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Posts posted by Malawry

  1. I soaked some navy beans last night to make baked beans today. They plumped up fine in the water and looked pretty normal when I put them in the pot today. I started to boil them at 1:30pm. It's now almost 4 and they're still crunchy. They're in plain tap water, no salt, no nothing. I started them by bringing them to a hard boil, and then I cut them back to a slow simmer. When they weren't softening up after an hour and a half I brought the heat up to a slow boil. Still no dice, but now some of the beans are busting apart from the agitation. The water in my house is pretty hard, and I usually cook my beans in filtered water for this reason, but in a pennywise-pound foolish decision I didn't use the filtered stuff this time. I've given up on eating these beans for dinner tonight, but I'd still like the damn things to cook.

    Is there anything I can do? Should I drain them and add fresh, filtered water and try that? Is there something I can put in the water to help the beans along? They taste as if they've barely softened up at all. I seriously doubt this is a case of old beans, they came from my natural foods co-op where I know all the dried beans have a high turnover...

  2. In the video segment that goes with the story, Bittman suggests letting the dough rest for 10 minutes so the gluten relaxes some. That might work to help you get thinner dough. As for the pasta rollers, I don't see why that wouldn't work, but you have to be careful that the dough doesn't stick, and it's gonna result in a rather rectangular pizza...

  3. I live in a small town too, although there are a couple supermarkets and a Wal-Mart in the next town over, about 10mi away--so I may not be in the exact situation you're discussing here. I call my town "the rural edge of suburbia" because it's a little over an hour from Washington, DC--and some people out here actually work downtown every day.

    I do a helluva lot more driving than I did when I lived in suburbia (or in the city, although I walked and didn't own a car then). I try hard to combine errands. I sometimes work in a town 30min away sometimes and when I'm there I try to hit every place I might need--a natural foods coop, Costco, ethnic markets. A vehicle with 4WD and lots of capacity is important, as are coolers in the summertime. I have a chest freezer and a second fridge to hold any overflow shopping. (If I relied on the markets here, I'd probably exceed my grocery budget quite a lot.)

    Work is a big thing--many of the people out here have jobs in more populated areas, so they stop by the shops out there on the way home from work.

  4. Pax, I'm sure your pizza is fabulous. But I don't see the benefit of that over baking a pizza on a pizza stone in a hot oven, personally. To me, the whole excitement over the Bittman technique is the idea that I could have a crisp-crusted pizza without heating up my oven. In my case, I had to heat the oven anyway. Between that and the extra fat involved in this technique, I don't know that I'll be repeating it anytime soon. Maybe in summer or while camping it makes more sense--contexts where there is no oven available or it's too annoying to heat up the kitchen by turning on an oven.

  5. I tried it today. I was hoping for a flavor effect similar to country bread fried in olive oil (which is SO FREAKING YUMMY), but it wasn't as good as that. Maybe I should have used a better olive oil--I used the standard Costco Filippo Berio or whatever it's called EVOO. Also, I had to stick the pan under the broiler because my heat was too high when I flipped the dough and applied toppings--the bottom would have scorched if I waited until the cheese melted. (I hadn't preheated my broiler, so it meant a project that should have taken only a few minutes took more like 30 all told.)

    Definitely turn the heat down low when you flip the pizza dough disk.

  6. "Eternity is two people and a ham."

    I can't eat much country ham at once, but I do love its flavor. I've nibbled on plenty, cut some chunks off for the freezer, and thrown some into an incredible split-pea soup. What are some other dishes that are good with some country ham? (I didn't grow up eating the stuff, being from a Jewish Southern household, so I don't have deep reserves of knowledge on the subject...)

  7. Hollandaise will curdle if it gets too hot, since the eggs will cook, and it will separate if it gets too cold, since the butter will harden. The zone in-between, where the temperature is just right, happens to be a happy zone for bacteria to breed--they love warm-but-not-hot temps. There is no way to hold hollandaise for a long time because of all these factors.

