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Cooking with "All About Braising" by Molly Stevens (Part 1)

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#91 fifi

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 09:14 AM

I'm about to start the maple-glazed short ribs recipe, and I have a tip for all you short-rib fans out there. For some reason, AAB doesn't mention it, but the best way to brown short ribs isn't in the pot or under the broiler: it's roasting them. Put them bone-side down (or just lay them flat if they're flanken-style) on a broiler pan or just on some foil on a half-sheet pan (the pan has to have a rim) and roast them at 450 for about 45 minutes. No smoke; you can prep the rest of the recipe while they're browning; and if you're doing a reasonably sized batch, it takes about the same amount of time. You do have to clean another pan, but compared to having to clean the entire kitchen after browning them on the stove, big deal.

I learned this tip from Cook's Illustrated and have never browned short ribs any other way since.

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Yeah, this is definitely one of CI's greatest tips ever. I do this everytime now too-- so much cleaner and easier.

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Now you guys tell me. Next time, oven it is.
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"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

#92 Al_Dente

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 12:17 PM

I did the short ribs with rosemary/maple/horseradish glaze this past weekend. Next time I'll use a stronger beer, but otherwise they were excellent. Of course, I am the short rib king. :wink:
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#93 snowangel

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 10:31 PM

Tonight was the Beef Rendang.

I made the spice paste in my mortar and pestal, and cooked it in oil. I remembered to grab the camera just after I'd added the beef, cinnamon, cardamom and star anise.

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Then I added the coconut milk and brought it to a gentle simmer. This was at 2:00 pm.

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At about 4:15, I got worried. Although it had been gently simmering, it sure didn't seem to be reducing like I thought it would. Since I had a meeting tonight, I needed to have dinner on the table not much after 6:00 pm, so I dumped the works into a skillet. The oil has started to separate, just like Molly said it would. I added the lime leaves (from my own little tree) at this point.

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Then, I made a quick trip to school to pick up Peter.

When I got home, this stuff had reduced considerably. I quit taking pictures to get Heidi off the bus and hear about the kids days.

I started the rice cooker and cut up some broccoli and minced some garlic, and turned the meat again.

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Rice done, broccoli stir fried, and everything into bowls. This is what the skillet looked like with most of the beef in the serving bowl.

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Peter plated up and took this picture

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This was an absolutely wonderful dish. Everyone loved it (except Heidi, but I knew she wouldn't!). Paul and Diana wished that there had been more sauce, but admitted that they wished I'd made a saucier broccoli (they like some juice on their rice). This dry braise is very rich, and very deep with a lot of complex flavors. Wonderful for a family dinner, a dinner party or a pot luck. I didn't have the kind of dried peppers she recommended, so I used the small Thai dried peppers. I used 5 of them, but next time I will up it to 7 or 8 of them -- the coconut milk really does tame them, but there was still an ever-so-subtle heat. I did use fresh galagal, but dried tumeric. Although the cubes fry in oil, there is still quite a bit of the coconut milk sediment, so these cubes don't get as crispy as carnitas.

This one will have a fairly regular rotation on the menu. They would be good in the summer, and I can see making this one with chicken thighs, as well.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#94 patti

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 10:51 PM

This one looks really good, snowangel. It's definitely going on the short list of things to try soon. Thanks for posting the pics and your process.
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#95 snowangel

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 06:49 AM

This one looks really good, snowangel. It's definitely going on the short list of things to try soon. Thanks for posting the pics and your process.

