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Everything posted by HungryC

  1. My favorite stand alone cake is also a Dorie Greenspan recipe: her French Yogurt Cake, made "riveria style" with olive oil, ground almonds, and rosemary (or mint) rubbed into the sugar along with lemon zest, is pretty damn perfect all by itself. Recipe here: http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/19/the-bakers-apprentice-french-yogurt-cake/?_r=0 Photo of one of my many, many french yogurt cakes, glazed with lemon jam. Ooops, does that count as a topping?
  2. Poor eating habits and lack of cooking skills are two entirely different things. He could be the best cook on earth and still eat crap. Sounds like you guys are worried about his eating habits, not his cooking skills. Unless he lives in a completely rural area, he could easily put together a healthy, balanced diet without cooking, between the salad bar, roasted chickens, etc. found in most modern US grocery stores. So he's making poor choices, regardless of skill level. Perhaps the more important goal is switching him from white to whole wheat and going from highly processed cold cuts to minimally processed ones. If he likes meat and bread, teach him to do a slow roasted brisket in the oven. It will slice nicely for sandwiches, can be frozen (unsliced), and is easily varied to have different spice/seasoning profiles. Not much prep involves, and it cooks unattended for hours (like overnight). Or a gift certificate to a nutritionist might be a better choice than cooking lessons....
  3. Many local community colleges and trade schools in the US offer pastry and baking classes. These schools are far more affordable than the typical culinary school education, and most will allow you to take a single class at a time, as opposed to a full time enrollment. The beauty of an inperson class is access to professional level equipment, direct supervision by a knowledgable pro, and access to ingredients (usually included in course fees). Michel Suas' book Advanced Bread and Pastry has many step by step recipes and photographs. It's not cheap: http://www.amazon.com/Advanced-Bread-Pastry-Michel-Suas/dp/141801169X but your local public library can get a copy through Interlibrary loan (free to you, you can keep it 1 month and perhaps see if it's worth buying). Also seek out the Pierre Herme dessert books, if for nothing other than inspiration: he often juxtaposes imaginative flavors, colors, and textures. http://www.amazon.com/Desserts-Pierre-Herme/dp/0316357200/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1379019931&sr=1-1&keywords=desserts+pierre+herme Pro-level pastry magazines like http://www.dessertprofessional.com/ are also a good source. Finally, if you can identify an after-school program near you (Boys & Girls club, church program, etc), you might have a way to feed your less than perfect pastry to an audience that will readily devour it. Kids don't care what it looks like--after school, they'll eat almost anything. An alternative is to figure out what will freeze: tart shells (par baked), cake layers (well wrapped), unbaked scone dough and unbaked puff pastry, etc. Then you can perfect your technique by making multiples, stick some in the freezer, and work on fillings/flavorings at a different time, using your frozen stash.
  4. While I love a good improv pasta dish, it's not really possible to cook dried pasta in less than 25 minutes, is it? At least 10 minutes to go from tap to boiling, plus another 7-12 minutes, depending on the pasta shape. I cook quick pasta dishes on many weeknights, and it's about 35 minutes from the time I fill the pot to putting it on the plate. Seriously, is there a faster way to cook pasta? Are you using a pressure cooker, special microwave device, or do you have a hot water dispenser or what?
  5. HungryC


    I love succotash, and its cajun cousin, macque choux. Macque choux is fresh corn, cut off the cobs, plus the cob scrapings, diced onion, diced bell pepper, garlic, and chopped fresh tomato. Brown the onions in plenty of butter (or bacon grease, if so inclined), add the peppers, cook until soft, then add the garlic and tomato and corn. Sautee until the tomatoes are reduced a bit and the corn is a tiny bit brown, stirring often. Season with cayenne and a little salt...the corn is so naturally sweet you want to make sure the flavor is balanced (but if you use bacon grease, you might not need any salt). ETA: add fresh or frozen (unthawed) baby green limas with the corn to make it succotash.
