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Posts posted by nessa

  1. Step three. Forget the car and walk :P Unless you have the metabolism of a hummingbird.....

    In any case, I've been *Dying* for some good 'cue since reading and drooling over this topic. I'm new to Dallas so I'm not real sure where the good stuff is, and I HATE HATE HATE to be dissapointed when it comes to barbecue. I think its time to teach myself to *really* cook barbecue well, and to develop my own sauce. In my mind's eye, and stomach for that matter, the best barbecue ever was from this place in Roan's Prairie, on the left side of the road if you were headin' from Bryan to Huntsville. It was housed in a little gas station that changed hands and went downhill. We wept. Their sauce was what I grew up thinking that barbecue sauce was supposed to be like. It was thin, but not runny, spicy, vinigary and a touch sweet. Ambrosia. Grandma always wanted the sausage, Papa John always wanted brisket, but especially the beef tip end thingies.

    I'd love to be able to re-create that flavor and wallow in the nostalgia again. Over the hill to Grandmother's house we go... But we HAVE to stop in Roan's Prairie on the way!

    Chef Rodrigo, you will bring smiles to all the southern folk who have been missing some really good barbecue. And you will introduce the rest of them to a whole new world of goodness and obsession. I'm not knocking other regions' 'cue, but you tend to fixate on what you grow up with, and its reallllllly hard to beat good Texas 'cue. Lord knows I didn't have it in me to appreciate what they called barbecue up in Chicago. But then, I don't appreciate what they call pizza down here, either.

  2. I simply don't let it in the house. I saw it on the shelf today. Never shop when starving. The only saving grace was that I'm too damn short to reach the shelf its on. And I didn't feel like facing the public humiliation of climbing the shelving. I've done so to get that *last* bottle of diet vanilla pepsi....... When I lived in Germany, I would get the Aldi brand of Nutella, Nukota. It was damn good, from what I remember. I had a lot of weight to lose when I left Germany. :rolleyes::wub:

  3. To thicken stew gravy, I first brown coat the meat chunks in seasoned flour, then brown in hot fat. After it is almost done cooking, if the broth isn't thick enough I will remove some and let it cool, then mix in some cornstarch.

    If its really thin, I'll make a roux with butter and flour, remove the gravy and mix with the roux, then add back to the rest of the stew to simmer.

    Mmm. Gravy. Stew. Is it lunch time yet?

    I have "Well done" down pat. My stupid question is how to cook rare.

    I hardly ever cook steaks so I'm afraid of bungling a good cut of meat.

    I've heard of folks being able to press on the steak and know its doneness. What's the trick?

    I tend to cook roasts until they are falling off the bone of falling apart tender. I want to be able to cook medium rare roasts too, so what are the tricks and times?

    I'm assuming also that you need a better cut of meat if you want it tender AND still pink? What about pork roasts, those you gotta cook well done, right?

    Seems like I need to find a How to cook Meat for Dummies 101....

  4. I've eaten at Topolobampo, Frontera Grill, and Fonda San Miguel.

    I had lunch a couple of times at Frontera Grill, and was not overly wowed. I really had expected to be enamored and awed. Presentation was nice, flavor was ok, food was luke warm. Everything sounded great on the menu but somehow was lost in translation by the time it got to my plate.

    Topolobampo, I really hardly remember. That doesn't really say much, as my SO was along with, and was expecting something along the lines of large portions and more recognizable favorites. His dissapointment rather dampened my enjoyment as well. I remember thinking that it was very haute but other than that...... Don't get me wrong, I remeber it as being very good and a nice experience. But apparently not all that memorable. Could be just me. The menus sound so divine, but I was not impressed enough go back.

    Now, on the other hand, I remember every meal I've had at Fonda San Miguel's.

    Pardon me while I swoon. To me, thats mexican done right. Its certainly not your regular border grub. Not that I scoff at that at all. In my opinion does what Topolobampo tries to do. Sorta. I don't mean to degrade Topo, I only ate there once and the conditions were not the best.

