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Offputting Ingredient Lists


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#31 Ttogull

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Posted 06 December 2013 - 07:24 PM

I found myself disappointed in the turn this thread had taken back when, but decided to ignore it after it seemingly died. Now it's back...

Regarding the beans in brownies: it is clear the poo-pooers have not tried them. I think the kidney beans comment was meant in jest, but if you really think about it, black beans and brownies have several similarities in taste and texture profiles. I have had and made such brownies, and they are superb in the right hands. I have had heirloom beans that produce a very chocolately broth, and think those beans might work even better.

I had the pleasure of being one of a few Americans in a large group of Koreans in the heart of S. Korea. One of the desserts was an assortment of out-of-this-world-good bean desserts.

One can poo-poo beans in desserts as a move towards healthy, but miss the fact that they can make a better product.

I flirted with veganism for a while. It did not work for me, but I became acquainted with many of the techniques of the top restaurants. The nachos at Candle 79, for instance, blew me away. I grew up in TX, so that wasn't easy. One killer part was the sour cream, made from tofu. Yes, tofu. Even after telling people that it was, nobody could taste anything but real sour cream. Except that real sour cream, which I had available for comparison, was bland and tasteless in comparison.

One of my favorite fishes is the fat-free Mac n cheese from Modernist Cuisine. One makes cheese water which gets absorbed into the pasta. That's the cheese taste. The creaminess is achieved by a cauliflower purée. You can tell people you did this, but they cannot taste it. It was fat free and creamy.

I have been making oatmeal cookies with oat flour that are not only healthier but have a deeper oat taste.

In my personal opinion, rather than poo-poo approaches to cooking, one ought to consider what improvements might be offered. Right now I am fascinated by Paleo approaches to baking. So many new techniques. And quite frankly superior texture ( unlimited butter and eggs!).

As far as EVOO vs whatever goes, I appreciate a recipe's author letting me know that a dish won't get hot enough to burn EVOO (provided I trust the author). I might choose another oil, but at least I have the option if a nice EVOO is appropriate.
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#32 cakewalk

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Posted 06 December 2013 - 10:48 PM

I found myself disappointed in the turn this thread had taken back when, but decided to ignore it after it seemingly died. Now it's back...

Regarding the beans in brownies: it is clear the poo-pooers have not tried them. I think the kidney beans comment was meant in jest, but if you really think about it, black beans and brownies have several similarities in taste and texture profiles. I have had and made such brownies, and they are superb in the right hands. I have had heirloom beans that produce a very chocolately broth, and think those beans might work even better.

I had the pleasure of being one of a few Americans in a large group of Koreans in the heart of S. Korea. One of the desserts was an assortment of out-of-this-world-good bean desserts.

One can poo-poo beans in desserts as a move towards healthy, but miss the fact that they can make a better product.

I flirted with veganism for a while. It did not work for me, but I became acquainted with many of the techniques of the top restaurants. The nachos at Candle 79, for instance, blew me away. I grew up in TX, so that wasn't easy. One killer part was the sour cream, made from tofu. Yes, tofu. Even after telling people that it was, nobody could taste anything but real sour cream. Except that real sour cream, which I had available for comparison, was bland and tasteless in comparison.

One of my favorite fishes is the fat-free Mac n cheese from Modernist Cuisine. One makes cheese water which gets absorbed into the pasta. That's the cheese taste. The creaminess is achieved by a cauliflower purée. You can tell people you did this, but they cannot taste it. It was fat free and creamy.

I have been making oatmeal cookies with oat flour that are not only healthier but have a deeper oat taste.

In my personal opinion, rather than poo-poo approaches to cooking, one ought to consider what improvements might be offered. Right now I am fascinated by Paleo approaches to baking. So many new techniques. And quite frankly superior texture ( unlimited butter and eggs!).

As far as EVOO vs whatever goes, I appreciate a recipe's author letting me know that a dish won't get hot enough to burn EVOO (provided I trust the author). I might choose another oil, but at least I have the option if a nice EVOO is appropriate.

