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Restorer

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Everything posted by Restorer

  1. Taco Bell sometimes satisfies my hunger when I'm back home visiting my parents, but it's hard to go there anymore. I have such a hard time finding something that's okay to eat. Everything either has beans, cheese (or "cheese"), or way too much sodium. While I don't always try too hard not to be naughty with my diet, I always feel guilty, especially if it makes me feel bad the next day. The standard hard taco is actually decent in nutrition for me, if a little low in protein, but I prefer the taco supreme, where the sour cream is verboten.
  2. I'm putting together a gift basket for a couple of people who enjoy cheese. I took my first trip to a real cheese shop last night, and spent over an hour tasting cheeses to get the right ones. I ended up getting five different, strong cheeses: - Cashel Blue - Trou du Cru - L'Ami du Chambertin (tastes like shellfish) - Leyden - Carré du Berry - sweet, with golden raisins instead of herbs Now I'm thinking that, in addition to the cheeses, crackers, and other accompaniments, it would be nice to get some coffee that would go well with the cheese. These people aren't wine drinkers, and they also enjoy having a breakfast of cheese on bread or bagels, with the usual morning coffee on the side. I'm considering searching out a couple varieties of coffee that would go well with some of the cheeses. Is this something I can pull off? Can I find coffee to pair with those cheeses? Any other ideas for accompaniments or pairings are certainly welcome.
  3. I think the explanation I heard is that it doesn't matter which side is on the side of the heat, because the heat has to pass through both surfaces anyway. If the shiny side is facing away from the heat, it will still reflect heat inside the aluminum, as strange as that may sound. Sort of like looking through glass that's frosted on only one side - you still can't see through it even if you stand on the smooth side.
  4. Four of us for the meal I worked on, as usual. This year we changed things up and made dressing from scratch, and didn't stuff the turkey. We had: Pickle platter with tiny pickles, several types of olives, and pepperoncinis Shrimp cocktail 14 lb fresh turkey from Trader Joe's, rubbed with butter Chunky sage dressing with cubed French bread, celery, onions, sausage, mushrooms, and fresh sage Mashed potatoes Gravy from drippings and awesome homemade turkey stock Candied yams (actually closer to recipes found called "Glazed sweet potatoes") Uncooked cranberry relish: cranberries and apples put through a grinder, sugar added to taste Frozen biscuits from Trader Joe's The two items abandoned because the we ran out of time and steam: Simmered baby carrots with peas Seared brussels sprouts with bacon Dessert was a store-bought pumpkin pie. The next day my sister cooked a pumpkin-apple butter pie for Saturday's Thanksgiving gathering, and I made a classic apple pie. On Saturday, we had our other usual Thankgiving meal at my father's, with 7 people, for which I didn't do any cooking: 21 lb. turkey Standard boxed stuffing, cooked in the bird Mashed potatoes Gravy thickened with corn starch Simmered carrots Cooked (microwaved? baked?) sweet potatoes Cucumber salad: sliced cucumbers, vinegar, sugar, some dried herbs, black pepper, cayenne pepper Canned cranberry sauce (the chunky kind) Storebought rolls For dessert: My sister's pumpkin-apple butter pie Standard pumpkin pie (Sara Lee) Lemon meringue pie (Marie Callender's) Razzleberry pie (Marie Callender's) Chocolate liquor bottles
  5. I've found strange taste correlations to come from combinations of ingredients you wouldn't expect. My father once attempted a chili with blue cheese and liquid smoke - it came out with a distinct banana-like flavor.
  6. I just picked up some small manzano chiles at the farmer's market this morning. Does anyone know what kind of flavors go well with this kind of pepper? I hear a traditional use is in a peach salsa, but I'm not too big on sweet salsas. I also have on hand jalapeños, serranos, and habaneros.
  7. I'm interested in ideas here too. Being broke means watching the sales, and this week cans of three not-so-great-when-canned vegetables: green beans, corn, and peas; are on sale. Three beans salads sound like a good idea, especially since green beans tend to turn color in a marinated salad regardless of how fresh they start, but I like a bit more crunch in green beans in salad than canned can provide. If I had it to use up, I might throw it into a soup or stew at the last minute, but I'm short on ideas as well.
  8. Restorer

