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About DianaB

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    North Yorkshire, sometimes La Sarthe

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  1. For me one of the most rewarding aspects of reading eGullet is learning about language and food and the differences in the ways the first is used to describe the second. England, our home at the moment, is a tiny country compared to many others that use variations of English to communicate. We don't need to travel very far to find significant differences even within the region where we are living. A 'faggot' might be the same as a 'savoury duck' or a 'meat ball'. A 'faggot' on a menu in France is perhaps a collection of fine beans arranged to resemble the sticks for which the food item is named. English speakers in England won't necessarily agree on a name for a meal eaten at midday or that eaten in the evening. Region plays a part in determining the most likely name but so does the nature of one's work and the calories needed to ensure that work can be completed. All of which is a diversion from my intended report on our third and final Gousto meal of the week: 'Turkish Lamb & Dill-Infused Bulgar'. We agreed that this was the best of the three meals we had tried. Overall this and the dal recipe made up for the disappointing first meal and we bear in mind that had we paid closer attention to the cooking of that recipe it might have been less disappointing. As before we decided to do all of the chopping for the meal before we started cooking. This was a joint project, generally we stuck to the recipe but we didn't add the oil to the minced lamb as directed and we used much less salt and sugar than advised. Previously when preparing bulgar we have used stock but the recipe called for water so that is what we used. I think I would use a light vegetable stock if we make this again. Overall there were three components to the dish: bulgar with a good amount of fresh dill and some sumac powder stirred through; a yoghurt sauce with a good amount of chopped garlic, some salt and pepper and olive oil and then a minced lamb and cherry tomato sauce that included harissa, more chopped garlic sugar and salt. The instructions were to serve the bulgar as a bottom layer, then the yoghurt and then the lamb/tomatoes. We had saved some dill and sumac to sprinkle over the finished dish as advised. We were happily surprised at a tasty and copious meal. Like Hello Fresh Gousto offers a first box for very little money, from memory we paid £9.99 for our box which held ingredients to provide three meals for two people. Gousto gives more choices than Hello Fresh but it seems to repeat the same recipes for a few weeks so whether there really are more choices I'm not sure. What both companies do is sign you up as a 'subscriber' in return for allowing you an introductory box for little or no money. They don't hide that information but judging from the comments on Facebook, Trust Pilot and similar they certainly could make it clearer. It is easy enough to cancel or suspend a subscription but of course you have to be aware of the need to take that action. Our first Hello Fresh box was free but we still had to provide bank details to have the box sent. Had we not been aware of the subscription we would have received a full price box the following week. Both companies offer an 'app' from which it is easy enough to skip weeks, suspend or cancel a subscription. Aware of a stack of negative messages about Hello Fresh I made sure that when I passed on the free boxes I was allocated for my friends I made it very clear what steps were necessary to suspend a subscription. To date I haven't been offered free boxes for friends from Gousto so perhaps they don't use that system. Any visit to their website seems to bring an offer of two boxes at half price or one box at £9.99. At full price both companies charge around £40 for six meals so about £6.66 each serving. I think the price might work out slightly cheaper if you buy the boxes aimed at four people. It would certainly be very easy to feed two or four people well at a lower price. On a positive note we have tried things that we had either not eaten before or forgotten about. It is convenient to have exactly the right amount of ingredients. Too often in the past we have bought packs of spices only to use a small amount and then find the jar or packet at the back of the cupboard years later. We appreciate that Hello Fresh pack all the ingredients for each recipe into a brown paper bag; we use that bag for wrappings/peelings etc so it all seems efficient. We appreciate that both companies use recyclable packaging to keep items cold during delivery. Hello Fresh take their packing back to reuse, I'm hoping Gousto will do the same. Both of the companies we tried have been around a few years and Hello Fresh is operating in quite a range of countries. I see that in Germany they have an option for Thermomix owners! There seem to be quite a few new companies entering the market so we might experiment further in due course. Tonight will be pizza, the dough is about to be split into portions and set to rise. We have a freezer full of food so I'm thinking our inspiration will come from there for the next few days. It would be interesting to read of anyone else's recipe box adventures, I seem to recall there were quite a few a couple of years ago?