    My impression of Topo was that it was haute, foofy and very artistic. It also seemed a bit more fusiony. FSM's every dish just explodes with flavor, texture, aroma, and love. My mother and I think we had the best lamb of our lives there. :wub: We eat family style no matter where we go, offering bites from our plate to all at the table. Num.

    I'm not biased cause I live in Texas, I lived in Chicago two years and all but idolized Rick. I love his cooking shows. I think part of the reason that we dont have more fine dining for Mexican food is that it is so often seen as a peasant's food, and seen as simplistic, cheap and filling. It is so prevalent in Texas that one is simply innundated by mexican restaurants everywhere that are all so so, and some just bad. Its what is cooked at home. Its everywhere. That doesn't tend to engender thoughts of white table clothes. Here in Texas we see mexican food as tacos, burritos, enchiladas and fajitas. Theres taco hells and taco cabanas on every corner. Its hard to get folks past that to see huitlacoche and borrego.

    Perhaps where there is not quite so much tex-mex saturation, it is easier to support really fine Mexican dining? Just a theory.

  5. Mmmmmmmmm. It also makes me happy to walk into my and smell air redolent with spice and good food. When I need to tone it down (SO complains, or company is due) I corral the wee beasties, open the windows and turn on the attic fan for a while. I have an over the stove ventilator thingamajig, but the morons who installed it (read previous owners) did not vent the thing to the outside!! :wacko: That is one of the SO's projects before summer.....

    Perhpas next time he complains of the pungent aromas I'll remind him gently of that....

  6. I stopped at the Czech Stop on I35 in West Texas over the weekend. I was on my way back from Austin, to Dallas. Central Texas has a rather large Czech population, I've been led to believe. I had two kolaches, each were big yummy slightly sweet yeast dough rolls wrapped around some wonderful sausage and cheese. They had so many varieties. All the meat onces were like PIBs and all the sweet ones were open facedlike danishes. They all looked divine, and I might have to drive the 70 some odd miles back to grab some more!

    Actually, I'd prefer to have the recipe for the yeast dough.....

  7. Its not baking, per se, that scares me. Its new techniques, I guess?

    I'm not a huge fan of flying blind in murky territory. Thats why it is SO stellar that there is a resource like egullet for me to come to, ask questions, do research and gird my loins. Moral support is nice too :wub:

    Edited to add:

    I can honestly say, however, that I'm not very likely to make many more angel food cakes. I think I prefer a moister, denser cake. But, I'm ever so glad that I can add this to my repertoire and can make it with confidence the next time the need arises.

    The lemon curd, however, will be making a frequent appearance.

  8. While the cake was well recieved, it was the lemon curd that folks raved over. It was soooo much easier than I thought. Actually both cake and curd were, I don't know why I was in such a tizzy!

    I'm in love with the curd. :wub:

    Here it is:


  9. Installment two: Finished product.

    SHE DID IT! BY GEORGE, SHE DID IT. Ok, we did it, thanks a million, guys. :wub: I think that this cake will be worthy of Dad's 70th B-day.

    Hopefully I'll have time to make that lemon curd.

    The flavor, from what I can tell from the crumbs and scrapings, is pretty much exactly what I was going for. Subtle, yet both flavors discernable. Maybe more lemon next time? I'll add one more post after I get to eat some.

    This is how my cake spent the night:


    Final product:


    From the top:


  10. Ok, installment one: Prep.

    I just finished, its in the oven, and I'm terrified. I looks glorious, puffy, cloudy. what if I screw uo the cool down and have a pancake instead?

    I guess there's always Central Market.

    I've run out of sugar, so I'll probably just do the curd when I get there. Its almost midnight and the cake has another 30 min to bake.

    So.. Here's the recipe:

    14 egg whites- room temp.

