This version was also made to be print friendly, and at the request of some readers, I've put the infographic up on Zazzle here for print/poster purchases. Note that the product link defaults to the largest (and thus most expensive) size - be sure to check the print options on the right sidebar. Proceeds will go to charity.

Easy soups for cold and flu season - part 2

To follow up on the previous post about easy soups that you can make even when you're sick, here are two more simple soup recipes that got me through my long flu battle. I found my diet lacking in fresh vegetables while I was sick, so I made a conscious effort to make sure these two soups had lots of veggies. I used vegetables that were easy to store (longer shelf life), wash, and only required coarse chopping. I also made large batches so that these could each last me multiple meals.

Easy soups for cold and flu season (Part 1 of 2)

It's been taking me a while between posts lately because I've managed to be sick for the better part of the last two months. Cold and flu season can be pretty rough on your diet for a number of reasons - you may become so congested that you can't smell and thus can't really taste, or your throat might become raw and then swallowing becomes a pain. Or worse, you may lose your appetite entirely (which is when a foodie knows whatever bug he/she got is pretty serious).

If you're really lucky, you've got someone awesome in your life who's able to take care of you and cook some of your favorite comfort foods. But more likely than not, there are days when you have to fend for yourself, and then obtaining good nutritious food can feel like a herculean task. The lowest effort foods, which are those you can order for delivery/take-out or heat up out of the box/can, are often loaded with sodium or fat. At first they taste great, but eventually they leave you craving a good home-cooked meal. Luckily there are some really easy and nourishing meals you can whip up even when you're sick (I managed to pull it off even while groggy from flu meds). With the help of some half-cooking principles, each of these dishes took around 20 min or less of active prep/cooking time and had minimal chopping.

A simple (visual) guide to eggs

>> Update on 3/30/11: Thanks again to all those who provided great feedback. An updated version of the infographic had been added below and you can read more about it here. The infographic is also available for print here.

When I got a question asking about the different labels on eggs and shortly thereafter had a brunch-time discussion about how to order eggs, I realized that it was time for another Culinaut infographic (check out the previous one on the dangers of cooking with teflon).

So here's my attempt at capturing egg basics in an infographic guide. For simplicity, I stuck to chicken eggs in their most common forms. The top of the graphic covers info relevant to buying eggs from a store, and the bottom has some of the basic egg cooking/ordering options. It's also worth noting that the sizes, grades, and farming methods here are based on US guidelines and differ in other countries.

Holiday thanks from Culinaut

Now that we've recovered from our Thanksgiving food comas and our stomachs have been appropriately stretched for winter, it means we're solidly into the holiday season, (especially with Hanukkah starting so early this year). Of course, this means even more good eating, and tasty gifts!

Homemade treats make for great holiday gifts, but if you're like me and have ever tried shipping baked goodies cross-country it can get a little stressful. You've got to make sure you pick something that won't go bad over the course of being delivered, will still taste fresh, and will stay intact after being jostled in the mail. This year, I think I've come up with a pretty good solution: granola.

What we're all having for Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! For obvious reasons, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I end up spending almost all day playing in the kitchen and then all night being gluttonous. This year I have much to be thankful for and I especially want to give thanks to all of you who have been reading this blog!

By now, it's too late to be shelling out recipes (plus there are plenty of folks out there who have done an amazing job of that already). It is pretty fun to get an idea of what's going on in everyone else's kitchen today though ...

6 Meals from one rotisserie chicken (or your leftover Thanksgiving turkey)

Time for another round of half-cooking. Today's star ingredient: the rotisserie chicken.

If you're like me, the smell of roasting chickens at your local grocery store or Costco does a pretty good job of awakening your inner carnivore. Add to that convenience and reasonable pricing, and it's hard to say no. But unless you're feeding a family of six, you'll find yourself with enough leftover meat to be eating rotisserie chicken for over a week. No worries though, with just a tiny bit of thinking outside the box you can have 6 different tasty and easy meals. Oh and an added bonus: these recipes work just as well with roasted turkey, so with Thanksgiving just around the corner, you'll know what to do with those turkey leftovers.

