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Everything posted by Dakki

  1. I use pre-ground spices and cornstarch instead of roux in everyday cooking, and "touch up" my knives on a Sharpmaker instead of the EdgePro.
  2. Thinking about upgrading my camera, from a Canon PowerShot A590IS. Needs are fundamentally vacation/party and food snaps, and size is definitely a consideration, as even the current camera is too bulky for me. (The old camera will go into semi-retirement, taking photos at the workshop for QC paperwork BS). Currently I'm considering the Canon S95 and S100. The wider lens on the second one is pretty tempting, so I think I'll go with it unless I find the S95 at a good discount. How does eG feel about higher-end pocket-sized cameras?
  3. Dakki

    Beef Pancreas

    I think the pancreas (and thymus) are called "sweetbreads," while the lungs are called "lights." For the sweetbreads, you can clean, blanch, press, butterfly, coat in a thin layer of flour and panfry in a little butter. Dice and fry again and it's one of my favorite taco fillings. I've eaten lights but I've never made them at home.
  4. I'm no chef of any kind, just a cack-handed bungler. Looking at the website, the Pro 1 kit ($375) looks roughly comparable to the Apex 2 kit ($190), the major differences being the 10" vs 8" hone and of course the base design which allows more flexibility in angles on the Pro. The stones are the same between the two systems and you can buy extra stones as you go. I originally bought the base kit (Apex 1) and basically built up to Apex 4. I'm not a big fan of the polishing tapes, so for my money, the Apex 3 ($225, 5 grades of stones) is the one to get, unless you're planning on using the scissors attachment or duplicating the comically thin factory edges as perpetrated by some high-end j-knife makers, in which case you'll need the Pro base.
  5. I have the regular Apex, and I could not be happier with it. The Professional is rather more expensive (about twice, I think) and I guess I'm a bit conservative when it comes to edges. 10 back/15 microbevel with a good polish whittles hair and that's about as much as I ask from any of my knives.
  6. Fundamentally, the Professional can go to lower angles (6 degrees vs 10 on the Apex) and can take a special attachment for sharpening scissors, etc. The base is also of a different design.
  7. Dakki

    The Terrine Topic

    Impressive as usual, Baron. Big fan of your blog too, btw.
  8. Yes. The chiles are placed in the sun, covered with a thin cloth to protect it from insects, and allowed to dry. This takes several days and I'm not sure this is the ideal season to do it. I've had good results splitting chiles in half and drying in one of those fan and heater dehydrator gadgets, but I haven't tried it with poblanos. This is going to be much more of a project, since a) chipotles are usually dried from chiles that are past market ripeness, and b) chipotles are dried in smoke, not sun-dried. I'm sure it's doable, I've just never seen it done in a home.
  9. Dakki, I used to do some graphic design and photography work, so I can cut that part of the budget way down I've seen your blog, so I certainly don't doubt your credentials. To clarify, my major disappointment with that particular project was the "tuning" done to the recipes by the ringer chef. He completely prostituted the original criollo dishes into ultrarefined urbanite foodie bullcrap, which to my way of thinking showed tremendous disrespect to the cooks who developed the recipes in the first place. I don't think an eG member would do that, so I'm not actually sure why I brought up this incident in the first place. Guess I just wanted to share our little misadventure with a vanity cookbook project.
  10. By brown lard I meant the aromatic dark manteca (as opposed to the white kind that doesn't smell like much of anything). Either works. I use both in the same dish sometimes. Looking over my previous answer: remove the fried aromatics from the fat once they're well cooked. You can integrate them into the beans at the end, but you don't want to leave them in there to burn. Also, if you are using a dried chile puree, you might want to cook the onion and garlic first, take them out, then put in the chile puree, then integrate your beans into that with your masher. I have to insist on the large amount of flavored fat, evaporation of the beans' moisture and mashing by hand. Those things make a huge difference in the final product. You're looking for a very thick consistency that won't spread on the plate and torn up bean skins that offer a tiny bit of resistance on chewing, not a thick soup or a smooth puree. Besides, this is how I remember it being done when I was a child and everyone knows that's the true measure of how authentic a dish is.
  11. Ten years or so ago one of my cousins did the vanity press family cookbook thing, with support from a chef, a graphic designer, a professional photographer and so on (yeah, way more money, bohemian friends and spare time than sense). The result was a beautifully overproduced little artbook with recipes and photos that bore little to no relation to the actual family recipes. We all had to pitch in for a few copies, each at twice the price of a volume of Mastering the Art. Mine are still in a box somewhere. So, uh, no advice from me, just that little anecdote I was reminded of.
  12. Dakki

