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Posts posted by DianaB

  1. I have been away from eGullet for a few weeks, floods of work meant that I had to deprive myself of the time spent enjoying this forum.  Anyway, ON TOPIC!!! 


    I have just really enjoyed catching up with this thread and the stunning work you have all achieved.

    @shain, your photos and descriptions of your  cuisine touch me profoundly.  Many have flavours that were familiar to me in my young years but sadly those who would no doubt have taught me about Ashkenazi cuisine died before that could happen.  Memories stick though and on seeing some of your work I can taste those flavours again


    I was was especially interested in the Kugel discussion.  I sometimes buy this when in Paris, those with knowledge of that city might also know of the 'Yellow Shop' in the Marais where many traditional recipes are created every day.  Taking the discussion on using pasta in sweet dishes in a slightly different direction I have seen it cropping up from time to time in patisserie shows.  Christophe Michelak (Kerry Beal enjoyed his baking at the Plaza Athene in Paris not long back) made a version of rice pudding in which he substituted spaghetti for the rice.  Notice words were sad by those who tasted it but their expressions didn't back up those words.  I've also seen pasta used in a dessert that serves as a 'trompe l'ceil' in the French Top Chef, again the results were not a great success.  


    Perhaps pasta strips in kugel work because they are not included as a replacement for something else.  I need to try making this to understand it better and the discussion that began with @shain's post has inspired me to plan for that.


    @Kerry Beal's birthday cake looks amazing, such dark but moist looking sponge.  My birthday is around the same time as Kerry's, might have to try something along those lines next year.  @Anna N's portion looks just right.


    I love the chocolate screws and bolts that @kriz6912 used to embellish his desserts in October.  Everything that @kriz6912 and @teonzo show in this thread seems exceptionally beautiful.  Seeing them here is almost as good as trying them, also no calories!  


    The finishes that @rarerollingobject achieves for her cupcakes are also amazing.  As many have written you don't need to like eating this type of confection to appreciate the talent and time necessary to achieve each piece.


    @Shelby's cookies with their spices sound intriguing, being married to a lover of good chillies I think I might be trying something similar.


    As for me I've done very little baking in the past few months.  I managed a Valrhona 3 chocolate layered mousse like I've posted here before but otherwise nothing to report until today.   I've made a batch of macaron shells and a passion fruit ganache to fill them with.  I made the macaron shells green because the original plan was for a toffee apple filling.  I've done that before with success but I couldn't find the recipe this morning.  I'm telling myself that it is the taste that counts!  The ganache is one of Pierre Hermé's that I know works well. I think there is some green in passion fruits but I doubt anyone would guess the filling from the colour.


    It has been lovely to see all of your creations in this thread.  Next, on to read about your breads.....


    • Like 10

  2. 4 hours ago, adey73 said:

    I've never seen Valrhona that cheap in the UK!


    Thats why I stock up in their sales!  I know they supply other countries but not sure which.


    Many thanks @pastrygirl for your advice.  I had some real disasters with a Callebaut white but I should perhaps try again, I'm not sure it was Zephyr.  I use their dark chocolate more than any other but mistakes can be expensive so I've stuck with Ivoire for white lately.  Might see if I can amend the order to include a bag of Opalys...

  3. Glad to read that your Magimix arrived safely and in working order!  I accept what has been said in this thread about the limitations of home use equipment when compared to professional machines but want to let you know that I've had a Magimix for almost ten years now, it gets used at least two or three times each week and, so far, it remains undamaged.


    I bought the Magimix for making pistachio puree, that requires the motor to run for long periods and the brand was recommended to me specifically because it could cope with such use.  Of course a machine produced for professional use should be better but I just wanted to say that you might be able to keep churning out your refreshing mixes with what you have for a while.  

    • Like 1

  4. I've used Valrhona Ivoire white chocolate as a base for various ganache recipes for some time after failing to create a good ganache with other white chocolate including Callebaut, a brand I otherwise like.  Valrhona is expensive compared to other brands available here in England but Vente Privée offers it at a good discount several times each year.  There is a Valrhona sale this week: 



    That link is to the English site but I know the company operates in other countries. You need to become a member to buy from the site, not sure why but it is free and you aren't obliged to buy anything.  


