DianaB

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About DianaB

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    North Yorkshire, sometimes La Flèche.

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  1. Cherries - a final instalment As planned I attempted to transform my cherry puree into PDF following the advice that had worked well for me previously and which is reported earlier in this thread. Unfortunately although I made sure to get the pate to 107c (took an age) the chilled product tasted great but wouldn't hold its form once the frame was removed. Reluctant to waste the ingredients, in particular the cherries which are the last that will be had from that particular orchard (it belonged to parents of a friend, Dad died a couple of years ago and Mum has moved to a smaller place, the family finally has a buyer for the farm where the orchard is situated) I decided to try piping the semi firm pate into moulded chocolates. Taste wise these are amongst the best chocolates I have ever made. I am not at all experienced in chocolate making, I have the Choc Doc's tutorials (many thanks @Kerry Beal) but my time is hugely limited and I hadn't attempted chocolates since the end of last year. Even then I cheated, I made 'rochers' which are far more forgiving in terms of appearance than moulded pieces. I had some Valrhona Guanaja from my last Vente Privé buy. The round bitterness of that combined with the sweet bitterness of the cherry paste was more or less taste perfection. Although I enjoy the challenge of making chocolates I'm not usually bothered about eating them. Unfortunately for my wardrobe I can eat these in abundance! The remaining pieces have gone off to be shared with my husband's colleagues this morning so temptation is no longer taunting me. I have some of the PDF left. It has been refrigerated throughout and stored in a thick piping bag so protected from air. I also have some of the chocolate left. I plan to make a last batch and I hope to find a way of packing them so that they will survive a postal journey to France and the lady who allowed me to pick her cherries. Below is the first batch. I had stored them in the fridge. Not by a long way amongst the most beautiful looking chocolates on the forum but the flavour was beyond anything I had imagined. The polycarb mould is the first I bought and I have really tried to look after it. No dishwasher, no soap. I've cleaned it with v hot water and v soft cloth. Despite all the care directed at it I noticed a crack in the corner of one of the cavities when I was drying it the other day which is annoying. At least I found a way to use up my too soft PDF, thanks to those who have already posted here about using PDF in chocolates. I'm not sure that I would have thought of it if I hadn't read posts on this thread.
  2. Most French kitchens will have (and the inhabitants will use) a variation on these devices. Why go complicated when these simple gadgets can do the job with elegance?
  3. Even if Amazon Canada is your 'home Amazon' you might find that you can also log in to Amazon USA with the same ID and password. This will allow you to buy products at Amazon US prices even though carriage fees might be higher. Amazon UK is my 'home Amazon' but using the same ID etc I often log in to Amazon France if I want a French film sending to me in the UK; I also log into Amazon US if I want something sending to me in the UK perhaps not released in Europe. Might be be worth trying to order direct via Amazon US if your item is significantly cheaper there? I can't see any legality problems, you are using the same log in credentials.
  4. The Bread Topic (2016-)

    Sorry @ElsieD I got distracted and overlooked your question yesterday. The proofer has transformed our bread making. We can now hold dough at a constant temperature regardless of the weather. The manufacturer provides a booklet that advises to attempt at 27c initially. We followed that advice and we have kept to it. There is no cooling facility so if you are in the tropics this is not the machine for you but otherwise it's advantages are that it folds down so needs very little storage space. It can be assembled for use in seconds. A small water tray is included so that dough rises in a slightly humid atmosphere preventing crusting. We have always made bread but the process was more stressful before we got the proofer. Now any stress comes from trying a new recipe rather than worrying that the kitchen will be too cold to get the dough rising. It is difficult to put into words the advantages the proofer brings but I certainly wouldn't want to be without it.
  5. The Bread Topic (2016-)

    I do love the proofing box. Our climate is less than ideal for bread making but the box makes repeat results achievable. It is also good for holding tempered chocolate. Our's is stored flat when not in use due to very limited space but I would be lost making bread without it.
