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Everything posted by viva

  1. Just signed up for the free trial to see how it worked - Greatest Website EVER! Of 89 cookbooks, 83 are in their database and 59 are indexed.
  2. Made the Chicken Tagine with Sweet Potatoes and Prunes last night - it was fantastic! The first use of my new tagine, so I was a bit nervous, but the recipe was easy to follow with fall-apart tender chicken, prunes, and potatoes. The flavors are perfect for fall with cinnamon, cayenne, and saffron (not that it's actually fall here in Texas yet, but I can pretend). I might personally bump up the heat a little in the future with a little more cayenne. Like Chris's comment about the apricots, I cut up the chicken and the prunes into bite-sized pieces just for ease of serving and eating. That, together with the fact that the sweet potatoes absorbed a lot of liquid overnight in the fridge, which made the whole thing more stew-like, which is totally fine with me.
  3. Dorie - the Mushroom & Shallot tart was really good! Said a friend at the party, "I think you need to bring me savory pies like this all the time."
  4. Am baking the filling for the Mushroom & Shallot Quiche tonight for a party, but using my own pie dough (with a combination duck fat and butter dough). It smells wonderful in the oven right now! I've been looking through the book and there are so many things I want to start cooking immediately. Eggplants and cherry tomatoes are in full swing right now in Texas, so going to hit the farmers' market tomorrow for the Eggplant Tartine.
  5. Okay guys - need your opinion. What's the best cassoulet in the book? I've made the Toulouse, but am torn on the next one to make, either the Fava Bean Cassoulet or the Catalan Cassoulet.
  6. I just did a little bbq tour myself, being new to Texas - went to City Market (Luling), Smitty's (Lockhart), Kreuz (Lockhart), and Cooper's (Llano). All excellent, but my two favorites were Kreuz and Cooper's. I have to say, Holly, I was disappointed there was no Texas BBQ section on your site! You'll have to remedy that...
  7. I recently made the Orange Cream Tart with (I believe it was this thread that someone had the idea) the addition of a thin layer of bittersweet chocolate (with a little Cointreau mixed in) between the crust and the orange cream. Very popular and pretty to boot!
  8. I did make Brook's coconut cake recently, and all the cake-lovers in the gathering adored it. I thought it was pretty good (being cake and all), but I'll still take pie, thanks! Grandma made me some blackberry cobbler with a nice flaky crust for my birthday that was spectacular! Yes, I had birthday cobbler instead of birthday cake. My family knows me.
  9. All available in Houston. I would probably hit a combination of the Middle Eastern grocery for spices, the Vietnamese for the meats, with a stop to fill any gaps at Central Market or Spec's. --Pomegranate Molasses, Sumac & Aleppo Pepper - Phoenicia (Middle Eastern/East European grocery --Creme Fraiche, Mexican Crema, and Sherry Vinegar - easily obtainable anywhere --Spanish Smoked Paprika, Pancetta - Central Market or Spec's wine/food emporium --Miso Paste, Fresh Duck, and Less Common Pig Parts - Vietnamese or Korean grocery (ducks at the Vietnamese have heads and feet on - hellooo tasty stock) --duck fat - (expensive D'Artagnan version) Central Market or (cheap version) rendered off the asian ducks from above
  10. Just a another vote for the Moosewood cookbooks - I own four of them and find the recipes very flavorful and healthful. From an omnivore perspective: a number of the Moosewood cookbooks have a fish/seafood section in them. In addition to that, I replace some volume of the bulk ingredients with an animal protein - e.g. adding chicken instead of tofu or potato, lean pork to go along with some beans - depending on the recipe and what might fit. Surprisingly, I don't really do it that often - I like playing with other grains and proteins. But it's an option. Obviously keeping the protein to a reasonable amount will also keep the calories in line.
  11. isomer, that tart is lovely. I made the brown sugar apple cheesecake yesterday - delicious! I used the apple butter variation, layering homemade spiced apple butter on the bottom, a few chopped pecans for crunch, then the brown sugar cheesecake layer on top. I think next time I would try the other suggested way of using the apple butter, which is marbling it into the cheesecake better - having it as a layer on the bottom made the bottom crust slightly soggy. Not enough to turn me off, though! And the baking instructions were perfect - no dryness, and absolutely no cracks in the cheesecake. Yay!
  12. viva

