Monday, November 16, 2009

The Splendid Table

My favorite way to cook is listening to NPR on my kitchen radio -- from All Things Considered to Fresh Air to Car Talk. My very, very favorite program to listen to while cooking is The Splendid Table. On Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), The Splendid Table is played Sunday evenings, a perfect time for cooking a warm and homemade meal.

It's a fantastic show about food, cooking, and eating. They just added a new feature called "Stump the Cook," (should sound familiar to anyone who listens to Car Talk!) in which someone calls in, gives the host, Lynn, a list of five random ingredients from their fridge or pantry, and Lynn then has to make up a recipe using those five ingredients. Her recipe is then judged on its worthiness by the one and only Christopher Kimball of America's Test Kitchen fame. Fun! And can be pretty hilarious. I so want to call in one of these days.

One thing I learned this past Sunday that I had always wondered about and never known (did you know this?):

Baking Powder and Baking Soda: Baking soda is direct leavening - it reacts instantly but needs an acid ingredient to start the reaction. Baking powder contains in its mix the exact amount of acid needed for the soda (1 teaspoon baking powder includes 1/4 teaspoon baking soda) and reacts in different stages so you have more control. Baking powder will be labeled "double acting" or "triple acting." In a recipe, the correct amount of baking powder is 1 teaspoon per cup of flour (at the maximum 1-1/4 teaspoons); for baking soda it's 1/4 teaspoon per cup of flour. Get the leavening right and you'll have lighter, finer textured cakes.

I highly recommend checking The Splendid Table out, and I actually highly recommend this past Sunday's show -- listen to the podcast the next time you're cooking!

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