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Everything posted by fooey

  1. fooey

    Your top spices

    I have a sizable collection of Lebanese and Eastern Mediterranean books, and sumac is in many of the recipes.The following are my 3 favorites: 1. May S. Bsisi's The Arab Table 2. Aglaia Kremezi's Mediterranean Hot and Spicy 3. Paula Wolfert's The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean
  2. fooey

    Waffle Makers

    I just spent 15 minutes trying to figure out the difference between the Costco version and the commercial, and I came up trumps. Costco changes to model numbers, so it's impossible to comparison shop. That's the main reason I never buy hardware at Costco, at least nothing that's cheap enough not to be disposable. After looking at reviews on about 10 sites, there are enough people saying "mine broke" or "waiting weeks for repair" that I'd avoid this version. I wouldn't avoid Waring's commercial version, as I have three pieces of their commercial hardware in my home kitchen and they are rock solid.
  3. fooey

    Waffle Makers

    The one they're selling at Costco is the non-commercial version of this waffle maker. Costco is $60, commercial is $260. It also looks like the Costco version has been discontinued by Waring. The few places I've looked say it's not dependable, which is odd for Waring. Their commercial products are very well built, I don't know about the consumer versions.
  4. Don't want to make light of the situation, but my Dad always said something like, "The last cheque you write should be to the undertaker–and it should bounce!"I think more along these lines, "The last cheque you write should be to the pâtissier–and it should bounce–before you've died, but after you've eaten the pastry."
  5. I don't know that that is definitely a Waters' recipe problem. ← I'm sure the recipes work really well if you have access to ingredients at the height of the season, the patience to source them, and money to buy them. If not, forget it: the recipes fail or are just so bland, they're not worth making.A program on Food TV proved it to me: Waters was invited to a farm/villa (of a renowned person in the world of food) to cook a banquet dinner. It was fall and she was thousands of miles and months away from California's bounty. The banquet was a flop. Worse were her antics throughout. She was apoplectic that there was just nothing to cook! It was the farm's fault. It lacked this ingredient, that vegetable, etc. Things were not coming together and there was nothing she could do, more so, could not be blamed for the resulting mediocrity. It showed her philosophy under siege, and let me tell you: The empress had no clothes! The local, seasonal ingredients she leans on so heavily were unavailable, and she barely knew what to do with what could be sourced. Proof therein: She leans so overwhelmingly on natural abundance, locality, and seasonality that she's lacks substance in the absence thereof. Isn't the test of a person's skill what they can do with what they have? Aren't all great peasant foods great because they produce fantastic food from scarcity? Kudos to Waters for bringing us some of the way back to what's fresh, seasonal and local; but, beyond that, what is her philosophy exactly? If it's not fresh, seasonal, or local, let's tantrum, let's whine, let's starve!
  6. There's something magical about that tea. I think there are narcotics in it. Why is it always so good? I can just sit there and drink and drink until I drown. When I make it at home, it's always ehhhhh, tea.
  7. I'm also looking forward to the yearly Veal and Tomato Ragoût with Potatoes, Cinnamon, and Cream. Last time I used sweet potatoes and stew beef and just loved it!
  8. Bowl, not board. Recipes have an order of operation: first this, then this, etc. Prep does not. For prep, I impose a "messy, difficult things FIRST, unless temperature sensitive" order of operations, so prep gets easier as I get closer to the fun part. I add each ingredient to a bowl (ramekin or small plate, usually). Just before I begin cooking, I arrange bowls** in the recipe's order of operation, first to last, usually grouping 2 (or more) bowls of ingredients that are to be added simultaneously or immediately one after the other. If there are lots of "then add this/these ingredient" stages, I put sticky notes in between each bowl (or group of bowls) that say "saute 5", "simmer 15", etc. so I don't have the look back at the recipe. It might sound anal, but this way, I can crank out a Chinese banquet of 15 dishes all by myself. **This is why I bowl, because I need to arrange. Is not feasible or easy on a board or takes too much time or is messy or ingredient x takes on flavour z or cross contamination. Also, I can chill or warm bowls and I can cover them with plastic wrap, etc. Bowls just have so many advantages. These terracotta thingies are my favorite for prep. Cheap too!
