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Everything posted by Magictofu

  1. Why not? Have you tried freezing thin onion slices as an experiment? I know you can buy bags of frozen pre-diced white onion in the grocery stores so fresh onion slices may survive being frozen for a short time. I think the caveat against freezing fresh vegetables has to do with their water content more than anything else. The water in the veggies freezes which damages the cells which causes the veggies to become mushy when thawed. It's worth a try with onions... ← This is exactly why I did not want to try freezing onion slices. I love their crunch! Besides, I also have the feeling that they could also develop that unpleasant sulphur taste so typical of bad onions. You are right though, if I am into experimenting maybe I should go all the way...
  2. I tried the butter-tomato sauce described earlier in this topic this week. Once with potato gnocci and another time with spaghetti. I liked the simplicity of the procedure and my partner truly enjoyed the dishes I have made. The butter rounded the otherwise sharp taste of the tomatoes, something olive oil surely can't do. My only concern was that a simple pasta+sauce dish remains fairly one-dimensional (something that is probably to be expected given the minimal number of ingredients). Grated parmesan cheese was an obvious and delicious addition but I thought some greens such as baby spinach, arugula or watercress would be a nice addition tastewise and texturewise. I'll have to admit that my knowledge of Italian food is quite limited but I'm sure there are other traditional and non-traditional ways to add a few sparkles to dishes made with a simple tomato sauce. Any suggestions?
  3. Last week I made 6 bagel sandwiches with cream cheese, capers and smoked salmon and placed them in the freezer. I just had one of these and its a major improvement over what I had last week. The bagel is alright although it is of the slighly more mushy kind than I'm used to. The cream cheese lost some of its creamyness but kept all its tang. The smoked salmon is still perfect and so are the capers. I only wish I had fresh onions but I did not dare freezing onion slices. Horseradish would probably be nice if the capers were taken out. I now think I can beat the cafeteria in my building with my frozen sandwiches even though I know there will be times when I'll crave for fresher produces.
  4. I really like mackerels and knew for a long time that they were easy to fish. It's been one of my long time dream to spend a few hours on the shore fishing for them before cooking them on a beachwood fire perhaps with a salad of sea asparagus collected nearby. When you live away from the coast it is easy to get these weird romantic ideas. At least now I know when to take vacations if I want to ever come close to realizing this kind of dream.
  5. Mmmmm, especially if there's also one last beer hidden in the back. ← I always thought of beer as a staple like salt, flour and dried pasta . The open door fridge and middle of the night nibbling makes everything tastes so good.
  6. If I have a few greens or even fruits I love to find leftover steaks to include in a salad. In the winter, leftover soups is heavenly.
  7. Rumour has it that T&T will open in late fall. ←
  8. I went out today and the only thing I found was a small cluster of oyster mushrooms. Half of them had worms (unusual for oysters around here). We are in the peak of the morel season so I'll probably try my luck again this week.
  9. I went morel picking this morning and came back home with about 60 mushrooms. Not bad for a 2 hour leisurely walk in the woods. With work and a 2 years old toddler I don't go mushroom picking as often as before and I tend to forage around home. These morels were all picked within the city limits. If you like foraging for food, there are probably many options available to you near you... even in Chicago.
  10. They taste like asparagus to me. They have a delicacy that's accentuated when tossed with a little melted butter and a touch of salt. Speaking of which, that's for brunch this weekend. ← Those I picked this year were by far the best I ever had. They were picked at a different location so I am guessing that the place where they grow has a major influence on their taste. Until this year I thought very little of them even though my partner is a big fan of these ferns. What I experienced this year was closer to the taste of asparagus as SobaAddict70 suggested.
  11. Magictofu

