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  1. When I think of Potato Salad, I think of my mother and paternal grandmother. Summer picnics and backyard parties are the first memories that come to mind. But I came to realize that not all potato salads are the same. My grandmother kept her recipe basically the same. Usually russet potatoes off the ranch and farm she and my grandfather owned in Central Oregon. She would add mayonnaise, out West "Best Foods" was her mayonnaise of choice if she didn't make it from scratch. She would add a bit of yellow mustard, some vinegar and chopped canned pimentos. (Today we'd do something she would have called "fancy" and add fire-roasted red peppers). Sometimes Grandma would add chopped, hard-boiled eggs to her potato salad. My mother was more adventuresome with her potato salads. She usually used Russets since she grew up in Idaho potato country and my grandfather had a small business that sold burlap sacks to potato farmers. On occasion she would use "new potatoes," either red or white. We didn't have potatoes called "baby" or "fingerlings" back then. Sometimes she added chopped dill pickle, hard-boiled eggs or diced celery. If my father had his way, she would make his potato salad with Miracle Whip. I wouldn't touch the Miracle Whip potato salad. One thing my mother and grandmother always agreed upon was the potato salad had to be on ice in the metal ice chest so the mayonnaise wouldn't spoil and make us all sick at the picnic. Mother didn't limit her potato salad cookery to the summer months. In Fall and Winter she made a hot German potato salad and served it with sauerkraut and German sausage we bought from a German butcher in a small farming town. She boiled russet potatoes and cut them into thick slices. The dressing was made by frying bacon, then draining the bacon and crumbling it into bits. Into the skillet with hot bacon grease she added onions and apple cider vinegar and tossed the potatoes with the hot dressing. Instead of diced celery she seasoned the salad with celery seeds and lots of cracked black pepper. It seems as though potato salads are uniquely tied to family, yet cross borders in terms of variations and ingredients. Let's join together and share our family memories, present old favorites and create some new variations of potato salad. See the complete eG Cook-Off Index here: https://forums.egullet.org/topic/143994-egullet-recipe-cook-off-index/
  2. Summer is the best time of year for a cook. The time of year when the bounty of Mother Nature is literally at our fingertips each day. One of the stars of any summer table is the variety of cane berries that grow throughout the season. Many people haven't heard the term "cane berry." The most well-known cane berries are the raspberry and the blackberry. Raspberries and blackberries can be found year-round in the supermarket sitting in small plastic clamshell containers and commanding a high price. Yet there are other delicious cane berries that are absent from the supermarket but are just as juicy and delicious. Summer delivers the loganberry and boysenberry and other regional favorite cane berries. I hail from the Willamette Valley in western Oregon where we proudly introduced the marionberry in 1956. (The marionberry is a cross between the Chehalem and Ollalieberry that grown in regions west of the Cascade Mountains). Cane berries are part of the rose family of plants. And like roses, cane berries have long stems (canes), some are studded with prickly little thorns. Some say that the fruit of a cane berry has the sweet fragrance of rose petals. One thing we can all agree on is that cane berries adapt well to changes in the weather, but the thrive in hot sun. Yet the cane berry doesn't always have a glowing reputation. Some people consider the blackberry to be a noxious weed that flourishes alongside rural roadsides and along creeks and canals. By the end of summer a wild blackberry patch can literally consume a road. I've seen helpless county road crews try to wrangle with a blackberry patch only to see it come back even stronger just a few weeks later. Cane berries have numerous possibilities when it comes to the kitchen and bar. They go into cocktails and cordials, cobblers, pies and pastries. And it doesn't end at the doorstep of sweets. Cane berries add tart, sweet, fruit flavor to grilled meats, blended into compotes, chutneys and rich meat reduction sauces. I happen to like cane berries in a summer salad with soft triple crème cheese then tossed with a classic French vinaigrette. Let's take a trip to the local farmer's market or trek into the blackberry row and pick some ripe, sweet berries to present at the table of eG Cook-Off #78: The Cane Berries of Summer. (See the complete eG Cook-Off Index here.) Oregon Marionberries-
  3. The summer salad is often regarded as summer food's unpopular kid. Sure, potato, pasta and egg salads are the standard bearers of summer salads, yet they seem stuck in a time warp in terms of creativity. When I was growing up in the 1960's, the only "exotic" summer salad Mother served was a gelatin mold studded with shredded carrots and surrounded by heaps of Miracle Whip dotted with green olives. We dreaded seeing Mother parade that salad out of the kitchen and put it on the picnic table yet we grudgingly ate it lest we disappoint her. Yet we should not ignore the basic elements of the summer salads of yesteryear. One can easily use the concept of gelatin, fruits, vegetables and seafood into a contemporary and delicious salad that is perfect for the hot days of summer. Summer salads are well-adapted to a variety of cooking and preparation techniques, from poaching, grilling and roasting, to chilling, preserving and deep-frying. And a summer salad benefits from a bevy of garnishes, cheese, spices and fresh herbs from the garden. Let's join in the fun and present our summer salad bowls in eG Cook-Off #79: Resurrecting and Rethinking Summer Salads, Summer Food's Unpopular Kid. (See the complete Cook-Off Index here, https://forums.egullet.org/topic/143994-egullet-recipe-cook-off-index/)