A war where everyone wins: SF Food Wars' Essential New York Times Cookbook Ultimate Potluck

I've been wanting to check out SF Food Wars for quite some time and this weekend the stars finally aligned. This event differed from the norm which usually features a mix of amateur and pro chefs from around the area competing for one of the coveted SF Food Wars titles. Instead, this time a dozen of the top chefs and mixologists in San Francisco made their picks from the best of 150 years of New York Times recipes as part of the launch of Amanda Hesser's The Essential New York Times Cookbook. Sunday afternoons don't get much better than this.

Dangers of cooking with Teflon

(click image above for high-res infographic)

Nonstick pans are a huge convenience when it comes to cooking. You don't need to spend forever scrubbing your pans and you can get away with using a lot less oil when you cook. But for all the good, there's some potential dangers that every cook should be aware of when it comes to nonstick.

Nonstick pans are coated with the synthetic polymer polytetrafluoroethylene - better known as Teflon®. What you may not know is that Teflon can release toxic fumes when heated above certain temperatures. One of the gases, perflurooctanoic acid (PFOA) aka C-8, has been linked to cancer and birth defects in lab studies, and is suspected to be the culprit behind the birth defects found in children of DuPont (maker of Teflon) employees who were exposed to the substance.

Geeky gadgets: infrared thermometers

Thermometers are an invaluable kitchen tool for scientific chefs. They lend preciseness to what would otherwise be intangible kitchen lore. One of the coolest and nerdiest types of thermometers you can get is an infrared thermometer gun.

This gadget is great for getting surface temperatures, like checking the temperature of your pans or oven. It tells you if a pan is hot enough to create a nice sear, or if your oven is calibrated wrong. It will also let you know if a dish is too hot to touch (this varies and can be anywhere from 110 degrees Fahrenheit for those with delicate hands to 120, aka burning temperature, for those with tough skin).

Bouchon appétit

I was lucky enough to make a trip out to Napa recently, where I was treated to a blissful meal at the original Bouchon, one of Thomas Keller's handful of amazing restaurants in Yountville, CA. Keller, who has gotten pretty much every chef accolade one can dream of, is a rock star in my food-obsessed world so this was a huge treat for me. If you haven't heard of him already, you may have at least heard of his esteemed restaurant, The French Laundry, which has been named the best restaurant in the world multiple times. Bouchon, which specializes in upscale French bistro style food, is right down the street from its illustrious cousin (and more attainable and affordable too, seeing as a French Laundry meal requires a reservation months in advance and can set you back at least $250 per person). But Bouchon certainly holds its own with an array of epicurean delights that have made this a must-visit foodie attraction in Napa. Keller himself said, "I used to joke that I opened Bouchon, styled after the bistros of Paris, so that I'd have a place to eat after cooking all night at the French Laundry." If they're feeding him, you know it's gotta be good.

Salads: an undeserved bad rap

Salads tend to get less love than other meal courses. It's what people who are trying not to eat food usually end up eating. The typical restaurant salad is boring: a bunch of iceberg lettuce and you consider yourself lucky when there's a tomato or crouton tossed in. I mean, no wonder no one gets excited about eating that.

However, today, I'm going to plant myself firmly in the minority camp of salad lovers, and I'll show you why with a salad that my foodie friend (who usually treats salads with disdain) proclaimed to be the best salad he's ever had. How's that for setting high expectations?

More half-cooking: chili soy succotash with potstickers

Given the warm response to the last half-cooking post, I figure I have to follow with another. Today's chili soy succotash is a dish that I learned from my dad and it's so easy that it's my go-to dish whenever I'm most crunched for time but want to get in some veggies. It also pairs nicely with meaty quick-cooking items like potstickers.