    I've already placed an order, popular products sell out fast.  Since ordering I have read various posts in the Pastry and Baking thread that have left me wondering if I should be using Opalys as my white chocolate rather than Ivoire.


    Do any of you have experience of both variants of Valrhona's white chocolate?  I would be grateful for any advice you can provide on using them in baking or chocolate making.

  5. 4 minutes ago, dcarch said:

    "The garden is about life and beauty and the impermanence of all living things."

    The garden is also used to impress your friends and neighbors how wealthy you are.

    "The garden is about feeding your children, providing food for the tribe. "

    Then it is no longer a garden. It becomes a farm. (IMHO). In some communities, it is illegal to plant tomatoes in the front of the house.




    How strange, the bit about illegal tomatoes.  Is there a reason?  


    Soon after moving to this house 26 years ago our then neighbour, an elderly very 'correct' lady (also very kind once she accepted that we weren't planning to cause what she considered damage to the house, once her parent's home) saw me gardening at the front of the house.  She asked what I was doing.  I responded, sowing carrot seeds.  I got a horrified look followed by "we don't grow vegetables in our front gardens in this village".  I think of her everytime I plant anything edible at the front.

    • Like 6

  6. Just found out that a member of eGullet, @Cia has begun to post his short videos on Italian culinary culture on YouTube.  Only one to date but I know there are more in the pipeline.  While made by an Italian based in Italy the narrative is in English.


    Here's the first instalment: 




    • Like 2

  7. After following along the painstaking journey towards completion of this book I was delighted to come across this topic and learn that it is now on sale.  If the book explains things even half as clearly as @gfron1 kindly did for me here on eGullet when I wanted to learn how to make pâte de fruits I'm sure it will become indispensable to many.


    During childhood late summers were characterised by collecting wild blackberries and similar but more recently my interest in what wild places might offer us to eat was awakened when living in France.  There it was (is) common go see cars parked next to a verge with a healthy stock of dandelion leaves or nettles.  In Autumn every pharmacy will show a sign inviting people to bring in their foraged mushrooms for identification.  Pity this service service isn't common in England, I would really like a definitive ID of those mushrooms that just keep coming in our garden (photo on gardening thread).


    We are just back from Paris where some of the summer displays along the riverside are still in place.  These included raised beds filled with plants that can be foraged for food, each clearly labelled.  First time I've seen nettles as a part of a plant display but they were huge and very beautiful, probably the soil was much better than anything they grow on in the wild.  


    I really enjoyed the nettles video and will certainly subscribe on YouTube.


    Very best wishes for every success with your book.

    • Like 7

  8. Another really interesting informative report, almost like being on the course alongside you.  Any chance of a couple of photos of the things you make?  I would love to see the turned vegetables in particular.  If you decide to offer your own course on preparing and cooking artichokes I will certainly sign up!   I would also love to try your petits pois paysanne, I've never managed to get this right at home. Looking forward to the next instalment! 

    • Like 1

  9. A few weeks ago we visited a couple of food related companies close to where we live.  I'm sure I've read other posts about Wensleydale cheese but not certain of the thread, hence starting a new topic.  Perhaps others might have visited different food production companies?  


    The Wensleydale creamery almost disappeared a few years ago, the popularity of Wallace and Gromit films has helped the new owners make a real success of what might otherwise have been a risky venture.  We first visited years ago, just after the place was in new ownership.  I recall a much smaller scale operation where visitors could really get close to the cheese making process.  





    The venture has grown hugely, as have hygiene regulations.  Now visitors can only see the production area through a glass partition, the photos I took through the less than clear glass are blurred and hard to make out so not used here.


    There is a small 'museum' display, also a shop, coffee place and restaurant.  

    Below, some bits and pieces from the museum:



    Pride of place of course for Wallace and Gromit:



    The shop is now much larger than I remember, when we walked through before visiting the rest of the place there were few people around, should have taken a photo then.  When we returned it was packed and this was the best I could do without including other visitors:



    The shop is layed out for efficiency,, visitors enter at the right and work their way round to exit left.  Hand sanitation on entry and tasting plates arranged all around the central u shaped counter.  They had bits and pieces of overpriced herbs, coffee etc also for sale in here.