  2. My thoughts were (are) much the same as yours in respect of the liquid that comes with canned beans. Last night's meal from our Gousto box was 'Crispy Mushroom Dal and Coriander Chutney'. The dal called for two varieties of lentil: red (dried and supplied in a plastic bag) and what Gousto described simply as 'canned lentils'. These are the ingredients supplied by Gousto for last night's dinner (the liquid from the canned lentils went into the dish, this was the first time we have used tinned lentils): The red lentils are underneath the onion. In attempt to be more organised than with the previous recipe I decided to do all of the chopping before we began any cooking. There were 3 elements to the dish. The dal was substantial, this included half of the onion, all of the lentils with the liquid that came from the can of brown lentils, 'curry powder' coconut cream and stock. Simple to make and the end result tasted good. We both love dal, an ideal meal any day would be a large bowl of dal with a stack of chapatis, memories of happy student days... Once the dal was bubbling away on the hob we prepared the mushrooms. These were sliced into chunks, the other half of the sliced onion was sprinkled over them on a baking tray and, with a drizzle of olive oil, some salt and pepper, the tray was placed under the grill to cook. Gousto advised 5-10 minutes until nicely charred. Bearing in mind our more than charred kidney beans of the night before my husband watched these mushrooms closely. We were probably too cautious in cutting the heat early but they were certainly cooked and tasty. The third element of the meal was what Gousto called a Coriander Chutney. I don't really know what makes a chutney qualify for the appellation but this comprised grated ginger and garlic mixed with chopped coriander leaves (probably these should have been chopped more neatly than ours) rice vinegar, chilli flakes and olive oil. Neither of us had tasted rice vinegar before, to us it tasted much like any other vinegar. Overall though when mixed together these ingredients made a nice condiment. We followed the serving suggestion from the recipe - dal in bowls, mushrooms on top and then the green mix. Not the most beautifully served of meals but it actually tasted really nice. After our experience the night before it was a pleasant relief. We had some chapatis in the freezer so a couple of those were quickly defrosted because it seemed wrong to eat dal without bread. So, two of the three Gousto meals have now been eaten. Very different sentiments about each, we will have to wait until we have tried the final recipe before reaching a decision about the experience overall. Friday nights always follow the same pattern in our household so I think it will be Saturday when we try the last of our Gousto meals. These and the Hello Fresh boxes have each given us opportunity to taste things we have never tried before. Not wildly exotic things just items we wouldn't have bought because, like many people I suspect, we tend to stick with things we know we will like. This was last night's attempt.
  3. I had absolutely forgotten that frozen rice exists!!! I haven't been into a frozen food store for years, I'm not sure our nearest town still has one but I'm guessing basics like frozen rice might be found in a supermarket. Many thanks @Toliver and @pastrygirl for reminding me. I might still prefer my home cooked Tilda rices but will welcome the possibility of having an edible dish in so little time.
  4. I think in the UK anything sold as food must include a list of ingredients, legislation that if memory serves me right was brought in to help those with food allergies or sensitivities. I will follow your advice and search for bloggers who have made their own versions of some of the Hello Fresh recipes.