    French Onion Soup

    That is the greatest idea ever. I have a heat gun!!
  13. And I have to say that the peanut butter burgers in the Burger Cookoff thread are mighty fine - I think it's all in the ratio. The PB burgers certainly ain't 1:1. Recent worst meal was a holiday gathering with: - Turkey blasted in the oven for hours with no basting - Saltiest ham on the planet - Popeye's chicken picked up several hours earlier (I went straight for this - it was cold but edible) - I've mentally blocked out the sides... there was something with black eyed peas in it. I went for the iceberg lettuce salad which was the least offensive. - Potato chips and ranch dressing dip - At least Grandma had brought some of her mac & cheese, so I was smart enough to take a large helping of this, as it disappeared quickly. Being one of the few things cooked well. I'm still wondering why I spent the time making little holiday petit fours and brownies for dessert...
  14. Oh, cool! I can't wait to see your final cake results. Yeah, I figured that since the mincemeat was going to be cooked that it would be okay to use raw pork fat to start (plus, see my second non-MeeMaw cake that called for slightly cooking the pork fat in boiling water and the little bits of pork present in the cake - that wasn't too pleasing to the eye) I need to make more mincemeat. It's time. I'm totally hungry for it now. I might mess around with the dried fruits - there have been some lovely figs at the middle eastern market recently. That and some dried apples, and maybe sultanas or dates... yum.
  15. Utz makes a pretty good Dark Russet chip: Clickety. Although it isn't fried in lard like the Grandma Utz's Handcooked
  16. viva

