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Posts posted by Restorer

  1. Thanks for the answers. So, would it be correct to assume, if we're talking about cast iron, then you should heat up the cast iron for a few minutes before adding oil and/or food to it.

    And, Restorer,

    Wouldn't your example with the garlic end up burning the garlic? If you heated up the pan and then added oil and garlic, woudn't the garlic have less exposure to high heat and therefore less likely to burn?

    In that example, my idea was that, not only would you have more time and leeway to ensure the garlic doesn't burn before you add the next item, but the garlic will actually have more opportunity to flavor the oil before it begins to darken than if the garlic had gone straight into hot oil. This isn't an especially useful technique on its own - you could accomplish the same thing by sweating the garlic at a lower heat, then upping the heat before adding the next item - but if you're trying to multitask it can save a bit of effort.

    I don't use this technique, since I rarely saute garlic without onions, and onions take longer than garlic, so they go first into the hot oil (because they don't burn so easily).

  2. I can think of a couple extreme examples. If you're going to be sauteing some minced garlic, it could be better to start the oil in a cold pan, add the garlic, then turn on the heat - that will allow the oil to absorb more garlic flavor without burning the garlic.

    Conversely, real wok cooking uses very high temperatures, where every second counts. To start the oil in a cold wok, then bring it all the way up to the right temperature to cook, would burn off most of the oil and create a ton of smoke. Adding the oil to a hot wok right before the food ensures it doesn't degrade into sticky byproducts before it does its job.

  3. I will never again recommend that, because of a lack of bakeware, something be baked in a pan; then promptly forget that fact and grab onto the heavy metal handle of the pan after it's come out of the oven.

    One painful evening, a few small blisters.

    That's why you hang a towel over a hot pan handle.

    SB :cool:

    Tell that to the person who was using it. I wasn't even cooking that night. There was a pan handle cover on the unused cast iron skillet right behind the pan I grabbed.

  4. Beautiful, restorer~

    anybody around to help you eat that?

    With three hungry roommates, what I have won't last long. :smile:

    After having another bowl today, I've decided that it could have used another can of hominy, and I probably could have doubled the number of chiles I used. It's quite mild, but all the better to juice it up with some hot sauce.

  5. This week I've been building up supplies to make some posole. Last night I put it all together.


    As I've been pretty much broke for the last two weeks (such is the life of a student), I did this entirely on a Ralphs gift card that I had received. I was happy to find a bag of California chiles at the supermarket, and I was able to grab the last pork butt they had.


    I cubed half of the pork butt, and browned the cubes, then added water, the rest of the roughly chopped butt, 2 pounds of neck bones, most of a head of garlic, and a palmful of oregano. That simmered for a couple hours. Then I rehydrated 8 of those chiles in hot water, and blended them with some chipotle powder, onion powder, and half of the soaking liquid.

    Then I pulled the neck bones and the largest chunks of meat out of the pot, shredded the meat with a couple forks, and put it back in the pot, sans bones or fatty chunks. The chile sauce went into the pot, along with two cans of drained and rinsed "Mexican style" hominy. This hominy doesn't seem to have quite the squeaky quality that I've had from other canned hominy, but I'm sure the dried kind would have more character.

    I served it with more oregano, shredded cabbage, lime wedges, and Cholula hot sauce. I also have chopped onions and tortilla chips on standby, should I want to those with the leftovers.

  6. I am surprised to see everyone talking about cutting through the stem end.  My grandmother taught me that most of what makes us tear up from onions is in the stem end.  I always chop that end off before cutting an onion, and I have very little problem with tears.  I can't wait to hear what people are going to say about this.

    That's odd. I've heard from chefs on TV that it's cutting the root end that causes tears the most. And we all know that we can believe everything we heard on TV.

  7. Stem end.

    If the root end has lots of those annoying hair-like parts, I'll trim off just the very bottom of the root end to cleanly get rid of those. Then I cut enough of the stem end off to give me a stable surface and get rid of the hard green parts, stand the onion up on the cut stem end, and cut straight through the root down to the stem to get two halves.

