Q.In some European countries -- France particularly -- rice packers add talcum powder to rice to make it shiny. They recommend rinsing it until the water runs clear before cooking. Here the rice packages say not to rinse the rice in order to retain B vitamins. Wouldn't that cause the rice grains to stick to each other? A.A. Rice's stickiness has to do with the rice's starch granules and the nature of the protein holding them together. The starch granules of long-grain varieties, which are typical in the United States, do not swell as much as those of the short-grain varieties consumed A. in Europe. As a result, the integrity of the long-grain rice kernel is kept longer and it is less likely to stick to itself.
Here are a few pointers to keep rice from sticking:
* Always use 2 cups water per cup of rice.
* Bring rice and water (and salt, if desired) to a boil, covered, on high heat. When steam appears from under the lid, reduce to medium-low heat and boil 10 minutes. Reduce heat to simmer and steam 20 more minutes or until a grain, when crushed between the fingers, leaves no hard, white bits.
* For American tastes, add a little butter when rice is done. This also will help separate the grains.
* For even less sticky rice, fry in a tablespoon of oil for about 2 minutes before adding water. This is the Italian risotto method. It dextrinizes the surface of each grain, limiting the swelling of the surface starch granules and therefore limiting stickiness.
* If you overgelatinize rice starch granules--that is, if you cook the rice too long or add too much liquid--they swell too far and burst out of their membranes. The contents of each granule--millions of starch molecules--are free to mingle and absorb more water. Multiply this by millions of granules per rice grain and you have sticky rice. Q.Q. Many Chinese dishes call for raw meat--particularly chicken and pork cut finely. Is there a machine I can use for this? If not, what is the safest way to do it by hand?Q. A.A. Raw meat is not firm enough to be shredded by machine. The best tool for shredding is the Chinese meat cleaver, which is inexpensive (under $10) and easily sharpened. The blade is quite wide, which makes it easy to control so it won't slip sideways and A. cut you.
To shred the meat, remove all skin, bones and fat first. Then freeze the meat long enough to make it rigid. With the meat cleaver, cut 2-inch-long strips. Then cut each of these twice or thrice lengthwise to the size and shape of fat matchsticks. Q.Q. What kinds of cakes can one bake in a tube pan consisting of two parts and normally reserved for angel cakes?Q. A.A. You can bake any cake in such a pan. However, because it is made of shiny aluminum, expect an appreciably longer baking time. Angel cake pans are made of shiny metal so the cake sides do not burn while the oven's heat is slowly penetrating their airy A. foam.
Heavy cakes such as pound or carrot cakes are not easy to bake in large pans. Their batters, which are moist and rich, are prone to collapse if jostled. Therefore, they should be baked at 325 degrees for at least an hour. Do not even open the oven door before 50 minutes have passed. Then you can test for doneness. Insert a toothpick in the center, where oven heat penetrates last. It should come out clean. Q.Q. How does artificial vanilla flavoring differ from the extract in quality of flavor and baking properties?Q. A.A. Vanilla extract, made from dried and aged vanilla beans, is a complicated mixture of many compounds. It is prepared by percolating alcohol and water over chopped beans for several days. The amount of extract obtained from a specific quantity of beans is A. federally regulated and the extract is termed "single-fold," an industry term for single strength.
Artificial vanilla flavoring is made by mixing vanillin, ethyl vanillin and a few other major components of the vanilla bean's flavor with water, alcohol and coloring. The concentration of these flavorings approximates single-fold extract in the bottle, but when baked the flavoring is stronger.
You can use the extract and the flavoring interchangeably. The substitution of flavoring for extract is likely to be more noticeable in baked goods because it has a proportionately greater amount of the vanilla bean's less volatile flavors. In whipped cream, where vanillin is easily noticed, you might use half as much flavoring as extract. Q.Q. When marshmallows on top of hot, mashed sweet potatoes are placed under the oven broiler, the tops brown and the marshmallows melt, becoming soft, not rubbery. They remain so at room temperature, in the refrigerator and even reheated. Yet when I melt the Q. same brand in a pan on top of the stove and spread this on a cake, the marshmallow turns to rubber. Why the difference in behavior? A.A. Marshmallows are protein foams containing gelatin and sugar. Protein toughens as it is heated or dried. My guess is that the briefly browned marshmallows did not become nearly as hot or dry as those melted in a pan directly on the burner.A.
