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Posts posted by pigeonpie

  1. So last November I treated myself to my first Le Creuset -- a 6 3/4 qt. oval French oven.  I love it!  This week I made short ribs for the first time ever and they were fantastic and it was so easy.

    Now my birthday is coming up and my mother-in-law has been asking me what I want.  So why not another Le Creuset?

    But I'm not sure what size I should get next.  I was thinking maybe a round piece this time, but not set on that.  Should I get round in 3 1/2 qt., 4 1/2 qt. or 5 1/2 qt?  Or should I get another oval piece -- 3 1/2 qt. or 5 qt.?

    On one hand, I don't want to get something too small, but at the same time, I certainly don't want something too close to the 6 3/4 qt. oval one that I already have.  Or should I go in the other direction and get something bigger?  I'm just afraid that the bigger pieces would only come out once or twice a year for holidays.

    Any suggestions?  Thanks!

    Think about what it is you would want to cook in a second LC - particularly the kinds of things you would cook often (so it doesn't just come out for the high days and holidays) - then figure out, perhaps looking at other pots and pan you have of various sizes, which would be best for such purposes.

  2. I reckon you should go for the Bourgeat/Falk/Mauviel option. Yes, it is a lot of money for a pan, but it will pay you back for the rest of your life, and given that you will be using it several times a week, you won't be short of opportunities to enjoy it.

    Seriously, if you use a particular pan that much, and assuming that you are not, say, simply boiling pasta in it every time (which I rather presume not), seems to me that, having bought the wrong kind of pan once and wanting to replace it, you should go for one that you can be absolutely sure you'll be happy with, and one that you will really enjoy using.

    You really don't want to be coming back here in a year's time saying the same things ...

    And since you currently have a saucier which you can use, then seems to me you should wait the extra months, pay the extra money, and then get cooking!

    (And, yes, I have a Falk saucier and would not swap it for anything. And, yes, it cost what to me is an awful lot of money. And, yes, I love it and use it constantly and know that I will continue to do so for as long as I continue to cook. And, funnily enough, I bought it to replace ill-chosen anodised aluminium.)

  3. Pigeonpie... I like the idea of getting a small chest freezer and buying half an animal.  It would make an interesting thread, if you fancy posting how you work your way through the different cuts.

    Interesting idea. I might just have to do that ...

    It will probably have to wait until the autumn though - I'm stocked up at the moment with various bits of various beasts, and it would make sense to start the thread when I order my next half a lamb, which won't be until at least August/September when they are available again (this is a seasonal product). That way I can start it off with a complete half beast.

    In the meantime, I have half a mutton shoulder defrosting for the weekend (it needs to go into its marinade tomorrow) ... yum!

  4. Pigeonpie... I like the idea of getting a small chest freezer and buying half an animal.  It would make an interesting thread, if you fancy posting how you work your way through the different cuts.

    Interesting idea. I might just have to do that ...

    Buying meat this way - and meat of this quality - has transformed the way I think about and cook meat. What's more, it worked even greater wonders on my SO, who went from someone who thought cooking was a bore and eating just something you do to fill your belly, to someone who will now actively engage with me in both discussing just how to cook that joint of pork and enjoy cooking it with (or even for) me. That was a revolution indeed, I can tell you!

  5. My local Turkish is just as exciting as Borough Market.

    I absolutely have to agree with this. When I lived in London, I did just about all of my fruit and veg (and numerous other things) shopping at my local Turkish shop. It was far better, quality and variety and value for money wise, than the street market that filled my street once a week. When I moved to Brighton, I really missed that Turkish shop, but now two have opened near me. Heaven.

  6. I can't help you with the fruit and veg side, since I just go to my local market and Turkish shop for that .

    But ...

    One thought - what about stocking your freezer with quality meat and fish once a month? So long as you don't leave it in there for months it could still be preferable to inferior fresh meat.

    As far as meat is concerned, that is exactly how I solved the problem.

    Like you, two or three years ago I got fed up buying tasteless, pointless, cardboard meat from the supermarket. I had a kind of epiphany one day eating a bit of supermarket chicken when i realised that all it really tasted of was the flavourings I'd put on it; it was not much more than a lump of protein, so what was the point in eating it?

