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Everything posted by JayBassin

  1. Here's mine. They are chewy and very chocolaty. I made it up because spouse doesn't like unnecessary fats. "Unnecessary" being defined as anything except chocolate or nuts. The trick is not to overbake. Low Fat Chocolate Cookies 2 C confectioners sugar 1/2 C dutch cocoa pinch salt 1/2 tsp baking powder (if you use regular cocoa, I think you can substitute baking soda) 1 egg white 1/2 tsp vanilla 1/3 C bittersweet chocolate, chopped small (optional) 1/3 C sliced almonds (don't need to pre-toast) Stir dry ingredients. Add egg white, then add vanilla. Add optional chocolate chips. Chill in fridge at least 1 hour. Scoop into 1.5 Tbs portions on parchment paper. Sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake 350F 11-12 minutes. Don't overbake. Cool on rack 5 minutes, then flip everything upside down (the cookies will stick to the parchment), then slowly peel the parchment off the cookies. Cool completely.
  2. Has anyone tried using clarified butter instead of Crisco? The clarification process elimiinates the water, so some of the problems alluded to above should disappear.
  3. To paraphrase Henry Kissenger, perhaps the reason the politics here are so vicious is because the stakes are so low. ← I remember a similar line being used for academic politics. Maybe what this shows is that everyone is getting "smarter", becoming more like the academics? ← Carrot Top, you're right about Henry Kissinger's reference to academia. I also assume your "smarter" in quotes also is tongue-in-cheek. I read Psaltis's book last week on a plane ride and greatly enjoyed it as one cook's coming-of-age story. I came here to see what the consensus was among people who may have known the stories first hand. What I didn't anticipate were the ad hominum attacks and innuendo---going on for 18 pages! Not knowing any of the players personnally, it still seems to me to be more than a little overkill. So far, the only people who have shown any restraint on this forum are Psaltis and Keller.
  4. To paraphrase Henry Kissenger, perhaps the reason the politics here are so vicious is because the stakes are so low.
  5. My strips are on the backsplash behind my corner kitchen sink, above a granite counter. I have to reach to grab a knife. I store them point up because I don't want a blade to fall point down on the granite and possibly chip the stone or the point.
  6. I've gone through knife blocks and various gimmicks. I really like magnetic knife bars, but it's important to get strong magnets. I've had my Messermeister bars for 2 years and they're very strong and stable.
  7. Permanently on the countertops: Cuisinart toaster-oven, Cuis food processor, Krups electric can opener, Krups blender, Braun coffee maker---all used multiple times each week. Tucked away but also used at least weekly: KA mixer, Braun immersion blender, non-electric mandoline. Hanging on walls/range hood and used daily: knives (magnetic bars), whisks, measuring spoons, spiders, ladles, strainers.
  8. JayBassin


    Actually, that's not true. Because microwaves oscillate at a frequency specific to being absorbed by things like water molecules, they penetrate less far than thermal radiation. There is actually some very elegant theoretical dealings with how far various energies of electromagnetic radiation penetrate matter based on their wavelength. Since microwaves are longer wavelength than radiant heat (infrared), they penetrate less far. This is doubly so because they are at fundamental frequencies which interact with the molecules based on quantized energy levels (booyah quantum mechanics). So what are microwaves good for? Popping microwave popcorn, making Kraft Eezy Mac, heating Cheez-Whiz (why would anyone purchase something with "whiz" in the name is beyond me), melting generally anything that is fully liquid once heated (you can't melt a boiled egg no matter how you try), blowing up eggs... ← Microwaves do not cook by inducing excited molecules to a molecularly specific frequency. While spectrometers work by distinguishing excited molecules by their induced emission of a characteristic energy, microwaves cook food by causing polar molecules like water to vibrate rapidly (commercial microwaves operate at a frequency of about 3250 mHz, or 3,250 million cycles per second). See Wikipedia's article on microwave cooking for a good overview of how it works and the history of microwaving. Harold McGee has a good summary of microwave cookery on page 786 of his new book. He says "Microwaves can penetrate foods to a depth of about an inch/2.5 cm, while infrared energy is almost entirely absorbed at the surface. Because heat radiation can travel to the center of foods onlyby the slow process of conduction, it's easily beaten by microwaves, with their substantially deeper reach."
  9. JayBassin


    Wikipedia has a good summary of how they work. Essentially, the microwave energy excites molecules like water that have polar asymmetry---one end of the molecule is positive and the other end is negative. The molecules try to line up with the microwaves, but because the waves switch polarity rapidly (roughly 2 billion times per second), the food molecules vibrate rapidly and thus heat up. Liquid water is extremely polar; fats, oils, and sugars are less so. The polar molecules like water heat up quickly, and other molecules heat up by conduction (a slower process), which contributes to uneven heating. I think in general starches are not too good in a microwave. Baking a potato "works" in a microwave because starch takes a long time to heat under microwave radiation, which means the relatively smaller amount of water in the potato heats up and cooks the starch by conduction. Boiling sstraight water in a microwave can be dangerous because you can "superheat" the water---raise the temp above 212F without boiling, but as soon as the water is agitated (or if you stick a spoon in), the water will burst into steam and boil.