  8. There is something magical that happens with mustard or egg yoilks.  Why?  I don't know that they share anyting in common, but they can transform the orginary to  to the sublime.

    Eggs contain the magical emulsifier lecithin, which is pretty powerful stuff (and there's a lot of it in an egg). The mucilage in mustard seeds is what gives mustard and mustard powder its emulsifying effect.

  9. I have in my lap at this moment a large bowl of popcorn with salt, pepper, and olive oil. I just recently bought my first bag of corn kernels, and I think I'm done with microwave popcorn forever. It's so easy to do this in my wok, and not a single burned kernel or unpopped kernel. I'm only lacking salt fine enough to stick well to the popcorn, and a misting bottle for properly applying oils and liquids.

    Edit: okay, I found the unpopped kernels. Not a bad ratio, though.

  10. The reason the heat level of chili seems to mellow out after it sits for a day is because the capsaicin is being more evenly distributed in the solid components. Right after you cook chili, a lot of the capsaicin is still floating around in the liquid - a lot like if you salt beans after they're cooked and don't give them time to absorb the salt. The higher concentration of capsaicin in the liquid coats your mouth more thoroughly with heat. After it's redistributed to the inside of the beans and meat, the concentration of capsaicin that comes into contact with your tongue is lower, and less sticks to your taste buds.

    This leads me to think that any additional ingredient that can sit in the chili for a long time (at least overnight) and absorb it's share of capsaicin, then be removed later, can help to diminish the heat. It's the same principle as the rice-fix for oversalting.

    Temperature is also a factor. I've noticed that if I have something really tasty, but too spicy for me, I'll continue eating until it just hurts too much to bear - but this threshold is much farther along if whatever I'm eating isn't piping hot.

    Then again, cheese and sour cream are always welcome additions to my chili. :)

  11. My mother would watch FoodTV often, and that's what got me into the concepts of cooking, but it wasn't until I had cooked several dinners with my father that I got the idea of cooking things for myself. It all looked so easy on TV, and then seeing my father do it (and doing some of the parts myself) convinced me that it really is that simple to make pretty decent food. Later years of watching FoodTV showed me that it's not that much more difficult to make something that's really good.

  12. My first post on this thread of shame...


    My first try at risotto. It was coming along perfectly until I started adding the marinated artichoke hearts. I added them straight from the jar, very little draining done, so they brought a whole lot of oil with them. All of the rice was coated in an oil slick, and there was a sizable puddle of oil at the bottom of the bowl. In terms of taste, it came out too tart - I added a bit of vinegar at the very beginning to emulate the acidity of the wine I didn't have, and the artichokes had their own vinegar from the marinade. Texturewise, it came out perfectly, aside from all that oil.

  13. Favorite smells:

    Coffee brewing and bacon frying

    Browning butter

    Fresh ripe strawberries

    Roasting garlic

    Garlic and onions frying

    Browning hamburger

    Any strong nibbling cheese except blue cheeses

    Crispy hot toast


    Fresh chopped chiles, any type

    Most ripe fruits

    In-between smells - these are smells that I dislike in the first part of the whiff, but further sniffing reveals good smells:

    Kimchi, sauerkraut, practically any fermented vegetable

    Vinegars (except plain distilled)

    Brussels sprouts

    Pork being seared

    Wine - had a bad experience, and I'm really not sure about my alcohol tolerance

    Blue cheese

    Least favorite smells:

    Sardines packed in oil, but only after eating half the can. Tiny sardines on saltines are a great snack, but I can only get through half and then I can't stand the smell of sardines for days.

