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DickL

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    Northbrook
  1. DickL

    Sink corners

    My preference is for a sink that is integral with the counter top-- no seam between them to catch dirt, etc. We have Corian, but I believe there are several other materials available. My other preference is for rounded corners-- as you suggest, easier to keep clean. Dick
  2. The turntable on our microwave is supported three little wheels on a ring between the turntable and the floor of the oven. Any little grit (such as bread crumbs) that gets on the surface the wheels run on can make for noise (a surprising amount) as the wheels roll over it. And the wheels get dirty, with an irregular buildup of stuff that means they bump each time they rotate-- twice, once on the turntable and once on the oven floor-- which produces a sort of low rumble. Don't know if your microwave turntable is supported in the same way, but if it is, check for grit on the oven floor and roughness on the little wheels. (I know this post is a year late, but maybe it will help someone else.)
  3. DickL

    Green Tea Questions

    While I don't usually drink green tea, from time to time I'll make a pot of Chinese gunpowder tea, which the package says is a green tea. I've only ever seen one brand, labeled Temple of Heaven "China Green Tea" "Special Gunpowder", so I guess you could say it's my favorite. Sometimes I'll add a little black tea like an Assam to the pot to darken the brew a bit. Temple of Heaven is frequently available in oriental markets.
  4. That's pretty much how I feel, too. I also have problems paying $45 for a wine I can buy at retail for $15-- I'd be better off spending my $45 at a wine shop, where I'd likely get a much better wine for the money. Wine prices (plus the issue of driving) have gradually reduced my inclination to go out to eat, to the point where my wife and I now rarely do so except when traveling.
  5. I'm no expert on this, but my impression is that one feature of some Chettinad dishes is the use of quite a bit of black pepper. I've been following a blog "Solai's True Chettinad kitchen", and a few of her dishes reflect that. For example, there is a dish "Chettinad Milagu Kozhi Kuzhambu (Chettinad Pepper Chicken Gravy)" that calls for two tablespoons of a spice mixture (which is 2/3 ground black pepper) for 3/4 kg of chicken. But many of the dishes discussed don't seem particularly peppery. Anyhow, that blog might give you a better idea of what to expect from Chettinad dishes and/or something to discuss with the manager of the place.
  6. DickL

    Making yogurt - cooler vs sous vide

    I make yogurt all the time doing something like your second method. (I don't have a sous vide system.) A number of years ago through trial and error came to the conclusion that starting at 52C, adding the starter (normally about a tablespoon and a half at refrigerator temperature, which of course cools it a little immediately) and then letting it cool slowly in an insulated container worked well. I currently use a round quart container for the yogurt and put it in an ice bucket that provides about an inch of air space around and over the container. It cools to room temperature in a few hours, probably about 6 to 8. As it sits longer, it gets more sour; I've found I like it best after about 48 hours from starting (give or take a few hours). BTW, for starter I use a 50/50 blend of two commercial yogurts, Trader Joe's European Style Plain Whole Milk yogurt and ömür whole milk yogurt (Kaymakli Tam Yagli), neither of which has anything beyond milk and starter in it. I mix the two and freeze the blend in small containers which will make about four batches each. Using this starter gives me consistent results. For the milk component, I use skim milk (or sometimes 1%, depending what's on sale) enriched with some dry milk (1/4 or 1/3 cup per quart, depending on the type of dry milk). The result is nicely firm, but when stirred becomes creamy. Quite a bit different from your approach, but it works for me.
  7. My guess is that you should respect that, but since an Indian dish was well-accepted last year, provide more Indian options this year. That way, nobody will be disappointed. Of course, if I were a guest, I'd be perfectly happy with all Indian (prefer it, actually), so I guess it depends on how well you know your audience.
  8. DickL

    Paper towel as filter

    If the product weren't safe for food contact, I'm sure they'd say something. I agree with an earlier poster that that is optimistic. Did you notice that the response did not answer the question? My translation of the response is "use at your own risk".
  9. While I don't consider myself a Mexican expert, I'm pretty satisfied with the refried beans that I make. I start with about two pounds of dry black beans, sort out the dirt and rocks, rinse them well, and soak them overnight. The next day I drain them and cook in water to cover, bringing them to a rolling boil and skimming the crud that surfaces before reducing them to a simmer until they're done. After I go to simmer, I add some finely chopped onion and some fat and oil. Typically, this is about half a cup of onion, a quarter cup of smoky pork lard (from the last pulled pork project) and a quarter cup of plain (not extra virgin) olive oil. I also add a couple of stems of epazote. I add enough water in the pot to keep the beans covered. (My local source for epazote sells bunches of epazote stems or tops which are about a foot long-- I understand the plant itself is much taller, so I guess what I get is either tops or young plants. It is apparently fairly young, with no sign of flower buds. Since I only use a couple of stems at a time, I freeze the rest, rolling it up between a couple of sheets of plastic in a single layer so that it's easy to separate frozen. I notice no difference in the cooking properties of the fresh and frozen.) When the beans are soft, I fish out the epazote (there may be a few leaves/scraps left, but I get all the stems and big leaves). Then I add a little more onion and some more fat and simmer until the freshly added onion is soft and the beans are beginning to break up. At this point I also start salting the beans. Next I puree the beans with an immersion blender. (I'm not too fussy about an occasional bean that doesn't get broken up, but I get them fairly well blended.) This is followed by a period of cooking at a rate somewhat more than a simmer until they're the consistency of refried beans, with occasional additions of small quantities of salt until they taste right. (At this stage, they require pretty constant attention to avoid burning.) I don't claim any authenticity in this approach, but as I said, I'm satisfied with the result. I've had refried black beans at a number of different places in Yucatecan Mexico, and mine compare favorably, I believe.
  10. DickL