    1 3/4 C sugar

    1.5 C cake flour

    3+- teaspoons lemon zest

    2 TBS Lemon Juice

    3 tsp ground ginger

    2 chunks crystalized ginger

    1 tsp Cream of Tartar

    1/4 tsp salt

    I wiped all bowls, spatulas and pans with vinegar to endure no greasy/fat residue.

    I sifted half the sugar with all the flour and ginger, 3 times.

    I combined the zest, the rest of the sugar, and the crystalized ginger in a food processor and ground for 2 minutes.

    I beat the hell out of those whites for about 45 minutes to get them to the stiff peak stage. I SO need a stand mixer. I added the tartar right around the soft peak stage and about 10 min after, I started adding the sugar-zest mixture little a little at a time. Then I encorporated the juice and beat for an eternity. Once stiff peak was achieved, I dusted the top of the whites with the flour mixture and folded in with a rubber spatula. I repeated untill all flour was encorporated.

    Then I gently poured into the 10 inch cake pan, and put into a 350 degree preheated oven. After about 10 min I turned it down to 325.. Its now 35 minutes into it, and she's lookin' fine. I'll add the pictures, then the final result later.

    Here are the 14 egg whites, just waiting for attention. Obviously they have been bad eggs and need to be beaten.


    The sugar-zest stuff


    Soft peaks


    Almost stiff peaks, about 30 min into the whipping session


    Stiff, finally stiff!


    Adding flour mixture


    Into the oven!


    Once again, thank you ALL for your help. Its up to me now not to screw it up!

  11. Ok, I might be part of one of those couples.

    The darling will not eat raw tomatoes, or cooked tomatoes that are not pureed beyond recognition. No raw onions or large cooked onion chunks. No recognizable celery (but he likes the flavor :hmmm: ). No meat on bones. :shock::wacko: . No peas. :blink:

    He loves just about anything Mexican/Tex-Mex, or Italian.

    On the bright side, hes not a dolt when eating at someone else's house, he will grin and bear it, and suffer while smiling if he doesn't like what is being served.

    I like it all, but if given a preference, will choose something middle eastern, or Indian. Maybe asian. He doesn't like Indian at all. That was almost a deal breaker.

    I go out with my friends all the time when I need my Indian fix, or some really happenin' Thai and don't feel like cooking.

    I tend to end up cooking a lot of His and Hers meals.

    His redeeming qualities are that he will try new cuisines, and will eat Japanese (even sushi), Greek, Chinese and Thai if I beg. So I'm not always stuck eating Tex-Mex when we go out.

    Other than his questionable taste in food, hes got great taste in women and is certainly a keeper.

  12. There is one chain that I like. Carrabba's.

    I like their open kitchen. The cooks at location that I used to go to would tell me the recipes, show me how to cook them...

    I am always allowed to substitute things on the menu, and everything is fresh, not frozen. Fresh herbs etc. I always get the same thing, the "Chicken Bryan" which is "Fire-roasted chicken breast topped with caprino cheese, sundried tomatoes and basil lemon butter sauce." It usually comes with pasta but they let me sub a big order of their garlic sauteed spinach instead. :wub::wub: .

    My Dad likes the place, so when we go out, that is often a place that we end up.

    Granted, they do enjoy fine dining, and Austin has no shortage of wonderful places to go.... and while its no Basil's, Carrabba's is good food.

  13. in our home here in colorado, this has taken on another dimension with my non-regional regional cooking meeting my wife's very excellent take on her own korean culinary tradition. thus our meal last night was punjabi style rajma, bengali alu-gobi, a take on a goanese pomfret dish, alongside korean panchan like kim-chi, toasted sea-weed and cold-spinach with garlic and sesame.



    I'm very available for adoption, I do windows, floors, dishes, wax cars.........I'll even dust!

    Edited for color!

  14. SUSAN! Oh. MY. GOD. That sounds so perfectly delightful combining so many of my favorite things in one dish. Thats it, I gotta make it!

    Monica... I usually stick with Saag/Palak paneer, which to me, is a creamed spinach with paneer. Thats when I actually have any paneer left to cook with :unsure: . I'm guessing that they are the same dish from different regions?

