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Everything posted by gsquared

  1. gsquared

    Espresso Machines

    I have a Saeco Good pressure - 15bar. It produces a great shot, given great beans. Inferior machine + good beans = grim coffee Good machine + inferior beans = grim coffee
  2. When visiting the U.S.A., we were often bemused by being served water the moment we sat down at a table. It seemed to be the 30th amendment to the constitution - that every American shall have the inalienable right to be served a glass of water! (the 28th being that every American shall have the right to an unlimited amount of ice and the 29th that every American shall have the right to immediate access to a telephone - I remember several hotel rooms with two in the bedroom, one next to the bath and one next to the loo - the mind boggles! Talking to a loved one whilst voiding the bowels!......) We often speculated on the origins of this custom - Teacher - "Now, children, here we have a surviving snippet of video from the 21st century. Note the family sitting down for a meal. Here comes the ritual of serving and sipping of water. Why sipping, X932?" X932 - " If they were thirsty, they would drink, not sip, teaching person." Teacher - "Correct! Anthropologists are still divided over the meaning of this ritual. Some feel that it was a symbolic cleansing ceremony, others that it was a homage to the pecuniary gods. Be that as it may, here follows a truly interesting scene - they are about to be served their food......"
  3. I guess the Tonys may not be something "normally on TV" ?
  4. Johannesburg - definitely wine with every meal, even breakfast. What's with this water with a meal business? I drink a lot of water, but actually with food when I can have wine? Goodness no! Fizzy soft drinks? Heaven forbid! I have to confess, though, that I have now, statistically speaking, only 10950 meals left, so I need to go flat out to enjoy each and every damn one of them as much as I can.
  5. I find it inconceivable that anything normally on TV can possibly be sufficiently riveting to warrant actually eating a meal in front of it. If that is the norm in any country, it has to speak to the cultural inadequacy and/or deplorable lack of human intercourse in that country. In fact, doing anything in front of the TV - drinking, talking, playing, thinking, writing, cooking, loving, fighting - is just, well, so uncultivated m'dear.
  6. gsquared


    I am not sure that you would not cook out a lot of the aromatics in the process as well. Would the end result still be recognisably Pernod?
  7. Looks great, s'kaqt! Anything else of note, other than overbaking?
  8. gsquared


    I have to confess that I cannot see what the pernod foam would add to the dish, other than an element of novelty. Served as an amuse before the fish dish, maybe, but as an adjunct to the saffron sauce?
  9. gsquared


