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About JohnT

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    Cape Town, South Africa

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  1. Anna, you appear to have the same problem as your previous batch of cookies you made that flattened out on you! I would be beating myself over the head with a frying pan if this happened to me a few times. Tell me, what brand of butter are you using? I ask this as in our part of the world there is a butter shortage. Our butter is the same as standard French butter - comes in a 500g brick and is hard out of the fridge. The other day I found a new batch at my supplier and bought a few bricks as it was in a different packaging - one I had not seen before. Fortunately I read the fine print when I arrived home and found that although it was packaged as "butter", it was actually a mixture of vegetable oil and butter "to increase the spreadability", as the fine print said. Totally useless for baking! I was wondering if your butter may not be pure and is softened somehow with an addition of vegetable oil or something else to make it run as soon as it is subject to heat. I returned mine to the supplier.
  2. Okay, I found my study notes and the method using ground almonds is quite complicated and appears outdated. However, I found in "Nell Heaton's Cooking Dictionary", which contains no publishing date or copyright but has my mothers note that she was given the book in what appears to be 1948, the following two recipes for "Blancmange":
  3. Well, I was always taught that it was a sweet almond gelatinised dessert, made with ground almonds/almond milk and gelatine! I will have to go through my old books and study notes to see if my memory is buggered or still reasonably okay! But then, the modern instant pudding manufactures will surely have come up with a modern version made without gelatine and using cornstarch or some other powder to thicken a mixture.
  4. Oxtail Soup

    Anna, you are most probably correct - or I hope you are. The confusing part is that an oxtail has around 12 "vertebrae" and a tail does weigh around 1.25 to 1.5 lb. The ad should then read 15lb oxtail in 12 portioned packs each weighing 1.25 to 1.5 lb. As the ad stands, it is quite confusing to me. Anyway, I hope that whoever purchases some of those packs trims off the excess fat before cooking it up - the photo does show you would be buying a lot of very expensive fat! But that is something different - I still love oxtail in both a soup or slow-cooked form, but find it way too expensive.
  5. Oxtail Soup

    @lindag I think you (or I) have misread the quantity! The ad says 1.25 to 1.5 pound (note the "point") and not 15 pounds. This, from what I gather, is $200.00 for one (1) tail. At that price I doubt they sell many of them! Here in my city and at my butcher they are also bloody expensive at around Rand 200.00 + per tail, which equates to about $15 + for a tail and is definitely way more expensive than a prime beef fillet. The days of purchasing a tail, for me at least, are way in the past. However, the other day I purchased two lamb shanks at a cost of around $13 and had a magnificent meal with left-overs for sandwiches the next day. I equate lamb shanks to oxtail in flavour and tenderness when properly cooked - both have that high intense flavour and aroma!
  6. The Perfect Burger

    Bong! Bump . . . . Cheese Burgers or Cheeseburgers Okay, here is the truth. I am a great cheese lover of real cheese - but do not like it melted on a burger! I have had a few "cheeseburgers" and always found the cheese like a slab of plastic melted on a good quality beef patty (other than those produced by the fast food outlets - the quality beef part that is). What is the point? I recently read a write-up by some fella named Chris Thompson who proclaimed that chefs (burger flippers) are doing their assembly all wrong! The article is here. Other than his method of assembly, the "cheese" square used in South Africa (and on two occasions in the US) appears to be a "processed cheese", in other words a slab of cheese looking, and flavoured, plastic! So my question is not really about the above article, but what cheese do you eG folk use when making a cheeseburger? Grated cheddar or Gouda? Swiss? Blue? Other? Any other comment would also be appreciated as I want to bang out a couple of cheese burgers in the next day or two and do some experimenting to see if I can come up with something half- decent and edible!
  7. The Bread Topic (2016-)

    @David RossThat is a fine looking crumb structure for a Ciabatta. Your hydration is very high and, together with the long rising time, you really are making a Ciabatta! Great loaf!
  8. Help with savory palmiers

    @Anna N It sounds like your thermostat is faulty from your note above. Realistically, your temperature should be a lot more even using the oven in convection or fan mode.
  9. Help with savory palmiers

    I would set the oven to 450°F and let it come properly to that temperature for 10 minutes. Then quickly place your palmiers in the chamber and turn your thermostat down to 425°. This should ensure that the heat loss from opening the oven door is not too great. Also, use the fan and ensure the vent is open if your oven has an adjustable vent. Teo is correct when saying the pastry appears undercooked in your photograph.
  10. Beef Bacon- has anyone made this?

    "Macon" is the Halaal equivalent of bacon in South Africa, made usually out of beef but sometimes out of mutton. I have no idea how it is made other than it is a cured meat. A lot of restaurants and pizza places serve it instead of bacon and the portions I have been served for breakfast in restaurants here, tastes very similar to bacon. It is available in the Halaal section in all supermarkets in pre-packed slices or in the Halaal section of delli's, where they will slice it for you in the thickness required. How they cure it, I have no idea, but try Google and see if anything pops up.
  11. The Bread Topic (2016-)

    I just went through the recipe you linked to and the hydration is pretty spot-on. Just two questions - did you use a high gluten flour and did you knead for long enough? Those are the only two factors that could, in my mind, influence the crumb structure. It just appears the gluten did not develope fully to keep the crumb together to your expectations.
  12. The Bread Topic (2016-)

    Na! Nothing wrong with that loaf! It would be termed "a rustic artisan loaf" in a pro bakery. Did you add some diastatic malt to that scrumptious looking boule? It looks a bit "camarlised", as modern bakers would say. I visualise some nice biltong pâté with a slice of that, on a nice summer evening - of course, washed down with your favourite wine. Ah roll on summer! We are expecting snow on our mountains tomorrow, so a wedge of that with a nice hot vegetable and beef soup will be just the way to go here.
  13. Your breakfast looks quite appetising! I thought your aircon was repaired last time you were on the island!
  14. @David Ross did you know George Bagley, executive vice president of operations for Alaska Airlines (and Horizon)? He retired at the beginning of 2006.
  15. My best airline food was on a flight from Papeete to Sydney on Air Tahiti Nui. This was quite a few years back, but it was superb for "cattle class". My best meals sponsored by an airline was British Airways when the entire airline came to a halt due to a catering strike. I had just flown into London from Atlanta with no food on the plane and then was stuck in Heathrow, together with a few hundred thousand passengers from around the world. I and my delivery crew were each given a £10 food voucher by the BA enquiry desk. I looked at it and told the woman behind the desk that you could not even get a plate of fries for £10 in the airport restaurants, never mind a burger! She looked at me and my bleary eyed crew, asked where we had arrived from and when told, gave us a whole book of 50 £10 vouches and told us to enjoy ourselves. We did and nearly missed being allocated a hotel for the next week whilst the strike continued! My worst airline meal was on our national carrier, SAA, on a flight from JFK to Johannesburg. Only after takeoff were the passengers informed that there was no food or drinks other than water for the flight, due to a catering strike, but that the airline crew had managed to obtaine tins of tuna and packets of biscuits for "snacks". It is around a 14 hour flight! There was just one problem. Due to US Homeland Security restrictions, no metal "sharps" were allowed on the aircraft and thus there was no means of opening the few hundred tuna cans! That was my last flight supporting our national carrier.