    I think that when cooking any new cuisine, you have to develop a palate for it, and understand its components before you can stray from the recipe path. I'm not *quite* there with Indian food, though I'm *this* close.

    With Asian food, I can now, instinctively know that if I throw this that and the other together, its gonna be good. With Indian, I'm still treading carefully as I slowly get more experimental. My usual modus operandi is to taste a new dish at a restaurant, get the name, and try and recreate it at home. Then I tweak.

    I'm trying to not get stuck in a spice combo rut. My last experiment was parippu vada. I had one at my local mom and pop shop, and they were kind enough to tell me in general terms what was in it. So I went hunting and comparing online. Mine doesn't taste as good as the first one I had, but I'm addicted none the less.

    Next, its going to be lamb saag paneer, thanks SO much for the idea, Susan!!

  15. Actually paneer was the first Indian food that I had encountered, other than mom's exceedingly anglicized version of chicken "curry". Oh, or those stuffed Indian breads from the little carts across from the university.... :wub:

    My parents took the family to an Indian place in Austin some 8 or so years back. I was very excited, as it seemed so exotic. I was 24 or so, I guess. My mother had been the week before for the lunch buffet, and was able to guide us through our ordering. At the time I was a practicing vegetrian, with the exception of eating lamb. I have never, and will never give up lamb. Ever. So.... (told you I was just practicing :raz: )

    Mother suggested that I might perhaps like the palak (saag?) paneer.

    I did. And then some. I was facinated by the spices. It was possibly the best thing that I had ever put in my mouth. Even better than really good lamb.

    It was creamy, spinachy and had some heat, some corriander, and that was about all I could discern. Then there were these lovely square chunks of.... something. Paneer, the menu said. I chewed. Kinda like tofu, but with flavor! It didn't melt in the spinach, so what was it? Creamy, slightly pungent, chewy... I liked it. Loved it.

    So we asked the waitress what was paneer, anyway? Cheese! Well no wonder we loved it so.

    From that day forth, I sought out Indian food wherever I could. I was a convert, and nothing else would do. I lived in a culinary wasteland, then moved to another culinary wasteland, with a very brief stay in Austin in between. I could not find Indian food to save my life. I had to go to Austin every time I needed my fix.

    So I got an Indian cook book for Christmas. My only specification was that it HAD to have a recipe for paneer in it. This was before my internet days.

    Sometime in that next early January, I made my first batch of paneer. It was so easy!. It was so good! I totally lacked confidence to even attempt to make other Indian dishes. After all, I wanted *real* Indian food. I didn't want to run the chance of americanizing, nessifying it, until I at least understood the basics of what made Indian cuisine Indian. I met a wonderful friend in Chicago who was from India. She took me under her wing and into her mother's kitchen. She broadened my horizons by tenfold. She taught me about the various breads, about pickles :wub: and the different grains. She showed me how to make a few dishes and gave me sort of an Indian 101 class. She even took me to local Indian groceries and helped me get familiar with the spices and other ingredients. I will forever be thankful for her and her mother's instruction. Its taken a couple more years of fiddling but I've finally branched away from paneer and ventured into making things like chana masala, curried potatoes and greens, vada etc.

    I will never EVER tire of learning about different cultures and their foods.

    I have sooooooooooooo much more to learn.

    But my first love is paneer.

    So thank paneer for taking me a step further in my culinary explorations!

  16. Oh yes, I'll take pictures of the steps along the way, post the recipe and instructions that I followed, either as a guide to what worked, or as a guide what not to do......

    I think I'll traipse over to the lemon curd thread and see about using up the 12-14 yolks I'll have around. Hmm. Lemon curd with a hint of ginger?

    Ever since I found fresh apple-lemon-ginger juice at my favorite grocer, I've been a sucker for the lemon-ginger combo. I'll try not to do overkill.