  4. Curry. Throughout India, from Goa, to Kerala and Gujarat, into Burma, Thailand, Japan, Europe, North America and across the world, curry transcends boundaries and cultures, weaving a mosaic of flavors and textures along the way. And while the reach of curry spans the world, at its core it is a regional, personal dish that isn’t defined by one recipe or one ingredient. The genesis of curry points to archaeological evidence dating to 2600 BC, showing the use of a mortar and pestle to grind spices including mustard seed, fennel, cumin and tamarind to flavor foods. The earliest Roman cookbooks detail recipes of meats seasoned with black pepper, cumin, lovage, mint, marjoram, cloves and coriander. The Mughal Empire in the 15th century influenced curry in Northern India and it spread throughout the continent. The establishment and growth of the spice trade further spread the popularity of curry across the oceans. The British developed a taste for curry early on, highlighted by the Art of Cookery published in 1758 by Mrs. Hannah Glasse. “To make a Currey the Indian Way”-take two small chickens, skin them and cut them as for a fricafey…..take three large onions, chop them small and fry them in about two ounces of butter, then put in the chickens and fry them together until they are brown, take a quarter of an ounce of turmerick, a large spoonful of ginger and beaten pepper together and a little salt to your palate, put in a quarter pint of cream and the juice of two lemons and serve it up.” So what makes a curry a curry? Is it the seasoning? The spices? Do the spices have to be toasted and then pounded in a mortar and pestle? Does curry mean there is a sauce, or does meat rubbed with curry fit the bill? And is curry always made into a sauce, and is the sauce always red, green or yellow? Soup or stew? Served with rice or a certain type of bread? Of course the possibilities are endless and these are some of the questions we’ll be discussing. What about meat? Many curries follow strict religious practices and so meat isn’t used, but do any vegetables work in a curry? Do you serve your curry with rice, bread and other condiments? As food fads fade as fast as they appear on the scene, we turn to dishes like curry that have survived and thrived for millennia. Today we introduce the 80th entry into the eG Cook-Off Series, eG Cook-Off #80: The aromatic, exotic flavors of Curry. (see the complete eG Cook-Off Index here https://forums.egullet.org/topic/143994-egullet-recipe-cook-off-index/ )
  5. Ah, the avocado! For many of us, this humble little fruit inspires only one dish. Yet the avocado has a culinary history that is deeper than we may understand. The avocado (Persea Americana) is a tree thought to have originated in South Central Mexico. It’s a member of the flowering plant family Lauraceae. The fruit of the plant - yes, it's a fruit and not a vegetable - is also called avocado. Avocados grow in tropical and warm climates throughout the world. The season in California typically runs from February through September, but avocados from Mexico are now available year-round. The avocado has a higher fat content than other fruits, and as such serves as an important staple in the diet of consumers who are seeking other sources of protein than meats and fatty foods. Avocado oil has found a new customer base due to its flavor in dressings and sauces and the high smoke point is favorable when sautéing meat and seafood. In recent years, due in part to catchy television commercials and the influence of Pinterest, the avocado has seen a resurgence in popularity with home cooks and professionals. Walk into your local casual spot and the menu will undoubtedly have some derivation of avocado toast, typically topped with bacon. Avocados have found a rightful place back on fine dining menus, but unfortunately all too often over-worked dishes with too many ingredients and garnishes erase the pure taste and silky texture of an avocado. When I think of an avocado it’s the Hass variety. However, a friend who lives in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, can buy Choquette, Hall and Lulu avocados in the local markets. This link provides good information about the different varieties of avocados, when they’re in season and the differences in taste and texture. https://www.foodrepublic.com/2012/10/18/know-your-avocado-varieties-and-when-theyre-in-season/ I for one must challenge myself to start eating and cooking more avocados. I think my recipe for guacamole served with chicharrones is superb, and the cobb salad with large chunks of ripe avocado is delicious, but as a close friend recently said, “one person’s ‘not especially new’ is another’s “eureka moment.” Well said and as history tells us, we’ll find plenty of eureka moments as we discuss and share our tales and dishes of avocado during eG Cook-Off #81: The Avocado. Fun fact: The name avocado derives from the Nahuatl word “ahuacatl,” which was also slang for “testicle.” See the complete eG Cook-Off Index here https://forums.egullet.org/topic/143994-egullet-recipe-cook-off-index/