Many Asian desserts use beans (and various types of rice). But they are not used as substitutes for anything, they are an integral part of the dessert's texture. And they are not touted as "healthy!!" So there's no comparison to be made there, it's a cultural difference.

 

I will continue to poo-poo (as you put it) ridiculous substitutes for ingredients and calling them "healthy!!!!" I have no patience for "Healthy Sugarless Brownies!!!!!" that are made with agave syrup. (And yes, they all seem to contain exclamation points.) Or "Healthy Banana Bread!!" made with whole wheat flour. For goodness sake.

 

I have no trouble with the more thoughtful substitutions made for dietary reasons (tofu for cheese, for example).

 

For the rest, I guess we'll simply have to agree to disagree.


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#33 CeeCee

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 04:08 AM

One can poo-poo beans in desserts as a move towards healthy, but miss the fact that they can make a better product.

 

It's the definition of a better product where the difference of opinion is, I guess. For me a better product is defined by taste, texture, etc., so whenever a description of how good as in how healthy it should be for me, the less enticed I am. It's all about priorities and mine is definitely not making the healthiest brownie possible or a fat free mac 'n'cheese. But I will happily try getting a great version, so yeah bean brownies and MC mac 'n' cheese are on my to do list for sure. 

I had great meals made by vegans by the way, so I agree with you on that point. But they just made great food that was vegan. It wasn't great because it is supposedly healthier or better than a non vegan dinner.


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#34 annabelle

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 10:27 AM

This is a thing that has bugged me since the 70s.  Why do we want to make a boatload of substitutions to a perfectly good recipe (say, Grandma's brownies) to make them "healthy"?  Treats are treats, not something that needs to be reworked to be good for you. 

 

Another thing that bothers me is the insistence on authentic ingredients in foreign cuisines (I'm American, bear with me please) yet the willingness to substitute bizarre never used in that way in Western cuisine ingredients in traditional dishes from the Western world.  We're all supposed to point to this as a path to wisdom instead of an act of heresy.  Honestly, the willingness to toss one's own cuisine out the window as inferior is just as pretentious as insisting on only "authentic" ingredients.  The harder to source, the better, sourcing being a badge of honor.  "Yes, I had to go all the way out to X neighborhood to find Y ingredient at Z's tiny hole in the wall shop that is only open on alternate Tuesdays, but it really makes the dish!"  If you say so.

 

It's ridiculous and one of the reasons I quit subscribing to cooking magazines about ten years ago.


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#35 gfweb

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 11:30 AM

"Extra Virgin Olive Oil" on everything.

Uggh. Nothing worse than a nice plate of whatever that has had OO slopped all over it. Not in my mashed potatoes...not on my cheese course...not on salumi. And I don't dislike OO....but enough already.


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#36 annabelle

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 12:28 PM

Mario Battali is major offender with the OO splashing.  If I want more oil in my food, I'll ask for it. 


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#37 Jonathan J

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 01:55 PM

Like the original poster and many others in this thread, I find that writers specifying organic ingredients annoys me. I think the reason it is so annoying is that I find that locally-grown, fresh, in-season food tastes bests. Many organic products are not local, but are grown in large industrial farms. Many small farmers can't afford the costs of organic certification although many I know minimize or eliminate their use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. I cook for flavor and not to make a political statement. I think we all do best finding the best tasting ingredients and using them. If one brand of butter or olive oil or whatever fits the recipe best, then I don't mind having that suggested. I do appreciate when alternatives are suggested. As for the comments about salt, I like recipes that specify by weight. That way, I can use whichever salt I prefer.


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#38 Shel_B

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 03:20 PM

This is a thing that has bugged me since the 70s.  Why do we want to make a boatload of substitutions to a perfectly good recipe (say, Grandma's brownies) to make them "healthy"?  Treats are treats, not something that needs to be reworked to be good for you. 