    I can't thank you all enough for your help. I'm going to do my shopping either today or tomorrow, and the baking on Friday night.

    I've never had home baked angel food cake, so maybe I'll actually like the fluffy stuff this time :raz: :wub:

  17. My father's 70th birthday is this Friday. We are celebrating on Saturday. I've been asked to bring and angel food cake. I've never made one before, and I've heard rumors that it is difficult, you have to have everything "just so" or it will have the wrong texture.

    I would be most grateful for recipes that have worked for you, and for tips that might help me not screw up my first angel food cake.

    I would like for it to be slightly more exotic than plain angel food cake, but I'm not sure how. Could a lemon-ginger angel food cake be made?

    In any case, I've got three angel food cake pans, two round and one square. I *think* I have all of the equipment necessary.

    I will possible have to travel with the cake a few hours, I'm not sure if that will affect anything. If worse comes to worse I'll just get up at the break of dawn, drive and (shudder) use my mother's kitchen.

    Any advice and help will be much appreciated!

  18. I think its hard to say that any one halva recipe is more authentic than another, unless you are talking about halva from a certain region. It might not, for instance, be authentic to put semolina in Armenian halva, but expected in Persian halva. It might even vary between local region to local region.

    Halva, helva, halava, halawa, halawi, halwa, are all different names for a similar candy. As I understand it, halva means sweetmeat. In some regions it is made with semolina, other sesame paste, Ive found recipes with both. Some use ground sunflower seeds instead. Some use honey, some use sugar. Some use egg whites to yield a fluffier product. Some add fruit, others nuts.

    I think that the recipe Scott posted would yield a product very similar to the one I get from my local middle eastern market.

    I think that if you took honey instead of the water and sugar, that could work and might even be tastier. I have been researching the "perfect" recipe, according to my own personal tastes. I am leaning more towards honey, sesame paste and pistachios. Probably because thats the first kind of halva that I was exposed to. I am looking to try the semolina variety as well, as my S.O. does not care for sesame paste unless it is in hummus bi tahini.

    I say try that recipe. Once you do, then you can tweak it to your liking.

    And pretty please report back! I promise to do the same when I get time to experiment. I'll even take pictures :raz:

  19. I'm also thrifty as hell and I'm not willing to pay the markup for the alcohol.  The food, yes.  Time and effort went into its preparation and I'm more than willing to pay a pretty penny for it.

    I take it you have not visited a winery and seen the time and effort that goes into making wine. It only takes a whole growing season to make a wine and if you blow it you have to wait another whole year for your next try. Not many restaurants would survive if they made a meal tonight and could not sell it for 3 years or more.

    This also goes for many spirits - take 12 year old Scotch for example. I'd say 12 years counts for time and effort.

    It most of the wine drinking world, wine is not thought of as something to go with food, but a food itself. For myself I cannot separate wine and food. As much as I obviously love wine I do not drink still table wine as a cocktail on its own - although I do enjoy sparkling wine or dry Sherry as a cocktail or apertif.

    I'm afraid you misunderstand.

    I said:

    "If I eat out, and someone else is paying, I might have one glass. I have such a low tolerance for alcohol though, so any more and I'd not feel very comfortable driving home. I'm also thrifty as hell and I'm not willing to pay the markup for the alcohol. The food, yes. Time and effort went into its preparation and I'm more than willing to pay a pretty penny for it. But not the booze, babe. "

    As you can see, I'm speaking of ordering alcohol while dining out.

    I'm not speaking of buying alcohol in general.

    Yes, I've been to several wineries, alehouses and distilleries. I'm quite aware of the time and effort that goes into making alcohol, but that is effort on the part of the brewers, not the restaurant. The restaurant puts time and effort into serving delicious, well prepared food, and I'm perfectly happy to pay them well for the pleasure of eating there.

    I quite enjoy purchasing wine, much to my SO's chagrin.

    But I'm too thrifty (cheap) to pay $100 dollars for a bottle of Nickel and Nickel at a restaurant when I can go to my darling wine supplier and pay him $65 for it. I understand that he marks it up, and thats fine with me.

