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Found 65 results

  1. 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 thirteenth Cook-Off, we're making fresh and stuffed Italian pastas, including gnocchi. I would take a bit here and try to say some intelligent things about pasta in general, but I'm very happy to defer to my betters in the eGullet Society's Culinary Institute! Check out Adam Balic's Pasta around the Mediterranean course here, and click here for and the associated Q&A thread. In addition, Moby Pomerance has three eGCI courses: the first on stuffed pastas in general (Q&A here), and the other two on Tortelli, Ravioli & Cappelletti and Pansotti, Tortelloni and Raviolo. Of course, there are also lots of other related threads, including several on gnocchi like this one, this one, and this one; a few fresh pasta threads here, here and here; and a thread on pasta machines. So break out your Atlas hand-cranked machine (or, if you're like me, start to justify buying that KitchenAid mixer pasta attachment!), dice up a few heirloom tomatoes, and start cooking! No machine? Then you're on tap for gnocchi, my friend!
  2. Welcome to the eGullet Cook-Off XLIII. Click here for the Cook-Off index. In the past, we've taken a look at braised brisket in a topic devoted to anything and everything about the dish. This cook-off will dive even more deeply into that most complex of cuts. Ahhh, brisket...that wondrous cut of, in this case, beef (other animals have briskets too) - from the front part of the animal...take a look and see from where it comes... The brisket is the front part of the breast, and a whole boneless brisket weighs anywhere from 10 to 20 pounds. A brisket is generally divided into two parts, called the flat and the point, with the flat cut being leaner and the point cut having (imo) more flavor due to it's extra fat cap (btw, the point is often called the deckel). It is also an inexpensive cut that requires long, slow cooking to break down the collagen in the connective muscle tissues in order to achieve tenderness. The fat helps to keep it nice and moist. Briskets can be prepared in many ways. In some places, the whole brisket is smoked - low and slow, sometimes for as long as 24 hours. Lots of brisket is corned (a wet cure), and then cooked up with potatoes and cabbage, or, sliced and piled high on a sandwich, lunchtime dreams are fulfilled...often with pickles and cole slaw, but hold the mayo, please. In Asian cooking, brisket is often used as a wonderful base for soup - think beef pho, and you'll get the picture. Pastrami, by the way, is prepared in a similar way to corned beef - but dry cured and then smoked. Now, for our purposes and this cook-off, we're going to look at braised brisket. Whether you braise it on top of the stove or in the oven, wrapped in aluminum foil or naked, with wine, beef broth, water (liquids are necessary because this is braised brisket, after all) it's time to get out those heavy duty pots and pans, prepare your mirepoix, and share with us your most wonderful braised brisket recipes.
  3. 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 seventh Cook-Off, due to an overwhelming campaign by a lurking group of Greek cuisine fans, we're going to be making mousssaka. And listen up: y'all have some work to do! When it comes to moussaka, it's all Greek to me! I cannot find a single solid lead on an eGullet thread concerning moussaka. In addition, I cannot find a recipe for moussaka in RecipeGullet. Finally, I've never had nor cooked this dish, and the only cookbook I have that includes it (our own Paula Wolfert's great book on The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean) is explicitly non-traditional. So, as in any decent democracy in the wake of a power-shift, the reigns must now be handed over to you, my moussaka-loving friends, to guide us through the pleasures of this fine dish. Tell us, what exactly is it? What produced your eager advocacy? How does it address the cook-off criteria? What are its classic forms? What links might guide us? What recipes do you use? What techniques can we learn? Info! Photos! Opinions! Sing, Goddesses!!
  4. 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 second Cook-Off, we've chosen char siu bao, or steamed bbq/roast pork buns. You've probably had this dim sum staple many times, often a tough dough encasing a gummy, cloying clump of pork -- . But if you had a good one, you know how ethereal the dough and amazing the double-cooked pork can be. And that's what we're going to be making, pillows of porky perfection! In my two previous home attempts to make char siu bao, the three distinct steps (marinating and cooking the pork; making the dough; constructing and steaming the filled buns) were fun and compelling but rife with screw-up possibilities. Questions I know I'll have include: How does one make perfect dough? What ingredients are crucial? What sorts of tips are also crucial? (For example, I've been told by a dim sum chef that bamboo steam racks are crucial to bao, and that metal steam racks don't work well at all.) What cut of pork, marinated in what concotion (including, essentially, shaoxing wine, aka Chinese sherry), cooked in what manner and for whom long, should we use? Some links to get us started: Here is an eG thread on char siu, broadly defined. Here's a thread on evaluating roast pork buns, with a discussion of NYC restaurants. Here's one on Wow! Bao! that expands rapidly into the tao of bao. I'm not at home, so I don't have any reference recipes to use, but I know I'll be checking Eileen Yin-Fei Lo's Chinese Banquet Cookbook and The Chinese Kitchen (both of which were iffy, if I remember correctly), and Barbara Tropp's Modern Art of Chinese Cooking. Saveur also had a recipe in the back of the issue sometime in 2002 or 03 (anyone remember that?). What other recipes will people be using? So let's go bao!
