Join Dr Sai Pathmanathan below as she discusses the importance of water in cooking and celebrates her new cooking book for children ‘Chews Your Own Tasty Adventure!’
Eau so wonderful!
Water is important for life on Earth. Every single cell in our body contains water, and it’s vital for so much, from keeping our body temperature in check to transporting oxygen and nutrients around our body through the blood…to stopping us becoming constipated! We need to make sure we’re taking in at least 8 glasses or 1.5-2 litres of water a day in our food and drinks to make sure we stay healthy, yet not all of us are lucky enough to have fresh, clean running water straight from the taps!
Water is one of main ingredients in ‘Chews Your Own Tasty Adventure’, popping up several times in various recipes, as without water how would we cook most dishes? We use water to boil vegetables, pasta and rice, to steam buns, to mix doughs and to create batters and syrups. Even sparkling water can help us create light, crispy batters because the carbon dioxide gas dissolved in the water makes it bubbly.
But an interesting thing about water are the differences when using cool water or warm water. We know that frozen solid water is ice and its gas form is steam, but what about when it’s still a liquid just at different temperatures? Cold water is important when we make pastries, because we don’t want the fat in the pastry dough to melt. But warm water helps when we want to dissolve something quickly, such as mixing sugar into water to turn it into a sugar solution and later heat it up to create a syrup.
And did you know that warm water is less dense than cold water? Warm things expand, making them less dense. Try adding some food colouring to some warm water, and then gently pouring it over some cold water in a glass. You’ll see the coloured warm water stays on top, because warm water, like warm air, rises or floats. Eventually you’ll see it all mix together.
Sometimes we don’t want water in our ingredients, or else they might go off, or spoil. Dry ingredients such as powdered milk store better if they’re free of air and water, as moisture helps nasty bacteria and mould to grow.
Finally, without wanting to spoil things even further, do check out the book for a ‘water cake’ recipe: one that’s made without dairy or eggs!’
Many thanks to Dr Sai Pathmanathan and the team at Quarto for taking part in NNFN2023.
‘Chews Your Own Tasty Adventure’ by Dr Sai Pathmanathan, illustrated by Lucia Vinti is published by Faber (ISBN: 978-0571370641).