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Everything posted by DianaB

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. I have never heard of using green apples like those above, what will they become? Are they minced in the bottom picture?
  4. DianaB


    Many thanks @rotuts, I'd completely forgotten about Zinfandel, drank it often years ago before I moved to France. Over there it can be difficult (less so now) to find anything except French wine. We did once find some extremely nice, very aged Rioja in a bargain bin. It was around £1 a bottle, needless to say we bought all they had.
  5. DianaB


    Aldi has grown in popularity enormously here since the financial crises beginning 2008, their impact on the competition (mainly Waitrose, Sainsbury, Tesco and Asda, the latter Wallmart owned) has been such that each of the established chains has used advertising to promote its own 'no frills' range. The last few Christmas periods have seen hard sell from Aldi. One year they promoted a 'three bird roast' for around the price of a decent free range chicken at our local farm shop. I'll have to go and check out the labels, from memory they do not sell the brands already established, stressing rather that their own stuff is as good and better value. I don't think there is an Aldi brand as such, tins and packets carry names that may or may not be familiar to shoppers of other German supermarkets, I suspect not. Perhaps Aldi doesn't want to brand individual goods, rather a low priced shopping experience overall. I will visit and update this if I am wrong in respect of brands. I'll take a few pics if I can. Last time I attempted to take a photo in a UK supermarket (undecided over a purchase, I was going to text the pic to my husband for his advice) I was obliged to leave the store due potential terrorist activity. This is not a joke! We we buy bottom end wines and champagne from Aldi, they deliver for free and this fills a gap if visits to France have been limited and stocks are low. Any wine in the UK is more expensive than France due to the amount of tax applied. At certain times in the year Aldi will stock known wines, they sell spirits all year round but again I will need to check in respect of brands. Their £11.00 a bottle Champagne is fine. We buy Sauvignon Blanc or Merlot at around £3.80 a bottle, I like the Sauvignon particularly, would be fine I'm sure for MR. Not yet found the Latour section, you can see the wines on offer here. https://www.aldi.co.uk/wines/c/wines I'll report further after visiting the local store, provided I'm not incarcerated for espionage....
  6. DianaB


    We have Aldi in England but judging by your pictures our's tend to be much smaller. We don't shop there often but we do take advantage of their free delivery on cases of wine. On the rare occasions do visit a store we are more likely to come away with plants than groceries. We have an Olive tree (miniature of course, this is North Yorkshire) that has made it through two winters so far, from Aldi in exchange for £10 as I recall. We've also picked up bits and pieces of kitchenware, a first silicone spatula came from Aldi as I recall. I received a letter from one of my ex students some years ago, he wanted to tell me he had just been made regional Director for Aldi. In conversation later he explained that at that time staff in the stores were expected to memorise all prices, this pre-dated bar codes, also employees were expected to undertake any task required be it cleaning, checking out, shelf filling or whatever. That applied also to the store Manager. They were well paid in comparison to other supermarkets' staff More recently I came across a short film about the beginnings of Aldi in Germany. This YouTube link includes an abbreviated version (skip to 4 minutes in for the Aldi part). This is the French version, I'm sure the German will also be on YouTube. If anyone wants a translation I will happily produce it via PM. I can't find the full version anywhere. I do recall that everything is dictated to store staff to promote efficiency, including exactly how the Manager must arrange his desk - stapler Xcm from front right edge etc. The founding brothers shunned publicity, at least one has died since the programme was made. I found a photo of them but as they seemed to do all they could to maintain privacy it seems wrong to paste it here. Aldi has been a huge success in England in the past few years. Since the financial crisis of 2008 they have upped their advertising and taken a large part of a market once the domain of a very small number of competitors. They are present in France too but I'm not sure their growth their has been so notable.
