I am a scientist who loves to cook because there are many similarities between working in a lab and cooking in a kitchen. I love to share my cooking experience with you and to inspire others to cook.

Monday, April 29, 2013


Sorry, I cheated in this post. I haven't cooked anything interesting lately and this post is more about eating than cooking. Thanks for reading even though I have short-changed you.

As many of my readers know, I recently moved to a different part of the world and I am taking small baby steps to discover places to get food products that I am used to eating.

Avocado is one of those food items.

My first exposure to avocado came in the form of this:

No, not the brand but avocado in shampoo. Back then, I have no idea it is called an avocado. I didn't even know it is something that you eat. All I knew was that it is something that you put  exclusively in the shampoo. Took me a while to embrace avocado as a food product, thanks to my Hispanic friends who eat avocado on a daily basis.

Initially, I didn't like the mushy consistency of an avocado and I shunt guacamole.

source: http://www.basilmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Copy-of-Guac.puregoodness-com.jpg

It was much much later during my sojourn in NYC that I fell in love with avocado and guacamole, because it is everywhere due to a strong Hispanic presence in this city and it is a mainstream food item in NYC.  And quite frankly, avocado taste great!!

I walked by a store the other day and I saw avocados which were imported from Australia. I didn't know the Aussies eat avocado!! The Australia avocados are smaller than Haas avocado.

As I was searching for a picture of an avocado, I came across this. I kid you not, there are these many avocado varieties in Hawaii. Hard to believe.

  source: http://www.timothyarnoldroberts.com/space/Posters/Avocado.jpg

Then I found this picture:

source: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_6kbhRdWrnDU/TULaTIe4I/AAAAAAAAAD0/DkBwDgLB34g/s1600/Week+16+Avocado.JPG

as well as photos of pregnant women.

Hey ladies, is it a common thing for doctors to compare the size of your fetus/baby to the size of an avocado???

Doctor: "Hmm...little Timmy is about the size of an almost-ripe avocado."

Told ya, this is a cop-out food blog post.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"Sort-of" Crispy Oven Fries

Let me state this right in the beginning - how do you strike the balance between crispy and not burnt? 3Ts -- Timing? Temperature? Thickness?

When I searched the internet for references, it looks simple enough. Cut the potatoes, toss it will oil, roast it in the oven and you get crispy oven fries. Not as easy as it sounds.

I made this twice and my logic tells me that if you slice the potato thinly, naturally your fries will be crispy. Then I ran into two problems - a) roasting temperature and timing became tricky business, b) try to array sliced potato on a baking dish, you run out of space before you reach for the second potato.

Lesson learned.

So for the second time, I cut the potato into wedges instead. That solved both problems, kind-of. You have more room to work with, figuratively and literally. Temperature and timing control become manageable and you can fit more potatoes wedges on a baking pan.

Here's what I did:
1. Cut three russet potatoes into even size wedges. I left the skin on.
2. Soaked the potato wedges in water for 30 minutes, changed water every 10 minutes. The effect of this step in creating crispy potato wedges is debatable. I might need to do a control experiment to test the effect of +/- soaking.
3. Drained and dried the wedges, toss it in some oil and arranged it on a baking pan.
(Line the pan with wax paper/baking sheet to prevent sticking)
4. Roast one side for 15 minutes (preheat oven to 220C/430F), turned off the oven but leave the potato in the oven for 15 minutes.
5. Turn the wedges to the other side. Restart the oven to 220C/430F. Roast for an additional 15-20 minutes.
6. Remove the wedges from the oven, toss with salt and serve.

And here's what I found out:

Nope, it wasn't crispy in the McD or Shake Shack fries sense. Not even close but there is a hint of crispiness. I think I am going to say that the only way to make truly crispy fries is to deep fry it in oil.

To be fair, oven fries do taste delicious. Potato is one of those food that transform and shine when you bake it. It is like a blank canvas that you can paint with additional flavors, but as for me, a pinch of salt is all I need.