    Rendering Lard

    One of the tips from Cooking of SW France by Paula Wolfert that I have found particularly useful when rendering fat is to grind it in the food processer with some water before rendering. I think it renders more easily and smoothly. Of course, it looks absolutely disgusting in the food processor. And Rose Levy Berenbaum's Pie & Pastry Bible has a nice flaky lard crust that is my staple lard crust, although I use all-lard for savory pie dough and half-lard half-butter for sweet pies.
  17. I cut a full Boston Butt in half and cook it in the oven at 275 for about 6 or 7 hours. I call it "Apartment Butt". I find it easier to do half-butts in an oven than full. I did not bother covering it, or adding any extra liquid, or checking the temperature of the meat. I tend to cook without looking at times... when it looks and feels done, it's done. Not when the timer says it's supposed to be. In this case, "done" was when I could use a fork to pull off meat easily. Results posted here in the Behold My Butt thread: clickety. I brined the one shown above - I doubt I would bother with that again. Salt in the rub serves nicely, along with mustard, paprika, and brown sugar...
  18. Yes, we definitely ate the cabbage leaves - they didn't taste "cabbagey" but rather crispy and smoky. That, together with the subtle sweet of the apples and the creaminess with the creme fraiche made a really nice, unusual combination. I would recommend trying it (especially with those lovely apples that I saw pictured recently on your blog, Abra).
  19. Finally getting around to posting about my first cassoulet experience! Made a full dinner entirely from this cookbook. Quite a hit for the birthday boy, and I definitely appreciate the advice from previous posters. Appetizer: Compote de Lapin aux Pruneaux. I didn’t get any photos of the rabbit – it disappeared too quickly! I packed the compote into a lidded crock for both aging and serving (did not unmold), then shredded the prunes and served on the side along with a tart red onion jam and some whole grain mustard. (Serving the whole prunes just lying on top of the compote didn’t seem too visually appealing to me.) The tart accompaniments really went nicely with the richness of the compote. This one was a real hit, very easy to make, and I was happy to have a little bit left over the next day on a salad. Main: the Cassoulet de Toulouse, served with the very easy Mache Salad with Moutarde Violette and crusty bread. I tossed a few of the cracklings from rendering down the duck fat into the salad. Because there wasn’t quite enough richness in the meal already! I procured my three ducks from the Vietnamese market, whole head and foot on. The bones, heads, and feet were used to make the Dark Rich Duck Stock, which will then be used in this year’s Thanksgiving turkey gravy, making me the stealth Gravy Queen! The sausage confit in progress below. I did not make the Toulouse sausages, but purchased a nice fresh garlic-thyme kielbasa from the local Polish market. I also used a combination of duck fat and lard for the confit fat. Duck confit out of the oven (I confited the wings, necks, and legs from all three ducks): Canned sausage confit ready for aging: Cook’s treat! The duck “sludge” from filtering off the confit fat. And, at long last, the cassoulet out of the oven: Dessert: Grimmolles, served with crème fraiche on the side. Surprisingly popular! I had actually made a backup pear tart with almonds, but the grimmolles were a hit. Made on my pizza stone, with cabbage leaves getting nicely crispy and flavorful on the bottom, topped with not too sweet battered apples. I think if I were to do this again, I would make it in a smaller cast iron skillet, so that the apples and batter heaped up into a form, rather than spreading themselves out over the leaves. A wonderful meal.
  20. Feet. Feet. Feet. I add heads too when they are available. I buy whole head-on foot-on ducks at the Vietnamese grocery, and cut up as follows: legs/wings in confit, breasts saved for a quick pan fry, fat rendered down to creamy white duck fat, then roast the remaining bones and necks for stock along with the feet and heads. Delicious stock/broth/whatever. Yum. And economical as well - the ducks at the Vietnamese run about $12 per duck. And I always assumed broth = more of a final product (i.e. something flavorful that I would put dumplings/noodles/meat in to make a meal), and stock = an input to a final product such as gravy.
  21. Am using this one heavily for my Thanksgiving baking: - Perfect Party Cake (using my homemade blackberry-raspberry preserves and a little orange zest along with the lemon zest) - Devil's Food White Out Cake - replacing the frosting here with the meringue buttercream from the Perfect Party Cake, as I didn't think the original frosting for this recipe would freeze well, and the PPC frosting is so billowy and fluffy. Replaced the lemon with a little cognac in the frosting. - Perfection Pound Cake - a plain, a chocolate marbled, and a pumpkin marbled. LOVE the hot meringue buttercream in the Perfect Party Cake. It's SOOOO easy and delicious. It may become my go-to buttercream. I did find it necessary to double the frosting recipe for each cake, in order to have a very healthy filling layers
  22. Assemble an apple pie of your choice (I use RLB's Pie & Pastry Bible All American Apple Pie - a classic double-cruster). Stick it in the freezer unbaked. Bake directly from frozen it whenever you want to serve it - will take about 15-20 minutes longer and may need a foil collar to keep the rim of the pastry from getting too done. I bake all of my fruit pies for Thanksgiving this way - and am getting ready to make the apple pie tomorrow.
  23. viva

    dining in Houston

    REEF is another option for innovative, seafood-focused menu close to downtown. They've been on quite a roll with the awards in Houston. Check them out at: REEF.
  24. These ideas are great. How about adding a little homemade grenadine? Vastly superior to store-bought. And the aforementioned limoncello as well...
  25. My first failure. Well, not failure, but perhaps misaligned expectations. Made the Russian Grandmother's Apple Pie Cake this weekend, and was expecting an apple pie filling center surrounded by tender puffy pastry. Got the pie filling right, and it is delicious (I added a little Calvados to the raisins for fun), but the pastry part was a real disappointment. It was very dense and the surface was pretty tough, even though I baked it only 45 minutes instead of the recommended 50-60. Perhaps too much flour (the recipe calls for an additional 1/4 cup of flour to be added "if needed")? Perhaps with a pastry flour for more tenderness? Hmph.
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