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Patti, I did find pounding the paste better than using the food processor (I started in the latter and moved to the former). Also, the lemon grass. I ended up using 4 pieces because by the time I removed the tough leaves and got to that tender center, there wasn't much of it. In lieu of the mortar and pestal, I spice grinder or microplaning some of this stuff might be a good idea. Also, fresh galangal is really fibrous, I can't think of a reason not to used dried.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#96 fifi

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 10:16 AM

That looks darn close to what I think my long sought Thai Carnitas should look like. I suppose I never expected that they would get as crisp as carnitas. I think we have a winner. Now that I have used my mortar and pestle a bit more, I am inclined to agree with you on the superiority of the method. Besides, all of that pounding is very therapeutic. :biggrin: Though, I am not sure that the folks in the downstairs apartment will agree. :raz:

Please don't give up on the fresh galangal if you are lucky enough to find it. I think it is much superior to the dried even though dried is ok if that is all you can get. I don't even bother with the powdered. What I have started doing with fibrous stuff like ginger, galagal and lemon grass is slicing it thin across the fibers before pounding it. I also do a fine chiffonade of the lime leaves before pounding it that is called for in the recipe.

I am definitely going to do this. I am toying with the idea of trying it with pork since you have done all of the excellent work on the beef.
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

#97 andiesenji

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 10:39 AM

This one looks really good, snowangel. It's definitely going on the short list of things to try soon. Thanks for posting the pics and your process.

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Patti, I did find pounding the paste better than using the food processor (I started in the latter and moved to the former). Also, the lemon grass. I ended up using 4 pieces because by the time I removed the tough leaves and got to that tender center, there wasn't much of it. In lieu of the mortar and pestal, I spice grinder or microplaning some of this stuff might be a good idea. Also, fresh galangal is really fibrous, I can't think of a reason not to used dried.

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When using fresh galangal, as well as older ginger, etc., a ginger grater is best.
Working the cut face of the galangal back and forth over the teeth of the grater extracts a non-fibrous paste and juice.
Most of the little graters are too small and difficult to hold on to and I have a rather large glass one that I found quite a few years ago. However I have found that a suribachi works quite well also, particularly the coarser ones.
I then use a bamboo "brush" to get all the goodness out of the grater or the suribachi.

When I get home this evening I will take a photo of the glass one so you can see what it looks like and keep an eye out for one.
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#98 Marlene

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 04:10 PM

I've been busy packing and haven't really cooked anything for several days. However, Molly's book is the only cookbook I haven't packed away, and I'm feeling a yen to braise. Until now, everything (except the ribs) I've done has been beef (no real surprise there to those who know me). So it's time to branch out.

I'm eyeing the pork chops and creamy cabbage braise for tomorrow night. This appears to be a stovetop braise, and although I'm no lover of cooked cabbage, I'm thinking the pork chops sound delcious.
Marlene
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#99 snowangel

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 05:23 PM

That salmon with the pinot and bacon was delish. As was the pork with mango, lime and coconut (OK, so I know your family doesn't like coconut, but I don't think they'll know it's there unless you tell). And, that chicken with prunes (fish them out if they have some sort of emotional allergy to prunes) and olives was also absolutely outstanding. What about the fricasee of chicken? Or the milk braised pork (easiest thing I've done in ages, and again, absolutely wonderful).
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#100 Marlene

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 05:30 PM

That salmon with the pinot and bacon was delish.  As was the pork with mango, lime and coconut (OK, so I know your family doesn't like coconut, but I don't think they'll know it's there unless you tell).  And, that chicken with prunes (fish them out if they have some sort of emotional allergy to prunes) and olives was also absolutely outstanding.  What about the fricasee of chicken?  Or the milk braised pork (easiest thing I've done in ages, and again, absolutely wonderful).

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I can pretty much assure you that salmon won't fly here either. :biggrin: Coq au vin is also on the list as is the fricasee of chicken definately. I'll take another look at the milk braised pork!
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#101 greenwich st

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 06:37 PM

I just made the tuna pot roast with tomato, capers and basil. The sauce was good (though a bit scanty, I felt) and I really like the anchovy/garlic/basil paste idea -- next time I'd make even more than she suggests because it flavors the meaty tuna really well, but I have messed up the cooking time somehow because the tuna came out really dry. Which is a bummer because a) it costs a fortune and b) dry tuna is basically inedible. First of all, it didn't form a nice crust when I sauteed it, which I did over high-ish heat probably did for too long, about 3 - 4 minutes each side to try to get that browning thing happening instead of the 2 minutes she recommends. Then, I braised it, basting at a faint simmer for the time she gave -- 20 minutes or so, but I think it would have been done in more like ten. I think it might be worth trying again, but this time I'd respect the 2 minutes searing time and be really vigilant about checking for doneness well before the recommended time.