    Problem was, I didn't think I could afford 'expensive' organic meat. But then I figured it would make sense to pay more for my meat, even a lot more, but eat it less and actually enjoy it! But, also like you, I really don't have the time to keep on going to the local butchers, and their meat isn't much better anyway. So I looked on the web and I found these guys:

    Real Meat company

    Their meat was way, way better than the supermarket stuff, and noticeably cheaper than other organic/'real' meat suppliers. I had some really good meals out of them, and started to understand what meat could really be like.

    Then, after a year or two, wanting to be able to afford to eat meat more often (I'm on a pretty tight budget) but not wanting to lose the quality, I bought a small, cheap chest freezer from ebay and started to buy my meat from these guys:

    truly fabulous meat

    I have to say, their lamb, their pork, their beef, their mutton - all of it is truly superlative. Supermarket meat really is cardboard compared to this. It's amazing. I didn't realise when i first ordered from them, but they supply restaurants such as Moro and the Ivy, and their mutton just won some big food award.

    The only catch is that you can't buy it by the joint, but rather by the half/quarter animal, in the case of lamb/mutton and pork, and by the box for beef. They also have a wonderful range of game (which is a lot more extensive in winter, during the season). At first, I was kind of scared of buying half a lamb or quarter of a pig at once, thinking it would be a huge amount of meat. But either will easily fit into a drawer in your freezer, and because you are not buying it by the joint, it comes out a lot cheaper, and it means that your freezer is always stocked and you can just peruse what's in there and decide what to have, instead of heading for the butcher.

    Oh, and the meat, obviously, comes fully butchered - they have a 'standard' way of butchering each item, but you can vary this exactly how you like, and they will butcher it for you accordingly.

    Good luck in finding a better way to shop!

    Edited to add: I/we are a household of one and a half (one during the week, two at weekends), so I think this approach would work just fine for two.

  7. Well, I thought I'd weigh in (ho hum) with a European view on this. Here (in the UK) cook books always use weight, with the exception of spoon measures (eg teaspoons, tablespoons) for very small quantities. When I was a kid, everything was in ounces, now measurments tend to be given in both ounces and grams. On the continent, of course, they just use grams. But never, never, are volume measures used for larger quantities.

    Of course, nowadays I sometimes use American recipes - not least when I use recipes from Recipe Gullet. Which means using 'cups'. And do you know what I find myself doing for baking recipes I use regularly, say for bagels or pancakes? The first time i make the recipe, I measure out the flour, the sugar, etc in cups, then I weigh the cup of sugar, the cup of flour, etc. Even if just one cup of an ingredient is called for, I weight out a cup say three times, take the average weight, rounded off to the nearest 25g, and I write that alongside the volume measurements on the recipes. Next time round, I weigh everything.

    Why do I do this? Because I am not used to using cups as measures, and I know full well that I will never measure out exactly the same 'cup' each time. There will be variations. So, easier for me, for recipes where precision is called for - mainly baking - to convert to weight measures and then use those.

    However, and I feel quite strongly about this, despite preferring weight measurements for situations where it really matters, I have to disagree with jgm:

    Switching to weights could have other advantages; ingredients such as herbs, which in their whole form are impossible to measure, would be simple to weigh.  Even chopped herbs will measure differently, depending on the size of the chop.

    Personally, I'm on a rant about recipes that call for things like "the juice of 1 lemon."  It's more than obvious that lemons and a lot of other things can vary greatly in size, and therefore so can the amount of juice and zest from them.  After we standardize recipes for weights, let's keep the ball rolling with other imprecise measurements.

    Admittedly, there are recipes where a precise quantity of, say, lemon juice is called for. For example, a lemon mousse recipe I use, which specifies 'juice of one lemon (80ml)'; a large lemon would yield too much juice and I'd end up with lemon gloop instead of mousse, so precision is necessary.

    But, weighing herbs?!. Not likely. Surely the addition of more or less herbs is a matter of taste, an integral part of cooking, of experimenting for oneself? And there are plenty of situations where 'juice of one lemon' is all the precision I need. I can taste to see if I think I need more, or not put it all in at first if I think I have a particularly juicy lemon.