    Sliced bread fresh out of the plastic bag


    Fish sauce

    Raw beef

    Scrambled eggs - but again only after eating them

    Roasted or canned Anaheim or New Mexico chiles mixed with cheese - reminds me too much of really bad food I've had in the past

    Dirty oil/burned chow mein smell that comes from Panda Express

    Overcooked french fries

    The smells that came out of the communal freshman microwave - burnt popcorn every other night, burnt Cup o' Noodles on occasion

  14. Here in Southern California (at least at the two or three Costcos I've visited) our food courts are outside, and don't require a membership card. At the nearest one, we have chicken caesar salad, chicken bake, pizza, hot dogs, churros, berry sundaes, and the berry smoothie. I would love an Italian sausage here.

  15. In family-style serving settings, I've found that candles often get in the way. Tall candles can physically block reaches, and peering around candlesticks to engage in conversation gets frustrating. Votive candles don't physically get in the way, but reaching for something can result in the unpleasant surprise when you realize your arm is hovering inches from a hot flame. Scented candles, a favorite of my grandmother, distract one too much from the tastes and smells of the meal.

  16. But yes, one of the things I kept hearing (on ftv) that its a mix of onion and garlic was no where to be found.

    I too remember hearing this on FTV, and it seems to me that I've heard it on more than one show, but I do remember hearing it on Good Eats. While browsing the Good Eats Fan Page Episode List, which includes transcripts of each episode, I came across where Alton Brown mentioned this garlic/onion cross - in the Butter episode. He says, "Well structurally it's like, well, imagine if an onion and head of garlic got together and got married and had kids." Emphasis on structurally. Don't know if that's how the other hosts meant it when they described the shallot as a cross between onion and garlic.

  17. I made an omelette with shallots and parsley for lunch, but it didn't turn out as well as I had hoped. The outside was too brown, and turning it was a pain. I don't have an omelette pan, only a crepe pan, and the little edge on that wasn't conducive to turning the omelette. I ended up using a spatula. The eggs did turn out nice and fluffy, though.

  18. Expanding on that, it's safe to say that temperature is not the only influencing factor for stovetop cooking. A pan on low heat with nothing in it will eventually reach incredible temperatures. A pot with water in it on high heat won't exceed 212 F until the water's all gone. Moreover, as you increase the surface area of what you're cooking uncovered, the amount of power (wattage, BTU/hour) you have to put into the cooking vessel to maintain a certain temperature will increase. A pan of pasta tossed in sauce will cool much faster than the same pan filled with oatmeal (let's not get into varying thermal conductivities and specific heat of types of food :blink: ).

    Change the food in the cooking vessel, and you change the variables involved in determining the optimum knob setting. Makes it a bit hard to get a good hard numerical grasp on things - hence the side of cooking that is an art rather than a science. You just have to get a feeling for what's right.

  19. My sandwich tonight was constructed by my rules of stacking: mayo on the bottom slice of bread, then turkey, then lettuce, then mustard on the top slice of bread. When I have tomatoes, they will go on between the turkey and the lettuce, unless I have cheese - then the cheese goes between the turkey and lettuce and the tomatoes go on top of the lettuce. It's always seemed to me that the tomato-cheese slip is worse than the tomato-lettuce slip.

  20. One thing I've always wanted to do is buy an infrared thermometer, so I can measure the actual temperature of the pan surface. If I could do that, I'd cook various things over and over in the same pan at different knob settings to get the best results, and match the corresponding pan temperatures with low, medium, high, and the in-betweens; that way, I'll have some way to compare between pans. Then I'd make a table matching pans and cooking heat to knob settings, and pin it on the fridge to reference.

    Am I crazy or obsessed? (choose one) :wacko:

    Actually, I guess this doesn't take into account the pan surface (non-stick vs. bare metal), or the ability of the pan to retain heat (a cast iron skillet will stay at "medium" when you fill it with cold food, while a thin aluminum pan will drop greatly in temperature before coming back up).

  21. This thread motivated me to buy some shallots for the first time today. I used one in a mediocre noodle soup, but didn't really notice it in the broth. Once I get a chance, and the greens, I think I'll carmelize some shallots and saute them with some kale or collard greens. Also have to remember to use some in my next dressing.

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