    We also visited a local brewery, Black Sheep.  I'm sure I took photos but no idea what happened to them.


    We enjoyed coffee and scones at the end of both visits.  




    One day I'll get a decent photo, in focus without shadows...


    Looking forward to any reports after your visits to commercial food production companies!  


    (Edited to try to get photos where they should be)

    • Like 8

  10. Every year we get a few mushrooms popping up in our garden, earlier in the year we had some small specimens that I know not to use in cooking but more recently we've had kilos of these larger specimens.  We've been rounding them up and disposing of them but I would love to know if they are edible.


    Any ideas?  



    Some garden creatures obviously love them, tops will often have bites missing.  This one looks to have perhaps already served as an 'entrée' for something.

    • Like 1

  11. I'm really enjoying this topic, Chris you are living a dream that I will never have the courage to realise.  Having spent a great deal of time with friends who spent their professional lives building up restaurants and selling them on I am well aware that I don't have the physical strength or the determination to make a career out of cooking.


    Also pleased that you finally found a cooking school, sounds like your experiences are similar to those of day release students here in England.  Day release being a working environment for 4 days each week and one at college (alternanance in France?).  Students usually detest the college day, they are obliged to do subjects unrelated to their chosen profession: basic skills and 'general studies' in particular.  Years ago when my husband was an apprentice his cohort seems to have forced more than one 'general studies' tutor into retirement, things turned around when a new staff member gave the class cameras and told them to go oiut and record their lives, they were then shown how to make photographic prints etc.  This was well received by the young apprentices who resented spending their evening at college on irrelevant material.  They were fed I understand, chips (fries) were served in carved squares of amalgamated potato and fat left over from lunch.


    Another option for you might have been to approach https://www.afpa.fr/formation-qualifiante/cuisinier. This organisation  helps adults who want to change career but are over Apprentice age.  A Photographer from the town where I lived enrolled on their horlogerie programme, spent a year at Besançon and now earns his living through his new skills.  Not sure about costs but I can't imagine fees will be anything like the Cordon Bleu or similar.


    There are also the http://www.compagnons-du-devoir.com/plus-de-22ans. Offering retraining and support for adults.


    • Like 1

  12. 37 minutes ago, Toliver said:

    Still hitting the paywall using that link.

    Here (click) is the recipe posted on KCET's web site. So, there, ATK! Nyah! :P xD

    Looks good, different to the Valrhona version.  We are (very slowly) creating a cooking/gardening etc blog, I'll post my version of the three layer mousse creation on that next time I get chance to make one and remember to take pictures... 

  13. 14 hours ago, shain said:

    3 layer chocolate mousse cake (ATK recipe). I made a few adjustments, most notable are making half a batch in a rectangular shape. Second was adding coffee and vanilla to the otherwise plain white chocolate layer, giving it a much more interesting flavor (and coffee-vanilla is one of my favorite combos to begin with). The bottom is a brownie layer, as per the recipe.

    I highly recommend this recipe.


    I should've thought of moving the cake to nicer plate before taking a picture...



    That looks really good.  Probably due to my lack of skill I couldn't get to the recipe without giving payment details to start a free trial of ATK, after numerous problems with my bank blocking my card I'm reluctant to do that.  So, I'm guessing it is similar to Valrhona's recipe?  I can't find a version in English but basically layers of dark, milk and white chocolate on a praline base.  There's a French version here:



    I have made this many times and it is always a success.  Great because very little effort required and, as you say, any number of variations are possible.  I use Valrhona's Dulcey in place of the top white chocolate layer.  This photo was a first attempt, less than perfect layers but it tasted really good.  Three of these went with my husband to the University where he works on the day prospective students got their exam results a couple of weeks ago.  Staff all attend to deal with the huge volume of telephone calls from candidates wanting places.  Those and a few macarons were intended as sustenance to keep them all going.  





    Macarons were filled with passion fruit and milk chocolate ganache.