  6. Many thanks Kerry, I have just finished taking the stones out and picking out the few cherries already rotting. I have 1.23kg fruit without stones, stalks or leaves. As I completed the task I thought I had wasted my time taking the stones out. Traditional clafoutis recipes keep the fruits intact to maximise taste. I will tie the stones in a muslin square in hope that some of the flavour can be captured... My bowl of cherries deconstructed
  7. I agree absolutely with your point @Anna N, while we seem to have been lucky in our experiences with HF the main plus for us has been trying out exceptions to what my generation in England would call 'meat and 2 veg. I struggle with the now commonly used 'main' and 'side': to me 'main' makes me think of water supply (commonly referred to as 'the mains') and not for food unless followed by the word 'course' until recently; a 'side' is, to me, just that - one aspect of something - right side, left side. Vegetables might have been placed in a side dish but not in my personal experience, we tend to place them to one side of the plate accommodating our 'main'. Apologies if this seems ridiculous, having lived outside England for a while these terms seemed extremely odd when I returned and they appeared ubiquitous. We haven't used HF or similar in the past few weeks, demands on time have made them impractical. Perhaps for that reason we have received advice that we can give two more boxes to our friends at no charge to us or them whatever. Frankly we are running out of friends! Each friend we have given a box to has also received vouchers for their friends. As friends are often mutual we are quickly working through our collective contacts. I don't know if we can give boxes to acquaintances in other countries where HF operates. If anyone in the UK wants a free box please PM me. If anyone in other countries where HF trades would like a free box I will contact Customer Service to ask if this is possible. Again, please PM me if you are interested. It will be first come first served. Please understand there is no financial advantage to me for passing on the vouchers, this is not 'pyramid selling'. The only condition that really matters is that a free box can only be donated to someone who has never tried HF before. Facebook entries indicate problems when someone else at the same address has already had a box. Having been introduced to HF via a free box we looked around for other similar businesses. I wrote about Gousto before but we also came across Simply Cook. It should be called Simply go Shopping and then Cook. Rather than provide all the ingredients ready for prep and cooking this option results in a box with a set of herbs, spices stock bases etc for various recipes. Cards provide the instructions for cooking the meal and each has a shopping list telling you what you need to buy. We only ordered their introductory box because, yet again, a kind friend gave us a voucher that brought the total price for these seasonings to £1. The box has been sitting in the kitchen for weeks. We had no choice in respect of the recipes for the intro box but I believe that has changed. I have been inundated with emails despite cancelling my subscription and attempting to unsubscribe from email. The recipes haven't inspired us but I'm sure if they had arrived with all of the necessary ingredients we would have used them and perhaps discovered more exciting new things. For the sake of completeness here is what we received: Here is the content of one set of seasonings. Perhaps we shouldn't have opened the box so that I could have sold it to a collector in 20 years when I suspect Simply Cook will be just a part of food history. We will continue with HF from time to time. So far we have been lucky and the only item missing has been some rice. We had rice anyway so the omission didn't spoil the meal and we were refunded for that recipe. Putting aside time saved and a reduction in waste that HF has brought the main (not water, not an element of a menu) plus for us has been an introduction to ingredients and recipes we would never have been tempted to try. I think I've written about this before but more time has passed and now we often eat HF recipes having purchased the ingredients locally. @liamsaunt and @patrisur photographs are stunning!