  7. Absolutely beautiful kitchen @Tere, I would be jealous if I hadn't grown up in vast houses that were impossible to heat. Perhaps not the case with modern heating systems. We are also fans of Miele kitchen machines. @rotuts you need to visit us, the Wensleydale dairy is just a short drive away and they take full advantage of the Wallace and Gromit link! You can take a factory tour and then stock up at their farm shop. Great ice-cream place just down the road for afterwards, all milk from their small Jersey cows that you can also visit, really beautiful animals. Wensleydale nearly went out of production just before the Wallace a fled Gromit films took off. Bought out fortunately and it has thrived since.
  8. @kriz6912 The second link does work for me, most impressed by all the pictures. I meant to say before that I thought the White chocolate feathers were superb. I appreciate white chocolate is not the easiest to work with. Will PM re the recipes.
  9. @kriz6912 is your fruit mousse based on a Christophe Felder recipe? It looks similar to one I've been tempted to try but not yet attempted due too many problems with other recipes of his that I have attempted. Also, is the recipe for your previous dessert available? It looks stunning. Perhaps beyond my competence but would love to have a go. Really enjoying your photos.
  10. For those interested in other country's versions of Bake Off the Wikipedia entry lists them all with their various titles. I seem to recall the Irish version had some YouTube presence, perhaps of interest to those looking to see how the programme works in other English speaking countries. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_British_Bake_Off#International_broadcast_and_versions I was hugely disappointed in the UK Creme de la Creme, both programme and the lack of any linked recipes. There is a book that no doubt explains the lack of supporting free to read recipes, plus the BBC decision to wind down its recipe resource.
  11. I don't speak Italian but I enjoyed the bits of their version of Bake Off that I found on YouTube nonetheless. Sounds like you have a basic understanding (at least) of French, I would think that plus your knowledge of baking would allow you to enjoy these programmes even if you don't get every word. Because the shows are longer recipes tend to be more detailed anyway. The alternative (France 2) series for professional pastry chefs is, in my view, worth watching purely because it showcases some of the best pastry and chocolate making in France. Candidates get sent to various experts for a couple of days to learn a specific skill that they then have to put into practice at a professional level. Judges, from memory, were Christophe Michelak (World champion Pâtissier 200?), Christophe Adam (l'éclair de génie) and Pierre Marcolini, chocolatier. When I last looked all the France 2 episodes were on YouTube together with the most recent Meilleur Pâtissier full episodes. Hope you enjoy! If you want any advice on the recipes perhaps PM me and I'll send you a translation.
  12. @kriz6912 can't get the video to play from your link, result looks beautifully nonetheless.
  13. Exactlly that I guess, Victorinox: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Victorinox-Fruit-Vegetable-Knife-5-0833/dp/B000SA6DAI/ref=sr_1_1?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1468188209&sr=1-1&keywords=serrated+knife Perhaps no great thing for an experienced cook, I'd not tried to cut supremes before but the technique was often used on the show mentioned above. M. Michelak repeatedly stressed the advantage of a serrated knife so I followed the advice and was delighted with the result. No doubt supremes can be cut with other types of knife if you know what you are doing. Another tip from the same show that I haven't tried but would be interested to hear your views on concerns preparation of chocolate. Rather than following the usual tempering process Michelak has candidates melt what is clearly Valrhona chocolate at a very low heat using an induction hob. He stops the heating process once around ⅔ of the chocolate is melted, candidates are to keep stirring until the rest is melted off the heat. They then use the results as one would for traditionally tempered chocolate. The idea is to melt the lot without taking the mass above 30c. Does anyone think this might work? The candidates in the show have only 30 minutes to recreate the dish they have seen demonstrated, probably not enough time to temper chocolate is a more traditional way. The French show has just been cancelled but all the Master Classes are on YouTube if anyone is interested. I believe there was a Canadian version but not sure how long it ran.