 

 

You are correct - for you.  What's wrong with trying to make something healthier if that's what suits you.  I've a panna cotta recipe that I've been making for years, and over time I've reduced the fat, cholesterol, and calories.  I bring the dish to potlucks and family dinners, so many people have had the dessert more than once.  Everyone - everyone - likes the healthier version as much as the full fat version, and some even prefer it.

 

Now, does making a healthier version of all desserts or treats taste good and provide the satisfaction the eater craves?  Probably not, OTOH, some people have to watch their calorie, fat, cholesterol intakes, and a healthier brownie may be the only knd they can eat.


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.... Shel


#39 ahpadt

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 10:32 AM

I will often buy organic or free range, but quite frankly I don't care overly much how something was raised or grown as long as the end product is good.


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#40 Unpopular Poet

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 02:06 PM

 

Now, does making a healthier version of all desserts or treats taste good and provide the satisfaction the eater craves?  Probably not, OTOH, some people have to watch their calorie, fat, cholesterol intakes, and a healthier brownie may be the only knd they can eat.

 

 

I totally understand that some people need to have a healthy alternative to dessert -- diabetics in my family come to mind -- There definitely needs to be an alternative to the fatty, sugary, regular version.  That being said, I will rarely touch it -- only from the standpoint that I treat dessert like a treat -- I rarely have it, and when I do, I don't want to scale it down or even consider whether it is a healthy alternative.  I remember when my uncle was booed for bringing sugar free ice cream to a birthday party...17 years later and we still give him a hard time.  I am not really a fan of vegan baked goods -- this vegan bashing ends there though -- plenty of awesome stuff out there that is vegan.

 

As far as EVOO, I buy the standard OO for cooking.  Whether or not that is right, I could really care less -- it saves some money and when I do cook with OO, you cannot tell the difference.  Organic vegetables are nice, but I am not beholden to them, Beans in a Brownie might be good, I am not ready to condemn it, as long as they are not subbing for the sugar and chocolate.  Lastly, raisins belong in the hands of the young (< 3 years old) and nowhere else.  Especially not in lasagna. 


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#41 annabelle

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 02:35 PM

Hear, hear unpopular poet.

 

I have always followed Julia Child's advice about rich foods and that is not to skimp on ingredients (no substitutions in classics) and to only eat a small amount of said item.  If you don't have the self-control for that, it is best not to muck around with imitations of the real deal.  They are never as satisfying and often have strange, unexpected textures and aftertastes.  I've found that persons who must for some reason consume these imitation foods often eat more than they would of the real thing.  It could be that the food itself is not satisfying to the taste memory you are trying to capture.  The better idea is to switch to fresh fruit desserts and granites and gelatin desserts for sweets.  You're on your own with substitutions in main courses.


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#42 gfweb

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 06:09 PM

Raisins.  When I find one in a nice pastry it might as well be a cockaroach in there. A Sicilian friend puts them in her meatballs. Why does that seem like a good idea in Sicily?

 

Yuck.


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#43 annabelle

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 09:02 PM

I don't like raisins either.  I'm always afraid it's actually an insect.

 

Though if I'm feeling ambitious and make a Pannetone, I'll add golden raisins.  They don't look like flies.



#44 pbear

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 09:59 PM

Whereas raisins in meatballs sounds good to me.  Putting on the list of recipes to try.  Don't think I'd like them in tomato sauce, though, which a little googling indicates is traditional.  Rather, I'll probably go with Middle-Eastern seasoning for the meatballs and a tajine-style sauce.



#45 Porthos

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 12:38 AM

Couscous with pine nuts and golden raisins - yum.  Oatmeal Raisin Cookies are my fav. And the farm-style oatmeal cookie recipe I use doesn't begin to ask for organic anything.


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#46 annabelle

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 10:24 AM

Maybe it was growing up not all that far from Selma ("Raisin Capitol of the World!") that put me off raisins. Seeing them lying out in the sun to dry, I was always leery of bugs.

 

Everything up there in that part of California is the "capitol" of something.  Gilroy is garlic capitol of the world and I still like garlic, so go figure.