#102 snowangel

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 06:47 PM

Greenwish, I think if you go above thread, all of that has experience with this book would agree that her temps are too high!

Edited by snowangel, 09 March 2005 - 12:27 PM.

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#103 patti

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 10:12 AM

This one looks really good, snowangel. It's definitely going on the short list of things to try soon. Thanks for posting the pics and your process.

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Patti, I did find pounding the paste better than using the food processor (I started in the latter and moved to the former). Also, the lemon grass. I ended up using 4 pieces because by the time I removed the tough leaves and got to that tender center, there wasn't much of it. In lieu of the mortar and pestal, I spice grinder or microplaning some of this stuff might be a good idea. Also, fresh galangal is really fibrous, I can't think of a reason not to used dried.

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Snowangel, I'd like to make this dish today or tomorrow, but I don't have a proper mortar and pestle (only a small wooden set and a small marble set that we used to use for meds for our son). How important is it for this dish? And how important is the kind of mortar and pestle? If I shop for one to use TODAY, it would have to come from Linens 'N Things, or Bed, Bath and Beyond, or a specialty kitchen store, which will probably have something overpriced. I've seen some online at Asian cooking/shopping sites, too. Would you soldier on without one for today and wait to buy a particular one, or would you go out and get what's available today?

Any advice welcomed.
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#104 fifi

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 10:46 AM

Patti . . .

I can't answer your question about waiting to try the recipe.

But I can answer about the mortar and pestle. This is the one that I have. I have tried many types and this one is very much my favorite. One caution. Go for the 8 inch. Mine is the 6 inch and I really really really wish it were bigger. I bought it at my local Asian market before I knew what I was doing. Their supply is rather sporadic as are my visits but as soon as I find a bigger one, I am getting it.
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#105 patti

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 10:57 AM

Patti . . .

I can't answer your question about waiting to try the recipe.

What? You can't make life decisions for me, too? :raz:


But I can answer about the mortar and pestle. This is the one that I have. I have tried many types and this one is very much my favorite. One caution. Go for the 8 inch. Mine is the 6 inch and I really really really wish it were bigger. I bought it at my local Asian market before I knew what I was doing. Their supply is rather sporadic as are my visits but as soon as I find a bigger one, I am getting it.

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Thanks, fifi, I will order the 8" one.
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#106 patti

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 09:04 PM

Inspired by snowangel's pictures of Molly's Beef Rendang, I decided to give it a go, even without a mortar and pestle.

I gathered my ingredients, as shown below, substituting powdered turmeric for fresh. The paste ingredients include ginger, galangal, shallots, garlic, turmeric, dried chiles and lemon grass. Other spices used in the braise include cinnamon sticks, star anise, cardamom pods, keffir lime leaves, and coarse salt:

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The paste ingredients (the top half of the picture) went into the food processor.


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I fried the paste in peanut oil for 8-10 minutes and then added the cinnamon sticks, star anise, cardamom pods, the meat, and a pinch of salt. Coconut milk is added to cover the meat (not pictured).


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The mixture simmered for a couple of hours, and when it was reaching the next phase, I noticed that the meat was not yet tender, so I added more coconut milk and let it simmer longer. Had I realized it still needed to cook 45 minutes to an hour more in the final stage, I might not've added more milk. However, it didn't affect anything negatively, except for time. Almost done! (The meat is a couple of shades darker than it appears in the picture.)


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Finally plated. As much as I love rice, I'm trying to stay away from it for now, so none for me. Yum, snowangel is right. This is a very rich and delicious dish!

Notes: I added more dried chiles than the recipe calls for because snowangel noted that she'd add more heat next time. My total was 9 peppers, and I think I could've upped it even more. Also, I added more salt during the last stages, and a bit more right at the end.

Edited by patti, 09 March 2005 - 09:54 PM.