  14. Technique remembered and put into practice: Use of a small serrated knife to prepare supremes of lime, lemon, yuzu or any other citrus with segments. There has been a daily cooking show, Dans le Peau d'un Chef for a couple of years now on the French channel France 2. Candidates get a 'Master Class' then replicate the recipe they have been shown. Christophe Michelak, Pastry Chef, is the host and at least twice a week the Master Class will be some kind of dessert. Often candidates will be required to produce supremes from a citrus fruit. The technique shown involves use of a small serrated knife to remove pith and zest but leaving the fruit as intact as possible. They then cut supremes from the remaining fruit. We purchased such a knife a few days ago and, success first time! Great little supremes of lime that went very nicely in a gin and tonic. Certainly something I wouldn't have tried had I not seen it demonstrated on said show. Glad to have discovered a new to me technique.
  15. Sorry, I should have given the French title, search for: Meilleur Pâtissier. There are full episodes via the M6 website (French commercial channel) but you may need to use a VPN to watch them. On YouTube just now I found full episodes of the 'celebrity' version broadcast a few weeks ago. All versions follow the same format as the UK show, same music, opening graphics etc. Because the programmes are so much longer they can go into more detail in respect of recipes and history of the various products made. The follow on show is called A Vos Fourneaux, again there are some full episodes on YouTube. If if you are really interested in French cuisine search YouTube for Qui Sera le Prochain Grand Pâtissier, there are full episodes, this was a series for professional pastry chefs that ran, I think, for 3 years. I understand it has now been cancelled, a great shame because it was superb (in my view at least) with the best of French pâtissiers coaching the young candidates.
  16. There is also a French version of this programme, episodes on YouTube or via the M6 site if you have a VPN. This version is much longer and more educative, the judges offer their own interpretations of the tasks in a follow up show broadcast straight after the competition. The episodes are 2 to 2.5 hours each, the follow on another hour or so. Someone in this thread asked about Mary Berry. She has worked in the food industry for decades as a stylist for food journalists and demonstrator for kitchen equipment in the 1950s before becoming a TV cook in, I think, the 70s (need to check). She was highly regarded in Britain long before Bake Off. The French follow the same format; female judge of mature age (but without Mary Berry's pedigree) and younger male judge, a fantastic pastry chef. The show is far less personal in its criticisms of the candidates than the UK version, the cynicism of the U.K. show has not crossed the border. There is also an Italian version but my understanding of Italian is too limited to pick up the nuances to compare ithis with either the British or the French variations. I enjoy both the British and French versions of the competition but more so the French simply because there is much more information included to assist those of us interested in improving our own baking. Also because the presentation appears more neutral with regards portrayal of the candidates.
  17. Hi @gfweb, if these items are the reflectors my husband identified they do not require any power, so no bulbs, fuses or contacts. The system simply works on the reflective capacity of the glass dome. In the UK at least this system has been in use for decades to mark the centre of a road, the glass domes reflect via a vehicles headlights so that the driver can ensure he or she stays on the right side of the road at night. We call them cat's eyes. Kerry's examples are smaller, probably from a road sign similar to those you will find via the first link in my earlier post. Apologies if my attempted explanation wasn't clear. Will stop here for fear of taking the thread too far off topic!
  18. Fascinated by these items, I was sure I had seen similar before but no memory of where or when so I copied your photo to my husband, a Instrumentation Engineer lecturing at our local University. Within minutes he responded that he had discussed the photo with a colleague, they agreed that these are parts of reflective road signs from days past. This link gives a history of said objects: http://www.roadtrafficsigns.com/a-history-of-the-cataphote-reflector There are various designs but none need a power source. Here are some others on sale on eBay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/12-VINTAGE-AUTHENTIC-CLEAR-GLASS-SIGN-REFLECTORS-SIGNAL-5-RAILROAD-CATS-EYES-/322174903717 Ron advises that to test the theory place your objects in a dark space and shine a torch at them to see if they do reflect. I now remember a bloke coming to our school in the 1960s to give a presentation on road signs etc, he claimed to have invented the 'Cat's Eye' units used to mark the centre of a two way road by way of reflection with no need of any power source. I also seem to recall that when I recounted this to my husband years ago he told me that our school visitor couldn't have invented the device as he claimed, I can't remember why.