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#47 thock

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 01:04 PM

 

 Lastly, raisins belong in the hands of the young (< 3 years old) and nowhere else.  Especially not in lasagna. 

 

 

While I agree with you on the raisins in lasagna (who came up with THAT?!?), I LOVE oatmeal raisin cookies, so I can't agree with you about only "in the hands of the young."


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#48 JoNorvelleWalker

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 02:42 PM

While I agree with you on the raisins in lasagna (who came up with THAT?!?), I LOVE oatmeal raisin cookies, so I can't agree with you about only "in the hands of the young."

 

In The Classical Cookbook, Andrew Dalby and Sally Granger, Getty Publications, 2012, pp 166-167, there is a recipe for Patina Apiciana, a layered lagana pasta dish in which pieces of womb, fish, chicken..."and whatever else is of top quality" are cooked in raisin wine and fish sauce, and bound with eggs and starch.  Then layered with the sheets of pasta.

 

For raisin wine the authors suggest soaking raisins in red wine and mashing or blending.  Just so that you know whom to blame, the source of the Patina Apiciana recipe is Apicius:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apicius



#49 annabelle

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 03:21 PM

Sounds disgusting.  No wonder it fell out of favor.


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#50 lesliec

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 01:43 AM

Embrace the raisin! In this part of the world there's a sweet slice consisting of fruit mince between thin layers of flaky pastry. This is popularly known as 'fly cemetery'.
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#51 jmacnaughtan

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Posted 16 February 2014 - 04:21 AM

I'm probably going to be unpopular here, but if an ingredient doesn't constitute a major part of a dish or dessert, or a major flavour component (spices etc), I can't tell the difference between high-cost and low-cost.  Organic, raw-milk butter is great on bread or at a push in croissants, but as part of a cake, mashed potatoes or whisked into a sauce?  Forget about it.

 

I also can taste zero difference between factory-farmed meats used for long-cooked dishes and their organic counterparts.  And when you're paying 20€/kg for something like organic oxtail, that's a kick in the teeth.

 

Likewise, I never use enough vinegar to taste the vinegar, so I couldn't care less if it's organic, and salt is salt- you're never using more than about 0,05% per recipe weight so any difference is negligible (except for finishing salts).

 

Where I am (Paris), the mass-produced ingredients are perfectly fine and I can't even really taste the difference between organic and mass-produced vegetables and fruit here.  Certainly not enough to justify spending up to 100% more on them.


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#52 Lindacakes

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 07:41 AM

This doesn't bother me, what bothers me is finding a recipe that will include junk food as an ingredient.  It always pays to read several recipes in any magazine or book to make sure this isn't done before buying. This would include slices of American cheese, boxed cake mix, and canned mushrooms.

 

However, that being said, it is perfectly legitimate to include brand names in recipes.  Some of us have an affection for say, Solo Poppyseed Filling.  The cake on the label is seriously good.  So is the fudge on the Solo marshmallow creme label.  I would not make a cake made with crushed Oreos but I would very likely eat it if offered it at someone else's house and find it delicious.

 

Certain sour creams taste different than others.  I can see saying, Daisy sour cream, which to me would taste better than Breakstone's.

 

In other words, it works both ways.  And sideways.  I think it's okay, you can ignore it either way.


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I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

#53 SobaAddict70

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 10:04 AM

I am not interested in starting a range war between organic ingredient enthusiasts and supermarket shoppers such as myself. I do have a question that relates to how I respond to some recipes that I find on the internet.
 
I was following a link that my adult daughter put up on facebook about "Nourishing Thankgiving Foods." Included in the ingredient list for one dish were organic onions, grassfed ghee and organic wine. Prejudiced as it may be I find that I typically stop reading recipes written like this. I suspect that it has to do with my general lack of satisfaction from way back when when I would prepare dishes with similarly-written recipes only to find the food so-so at best.  I figure that if I wanted organic whatever I would not need to be told in a recipe that it needed to be organic. I would choose that because of personal preference.
 