  8. The Bread Topic (2016-)

    That looks beautiful @ElsieD. I have transferred some of my bread straight to a loaf tin for the second rise rather than using a banneton. I was having similar problems with a part of the paton sticking and that causing some damage to the final product. Still edible and still good of course. I have nowhere near the expertise of other bakers on here but I rarely use a banneton these days. Either I leave the dough 'free form' (as for a baguette, works also for a round) or it goes into the tin it will be baked in for the final phase. Because there are only two of us I often bake smaller loaves (rolls in England, not sure about other variations of English), freezing portioned dough after the first rise. As I've written elsewhere I would be lost without my Brod and Taylor proofing box, as would George the cat: On on topic because there is bread rising in the box under George and 2 pots of liquid levain back right of the box... :-)
  9. I appreciate that this topic hasn't been active for a while. Also, on reading the more recent contributions much focus has been on perfecting PDF for use in other confections. Like @JeanneCake I'm hoping for further advice on PDF as a 'stand alone' sweet. @gfron1 and others very kindly helped me a year or so ago and I managed to produce my first successful PDF as a result, reported earlier in this thread. Just back from spending time in France with friends I have cherries that I grabbed from their tree on Wednesday that need using without delay. Some are already rotting so I'm thinking of making puree with any that are still mould free later today. Four trees were absolutely laden with fruit, in itself odd because birds often make short work of stripping a tree that hasn't been netted. I still have the pectin bought a year ago for the first experiment - @JeanneCake I can understand a little of your frustration on the different pectins, I had also bought NH before getting advice here that it wouldn't do for PDF. The company that sold me the NH had no other pectins and they had assured me it would be ideal! Having already bought other products from them I had trusted them and made the purchase. My pack of NH is still unopened. I also now have the tartaric acid I was missing previously. As I am still very much at the beginnings of PDF making any views on starting the process with fresh cherries would be very welcome. My bowl of cherries.
  10. So sorry to read of problems with Hello Fresh deliveries. I know that they operate slightly differently in each country but I have noticed that UK customers who complain publicly via Facebook seem to get their problems dealt with. Posts about the telephone helpline are generally not encouraging. On the couple of occasions we have had things missing I have emailed customer service and received a voucher for a free box the following week. That doesn't of course solve the problem when you have planned to cook one of their recipes and it is too late to go shopping for missing items but we have perhaps stayed with Hello Fresh as a result of their generosity over free stuff. I have just received email advising me that I can offer another completely free box to a friend of my choosing. This will be my seventh such box since we got our own first free box in February. We don't buy every week but we did cook Hello Fresh last week and this week's box has just arrived. We have no choice over delivery day. In the UK that is the one big advantage of Gousto, also you have many more recipes to choose from. Overall we prefer Hello Fresh. I wish I had the photographic skills of @liamsaunt. I wish I remembered to take photographs of all our meals but I don't even get that far. Usually. Last week we really enjoyed Fruity Lebanese Lamb, here are the ingredients: I don't usually like meat based dishes that involve fruit so I wouldn't have chosen this in other circumstances. The results were a very pleasant dish however and one we will certainly make again. The carrots were coated with cumin and roasted, really enjoyable. Other meals that weren't photographed but which were enjoyed were a Risotto that used diluted tomato juice as its cooking liquid; also a 'Hearty Roast Chicken' dish. The latter was fine, chicken served with a mushroom sauce using creme fraîche and mustard. We only used a small amount of the mustard but would cut it back further if we made it again. The risotto was good though, the first we've made in many years and we enjoyed it enough to get a pack of risotto rice in for future experiments. Here is the content of this week's box: The title of the bottom recipe is Crispy Skin Chicken. I'm not sure which we will try first. The brown paper bags are colour coded to the recipe cards and contain all the necessary ingredients except meat or dairy stuff. We store everything in the fridge and unpack the bags on the day we will be cooking the relevant recipe.
  11. There are various posts across the forum that mention Brod and Taylor's folding proofing box. We have owned one for some years and it gets used several times each week for bread and on odd occasions for chocolate. I'm not certain whether this is a 'gadget' or an 'appliance', other posts about the box appear in a variety of threads. We received email from the company a few days ago indicating that new versions of the same item are being sold to slow cook one pot dishes as an extra function. Using the box to culture yoghurt has been promoted for some time but I don't recall reading about slow cooking until recently. Here is a link to the manufacturer's page: https://brodandtaylor.co.uk/folding-proofer-and-slow-cooker/ Has anyone tried this function? I set mine to the maximum 47c and placed a pan of water directly onto the heating plate for an hour or so. The temperature achieved when checked with a Thermopen was significantly over 47, no doubt because the metal container had played its part. From memory it was in the high 60s. I would be interested in anyone's experience of using the proofing box for anything beyond proofing bread, tempering chocolate or culturing yoghurt.