  9. That's what I was reminded of too, using boiled potato water.There's a recipe in Judith Olney on Bread (p. 72, ISBN 978-0517558997) for Swiss Potato Rolls that works great. Friends from Alaska order a version of these parbaked direct from Switzerland because they love the texture and flavour so much.
  10. I'm sending my sister to kidnap the brownies. Lock your door. She's in Key West.
  11. Really? Why so? That's rather sad to hear. It was just a stellar mag only a couple of years ago.
  12. You're much, much safer using an online solution (take it from someone who works in software security). PayPal, for one, is probably one of the most secure platforms on the internet. They are because they've had to deal with fraud since day one. Just make sure that the page requesting your credit card info. has an https:// address, not an http:// Banks in the US, however stable they might be at the moment, protect you from fraud, so even if something bad happens, you're covered.
  13. Let's not over-generalize: the cooking techniques of south Louisiana are quite variable. The traditions of your family, or your town, do not necessarily represent the traditions of other French-speaking folks in south LA. Pardon me for belaboring the point, but "Cajun" culture is not a monolithic ethnic concept. French speaking folks across south LA have an incredibly diverse set of influences. ← Variable, yes, but there are fundamentals. What I'm saying here is I think the method of adding stock and mirepoix to hot roux is essentially wrong as a fundamental step. I'm fine if you want to say that it's just a variation of technique, but I stand by the fact that it results in a completely different "fatty gumbo", one where the fat is emulsified into the gumbo itself, not floating on top (see pictures above). If all of roux fat eventually came to the top and you could skim it, I'm sure it would be fine, but that's not what's happening. The roux fat is being trapped or emulsified into the gumbo itself and is becoming part of the liaison, and that's not a technique variation, that's an error. I mean, there are people that bring a white chicken chili to a Texas chili cookoff and expect to be taken seriously too. Is it chili? I suppose that depends on what you call chili. We're are passionate about our food. The fact that is hasn't be codified like French cuisine is not a reason, I feel, to allow anything to pass as authentic. That's a slippery slope that leads to stuff like acceptable etouffeé being a pound of crawfish tails, trinity, and a can of Campbell's creme of mushroom soup in a pot.
  14. I'd never get it to be fat free because, let's face it, gumbo is fat made jolly.As much as I can skim, however, I do, unless it's a fat I really love, like duck fat. But this is not the point I'm trying to make. The point is that the way we Cajuns add oil-separated roux to stock does not result in an emulsification that traps the fat in the stock. The fat should not be part of the thickening; that's the purpose of the roux. The roux is used as it's supposed to be here, as liaison, as thickener. With this method, the fat eventually comes to the top where most of it can be skimmed. This other method, adding mirepoix and then hot stock to roux that has not separated from its oil somehow results in an emulsification of fats and roux and everything else. I almost wonder if the fat is somehow modulating the thickening power of the roux. It's like the fats are being trapped in the gumbo, like oil gets trapped in egg to make mayonnaise. This is why many of the gumbos above look like fatty stews. The fats do not come to the top and cannot be skimmed. This results in a fat-roux-thickened stew that, while it might taste like gumbo, completely lacks the correct viscosity or mouth-feel of authentic gumbo. It doesn't result in a clean-tasting soup bursting with the hearty flavors of its ingredients. In effect, these are much closer to fricassé than to gumbo.
  15. There are so many variables, but if fat is coming to the top such that you can skim most of it, then you're doing something right. But those gumbos where the fat doesn't come to the top at all, where the gumbo's thickening agent (liaison) is some sort of roux-fat emulsification, that's wrong. If you look at my Picture 6, there's just a bunch of fat that comes to the top. There must have been 4 cups of it in all, but it all came to the top, where I could remove it. Picture 4 and 5 shows the gumbo once most of the fat is removed. Note how it doesn't look like a fatty emulsification, but like a roux-thickened chicken soup.
  16. It probably sounds like I'm splitting hairs, but I'm not. The closest analogy that comes to mind is making stock itself: don't stir, don't boil, skim fat and impurities as soon as they appear, etc. Why? So the stock is clear and tastes clean, not adultered by fats and impurities that get emulsified back into the stock by boiling or stirring. It's not the best analogy, but it's close. In this case, people are adding mirepoix to the hot roux + roux oil and then adding hot stock, etc. All of that oil in the roux is going right into the stock and, for the most part, it's not coming out. You almost have to ask why they even bother to skim the stock in the first place. It's not going to taste clean no matter what you do now, it's going to taste fatty.
