At his sous vide seminar in Aspen, Momofuku chef David Chang urged us not to fear the buttermilk. "Buttermilk is just cultured milk!" he exclaimed — at which point I realized that I knew very little about the stuff.
Although they are both rich, creamy dairy items, the term buttermilk refers to two different products. There's old-fashioned buttermilk, which is the thin liquid left over after the natural process of butter being churned. It's acidic and often has flakes of butter still floating in it.
Then there's cultured buttermilk, the thick and creamy fermented milk product that Chang was referring to, and what's typically seen sold in cartons at the supermarket. Sometimes called artificial buttermilk, it contains no butter. It is created by adding a lactic acid bacterial culture to dairy to ferment it, resulting in a tangy flavor and a thicker consistency.
Buttermilk is a popular ingredient in biscuits, scones, and fried chicken batter. (Chang likes to make a buttermilk dressing.) Since it typically has a longer shelf life than regular milk, buttermilk can be a good investment. However, in a pinch, one can make acidified buttermilk, a product made by adding acid such as lemon juice to regular milk. Do you use buttermilk?
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Have you ever tried gojuchang?
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When it comes to saving energy when cycling, two riders are better than one. That's because the pair can draft, a technique that puts aerodynamics to work. The two cyclists ride in a tight single file line, with the back rider taking advantage of the slipstream created by the front rider. Essentially, the front rider cuts through the wind, decreasing the wind resistance of the second cyclist, who saves a significant amount of energy — estimated to be as high as 40 percent. The front rider will experience a slight push from the second rider as well.
Drafting is an important tactic in bike racing. Teams use it to save energy and rotate in and out of the lead position. The single file line of two or more cyclists is referred to as a paceline. This is also a technique used to propel a rider to the finish line, allowing the back rider to draft and save energy before jumping to the lead and sprinting to the finish.
To properly draft in a headwind, cyclists must ride with mere inches between their wheels. In a crosswind, cyclists will form an echelon, a staggered diagonal line with each rider slightly downwind of the previous rider.
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Les verrines, as French chefs call them, are served in a very small transparent glass or bowl that highlights layers of color and texture. Ingredient layers can be sweet or savory, hot or cold, raw or cooked, custardy or whipped, creamy or liquidy — just about anything with contrast to create an element of surprise for the diner. Have you ever tried a verrine?
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Once cacao beans are picked and roasted, they're separated from their husks, then broken into pieces. These are cocoa nibs. To make chocolate, the pieces are ground into a thick paste called chocolate liquor, which is combined with cocoa butter and sugar. But these bits of bean can also be used to add a subtle chocolate flavor and soft crunch to baked goods and savory dishes.
While cocoa nibs can be eaten as a snack, I particularly enjoy them as a topping on ice cream or studded inside chocolate bars. I've heard they're great mixed into cookies as well. How have you had them?
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Compote also refers to a deep, stemmed dish that's used to retain fruit, nuts, and candy.
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