  6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5APc0z49wg "There's a bright golden haze on the meadow There's a bright golden haze on the meadow The corn is as high as an elephant's eye And it looks like it's climbing clear up to the sky Oh, what a beautiful mornin' Oh, what a beautiful day I've got a beautiful feeling Everything's going my way" As Gordon MacRae sang in Oklahoma in 1955, it is indeed a" beautiful mornin" and a beautiful time of summer when the corn is "as high as an elephant's eye." It's the season of fresh sweet corn. Sweet corn is a hybridized variety of maize with high sugar content. Also called sugar corn or pole corn, sweet corn is the result of a naturally occurring spontaneous mutation in the genes which control the conversion of sugar to starch inside the corn kernel. Sweet corn was grown by several Native American nations and was introduced to European settlers in 1779 by the Iroquois. It soon became a popular food in the southern and central regions of the United States. Unlike field corn, which is harvested when the kernels are dry and mature, sweet corn is picked when the kernels are moist and sweet at what scientists call the "milk stage." Once the corn reaches maturity, the process of converting sugar to starch is quick. Varieties of sweet corn are typically divided according to their sugar content, their color and the number of days it takes to mature. Sweet corn varieties mature anywhere from 65 to 86 days. Those that mature in 70 days or less are typically considered early summer varieties. Thus, sweet corn has a short harvest season but freezes and cans well so we can enjoy it throughout the year. The science and horticultural details of sweet corn are interesting, but my Father had a shorter, clearer example. He held a degree in agriculture from Oregon State University and worked for the Oregon Department of Agriculture for over 30 years. On Sunday drives through the Willamette Valley east of Salem, we drove by many cornfields "as high as an elephant's eye." "That's sweet corn there." He instinctively could tell the difference between sweet corn and what he called "feeder corn," (field corn), by the way it looked, how it was growing and how the field was planted. Feeder corn is the term we used to describe corn that was grown and harvested for livestock feed. Premium corn indeed, but not the sweet corn we'd buy at the local farm stand in August. Yakima, Washington Sweet Corn Field From Latin America to Malaysia, China to India and the United States, sweet corn is used in hundreds of different dishes. I personally like an ear of corn simply boiled until soft then slathered with salted butter. Another favorite is grilled corn added to creamed corn with bacon and served with grilled chicken or quail. One of my sweet corn favorites is scorned by other family members-summer succotash with sweet corn, lima beans, and peppers. This season I've been thinking about a dish I recently saw on "Trails to Oishi Tokyo" on NHK broadcasting. The Japanese hold high regard for sweet corn from how it is cultivated, harvested and used in cooking. I've been thinking about sweet corn tempura with a simple dipping sauce with grated daikon radish. Let's join together and share the virtues of sweet corn and our best corn dishes. See the complete eG Cook-Off index here: http://forums.egulle...cook-off-index/
  7. Salmon. From Japan to Scandanavia and Scotland, from the Pacific Northwest to the Atlantic seaboard, wild or farmed, salmon is served on tables around the world. Salmon has provided sustenance and cultural meaning for thousands of years. In the Sahaptin language of Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest, the word for salmon used in sacred ceremonies is “wy-kan-ush.” Combined with the word “pum,” meaning people, the tribal cultures of the Columbia River Basin are often referred to as “Wy-Kan-Ush-Pum” or “Salmon People.” Each year in late spring anticipation builds for the start of the annual Copper River salmon runs in Alaska. Alaska Airlines stages a grand affair to welcome the annual fishery. The first Copper River Salmon is flown to Seattle on a chartered flight where local Chefs compete right at the airport to create new dishes using this legendary Pacific Northwest salmon species. In Norway, salmon is pronounced “laks” or “lakse.” The Norwegian heritage fosters a deep respect for the natural environment, especially the sea, the crystal-clear waters of the fjords, and their inhabitants. (According to the Norwegian Seafood Council, Norway is the second largest exporter of seafood in the world, sharing sustainable wild-caught and ocean-farmed seafood with more than 150 countries). Now, salmon does present us with a problem…a good problem: how to choose among all the great ways to prepare and serve salmon? I reckon that’s a pretty good problem to have! Raw in sashimi or sushi, grilled on alderwood planks over an open fire, salted, brined, cured and then smoked, lox-style on a bagel, encased in pastry ala the Russian “coulibiac style,” or poached in a light fish stock accented with tarragon, salmon provides us with endless recipes and cooking techniques. With that introduction, we invite you to join us in eG Cook-Off #82: Salmon where we’ll share recipes and stories of salmon. Read the complete eG Cook-Off Index here https://forums.egullet.org/topic/143994-egullet-recipe-cook-off-index/