    I mean, who around here slavishly follows recipes time after time, without adding 'a little more of this, a little less of that', other than where to do otherwise would result in a sunken cake, etc. Personally, I much prefer recipes that call for 'a small bunch' of this or a 'handful' of that. The point is, I can decide how small is small, how full is a handful. I can decide if I want more thyme, less garlic, etc. The reality is that, even when precise measurements for things such as herbs are given, I rarely keep to the exact recipe anyway.

    And, really, do you actually measure a tablespoon of chopped herbs? I just chop until I have what looks like roughly a tablespoon's worth on the chopping board, then keep chopping if I reckon more would be nice, or keep some back if I think it's too much.

    Basically, I don't much like being told what to do in itsy bitsy detail unless it is essential. Cooking is a creative activity and precise instructions such as '15g of chopped parsley' or the like would drive me nuts (and almost certainly make me leave the cook book in the store).

    So, precision where it matters, but let's have space to decide for ourselves. Cooking by numbers just doesn't sound that much fun.


  8. Has anyone eaten mutton lately?

    To me, the word used to suggest tough, chewy, smelly meat, served with boiled-to-death cabbage, to be followed by something like semolina pudding.

    I have now discovered that mutton is absolutely delicious. Seriously, it's amazing stuff. I've grilled mutton chops until just a little pink - wonderful. Then, a couple of days ago, I slow-roasted a piece of leg until just about falling off the bone. No-one spoke for about five minutes, everyone was too busy being amazed at just how good it was.

    And, funnily enough, it doesn't just taste like extra-lamby lamb (as it were). It has a flavour all of its own, which is perhaps more like lamb crossed with beef.

    Try some, I dare you ...

  9. 1. Butterscotch Angel Delight. A petrochemical by-product which uncannily pre-dated 'Molecular Gastronomy's' foams by at least two decades. Utterly, utterly revolting. Capable of clinging to the teeth and ruining meals for the next two weeks.

    OMG, I'd forgotten all about that stuff. I loved Angel's Delight as a child, and butterscotch was my favourite flavour. I also loved the way it would thicken before my eyes as I whipped the white powder - which 'magically' changed colour as it hit liquid - into the milk. I'm not sure I want to think about what was in it and, I have to say, I rather doubt I'd be quite so enamoured of it now.

    But when I was eight ... :wub:

  10. Have you been given a cup of coffee by any of your neighbours? And if so, what did they serve you? That's what I want to know ...

    Great story, by the way. Definitely had me chuckling.

  11. It's only a little salt, which you would put in bread, anyway.  I imagine the Splenda is to make it taste more like regular flour.   I don't think sugar is all that healthy, either.  It amazes me what a big deal people make of artificial sweeteners not being healthy but no one seems to mention that about sugar.

    It's better for me because I have blood sugar problems, and when I eat regular bread, it makes me ill.  Even though I love it, and even though I make very good bread.  So if I can make decent bread that won't make me sick, that's a good thing.

    In terms of keeping your blood sugar level, I don't know what kind of bread you normally make/eat, but have you tried using stoneground wholemeal (ie stoneground whole grain) flour, in place of white or even regular wholemeal/whole grain flour? The point is that stoneground flour is not as fine as regular flour, which means that it is digested more slowly than regular flour (a lot more slowly than white flour) which means that it shouldn't cause your sugar levels to spike and then dip so sharply. It also happens to make really great tasting bread!

    By the by, there's nothing inherently unhealthy about sugar - it's eating a lot of sugar that's unhealthy. Though if you have blood sugar problems, then I guess even a little can cause problems.

  12. No running water makes the entire enterprise problematic, in my opinion.

    Running water? That's just for wimps!

    Seriously, I don't know if you ever go camping, but it's perfectly possible to cook a decent meal with one butane burner and no running water close to hand. Just think one-pot, quick cook meals (which have the added bonus of not actually creating much washing up).

    So, eggs are definintely your friend, since they cook in no time - omelettes, fritatas, scrambled, etc, etc. Do you like chicken livers (or any other liver)? - pan fried for about 30 seconds, 1min tops, on toast, with a dash of balsamic, a good grind of pepper and a green salad, dinner sorted.