  6. If you're a baker, the freezer is your friend. A 1 lb loaf of sourdough will keep, well wrapped, in the freezer for 3-4 months. Defrost in the oven for about 20 minutes at 325-350, and it will be as good as new. I am also a baker, and I freeze all sorts of loaves, muffins, etc. It is nice to be able to produce a few pieces of focaccia, a slab of ciabatta, or some brioches at a moment's notice and with a few minutes reheating.
  7. Quality canned tuna is a godsend in this circumstance. --olive oil packed tuna tossed either with canned (rinsed, drained) cannellini beans or chickpeas....press the oil out of the tuna & use it to make an herb-spiked vinaigrette. (dried herbs are fine). Serve on lettuce leaves or on thickly sliced, toasted country bread. --tuna + chickpeas in a quick dressing made of tahini and lemon juice; stuff it into pita, pile it on romaine, serve it in bowls w/za'ater sprinkled on top. A bit of crumbled feta on top, and no one will leave your table complaining. Udon noodles cook in 6-8 minutes once the water's boiling, and soba cook even faster; I often make quick lunches of noodles boiled in broth/stock with bits of whatever veg are in the fridge. Cook the noodles mostly done, then add sugar snap peas, snow peas, broccoli florets, baby spinach, carrot strips, etc. Remove from the heat and stir in a spoon of miso (and a little soy maybe). If you have a boiling or hot water dispenser or immersion teapot, the whole thing can be even faster. Another option is a nice little omelette, filled with whatever's handy (cheese is the most common filling at my house). Some fresh fruit or simple salad, a little bread on the side, and it's a fine lunch. Takes just a minute or two to whip up, and if the person is a friend, he/she won't mind an omelet cut in half, shared between the two of you.
  8. Dunno about Chinese homes and blast furnace gas heat, but I do know that it's pretty easy to get ultra high heat with a simple charcoal wok stove. I see the terra cotta and tin wok stoves at local Asian markets for about $20-30. Many folks use a chimney starter to good effect.
  9. A 10 second google search on commercial wok stoves reveals a wide spread of BTU output, from a lower end of 100K all the way up to 225K.
  10. 200 BTU is nothing....maybe you have a few zeros missing? Commercial wok stoves have around 125K or more per burner. Of course, the commercial stoves are designed for use with big restaurant sized woks.
  11. Dulce de leche....marshmallow creme.....salted peanut ganache.....or a ginger buttercream, for something really different.
  12. Last nights leftovers are my brown baggers mainstay. I also like Greek yogurt, oil packed tuna mixed w herbes de Provence and cannellini beans, and cheese toast.
  13. Good points about fine motor control and standing....two hazards common in hair styling, which also comes with the added relentless chemical exposure of salon work.
  14. I have both, and the pasta book is just an expanded version of the original. Plenty of what I'd call "obvious" recipes (ie, X veg sautéed, seasoned, combined w pasta). Zanini da Vita and Fant have a forthcoming book called Sauces and Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way, to be published in October:http://www.amazon.com/Sauces-Shapes-Pasta-Italian-Way/dp/0393082431/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1377828556&sr=8-3&keywords=Maureen+fant
  15. Damn, you folks are advanced. Or maybe you just keep more frozen foods than I do? I keep the inside freezer & outside chest freezer organized by category (cooked entrees, frozen veg, seafood, meat (half-calf cut & wrapped), poultry) and then I can see at a glance what I have. The only thing too numerous/diverse for my memory is the flour stockpile: I keep a paper list magneted to the freezer door, enumerating the kinds of flour & amount. Can't ever remember if I used all the whole wheat pastry flour or high-gluten or 00, so the list is handy. ETA: have learned through many hurricane seasons that it's not wise to stockpile frozen goods in my locale. Today is the 8th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I've cleaned too many fetid fridges to ever, ever, ever want to do that again.
  16. Wha? I use my iPad as an e-reader, and it has a nice little "lock aspect" switcheroo on the side, you can turn it sideways and the display stays vertically oriented. I read, side-lying, nearly every evening. Works fine on an ipad.