    • Like 11

  14. A new series of Great British Bake Off began last week.  For those in the UK the first episode is available via iPlayer.  My reason for posting here rather than in the UK forum is that I recently came across an app that appears to allow one to watch real time TV from around the world via iPad and other Apple devices. Not sure if it is also available for Android.


    I installed this yesterday and with no VPN running I was able to watch French TV, usually impossible without VPN when not in France.  Numerous countries are listed.  The app is called FilmOn television.  Here is a screenshot showing part of the menu, in addition to listing countries it also shows items by theme, including cookery.



    I think some of the stuff has to be paid for but to date everything I have looked at is free.  For clarity, I have no knowledge whatever about who created this app, I simply came across it by chance and was impressed on trying it, especially as one can use AirPlay to watch the content on a normal television.


    If you have this, or VPN you might also enjoy the French 'La Meilleure boulangerie de France' that began last week on M6.  Not difficult to follow even if your language skills are limited and great for anyone interested in bread making.


    • Like 2

  15. 2 hours ago, Shelby said:

    Yes, it does.  The new/white ones taste just like sweet corn and are crisp.  I eat them raw.  The darker ones are more like a mushroom.  They more absorb other flavors that you cook them with.


    I've never grown corn and certainly never seen Smut before.  Would you mind sharing how it develops? Is it a fungal parasitic type thing?  I'm guessing it doesn't ruin the corn however it originates?  


    ETA As as I hit post I realised I should have Googled first!  Apologies...

    • Like 1

  16. On starting the day we had no plans for what we would eat tonight, our main, and often only due sedentary lifestyles, meal of the day.  Worry not, we don't starve, we eat fruit etc a volonté if hunger presents.


    Anyway, we are both working today.  I work from home so can manage bread making alongside.  As you might know I've found success with Eric Kayser's recipes and having checked with my husband that he would enjoy bread as the basis of today's dinner I was set to make either baguettes or a sandwich loaf.  Varients that I can replicate with ease.


    Checking the larder I noticed a bag of granary flour.  Looking through my notes I found that I had used this before with a Kayser Sourdough method (includes small amount dehydrated yeast).  I made the mix as always using my stand mixer.  Initially the dough seemed incredibly wet.  I had noted previously to reduce the water content next time around and as I was heavy handed I reduced it still further today.


    This is is a last minute question about the best way to complete the loaf.  I realise that with time differences etc you might not read the post until we have eaten the result but, in hope of late night or early morning readers it seemed worth a go.


    After the full 'kneading' time (4 mins slow, 6 mins max speed) a ball had formed but still much wetter than I was hoping.  I had been tempted to add perhaps another 20g T55 (white bread flour) at the end of the slow knead but didn't, thinking I would look again after 3 minutes and add then if the stuff was still smeared around the edges of the bowl.  By that time it had formed a ball hence no addition.


    The dough, still in the Kenwood bowl, is sitting for 1h30m in the proofing box.  I would begin like this for any make in a day bread.  In summer as now it probably isn't necessary to use the box because the kitchen temp is around 20c but being covered the box keeps the dough from forming a skin and free of cat tastings (they like to lick most things) or proddings.


    ingredients today are:

    333g granary flour - Allinson brand that includes wheat flour, malted wheat flakes, malted wheat flour, malted barley flour and rye flour.  First ingredient will be largest proportion per 100g, last will be lowest.  All our flours are stored in sealed containers inside original packaging save the T55 that comes in 25kg bags so decanted into large sturdy and sealed  drums.


    70g sourdough 50:50 flour/water.  Should have been 66g but hand not quick enough.

    8g salt

    2g dehydrated yeast, Allinson brand again.

    190g water


    No autolyse for this recipe, all ingredients kneaded together by Kenwood from the start.


    Next stage will be to detach the dough from the bowl onto a floured surface and shaped to go into a banneton.

    Filled Banneton will sit in proofing box for two hours.

    After 1h15m I will begin to pre-heat oven and cast iron casserole (not sure everyone calls these by the name casserole, Dutch oven is the same I think).

    at the end of 2 hours the dough will be tipped onto a sheet of baking parchment that will form a sling to transfer it to the heated pot.  Lid replaced it will bake around 20-25 mins, then lId removed for longer as needed.


