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Miss J

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  1. I believe you can also brown the meat with a blowtorch should you feel that way inclined.

    You have no idea how tempted I am to get a blow torch just for this purpose. Performance art and Sunday lunch, all in one glorious package. (I think the pinny-and-welder's-mask look is a winner.) :laugh:

    On the 507-rib cow - I had an image pop into my mind of something that looked a bit like a bovine centipede. Spooky. But if it can feed an entire city block... :wink:

  2. Heh - fortunately, that's turned out to be one of those unwritten rules in our flat. Mr J ALWAYS carves. And now that my parents have sent over a nice carving set, he can do it in style, too.

    So rib of beef is looking like a strong contender. Anything I ought to know about cooking it? Time per 500g (oh okay, per pound if you're that way inclined - I can convert), minimum amount per person, favourite suppliers?

    (This is great. It's like having a live edition of Larousse. :wink: )

  3. Folks, I'm looking for a bit of guidance from your educated selves. I'm whipping up a nice trad roast beef lunch for six (with all the usual trimmings), but it's been so long since I roasted beef I'm not sure what cut I want. :unsure:

    I am going to order in advance from a good butcher (also yet to be decided), so most cuts can probably be accommodated as long as I can describe what I want clearly enough.

    Thoughts? Suggestions?

  4. This was a revelation.  All from Fuchsia Dunlop's Sichuan Cookery which I've been reading on and off for a couple of months.

    Yay - another Fuchsia convert. And you've been to Wing Yip, too - I love that place. The fish counter rocks out. :biggrin:

    I had a rather less successful night of cooking, sadly. I made a smooth carrot and coriander soup (celery, bit of apple, carrots, leeks, chicken stock, roasted ground coriander, fresh coriander leaves) that wasn't anywhere near carrot-y enough. I needed to use more carrots and less other veg. Overall, it was a little boring.

    However, the tomato-topped crostini with the posh EVOO was gorgeous, again. :wub:

  5. P.S. The boiled beef in a fiery sauce looks deadly from the picture. Is it really edible ?

    Don't know yet - I still haven't had both the ingredients AND the chilli-hating boyfriend out of the flat at the same time so I could find out. I dream of it, though. :wub:

  6. Friday: Fish-fragrant beancurd with boiled rice, Western-style leaf salad with sesame-citrus dressing. Lychees. Some late-evening dark chocolate during a long car journey.

    Weekend: away from home, so I mainly washed dishes and attempted to be helpful.

    Sunday night snack: wholegrain crostini rubbed with garlic, topped with chopped cherry tomatoes and finished with Malden sea salt and a drizzle of a gorgeous, fruity olive oil from Borough Market. It was so nice (even with sad little winter cherry tomatoes) I decided I'm going to make it again alongside some soup tonight.

  7. For me it's wonton, though I'm fated to be disappointed. My aunt and uncle once hosted an exchange student from Hong Kong who made wonderful wontons in soup - very gingery filling, paper-thin wrappers that went all silky when cooked, light and fragrant broth with spring onions. My attempt to recreate this was okay, but badly let down by my bought wonton wrappers. :sad:

    I also like hot and sour (Sichuan style).

    Both of these treat soup as a specific dish, though. I have not yet experienced soup as a component of a "proper" Chinese meal, and have wondered if my favourites would alter dramatically if I did. Would I prefer "beancurd" chicken soup instead? Or maybe something light and gently sour, like soup with preserved vegetable?

  8. Rick, try the Strange Flavour Chicken recipe (otherwise known as Bang Bang Chicken). It's a good intro, as it uses roasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns, which I've found are less pungent than raw ground ones. (That said, there's another cold dressed chicken dish that calls for raw peppercorns, so if you really want to go the whole hog it might be a good option.)

    I also like the amarenth with chilies and Sichuan peppercorn, and the ma po do fu - but obviously both of those call for facing heaven chilies. (I'm running low on them as well, and was also asking after them at Borough a couple of weeks ago.)

    Whatever you do, don't make the mistake I did of following a Western preparation from A New Way To Cook that called for making a crust of Sichuan peppercorns for pan-fried salmon. Obviously the author wasn't thinking of the "active" type of peppercorn, and I didn't make the connection either. The resulting fillets made my mouth numb for the better part of half an hour. :laugh:

  9. I had an incredible rice pudding at Rasa, a Keralan restaurant in London. It was warm, creamy (but not overly so) basmati rice, fragrant with cardamon and crunchy with toasted almonds. Just gorgeous.

    I have a copy of the Rasa book, so I'll look up the ingredients tonight. I was a revelation, though.

  10. I am a traditionalist. The par-boiling is important, as it ensures you can keep the taters large-ish which results in a nice balance of fluffy insides and crispy outside. (When I've cut them small they've still been wonderfully crunchy, but more "chip" than roastie - y'know what I'm sayin'?) Parboiling takes around 4-6 mins. Drain them, but them back in the pan over the hot element so they continue to dry out, give the pan a good shake to rough up the edges, and add a teeny bit of flour or semolina and shake again. (The flour or semolina helps the crust come along nicely.) Meanwhile, put your choice of fat in the pan, heat 'til smoking hot, chuck in the taters and roast, basting merrily, for 30-40 minutes.

    I add my salt, pepper and herby things at the very end right before serving.

    Edit: oh, and I am a goose fat convert, too. :wink:

  11. My mother makes a beautiful pie crust using crisco. She insists that the secret is to use a pastry cutter, aim for a combo of small flakes (tenderness) and larger ones (flakiness), and to handle it as little as possible.

    Aside: friends of my parents one used bear lard (leftover from a black bear, I believe) to make pie crust. I can't remember how they said it turned out.

  12. Garlic stems are wonderful - I always think that "vegetal tone" you describe is quite sweet in an asparagus-y way. I often dry-fry them (Sichuan style) and this increases their resemblence to garlicky oven-roasted asparagus immensely. :wub:

    Last night I made wontons with pork, ginger, spring onion, shaoxing wine, white pepper, soy, sesame oil and a little water. I cooked them in simmering water and served them in a fragrant broth of simmering stock (pork/chicken/duck/ham, which I made in the build-up to CNY) with more spring onions, Tiajin (sp?) preserved vegetable, light soy sauce, sesame oil and white pepper.

    FROZEN lychees for dessert. (Didn't get round to cooking with any.)

  13. I am going to try my hand at wontons tonight for the first time. My filling will be based on ground pork and ginger, and I bought fresh (large-ish) wonton skins for the wrapping.

    My recipe describes soaking the ginger in water, then stiring the ginger-flavoured water into the ground pork until it is absorbed. (I'm sure there's more, but it's cleared out of my head already.) I haven't tried this yet, but I'm wondering if this is going to lead to a wet filling that makes it difficult for me to successfully seal my wontons. Does anyone have experience with this water-in-pork technique? Any suggestions before I start?

  14. A note on the "no rice" thing - in my fav Sichuan cookbook, formal meals are described as being a succession of dishes (cold first, then hot), with rice brought at the end to fill up any guests whose appetites haven't been satiated by the delicacies preceding it. It's generally served with a final dish called a "send-the-rice-down" dish, which often contains pickled, hot or sour flavours.

    I may be making a big assumption here, but since Hunan and Sichuan cuisines have similarities, would this possibly be the reason why you didn't get rice with most of your meal?

  15. Rick, if you go to B&Q or Wicks you can get unglazed terracotta floor tiles for very, very little. They'll do the trick too. I found some in our understairs cupboard, still in their box from when our flat's previous owner laid the kitchen floor. Voila! Free pizza stone. :wink:

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