Jump to content

Special K

participating member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Special K

  1. I'm not at home, and my collection of what I think of as "cookbooks" includes an awful lot of books about food, memoirs and such, rather than straight collections of recipes. I usually do cook a half-dozen or so recipes from a new book and then it either stays in the kitchen or gets moved to one of the other 25 (I'm not kidding) bookshelves around the house. My excuses for not cooking from all of them: Well, there are just too many! There's not enough time! As I've mentioned before, I'm a (retired) librarian, and I just don't feel comfortable in a room that isn't filled with books. I'm an insomniac, and if I give up on sleep and get up to read, I don't want anything with a plot that I'll get drawn into; I want something pleasant I can just dip into - that said, sometimes I will get so engrossed in, oh, say Laurie Colwin or MFK Fisher or Calvin Trillin - and now I'm reading R.W. Apple, Jr.!! - that I'm totally startled when the alarm rings at 5 a.m. And, as so many others have noted, my usual M.O. is to read through a bunch of recipes for the dish I want to cook, and then, once I get the gist, I wing it. I have learned (finally!) to write down exactly what I do, and tweak it with each successive try until I get it "right." Then it goes onto a card and finds a place in my recipe file (actually it's an old library card catalog file). Those are the recipes I end up using all the time, but they definitely have their origins in my cookbooks.
  2. Richard, you are right, of course. I didn't count the photos; I didn't have much time to leaf through the book, so that was just my first impression. I guess 26 photos of finished dishes just isn't enough for me - but that's just me. I know that a lot of people would rather have fewer pictures in their cookbooks - more room for more recipes! Anna, I will certainly post my impressions of the recipes when I get the time to try them.
  3. Well, it's probably just me, but I like my bacon very overdone by most people's standards. And thanks for the tip about the potatoes!
  4. Well. Got the book. I'm sure I'll love cooking from it, but I do have one quibble. I was . . . well, dismayed is the word . . . to find almost no pictures! There are a few beautiful photographs of the finished dishes, and in one or two we can actually see the clay pots they're cooked in, but there are not even any drawings in the introductory section. Even after reading the description, I still didn't know exactly what a cazuela was supposed to look like until I googled its image. Maybe it's just me -- I guess I just need pictures in my cookbooks. Oh, and I know this sounds mean, but the first recipe I looked up in the index (the no-knead bread in a Romertopf), showed a typo - her mention of it (she doesn't give the recipe) is on page 266, not 366. (I can't help it; I'm a librarian, and one of the first things I check in a new book is the accuracy of the index.)
  5. About what you'd expect - apparently the first really good ones were manufactured in Holland in the 17th Century.
  6. Just ordered it! This is the cookbook I've been waiting for! Now I'm off to scour Goodwill, etc., for more clay pots.
  7. The first time I made my onion rye rolls they were perfect. Then I started trying to "improve" them . . . mostly for looks . . . now I'm trying to think . . . what was it? I know I tweaked the recipe a bit, which is unusual for me to do the first time I try something new. Did I use bread flour instead of AP? Dark rye instead of medium or light? Was is the particular kind of onions? Do I need to go back to using all raw onions and give up the pretty caramelized onions I used to top the rolls? WHAT was it???? WHAT?! Still good eats, but not that moaning-in-bliss perfection of the first batch.
  8. Just brilliant. I have leaves, I have garbage bags and I'll be doing this next week. Thanks! And the both of you are doing a good deed - keeping the street drains clear and the street from flooding!
  9. Just about all of the above, and I use them to snip "slashes" in bread loaves, too. I keep them standing in the top of the kitchen string cone thingy, which lives on top of my kitchen scale, always handy. I have the Wustoff come-apart shears, easy to clean!
  10. Costco sells the Active Dried Red Star yeast in the vacuum-packed brick.
  11. Loosecannon Dolph, I agree with you completely! Something about "being thrown to the wolves," (this was at culinary school) as you put it so eloquently, really brought me out of my shell. In about three months, I went from the silent, acutely self-aware, miserable newby to one of the gang; something I never did accomplish in regular school or in other jobs. I'm not cooking professionally now, but in my present job I've managed to keep that self-confident attitude, and it's great! It's really all about forgetting yourself and putting the group's needs first and foremost, I think. All of the advice here to SaladFingers is very good.
  12. I made a double batch of snickerdoodles yesterday for the kids at school. I've finally figured out that in my new convection oven, it's ten minutes exactly at 400 degrees (the oven automatically turns it down to 375 when I ask for "convection bake"). The trick is to take them out before they look done. Also, I've been making apple galettes a lot lately - dead easy; frozen puff pastry (I just thaw it, double a folded sheet over and roll it out to make a roughly 9 x 14 inch rectangle (2 per halfsheet pan), build up the sides, fill with sliced tart apples and sugar and butter, with a little bit of cinnamon, and grace with a bit of thinned down apricot preserves. It takes no time at all to make a pretty design with the apples, and it always gets oohs and ahs. Freezes and reheats easily, too.
  13. I use the Red Star brand from Costco, and I use it straight out of the freezer. I just bought a new bag - I'm sure the last one lasted for at least three years, but I've been baking a lot more lately.
  14. Agreed to all of the above - as long as it's garlic (or onion) powder, and not garlic (or onion) salt (bought by mistake).
  15. We tried the ziplock bag in hot water method last night with some lamb chops - worked perfectly! Thanks.
  16. I don't know if you've ever tried garlic ice cream, but I wouldn't recommend it. I had just a taste of it years ago at the Gilroy Garlic festival, first thing I tried, and it ruined the whole rest of the day. Even the things that *should* have had garlic in them tasted terrible after that ice cream. Maybe if I'd saved it until last? Don't think so.
  17. Special K