  8. Ginger. The exotic, ugly little knob that releases and intoxicating perfume with flavor notes of pepper, citrus and tropical fruit. Yet none of those words fully describes ginger. It's only after we peel back the outer skin that we get that first waft of the unmistakeable scent of ginger. Ginger is a flowering plant whose rhizome, or root, is widely used as a spice, but also for medicinal purposes. Ginger is part of the same family of plants that includes tumeric, cardamom and galangal. Ginger originated in Southeast Asia, and is reported to have been domesticated some 5,000 years ago. It became a valuable trade commodity in the spice trade, and was used by the Greeks and the Romans. Of course, we think of ginger in cuisine, and ginger isn't just used in Asian dishes. However, a look at worldwide ginger production is also a reflection of the span of ginger across the globe. The top producer of ginger is India, followed by Nigeria, China, Indonesia, Nepal and Thailand. But that's just a small part of the story of ginger. Ginger is used in all sorts of cuisines from around the world. Ginger isn't simply the knobs in the supermarket produce section. Travel to your local Asian, Indian, International or Mexican market and you'll find different varieties and cousins of ginger. For years I always wondered what those little spears were that garnished Japanese dishes. Was it some sort of vegetable or fruit. It wasn't until I became an avid fan of Japanese cooking programs that I learned about "young ginger." Ginger that is harvested when young. Sometimes pickled, young ginger is crisp, clean and refreshing yet not as strong as older ginger. Likewise, I was always intrigued by those little knobs at the local Asian market that looked like ginger but tiny in size comparison. So I bought a little. And got a big surprise. Fresh galangal is very spicy, almost hot like a chile, and highly fragrant and flavorful. It's sold fresh and also dried and gives soups an incredible depth of flavor. Well, as you can see, we have a lot of cooking to do. Let's join together and celebrate, discuss and present our best ginger dishes. This is eG Cook-Off #84: Ginger. See the complete The eGullet Cook-Off Index here.
  9. Street Tacos with Salsa Verde, Le Merced Market, Mexico City Mexican Salsa. It can be hot and numbing to the tongue, sweet or bitter, made with red tomatoes or green tomatillos, dried, roasted or fresh chiles, grilled pineapple, chopped, diced, chunky or blended smooth. Salsas can be raw or cooked, or use a combination of raw and cooked ingredients. And the style of the salsa, the heat and the flavor, should be matched to the dish you serve it with. The two most common types of salsa most people think of are Salsa Roja, better known as red sauce, often mild and sweet in flavor. Salsa Fresca usually takes the form of Pico de Gallo, which translates to "rooster's beak." Pico de Gallo is simple to make using just a few ingredients. But salsa is of course much more diverse. Some Mexican salsa recipes borrow from condiment recipes in Asia and use heady amounts of ginger. Pico de Gallo is good with homemade tortilla chips, but it might not be the right choice for every dish. A fresh tomatillo and Manzano chile salsa is delicious with grilled snapper, while a grilled pineapple salsa is best with butter pound cake and crema. Matching the complexity and flavor of a salsa with the dish is akin to pairing the right wine with food. The techniques used to make a Mexican salsa also vary. The Maya made salsa by hand using a molcajete or mortar and pestle type of tool. Today, a blender or food processor makes the job go by quicker, but the mortar and pestle still has its place, as does making salsa by hand with a good kitchen knife. The comal is a flat, smooth griddle used throughout Mexico, Central and South America to cook tortillas, toast spices and sear meats. It's also used to toast dried chiles to bring out their smoky flavor before blending them into a salsa. Comals are typically made of steel, flat or with a low outside rim. I use both a comal or a cast-iron skillet to toast onions and garlic to add char and bring out sweetness before adding them with other ingredients and blending into a salsa. Charred, toasted onion and garlic in a cast-iron skillet. Let's come together in our home kitchens and present and savor our favorite Mexican Salsas. In the tradition of the eG Cook-Off Series, this is eG Cook-Off #85: Mexican Salsa. See the complete eG Cook-Off Index here: https://forums.egullet.org/topic/143994-egullet-recipe-cook-off-index/
  10. Hello and welcome once again to the ever-popular eG Cook-Off Series. So far this year, we've showcased such divergent dishes as the popular diner classic Hash and the intricate details of Cured, Brined, Smoked and Salted Fish. This summer we argued about the sanctity of the National sandwich of Vietnam-the Banh Mi. (Click here http://forums.egulle...-cooking-forum/ for the complete eG Cook-Off index). Today we start a new adventure--a discussion of Gels, Jell-O and Aspic--a subject with unlimited possibilities for the cook. Gels are at once very traditional, yet at the same time a defining aspect of modernist cooking. Molded Jell-O salads and Tomato Aspic are cherished dishes whose roots reach back over 100 years. But gels aren't simply a jiggly dish found wiggling on a cafeteria line. Joel Robuchon's haute version of "Citron Gelee with Lemon Sorbet and Fraises des Bois," is a contemporary play on the gel theme. Science and technology have entered into gel cokkery in the 21st century. "Mussels in their Juice," (a dish crafted by the renowned Spanish Chef Ferran Adria), is an example of how today's Chefs employ highly sophisticated, scientific techniques to fascinate diners with whimsical dishes literally bursting with flavor. I'm thinking of doing a contemporary version of my Grandmother Edna Pink's Tomato Aspic. Family legend tells me that Grandmother Pink served her aspic at luncheons for the Twin Falls Ladies Bridge Club back in the 1930's. Now if I can just find that old copper mold.