Next time you melt marshmallows, do so in a double boiler. If you do not have one, put a half inch of water in one pan and set another pan or mixing bowl inside. Add the marshmallows and a spoonful of water, and heat gently. Stir until melted and pour over the cake. Q.Q. I am trying to make sourdough rye bread. I have made two different starters, letting them sit at room temperature for at least 48 hours. Both starters, when baked into the bread, produced loaves with a bland taste. What am I doing wrong?Q.
Starter number one: Combine 2 cups flour, 2 cups warm water and 1 package dry yeast in mixing bowl (not metal) until well blended. Let stand uncovered in warm place for 48 hours.
Starter number two: Combine 2 cups lukewarm potato water, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 cups flour and 1 package yeast softened in 1/2 cup cold water in a nonmetal mixing bowl. Add sugar and softened yeast to potato water and stir until well blended. Let stand in warm place for 48 hours. RYE BREAD 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water 1 cup starter 2 tablespoon honey 2 tablespoons butter 2 teaspoons salt 1 tablespoon crushed caraway seeds 1 cup unsifted rye flour 2 3/4 cups unsifted white flour
Measure warm water into large, warm mixer bowl. Stir starter into water. Add honey, butter, salt, caraway seeds, rye flour and 1 cup white flour. Blend on low speed of electric mixer and beat 2 minutes at medium speed or 300 strokes with wooden spoon. Scrape sides of bowl often. Add remaining flour and blend with wooden spoon until smooth. Cover and let rise in warm place free from draft until doubled in bulk--about 30 minutes. Stir batter down and beat 25 strokes. Spread evenly in 2 loaf pans. Smooth out top of loaf by lightly flouring hands and patting. Cover and let rise in warm place free from draft--about 45 minutes. Bake in 375-degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes. A.A. A properly made sourdough A. starter does not contain baker's yeast. Adding it suppresses the growth of the lactic acid bacteria and wild yeasts already present in the flour. When the added yeast stops growing, the other organisms haven't grown nearly as much. The result is less acid and flavor production.
It is better to use the starter as a flavoring agent than as a leavener. That way, when you do add baker's yeast, it isn't old and tired. Instead, it will grow vigorously and produce lots of carbon dioxide when the bread needs it most.
The second reason your rye bread doesn't taste sour is that 1 cup starter per 1 1/4 cups water and 2 3/4 cups flour is quite a dilution. The bacteria and wild yeasts don't have enough time during proof, or rise, to produce more acid. The best way around this is to make the starter a greater proportion of the overall dough. REVISED RYE (Makes 1 loaf) 1 1/2 cups medium rye flour 1 1/4 cups water 1/4 onion 1/4 cup lukewarm water 1/2 teaspoon sugar or honey 1 envelope dry yeast 1 tablespoon crushed caraway 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1 tablespoon butter 1 tablespoon honey 2 1/2 cups bread flour
Mix rye flour, water and onion and let ferment, covered, in a warm place at least 48 hours or until sour. It is ready to use when water appears at the surface.
When the starter is ready, proof the yeast: Mix the water, sugar and yeast and let rise in a warm spot. Pour all but 1/4 cup of the starter into a mixing bowl (start a new batch in the same bowl--there is no need to add another onion) and add all ingredients except the bread flour. Add the starter and 1 cup of the bread flour and blend well. Stir in more bread flour and, when you can no longer stir more in, turn the soft dough out on the board or countertop and knead in the remaining flour. The dough should be no stiffer than the usual batch of white bread dough. Knead the dough 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes by machine.
Return the dough to the mixing bowl and let rise 30 minutes or until not quite doubled in bulk. Grease a loaf pan, punch down the dough lightly, press into an oval, fold in the two ends and roll into a cylinder. Place in pan and let rise until doubled in bulk, until your finger leaves a dent when lightly pressed into the surface. Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes or until the loaf pulls away from the sides and its bottom sounds hollow when sharply rapped.