    Ditto steak/chops (minus the toast), though this is when the carbs bit of the meal becomes a bit more tricky with only one burner. So either get a second burner, or cook the potatoes/rice etc first, then do the meat bit, salad on the side, you're away.

    There's a middle-eastern dish called 'shakshouka', which involves cooking red peppers and fresh tomatoes in a pan until soft, with garlic (though for this, I prefer without), adding chilli flakes, then when it's all just about cooked, break in an egg or two per person, cover until the eggs are cooked to your liking. Drizzle over extra olive oil and eat with bread or toast. Strangely, this is particularly good with a little thick yogurt on top. It's one of my favourite standby 'I'm starving and I need to eat now' meals. If I'm really in a rush, I leave out the peppers; it's still yummy.

    Then there are more substantial one-pot meals - anything that starts of with, say, a base of softened onions and garlic, tinned kidney beans / fava beans, that kind of thing thrown in, adding in tinned or fresh tomatoes, fresh or dried chilli, coriander (ground seeds, fresh on top at the end), perhaps some paprika, say some thinly sliced red peppers, bacon if you want to add meat, butternut squash, other veggies, etc. You can vary this in all sorts of directions, depending on your tastes and what's in the fridge and spice cabinet. Eat with bread/toast, or rice/potatoes if you have a second burner.

    Basic thai curry simply involves frying up a little bought curry paste, adding in coconut milk, then add whatever meat / veggies you want, cut into strips so they cook quite quickly, deposit on a bowl of rice, and voila.

    Then you've got stir fries - use those instant noodles that come with suspicious little packets of flavouring, and you can stir fry your meat/veggies while the noodles are 'cooking' in a bowl with boiling water simply poured on top. Drain the noodles, add into the stir fry, voila.

    Oh, and how about Puy lentils? Cook up a batch (they take about 25mins from dry, no need to soak), stir a vinaigrette dressing through, and add in just about anything you like - chopped/sliced cold meats/salamis/chorizo, quickly fried, thinly sliced vegetables, such as peppers and aubergines; torn bits of mozzarella plus fresh basil and extra olive oil. The list goes on - you can add just about anything. And they're great as cold leftovers (I think).

    And, finally, pasta. Pasta with simple, quick-cook sauces - from really basic olive oil and parmesan, to cream-based sauces such as cream and ham/mushroom/asparagus/peas (or just about any combination of those). Cook the pasta, pull off the burner, drain, return to the warm pan and stir through some olive oil to prevent it sticking together, then put on the lid and cook the cream-based sauce in all of 3mins. Mix and eat. Of course, if you have two burners, you can do this without the juggling.

    As far as the washing up is concerned, just get a big washing-up bowl and dump things in it as you need, then take them and wash them up in the bath tub / bathroom basin. Not ideal, but it can certainly be done for a couple of months. And you can reduce it by using paper plates if you want to.

    Hope that helps.

  13. True Greek yogurt is made from sheep's milk and then strained to remove some of the whey and thus thicken it. Greek 'style' yogurt can be made by simply straining ordinary yogurt in a cheese cloth, muslin or clean tea towel for a couple of hours - leave it over night and you'll have soft cheese.

    As to sweetening it, one of my favourites is to stir in some jam - preferably home made jam, full of 'fruity bits'. The more jam you stir in, the sweeter, and the fruitier, it will be.

    And making your own yogurt is about the easiest thing you can do in the kitchen (well, apart from eat it that is :wink: - the yogurt that is, not the kitchen ...)

    edited - because eating one's kitchen is pretty much impossible

  14. Add lemon and garlic as you would have done, but then also add in finely chopped/sliced tomatoes and red onion. Then, to make it perfect, drizzle (I hate that word, but I can't think of a better one just now) over some pomegranate syrup. The combination of smokey aubergine, sharp onion, and sweet-sour pomegratate syrup, softened by the tomatoes, is fabulous. It's still good without the pomegranate syrup - but with it :wub:

    (Even though baba ghanoush is one of my absolute favourite things to eat, I often do this instead even when I have tahini).

  15. Crepes sound like a great use. How about rolled in a crepe with cooked apple and a dusting of nutmeg and cinnamon, with or without ricotta.

  16. Le Creuset cannot be used on the new smooth cooking surfaces

    This might be a stupid question, but is that really true? And if so, why?