  11. Today we’ve reached a milestone, the 60th edition of one of the most popular discussions that graces our forums—the eGullet Cook-Off Series. (Click http://forums.egulle...m/#entry1581324 here for the complete eG Cook-Off Index). In celebration of reaching Cook-Off #60, we’ll be discussing a sandwich that is a marriage of French and Vietnamese cultures. A sandwich that has crossed international borders and now finds itself on restaurant menus throughout the world. It’s served on fine china at white tablecloth dining rooms and it’s delivered on a paper plate out of a food truck parked in downtown Manhattan. Yes, friends, you’ve guessed the subject of Cook-Off #60-the Banh Mi sandwich, the current king of sandwichdom.
  12. Welcome to our latest eGullet Cook-off, number 48, Grilled Pizza. You can find the complete Cook-Off Index here. Our last cook-off took us into the world of Asian Tofu dishes. Tofu, one of the world’s oldest and most versatile vegetable proteins-an inexpensive ingredient that yields exotic and flavorful dishes. When Summer weather beckons, we move the kitchen outdoors and onto the grill, the smoker, the barbecue or the hibachi. And while we typically associate outdoor grilling with meats, fish and vegetables, there is another favorite food that is delicious when grilled on the barbecue-pizza! Of course, pizza is the subject of great debate. In fact, two recent topics on pizza have garnered quite a lot of discussion in the eGullet forums-“The best pizza in New York,circa 1999” here and “Alan Richman’s Top 25 Pizzas,” here. When you think about it, grilling a pizza over an open fire on your barbecue grill makes perfect sense-traditional pizza ovens are fired with wood or white-hot coals. Grilling a pizza results in a crispy-crust with a smoky flavor and oozing cheese. And a grilled pizza doesn’t have to be savory-fruits and sweet pizzas are wonderful on the grill-caramelized fruit sugars mingling with sweet cheese and honey are just one of the endless possibilities. Please join us as we explore the art of grilling pizza and the creation of some unique dishes for your summer barbecue parties.
  13. Welcome to Cook-off 48: Slaws! Our complete Cook-off Index is here. Summer usually means that we've dusted off our salad bowls; we've been debating pillowcases versus OXO over in the salad spinner topic. Some of us are already making plans for this year's tomato crop. But if you're sick of lettuce, and your tomatoes are still green on the vine, it might be time to get out your mandoline and start shredding. Our slaw Cook-off embraces a whole range of shredded salads. Everyone loves coleslaw - although opinions differ on whether a creamy dressing or a vinegar dressing is superior. You can have it out here, or make your case for both. Maybe you add nuts, apples, or broccoli. Maybe you only adhere to the spirit of slaw, and make yours with green papaya and chili, like they do in Thailand. Whichever way you slice or dress it, come join us in shredding your salad.
  14. Welcome to the eGullet Cook-off 47 - Asian Tofu Dishes! Click here for the Cook-Off index. Our last cook-off took us to Mexico, where we learned to make the enchilada in all its glorious varieties. Tofu: much maligned, long the subject of jokes involving hippies, health-food stores, granola and Birkenstocks; it may now be poised for a moment in the spotlight. Low calorie, low in cholesterol, and low in price - it seems like an ideal protein for these lean times. However, its bland face and demure demeanor on the plate have left many of us wondering what to do with it. An answer can be found in the profusion of dishes made in Asia, whether it's a boiling bowl of sundubu jigae in Korea; a subtle side dish of agedashi tofu in Japan; or a searing plate of ma po tofu in China. In Asia, fresh tofu can be silken or firm; fried; braised; boiled in a stew or served cold with seasonings. As Asian tables feature a balance of dishes, tofu is rarely used as a meat replacement on its own. It's often used to stretch or complement the flavour of meat, or as a cooling counter-point to other dishes. Good quality fresh tofu is worth seeking out for its creamy texture and delicate flavour, which will benefit your finished dish. Here in the forums, we've talked about where it came from; discussed Japanese dishes and even fermented tofu. In true eGullet fashion, we've also made our own. In our eGullet Culinary Institute, we have an excellent course on Japanese soy products, along with an enlightening Q&A follow-up. Maybe you've always cruised right on by the tofu section in your local Asian supermarket, or turned your nose up at the plastic packs in your produce department. Maybe you already know your momen from your foo yu. Either way, please join us here in learning new recipes or sharing your favourite Asian tofu methods and dishes.