  10. Baking supply stores carry cardboard cake rounds (cardboard discs) in a variety of sizes, as well as cake boxes. Be sure the box and the round match in size, and the round should be slightly larger than the cake (a 10-inch round for a 9" cake). Once the cheesecake is chilled, it's pretty dense. I invert the cake (covered in plastic wrap) onto a plate (or cake round), take off the pan bottom (and sometimes parchment), and re-invert the cake back onto the round it will stay on. Any garnish or decoration should be made after the cake is on the final round.
  11. JayBassin


    Microwaves do not linger in the food. Microwaves do not "kill" vitamins. Microwave radiation is a more penetrating form of energy than thermal radiation (radiant heat), which is why it cooks faster. Microwaves excite certain types of molecules more than others, which is why food products can heat (or cook) unevenly. The distribution of microwaves in a mW oven is not perfectly even due to the size of the oven and the mechanics, which also contribute to the unevenness of mW cooking. Therefore, I think that professional kitchens avoid final cooking with mW because (1) it doesn't produce even and reproducible results; (2) it can result in textural changes (try nuking a dinner roll) that are different than you get in a radiant-heat oven; and (3) there is a cultural bias against it because it was created for the home kitchen (same reason you don't see many crock-pots in professional kitchens). IMHO.
  12. Okay, I'm going to take credit for one tiny portion of your cake: the sour cream=buttermilk+butter argument was mine! I also tried a version using sour cream and it was fabulous. Of course the cake was only fabulous because Wendy started the thread, Ling brought along the Epicurious recipe, chefpeon and nighscotsman tweaked it, etc. etc. And now I'm going to make the cake again this week for a friends's birthday using some of Jay's suggestions. What a team! ← Absolutely take credit! I apologize to all for not giving Steven his due for the recommendation. Also, several of you responded that dutch-process cocoa worked just as well (with baking soda as a levener) as non-alkalized cocoa. It may be because of all the acid in the buttermilk and/or sour cream. Do you think so?
  13. Is it too late to add to this thread? My wife asked for a chocolate layer cake with chocolate icing for her b'day day before yesterday, so naturally I came here and did research. I settled on the Epicurious double-chocolate cake with ChefPeon'sadjustments, plus a few adjustments of my own. It turned out spectacularly so I figured I' post my notes. I didn't use butter, but I did substitute full-fat sour cream for the buttermilk. I was impressed by the discussion on this thread about sour cream essentially being buttermilk+butter. I also added ChefPeon's 1Tbs of espresso powder to 1.5 C brewed coffee, which I brought to a boil and poured into the 1.5 C cocoa powder. I used Hershey's (non-alkalized). I figured it shouldn't be dutch process because of all the baking soda in the recipe---needed the acid. I agree that the boiling liquid brings out the best in chocolate flavor from cocoa. I added a mix of chopped bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate, 2 tsp vanilla, 1 Tbs Irish Cream liqueur, 1.5 C brown sugar and 1.5 C white sugar. I wanted the extra flavor from brown sugar. I also used cake flour instead of ap, but I added an extra 5 Tbs (2.75 C + 1 Tbs). I used 3 eggs (per Epicurious, but one less than ChefPeon's) and beat them until thick. Then added sour cream, canola oil (Epicurious's suggested 3/4 C) cooled chocolate mix, and folded in the flour mixture (flour, leveners, salt). Unfortuately, I only had 8" x 2"-high pans (sprayed and lined with parchment, and then sprayed again) rather than the 10" pans recommended. Do not make my mistake---use either 10" pans or bake the remaining batter separately. This cake rises!! I baked without convection in a preheated 300F oven. I had agreed with ChefPeon's note that 60-70 minutes seemed too long, but when I checked at 30 minutes, it was risen but not close to done. It actually took 65 minutes (my oven is calibrated), so Epicurious was accurate. Epicurious's recipe was ambiguous about cooling. Cool completely in the pan. If you don't, the cakes will crumble. With that much sugar and so little protein, they are very fragile. Turn them out on cake rounds. Because my cakes rose so high (filled the 2" high pans), I cut each layer in half and made a 4-layer cake. I used a standard sour-cream ganache frosting with some irish cream and vanilla, and garnished with crushed praline (candied pecans). The cake was very moist, very dark color, and very rich. I might suggest cutting the total sugar from 3 C to 2.5 C next time. Definitely boil the coffee-espresso mix before adding to the cocoa. Definitely use non-dutch cocoa if with this mixture of leveners. The sour cream was a great substitute for buttermilk and butter. The day after, the cake was still very moist and chocolatey. Thanks again to Wendy and all of you who contributed to this thread, and to ChefPeon for her suggestions.