  19. Sorry can't help with the mystery items but love the web at the top of your photo, Is the owner in the middle? Can't quite make out the detail with my iPad
  20. Welcome to eGullet Chris. Very much look forward to hearing more about your cooking experiences. Edited to add really enjoying your blog.
  21. Intersting topic Rotuts and all, we considered similar options some five years ago when we gutted the kitchen and completely refitted, we were of course on a budget but decided to focus funds on appliances rather than swish looking cupboards. Initially we thought of an induction hob and electric oven, in fact we ordered said hob, only to change our minds and return it unopened. Most of our cookware is cast iron, Le Creuset and similar. My husband decided that moving these pots around on the hob surface might quickly result in damage. We have no natural gas in the village but after living with the (ancient, admittedly) electric hob here when we moved in there was no way we were going to install a traditional style electric hob. We went for propane fired gas. This is a real step up from what we had but I remain convinced (my husband doesn't) that propane burners are less powerful than the mains gas stove (ancient) we had at our previous house or the bottom of the range mains gas hob I had in my French house. Most at of our appliances are Miele or Liebherr and we have been delighted with each, yet to need to call on the 10 year guarantees these items carry. My husband is an individual who will research extensively before buying anything of significance, in the end he selected a Neff electric oven for us, installed below the hob these appliances give the idea of one unit despite being separate. This solution has worked well for us, of course everyone's needs are different and I sense that @rotuts is better experienced as a cook than either of us. Nevertheless I would recommend looking at Neff products if they are available in your area. For me the Neff is certainly the best oven I have used. In France these days I stay with friends, mentioned here before, who have taught me loads about cooking. They spent their professional lives starting up a series of successful restaurants, selling and starting again. For their retirement kitchen (retired means continuing to cater for events in their case) they opted for an expensive Godin range. I can't find an image of their model but it has gas burners and a griddle on top and one large electric oven below. It looks very nice but despite a price around €7,000 the oven is the worst I have ever used. Just goes to show I guess that the price isn't necessarily an indicator of quality. Parts are also expensive. It was with these friends that I first started experimenting with macaron making. We attended a course together, back home I was able to replicate good results while Jacques, by far the better cook, failed repeatedly. On my next visit we went through the method exactly as I had done in England. Sure enough batch after batch failed. We found eventually that the oven temperature can't be anything like stabilised, that the oven door doesn't seal properly and that parts of the vast oven cavity get much hotter than others. For the price I would have anticipated better. To conclude, I'm sure you will be researching the options carefully @rotuts and wish you well in finding appliances right for you. I set out to respond with the intention simply of saying perhaps don't rule out unrelated pieces rather than a device with both hob and oven combined.