    Yes, that means tht I don't get to enjoy a fine cabernet with my meal, but I'm OK with that. I'd far prefer to get home and sip a glass on the couch and enjoy. Then wake up when the cat starts licking my nose and my dog starts whining to go out. :laugh::rolleyes:

  20. I very rarely have anything alcoholic with my food. For that matter I don't drink much of anything with my food.

    I like to sip wine just all by its lonesome. If I eat out, and someone else is paying, I might have one glass. I have such a low tolerance for alcohol though, so any more and I'd not feel very comfortable driving home. I'm also thrifty as hell and I'm not willing to pay the markup for the alcohol. The food, yes. Time and effort went into its preparation and I'm more than willing to pay a pretty penny for it. But not the booze, babe.

    I look forward to just enjoying the taste of the wine, watching its color dancing, smelling it, and just doing a zen thing with it.

    Wine for me is quasi special occasion. I think about opening a bottle a couple times a week, but rarely do. Maybe once a month. MY SO does not appreciate anything other than the sweetest of dessert wines, so the bottle is all mine. So I talk myself out of it usually.

    In my 20's I could drink a couple of glasses, get a nice buzz and just enjoy the evening. Now, a couple of glasses and sure, I feel its effects, but the stronger buzz will be the one heard as I snore on the couch. Alcohol now has this nasty tendency to put me to sleep instead of just mellow me out. It's embarassin'. We went to a Christmas party and I had one drink. One. I was nodding off on their couch.

    If I'm exceedlingly well rested (a rarity) then I might be able to enjoy a couple glasses of wine and not fall face first into the pate'.

    So for me, since I can't have much of it, I want its beauty to stand alone, not blend with anything else.

  21. Ok ok OK. Candy making.

    Let me confess. I make fudge with semisweet morsels and sweetend condensed milk. In the microwave. Everyone loves it. But I feel so guilty. I just bought another candy/fryer thermometer. The reason my chocolate caramel candies failed last time, is obviously due to the faulty nature of the thermometer and not a lack of candy-making talent on my part. I refuse to let sugar get the best of me.

    I can't make ganache either though..... no matter how slowly I stir. I get these strange little lumps of chocolate not grainy, but like slivers and shards here and there of the chocolate refusing to emulsify with the cream. It tastes great, and most the truffles come out fine..... but then you bite into one and theres a shard or chip that rather ruins the texture and mouthfeel. Not that it keeps me from eating them......

  22. I find that if you get a nice cushion and place it gently on the fence, it is really quite comfortable.

    While there are some whites that I enjoy on a hot, sultry, Texas summer evening,

    I'm going to have to vote for reds.

  23. I have seen basmati rice, "curry powder" and the Patak line of chutneys in regular grocery stores. Thats about it, but then I don't really look for it there, with all the bountiful stores that are dedicated to the cuisine and culture.

    I don't think I'll ever shop at "regular" grocery stores for what I consider ethnic food. What items they do have tend to be very basic and dumbed down, so to speak. I'm all for specialty stores, can you tell? Half the fun for me is getting to immerse myself in something different. Its like a cheap way of getting to experience a small bit of India, Pakistan, or Iran, without buying a plane ticket.

    I like shopping in ethnic stores almost as much as I like to cook. Its a little bit of exotica in an otherwise mundane existance :raz:

    Now, having said that, I did buy some collard greens last weekend because I got a recipe for curried greens and potatoes from Dr. Weil. Lo and behold, tagged on the greens was another recipe for curried greens and potatoes! It was fate, I tell you. And also an indication that yes, perhaps Indian food is becoming a little more mainstream. However, I still get nasty comments at work when I bring in Indian food and nuke it. "A little curry goes a long way, yaknow......" "Whew!, Indian again?" Blah blah blah. I brought Indian all week after that comment. :hmmm:

    What?! Passive agressive? ME? :laugh:

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