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Posts posted by DianaB

  1. 42 minutes ago, Kerry Beal said:

    I'd cook with a tiny bit of water just until softened - run through a food mill to get purée - add up to 10% sugar. Freeze if you aren't going to use right away (in packages of the right amount for a single batch of PDF).

    Then sub your purée for the purchased type in the Boiron recipes 


    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 

  2. On 4 June 2017 at 5:25 PM, Anna N said:

    I think the appeal of vegetarian meals to me is the variety that lands up on the plate.  If you belong to the old "meat and 2/3 sides" mind set, one needs to be on one's toes to incorporate much variety on the plate.  Remove that "hunk of protein" as my friend would call it and there is much more room for a variety of interesting ingredients.


    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!



    • Like 2

  3. 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... :-)




    • Like 10

  4. 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.



    • Like 1

  5. 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.   



    • Like 5

  6. 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:



    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.

  7. 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.

    • Like 4

  8. From memory because I only have green cardoon to hand the black variety is an entirely different item.  Wikipedia seems to confirm this:



    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:



    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.   

  9. 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.    

  10. 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.

    • Like 3

  11. Love the photos and descriptions from @liamsaunt, I'm feeling very lazy having failed to remember to take pictures of our Hello Fresh week.


    The question of meals based on single servings comes up time and again on Hello Fresh social media.  From memory they offer the option in a small number of countries.  Switzerland might be one.  The response to UK residents is always you should buy and cook for two and save half for another day.  Not always the way people want to work and since they provide 1 person boxes in some places it seems odd that they refuse the requests elsewhere.


    I did take a picture of the contents of our box freshly unpacked:




    Our meals this week were a Greek style lamb and lentil ragu, teriyaki beef and finally pork medallions with tarragon sauce.  The recipes for all of the Hello Fresh meals are freely available on their website so we had already tried the pork dish and really enjoyed it using ingredients we had compiled locally.


    We began the box with the Greek lamb and lentil dish.  This comprised bulgur wheat under a lamb, tomato and lentil stew with a yoghurt 'tzarziki' garnish.  I put the last bit in ''s because I have no idea what an authentic version would be like.


    The dish was quick to make and very tasty.  Hello Fresh generally have seasoning to our taste and the spices for this dish were good.  The red lentils disappeared into the sauce, no doubt added as a thickening agent.  Our only real criticism of this dish was the quantity.  The portions were vast and had we known in advance how filling the meal would be we would have frozen half of the ragu for another day.  We enjoyed the meal but I doubt we will make it again.


    Second up was the beef.  This dish is a good example of what we are getting from our use of Hello Fresh.  We would never have chosen the recipe from a book or restaurant menu.  It would never have occurred to me to mix the ingredients of the marinade and serve the results, some of the ingredients for this dish were completely new to us.  We loved the results and will certainly make this again. 


    The beef was sliced into strips and marinated in a mix of soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger and sliced spring onions.   The meat was served with brown basmati rice and garlicky bok choy.


    The third and final meal was closest to the style of food we usually cook.  We had already tested the recipe a couple of times so we were confident we would enjoy the Hello Fresh version.  At this time of year we buy Jersey Royal potatoes for a very modest price but Hello Fresh had selected another variety that wasn't as tasty.  Nothing was wrong with their potatoes but the season for jerseys is short and it would have been good to include them.    The pork was very good, served with a sauce based on a reduction of chicken stock, soured cream and tarragon.  


    The coming week will be box free but I think we will have another attempt at the teriyaki beef.  There are certainly cheaper ways to put a meal together but the significant benefit for us is discovery of new flavours and ingredients through the recipes.  


    I will try to remember to take photos next time we cook from a box.  @Anna N it will be very interesting to see what HF offer in Canada if you decide to give it a try.  

    • Like 6

  12. 9 hours ago, ElsieD said:

    I don't know if this is the right place for this.  If not, please delete but in my defense I did bake today and what I made is the reason for this post.


