Ask Chef Boy Ari
In a Jam
I've got a box of peaches and I want to make jam. Most of the recipes I've looked at are pretty straightforward, but what is pectin, and why do they call for so much sugar—like five cups of sugar for four cups of peaches? WTF? My peaches are already almost too sweet.
A: Pectin is a thickener used in most jams. Unlike gelatin, which is often made from animal tissue like horse hooves, pectin is a plant-based molecule that's important in supporting cell structure and is usually derived from processed apple, orange and beet material. Pectin comes in powdered and liquid forms, which have different characteristics and behaviors.
Sugar activates the pectin and makes it do its thickening thing, so the balance of fruit, pectin and sugar determines whether you get peaches in syrup or peach jam. Messing with that balance by, say, using less sugar than a recipe calls for can take you into uncharted territory.
Books for Cooks
Mayan Cuisine: Recipes from the Yucatan Region
Not for beginners
Region to region, state to state, Mexican food runs the gamut from simple beans and rice to complex moles and seasoning pastes. The variety and scope of Mexican cuisine is huge. And it can look very different from what we tend to call Mexican food here in New Mexico.
Lil' Rudies Baking Camp
Beer and Grilled Cheese Pairing with Cheesy Street
A Taste of Thailand
At some point down the line Thai food became synonymous with comfort food for me. It was my family’s favorite dining out cuisine when I was young, and now I have a lot of good nostalgia wrapped up in the smell of lemongrass and curry. Tom kha gai, papaya salad and pad see ew are my go-to orders when I’m sick or just craving something warming and familiar, so I’ve visited most of the Thai spots in town to find some of my favorites of each. That GrubHub bill is getting a little out of control at this point, honestly.
Here’s a few of my favorite spots to order Thai in the Duke City. May they bring you many spicy tears and great evenings.