  5. Thank you so much for your kind messages, this is such a friendly place to hang out, I will just have to be careful and limit my time! Continuing the thread on recipe boxes we had our first 'Gousto' experience last night. The recipe was called 'Smoky Pork Chilli with Popped Beans'. It was the 'popped beans' that had caught my husband's eye when we were choosing our meals. DH is a lover of chilli be it fresh from the plant, frozen from his own plants or incorporated into one of his mixes. We even have undrinkable 'chilli vodka', I think I referred to that in another thread. While it can't be drunk it does make a nice addition in very small quantities to various sauces. I think our bottle will last us the rest of our lives. If I did write about it before on eGullet it would have been in the Cocktails section. If you are really curious you can read DH's write up on our not yet launched or indexed but we will get around to it one day blog: http://www.europage.co.uk/curiosity/cooking/250000-scovilles-naga-chilli-vodka/ I am not promoting our blog but I am looking forward (one day) to developing it. As an aside, to those of you who are able to maintain blogs you have my admiration. I wouldn't have imagined the time required until we embarked on the 'Curiosity' exercise. Anyway, I digress. Last night's meal used the ingredients from the last of the photos in my post of yesterday. As we both enjoy cooking DH and I prepared it together with him taking charge of the 'popped' beans and the rice cooking. I do any chopping generally (because I enjoy it, DH is equally capable). On this occasion chopping was only required for the onion, 2 x spring onions (scallions in other places?) and a small bunch of coriander. Half of the beans were laid out on a baking sheet, sprinkled with olive oil, salt and pepper lightly applied and then into a pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes. At 15 minutes they were all 'popped'. We decided to turn the oven off and leave them inside. Big mistake but one learns by one's mistakes. Constructing the 'chilli' part of the recipe was straightforward involving the red onion, pork mince (don't recall using pork mince before except pork I have minced myself in days long gone when I made sausages), some powdered cinnamon, a splodge (pre-measured) of tomato puree and a similar measure of 'chipotle paste'. I only discovered the existence of 'chipotle' through reading eGullet and this was my first contact with the product. We each nervously stuck our fingers in the pot to taste it neat. Not impressive, sort of sweetish oddness but of course this may or may not resemble anything you might know as chipotle. On separating the kidney beans from their liquid we were warned to keep the liquid to one side. After cooking the onion (10 mins), adding and starting to cook the mince (5 minutes) adding pastes and 350g stock made from the supplied stock cube and a pinch of sugar (I was all for forgetting the sugar but DH said we should follow the recipe properly first time around and I guess that is the right approach) - cook another 10 minutes. Next we added the second half of the kidney beans and, very reluctantly on my part, the liquid from the can of beans - a maroon coloured sludge. We were to cook this lot for another 5 minutes and then, hey presto, the chilli was ready. We drained the rice which tasted fine, we added the chopped spring onions and coriander to the rice as directed. We grated the supplied Cheddar cheese to sprinkle over the top. The meal was plated (or rather 'bowled' - we usually eat chilli from a bowl for ease with the rice first, then the meat/bean stew type thing, then the, er, slightly charred (burnt black in parts) popped beans over the top followed by the grated cheese. We really should have either cooked the beans in the oven ten minutes before serving or taken them out of the oven to keep warm alongside the bowls we would later eat from. This was a meal for 2 but it would easily have fed 3 or 4 if there was a little bread to mop up with. I actually liked the crunchy black red kidney beans, the texture made a nice change to the somewhat uni-textured meal. We did finish our servings but immediately agreed that this is not a recipe we will make again. DH makes a great chilli and we usually have portions of that in the freezer. So, on the basis of one meal to date, Gousto is not in the same category as Hello Fresh. We can only hope that recipes for the next two days give better results. Perhaps you might advise on a query that arose from preparing this meal. I was really surprised that we were to keep the 'juice' from the bean can (tin - is 'can' the right word for speakers of English who aren't from the UK)? When insomnia strikes I will sometimes watch a French TV cooking show and I'm certain that in one such recent programme the Chef advised that this liquid held all of the stuff from the beans that can lead to unfortunate digestive side effects; his advice was to rinse canned/tinned beans before use. I have also seen the liquid from a tin of chickpeas used as an alternative to egg white for those who are not able to eat eggs. It will whip up to form something that looks vaguely like whipped cream. As I am fortunate and don't suffer food allergies I haven't been tempted to try whipped chick pea juice for my desserts. I have never before seen a recipe that advises the liquid from any type of tinned beans or similar should be added to a 'stew' DH proposed that it was added to thicken the sauce. This might be the case because there was no flour or similar to bring the sauce together. Is this a routine way to thicken a sauce in other parts of the world? I'll try to remember to take a picture of tonight's Gousto meal Thank you again to all who have welcomed me back. I love this community and had forgotten how much one is made to feel welcome.