    I'm having a family party here next Saturday and so I don't get the last minute frazzles, I have been making things up ahead of time and freezing them.  Today I made date squares and Nanaimo bars. When I cut the Nanaimo bars, the chocolate topping cracked and a lot of it, especially around the edges splintered.  They are now not much to look at save for maybe 6 or 8 pieces.  What can i do to fix these?  Add more chocolate to sort of "glue" things over?  Take the chocolate off and apply new chocolate?   Or are they not salvageable?


    It must be a day for questions, I came here to post one as well (see below),. ElsieD I am no expert in chocolate and am sure the chocolatiers will help you in due course.  Reading your description of the cracked tops to your bars made me remember similar experiences.  If I had your problem I would take off the remnants of chocolate, if you can get them off 'clean' the chocolate can be reused.  I build anything with a flat chocolate top in reverse so I would temper some chocolate and pour that onto a flat tray lined with parchment, an acetate sheet (make sure it will take the heat if you use acetate, the sheets made for writing on look exactly like those sold for food use). You might want to block an area of your surface roughly equal to the total size you will need to recover your bars, a cake frame would work but you can improvise with anything to hand.


    Because your bars are already made I would wait until the chocolate begins to solidify, a few minutes in the fridge can help, the place the bars, top side down, onto the setting chocolate.  Once you are happy that the chocolate is all but set take a large knife, preferably with a blade longer than your sheet of bars, carefully slide it between the cake part of the bars and then push it through the chocolate so that each bar will have its own chocolate top when turned over.


    When you are happy that the chocolate is really set you need to turn the bars over and peel off your parchment or acetate.  With a bit of luck you will have nice smooth tops for your cakes.


    I'm not sure what a Nanaimo bar is but this technique works well with anything that can be built up in reverse.  Thinking logically I should have Googled your recipe.  I didn't and I've typed this on my iPad so am reluctant to delete!  If the technique doesn't work for you this time it might be useful for something else.


    You can use tempered chocolate as 'glue' if you want to try fixing what you have.


    My original reason for visiting here was to ask if anyone can point me towards a recipe for a ganache that incorporates marscapone?  I want to make it to use as a filling for macarons.  I've searched here and generally but I haven't found anything chocolate based.  There are variations on a tiramisu theme but most are based on a butter cream idea or whipped cream.  I'm thinking a ganache with Valrhona Ivoire for the chocolate might hold up better once the macarons are filled.


    I posted here because I thought the recipe will have applications more general than macarons.


    Any ideas would be much appreciated.

    • Like 1

  13. Welcome Popup, I went through a period of attempting perfect croissants a few years ago but with limited time available they are on hold for now.  I recall some great advice from YouTube, it helped to see the process of folding and chilling.  Having the right butter is also essential I found.  You have made me want to have another go....


    Which part of the world do you live in?


    Looking forward to your future posts.

  14. On 28 April 2017 at 3:04 PM, Anna N said:

    I ran across an advertisement for Hello Fresh which apparently now delivers in my local area.  I am debating a trial purely out of curiosity.    It could only be an improvement on Chefs Plate! As a singleton these meal delivery services miss the mark. None of them seem to offer single meals for single people which means lots of leftovers. I have absolutely no objection to eating a meal the second time around if I enjoyed it the first time around but with a meal delivery system that's a bit of a gamble. Certainly the menus for Hello Fresh appeal to me considerably more than the ones from Chefs' Plate.  Still considering whether I will actually pull the trigger.   I would consider the cost as part of my entertainment budget rather than part of my grocery budget.:o


    We are having a Hello Fresh box this week, arriving Wednesday rather than our usual Tuesday because May 1st is a public holiday in England and Wales (happy memories of life in France where 1st May was also a national holiday: workers day, and I would each year come home to hand picked lily of the valley flowers from an elderly neighbour keeping traditions alive)


    Anyway, we have ordered 3 X meals for 2.  Can't remember what they are as I write so that will be the first surprise!  