    Reputation Makers

    Oh, man, that sounds GOOD!
  18. Special K

    Reputation Makers

    My reputation makers are all things I've been working on, refining, for a long time. Mostly they used to be main dishes like baked chicken - I've learned to use thighs, not breasts, and bone-in, not boneless, for better flavor, and I've experimented with marinades - yogurt, buttermilk, etc. Just this weekend I tried using jarred (Marie's) blue cheese salad dressing, and it was great - it's really good and very easy. I always do big batches, and the resulting chicken salad from the leftovers is always great, too. I just use whatever I used for the marinade as the binder. But lately I've had sucesses with two baking projects, scones and onion rye rolls. This is challenging, because I don't eat baked goods myself, so I must rely on aroma and looks, and my (I must say very willing) husband or the kids at our school to be my taste-testers. For the scones, I made two breakthroughs recently. The first is grating the butter, rather than chopping it. Makes a big difference. The second is shaping the dough into a loose log roll and then breaking off six equal sized pieces and gently shaping them into balls and flattening ever so slightly by pressing a little more of whatever fruit (or chocolate chips) I'm using into the tops, rather than doing the disk-cut-into-six-equal-wedges thing. They come out so much better this way for me. (I know, I must have been overhandling the dough). I'm a bad scientist, according to my husband -- I made both of these changes in the same batch, rather than one at a time, so I don't know which one made the difference - I think both did. For the rolls, ah, they were a challenge! For a while now my Mom has been sending my husband onion pumpernickelrolls from her local Publix, which he loves, and I'd been trying to dupicate them. Mine aren't exactly the same (hers are pumpernickel, mine are lighter rye), but he swears they're perfect. I did what I usually do - checked the ingredients on the ones Mom sent, scoured the internet and my cookbooks for recipes, and just played in the kitchen until I got the results I wanted. But the breakthroughs there were to use beer instead of water (which I now do with most breads - try Guiness Stout in the case of the no-knead bread), and to use raw onions in the dough, but carmelized ones on the tops, which look much nicer. I had thought that caramelized onions *in* the dough would be a great idea, but they lost their snap! Oh, and I also doubled the amount of caraway seeds I found in most recipes. Wish I could eat them - they smell absolutely wonderful. I brought those in to work for the montly science dept. lunch, and now that's a permanant gig. I have to say, both of these breakthroughs came after I traded in my old oven for a spiffy new convection one - it's just so much fun to play with! The kids are getting snickerdoodles all the time now, because I can make a huge batch in no time. Fun! Oh, and reputation makers for kids are all about sweet, sweet, sweet. The bittersweet chocolate brownies which all of our adult friends love bombed completely with the kids.
  19. I glued a couple of hooks to the ceiling above the sink, and I hang the silpats using those pants-hanger things, with the two clips. I store them in the pans, which fit nicely below the pull-out drawers in my lower kitchen cabinet.
  20. I really like my Simplehuman motion sensor soap dispenser. It's so nice to get a dollop of soap by just sticking my hand or the sponge under the dispenser, and it has an optional feature I like - you can set it to blink its little blue light for exactly 20 seconds after the soap is dispensed. I wish we had these at the school where I volunteer - the kids would know exactly how long to scrub their hands before rinsing! Oh, and if I need extra soap, there's a continuous dispenser button, too.
  21. You're right, Fooey! I just got this in the mail the other day and it has gone right to the top of my favorite cookbooks. Thanks!
  22. Don't know if you've seen this new urban chicken book: City Chicks: Keeping Micro-Flocks of Laying Hens as Garden Helpers, Compost Makers, Bio-Recyclers and Local Food Suppliers (Good Earth Publications, $22.50), by Patricia Foreman. Little article about it in yesterday's "Currents," NYT.
  23. I'm definitely a board prepper. That's why I have five Epicurean boards - one large, three medium and one small - all with permanant places on the counters in my small kitchen. They're much easier to clean than a bunch of bowls (just wash, rinse, dry and put right back on the counter), and I can use different boards for different tasks - one for meat, one for aromatics, etc. I love those boards! (I stick those little silicone "dots" to the backs for traction). Also, keeping the boards permanantly in place on the granite counter saves my knives from well-meaning friends who would cut directly on the stone.
  24. For me it's when I'm a guest in someone else's home, and they are cooking - holding the (dull) knives wrong, adding pepper from a ten-year-old tin of tasteless dust, opening cans and dumping the contents into a saucepan, which then gets turned on "high" and forgotten, or grilling steaks or salmon to oblivion. I say "Behind you" all the time in public (that "you" makes it intelligible to non-kitchenites), and I also have wiped my hands on the imaginary towel!
  25. I would visit Fauchon and Fouquet's, and Dehillerin.
  • Create New...