The art of half-cooking

It's really fun and rewarding to cook fancy stuff, and I wish I could do it all the time. But the reality is that unless you're basking in free time, or work as a food pro, there are just not enough minutes in the day to make the majority of your meals exquisite. This is especially the case if you're like me, working in the tech-startup world where 15 hour days and 7 day work weeks are pretty commonplace (and as a result instant ramen and microwave dinners are pretty commonplace too). So what do you do when you want a yummy, healthy meal and don't want to go out to eat every day? Where do you turn when you're fed up with how the Lean Cuisine never looks or tastes as good out of the microwave as the box cover would lead you to believe?

The answer is what I call half-cooking: using pre-prepared and often pre-cooked ingredients to help speed up your cooking. If you're a hard-core cook, this may seem like cheating. But if you enjoy being efficient while eating well, then hopefully this is more akin to a creative challenge on a time budget. I half-cook almost every weeknight, and as a result I've come up with a bunch of short-cuts and efficient recipes that help me get through the week with a happy tummy. I'll be sharing these tips in this and upcoming posts.

Demystifying truffles

I can never pass up a good truffle - they're sophisticated, decadent, gourmet bite-sized celebrations of deliciousness. And because they're so good, during a recent trip, I happily walked into the store of an acclaimed trendy chocolatier, where each piece of chocolate was displayed like a jewel in a glass case, and paid $2 a piece for tiny truffles barely larger than a postage stamp. If they're handled with such care, if they have the word "artisanal", and if there are folks raving about them on the online foodie haunts, then they must be worth it, right? And sure, they were pretty good, but after I ate the truffles (which went by quickly cause I could only afford so many at $2 a piece), I couldn't help but feel that I had succumbed to the truffle mystique.

The truth is, truffles are super easy to make; they just take a little patience.

People in the U.S. are most familiar with Lindt's spherical truffles or other truffles that have been encased in a molded chocolate shell. We'll get to those later on. Today, we're going to discuss the more traditional French style of hand-made truffles which are created by rolling balls of ganache (a mixture of chocolate and cream) in cocoa powder. It's this type of truffle that resembles the super expensive and equally yummy fungus of the same name.

How to chop onions without crying

I recently attended a dinner party where we decided to make some guacamole from scratch together. It was then that I found out that one of my friends didn't know how to chop vegetables. Eager to learn and pitch in, he took up chopping the tomatoes, while I volunteered to demonstrate how to dice the most notorious veggie on the chopping block: the onion.

The basics: How to dice an onion

You might wonder how much explanation is really required for this basic task, but there is actually a decent amount of technique to it (though for those of you who have been chopping veggies all your life, the following section might be more interesting). I first learned how to mince an onion by watching the masterful Jacques Pepin on PBS, and this technique was later reinforced by watching the meticulous folks at America's Test Kitchen (gotta love PBS cooking shows!). Here's how to do it:

About Culinaut

Welcome to Culinaut!

I've thought about writing a blog on food and cooking for quite a while, and recently I finally got sick of thinking about it and decided to just do it.

I love cooking mostly because I love eating. Though I'm not a chef and have never been to any sort of culinary school, I try to make up for my lack of training with a passion for learning and creating new things. And because I'm the one facing the final product, I try my best to make it taste and look pretty good too.

The area I'm actually trained in is engineering, and as a result I'm a bit of a nerdy cook. This means that I spend a lot of time investigating why a certain technique works well and what types of science and technology are applied in my kitchen.

As of this first post, there are two main motivations behind this blog. First is to chronicle and share the many interesting things I learn in my culinary adventures. So hopefully there will be posts on techniques, cooking science, and recipes in the near future. Secondly, some of my friends have expressed interest in learning more about cooking, so I hope that my posts can be helpful. Let me know at [name of this blog]@gmail.com if there are specific topics you'd like to see covered!

This blog will also house my attempts at food photography, and the occasional food-themed art and design.

Though at the root of it, Culinaut is another excuse to spend even more time thinking about food =)

  © 2010 Culinaut; template modified from Shush  ©Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP