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Everything posted by DianaB

  1. I've always salted, believing this prevented any cracked eggs from leaking too much. No doubt this is wrong, just the way I've always done it! I understood that older eggs were the easiest to peel when hard boiled, I seem to remember reading this years ago in a book on eggs by Albert Roux.
  2. Here goes for a second attempt at a reply. Number 1, via my iPad, seems to have disappeared as if by magic... My apologies if I have misunderstood something and you end up with two very similar entries. It seems that perhaps Le Creuset has adapted its finishes in the 27 or so years since our collection began with our own wedding presents. Certainly my skillet has a cast iron interior, it rusts from time to time but this is easily put right with cleaning and refinishing with light oil. One of the many positive features about all Le Creuset cookware is the lifetime guarantee they give. I've checked and this still applies to all cast iron and toughened non-stick. We have only once called on a Le Creuset guarantee. We were given a Le Creuset 'fait-tout' as a wedding present. This comprised a medium sized saucepan base with a lid that when inverted became a small omelette pan or skillet. Both parts of our model had a non-stick interior. In time (after some 5 years) the non-stick around the rim of the saucepan, where the inverted frying pan would rest, became damaged. As this was a gift we had no receipt and no idea where the product has been purchased, the box was long gone. We took it to our nearest supplier, a smallish department store in a rural market town. Staff at the shop accepted the pan, advising that it would be sent to Le Creuset for a decision at their cost. After a week or so we received a telephone call telling us that we could collect our pan. At the store we were presented with a brand new version of the 'fait-tout' (I think that sadly this model is discontinued as i couldn't find one anywhere on the Le Creuset website this morning). The inside of the saucepan was now enamelled while the omelette pan interior was still non-stick. No doubt Le Creuset had changed the design due to numerous people experiencing the same problem we had. This second version of our wedding present is going strong, without any damage, to this day. It is so useful when cooking for two that it gets used almost every day. The Le Creuset website states that the cooking pots and pans are fine for ceramic hobs, vitroceramic glass and induction. There is still a lifetime guarantee on cast iron, enamelling and non-stick surfacing. I've used my Le Creuset pots and pans more or less exclusively since we were married 27 years ago and the incident with the lining of the 'fait-tout' is the only damage I have incurred during that time. In general I wash them by hand just because our dishwasher is small but once is a while I've put them through the machine to give them a thorough clean. We use only liquid detergent in the dishwasher on the advice of the Wedgewood china people who recommend that as causing less damage to bone china and porcelain than powders. As I lived in France for a few years I also discovered cheaper, often unbranded, forms of cast iron cookware. Some of the supermarkets sell these by weight and as a result I managed to accrue a good selection of different sized gratin dishes. The most useful of these unbranded pieces is similar to this by Le Creuset: http://www.lecreuset.co.uk/cast-iron-shallow-casseroles.aspx Except that ours has a glass lid and it cost only 20 euros! It is marketed under the name Paul Bocuse. I'm not sure how well Paul Bocuse is known in the USA, He is one of the best French chefs currently working and his books provide recipes for simple, unpretentious, traditional French style cooking. I bought his latest book when I was in France last month, I see that Amazon are selling a version of the same in English from October: Here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/Paul-Bocuse-Complete-Recipes/dp/208020095X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1346152256&sr=1-1&keywords=paul+bocuse Your question has made me reflect on the wedding gifts we received that were associated with food and cooking, identifying which have stayed the course and which are long since disappeared. Certainly I use the Le Creuset pots every day. The stick blender that we were given remained in its box for some years before I started to use if for making soups, although it isn't the original I still have a stick blender which gets regular use. We were given good quality and expensive knives and in fact we have spent a small fortune on knives and knife sharpening devices during our marriage. As I noted before the need for a sharp knife has recently been met by our discovery of ceramic blades; now that these are available in a range of sizes and at modest prices. We keep a very old carbon steel knife that is easily sharpened as the only addition, together with poultry shears. We seem to have disposed of any number of specialist devices for cutting various fruits and vegetables into certain shapes. A mandoline and a peeler suffice, both can be found with ceramic blades now. Another recent buy, I think as a result of a recommendation somewhere on this Forum, is a digital probe thermometer. I can now prepare roast joints or meat that will be exactly as I want them thanks to knowledge of the internal temperature of the meat. The first I bought was the cheapest possible and this worked well until a week or so ago. I've now bought a slightly more expensive version which again has a 'lifetime' guarantee - as does everything sold by this company. They do sell to customers outside the UK. http://www.lakeland.co.uk/12333/Digital-Thermometer I hope that you are enjoying your research as to what your kitchen and cooking styles demand of your funds. It can be as rewarding as shopping if you are able to create an informed list, knowing that your purchases are being made with purpose. Thanks for sharing the development of your list! Diana
  3. Le Creuset does a cast iron skillet enamelled on the outside only. I've had mine for around 25 years and it's still going strong. That said you can get much cheaper versions with no enamel at all. The thing I wanted to suggest, probably sacrilege here, but never mind... Ceramic knives have become indispensable for us in recent years. The price has dropped considerably since they were introduced and you will never need to spend time sharpening again if these suit you. I buy them from a chef supplier in England, I was advised some chefs don't like them because they are much lighter than a steel knife of equivalent size. Others swear by them. Amazon has a selection of kyocera ceramic knives, you can also find much cheaper makes that are just as good. Happy shopping! Diana
  4. I've lost count of the number of second hand Kenwoods that I've bought for friends over the years, largely machines made in the 60s or 70s. Here in England these machines were often bought as wedding presents and then stored away. Years later they turn up for sale and you can pick up a little used machine for around £25 - £50 often with numerous attachments. I use my Kenwood just about every day. It was a wedding present given to my parents some 50 years ago and much used by my mother before I inherited it. I make all of my bread with this machine. It manages all types of dough, brioche included. While the bowl is a good size it will manage small quantities as well as larger projects. Some attachments have been more useful than others. No doubt it depends what you want to make. I've used the mincer to make sausages, the liquidiser to make soups and mayonnaise. The potato scraping bowl was great as well, so good I lent it out and it's failed to return! I accept that the Kitchen Aid machines look more attractive but where I've lived I've never come across bargain second hand machines of that make. Kenwoods seem to be available in abundance, in good condition and at bargain prices. Diana
  5. To answer Mjx I agree with others posted here, in England, or at least the bits I'm familiar with, there is generally no option to take excess food home at the end of a meal. I hadn't even considered such a request until a few years ago. One of my students had spent a year living and working in Chicago after graduating. On her return we invited her to eat out with us and we ended up at a local 'gastro-pub' where portion size was generous. Jackie enjoyed her meal but couldn't finish and so, for the first time, we were introduced to the idea of asking for a container for the remainder. Staff were only too happy to oblige, packing the uneaten remnants into small plastic boxes that I guess they must have had to hand for kitchen storage. The boxes were good quality and we offered to return them but we were told there was no need. I think the staff were flattered that someone liked the food enough to want to take it home and we got excellent service for enlivening the evening. We were quite lively as I recall... Since that time we have regularly taken food home from our local Indian restaurant, they provide a take out menu so have containers to hand, also we eat there often so we are known to the staff. I'll ask for take home bags in one or two more traditional restaurants where I'm known but I doubt I'd have the courage to ask on a first time visit to a place. These small differences in culture between countries, or even regions of one country, make the world more interesting I think.
  6. For those interested in learning more about foie gras production in order to inform opinion the following link is to an academic paper published in 2004 when the Council of Europe was reviewing the industry. http://www.lefoiegras.fr/content/download/173/1441/file/doc_inra.pdf The focus here is on industrial production rather than the small artisanal units like I visited. While the paper focuses on French production, the vast majority of foie gras originating there, it is written in English.
  7. Thanks so much azlee, I shall get practising! I have a list of small things I'd like to achieve just for pleasure and this is one. Another is uncorking champagne with a sword which was popular in the 19th century I understand.... Thanks again for the links Diana
  8. I understand the technique (with oranges rather than candy bars) is used in Spain, tried to find video on YouTube but no success.
  9. A simple question but I would much appreciate any advice: Some years ago I shared a table at a conference dinner where we were offered fresh fruit at the end. A woman sitting opposite proceeded to peel and eat a large orange with knife and fork. It was most impressive, no fuss or mess and I would love to be able to do this. Is anyone familiar with the technique and able to advise? Your help would be very welcome. Diana
  10. I've been reading this thread with interest, having lived and worked for some years in France where foie gras is a central part of the end of year feasting (Sometimes Christmas, at others New Year) when it is found in many variants in every epicerie or supermarket. I came back to England in 2007 and in the same year a council local to where I now live considered banning foie gras from sale in shops and restaurants. As I recall the debate was much the same as you are now engaged in. There was also mention of a more ethical production method, I thought in England but the only reference I could find today concerns a Spanish Producer. Here is a link http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/6301715.stm As to the traditional method, some years ago I was invited to a farm in Perigord where I watched the geese jostling for their turn for feeding. In isolation the equipment looks horrific but this was a working farm not a tourist attraction and the geese were absolutely free to roam around. Of course I have no idea if the Producer is typical, much of the commercial foie gras on sale in France is duck rather than goose and I'm aware that ducks are often raised in far from ideal intensive units for meat, let alone foie gras. It seems to me that there is no right or wrong that can be broadly applied on this topic, rather it is for each of us to make a personal decision. History indicates that prohibitions are less than effective, criminalising some and causing parallel markets where there can be no controls in respect of welfare issues. In order that we can each make an informed decision it would perhaps be good to have more objective information available, narrowing the gap between food production and consumption which seems ever more vast as many rely increasingly on processed 'ready to eat' nutrition - perhaps this doesn't apply to readers of these forums but it certainly seems to be increasingly the case for many.
  11. I've really enjoyed reading this thread and will certainly try some of the ideas set out. I loved what we called French toast when my parents were alive, both would make it but my Dad, an occasional but enthusiastic cook with a repertoire of Jewish recipes that I can still sometimes taste but will never make as he had no books and he died long before my own interest in food emerged, made the best FT, often as Sunday breakfast. Both of my parents considered this a savoury dish so no sugar, syrup or fruit, just thin slices of bread soaked in egg and cream seasoned mix, lots of black pepper, then fried in butter till crisp on outside and cooked through. I've eaten 'pain perdu' as a dessert in France, invariably sweet and served with fruit, nothing at all like the FT I grew up with, I had never put the two concoctions together until I read this thread. There are varieties of puddings in the English repertoire that are similar to the 'pain perdu' idea, under the general heading 'bread and butter pudding', some are not too far away from recipes discussed here while others involve many other ingredients and are baked rather than cooked on a hob. Thanks to all for invoking memories of happy childhood days for me. Perhaps it's time I tried to work out some of my father's recipes from memories of taste and watching him prepare. If I get the FT anywhere near I'll be very happy!
  12. Fascinating to read this post, I had no idea you were in England Jenni! It's over a year since the last post and having just read the thread I would be fascinated to know how you've got on. I have friends who do home catering successfully, having run restaurants all their lives this business allows them to keep trading in semi-retirement without the obligations arising from keeping a professional kitchen up to standard. They do a successful sideline in preserves but sold only by word of mouth as without the regulated kitchen they can't advertise. I look forward to reading how your projects have progressed since the last post.
  13. DianaB

    Home Canning

    The only thing I preserve myself are Williams peaches from the garden which all ripen at the same time and don't store well save in jars with sugar solution. I am spoiled by my friends in France however, who supply me with home made terrine, rillettes and foie gras in huge quantities. Really practical as our house is small and we have very little freezer space. The cost of jars in both England and France is considerable, in England we have Kilner and in France Le Parfait (I live between the two countries). What do you pay for the Mason jars? While the meat based preserves Jacques makes are wonderful he tried doing flageolets last year and they were a disaster. I'll pass on the info on beans from this thread in the hope that perhaps he'll have more success with that. I do have his terrine recipe if anyone would be interested. I haven't made it in England as sadly the village Butcher retired without finding a buyer for his business and the butchers in town don't want to supply the low value cuts that are needed for the recipe. Really enjoyed all the photos and descriptions of your colourful produce. Here we've given up on hoping for a summer 2011 so it's good to see so much ripe fruit and veg somewhere in the world!
  14. There's an extract from this book in this weekend's Financial Times magazine, also available via their website (www.ft.com). Including recipes which look interesting and not too difficult. The cover price for the book in the UK is £30 but Amazon has it at £15.00.
  15. Many thanks for the encouragement in respect of beef tongue. Perhaps next time I'm offered it I won't make an excuse to eat elsewhere - the opportunity is most likely to arise when I'm with friends in France. My most recent visit was shared with the couple's 2 1/2 year old grandson and the four days were a series of food epiphanies for him and a joy to observe for his grandparents and I. At home both Paul's parents have very demanding jobs and so family meals are by necessity brief and based on convenience foods. We were warned that Paul would perhaps not like 'adult' food but in fact he relished curry, pot au feu, beef and carrots, a beautiful cream of courgette soup that is served as an entrée most evenings and veal liver lightly sautéed with a great deal of garlic. At every meal he adored eating grandad's homemade bread. Paul's parents couldn't believe the enthusiasm he had found for his food! We took stacks of photos and film clips to allow his parents to share in these epiphanies, albeit somewhat after the event. Sharing these experiences vicariously was pure joy. Perhaps Paul will follow in his grandfathers footsteps and become a restauranteur in time. He certainly shows promise!
  16. Claims about fat content can be bizarre, products often boast that they are 'low in fat' as well as salt and whatever else is non grata at the time. I've seen packs of frozen peas labelled 'low in fat', I wasn't aware that peas were generally considered a fatty food.... Perhaps manufacturers might soon add claims such as 'arsenic free'. This would be accurate (I hope) and just as useful to the consumer! Apologies for the cynicism!
  17. Like Simon S I recall clearly the moment I first ate and adored blue cheese. For me it was Roquefort, I was in my mid 20s and had been invited as a visiting Academic to act as external examiner at a university on the outskirts of Paris. The hospitality could not have been more different to that afforded to visitors at the establishment where I was employed in England; at best we might have served cheese at the end of the meal with a few grapes and some flexible celery. I now learnt that lunch is an important part of the French routine (hence the need for at least a two hour break) cheese came before dessert and there was no dubious greenery in view, just fresh crusty bread. Proud of the tradition of cheese making in France my hosts were anxious that I should try many, especially those to which they sensed a personal link. I wouldn't say that I was phobic of cheese riddled with mould but my attempts to appreciate such delicacies had, in the past, resulted in me quickly eating anything to hand to rid the taste from my mouth. This time the experience was quite different, I adored both flavour and texture of this cheese and from then on it became my absolute favourite. I've shared this experience with various friends over the years and have been assured that others have been through a similar taste evolution. Perhaps it comes from changes to our taste buds as we grow older? As to some of the other epiphanies detailed here, there are some I understand fully (eg avocados) and others where to date I've tried and failed (oysters - I really have tried and all I can achieve is not vomiting - I've given up now as oysters are expensive here and I'd rather leave the pleasure to those who can appreciate them). My closest friends were restauranteurs in France for 35 years and as a guest at their home I've had the good fortune to experience many excellent meals that I might not have found closer to home. Despite my faith in the excellence of the cuisine I have so far avoided tête de veau, tripes de caen and langue de boeuf. Perhaps these are food epiphanies to come and I need to set aside my irrational thoughts. I'm assured these were all dishes that would sell out at the restaurant. Which would you try first? Diana
  18. Having recently returned to live in England I notice things about restaurants/bars that are perhaps less evident to those who have lived through the gradual change brought about by the passing of time. In particular I've found it alarming that the meat course (or equivalent) is now simply referred to as the 'main' in many establishments, from McDonalds and on. I am perhaps old fashioned but for me 'mains' implies not a list of dishes but rather a key part of a sewerage system. The aroma that greets one on entry to the restaurant area of a cross channel ferry these days is perhaps indicative of problems with the plumbing disguising what might, in other circumstances, have been something more enticing. Best practice in my experience with regards restaurants is demonstrated through waiting staff who are attentive but entirely unobtrusive, glasses are never empty but their replenishment is achieved without intrusion. Serving staff understand and can explain the food in clear and concise terms. Service is team work between kitchen and dining room. The diner is central to an orchestrated performance. Such experiences can be had in modest establishments as well as those marked out by awards. There are numerous adjectives now applied to food and drink in England that seem to have become embedded in the language during my absence. I guess this is a demonstration of English as an ever evolving language, whether American or English in origin. I've only recently joined this forum and already I sense that I have learnt enormously from those who progress the various discussions. Wonderful to have come across an intelligent and informed community. Many Thanks, Diana
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