  15. Every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off. Click here for the Cook-Off index. For our twenty-second Cook-Off, we're making that familiar non-sushi Japanese restaurant stand-by, tempura. Reading up on tempura for this cook-off, I've learned a few things that surprised me. Apparently tempura is an early version of east-west fusion, in that the dish is often credited as having origins in the Spanish and Portuguese missions of the 16th century. Of course, the dipping sauce and the shredded daikon were uniquely Japanese touches. Having had mediocre tempura many times, I ate one meal at a tempura specialty restaurant in Tokyo many years ago, and instantly realized -- of course -- that my tastes were bastardized by poor imitations here in the U.S. Though I ate many wonderful deep-fried courses, I also drank far too many wonderful Asahi Dry beers at the prompting of my hosts, so don't remember too much about the preparation save for the huge caldrons of oil, the constant grating of daikon, and the surprisingly small bowls of batter. In his brilliant, encyclopedic, essential Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art, Shizuo Tsuji explains in typically perfect prose that the proper batter is, indeed, crucial: Carefully chosen, fresh ingredients, some hot fry oil, and lumpy batter: sounds like a perfect dish for the cook-off novice and veteran alike! Unless I'm missing something (always a possibility), there's not a lot going on here on eGullet involving tempura. There are a couple of Cooking topics here and here, and there's a brief discussion of the origin of the term "tempura" in the Japan forum here. So I think we'll be forging new ground, folks. Who's going to start us off?
  16. Every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off. Click here for the Cook-Off index. For our twenty-third Cook-Off, we're making crêpes. There's been an intense push for a crepe cook-off for many months, and we've finally arrived! While usually considered to be French, crêpes have made their way into lots of other cuisines and, in some cases, were there long before the French ever showed up. A definition from wikipedia, s'il vous plait: In addition, there are banh xeo, the Vietnamese crêpe, banh chiao, the Khmer version, dosas from India -- heck, I think you could make the argument that injera is something of a crepe. So far on eG Forums, we've got a General topic devoted to crêpe fillings, a Pastry & Baking topic devoted to crêpe technique, a topic on Japanese crêpes (which are pretty eclectic, let me tell you), another on injera, and a topic and recipe devoted to mille crêpes. I also found this charming pictorial how-to, which would suggest that you need neither a fancy crêpe pan nor one of those T-thingies to push the batter around. Let's see some crêpes, folks!
  17. Every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off. Click here for the Cook-Off index. For our eighteenth Cook-Off, we're making Asian noodle soups. We're talking about Vietnamese pho, bun bo hue, and hu tieu, Chinese niu rou mian, Phillipino mami, Japanese tonkotsu and miso ramen, Korean kuksu... and dozens more. If it's Asian soup and it has noodles in it, then you've got a Cook-Off dish! If you ask me, it's taken a bit too long for the Cook-Off to get here, given that there's a movie devoted to the subject (Tampopo), that the dish of pho is likely one of the big eGullet go-to foods (see, for example, the adopted comfort foods thread, where pho makes regular appearances), and that a noodle soup, well prepared, is a thing of beauty, care, and warmth. (Of course, if you're like me, you've also had a lot of noodle soups, poorly prepared -- but gussying up your Sapporo Ichiban is a subject for this thread, and not our Cook-Off, deal? ) When preparing Asian noodle soups, there are three distinct and crucial components: the stock or broth; the noodles themselves; the accompaniments or other ingredients. I'm hoping we can share strategies and tips for the first and the last here -- but if there are any noodle makers out there, please do chime in, as we all would find that art fascinating. No surprise that other Society members have paved the way for our efforts here. There are threads devoted to Ramen and to Tonkotsu Ramen broth, ruminations about pho, Chinese beef noodle soup (Niu Rou Mian), and guppymo's Vietnamese cooking, which starts off with Bun Bo Hue. Those approaching stock making with trepidation will find calmer nerves after perusing the eGCI stock course -- and Ah Leung (hzrt8w)'s directions for soup bone stock here are very useful for a Cantonese method. Time to find some big bones and meat, some lemon grass and ginger, some rice or wheat noodles, and get cooking!