  22. You two, and others contributing to your thread, have given me a great start to Monday. No chance to follow your exploits over the weekend so I've enjoyed the last four 'pages' in one sitting. Anna, those sticks you mention for sealing bags of frozen foods, do you find them really useful? They were the hit of the Paris home expo either this year or last. They appeared really easy to use and certainly not expensive but I tend not to trust anything the professional demonstrators push at these shows, knowing that they will have been well schooled to make their products appear indispensable. Your post is the first time I've seen them other than at the show. Those chocolates from NY look incredible, hope they tasted every bit as good as they appear. Kerry, really hope Rug Rat's things arrive soon, I guess she also looks forward to these trips? Great shame if her holiday is spoiled through discomfort. Here and in France such diapers are stocked in pharmacies because they are prescribed for either premature babies (too small for store bought items) and for older children and adults whose medical condition means they need them. As such they are free for those groups of users. Guessing this isn't the case in Canada? It's a pity that we get so little information here in Europe about Canada, the way it is governed, it's welfare systems, culinary trends etc. We do get regular news items about the USA. Odd since Canada is considered a part if the commonwealth. We don't even get many Canadian TV shows despite vast amounts of stuff from the US. It has only been through reading your travel diaries here that I came across Poutine. I think if I went round my home village this morning I would struggle to find anyone able to describe this dish. Your Chicken Maryland looks like a great meal. The dish with that name on sale in England in no way resembles what you had on your plates. In my experience the English (can't speak for other parts of Britain) consider Chicken Maryland one of the few non-Chinese menu items in any so called Chinese take away. It will typically comprise breaded chicken breast off the bone and deep fried, resulting meat being the driest you can imagine. This is served with British style Chinese take out chips (difficult to guess how these are cooked, they seem to form a loose mass of fried potato unique, in my experience, to this type of establishment, extremely greasy); you also get a bottom of the range sausage, some green sludge that might once have been peas and a slice of pineapple battered and deep fried. Nearly forgot the rasher of overcooked bacon. Decades ago when we were (almost) penniless students my now husband and I would walk the five of so miles to the nearest Chinese take away, buy one portion of this menu item, find somewhere to sit near to the sea (seaside town) and share the portion, eating with our fingers. A huge treat at the time. I can remember wondering if we would ever be able to go into a restaurant and enjoy something like steak and chips at a table with cutlery! It seemed an impossible aspiration in those days. So, while your Chicken Maryland is in no way similar, that particular post brought back long buried but happy memories of a time when life was simple, if basic. Off to Google now so that I can see exactly where your island is situated. The views from your place look beautiful, hope those blue skies continue throughout your stay. Really looking forward to next instalments. I'm sure these visits you both make would be a great subject for a documentary film, not just the cooking and baking, it could include Kerry's role that takes you to the island, your shopping trips, people you meet etc.
  23. I did have a look at this site and conversion tool but, apologies for being negative, I can't quite see what it is aiming to achieve. The heading 'Makes you think you can bake' is not really encouraging, is this perhaps a language issue and the text would seem less insulting to English speakers other than in England? I know I can bake, I might seek help to improve what I do or to find something new. The conversion chart, direct from your link, misses many ingredients I often use. There are numerous quick and easy weight and measure converters already available, similarly web sites that will calculate nutritional info for your recipe. I guess I need to know more about what you are trying to achieve before I can be constructive with advice. Apologies again if this seems overly critical, I wish you luck with your project.
  24. Sorry about your watches Kerry, lovely though that you still use your 16th birthday present and hope the strap can be fixed soon. Your account of shopping reminded me of the supermarket local to our home here when we first moved in some 25 years ago,. Those were the days before self serve checkouts when the shop employed young people to "assist" with packing once goods were placed on the conveyer after scanning. One such youth was Stuart. We knew his name because he wore a badge to inform us. At that time we used to buy packs of ready to eat popadoms contained in a fairly rigid plastic container so that, with luck and without the assistance of Stuart, one might arrive home with most of the 6 or 8 (can't remember) intact. If Stuart was the packer he would cram this product into the bottom of a bag, pushing heavier items on top to ensure 'bite sized' pieces instead of the desired discs. We soon learned to avoid any checkout where this lad was working. In compensation we did once follow Patrick Stuart (aka Star Trek's Jean Luc Picard) through the checkout, he has a holiday place nearby. My secretary, a huge fan at that time, was incredibly upset that we hadn't approached him for autographs. The shop is long gone, bulldozed for a much larger store of a different ensign but I do wonder from time to time whatever happened to Stuart, no doubt married with children long since. Hope he handled them with a little more care. Have really enjoyed these first reports, handy to have a hospital nearby when there is no ice for your cocktail, do you think our own might dispense a few cubes if we run out one evening? :-)
  25. Another really looking forward to this adventure.
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