"I like 'em french fried pertaters." (Billy Bob Thornton as Karl, in Sling Blade.)

#107 snowangel

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 09:34 PM

Oh, patti. It looks wonderful. You are better at taking pictures and have better plates than me, as well!

Tonight was leftover night at our house. Some leftover pot roast. Two leftover grilled chicken legs (devoured by Peter) and the leftover Beef Rendang. I resubmerged the potroast in liquid and stuck in the oven at 250 for a while. I wasn't sure what to do with the Rendang, but ended up sticking it in a bowl in a steamer, with the leftover rice in a bowl in the basket above.

Bottom line. Diana and I love this dish. We fought over the last piece. Diana asked why I didn't make twice as much. The heat was more prevelant during the reheat, but I would still up the peppers from what I did. Of everything I've made out of this dish, I think this one is the most mysterious, deepest. It really speaks to me.

As to the galangal. Most of what I can find here in the Twin Cities (a big area for this sort of stuff; I do think we have the hugest SE asian immigrant population) is pretty woody, and since I run through the powdered stuff pretty fast, would probably use that again in the future. I'm not sure where this stuff comes from, but I know the turnover is good. I just can't believe how much "woodier" it is than ginger (which has an equally high turnover).

Finally, I think this dish would work equally well with pork or chix thighs.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#108 fifi

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 03:01 AM

. . . . .
As to the galangal.  Most of what I can find here in the Twin Cities (a big area for this sort of stuff; I do think we have the hugest SE asian immigrant population) is pretty woody, and since I run through the powdered stuff pretty fast, would probably use that again in the future.  I'm not sure where this stuff comes from, but I know the turnover is good.  I just can't believe how much "woodier" it is than ginger (which has an equally high turnover).

Finally, I think this dish would work equally well with pork or chix thighs.

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That is odd. The fresh galangal that I get here, when it shows up, is much "juicier" than even the freshest ginger. It certainly isn't ever woody. If I don't use it up in a week or so, I need to get it sliced and into rice wine vinegar and the refrigerator before it goes moldy.

Pork chunks, here I come. There have been some noteable "boneless pork country ribs" on sale here that look pretty good. (I am thinking that they are cuts of pork butt put into less intimidating portions.)
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

#109 Marlene

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 06:13 AM

Patti, that looks amazing!

You and snowangel have convinced me to try this one. Maybe my family won't notice the coconut milk. Speaking of which, I can't say I've ever seen coconut milk in a store, but I'll look!
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#110 Kim WB

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 06:35 AM

I was less than impressed with the brussel sprouts recipe...stovetop braise in heavy cream. I think this would be a better dish for someone who did not like Brussell Sprouts, since it masks the taste of them. In fainess, she refers to to this in the intro. specifically, however, I would not describe the cream as a "rich glaze" that coats the sprouts..it really is more like , well, regular creamed food.

Today, I'm preparing the red cabbage with maple and ginger. But I covet making the Braised rabbil w/ merguez...seems like a weekend project.

Edited by Kim WB, 10 March 2005 - 06:38 AM.


#111 mamster

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 09:13 AM

I haven't made the AAB brussels sprouts recipe, but I do have a brussels sprout tip, although I suspect most of you are way ahead of me here, in which case, just enjoy reading about my charming naivete.

I love brussels sprouts but I don't buy them that often, especially at the grocery store, because they're such a pain. You always have to remove some dried out leaves, cut off the base, and, because I don't generally like to cook them whole, cut them into a few slices.

Then I read the Mark Bittman article about frozen vegetables couple of weeks ago in the Times. Where have I been? I didn't even know they had frozen brussels sprouts. I guess I sort of figured there was frozen corn, spinach, and broccoli, and that was about it.

Well, as you have guessed, I got some frozen brussels sprouts, and they were the cheapest, easiest to prep, and most delicious brussels sprouts I've ever bought at the supermarket. I'll probably still buy fresh ones at the farmer's market. Maybe. But otherwise, forget it.
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#112 gourmande

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 09:25 AM

...Speaking of which, I can't say I've ever seen coconut milk in a store, but I'll look!