  18. Every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off. Click here for the Cook-Off index. For our nineteenth Cook-Off, we're making eggs, beaten, with stuff in them. All right, all right, so the name sucks. Feel free to pick your own favorite from among the other suggestions: "Souffles, Frittatas, Omelettes," my best shot but too European for my tastes; "Eggs, Filled, Folded, Fluffed," snowangel's variation on the one I went with; "Eggstravaganza!" -- a name we'll have to save for the Broadway musical adaptation of this cook-off. What we're talking about here are egg dishes that require beating the eggs -- either en masse a la the omelette or yolk and white separately then combined a la the soufflé -- and then combining them with other ingredients. This is an admittedly wide berth, but you probably get the drift. Frittata? Yes. Deviled eggs? No (not beaten). It seems to me like a good cook-off idea because eggs, beaten, with stuff in them appear throughout the cuisines of the world. We've got the eGCI course on omelettes here and the Q&A here. There are at least two solid threads on Italian frittatas here and here. Check out the chawanmushi in this tamago thread. My initial attempts at searching suggest that we're still in need of a definitive Bindae-dduk recipe (the Korean omelette), and I think that we may see a few egg foo yungs before the cook-off is over. So fire up the skillets, people, and get out those whisks. This promises to be eggcellent! Ok, I couldn't resist.
  19. Every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off. Click here for the Cook-Off index. For our twentieth Cook-Off, we're making chowdah. However, most of the world is sadly located outside of New England, and thus erroneously spells and pronounces the dish chowder. In a magnanimous gesture to promote national, even global, harmony, I'll follow suit. (In this post.) Of course, spellings and pronunciations are just the tip of the contentious iceberg, friend. Take a good working definition of the dish. I'd like to say that chowder is a milk-based soup -- but that'd be wrong (think manhattan or red clam chowder). I'd like to say that chowder must include fish or shellfish -- but that'd be wrong, too (think corn chowder). And how about this fascinating disagreement: though many would argue it's a definitively American dish, is it east coast or west coast? Here's wikipedia on chowder: However, the contentious Australians at the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Center offer this brief definition: I of course believe that wikipedia is certainly right. But who's to say? Perhaps chowder exists precisely to provoke these tiffs. Look, for example, at this snit between me, menton1, and a few others over the definition of Providence chowder. Grown men, I'm telling you, nearly coming to blows over the subject. Surely we can provoke that sort of heated debate here in the cook-off -- some real cassoulet- or gumbo-worthy arguments. Check out our own Sara Moulton's RecipeGullet recipe for oven baked chowder, lovebenton0's hearty scallop chowder, or Chef Matt's "Fat Guy" lobster chowder. And while there are eGS cooking threads here and here , but, honestly, there's not much around here. Yet. So get cookin', you chowdaheads!
  20. Every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off. Click here for the Cook-Off index. With the weather turning cold in the northern hemispere and the Cook-Off having avoided French cuisine for a little while, it's time to dabble with daubes. There are few things as restoring as a daube, the classic French braised meat stew (usually beef, though not always) that has as many recipes as adults in France. It also helps to develop several crucial braising techniques that will come in handy over the next few months for many of us, and if you develop a lovely relationship with your butcher in preparation for same, all the better. I've found two daube recipes quite wonderful: a fairly straightforward one from Saveur Cooks Authentic French and the other, "Daube of Beef in the Style of Gascony," from our own redoubtable Paula Wolfert and her Cooking of Southwest France. That multiday recipe was the cooking highlight of my holidays last year, and the best beef that my guests had ever eaten. (click here for the link to a discussion of my experience with that recipe.) Wolfert also kindly placed this recipe for oxtail daube into RecipeGullet; you can also click here for snowangel's prep and execution of the dish. There aren't hundreds of posts on daube around here, but there are quite a few interesting topics, such as one that considers Catalan Tuna Daube and another that asks the question, "Daube with veal?" Variationson the traditional beef daube can be found here and there, including in this topic on Daube de Gardian.
  21. Welcome to this second anniversary eGullet Recipe Cook-Off! Click here for the Cook-Off index. A click on that index shows that, while the Cook-Offs have ventured throughout the globe, but they've never stopped in Africa. One could say we've passed through -- gumbo, for example, is widely acknowledged to have roots in Africa, among other places. So, for the first Cook-Off rooted in African cuisine, we'll be cooking up mafé, otherwise known as peanut or groundnut stew. Mafé is a traditional west African dish that can be found in the kitchens of Senegal and Mali. It's often served with a starch of some sort (rice, most often) to soak up the nutty stew juices, or, alternately, the starch is part of the stew itself, resulting in a drier braise. While there are a few mentions of mafé in eG Forums, there are no discussions of actually preparing it that I can find except this brief post by yours truly. There are a few recipes elsewhere, including this stew-like one and this more braise-y one, both of which are from the Food Network. Mafé is a forgiving cold-weather dish, and one that, like most stews, benefits from reheating (read: swell as leftovers). I'm convinced that mafé is one of the great one-pot dishes in global cuisine, built on a solid base of sautéed onions, peanut-thickened stock, and hearty meat. Like other classics such as gumbo, cassoulet, and bibimbap, it affords tremendous variation within those guides; it would be hard to find very many vegetables that haven't made an appearance in a mafé pot somewhere, and there are lots of possibilities concerning herbs and spices. (I like to increase the heat quite a bit with cayenne, which I think plays off the silk of the nut oil just perfectly, for example.) Finally, it's a pleasant surprise if you've never had a savory peanut dish before, and kids in particular tend to think it is the bee's knees. The kitchen fills with a heady aroma -- browned onion, ground peanuts -- that's hard to describe and resist. So: who's up for mafé?