  12. 2017 Kitchen Appliances

    We renovated our kitchen and changed all appliances in 2010. After many hours research we went for a Neff electric fan oven with which we have been and continue to be delighted. This is not a professional appliance but it is the best oven I have ever used including a small number of professional models. We don't have mains gas in our village and our hob will be of no interest to you. We went for Miele for dishwasher, washing machine and dryer. We have a very small house and laundry is done in the kitchen, in France it was done in the bathroom, elsewhere I have no idea. Seven years on we are still happy with the Miele products but there is a logic fault with the dishwasher control panel and one day when I have time I will get that replaced under guarantee. All of these products came with 10 year guarantees but I'm not sure that is replicated everywhere. We wanted copious fridge and freezer space but our choices were limited by difficulties in getting the devices into the kitchen. Walls are best part of a metre thick and doorways are small. After creating models out of cardboard boxes to make sure we would get them in we went for Liebherr separate fridge and freezer. Again no problems in the seven years these items have been with us. We are fortunate in being able to afford 'good' makes of appliance at our advanced ages but this hasn't always been the case. Newly married our first dishwasher was a bottom of the range Phillips. We had been told that the same model could be purchased for more money with a Bosch label. We would have bought that machine in or around 1988 when I had my first 'proper' job; it was still working when we pulled the kitchen here apart in 2010. We might have changed the odd component but I don't remember working on that device. Our first tumble dryer was a Hotpoint. The white plastic had changed to various creams due to light exposure over the years, the door was held on with a twist of wire but that machine was also still working more than 20 years after purchase when we disposed of it. Washing machines we were less lucky with. A first bought second hand but on the recommendation of an 'expert' committed suicide a few weeks after we installed it covering the load that it was supposed to be washing with the grease that I understand was supposed to be in its gear box. That was an Electrolux but we can hardly blame the manufacturer as it was far from new. Next we had a Phillips from new which was OK but it only lasted a short while. After that I can't remember makes, I think the last machine pre-2010 was a Zanussi that came from my mother in law's house after her death. She had only bought it a few weeks earlier so it was as new when we got it and still working in 2010 when we donated it to a charity that provides household electrical to families in financial difficulties. They also took our previous fridge-freezer that had been bought out of necessity as the only model that would fit the available space before the kitchen remake. All that to demonstrate that one doesn't always need to go to expensive makes to get a good machine. The best part of our kitchen remake was a decision to refit a wardrobe as a larder cupboard. We don't have the height for wall cabinets, two walls had been fitted with the usual type kitchen cupboard and originally we planned to install a professional pizza oven that would take up much of the remaining space. The pizza oven was much researched but not bought. In the end we got the far from professional G3 Ferrari pizza oven with which we have been absolutely delighted. Pizzas are cooked in less than 5 minutes, the disadvantage being that we can only cook one at a time. We both like our pizza to stand a little after cooking so for us this works fine and it left us with unexpected space. We saw a really beautiful larder cupboard on sale locally but having done the usual measuring we had to admit that there was no way it could be got into our kitchen. Many friends in other parts of Europe use wardrobes, usually antique, to store kitchen items in so we decided to go that route and for very little money acquired a not antique wardrobe that is now fitted with shelves etc and holding an amazing amount of stuff. I see that I joined eGullet in early 2011 so I might already have shared photographs of the kitchen refit. I attach one from the early days of the project and another of the same wall what seemed an age later when we were able to begin using at least parts of the new creation. Cupboards are basic Ikea as is the worktop and as is the bottle gas fed hob. The microwave is probably nearing 20 years old but it works fine, we've changed bulbs from time to time and I think the motor that drives the rotating plate at the bottom but we have yet to find something that makes us want to replace it. The Dualit toaster was picked up for next to nothing at a local auction and it works superbly. @weinoo's accommodation is obviously very different to ours but if I can help in any way by sharing experiences I will be happy to do that either via the forum or PM as appropriate.