    Dinner! 2011

    Making this for Xmas dinner, thanking you in advance for your advice and support.
  13. Very nice, mgaretz. Tojiro makes a handsome knife. If I was located somewhere with reasonable shipping I'd be ordering knives like crazy too.
  14. Nice blades, but that is the best cutting board. I'm making knives too, a chef's from 01 and an hachuela (sort of a cross between a chef's and a meat cleaver) from 1055. I'll upload a pic one of these days.
  15. Nope. A santoku is a general-purpose knife and will do vegetables. A nakiri is a vegetable knife. I own examples of both and I'm not too enthused by either (YMMV). A gyuto/chef's works better for me than either but if I was used to a santoku and preferred it to a chef's I'd just get another one. I'm not personally familiar with the Wusthof line but I understand they're built quite a bit thicker than the typical j-knife. As far as the Shuns go, they're KAI's premium export line, also thicker than typical j-knives (but thinner than Euro knives). I have a few and one of them (a santoku in fact) chips if you look at it funny. The rest don't have this problem so maybe I just got a lemon, but I don't recommend them for this reason. As far as performance differences with what you have now, a thinner blade will go through materials more easily, but to get the most out of it you'll have to lower the angles. 15 degrees is further than I'd care to go on Euro knives, but any decent j-knife will take a 10 degree back bevel and a 15 degree microbevel, which in my hands feels considerably sharper than a 15 degree straight bevel, lasts about as long on the same knife and invites a good polish and more frequent touch-ups, with predictable results. $100 is quite a good budget for a knife if you're willing to go for the lesser-known brands, IMHO. Have a look through JCK and see what strikes your fancy?
  16. I think terms like homemade/housemade imply the entire process is done in-house, from raw (or reasonably close to raw) materials. Fresh, on the other hand, just implies the product was prepared recently enough to be at its peak quality. Sure, one can putatively buy mixes or partially-processed ingredients and end up with a superior product, for example when top-quality raw ingredients are simply unavailable. But that's not really homemade, I think. In the case of this cheese made from purchased curd, I'd be okay with "fresh," but not with "homemade."
  17. This is how I make them. My favorite beans for this application are black ("turtle") beans, although I live in the heart of pinto country. Just use whatever you like, keeping in mind that pale refritos look kind of unappetizing. I know people who use veg oil, vegetable shortening, etc. Brown lard is good, bacon drippings are even better, and if you use it to fry some chorizo beforehand that's ideal. You're going to need maybe 2/3s as much fat by volume as the amount of beans you're going to fry. (This is not a low-calorie dish. I suspect it was developed by people who needed every calorie they could get in their diet and couldn't afford to waste leftover fats.) As far as frying pans go, cast iron is nice and traditional, but we come pretty close to burning the beans, so I suggest something that doesn't retain that much heat. You'll also need a metal spatula and a masher. I like the sort that's a plate with holes cut out instead of wire. Soak and cook beans with a half onion and a couple of cloves of garlic. (At this stage they're known as "frijoles de olla," beans from the pot). Separate whatever quantity you want to serve as-is or to make charros, etc. Drain the beans you are going to fry. The liquid is typically reserved and used for cooking rice. Prepare your fat. Mince and fry onion, garlic and as much chile as your conscience allows in the fat you are going to use. Guajillo and ancho good for this, but again, use whatever you like. You want the fat quite hot. Once the veg is very well cooked, you can start putting in the beans, about 1/2 cup at a time, and mashing and integrating with the fat each installment before putting in the next one. Remember the fat must be quite hot, and it doesn't hurt if the beans are hot as well. Salt and season with ground cumin as you cook. You want to stir these more or less constantly, scraping the bottom of the frying pan with your spatula. This is particularly important towards the end of the cooking, as most of the water will have evaporated by then. Continue until the beans are just a bit thinner than you'd like to serve them; they'll thicken as the fat cools. Serve with tostadas, salsa, chorizo, crumbled or grated cheese, or with fried eggs for breakfast, or as an entree, maybe alongside queso flameado (which is worth another topic all on its own).