    I was taught to never hold hollandaise for more than 2 hours at the outside, and if possible make it right before serving it. When I need to hold it, I do so in a covered styrofoam cup near the back of the stove, or sometimes in a metal bowl in the same spot with a piece of buttered parchment pushed onto the surface. I've never held it longer than a half hour at home.

  8. I'd make some ice cream, personally.

    Sour cream + creme fraiche makes a nice, rich dip. Stir in as many odds and ends of diced onions as you have laying about and salt the hell out of it and you have my signature "five-onion dip."

  9. Maybe it's harder for vegan chefs to get the necessary qualifications?

    Speaking from my personal experience, it's almost impossible to make it through culinary school as a vegetarian, much less a vegan. As a matter of fact, I left behind my vegetarianism on the day I started culinary school. Most vegetarians who want to go to culinary school end up doing a pastry program, and I befriended several vegetarian pastry students while I was in the culinary program at my alma mater. (As a recent ex-vegetarian, I was sensitive to making sure they had good food choices whenever we were feeding the pastry folks.)

    The reason why my particular program would have been difficult to pass as a vegetarian or a vegan? Even if you don't taste foods, you're going to be graded on how they taste. Some people claim they can work wonders with animal foods without ever sampling them (Indian chef Suvir Saran is in this camp), but I personally find this hard to get my brain around. Also, the pressure on a vegetarian or vegan culinary student would be relentless to say the least--there is very little tolerance for people with these diets in most culinary schools. Finally, the vegetarian or vegan student would be expected to prepare animal foods just like everybody else--and they certainly couldn't pass any respectable program without doing so. (Most of the vegetarians and vegans I've known don't exactly feel like grilling a steak or trussing a chicken when they're in the kitchen.)

    Could a vegetarian or vegan student make it by working through the restaurant world to earn their stripes? Good luck. As we've discussed on this thread, there aren't exactly great vegan restaurants in every town training the next generation of vegan chefs. And if you think the attitude in culinary schools is anti-vegan, wait till you see what most restaurant cooks and chefs think of people who make those dietary choices.

    As I reflect on this question, I think lack of training may be a significant reason for the lack of great vegan restaurant food.

  10. I made wonderfuull stock for a fried bird carcass...actually the least greasy turkey stock I have ever seen

    Really? I tried making a stock from the fried carcass last year and it had a scorched flavor--the action of the oil on the bones from the inside of the bird created that effect. It wasn't greasy, but it was too dark and bitter with a little burnt flavor and aroma. Now I'm wondering if I'm missing something here--if my friends fried the turkey at too high a temp or something. (They took care of the entire job, I just made everything else and helped lower the turkey into the oil.)

  11. I don't think I've seen this mentioned, but you can roast the turkey and even carve it a day in advance. I usually do this if I'm serving a roasted turkey, it means I can just reheat the meat and not need to tie up my oven with the bird on the big day.

    Of course, this year we're frying the turkey, which is super-tasty, super-quick, and means your oven is totally free all week if you want it. The only drawbacks: there are no drippings for gravy (so you have to make turkey stock in advance), and you can't use the carcass to make stock for the freezer after you're done (but you're already making stock in advance, so that's no biggie either...).

  12. Butter lettuce salad with pickled red onions, spiced pecans and homemade blue cheese dressing

    Baked country ham

    Homemade sour cherry jam

    Lee Bros biscuits

    Sage cornbread

    John Cope's Stewed Corn

    Haricots verts

    Sauteed apples with butterscotch-calvados ice cream and a sage shortbread cookie

  13. As a child, Chef Tell was my favorite part of Evening Magazine. When I teach, I find myself often using his tagline, "Very simple, very easy." What a loss--and at a fairly young age, too. Thanks for posting about this.

