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Jay Francis

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Everything posted by Jay Francis

  1. I had created a cannele discussion here sometime back when I was getting really frustrated working with the recipe in Paula Wolfert's book. Following her procedure to the letter resulted in a burned cannele. I now use a much simpler recipe that I got doing a recipe search at the Food Network site. Is it authentic? I don't know. But it produces a flavorful dessert. And, I found on close-out at Sur La Table, a silicone cannele mold. Which is how I got into trying to make cannele after reading about them at the www.chocolateandzucchini.com weblog. Having that makes a big difference I think. My cannele always come out mis-shapen. They are very sweet, though, and have a chewy crunch and a custardy inside so I am pleased. And an additional note. Although I did not have success with Paula's cannele recipe, I need to qualify that I am a big fan of hers. When I returned to the states in 1983, the hardback copy of her Morroccan book was one of my first purchases. I have, over the years, made pretty much every dish in this cookbook, with great success.
  2. The 3 1/4 cups flour in the recipe, did you dip your cup into the flour bag and level (a packed flour), spoon the flour from the flour bag into a measuring cup, or did you pour your flour into a measuring bowl (looser flour)? Thanks. Jay
  3. I recently had the opportunity to enjoy a loaf of Poilane in London, Elie. I can confirm that yours looks exactly like theirs, colorwise. Good job!
  4. One comment though. You'll note that tollhouse cookies call out for baking soda. But there is very little acid in the cookie dough to react with the baking soda. It turns out that baking soda is a browning ingredient, to help give the cookie a more attractive color.
  5. You're not going to find bergamot oranges in Houston, I'm afraid. Not enough interest/demand for this orange.
  6. I guess my book should have a forward by Shannon Do(ug)herty.
  7. Jay Francis

    Making Tamales

    I'm very proud of the recipe that Robb and I developed for his The Tex-Mex Cookbook, using Maseca instead of fresh masa (I was concerned about access to fresh masa in other places). What I would like to talk about today is the pork stuffing and my most recent work on this recipe. I place a 5 lb pork loin roast (bought when on special at Randall's for $1 a pound) in a crock pot with water to cover, two teaspoons of Kosher salt, one teaspoon of garlic powder, two ancho chile pods with seeds removed, and one diced onion, the size of a hardball. Cooked at low temperature overnight. The broth is reserved for use with the masa. A cup or so of broth, the anchos, and onions are run through the blender to make a puree. The pork is shredded and the puree is added. The meat is tasted and salt is added to adjust the taste. Now, the important step. How hot to make the hot tamales? Add cayenne pepper and black pepper starting with a teaspoon each, and add more until the right amount of fire is achieved. I tend to make mine very hot, just because I am tired of bland tamales. These tamales go well with the Texas Chili Gravy recipe in Robb's book.
  8. Thanks to everyone for this valuable information. Jay
  9. Well, after many years of service, my KitchenAid stand mixer is starting to make some loud bearing noises. Houston doesn't have a repair center. I was wondering if anyone has ever taken apart a KitchenAid stand mixer, in order to get to the bearings? I want to see if I can lubricate them with a white lithium grease, to fix the problem. Thank you
  10. Markets. True, the Abastos market is phenomenal. A religious experience as it were. But one shouldn't bypass the two markets downtown. At 20 Noviembre, you'll find your best fondas for eating, and an area where you buy meats that are then charcoal grilled right there. The first place I head toward when I get to Oaxaca. Luisa Cabrera who owns Cafe de Olla and teaches cooking classes starts her class with a trip to her local market, which, like the Etla market, is full of many surprises, ladies she has known for years who specialize in one product such as cheese. Her classes run about $60 for the day, and I made one of the most delicious mole colorados in her class. Classes are held at her bed and breakfast which I believe is called La Casa de mis Sabores. You can get all the information at Cafe de Olla or probably doing a web search. And other surprises. One day, waiting for my bus to Puebla at the 1st class bus station, I popped into a convenience store across the street. I ended up buying a kilo vacuum pack of SAF brand yeast for a couple of dollars. In a convenience store! And chocolate. Chocolate Mayordomo has captured the market share of the chocolate business in Oaxaca and the other competitors do not do the business that they do. However, this is because Chocolate Mayordomo has worked hard to provide a superior product at competitive prices. Using two kinds of cacao (Tabascan and Chiapan) and further breaking those two into fermented and unfermented, they have developed a blend that is superlative. Also, their black mole in glass jars is top quality. Don't think that just because they are the biggest that they are too corporate.