    I have nade made a new friend locally through discussion of these meal boxes.  This is nice for me, my home and office are the same space so new friendships are cherished.  This person introduced me to Simply Cooking.  This scheme is also membership based but customers receive just herb and spice mixes and sauce bases, recipe cards have a shopping list attached to remind you to get the vegetables and any meat or fish necessary to make the meal.  My intro box was just £1 so if we get 1 decent meal from the bos I will be happy.  The meals will need to be stunning to keep my interest at £8.99 a set but perhaps I am unrealistic about prices. 


    Tonight we we ate a variation of a previous Hello Fresh recipe: chicken with sage leaves enclosed in Serrano ham; Jersey Royal potatoes (highlight of spring for me) and stir fried leeks (another Hello Fresh technique).  I made a sauce with much reduced cream/Gewurtztraminer/Dijon mustard and that was it.  Perfect for us, things we might have made years ago but had completely forgotten about certain combinations as new things came along to replace them in our repertoire.


    I'll try to remember to report here as the Hello Fresh box is consumed.  It will be 3 meals for 2 people but I don't remember exactly what we asked for...  


    @Anna N I know that some Hello Fresh services offer boxes for 1, not in the UK though.  Here they propose that we cook for 2 and freeze half, not ideal, I did live alone not too long ago and would not have been tempted by this option.  The Canadian Hello Fresh has different options to the UK so it might be worth a look if you are interested.


    i don't know if the referrals I can make work internationally, I suspect not.  If you are interested have a search around for Hello Fresh intro offer, I'm sure you will quickly find codes to bring you significant reductions on early orders wherever you are based.


    • Like 2

  15. 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?  

    • Like 6

  16. 3 hours ago, Thanks for the Crepes said:


    Whoops. Sorry I forgot you were posting from the UK, where the food laws are much more consumer-friendly than here in the good ole USA. 


    I don't use that bean liquid from canned beans in anything. It is usually kind of gross to me. I rinse canned beans. The one can of kidney beans I have in the pantry has sugar, corn syrup and preservatives on the ingredient list, so I like to get rid of that. My favorite way to make chili includes both light red and dark red kidney beans, but I always rinse them. I love the visual contrast, although there's not much flavor difference. The skins of the light red are maybe a little more tender. Good chili will cook down and be thick from the reduction. I've not seen a need for flour in it.


    Also when soaking and cooking my own beans, I tend to drain the water off several times during the soak. I think inulin is soluble in water, and that is the reason for the thick, gelatinous canned bean liquid. And yes, inulin does cause some people gastric discomfort. It is supposed to be good for you, but I'd rather do without an excess. 


    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.


    • Like 7

  17. 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. 

    • Like 1

  18. 4 hours ago, Thanks for the Crepes said:


    Companies are legislatively allowed not to give out their spice mixes as intellectual property. It is tough to get them to impossible. All you can usually do is scope it out and try to replicate. For really good stuff, there are enough others that are interested and want it, so on the internet, you can sometimes find copycat recipes. With enough minds working on it, sometimes these recipes are very good.


    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.   

    • Like 1

  19. 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:



    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.   




    • Like 5

  20. 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. 

    • Like 6

  21. 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.

    • Like 1

  22. 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:


    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!

    • Like 2

  23. 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.image.jpeg


    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.

    • Like 8

  24. On 14 December 2016 at 10:28 PM, teonzo said:

    (Was not able to insert 2 images in the same post, so I had to make 2 different posts)




    Saccottini Kukkis


    These are made with the same technique I used for the pomegranate + sweet potato viennoiserie I posted some weeks ago.

    This time I made a pumpkin dough, using pumpkin juice instead of water for the basic dough. For the inclusion I used pumpkin puree, but I had to work it a bit before getting the right texture (standard pumpkin puree is too watery and soft): first I reduced it to 50% to loose some moisture, then I cooked it with 20% flour to give it more body.

    Filling is persimmon jam.

    All the recipe is vegan.

    Just after taking the pan out of the oven I brushed them with hot syrup (2 parts brown sugar, 1 part water), it helps giving a shining finish, plus it acts as a barrier for moisture, leaving the cooked dough more tender.

    This is not a light viennoiserie (well, which are?) because pumpkins and persimmons have earthy and prominent tastes, but who cares, I liked them.







    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.

  25. 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.




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