  6. Host's note: this discussion is split from the NYTimes Articles on Food, Drink, Culinary Culture 2013 - topic. I had read a lot of this thread before my self-imposed ban on accessing eGullet to concentrate on work and get rid of my backlog. Not there yet but I've allowed myself a short visit this afternoon nonetheless. And so to 'recipe boxes'. I note that a number of members have tried Blue Apron, that isn't available to us in the UK . The main players appear to be Hello Fresh and Gousto unless you live in the London area where choice multiplies significantly. I know that Hello Fresh is available in the US and Canada, Australia and some European countries. I'm assuming that Gousto is UK only on the basis of a quick glance through their website. Each of the companies enrols customers to a subscription so you need to be proactive and cancel any weeks you don't want delivery. All of that is clearly stated across the websites but reading the customer comments on Trust Pilot and Facebook a lot of people overlook the requirement and so end up with fools they didn't want. On joining Hello Fresh you receive three vouchers that you can pass to friends so they can claim a free introductory box. We received such a voucher from a friend and I am certain that we would not have tested the company otherwise. We gave out our own vouchers in turn, in fact we got five vouchers in all, the additional vouchers as compensation for a burst container of turmeric that had distributed itself across everything in it package. We specified 3 meals for 2 people as the basis of our subscription (thinking we would be cancelling on receipt of the free stuff). We also said that we didn't want any fish or shellfish (has to be both). There is no opportunity to opt out of pork but you can register for vegetarian only meals. One chooses the meals one wants out of a range of around 8. Hello Fresh does not allow choice of delivery day, it depends where you live so for us it is Tuesday. The box of food is very well insulated with recycled wool to keep meat etc sufficiently cold. We have now enjoyed 4 boxes and found only a couple of recipes that we didn't particularly like. We did eat them so they weren't that bad. My main concern is that the meat is not organic. Chicken is labelled 'High Welfare' but I don't know what that means. We have found the recipes very straightforward, they take 30-40 minutes to prepare on average but much of that time is spent chopping! Servings ae not huge but they are sufficient for 2 adults who enjoy their food. We have enjoyed certain recipes enough to make them again. I wish they listed the ingredients to their spice mixes together with weights. I wrote to suggest that they allow customers to purchase additional spice mixes via the loyalty points that appear to be generously allocated. Unfortunately the only item in the reward range useful to us is a tea towel. I guess we might end up with a great many tea towels unless they expand the range. Recipes we have cooked have included: Cajun pork with bulgar wheat and garlicky spring greens - wonderful Pan-fried Chicken with new potatoes green beans with garlic; tarragon sauce (ingredients provided to make sauce, not a 'heat and eat') Toulouse Sausage Cassoulet - really good but either the plate in the photograph is from a dolls tea set or there has been a 'cut and shut' to extend the length of those pictured. Very nice none the less and we have repeated the recipe from scratch. Chicken Shawarma with Dukkah Courgettes and Chickpeas - really good, especially the roasted spice covered courgettes. We didn't grow courgettes last year because we couldn't eat them fast enough to avoid waste the year before. With this recipe to hand we will grow one courgette plant. Again, I am annoyed that I haven't received a response to my request to buy the mixed spices or to obtain them via loyalty points. Moroccan Steak with Lemon Couscous - they use Flank steak but we haven't had any difficulties with that. Other members complain that it is tough or similar. Personally I'm glad we have rediscovered the cut, we bought this for casseroles years ago when money was tight but we had got out of the habit of buying. Mushroom & Panactta Gnocchi - I was dubious about this but I did try to keep an open mind when tasting. This is the only HF meal we haven't finished because we weren't enjoying