  17. I'm a big ebook fan for reading, but still on the fence re: cookbooks. Bought a few, haven't really used them. I like to annotate, and I find it tedious to add notes to ebooks. With a paper book, I can scribble all the important-to-me marginalia, quickly and easily, while cooking. Less salt, more butter, doubled, halved, etc. Inserting a note using a device with a virtual keyboard is still tedious to me--the two-finger, poke typing is inefficient.
  18. I was thinking the same thing....try being a roofer, mason, or framing carpenter in a hot climate. Bricks and boards weigh a helluva lot more than kitchen implements. And I'd rank bakers as more badass, physically speaking, than line cooks: flour is heavy, bread shaping is relentlessly repetitive, and it's all done at seriously antisocial hours.
  19. That buttery toffee made w/saltines and chocolate sprinkled on top....I could eat the whole pan, which would send me into diabetic gallbladder hell. So I make it and give it away, except for a few pieces.
  20. i assume you mean the Nuevo Mercato dell'Esquilino located between Piazza Vittorio and Termini station? When i was there quite a while ago, i was not specifically looking for lemongrass and did not see any, but i will be very surprised if you ask around and cannot find fresh lemongrass on sale somewhere around there. Yes, that's the market I mean...didn't know the "real" name, as it's near piazza Vittorio and spread over a couple of buildings. It seemed to be bigger on certain days, and the clientele and vendors were far more diverse than your typical Roman market. Haven't been in it since '10, but I definitely saw lemongrass, cilantro, holy basil, and a bunch of different asian greens. This would have been in the late summer/early fall. RE: lemongrass use....all over SE Asia. India, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Philippines. Some use in sub-Saharan Africa, too. Plant is native to India, and it has a pretty weedy growth habit. Once established, it will make a big ol' clump and survive most anything (besides prolonged freezing temps). Some freezing will kill off the top, but if the roots are protected, it will resprout from the base. One last suggestion for sourcing it: find a resto in Torino serving Thai food and pester them for a source. Dine in a couple times and ingratiate yourself, and the proprietors might be willing to sell you some. A lazy TripAdvisor search lists four different places serving Thai food in Turin, including Yoshi, Tuk Tuk, and Ristorante Asia. In Rome, the venerable Viet resto Thien Kim, via Guilia 21, might be able to help you with your quest. Ditto for Restaurant Mekong (never been to it, so I can't vouch for the friendliness there).
  21. I'd think a hold of less than a day would be fine. Moisture is the key culprit in piecrust staling, so you might consider par-baking, wrapping well, and then freezing the baked pie shells. The next day (or whenever they're used), they'll defrost beneath the quiche filling as it cooks.
  22. Can you get keffir lime leaves? (makrut leaves) The flavor is closer to lemongrass than to ordinary lemon leaves or lemon peel; it's more of a citronella aroma than strictly lemon. Rome is full of Bangladeshi vendors, and I know I've seen lemongrass for sale at the big Vittorio Emanuele market in Rome, near Termini. All sorts of Asian & African ingredients (and vendors). So you might try looking there--it's a pretty large spread, with lots of ethnic stuff. Another possible source: the Filipino immigrant community....Rome & Florence both have little Filipino grocery stores, and a proprietor might be able to point you toward a source for lemongrass.
  23. Two choices: cook until the foam subsides or skim. Depends on how 'stewed' you like your tomatoes.
  24. But what's luxurious to some is everyday food to others. I'm profligate with seafood--I live in the heart of a rich, productive estuary. A pound of crabmeat, to me, is like a pound of ground beef to others. I measure shrimp by the cooler full (usually 60 quarts or larger), not by the lb. So I don't have to treat my jumbo lump like jewels, bathed solely in drawn butter and lemon....I can use in a creamy corn, poblano, and crab soup, I can put it into stuffed green peppers, or fold it into seafood stuffing, or use it in an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink gumbo. "Shine" is a relative term.
  25. I feel this way about burrata....why would anyone try to improve on it? It's perfect and delicious, stop mucking around with it and eat it.
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