  14. I'm making the ham for dinner. I have good grits in the freezer (Guilford Mills) so perhaps we'll do those instead of biscuits--plus then I can make grits cakes to go with some leftover ham for breakfast the next morning. We are planning on some sort of apple dessert, but haven't chosen one yet. I was thinking of some sort of greens, they seem to belong in there somewhere. Thanks for any additional tips ya'll can offer.

  15. OpenTable software doesn't allow you to make more than one reservation in a short time period, though I think if you register with them as an "administrative assistant" (whereby you can earn points making reservations for others, a service for those who often do this sort of thing for their coworkers) then you can make multiple reservations.

    Also, I have heard that OT can shut a person out if they no-show multiple times.

  16. Here's a little story for you from culinary school.

    I developed a knack for pasta early on in the course. I just "got it" right away, and my pastas always came out great.

    One day, somebody served the head of the school (who was French, not Italian), some pasta that he wasn't impressed with. He went and told the chef-instructor who did our ordering that he shouldn't have us making pasta with unbleached flour. He said bleached flour is superior for making pasta, and be sure we have plenty on hand because he didn't want a repeat of the pasta he'd just been served.

    Fast-forward a week or so. Pasta is on the menu again. My team makes the pasta for the head of the school, and since I'm good at and enjoy making it, I'm the one who does it. After lunch, he came and asked who made the pasta, and I said I did. He said he liked it, and then he asked me what kind of flour I'd used. I told him I used unbleached AP flour. He shook his head, looking surprised, and wandered off.

    I don't think it matters whether you use bleached or unbleached flour. Or at least that's the conclusion I take from this story. I will say that I prefer handmade pasta with AP flour over handmade pasta with semolina or durum flours.

  17. I taught a cooking class once in a dorm kitchen that had a broken bottom element in the oven. It took me the better part of the first session to figure this out. I then reworked the class to avoid the oven as much as possible.

    The class was for 9th graders and was about chemistry in the kitchen, and for the "final project" we were studying how fat affects flavor and texture by baking chocolate-chip cookies with 4 kinds of fat--so we had to use that oven. Baking the cookies on the bottom rack helped. They took longer than normal to bake through, but they did bake through without scorching on the top as long as I watched them like a hawk and rotated them around the halfway point to help eliminate hot spots.

    Cookies are a lot more forgiving than a cake, though...

  18. I had a Dutch friend in high school who brought what he called "chocolate sandwiches" for lunch. Sometimes he'd give me a bite (he was a good friend, what can I say??). They were ordinary white sandwich bread spread thinly with butter and then topped with either a mixture of dark and white chocolate flakes (which were specially purchased and shipped from the homeland) or what I grew up calling "chocolate sprinkles" (which were also specially purchased and shipped from the homeland, and which had a more genuine chocolate flavor than the waxy version I knew from ice cream parlors). The chocolate was then topped with another buttered piece of bread to make a portable sandwich for the lunchbox.

    I loved these things and wished we Americans grew up on such delights. Chocolate sandwiches? Sign me up!

  19. I was interested in the way Jamie's receipt was broken out by category--something I've never seen on a receipt. The categories strike me as strange, too: one for meat and one for meat/deli, yet the dairy products are considered "grocery. Jamie, is this sort of categorization common to stores in your area?

  20. Thanks, everybody, for the tips.

    Fortunately, I switched chemotherapy regimens, and the new medication "cocktail" does not cause nausea! Hooray! So I'm "over the hump" on things for now, and never really got around to exploring beyond Carnation Instant Breakfast in the meantime.

  21. I think choux is fairly sturdy, as doughs go. I don't see any reason you can't make the choux, add the cheese, put it in a pastry bag with your tip of choice, and let it sit around for a couple of hours in the fridge until you get around to schlepping it to your party. Pipe and bake as usual once there.

  22. If you leave it in the brine, it may get too salty. Take it out and dry it off. Letting the chicken air-dry in the fridge overnight is only a good thing, you're more likely to get a nice crisp skin that way anyway. I'd store it on a rack over a tray in the fridge, uncovered.

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