  14. Thanks guys, for all the feedback! I tried again yesterday and discovered a couple of things, which appear to be confirmed by KitWilliams's great pictures. First, "English muffin Bread" is an oxymoron. Despite the fact that most EM recipes say you can make the dough into loaves, it doesn't have the same texture. Second, a bit of sourness is essential for flavor---I made both a sour dough (not exactly, but the starter was 3 days old) and I tried with a bit of vinegar, and with buttermilk. Third, I added 2 tsp baking powder to the dough (1.5 lbs flour). Fourth, after forming the dough disks (I patted the dough about 1/2 inch thick and formed 3-3/4" rounds with a cutter, rolled the scraps into balls and patted), you must let the muffins overproof and rise. Fifth, I baked the muffins on a griddle for about 8 minutes per side and finished in a 350F oven for 10 minutes. It's essential not to turn the muffins too soon on the griddle, or they'll collapse. Finally, "fork split" isn't just an advertising gimmick---to get the nooks and crannies, it's necessary to split 'em with a fork. If you slice them with a bread knife, you just get a normal crumb.
  15. Some good cooking stores will arrange to have the pan re-tinned. La Cuisine in Alexandria, VA, and I think most of the Sur La Table stores will do it.
  16. A variation on a bourbon pumpkin cheesecake: 1. Crumb crust with 3/4 C each of gingersnaps and pecans, ground in food processor with 1 Tbs sugar and 2 Tbs butter. Press into a buttered or sprayed 9" springform pan, extending 1/2" up the sides. Wrap the pan on the outside with heavy aluminum foil to prevent leakage. Bake at 350 F for 10 min, cool completely. 2. Pumpkin filling: 1.5 lb cream cheese, room temp 1 16 oz can pumpkin (Libby's, not the "pumpkin pie filling" crap) 3 eggs 1/2 tsp nutmeg 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp ground ginger 1 tsp cinnamon 1 C light brown sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 Tbs cornstarch 2 Tbs heavy cream 1 Tbs bourbon or rum Beat cream cheese in stand mixer until very smooth. Scrape bowl frequently. Get out all the lumps now. Add sugar, spices, pumpkin, cornstarch and beat smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, and incorporate. Add vanilla, bourbon, cream. Pour into prepared and cooled pan. Bake in a water bath at 350F for 50-55 min until only the center 2" jiggles when you shake the pan. Be sure the water is simmering before you put in the cake pan. Remove and let cool 5 minutes 3. Topping Mix together 2 C (16 oz) full-fat sour cream, 2 Tbs maple syrup, 1 tsp bourbon or rum. Spread over cake, put back into the oven and bake 5 minutes. Cool completely, cover with plastic, and chill overnight. edited to add: I made this last weekend for the nurses at my dad's home, garnished with candied orange peel and praline. It was a big hit.
  17. My standard squash soup (butternut or pumpkin) is: 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced (2-3 C) 1 C diced onion (1 medium) 1 C diced carrot (2 carrots) 1 medium sweet potato, diced 1 rutabaga, peeled and diced 1 apple, peeled and diced 1.5 quarts chicken or veg stock salt+pepper grated nutmeg or mace (about 1/2 tsp) (1/2 C heavy cream -- optional) Bring everything except the creamn to a simmer and cook about 45 minutes until everything is soft. Buzz with an immersion blender until smooth. Add the cream if used and heat. Adjust seasonings.
  18. Wild rice cooked in stock, mushrooms, lentils, chestnuts, dried fruit (apricots, apples, raisins), usual aromatic veg (sauteed onions & celery), bind with egg.
  19. I've made them on the griddle and in a loaf using the same dough, and I don't get the holes either way.
  20. Good advice about the extra broth. I'd also suggest adding extra heavy cream if you can because you'll want to maintain the creaminess on the chaffing dish. Also, don't add much cheese to the dish--let people sprinkle on their own cheese (assuming its a buffet?) because I think parmesian gets an off-taste when held a long time.
  21. Here in the States, an "English" muffin is a yeasted dough in the shape of a hockey puck, or disk about 3 inches in diameter and perhaps 3/4 inch thick, cooked on a griddle. It's somewhat dense, chewy, and is characterized by holes in the crumb. It's meant to be split and toasted prior to eating. Most English muffin recipes also state that the dough can be baked in a loaf instead of as individual muffins. edited for clarity.
  22. Thanks. They recommend 1-2% vital gluten (in addition to a high-protein flour) and over-kneading the dough. I'll try both. If anyone has any other ideas, post them here!
  23. Made English Muffin bread from Reinhard's "Bread Maker's Apprentice." Came out well, but no holes like you get in commercial muffins. His recipe is essentially a slightly enriched white bread (a little butter, a little sugar). He recommends a slightly softer dough and baking "on the rise" to get the holes. I've also tried recipes from various other authors, all with the same results. I've tried adding baking powder (about 1/2 tsp per pound of flour) as recommended by other authors (like James Beard), and no holes. How do you get the holes?
  24. Milk tenderizes the bread and makes it less chewy. However, milk contains enzymes that adversely affect yeast. You can deactivate the enzymes by scalding the milk (which is why you sometimes see "scalded milk" in recipes), or by using milk powder (instant milk).
  25. Can't tell from the pictures: is the ginseng added to the soup in the large pieces you show in your first picture, or is it chopped or grated?
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