    Help with convex crepe pan

    Back in the heyday of Magic Pan creperies, many, many crepes were made this way. A kit, containing a pan with a convex bottom and a slightly larger pan into which the batter was poured, was sold for home use. I've used this system quite a bit (in recent years I've moved on to squarish crepes made on a conventional griddle or electric griddle, though) and it works quite well. The pan is preheated, dipped, inverted, put over the burner (gas or electric) and when the crepe is done, the pan is again inverted and the crepe peels off (maybe with a little help). For second and succeeding crepes, the same system is used (after wiping off the cooking surface of the pan if there were any bits stuck to it). As long as the pan is preheated each time to the same temperature, and its surface is in the same condition (neither more less oily than for the first crepe), it should pick up the batter in the same way for the second crepe. The two factors that occur to me that could affect the way it works on the second crepe are pan temperature and oiliness. The temperature of the pan needs to be about the same each time when dipping; it probably is close to the right temperature when the previous crepe is done, but might need to spend a few seconds over the burner before dipping for the next one. And the pan may need to be wiped off (if the previous crepe has left an oily residue) or reoiled (if the previous crepe has left it drier). Magic Pan's system used multiple pans (9, according to comments on the blog entry mentioned below) that were placed on a rotating carousel over a bunch of gas burners. As the pans rode around the circle, they were kept at something like a uniform temperature (I think-- maybe it was hotter at first or toward the end). In use, when a pan with a crepe on it came around, it was inverted to remove the crepe, wiped off (with an oily cloth, according to the blog), dipped in the batter, and placed back on the carousel where in once around the crepe was baked. The Professor's Notes blog has a little more detail on the system, and there is supposedly a picture of it on a Facebook wall. The only problem I had with the single pan system was that one ends up wasting enough batter for one or two crepes.
  11. DickL

    Found food

    My BIL accidentally burned some steaks and was going to pitch the somewhat charred remains. I took them home and trimmed off the char, then cut the remaining well done meat into small chunks and used it in beef barley soup. It turned out well.
  12. DickL

    Stock or broth with only chicken feet

    We do much the same thing-- chicken leg/thigh quarters (often on sale really cheap), cooked in the pot until the meat comes off easily, then the meat separated and reserved, bones and skin returned to the pot. (I also throw in any packets of trimmings from boneless, skinless breast meat that have accumulated since the last stock making effort.) Often some of the broth/stock gets used for something immediately. The rest gets frozen, some with the reserved meat added. (That eventually gets used for soup or my own evolved version of biryani, which bears some resemblance to Indian food. ) I've never had chicken feet around to use in stock. Maybe I'll have to pick some up someday. I really like the leg/thigh meat, though; it's the best meat on the chicken IMO.
  13. DickL

    Old wines I found

    Hi, I'm Dick, and I have a bunch of stuff in the basement... You're not the only one who tried home winemaking (in my case, back in the days when you had to get a federal permit), but nothing I produced turned out to be particularly interesting. (It's also hard to find good wine grapes in the Chicago suburbs; there's lots of pretty good, fairly inexpensive stuff on the market; ...). But I bought some wines of various levels of quality and kept them around, and we've picked up some in later years on vists to wineries. I never found the perfect occasion to open them, and should have opened and drunk them anyway, but that didn't happen for a variety of reasons that are irrelevant here. Then we moved and they got shoved to the back, and now, ten years after the move, I've still got some bottles that were too old ten years ago and are waay too old now. So I've been opening one every week or so. I've found a couple from the 70's that, while way over the hill, still had enough character and style to be marginally drinkable, and a lot that just got dumped. (I've been working on the lower quality bottles first, and am now about to get into some that really had some aging potential. These should have been recorked at some point, but it didn't happen.[sigh] But I've gotten fairly good at removing soft corks, so all is not lost. Maybe I'll get lucky. Next up is a 69 Sterling Cabernet...) A couple of old California Barberas, one from Sebastiani and one from Martini, I used as the basis for some "Barbera port", using some grape syrup from an unused container of grape concentrate left over from the winemaking era, some high proof (I was out of brandy), and just a little "43" liqueur. In the past I've made some "ports" this way, using over-the-hill wine, and they're not too bad, particularly if the base wine has some character. Sometimes I add a little recent wine to the blend. The stuff I make this way isn't excellent, but it's better than some commercial ports and portos that I've had. If you like port, you might want to experiment (if you've still got any of the old stuff left). I've also used some OTH wine for vinegar, but we don't use that much wine vinegar, so that doesn't use up much.
  14. DickL

    Uses for hickory nuts

    I don't know how hickory nuts compare to black walnuts in cracking difficulty, but I found a metal vice was a good tool for cracking the walnuts. (Google "bench vice" if you aren't familar with the device.) A vice with serrated jaws grips the nuts well, although the nuts still tend to fly apart when they break, just not so violently as when hit by a hammer.
  15. DickL

    Experiments in tarts....

    A few years ago I saw a tomato galette recipe in The Chicago Tribune Sunday magazine, tried it (fairly easy and quite good) and posted the recipe in the CompuServe Cooks Online forum, along with a picture. The recipe goes back to Baking with Julia by Dorrie Greenspan. I've made it a few times since. It doesn't really need a tart pan, but that wouldn't hurt, although it might turn our a bit less "rustic".
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