    My notes indicate that on the odd occasion I have used this method there have been problems due to the wetness of the dough.  


    This photo shows an earlier attempt of the same but with 210g water and, probably, 66g sourdough 1:1starter.  Good to eat but in my view too flat and dense.  Crust fine, light and crispy.




    I know I won't get the rise I might with a sandwich loaf 'pain de mie' recipe but I would like to move in that direction.


    I could add some white T55 when I knock back to shape for the banneton, would any of you do this?


    Do you have any more tips that might improve this loaf, or others, were I to start from scratch another time?


    we both love the baguettes and sandwich loaf but it is good to try something else from time to time and we both particularly like the flavour of Allinson granary mix flour.  I do have seeds that can be soaked and added to T55 to produce a grain type loaf, supplied by the mill in France that sells the sacks of bread flour I use.  These were a gift from my friend, the intermediary who gets my flour as one is supposed to be a business to purchase from the firm.  Never used the grains because I really like the Allinson product andonly make granary bread on occasion.  Bread made with those seeds and T55 by my friend is good but not as good in my view.


    I look forward to any advice you might have.  Apologies for not asking the questions before starting the process!  Never good at forward thinking.....

    • Like 5

  17. Many thanks for all of your advice, especially to @FrogPrincesse for reminding me about The Whiskey Exchange.  We've bought from them previously but I hadn't thought of them on this occasion.  Mai Tai is a cocktail neither of us has tried, we are not knowledgeable about rum and guidance on making a Mai Tai even when experts claim to be following an original recipe, is diverse.  No doubt we will choose a starting point in due course.  Meanwhile there are lots of interesting recipes that include Orgeat on the Kindred Cocktails site.  We've enjoyed discoveries from there before so look forward to more.  A bottle of Giffard will be ordered from TWE, I love almond based concoctions so look forward to trying this.

  18. @Tere' reference to How to Spend It reminds me that Rowley Leigh's columns in the FT Saturday magazine make good food oriented reading.  They were a weekly occurrence until recently, all can be viewed without charge via the FT website.  If there was a food based magazine with writing as informed and interesting as his columns I would happily subscribe. 


    ETA How to Spend It content has its own app, free of charge and with additional material to the print version.  

    • Like 1

  19. As regular readers will be aware my knowledge of cocktails is limited, hence my questions are basic.  Orgeat is something I have never tasted but I keep coming across recipes that call for it.  I've skimmed this thread and while the creation of my own orgeat is attractive I think I need to taste a 'decent' commercial version first so that I will have some idea as to any future success with recipes.  I know that 'decent' is subjective. 


    We buy many cocktail ingredients through Amazon UK.  I know that the service is not offered in all countries but for us, living in a rural location, it is useful. We do usually check locally to see if we can source drinks from independent suppliers but more often than not we can't.   When things do show up locally they can be extremely expensive and wanting to support local traders can only go so far.  


    So, against a search for Orgeat, Amazon UK is today offering Monin Premium Almond Syrup or Giffard Orgeat Syrup.  The latter is cheaper but not when you add in delivery costs.  Finally there is Sirup Orgeat but I would be reluctant to buy that from Amazon in view of the delivery cost being greater than the product cost.


    We use other Monin syrups for different applications and while they tend to be very sweet they can be OK alongside other ingredients.  


    Amazon France has nothing more interesting on offer.


    Given the choice of those found via Amazon UK which would you buy as a cocktail ingredient.  No particular drink in mind, as I said before, it is simply something that appears quite often when I'm searching for new cocktail ideas.  


    Many thanks in advance for any advice you might offer.



  20. It is a shame the OP hasn't commented further but nevertheless this has become an interesting discussion, perhaps especially for those like me who read eGullet regularly but have never set foot in any part of the American continent.  I love reading the breakfast, lunch and dinner threads where many of the entries are made by US or Canadian residents.  Often I have no idea what the ingredients are.  I know of course that I can use Google, Wiki etc but despite some time with these and similar references I still don't understand what you are eating when you write of Kimchi, this seems a popular item in the threads but my research told me only that there is a vast range of dishes and ingredients going by that name.