    Your problem is that gelatin is not soluble in alcohol, so you would need to be sure to add sufficient water to hold the gelatin. This will probably mean that the ratio of pernod/water would result in a rather anaemic pernod flavour......
  10. Elyse - I do think sticking to bread flour made a difference. The cake flour produced finer crumbs. I did produce a second loaf, slashed from end to end, but it looked, well, strange! I made four shlashes from end to end. Jackal10 - I did decide that next time around a. I am going to prove shorter b. In the hope of a better oven spring, I am going to shape smaller diameter loaves. Oven was at 250C - maybe I should have baked for a little longer. Will see next time. I am still not happy, taste-wise, with the salt quantity. I am sure I need more salt, but have been worried about killing off the yeast. Is the salt quantity finely balanced or can one be fairly generous?
  11. The results of my latest attempt. Changes: 1. No additional ascorbic acid - you were right, Mamster, the instant yeast already contains sufficient. 2. Dough slightly less wet. 3. One proving, then retarded overnight. 4. Thried Elyse's method of forming the loaves - it actually makes a lot more sense once you start doing it. 5. Oven temp upped to 250C I am much happier with this than any previous attempt. Not satisfied, just happier. There is still work to be done, but at least this is sufficiently closer to allow for optimism. Thanks everybody.
  12. Just bread flour this time around. I'll try the folding, pressing bit tomorrow & let you know how it goes.
  13. Ok, the dough is retarding (being retarded? in retardation?) in the fridge. Report back tomorrow. Elyse, I am not so sure about your description of forming the loaves. I have read similar descriptions elsewhere, and I have to confess to still being puzzled. Is the vital part in all this to end with a loaf with surface tension?
  14. Thanks everybody. I'll take all the replies on board, contemplate my navel and try again. Tomorrow. I'll post the results. Mamster - I am measuring by volume. Elyse - I am using an instant read digital therm. witn a really thin probe.
  15. Ok - here's one of my many attempts from my notes. Prepare a sponge with 20g instant yeast, half a cup of bread flour and lukewarm water. (1 hour) Add 1 and a half cup bread flour, 2 cups cake flour, 2 teaspoons salt, one tablespoon corn syrup, a large pich of ascorbic acid. (got the last from Shirley Corriher's book) Place in mixer with dough hook, and start adding lukewarm water with machine going. Knead and keep adding water until the desired degree of wetness is reached. Knead for 5 minutes on medium speed. Turn out into a lightly greased bowl, form into a ball, cover with clingfilm and place in the oven with the oven light switched on. (this gives me a proving temperature of 30C). When doubled in size, punch down, turn inside out, reform and prove again. When doubled in size again, form into long loaves and place on a floured linen cloth folded to form a long pocket for each loaf. Loaves about 1 and 1/2 inch in diameter. Cover with cling film and prove again. During the last prove, pre-heat baking tile to 230C at the bottom of the over above an oven pan. Reduce the oven temp. to 180C, pour boiling water into the pan, and mist the oven. Slash. Slide the loaves onto the baking tile, increase the temp. to 200C. Bake until the interior temp of the loaves is 93C, misting every 10 minutes or so. The ambient temperature at the time was 23C and the humidity 5%. The oven is accurate to within 1C. (AEG) The result - 1. Flatter than I wanted. 2. Good crust, but lost the crust when cooled. 3. Crumb texture no good at all - even texture, but coarse. 4. Crust/crumb ratio - not enough crust. 5. Appearance - nicely brown, but somehow unexiting. Pic of dough after kneading: Pic of product Pic of interior
  16. Tkx. Going through my (voluminous) notes on previous attempts, I see that I have consistently allowed two rises - overproving? I also certainly have not made the dough as wet as for ciabatta. Mmmmm.......Perhaps this weekend. Mamster, I may not (yet) be able to produce a perfect baguette, but I am a demon slasher! I use my filleting knife (8 inches), make sure it is honed to a fine edge, spray it with non-stick spray, and then draw it lightly and fairly quickly over the surface of the dough using only the weight of the knife - no downward pressure.
  17. Jason had his Golden Fleece, Bush has Osama Bin Laden, Pete Sampras the French Open. That almost unattainable goal, that holy grail. Mine has always been the baking of the perfect baguette – golden brown, crunchy on the outside........ The baguette in its most sublime form is more than just a delight in itself, it is a symbol of living at its most civilized, a reminder of what really good food should be. Open a bottle of wine, add cheese, olives, butter and bread and you have a meal. Open a bottle of wine, add cheese, olives, butter and a baguette and you have a feast. Fond memories of sitting on the banks of the Seine with a bottle of Burgundy, a chunk of cheese, a baguette and thee…. Problem: The closest bakery that purveys the real stuff is simply too far from home for it to supply my daily fix. Solution: Bake my own. Ha! I first started trying just before the millennium (good skill to have in the post-Y2K collapse of civilization) and the years since then are littered with memories of abject failures and so-so successes. "I am about to finally give up", he said, hanging his head in despair. Unless a kind soul out there can provide succour........
  18. I agree with Suzanne - books serve as a source of inspiration, ideas and to get the juices flowing. Pellaprat - Modern French Culinary Art Shirley Corriher - Cookwise Harold McGee - On Food and Cooking Larrousse Leith's Cooking Bible
  19. I now, officially and formally, announce that I am giving up on ever having a herb garden. Everything seems to grow with gay abandon in my garden, except herbs. Throw a dry twig into the garden, and a lush bush will spring up. Carefully and lovingly plant some herbs and the damn things forthwith wilt and die. I have been told that the garden is too shady, too this or too that. I think that it is cursed. My garden: Mint busily expiring:
  20. My problem with Ms. Planck's article is that she is so single-mindedly bent on clobbering soy and soy products. It is not difficult to set up a straw man and then proceed to destroy it using studies carefully (or negligently?) culled from the plethora available to support the predisposition. I have no problem with the publication of the piece - at best it is a good example of "tabloid" journalism and at least it stimulated an interesting discussion. But take it seriously? Not on your nelly. I am not a nutritionist, nor a biochemist, but a few quick googles (maybe I google better than you, Fat man ) quickly produced the following. In fact, phytic acid is present in a wide variety of plant foods such as wheat bran, whole grains, and legumes. Phytates have been associated with reduced iron absorbtion, but mainly when taken as a supplement. There are studies that indicate that phytic acid may inhibit colonic cancer, as well as contribute to lowering of cholesterol. So - no clear cut case that the phytic acid in soy is a clear cut villain. Sure - trypsin inhibitors are also present in potatoes, beans, sweet corn and some cereals. I know this is an aside, but still...... At this point I had sufficient to support my initial impression that the baby lies outside, with the bath water......
  21. Keeping cornflour and icing sugar in identical containers and gaily sifting cornflour over my oh so beautiful chocolate crepes........
  22. gsquared

    scotch whiskey

    There are three main categories of Scotch whisky; malt whisky, grain whisky and blended whisky. Blended whisky is a blended from around 2/3 grain whisky and 1/3 malt whiskys from different distilleries. Grain whisky is made from a blend of various cereals whereas malt whisky is produced from 100% malted barly. A single malt whisky is the malt whisky of a single distillery. My favourite breakfast cereal - oats with a splodge of cream, a drizzle of honey and a dram of single malt. Or for dessert - blend cream, honey, toasted oats and layer into glasses with raspberries. Top with a swirl of cream, a sprig of mint........ Or prepare some Atholl Brose for new year's - soak 1 cup of oatmeal (not instant) in 2 cups of cold water. Strain and press out all liguid. Add 4 tbs honey and 3 cups single malt. Bottle and shake well before pouring.
  23. Best way to get started is to start - simply dive in and you are sure to discover what appeals to you and what does not. Perhaps you could consider buying 6 bottles of a cultivar at a time and work your way through them.
  24. The wife and I always share a bottle of wine at dinner, usually a local red - temperatures are plummeting (20C daytime,down to 14C at night), so dinner is normally inside and we tend to heartier fare for dinner. Lunch is generally alfresco, with a single glass of wine, or two, followed by a post-prandial laze under the big thorn tree on the deck- sometimes we talk, sometimes we read, sometimes we just sit.....
  25. I have posted this elsewhere, but cannot resist repeating it. I drink it when I'm happy and when I'm sad. Sometimes I drink it when I am alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I'm not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it, unless I'm thirsty. Madame Lily Bollinger on her product
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