  17. Yup, that's exactly what I'm saying. I used a duck for this one, so there was just a tremendous amount of fat. I also like duck fat, so didn't skim it all. The important thing, however, is to note is that the fat is floating on top of the gumbo, it's not emulsified into the gumbo. I could have easily skimmed this fat, where as the examples above are "unskimable", for lack of a better word. The fat is those are an inextricable part of the gumbo, literally emulsified into it. Does that make sense? Gumbo should not have a thick fatty mouth-feel, it should be like roux-thickened chicken soup.
  18. Thanks, philadining.I agree. I just deleted that part of my response (re: the roux is going to suck all its flavor into the oil) because that was just me talking out loud, trying to understand why people would do it this way. I replaced it with the other response about how the roux should always be allowed to separate from the oil used to make it. In Louisiana, for example, a lot of people buy pre-made jars of roux. The brand I link to is one that my Mom always has on standby. Note how the oil has separated from the roux. You open the jar, remove a big spoonful, let all of the oil drip back into the jar, and then add the roux to your stock. Works like a charm and a lot of these pre-made rouxs are quite good.
  19. And what's bothering me most about this technique, of adding the vegetables before the roux is allowed to cool and separate from its oil, is that it's causing people to make an emulsification. The roux's oil is becoming part of the gumbo, almost like a classic French emulsification (mayo, etc.). This is very much not what gumbo is supposed to be like. It should be a very clean flavor, rich yes, but not a tongue-coating fatness. I apologize in advance for using some of the pictures in this thread (as a lot these are getting really close to the real deal and were probably quite delicious), but these pictures show that the roux's oil has been emulsified into the gumbo itself, it's become part of the liaison, which is wrong. The liaison for gumbo is roux after it has separated from the oil used to make it. Gumbo is clean, thick yes, but clean. Note how all of these look greasy (and recognize that this greasy emulsification consistency is because the vegetables were added before the roux and the oil used to make it have separated): (even says that no fat separation occurred) Again: The liaison is the roux only, after it has separated from the oil used to make it.
  20. How dark is the roux just before she did this? Peanut butter, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, French roasted coffee, charcoal?The only reason I can think someone would want to do this is if they get the roux very close to burnt and want to immediately stop it from cooking. The vegetables would caramelize, is that what the thinking is? It sounds basically like an "enfleurage a l'huile" (a hot oil extraction) of flavor from the aromatics into the roux's oil. That oil is not supposed to be part of the liaison. It's burnt oil. The way I've always made it (and the way my mother and grandmother, etc. make it) is to get the roux just slightly past the color of peanut butter and then remove it from the heat. As it slowly cools (we never force temperature reduction, but let it cool slowly to room temperature), the color very slowly becomes a burnished red-dark chocolate covered by a layer of oil, which is not put into the gumbo.
  21. Her cookie recipes just rock. I don't care how much !@#$% people give her, she makes fantastic cookies and cupcakes and all variety of baked goods. Another one of her cookies, that just blows the roof off of every cookie I've ever eaten, is her Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies [p. 67, Martha Stewart's Cookies, ISBN 978-0307394545]. Probably not a great idea for a funeral, but...
  22. I've reached that point too re: from scratch.It's a lot of work and, I have to admit that for some things I'm starting to wonder if it's really necessary, if what's on hand at the supermarket is really that much worse. If I read the label and see stuff that I can't pronounce, ya, I'll make it myself. But I tell ya', I'm getting to the point where I'm reconsidering my obsession re: from scratch.