    Lemon Balm

    We have lemon balm growing in our garden and we need to trim it dramatically as it threathen to choke all other plants growing in the area. I would really hate to add everything to the compost pile but can't find many ideas to use it all. We have made a few herbal teas with the fresh leaves in the past and have incorporated it to yogurt based sauces a few times but haven't really thought about using it for anything else. What else can be done with it? By the way, either I can't find the proper way to dry it or this herb just tastes very bad when dried.
  12. I just placed an order for BBQ bible, Seven Fires and Serious BBQ. I will keep an eye for other books, particularly Mayan Cuisine, at my local bookstore but these three books should be enough for the summer. I will try yo remember to report back. If there is anything better than cooking for your friends and family, its cooking for your friends and family outdoor!
  13. Many people associate Beligian beer to the various Abbey beers such as Chimay or Westmalle which in my mind ressemble more wines than the usual blond lagger that is so familiar to most of us. I love to cook with these beers but not mussels or fish since they can easily overpower your dish. They can be great with meat though and simply fabulous in a glass. As many said, a good white beer, like Hoegaarden, works well.
  14. I made two experiments: 1) pork roast with dijon mustard on sliced bread 2) bagel with cream cheese The pork roast sandwich was decent but the bread did soak too much mustard to my taste. I did not use butter which I am sure would have helped a bit. The lack of veggies was a problem: there was nothing providing a good crunch or the needed juicyness. That being said, it is still better than the pre-made sandwiches at the cafeteria in my building and much better than those at the vending machine. The bagel was a bit too tough to my taste but the cream cheese held up surprisingly well. I should mention that I used a Montreal style bagel and these are very dense and don't keep well for more than a day. I think cream cheese is a keeper but not this particular type of bagel. I'm not sure I want sandwiches again this week so the next experiments will have to wait until next week.
  15. A quick question here, do you need to pass the tomatoes in a mill to get a fine texture in order to achieve a better emulsion with the butter? Would chopping the tomatoes on a cutting board work as well? I do have a food mill but I generally like a bit of texture in my tomato sauce.
  16. My mother used to make a sauce for liver by adding leftover tea to the pan drippings, sometimes with a bit of sugar or onions. I remember thinking it was a bit too bitter but I was a kid with a strong dislike for bitter flavours then.
  17. These are great suggestions! I particularly like the cheddar and caramelized onion jam idea.
  18. I made a quick experiment last night. I placed a single slice of bread (supermarket multigrain sliced bread) in the freezer when I arrived from work. I took it out before going to bed so that it could thaw overnight. I tasted it next to another slice of the same bread which had not been frozen this morning and, to my great surprise, found no noticeable difference. Could the very short stay in the freezer explain this? Or is it because that type of bread has been designed to take a lot of abuse (i.e. preservatives, texture enhancers...)? I certainly expected a chewier bread as I guess anyone would expect to get by placing bread in any cold environment (fridge, freezer or even a lunch box with an ice pack). I have sliced pork roast in the fridge and will use that to make my first freezer sandwich experiment tonight using the same industrial bread.
  19. The problem I have to face is that I don't always have bread or topings at home when I need to get a sandwich. It is easy to make a quick sandwich but only when you have the ingredients at hand. I am also extremely slow to truly wake up in the morning making every simple task an annoyance more than a pleasure (as cooking should be). Given these considerations, a find the idea of a frozen sandwiches a potentially good idea. I generally have some vac-sealed breads in the freezer for emergencies and I think that while texturewise it is not perfect it is not worse than bread which had been in the fridge. And a sandwich with perishable ingredients should go in fridge anyway. Frozen sandwiches might not work but I am not convinced that bread is the main issue. In fact, I am thinking that most toppings would leak too much water when thawing and that this would be the main problem. I'll try a few sandwich ideas and will report back.
  20. For morels, blacks tend to grow in forested areas, especially on disturbed ground (e.g. forest fires) while yellows grow under poplar and elm trees. At least around here. You can pick the shoot when they are between 1 and 3 inches long. You then need to blanch and shock them at least once (I was told that they can be bitter in some regions and that people need to blanch them 3-4 times... here once is enough). Then I just gently saute them in butter and add salt. My guess is that you can probably prepare them as you would asparagus.
  21. CaliPoutine, what kind of bread do you avoid placing in the freezer? I found that after a few days most bread keeps better there than on the counter. That being said, bread eaten the day it was baked does taste much better. melamed's comment about pita gave me a few ideas for freezer sandwich! I migh just make cream cheese and roasted veggies sandwiches... and maybe humus and roasted veggies as well... or pesto! I really like the roastbeef and horseradish sandwich idea but I am a bit affraid of having to deal with soggy sandwiches. I think it's time to start experimenting. If the result is not too bad (I don't expect anything close to a good fresh sandwich though) I might keep a semi permanent stash of sandwiches in the freezer for last minute activities and lunches.
  22. kitchensqueen, in an urban setting the key is to find places where the soil is not too contaminated. Then you can easily get green veggies like edible weeds. Some are surprisingly delicious. I recently picked a bucket of milkweed shoots and these were incredibly good and reminiscent of asparagus. As for morels and ramps, I guess you might have to get away from the city. That being said, agricultural land that has been abandoned for a few decades and were poplars are often growing are common around my city and prime hunting grounds for morels.
  23. I am in the process of buying myself a new BBQ and feel it is time to learn a bit more about grilling and smoking. I am looking for a book (or a few) covereing most major BBQ traditions around the world and offering a good number of recipes using a variety of ingredient (e.g. not just beef and pork). Reading this topic, it appears that many appreciate Steven Raichlen and that the BBQ Bible might be a good place to start. I would love to find a book that covers things like kalbi, grilled octopus, cochonita pibil and a number of seafood and veggie ideas. Would Raichlen's book fit the bill? Are there other options available?
  24. There has been a recent surge of interest in using the freezer in home kitchen recently. Many newspapers have published articles on the subject over the last months including the NY Times last week here.. We also have an interesting topic here on eGullet. As I read through some of the comments on blogs and other sites on the subject, I realized that some people make sandwiches in large batches and freeze them. When they need to get a lunch fast, they simply grab a sandwich from the freezer. These generally thaw in time for lunch. In this difficult economy, I like that idea even if nothing compares to a freshly made sandwich. I know bread freezes extremely well but meat veggies and condiments? A ham and butter sandwich probably freezes well enough but, with apologies to "jambon-beurre" lovers, it remains a fairly boring sandwich. Surely, we can do better but how? Is there someone with a bit of sandwich freezing experience? What would you try? Where should I start to experiment? Specifically: - Can we use any types of bread? What about croissant? Pita? - Do the usual sauces freeze well? Mayo, butter, mustard, pesto... - Toppings... which are the best? - Veggies... are they all out of question? What about grilled veggies?
  25. Ahhh... I was about to suggest making soup! This is what I generally do. A bit of broth, a few grains of rice, then, when the rice is cooked, I throw in the greens and zip it in the blender. If the greens are just wilted, you can also place them in room temperature water for a hour or so. They should spring back to life.
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