  18. Hurray for power tools! Fantastic presentation on the half-turkey there, dcarch.
  19. How are you making the refried beans? I've seen some pretty screwed-up recipes online and in English-language cookbooks. This might be something for a new topic, though.
  20. My great-aunt used to say a meal with no beans is not a meal. I think that might be overstating the case, but I do have them three or four times a week. Black ("turtle"), pinto, flor de mayo, flor de junio and peruano ("Peruvian") are the common ones here. I'm also passingly familiar with the kidney, navy and black-eyed sorts, as well as lima beans, soybeans etc. which are treated quite differently. I think there's quite a bit of difference between these varieties. Taking pinto as a baseline, you might consider the flor de mayo/junio varieties as smaller, milder versions. Peruanos are almost like a crossover between these and lima beans in both taste and texture. Black beans have a stronger, earthier flavor, kidneys are markedly less flavorful (and taste sort of ketchupy to me) and I just don't like the other two in the sort of cooking I do, although they're probably excellent in the cuisines that developed alongside them. Horses for courses: Blacks for refritos, pinto and its cousins for everything else, peruanos if you like a firmer, waxier consistency (and are okay with sickly pale cooked beans), kidneys if you can't get real beans where you live. My position on cooking beans is pretty much the opposite of Norm Matthews here: I won't touch canned (consistency and flavor both seem "off" to me), and I boil dried beans in salted water, then soak them overnight, then change the water, rinse and cook the heck out of them with the usual spices, aromatics and pork products, 4 hours at least. This is what slow cookers are for, guys. Toss in diced tomato and some coarsely chopped cilantro for the last half-hour or so. Some cookbooks say soaking in salted water will prevent the beans from hydrating properly; my experiments say this is nonsense and produces inferior flavor. I can only surmise this is a misguided attempt at limiting sodium intake. Some other books say you need to handle the cooked beans gingerly as they're very delicate and likely to burst. Then they direct you to take some of the beans out, run them through the blender and add the puree back to the soup. I guess you can do that if you like doing extra work. I just let the soup boil down to a good consistency.
  21. Dakki


    More into zombies than sparkly vampires but I guess you got the fundamental concept, anyway. I'd express amazement a franchise that seems geared to adult women has gotten as far as lunchboxes but I just saw a Bettie Page pinup lunchbox on another site. Anyway, "tiffin carriers" look neat as heck. Anyone have one of those?
  22. While the bento seems to generate plenty of discussion (may I direct you to the wonderful thread here) and there's some talk about what goes in a lunchbox (here), I can't seem to find anything on actual lunchboxes. Unfortunately my knowledge of the topic is limited to remembering a metal Fantastic Four box that ended its life as an army men container and a plastic Benji box circa 1980 that IIRC fell apart completely over the course of a school year. Kindergarten was a traumatic time for me. Anyway, anyone have advice on the selection and care of a lunchbox? The "construction worker" model appeals, but there's something to be said for a cartoon/film schoolkid box that announces your power level and/or advanced hipster ironymongering to the whole world. Discuss!
  23. Can't beat filter cone, paper filter, electric kettle in my book. In before "You need $12,000 of laboratory grade equipment and beans that came out of a wild animal's rear end, roasting and grinding for each individual cup or you might as well drink Sanka."
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