  22. Welcome to the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off! Click here for the Cook-Off index. This cook-off: posole or pozole, the Mexican stew with hominy corn (the posole for which the dish is named). At the base of most posole is, of course, the corn itself, broth, and meat, usually pork. From there, well, the possibilities expand greatly. The pickin's on eG Forums are pretty slight: one discussion on dried vs fresh posole can be found here, there's a short topic here in the Mexico forum, and another asking questions here in Cooking. There are, however, two posole recipes in Recipe Gullet: fifi's barbeque posole and, well, my mother-in-law's fantastic recipe, which I'm calling Castañeda posole. Finally, our own rancho_gordo sells the remarkable stuff in the image above at his Rancho Gordo website. Posole is in my family's regular dinner rotation. Perhaps it is in yours -- or ought to be?
  23. Every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off. Click here for the Cook-Off index. For our twenty-first Cook-Off, we're making risotto. Up here in the northern hemisphere, it's a great time for risotto with spring vegetables arriving daily -- asparagus, morels -- and it's also time for the last few weeks of good lobster. But risotto is a great dish that allows for remarkable variation no matter the season. It's also a dish that relies upon some fundamentals (a fantastic stock pays great dividends) and that rewards tradition and experimentation both. Finally, for reasons that I've never quite understood, it tends to terrorize some first-timers -- which makes it perfect for the supportive atmosphere of the cook-offs. Thanks to Craig Camp's excellent Risotto Course and the Q&A that followed, we've already got a good base for our cook-off. In addition, you'll be able to read up on vegan risotto, vanilla risotto, the scientific issues related to risotto stirring (very complex reading, I warn you), and the different rices used. So get stirrin', folks!
  24. Every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off. Click here for the Cook-Off index. For our twenty-fourth Cook-Off, we're making kebabs, satays, and skewers. For a while, we toyed with the idea of calling the topic by the more generic and descriptive name, "Meat on a Stick." But we went with three possible interpretations of meat on a stick instead -- to which, of course, you should add your own. snowangel was kind enough to dig out a few jillion related topics here on eG Forums, including: Grub's Seekh Kebab Demo Lamb Kebabs ala Monica Bhide Seekh Kebabs Authentic Chicken Kebab recipe I Love Kebabs Fish Kebabs Shish Kebab Beef Satay Satay -- anyone have a real good, authentic recipe? So, techniques? Skewer styles? Seasonings? Favorite meats? Sauces? Let's see 'em all!
  25. Every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off. Click here for the Cook-Off index. For our silver anniversary Cook-Off, we're making tamales. It's true that All Saint's Day and Christmas are months away, but the weather has turned cold suddenly here in New England, and my thoughts have turned to the green corn tamales that I enjoyed a year ago on a trip to Tucson and Bisbee, Arizona. Early fall may also be the right time to start not only because high corn season approaches in the north (for those using fresh corn in their dough), but also because this may end up being a long process for some of us. You see, I've resisted this cook-off because of my futile attempts to get fresh masa (chronicled here). In the meanwhile, I've been gathering good pork fat for freshly rendered lard using Fifi's RecipeGullet method, have several good filling recipes ready to test, and even have stockpiled a few packages of excellent corn husks for the cause. What to do about this masa problem, however, is an open question. Should I give Maseca masa harina, the only brand I've seen recommended, a try? Or perhaps I should see what Rick Bayless's combination of quick-cooking grits and masa harina produces. I've even grabbed a bag of lime in case I'm forced to soak and grind my own masa from field corn. (Of course, if someone out there can find a source for mail-order fresh masa, I'm going to give that a try!) There are quite a few lively topics around here on the subject of tamales, including a general one on making tamales, one on tamales with duck fat, another on tamales without lard, even one on the proper corn husks for tamales. This ain't the composed salad cook-off; most of us can't make a quick trip to the store, grab a few things, and prep, cook, and serve the dish within an hour. So let's start talking about prep, materials, fillings -- and what to do about that masa problem!
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