it. The sauce was delicious and we will make that again to accompany perhaps new potatoes when Jersey Royals finally reach us. I found the gnocchi without any interest Chicken Saltimbocca with butternut and garlicky beans. - Excellent, we have made two other variations and both were also good. Iranian Lamb Stew - Great, will certainly make again Steak Tagliata with rosemary roasted potatoes and a peppercorn sauce. Another hit, flank steak was again the star ingredient. Content of Hello Fresh box - 3 meals for 2 people. Add items except meat, cheese, cream etc are packed together in the brow n bags. Labels colour code to recipe care. Gousto box arrived this morning so nothing has been tried as yet. The chilled items were in a recycled wool package and accompanying ice blocks had not even started to melt. As you can see Gousto had packed 'refrigerator' items in an insulated bag but the rest of the stuff was mixed together for the buyer to sort out. Having done my sorting I packed the ingredients for each recipe into a different bag so that they will be easily accessible on the day we decide to cook them. I suppose the one advantage of this is that checking all of the ingredients on arrival will show any omissions. A friend didn't realise that he was missing something until he was ready to cook his dinner. Fortunately Hello Fresh refunded him for the price of that entire recipe. The photo above shows the ingredients for a chilli type meal that we plan to dine on tonight. The wooden spoon was a free gift. There was little written information in the box, certainly there was no evidence of free boxes for friends (even 1 free box would have been nice to pass on. All but 1 of the people we gave our Hello Fresh vouchers to has gone on to buy their own membership. The fifth person plans to do the same but his daughter is dangerously unwell so his mind is elsewhere for the moment. On a basis of our experiences to date I would recommend Hello Fresh while making sure that the automatic subscription is made clear to the recipient of the advice. I haven't cooked a Gousto meal yet so please accept this as a view based only on delivery, unpacking and condition of the goods once separated from the box. If anyone is interested I will report further after trying the Gousto meals. I also plan to try Simply Cook, a company that puts together aromatics etc to support a recipe provided. I don't know which countries it serves but it seems to be another subscription offer. A friend tried the company and was pleased with the results. We have found the Hello Fresh support team extremely helpful and responsive.This makes a big difference especially as we live in a rural area. I am rarely certain where in the forum a post should be entered, I hope I have got it right this time but of course I will remove anything deemed off topic or inappropriate.
  7. I thought I didn't like brown rice. We have always eaten a good amount of white basmati or risotto type rice. We hadn't eaten brown rice for decades until recently. Then we joined (or rather we were given a voucher that allowed us a free trial) Hello Fresh. This company is reviewed elsewhere in eGullet I think, one receives a box with pre-weighed and, to an extent, ready to use ingredients to make a recipe the company has developed. We don't but from Hello Fresh often but from time to time we give it a go and on one occasion a recipe included brown rice. It was Tilda brand. I'm not sure which countries have Tilda but we have always used their basmati which cooks to perfection (in our subjective view) every time. Trusting to our faith in Tilda we followed the Hello Fresh recipe including the brown rice as directed. It was delicious. We cooked it in a dilute chicken stock provided for the purpose. We have since made it to go with our own recipes and only regret having rejected it so long ago. We will still use the white rices as above but this makes for a decent alternative that suits our tastes. Meal boxes like Hello Fresh (not linking because I don't have time to check the rules just now and don't want to upset our moderators) are springing up quite a lot just now. Today I received another 3 free meals from Gousto. We will try the first tonight and I note that there is brown rice in the box but on this occasion it is not branded Tilda. We'll follow the instructions and see how it cooks.