  11. Comales. I usually bring back several clay comales when I go to Oaxaca. However, even in Oaxaca, they have a short life before cracking and needing to be replaced. I bury the halves in the garden, upright like little monuments. Now, the best comales are the thinnest ones, as more heat is transmitted and, if you have to use charcoal as in the villages you want to maximize your heat efficiency to keep costs down. There is nothing wrong with using a metal comal, a cast iron griddle or skillet. This is typically what is used by street vendors in many Mexican cities. There is a nice authenticity about clay comales coated with cal, but it isn't really a necessity. I use cast iron all the time, and save my clay comales for when I want to impress someone.
  12. For bicycling: Bicicletas Bravo at Garcia Vigil 409 For Shopping: I am so grateful that we began collecting our carvings, etc. in the 90's as prices have increased and quality has decreased. Carvings are smaller and the paint they are using now is not very aesthetically appealing. Still, the aniline dye carvings from La Union have their charm, although they also have gotten expensive. Carvings that we would have paid $20 for in the 90's now have an asking price of $60 and are not worth it. The store, Chimalli, has moved across the street on Garcia Vigil from where it used to be and is smaller, no more large area in back for packing of your purchases. But his quality is still excellent and the prices are fair considering what others are asking for lower quality fair. Hotels: My intention was to stay in a different hotel each night. My first night was at the Trebol, that still gets my vote for overall value in the $50 range. However, I ended up at a new tiny hotel called Los Frailes. The room was small, was $40 for a single, and the cable tv had 60 channels, so I caught up on a lot of movies. But the family that runs this place is so gentile, I just couldn't leave. I got to socialize with three generations. When people are this nice, you just stay and stay and stay. And the location was terrific, at Reforma and Constitucion. Hotels: Trebol. Flores Magon #201. www.oaxaca-mop.com/trebol.htm Casa de los Frailes. Constitucion #203. casadelosfrailes@yahoo.com.mx Fonda: 20 de Noviembre Market for hot chocolate and Tlayuda Mixta. Comedor Maria Alejandra, puestos 94, 95, 96 Cooking Class: Casa de los Sabores (also has a $70 a night bed and breakfast) www.mexonline.com/sabores.htm
  13. I can tell you that the weather was superb, and even though this is supposedly the slowest month, there was wonderful activity and a lot of European tourists giving the town an international feel. It's good that you have your hotel. I would have recommended the Hotel Trebol that is right by the downtown markets and still under the radar of most guide books. Typically a double at this time of year is $50. Susanna Trilling of course still offers her day cooking classes beginning with a tour of the Etla market on Wednesdays for $75. And Pilar Cabrera offer classes at her bed and breakfast Casa de mi Sabores, for $60 per person or $75 for a one person private lesson. Both were taken by me and both were excellent. One of the high points on this trip was discovering the mountain biking place and taking a four hour bike ride from the city that took me through Atzompa, home of the Blanco family pottery, and Arrazola. Foodwise, my first stop upon arrival was to the area of Mercado 20 Noviembre fro some grilled cecina and tasajo. Restaurantwise, I ended up defaulting to Las Ollas, Pilar's restaurant, and El Naranjo. So many choices, so little time. Tamales from street vendors for my breakfast. Hot chocolate for my evening meal at Fonda Maria Alejandra in the 20 Noviembre market.
  14. Wow, Shelora, that is a heck of a lot of questions. I m going to have to wait until I get back to the United States to handle all of that. Talk to you soon. What I will do is refer you to Lonely Planets guide to Mexico and then supplement with some observations from this trip. Jay
  15. I just thought I d write to see if any fellow Egulleteers are in Oaxaca this week. I am here shopping for foodstuffs, exploring the markets, and taking cooking classes, if anyone would like to meet up for dinner. Also, any questions related to Oaxacan cuisine, I would be pleased to answer. Sincerely, Jay
  16. Years ago, Cuisinart had a monthly magazine of recipes. In one of them was a terrific, easy food processor carrot cake recipe. If anyone out there has saved their Cuisinart magazines, could they post this recipe for this person. It was the best I ever remember, although a bit on the oily side.