    America, even if simply the USA, is such a vast space.  Is it possible that there are foods considered traditional across the land, then there is Hawaii.  


    Whether or not X dish was first served up in a Roman bath house (was going to put brothel but not certain these existed; I do know food was served at Roman bath houses, at least the one in what is now Leicester, England) is interesting but in my view it is more interesting to see what Americans have developed these dishes into over the decades.


    OK pizza might have come from Naples with Chinese originated tomatoes but as mentioned earlier the US alone has interpreted 'pizza' and embedded these interpretations, or some at least, in what foreigners like me understand to be really traditional American food.  In Europe we have an understanding of Chicago pizza as different to the pizzas we get at an 'Italian' restaurant at home.


    Despite years of reading this forum I have no idea as to whether 'Americans' - those in the US for now - really share the same basic culinary culture.  I can't imagine they do, California is so far from New York say, why would their food traditions be the same?  Is the Thanksgiving dinner really basically the same across all states?  


    Going back to pizza, I see this in breakfast, lunch and dinner threads. Why not?  It is really just cheese and vegetables with bread as might be found in different guises across the world and at different parts of the day.  Even accepting (just for now) that 'pizza' has become an American tradition, we non-Americans can't work out when in the day it might usually be eaten, whether home made or at a restaurant, whether toppings might vary, or style of crust, depending on time of day.


    Seems to me this is a hugely complex topic that one might take a lifetime to research.  As traditions evolve the project could never be considered complete.  All this without even considering traditional diets in southern American countries or in Canada.


    This is a hugely long ramble and despite leaving it to one side a while in hope I would come back inspired and concise I find only that the more I think about it, and indeed read about it, the more I realise there is still to learn.  Food traditions still vary even between towns on this half island known as England.  The other half, Scotland, is very different again.  Probably most people in both would understand the basics of a Sunday roast dinner.  Besides the meat, other elements will vary from region to region. 


    I can't define quintessential English food.  We are another nation of immigrants.  For my part I grew up in a household not Kosher but heavily influenced by Jewish cuisine and by Mediterranean cooking for another reason.  My understanding of an English everyday diet when younger was most different to that of my husband who grew up in northern England with generations of family from around the same region, give or take the odd French or Irish ancestor.


    I did note that the OP had been back to eGullet since starting this thread.  Perhaps he or she is reading but finding it difficult to join in.  I'm guessing English is not the first language of this person.  


    So, after all that, long live this thread.  If I do ever get to visit America I might have more of an idea as to the food I might discover.


    • Like 6

  21. Not sure whether to post this here or in the drinks section but as the job in question seems to concern US traditions determined to start it here.



    I came across the info this morning in the Figaro (French daily news) and note that others have been reporting it in English language sources for a few days so you may already have come across the opportunity.


    Tried to persuade my husband to go for it but he doesn't appear interested.  I guess that leaves the field open... 


    I did search eGullet but couldn't find an earlier post on the topic.

    • Like 2

  22. Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Consider-Fork-History-How-Cook/dp/0141049081/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1469791090&sr=8-1&keywords=consider+the+fork


    An account of kitchens and their equipment through the centuries taking a kind of global approach (I particularly enjoyed the section on knives that spoke of cultural differences between China and Europe, would be interested to know if it is accurate but haven't consulted further as yet). The book gets less informative as it continues, almost as if the author gave up as a deadline approached.  Worth a read though in my view unless you are already knowledgeable in the subjects.  More images would have been welcome but many items discussed can be found online.

    • Like 2

  23. I subscribed to http://www.foudepatisserie.com in print for a year, there was a huge fuss over the excellence of this publication when it first came out.  I found the photographs enticing but the few recipes I tried were no great success so I didn't renew.


    More recently various blogs have criticised the magazine for inaccurate and untested recipes.  Seems I was not alone in finding problems.  A pity, the potential was enticing but it is disappointing to invest time and money on a recipe that can't work.


    I've not seen their savoury recipe magazine, might take aloof when next in France but doubt I shall subscribe.

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