  8. There is another member who is developing video documentaries about Italian cuisine, I was in touch with him a while ago to help with his English but unfortunately pressure of my work preventing me from becoming as involved as I would like. This was the member's entry in the Welcome New Members thread: Cia Hope I've done that right! He does have a YouTube account for his 'Culinary Italian Anthropology'. Another person who I greatly respect and who blogs and writes abundantly on Italian cuisine can be found here: chestnutsandtruffles.com This guy is amazing. I came across him when he was living in Paris and we were both trying to follow the French Bake Off, a television cookery competition, and create some of its challenges. He had a wonderful French Patisserie blog but that went down when he moved to Italy. I understand he is part Italian and he is certainly building a reputation as a food writer and film maker. Of course creating high quality film requires skill and it can require expensive equipment. In these times of portable telephones with amazingly powerful cameras built in it is amazing what can be produced with very little. There is now an annual prize giving event for full length feature films shot entirely with portable telephones! I would love to cite the link but I'm still swamped with work. I came to eGullet today having recently renewed my subs and wanting to search out a specific thread that has nothing to do with this one! I'm so glad you started it though @Franci, I've been following your posts for a few years and admiring from a distance. Please let me know when you start shipping to England.... Luca's 'Chestnuts and Truffles' cited above includes links to his YouTube films where I think everything has been produced with a smart phone. Might be wrong and apologies to Luca if he has gone on from there. I'm still mourning his French food blog, Some of my favourite ever recipes came from there. I've told him about eGullet but I've not seen any sign of him joining - of course I don't read all of the topics and limited time of late means I've read hardly anything. A slight and brief off topic that seems relevant enough to chance: Steve Jobs of Apple developed his computers thinking that users would be particularly keen on creating and editing their own 'movies'. His biography goes into the subject in some detail but as a result of his, if you like, error of thought, those of us interested in playing with film editing, in possession of cell phone and some kind of Mac device, can install iMovie at very little cost and quickly learn to be proficient in its use. Of course there are other film editors out there, I am not on commission from Apple and in fact limited film making skills were developed using Adobe software on a Windows PC. One day our (husband and self) food blog will be sufficient to promote and that will certainly include video shot with an iPhone or similar. Sadly at the minute it only has about 4 entries! Kudos to all who find the time to blog well while holding down a proper job alongside! France, don't hesitate to have a go even with modest equipment. You don't have to share anything you are uncomfortable with and you have I'm sure, a ready prepared and appreciative audience here at eGullet for when you are ready to put a toe in the water. It would be great if you included some very basic Italian recipes in your collection. I'm guessing there will be thousands of homes with a pasta machine pristine in its box as purchased 1 or 2 or 5 or 10 or 40 years ago with good intentions. I bought mine because I had seen one used frequently in a TV cookery show. We managed tagliatelle but it was a two person task and while the results were nice enough they didn't justify the stress. In England at least Italian food is really an Anglified set of pasta/pizza recipes. Tiramisu is perhaps the only 'Italian' dessert but I don't know if an Italian would recognise it as such. Of course all of the above applies to rural northern England, I'm sure that in London there will be an abundance of good and diverse Italian cuisine. I wish I could speak Italian but I can't so I'll simply wish you luck and enjoyment with your project in English!
  9. I had really hoped that I would be able to make a positive contribution to this thread after the end of year holidays. I had planned to make the usual fast turnaround chocolate praline clusters, a tiramisu inspired gateau we developed a few years ago and save for this time of year because it is too rich for everyday occasions, some moulded chocolates and an attempt at an 'opera' disguised as a popular chocolate coated bar (eg Mars or similar), a recipe featured on a recent French Bake Off episode. This series has the candidates 'revisit' a classic French patisserie for the first round. Unlike the UK version the expert Chef shows how to make his own 'reinvention' and recipes are published on the web. Baking before our short pre-Christmas trip to Paris seemed fine. I made a couple of batches of passion fruit/milk choc macarons that were well received by my clients, including one lady who declined hers on grounds macarons are too sweet before munching her way through her neighbours portion during our meeting. Needless to say the neighbour, a junior in the company, got her own box to take home. On arriving home after Paris I was able to make the chocolate pralines and these were good. They are simply a roasted hazelnut (almond this year, didn't have hazelnuts and when we got back it was too late to buy more ingredients, anyway the almonds made a great substitute). These se are pressed into a line of praline paste mixed with melted milk chocolate and crunched