My question is simple. Am I a rarity in having the organic/healthy push in recipes make me lose interest or do some others respond this way also.
 
Organic advocates, I would prefer that you not express what could be the value of organic in your responses. I have enough face-to-face friends that perform that task already.



No, it's not just you.

There is a reason I don't go to that level of specificity when I post stuff on the blog or here or other fora like Facebook. I figure that if someone wants to use organic whatever it is, he or she can.

Would I like to see everyone living/cooking/using organic/sustainable, etc? Sure, I'd be lying if I said I didn't. But I also came to the epiphany that it's up to each individual person to make that kind of decision for him or herself, because people can and do make choices differently.

For myself, I tend to use organic/local/sustainable etc., but I'm comfortable with other folks doing things differently. I believe in putting as much power as possible in the hands of the reader. In terms of what gets published to the blog or an online forum like eG or FB, I only care if something will be delicious or if the recipe works, because my content is representative of me. Makes sense?

Edited by SobaAddict70, 20 March 2014 - 10:12 AM.


#54 Unpopular Poet

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 11:13 AM

 

I'm probably going to be unpopular here, but if an ingredient doesn't constitute a major part of a dish or dessert, or a major flavour component (spices etc), I can't tell the difference between high-cost and low-cost.  Organic, raw-milk butter is great on bread or at a push in croissants, but as part of a cake, mashed potatoes or whisked into a sauce?  Forget about it.

 

I also can taste zero difference between factory-farmed meats used for long-cooked dishes and their organic counterparts.  And when you're paying 20€/kg for something like organic oxtail, that's a kick in the teeth.

 

Likewise, I never use enough vinegar to taste the vinegar, so I couldn't care less if it's organic, and salt is salt- you're never using more than about 0,05% per recipe weight so any difference is negligible (except for finishing salts).

 

Where I am (Paris), the mass-produced ingredients are perfectly fine and I can't even really taste the difference between organic and mass-produced vegetables and fruit here.  Certainly not enough to justify spending up to 100% more on them.

 

I am the only one unpopular around here ;)  -- I agree 100% with what you have said as far as taste goes -- I do think however that organic has become a sort of lifestyle choice for people -- if it isn't organic, it isn't good -- or whatever is said.  Sometimes it is nice to buy organic -- but limiting oneself to it at all times is folly in my opinion -- there are plenty of great products which don't use the term organic that are perfectly healthy and acceptable.  One thing you have going for you is that you are in Paris -- in my short time there, I discovered that no matter what it is, it is better there.  



#55 SobaAddict70

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 01:13 PM

"Extra Virgin Olive Oil" on everything.

 

It depends.

 

I use regular OO for cooking, and EVOO for finishing.

 

That might be a little bit much though for my audience.  I used to never think that until I started blogging.  I get around that by just saying "olive oil".  If something requires extra-virgin olive oil, then I'll state that in the recipe.  There aren't too many instances where that's the case.

 

Again, it's all about giving the reader the power.



#56 SobaAddict70

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 01:29 PM

I will confess it took me a while to evolve.

 

I can still be ideologically-driven when I want to be when it comes to food,  :wink:  but I think it's better to let folks decide for themselves. 

 

I had a conversation a while ago with a committed militant vegan.  I was trying to get him to see that if you want people to approach veganism with an open mind, isn't it better to "show" rather than "tell"?

 

That's when it hit me.

 

Your kumbaya moment for today.  :wink:


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#57 Arey

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 04:10 PM

Is there such a thing a virgin olive oil.  There are supposedly 3 grades, extra virgin, virgin, and plain olive.  I used to buy a brand of plain old olive oil because on the label it was described as 'Lamp Grade olive oil".  I've tried to find virgin olive oil but without success to use for cooking.According to CI there's no point using extra-virgin for cooking so I would like to try using virgin olive oil.
For last Christmas I was given a quart bottle of olive oil which is labeled "Extra Virgin Olive Oil" and is $13.00 for a quart on Amazon.  I'm using it for cooking, but I suspect I could use it in my lamps, if I had any oil lamps.


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