  13. Cardamom and Chocolate

    From memory because I only have green cardoon to hand the black variety is an entirely different item. Wikipedia seems to confirm this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardamom Certainly the seeds of green cardamom go well with chocolate. They can also be infused in dairy products to make ice-cream along the lines of kulfi: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kulfi Personally I have only ever used black cardamom in savoury recipes. So glad you enjoyed your experiment @ltimmis80, it can be so tempting to discard things that don't turn out as we hope and as you have shown something that doesn't perhaps set as desired can still give pleasure.
  14. For those interested in Bake Off type programmes there are new series running at the moment in the UK and in France. Both have professional chefs as contestants and as judges. All episodes of the UK version are available via the BBC website http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/b08ln7y7?suggid=b08ln7y7 or their app. The French series only started last week but that episode is available via the M6 website http://www.6play.fr/le-meilleur-patissier-les-professionnels-p_6762 or app. If you are not in the country that produced the programme you will need to be running an appropriate VPN to watch through the BBC or M6 but as I write YouTube has complete episodes of the BBC version (search Bake Off Creme de la Creme) and the M6 entire first episode (search M6 Meilleur Patissier 2017). The latter is of course in French but the baking is wonderful. Judges in France are Cyril Lignac, Pierre Hermé, Philippe Conticini and Frederic Bau. There were a lot of complaints about the BBC's first series of Creme de la Creme because people found the judges too harsh. Certainly the dynamic is not that created by Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood for the home cook version but the contestants are professional chefs and there seems to be a trend towards negativity across many BBC programmes at the minute. Perhaps they are trying to be 'edgy'. The judges have perhaps toned down their criticism a little for this year but Angus Deayton is now the Presenter and his cynicism can be tedious.
  15. Having now seen what a Nanaino Bar looks like I can understand that the advice I offered @ElsieD a few days ago wouldn't have been helpful except perhaps the idea of using melted chocolate to weld together pieces of the topping that had broken off. I hope the more relevant advice offered by those who came after me helped you rescue your baking. I passed by this thread the other day because I was looking for a ganache recipe that incorporated marscapone. I wanted to reflect the flavours of tiramisu in a macaron, an earlier attempt had been successful but so long ago that I had completely forgotten how I made the filling. After searching here without success I went to YouTube where I found a demonstration that was so far away from the method I would usually follow for a ganache that I very much doubted it would work. I thought the technique worth a try but I didn't want to waste a large amount of Valrhona chocolate so I stuck to a small quantity. Rather than the usual one third at a time addition of cream to the chocolate to form an emulsion I put 80g marscapone and 80g Valrhona Ivoire into a plastic jug. This went into the microwave where it was given full strength microwaving for 30 seconds. The chocolate was now sufficiently melted to form an emulsion with the marscapone when given a good stir. I added another 80g chocolate and zapped the jug for another 15 seconds on full power. All of the chocolate now mixed easily into the marscapone. I added 30ml amaretti and the same amount of the strongest coffee I could get out of my machine. In order that I could whip the results when cold I transferred the ganache to a small bowl, contact covered with cling film and left to cool in the fridge while I made my macaron shells. Once the macarons came out of the oven I took my bowl of ganache from the fridge and whipped it with my hand held electric mixer. The result was really beautiful and I will certainly use the technique again. The filling would be good in moulded chocolates as well as macarons I think. Of course as usual I didn't think to take any pictures and the macarons were a gift for a new neighbour. While I'm quite happy with my plain macaron shells they would in no way compete with the artistry of those in @rarerollingobject's post above this one. It must take ages to hand finish each shell like that and I have a great deal of respect for anyone who makes time to produce something so beautiful.