up crepes dentelles. I pipe this mix onto strips of foil, push the almonds in, roll the foil to form a cylinder and freeze while tempering dark chocolate for the coating. Almond nibs are stirred into the tempered chocolate. I used to dip, then roll in almonds and then dip again. I prefer the one step finish, it results in smaller chocs, more filling to coating and much less mess or waste. Next I retrieve the rolls of praline from the freezer one by one, slice the filling into around 1cm pieces and then dip in the dark choc and nib mix. These are perhaps the easiest chocolates to make and seem to be liked by everyone who tries them. It seemed I was off on a good start. Unfortunately there was no time to make moulded chocolates. The calendar this year meant our annual Paris visit took place 19-23 Dec so there was only 24th to bake etc. The tiramisu based gateaux were ok but the texture of the cream didn't hold as in the past. At least they tasted good but I don't know where I went wrong since this is my recipe and I have followed it with success for years until now. I had another go a couple of days ago, determined that the year should begin with something good even though the end of 2016 was something of a culinary disaster. Same result. I use xanthan to give lasting body to a cream/marscapone/ coffee mix and am wondering if this deteriorates with age. It is stored in its original plastic tub in a cool dark cupboard. No sign of any change but this isn't a product I use very often. I was really looking forward to the Opera bars. I should have known better than to try on finding the scant instructions on the programmes website. They had entirely missed any ingredients or instructions for the cake layers. I have made Mercotte's opera with success many times so decided to use that recipe for my Joconde. I did my best to complete the bars in accordance with the recipe from the programme. Lesson for me:. Never, ever, attempt a recipe from a TV show unless you can find evidence of others who have tried and succeeded! A few weeks earlier I had been inspired by Apple shaped desserts made from apple in various textures. Mine were edible, in fact nice. The problem was the appearance. The young student chef had made beautiful desserts that looked like shiny green apples. Two half domes of Apple puree with an insert of finely chopped uncooked apple frozen in apple juice. Two half spheres are fixed together and if you have any sense you will have made sure the tops would be flat so that the globe would look as it should. I didn't employ sense, the tops of my half spheres were not flat. I attempted to improve them on a heated mettle tray. The half spheres are held together and then dipped in tempered white chocolate, either coloured green or later sprayed green to give the appearance of an apple. As the pictures show I have much to learn! I also have mountains of apples so might try again if I can get beyond the depression that my end of year failures have caused. Fortunately the apples were good to eat. I didn't have enough tempered chocolate to encase all of my Opera bars. I made them far too big and I made a pig's ear of the chocolate coating. My husband is the kindest person possible when I have culinary disasters. He loves Opera cakes, hence my early attempts to master the proper recipe with Mercotte's advice a good while ago. The truth this time is in the fridge. Tomorrow it will most likely be in the bin. I have enjoyed seeing and reading about all of your more successful cooking and baking. I really hope that next time there is a major holiday with good food attached I might be able to share some more successful stuff than those described above. I really need to find my 'baking mojo'! At least bread has performed as expected but I'm aware that has its own topic. Happy 2017 to all eGullet readers.
  10. Never would have imagined this or your previous confection. Tempted to try at some point over the end of year holidays with butternut squash. Thanks for sharing these adventures.
  11. The Bread Topic (2016-)

    Another topic I have really enjoyed catching up on after some time away. I'm so glad that @Anna N continues to experiment with so many flour types and baking options. So very many beautiful loaves, I would love to sample them all. I continue to bake all of our bread, buying a commercial, even if 'artisan' style bread, would require best part of an hour plus the costs of driving to the nearest town, parking etc. I continue to bake based on Eric Kayser's recipes which suit us. I'm finally happy with our baguettes and our sandwich loaf, each recipe includes sourdough and dried yeast. Not for the purists of course but these recipes take next to no time with a stand mixer and proofing box. We are a household of 2 so we don't need a huge amount of bread and there are never leftovers. @Anna N I can only admire your tenacity in bread making. You share that you live alone yet you produce bread that I'm sure any family would be delighted to enjoy. @liuzhou, it is absolutely fascinating to learn about your cuisine, bread making included, and so a bit about the culinary culture you are a part of. If anyone claims they can't make bread due to limited equipment or ingredients your posts here show that they just need to think a little more. there is so much beautiful and diverse bread written about here, impossible not to be inspired to keep working towards perfection, accepting that perfection in this sense is unique to each of us. I am finally not too disappointed with the finish of my baguettes. For a long time I just couldn't get the slashes right to allow vapour to escape. Perfection? No, but we enjoy this bread.