  23. Hi HungryC, I agree that there are as many ways of making gumbo as there are people that make it. I'm not the authority, I don't think there is one; but, I know of no one–after living in Acadiana on the edge of the Atchafalaya Basin for two decades in the very heart of Cajun country with a family that speaks Acadian french as their first language to this day–no one that adds the trinity to hot roux. I'm not saying it doesn't happen. I'm not even saying it's wrong. I just don't know anyone who does that. The roux simply isn't ready to use until it has had time to rest. If you think roux smells great when it's done, give it a days rest and then smell it. That's when it smells so great you want to eat it with a spoon. True, the three day process is an exception. Most do it in two days (roux and gumbo on Day 1, eat on Day 2), but since I make stock these days, I do roux/stock day 1, gumbo day 2, eat day 3. As for spoiling, disagree. I've never seen a gumbo spoil (sour?!) leaving it out overnight. It's like chili, you can leave it on the stove for days as long as you bring it to a boil each day. It just gets better and better and better.
  24. I don't know where the idea of adding the trinity to the roux comes from. Someone told me this was first popularized by the Chef Paul Prudhomme's flash roux in the 1980s. I certainly don't have his bona fides and respect him greatly for all he's done for Cajun cuisine, but I can tell you for certain that we Cajuns almost never do it this way, adding the trinity to the hot roux, that is. We make the roux on Day 1, and we do it slooooooow, on moderate heat, intermittently stirring for a couple hours. When it reaches the desired color (lighter for chicken/sausage, darker for seafood, although there's no hard and fast rule), we remove from the heat, carefully (Cajun napalm, so be careful!) pour into a stoneware bowl, and let it cool to room temp. The residual heat will darken the roux considerably more as it cools. The oil will separate and come to the top overnight, so you don't even have to cover it. Day 2 you bring stock to a boil (most actually use water, not stock, but then they have the advantage of old hens on offer at the butcher all the time, which add tremendous flavor to the gumbo, so much more than fryers!), add the roux, add the trinity, add the spices, add the meats, etc. just all at once. There's no need to layer or add in any particular order (unless you're making seafood gumbo, in which case you add the seafood at the very end). Let it simmer away happily, adding more roux or stock to get the right consistency (it's not a fricassé, so it shouldn't be much thicker than the consistency of, say, half n' half). Don't adjust the seasonings today, as you'll likely over do it, especially the salt. Let the gumbo cool at room temp. and just put it outside or leave it on the counter overnight. Yup, no need to refrigerate, because you're bringing it to a boil on... Day 3, bring to a boil, adjust seasonings, serve over a rice (that's made with a little white vinegar and oil/butter). re:seasoning the chicken: We don't, ever. We just add it to the pot. All of the instructions around seasoning the chicken, roasting or sauteeing to render fats, etc. are unnecessary and not really authentic. I do it these days, but it doesn't really add anything to the final product, IMO. You want all that fatty goodness to be in the pot. All the fat comes to the top eventually and it's simple to remove. uber-secret that no one seems to know outside of Cajun country: Adding a small amount of yellow mustard is miraculous to gumbo. Try it without and then try it with just a small amount of yellow mustard (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon). It brings an entirely new dimension to gumbo and really astounds people who try it for the first time. It's almost like making one of the French mother sauces (like Sauce Robert) and adding that one ingredient that changes the entire profile of the sauce. Always add to your serving, of course, not the pot. Here are a few images from one I made in July 2009: 1. Roux (I just left it in the cast iron pot this time, didn't even pour into a bowl) 2. Roux 3. Mise en place 4. Day 2, all done 5. Adding hot, smoked sausages I had shipped to me from Poche's Market in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana (a market I can't recommend highly enough). 6. I remove the fat at the very last moment, so it's a lot (stock fat, sausage fat, chicken fat, roux fat, etc.) I want all that goodness in the pot until the end stage. 7. Et voila, mes ami, le gumbo: This one I made a year ago is the same, but shows more meat, including a piece of tasso, or lean pork smoked to perfection:
  25. I never do, but only because I know people with nut allergies and they tell me they take responsibility for themselves, what they eat. They don't expect others to cook or bake around them.If they think something has nuts, they won't it eat. If they want to eat it, but aren't sure, they'll ask about it or avoid it altogether. Nut allergies exist, but are not nearly as prevalent as people think they are. Those who suffer from them learn to avoid foods where ingredients are ambiguous.
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