    Bacon in the oven

    This method saved me from morning hunger the other day. Trapped in a house with an unreliable kitchen, I managed a breakfast of hard-cooked eggs, bacon, and (Eggo) waffles with nothing but a toaster oven, some aluminum foil, and a plastic fork.
  9. Just to be clear, then, when you tested your baking soda, did you use hot water as you stated, or did you use vinegar? Because if you used hot water and it tested fine, then it's not baking soda. ← I've found that baking soda will fizz lightly in very hot water (recently boiled). I don't know if it's that my tap water is very acidic, but once in cleaning my travel mug I filled it with boiling water, then added spoonful after spoonful of baking soda. Each spoonful fizzed as I put it in, and I put a lot in. I think heat of that level breaks down baking soda.
  10. That's what I'm thinking as well. Here's my theory: the plateau temperature depends on both the cooking temperature and the amount of collagen in the meat. The plateau occurs when the energy going into the meat (as heat, because the meat is cooler than the smoker environment) equals and cancels out the energy being used to convert collagen to gelatin. The amount of collagen being converted depends on the temperature of the meat, and of course, the total amount of collagen left in the meat. So when you cook a big piece of meat at a higher temperature, these rates never match up during cooking - either the plateau would occur long after the meat is overdone, or all the collagen would run out before the plateau is reached. The latter occurred to me when I slow-cooked a pork butt in the oven. Also, small pieces of meat probably run out of collagen before they reach the plateau, even at fairly low temperatures. I doubt you'd reliably see a temperature plateau in a rack of ribs.
  11. I made chili - even though I don't watch the Super Bowl. But it meant I had the kitchen to myself as everyone else was somewhere else watching the game. Buried under all that cilantro, cheese, and sour cream is chili made with stewing beef, brown ale, tomato paste, pasilla, New Mexico, chipotle, and poblano chiles, and pinto and black beans.
  12. I find that I'm fairly sensitive to the taste of excess MSG; not sensitive in a way that I would get a bad reaction, but the same way I'm sensitive to salt - I have a lower taste tolerance for it. The only times I use my shaker of Accent MSG is when I feel like my food (usually a liquid-based food, like soup, stew, or chili) is lacking umami body. Often I find that adding tomato paste results in a better flavor, but if I'm out of tomato paste or don't want to open a whole can, I'll add a shake of MSG and some vinegar.
  13. In my opinion, it's only worthwhile to serve skin on the fish if you've made it nice and crispy. If it's not crispy, it's not appealing to eat, and it doesn't belong on the plate.
  14. Cholula under the chips... what a good idea. I like large pintos for nachos because of the texture, but black beans have a nicer flavor. I prefer most other meats to ground beef. If I'm not looking for a really quick snack I won't hesitate to whip up some taco meat with ground beef for nachos, but Mexican chorizo is my favorite option for fast nachos. I tend to think of cheese-sauce nachos as the crunchy cousin to mac and cheese.
  15. Last night, instead of having the 5 people I had expected, we had 2 through the first part of the evening, and then two more came by for a couple hours. We had four cheeses: Fourme d'Ambert (a really nice blue), Cotswold, Moliterno with black truffles, and Midnight Moon goat cheese (a semi-hard, goaty cheese), along with some good Fra Mani salametto salami I happened to find, with baguette slices.
  16. I'll speculate that the point of changing the water is to remove the bitter compounds that the poaching leaches out of the orange rind. The only effects of keeping it covered would be to prevent evaporation of water, and to prevent the volatile oils and compounds from evaporating out of the pot. I don't know if the bitter compounds (neohesperidin and naringin) are especially volatile, so I don't know if leaving the lid on would (negatively) affect the decrease in bitterness.
  17. I've been doing this to my old tortillas. It really does work wonders.
  18. You're right, recovery time will be the same. But the temperature drop will be smaller - you're taking the same amount of energy from a larger mass of oil. The total amount of heat transfer to the item you're frying will be greater over the recovery time.
  19. Restorer

    Pizza--Cook-Off 8

    I've thought of a better idea. Tomorrow I'll go looking for a wide, shallow, terra cotta planter pot to use as an intermediate oven inside the grill, over the pizza.
  20. Restorer

    Dinner! 2007

    Please explain. ← The onion soup's hidden underneath. It looks like the crouton on top got broken and sunk, and it had cheese, tomato, and green pepper on top. Am I right?
  21. Restorer