  17. Kitchen Scales. In this day and age, I think everyone needs a kitchen scale. I have two and both are highly recommended. Cuisinart makes a terrific, fool proof, gravity scale which you can get for under $20. Model SA-105 called the precision portion scale and good for measures up to 300 grams (or 10 ounces). Forget about spring loaded scales. In this day and age, they don't have the accuracy that you can achieve consistently with the above, or, with a digital scale. The above Cuisinart fit my needs for years, but when I started baking more, I found that I needed something that could handle larger measures. By luck, and with a 20% off coupon at Birdbath and Beyond, I took a chance on the Salter 101digital scale. And it turned out to be everything I needed in a scale. Here is what it looks like: http://www.chefsresource.com/sal10elkitsc.html
  18. Bravo, John. I was hoping that others would pick up this thread and post about favorite products. By the way, since I use my thermometers for candy making too, what is the upper temperature limit of your thermapen? Thanks. Jay
  19. I still vote for the classic Cuisinart food processors. The ones I have don't have those fancy safety feed tubes (the benefit of buying used). I have the old non locking design and also one of the tops that just has the hole in the top. Going on 20 years with my Cuisinart DLC-7 with no maintenance problems.
  20. Oxo Measuring Cups. 1 Cup and 2 Cup Sizes. These are the ones where you view the measurement when you look down into them. They really work and have become indispensible. I also fall back on a 8 cup Pyrex measuring bowl regularly. Garlic Press. Oxo makes several different ones. I saw one of their fancier ones used on America's Test Kitchen, the one where you can remove the piece that the garlic is pressed through for easy cleaning, and it is excellent. I no longer chop garlic at all. This is the dull silver and black design.
  21. I invented a hamburger based on the Mexican torta. Tortaburger. You start with telera, toasted and sliced, add avocado, lettuce, tomato, onion, refried beans, mayonaise, jalapeno, and grilled hamburger.
  22. Mixers. Well, by default it looks like the KitchenAid artisan mixer is the defacto standard. I own and extra bowl which is highly recommended. I bought the attachments for meat grinding (never use) and the plastic cover for keeping flour and stuff from spraying out of the bowl (never use). Dishwashers. We own a Bosch dishwasher that is incredibly quiet. However, if yo buy a Bosch, be sure to get the extended warranty. We have had two breakdowns that would have cost a LOT of money if we hadn't had the warranty. Stoves: Due to space limitation, we own a Jenn Air that sucks the smoke and fumes down draft to the floor. Basically, the Jenn Air doesn't work as far as venting odors is concerned. Anything higher than a sauce pan, won't have its vapors sucked in, plus, the suction pulls heat away from the burners, so that everything takes longer to cook. The grill attachment that comes with it is junk, doesn't work. The oven is superb, both conventional and convection are precise and trouble free. So if you are buying a Jenn Air so you can grill meat inside the house, or control odors, forget it. If you are buying to have a great oven, this is a very good stove. Also the venting action works perfectly for the oven, just not the stove tops. I have gone back to cooking my smelly foods outside on my propane burner with my wok, when I don't want the house to smell up. Vacu-Vin. The company that makes the wine corks also makes containers for storing food, that you can remove air from. I couldn't find any locally and ended up buying a large supply directly from the company. I use my flat containers and my cylindrical containers weekly for storing everything.
  23. Recently, I have been to several wedding and have had the opportunity to view the Bridal Registries at Sur La Table, Williams Sonoma, Birdbath and Beyond, etc. As I was reviewing the wish lists, I found myself thinking, "No, you really don't want that, you should be asking for this..." a lot. And it occurred to me that I was in a good position to make some notes on what really have worked for me over the years. 1. Knives. I fancy buying an expensive knife, but in reality, I have gotten by with an 8" Wusthoff chef's knife, a Chicago Cutlery 8", a Chinese cleaver, and a restaurant supply 12" for upwards of 15 years. Knife sharpening has always been a problem. I use a Chef's Choice manual sharpener. 2. Pots. Definitely a 12" or 14" seasoned cast iron pan for all high heat applications. Next, I splurged and bought an All Clad 2 quart saucier with lid for making sauces and candies. Everything else is teflon lined. Sur la Table has an incredible offer on a 2.5 quart Autograph 2 Anolon saucier right now for $20 including a whisk. The teflon lined pots that I own are by Circulon. They are first generation, flimsy, and basically junk. But they have a lifetime warranty on them and I haven't had to exchange them yet. The newer Circulon seems more heavy duty. 3. Cuisinart. Seems like they just do better engineering than others. Definitely a Cuisinart food processor is the way to go, and I would buy mine used on ebay, so as to get one of the classic square base models like a DLC-7. The Cuisinart blender, with its very wide base is fantastic. 4. Coffee Grinders. I've had several years of continued success with the grinder that Starbucks sells for about $80. I had a Melitta before it and it could not grind with any precision. 5. Silpat. Love it. Although I did have to exchange one of my first ones under warranty because the silicone disappeared in one section. Might have been because I exceeded the recommended heat level though.
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