    Is it just a scratching issue? And if it is, pots that are enamelled on the bottom (rather than than having a raw-iron base) should be okay, no?

    I ask because I'm used to cooking on gas, but i'm thinking of giving a piece of LC as a present to a friend who's getting an induction cooktop. Don't want to go buying the wrong thing ...

  17. I never ever boil vegetables.  I steam them using a metal insert made especially for the purpose.  You can always add S&P after they're steamed. 

    I have a method which is kind of half way between steaming and boiling which I use for vegetables that cook quickly, and/or those for which I want to retain a bit of 'bite'. So that means things such as green beans, broccoli, cabbage, leeks, etc.

    Basically, I don't have a metal insert, such as deltadoc refers to (well, I think I did once, but could never be bothered with it). I simply place the veg in a pan, scatter salt over (I know the question is about how much salt, but I never measure it, I just scatter, sorry) then pour over a very small quantity of water, so that it comes up to a depth of about half a centimetre. Then I put on the lid and turn on the heat.

    After a few minutes I check to see that all the water isn't gone - and add a drop more if necessary, but it usually isn't - and turn everything over to make sure it cooks evenly. The amount of water I drain off is minimal - sometimes draining isn't even necessary - so I'm not pouring much, if any, veggy goodness (or flavour) down the sink.

  18. OK Thats It

    JUST EAT LESS CAKE...dammit


    Seconded, and then some - what is the point of a cake without butter?

    I made the mistake of ordering chocolate cake in a vegan cafe once (I live in Brighton, which is kind of the UK's answer to San Francisco; unfortunately vegan cafes can actually make a living here ... maybe I should just move?).

    Anyway, where was I? Yes, vegan chocolate cake. Looked fabulous. Tasted? Well, not quite revolting, but utterly, utterly, disappointing. Problem? THERE WAS NO BUTTER IN IT, obviously.

    I haven't been back to that cafe.

  19. Remember Harriet the Spy's tomato sandwiches?

    Tomato and salad-cream sandwiches, right? She would eat nothing else for lunch, and cookies and milk when she came home from school. It must be over 20 years ago, but I read that book half a dozen times or so when I was a kid. I think I was slightly more adventurous in my choice of food though ...

    I did spy on the neighbours though - from the top of an apple tree in the garden, the best time of year being apple season, cos then I could stave off hunger by scoffing all the apples within reach.

    Actually, that's another one, I eat apples every day, at least during autumn and winter.

  20. Clearly I have a tea problem. :raz:

    A tea problem? Tea can never constitute a problem. For me:

    A cup of tea on first waking.

    Another cup of tea with breakfast - which is always (bar about twice a month, maybe) home-made muesli - though the fresh fruit component varies according to season/what's in the fruit bowl.

    Sometimes another cup of tea immeditely after lunch.

    Always another cup of tea around 4pm.

    And water - all that tea drinking makes a girl thirsty y'know ... :wink:

  21. 'Hob' is UK English for a stove. I keep forgetting to translate when I post here! 'Stove' is very much used, but more in an everyday, colloquial context - I guess perhaps it's a little bit old-fashioned. If I was going to a shop to buy one, I'd ask for an induction hob, not an induction stove.

    I have to say, I think stove is a much nicer word though.

  22. Three words: induction, induction, induction.

    Having always cooked on gas hobs, and only ever experienced electric hobs in the form of coils or old ceramic-topped things that took an age to heat up/ cool down and were, frankly, so awful to cook on I'd rather have a sandwich, I was horrified when I learnt that the flat my SO was buying would have to have an electric hob, and I would have to cook on one of those things.

    And then I did a bit of research and found that electric hobs had moved on; I discovered induction. They do not come cheap, but I refused to do any cooking, ever in that flat if a non-induction hob found its way there. An induction hob was duly ordered :wink: .

    There just isn't any other form of electric hob that has the kind of responsiveness that gas gives you (and, if the kitchen is small - and this one is tiny - there is the added advantage that an induction hob just heats the pan, not the kitchen and the cook ...).

    Does mean you have to chuck out your aluminium cookware, and copper ain't happening, but hey, it's a good excuse for some new pots and pans if ever I heard one.


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