    Pizza--Cook-Off 8

    I made pizza today. I definitely didn't want to heat up the house with a 500-degree oven (it's forecasted to get to 108 degrees here in the next couple days), so I put the pizza stone on the grill and let that heat it up. My dough was an amalgam of Alton Brown's recipe and Wolfgang Puck's. I got three pizzas about 6" in size from the dough. The first pizza had pizza sauce (from a jar), mozzarella, four-cheese blend (with asiago, provolone, and two others I can't remember), basil, mushrooms, jalapeno strips, and onions. The crust was very nicely crisped. The big problem with using the grill and stone together is that the heat doesn't radiate as well from above, and the top doesn't get sufficiently browned before the crust is done. It does get sufficiently cooked, but not browned. The second pizza had garlic oil, sauce, mozzarella, basil, jalapeno strips, onions, mushrooms, and more mozzarella on top. I didn't get a picture of the third, but it had garlic oil, sauce, basil, mozzarella, jalapeno strips, mushrooms, tomato slices, and prosciutto.
  22. Tonight's fried chicken was a success, finally. I was able to keep a good eye on the temperature, and control it well with gas. It's all down to the equipment. To enhance the crust, I didn't drain the buttermilk from the chicken for more than a few seconds, and after the first dredge in flour I let it set for 5 minutes, then dredged again and let it sit another 5 minutes. They fried until the first side was just past golden brown, but not yet mahogany - probably about 8 to 10 minutes for the drumsticks and slightly longer for the thighs. The crust was nice and crunchy while the chicken stayed hot, but after sitting for 15 minutes it was a little softer in places. The taste was right on. For anyone looking for details on the cooking methods, here's a bit of a recipe. I fried in a 12" cast iron skillet in about half an inch of canola oil. I brought the oil up to 350 or hotter to start, then maintained it at 325 while the chicken cooked. All the chicken made it to 150 internal temperature before coming out of the oil (so it probably gained another 5 degrees or more as it rested). The whole chickens were all-natural air chilled chickens from the Whole Foods meat case, 3.8 and 4.0 pounds. The pieces were soaked in buttermilk overnight with plenty of salt, tabasco, garlic and onion powders, and black pepper. They were removed from the buttermilk one at a time, let drip for a few seconds, then dredged in flour. They sat on a rack until the flour coating had moistened, then got dredged in flour again, and the excess knocked off. The drumsticks and remaining wing were fried in one batch, and the thighs in the next batch.
  23. I can't believe I never followed up here after my last attempt. It didn't turn out well at all - far too dark, undercooked on the inside, and greasy. My temperature control was horrible on that electric stove. Earlier this week I decided I'd try yet again, now that I have better equipment. The temperature control on this gas stove is better, and it's easier to gauge the oil's temperature with my new infrared thermometer. Yesterday I splurged on two nice chickens at Whole Foods, though they're a bit big (3.8 and 4.0 pounds). I cut them up and soaked them in seasoned buttermilk overnight. I'm planning on frying most of the chicken pieces tonight for dinner, so for lunch I "practiced" on two wings. My problems have always been that the crust got very dark way before the meat was done, so I figured the wings, with their large surface-to-mass ratio, could help me see if that was going to be a problem tonight. (New camera, by the way) The wings reached 165+ in the time it took the crust to get as dark as I'm comfortable with. I'm afraid the other pieces will take too long too cook through. Also, the crust is thinner than I like. My breading process is to drain the chicken from the buttermilk for several minutes, shake on a mixture of spices, dredge in flour, knock off the excess, and let sit for a couple minutes. The crust is crispy on the most subtle level, as if the skin were barely coated in flour when fried. I'm looking for something much more crunchy. I'm afraid double-breading would either produce a soft bready crust, or introduce far too much sugar from the buttermilk and cause the crust to get dark even faster. Do you have any recommendations for me? Edit: I forgot to mention that I was frying in canola oil, somewhere between 330 and 360. I don't trust my thermometers enough to quote an exact number, but my infrared thermometer gives me a temperature about 20 degrees above what my digital (meat) thermometer immersed in the oil gives me. The infrared thermometer read between 365 and 380 while the chicken was frying. I'm afraid of a greasy result if I bring the oil temperature down.
  24. Dinner tonight was sliced cherry tomatoes laid out on english muffins, topped with cheese and broiled. Does that count?
  25. Taylor's Automatic Refresher was featured on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on Food Network. I see to recall seeing fish tacos on that show. You might want to see if you can find the episode, or catch a rerun sometime. You might be able to tell better what goes onto the tacos.
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