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Everything posted by browniebaker

  1. It depends on the children. Are they used to dining in a formal setting and staying seated quietly through an entire meal? 2-year-olds and 4-year-olds differ. My children were dining in formal restaurants at that age, and they behaved so well that my husband and I were always complimented on their behavior. We also made sure to dine at an earlier-than-usual hour starting, say, 5:30, or 6:30 at latest. If you don't know these children well enough to be sure of their comportment at dinner, I would not risk disturbing other diners. I'd get a babysitter or choose another restaurant.
  2. I let meats marinate at room temperature. I let foods cool to room tempertaure before refrigerating or freezing them. I prepare meats on an old-fashioned, bacteria-harboring, wood, cutting board. I use foods way past their expiration date, after a smell test. No one has gotten sick yet. I wash wooden and bamboo tools and chopsticks in the dishwasher, against Martha Stewart's advice. I boil pasta in less water than I should. I have even re-used the pasta water to boil another batch of pasta, after refrigerating it for keeping. There are more law-breaking things I do, but I'll stop now.
  3. Another vote for peach cobbler as an essentially Southern dessert. How can anyone say it's not? Growing up in Tennessee, we used to have it for dessert at least once a week in summer. I have since lived in three cities north along the east coast and have hardly ever seen peach cobbler unless I made it myself. I crave it. So I make it myself, just to have a taste of my Southern childhood. It's Southern, I tell ya!
  4. Today the smell of bread I baked this morning dominates, but people often say as they first walk in that they like the smell of my house. I think it's the woody smell of oak floors populated with leggy, wood furniture.
  5. The purchase by Hershey will ruin the product for sure for those people who judge chocolate by name rather than taste. Let's keep an open mind and see whether the product changes any under Hershey.
  6. Sweet red-bean soup with little round dumplings made using sweet-rice flour. Served warm or room temp. In the summer I make red-bean popsicles using a sweeter, thicker version of the sweet red-bean soup.
  7. Two weeks ago, it was a cook-out at the house of my husband's colleague at the office. The colleague is grilled salmon fillets and chicken thighs, while his wife prepped green salad and saffron rice. The salmon and chicken were both grilled to death and rock-hard, as even the hostess proclaimed, jabbing her fork into the tough meat on her plate. My piece of salmon had a strand of the host's hair grilled onto it, and I felt compelled to finish it to be polite, but the hair would not come off with prodding from my fork. I had to wait until the host's and hostess's heads were turned before picking the hair off with my fingers. Worse, as soon as I had choked down the salmon completely, the host brought the platter of salmon over to me and, over my protestations of being full, pleaded "have another one, just for me." What could I do? Ate more salmon than I wanted.
  8. My worst dinner guest has to be, and will always be, the woman who came to dinner as the date of a friend of mine several years ago when I was giving my first dinner party as a newlywed with my now-ex-husband. This woman was an anesthesiologist who was on staff at the same hospital as my plastic-surgeon husband. She came to dinner bearing a bowl of the same dessert I had made. It was as if she was telepathic, for I had not told anyone what the dessert would be. (She also had not said she would be bringing any food.) I felt compelled to serve her version, and left mine in the fridge, even though mine version was better, IMHO. But that was not the worst thing she did. Not long after my ex and I filed for divorce, I heard from a mutual friend that he showed up at another dinner party with her as his date. Then I recalled that, after my dinner party, my ex was raving about how pretty she was. I am pretty sure the two of them were playing footsy under the operating table, and maybe even under my dinner table.
  9. I think I know good food from bad, and I much prefer made-from-scratch to convenience foods just for the superior taste alone. However, I did grow up with certain convenience foods that now have a place in my heart just for the retro, nostalgic charm. I feel like a child again when I have Pillsbury crescent rolls rolled in chopped scallions like mom used to make, or iced fruit-filled turnovers that we used to bake up as a treat when we watched TV together as a family, or the boxed cold cereals we used to eat on rushed mornings before school such as Fruity Pebbles, Cheerios, and Corn Pops. When I'm having convenience foods, I know I'm slumming it, but it's campy, retro fun.
  10. Hummingbird cake. So Southern and old-fashioned, most people don't know about it.
  11. By "this crust" do you mean the oil-based pastry about which Bradyvickers initially posted, or the melted-butter variation I've been talking about? If you are talking about the melted-butter pastry, I can't figure out what could have gone wrong with your batch. I've made it maybe ten times now and never had a problem with too-softness; if anything, it's rather firm, such that I have to make sure to work with it at room temp. I would describe it as distinctly firmer than commerical Play-Doh at room temp. Are you sure you're using one stick butter and 1/4 cup milk to two cups flour, not just one cup? And it's all-purpose flour, not something softer like pastry or cake flour? Assuming your room temp is really room temp and not something crazy like 95 degrees F (!), I can't think of any other variables.