Marlene, if your supermarket is anything like mine, you'll likely find the coconut milk in the "drinks" aisle shelved with the drink mixes.
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#113 fifi

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 09:40 AM

. . . . .
Marlene, if your supermarket is anything like mine, you'll likely find the coconut milk in the "drinks" aisle shelved with the drink mixes.

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Um. . . that is likely the Coconut Water that is sold by Goya for instance. You also need to be wary of the really sweet coconut cream products that are sold for making Pina Coladas. Coco Loco is a likely brand of that.

The product used in these recipes is coconut milk like this. You can usually find it in the "ethnic foods" aisle of your grocery. This is actually the brand I get at my Asian market but even my smallest grocery now carries Taste of Thai.
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"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

#114 patti

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 09:44 AM

Thanks for the kind words, Susan and Marlene.

Susan, without your pictures to refer to, I'm not sure I would've waited for the proper 'doneness'. I tasted at several points in the final stages and it seemed good to me, but thank goodness I knew what I was supposed to be looking for. It ain't 'finished' til it's finished.

Marlene, I'm so glad you started this thread! Is there a section in your supermarket for Asian foods? Mine doesn't have the best selection, but it does have canned coconut milk. I've stopped buying it there, having read the Thai Cooking at Home thread and discovered that the better brands are found at Asian markets, or are available for purchase online.
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#115 gourmande

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 10:28 AM

. . . . .
Marlene, if your supermarket is anything like mine, you'll likely find the coconut milk in the "drinks" aisle shelved with the drink mixes.

View Post

...Um. . . that is likely the Coconut Water that is sold by Goya for instance. ...


No, it is indeed coconut milk, I do know the difference :smile:

For some reason, many of the chain grocery stores in this part of the province shelf the coconut milk in the drinks aisle. It took me a while to A) find it and B) get used to that placement when I moved here. :rolleyes:

I do make it a point whenever I visit the supermarket to ask why they don't place it with the other coconut milk products (sauces etc.) in the ethnic food section. Apparently my pleas aren't making much of an impression on the Zehrs' product placement police! :rolleyes:
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#116 fifi

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 11:31 AM

. . . . .
No, it is indeed coconut milk, I do know the difference  :smile:

For some reason, many of the chain grocery stores in this part of the province shelf the coconut milk in the drinks aisle. It took me a while to A) find it and B) get used to that placement when I moved here. :rolleyes:

I do make it a point whenever I visit the supermarket to ask why they don't place it with the other coconut milk products (sauces etc.) in the ethnic food section. Apparently my pleas aren't making much of an impression on the Zehrs' product placement police! :rolleyes:

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That is just weird. But then, it took me the better part of a half hour to find barley at my store. It was next to the canned soup. :wacko:
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

#117 Marlene

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 12:50 PM

Now why did I have visions of it being in the milk section? Duh. It never occured to me to think canned. I will check the shelves both the Asian section and the drinks aisle next time I'm shopping.
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#118 Anna N

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 01:27 PM

Now why did I have visions of it being in the milk section?  Duh.  It never occured to me to think canned.  I will check the shelves both the Asian section and the drinks aisle next time I'm shopping.

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I know Price Chopper on 3rd Line carries as does Superstore. BUT Superstore has it in the drinks aisle! Go figure.
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#119 Octaveman

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 09:21 PM

I got to thinking...I wonder how would the meat and sauce turn out if I used BBQ sauce as my liquid. I'd most likely try half bbq sauce and half beef stock so it won't dry out but I was wondering if anyone has tried braising this way. Something tells me it would be awesome.

Edited by Octaveman, 10 March 2005 - 09:22 PM.

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#120 bloviatrix

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 09:38 PM

If you can't find coconut milk in the store, it's very simple to make at home. Get dried, unsweetened coconut. Put in saucepan with an equal amount of water and bring to boil. Let cool and steep for a bit. Then puree in blender. Strain through cheesecloth (you want to squeeze all the liquid out).

Voila! Coconut milk.
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