Author Archives: Rachel Helps

Strawberry Marinara

We had more strawberries than we knew what to do with. We talked about how Strawberry Marinara could taste good; how most strawberries are actually more sour than sweet; how it might make for a good texture.

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I tried to stick closely to the recipe. I peeled and de-seeded all my tomatoes (I ended up 50g short), and borrowed white wine from a neighbor. I also had to learn how to open a wine bottle with a swiss army knife corkscrew. The list of stressful substitutions continues: I had to use dry herbs and not fresh, and I merely blended my strawberries instead of juicing them. This took way more than fifteen minutes.

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The Book recommends serving with Polenta or ricotta-filled ravioli, but I was far too lazy and served it with spaghetti. After eating it, I said “I hate cooking. I just wasted two hours of my life making this and I don’t even like it.”

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We have theories about why the Strawberry Marinara failed us. Perhaps those missing 50g of tomato were crucial. Perhaps we’re unused to winey sauces. Perhaps it would taste better with Polenta. But there’s also another explanation, which is that we’re not hardcore enough to appreciate this dish. For that, I apologize.

Page 114 of the Book

The slowest way to boil an egg

The first two years I was in college I lived with my grandparents. Almost every Saturday my grandma would make soft-boiled eggs for me and my grandpa. Eating them with salt and pepper crushed in a bowl was one of the pleasures of the weekend I looked forward to. I’ve tried to recreate the gelatinous whites covered in gooey yolk, but I’ve never quite mastered the art.

So you can understand how the first thing I wanted to cook when we bought our sous vide cooker was a soft-boiled egg. With sous vide cooking, a water bath is kept at a constant temperature over a long time to cook foods all over evenly and without drying them out. I put an egg on at 147 F, which according to the accompanying temperature guide would have a yolk that was “firmly set but very creamy. White firmer.” After an hour of cooking it was kind of a slushy disappointment.

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If you stare at them for the entire hour, they do not boil any slower.

If you’ve studied food science, you know that the white and the yolk of the egg solidify at different temperatures, which is why boiling an egg through sous vide alone is a terrible way to get firm whites and a gooey yolk. Adam was undeterred by my failure and proceeded to make me a much better soft-boiled egg:

  1. Allow egg to warm to room temperature. 
  2. Cook egg in (already) boiling water for three and a half minutes. This gets the whites nice and cooked!
  3. Cool egg for ten minutes in an ice bath.
  4. Cook sous vide at 149 F for 35 minutes.
  5. Toast shell in a toaster oven for 15 minutes to get the shell nice and brittle. I think this step is silly.
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That’s hand-pressed flatbread from our wood-fired oven. Just kidding! We got them at CostCo.

I think I might just have to learn how my grandma does it (probably boiling ~6 minutes), but the modernist method is probably more consistent.

Pages 142-143 of the Book