  12. Aawww, thanks! This crust handles so easily at room temp and stays where you put it, I'm afraid I might never make pie crust the "proper" way again.
  13. Mom makes the best potstickers in the world, such as I have never been able to duplicate. The dough is made from scratch, rolled fine and thin, and gathered up around the savory pork-and-shrimp in the shape of a beech-leaf. I have tried and tried but cannot master this leaf-shape and never will. When i was growing up, we would each have for dinner about thirty or forty of these scrumptious potstickers and nothing else -- that's all we needed!
  14. For the Fourth of July I baked a coconut buttermilk pie using the melted-butter pastry for which I posted the recipe earlier in this thread (and to which recipe I recently made the modification of adding 1/8 teaspoon baking powder per cup of flour to increase tenderness, as described in a subsequent post). Just barely, I controlled my urges long enough to take a picture before slicing into the warm pie's quivering, custardy goodness. I do love this crust: it slices neatly with a knife yet breaks into small flakes when you fork into it.
  15. I can sympathize: it's hard finding the right bread flour, much less at a decent price. I sidestepped the eternal hunt for bread flour by buying a huge bag of vital wheat gluten and adding just the right amount for the protein content I want.
  16. I maker pie pastry by hand. It just would not be as much fun any other way. I have never tried making them by machine.
  17. In Taiwanese my mother calls too-skinny legs "bamboo legs." (Hey, it's food if you're a panda.)
  18. I knew a girl in England who used always to say, "You dozy pilchard!"
  19. I'm reminded of things I eat by heaping spoonfuls that I really shouldn't: mayonnaise butter peanut butter Nutella cream cheese chocolate cream-cheese frosting coconut-pecan frosting pimiento cheese clotted cream whipped cream Cool Whip
  20. Up north, long sleeves get in the way.
  21. Bon (Rhymes with Don ) BOOSH ← Don is pronounced "Dahn" where I come from. "Bon" uses an "o" sound followed by a nasal "n" rather than a "w" sound. ← Bonnes is pronounced "bun." The entire phrase is pronounced "bun BOOSH."
  22. One reason for bread flour might be that it is more similar than our all-purpose flour to the hard flour commonly used in Britain. When I make Southern biscuits, I use a low-gluten flour like White Lily, but when I make scones I make sure to use a higher-gluten all-p flour (some are higher in gluten than others). Scones are, after all, supposed to be denser than Southern biscuits. The high amount of baking powder does seem suspect. I always thought the rule was one teaspoon baking powder per cup of flour. Too much, and one can taste the baking powder.
  23. Khadija, the butter is specified to be in melted form (see list of ingredients), and there is no creaming. I have found that melted, uncreamed butter to produces a denser, chewier cookie (and brownie). It is, as you say, a question of how much air you want to incorporate into the dough. Bread flour does contribute to chewiness because of a higher gluten level than AP flour, but to a noticeable degree only if you stir it or knead it enough to develop the gluten. I have tried bread flour and AP flour using the same cookie recipe and found no noticeable difference because the recipe did not call for working the dough much.
  24. I followed the Alton Brown recipe exactly, bread flour and all, and I was not impressed by the level of chewiness. The cookies were not as chewy as promised. My family all said the cookies were nothing special. The cookies were a lot like the commercially sold David's Cookies, with a thin crispy edge, soft and gooey center, slightly greasy mouth-feel, and flat profile. I love David's Cookies, but I wanted a chewy cookie. I then tried the Cooks' Illustrated cookies and liked them better. However, they still were not as chewy as I wanted. So I made some modifications and got an extremely chewy cookie that I am happy with: more dark-brown sugar (although you could use light-brown sugar if you wanted less molasses flavor) and more flour (all-purpose). BIG FAT CHEWS 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted 1 cup packed dark-brown sugar 1/2 cup sugar 1 large egg 1 large egg yolk 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (using dip-and-sweep method of measuring) 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 to 1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips Place oven-rack at center of oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together butter, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla until blended. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir dry mixture into wet mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Divide dough into 16 balls of equal size. Place on 15-x-18-inch aluminum cookie-sheet lined with non-stick, silicone, baking mat. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes , or just until cookies are lightly golden, edges start to harden, and centers are still soft and puffed. For chewy cookies that are not so soft as to fall apart, take care not to underbake. Remove from oven. Slide baking mat, together with cookies, off cookie-sheet and onto flat surface. Cool on baking mat to room temperature. Cookies are chewiest about 24 hours after baking. Makes 16 three-inch cookies. Of course, I'm always playing with my chocolate-chip cookie recipe (and other recipes). In another month, I might have made more modifications. The perfect chocolate-chip cookie seems to be a Holy Grail of home-baking.
  25. Fried pecans. They're coated in a sugar glaze before being deep-fried. Almost all fat and sugar. But soooo good.
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