  12. I have been away from eGullet for a few weeks, floods of work meant that I had to deprive myself of the time spent enjoying this forum. Anyway, ON TOPIC!!! I have just really enjoyed catching up with this thread and the stunning work you have all achieved. @shain, your photos and descriptions of your cuisine touch me profoundly. Many have flavours that were familiar to me in my young years but sadly those who would no doubt have taught me about Ashkenazi cuisine died before that could happen. Memories stick though and on seeing some of your work I can taste those flavours again I was was especially interested in the Kugel discussion. I sometimes buy this when in Paris, those with knowledge of that city might also know of the 'Yellow Shop' in the Marais where many traditional recipes are created every day. Taking the discussion on using pasta in sweet dishes in a slightly different direction I have seen it cropping up from time to time in patisserie shows. Christophe Michelak (Kerry Beal enjoyed his baking at the Plaza Athene in Paris not long back) made a version of rice pudding in which he substituted spaghetti for the rice. Notice words were sad by those who tasted it but their expressions didn't back up those words. I've also seen pasta used in a dessert that serves as a 'trompe l'ceil' in the French Top Chef, again the results were not a great success. Perhaps pasta strips in kugel work because they are not included as a replacement for something else. I need to try making this to understand it better and the discussion that began with @shain's post has inspired me to plan for that. @Kerry Beal's birthday cake looks amazing, such dark but moist looking sponge. My birthday is around the same time as Kerry's, might have to try something along those lines next year. @Anna N's portion looks just right. I love the chocolate screws and bolts that @kriz6912 used to embellish his desserts in October. Everything that @kriz6912 and @teonzo show in this thread seems exceptionally beautiful. Seeing them here is almost as good as trying them, also no calories! The finishes that @rarerollingobject achieves for her cupcakes are also amazing. As many have written you don't need to like eating this type of confection to appreciate the talent and time necessary to achieve each piece. @Shelby's cookies with their spices sound intriguing, being married to a lover of good chillies I think I might be trying something similar. As for me I've done very little baking in the past few months. I managed a Valrhona 3 chocolate layered mousse like I've posted here before but otherwise nothing to report until today. I've made a batch of macaron shells and a passion fruit ganache to fill them with. I made the macaron shells green because the original plan was for a toffee apple filling. I've done that before with success but I couldn't find the recipe this morning. I'm telling myself that it is the taste that counts! The ganache is one of Pierre Hermé's that I know works well. I think there is some green in passion fruits but I doubt anyone would guess the filling from the colour. It has been lovely to see all of your creations in this thread. Next, on to read about your breads.....
  13. Valrhona White Chocolate

    Thats why I stock up in their sales! I know they supply other countries but not sure which. Many thanks @pastrygirl for your advice. I had some real disasters with a Callebaut white but I should perhaps try again, I'm not sure it was Zephyr. I use their dark chocolate more than any other but mistakes can be expensive so I've stuck with Ivoire for white lately. Might see if I can amend the order to include a bag of Opalys...
  14. Glad to read that your Magimix arrived safely and in working order! I accept what has been said in this thread about the limitations of home use equipment when compared to professional machines but want to let you know that I've had a Magimix for almost ten years now, it gets used at least two or three times each week and, so far, it remains undamaged. I bought the Magimix for making pistachio puree, that requires the motor to run for long periods and the brand was recommended to me specifically because it could cope with such use. Of course a machine produced for professional use should be better but I just wanted to say that you might be able to keep churning out your refreshing mixes with what you have for a while.
  15. I've used Valrhona Ivoire white chocolate as a base for various ganache recipes for some time after failing to create a good ganache with other white chocolate including Callebaut, a brand I otherwise like. Valrhona is expensive compared to other brands available here in England but Vente Privée offers it at a good discount several times each year. There is a Valrhona sale this week: https://secure.uk.vente-privee.com/ns/en-gb/operation/57934/classic/3642874/catalog That link is to the English site but I know the company operates in other countries. You need to become a member to buy from the site, not sure why but it is free and you aren't obliged to buy anything. I've already placed an order, popular products sell out fast. Since ordering I have read various posts in the Pastry and Baking thread that have left me wondering if I should be using Opalys as my white chocolate rather than Ivoire. Do any of you have experience of both variants of Valrhona's white chocolate? I would be grateful for any advice you can provide on using them in baking or chocolate making.