  5. 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 third Cook-Off, we've chosen Indian lamb curry. Yes, it's true: that's a huge category for a cook-off, and saying "Indian" is about as stupidly broad as saying "American." However, like gumbo, there are some basic elements to most of the many, many permutations of this dish, and several cook-off participants wanted to start cooking Indian at home with several options. So, instead of choosing a specific lamb curry, I thought that having a conversation about those different permutations (like the gumbo okra/roux discussion, say) would be interesting and fun. I also wanted to avoid too particular ingredients that some of our cook-off pals can't get in certain places. A few things that we can discuss, photograph, and share include: -- the spice mixture: If you've never toasted your own spices, then you have a world of aromatic wonder ahead. I'm sure many people can share their ingredients, ratios, and toasting tips for curry powders that will blow away the garbage in your grocery's "spice" aisle. We can also have the ground vs. whole debate, if there are takers! -- the paste: many curry dishes involve frying a blended paste of onion, garlic, and/or ginger, along with the spices, in oil or ghee (clarified butter). I found that learning how to cook that paste -- which requires the same sort of patience demanded by roux -- was the key to making a deep, rich curry. -- accompaniments: rice dishes or bread (I have a pretty good naan recipe that I'd be glad to try out again). Here are a couple of related eGullet threads: lamb kangari a lamb and goat thread If anyone finds more, post 'em! So: find yourself a leg of lamb to bone, sharpen your knives, and get ready to update your spice drawer!
  6. Lamb Stew -- Cook-Off 50 eGullet Recipe Cook-Off Series Welcome to eG Cook-Off 50. Click here for the Cook-Off index. Lamb stew can be called by so many different names, in so many different languages. It can be a navarin, ragout or even a daube. It might be called mishmishiya in Egypt, where the name comes from the Arabic word for apricot, or mishmish; apricots make up a large part of the recipe. It's a tagine in Morocco, certainly. And a calderete de cordero in parts of Spain. In Peru you might eat seco de cordero, lamb stew with vegetables, while lamb curries are popular in Africa, India, Indonesia and Malaysia, amongst other locales. But whatever you call it, in whatever language you'd like, lamb stew is a great dish. Wanna use the neck or shoulder? Go right ahead. How about the breast? Be my guest. Is it a leg you prefer? Well, jump right in. That's what makes lamb stew so good (besides the taste) - you can use practically any part of the animal (though you wouldn't really want to use the loin) and be assured of a tasty, tender dish that will wow your friends and family alike. As a matter of fact, this month's issue of Saveur, # 123, has a great cover and stories about lamb, and inside the mag is a pictorial guide to all the cuts of lamb - almost everything you need to know. Me - I like the shoulder. The other day I popped over to my butcher shop, where I was able to procure basically a whole front part of a lamb - both shoulders and the neck, actually. I took both shoulders, which were kindly boned out for me; the bones, of course, were used to make 2 quarts of delicious lamb stock...perfect to add another layer of flavor to my stew. Here's the butcher at work, while some beautiful shoulder and bones await their fate. Now, I don't know exactly what type of stew I'm going to cook tomorrow, but the apartment is going to smell great and the neighbors down the hall are going to ask me what's for dinner. So let's see amd hear all about your favorite way of preparing lamb stew, recipes and all. I'm getting hungry.
  7. Fall is but a whisper of the recent past--at least it is where I live in the upper reaches of Eastern, Washington. We had our first fluff of snow a week ago and a reasonable November storm is predicted for this weekend with temperatures holding at a chilly 18 degrees at night. Along with the rumblings of cold winter weather and Holiday feasts, we turn our culinary musings to time-treasured, comfortable dishes. And so I invite you to join me in another kitchen adventure--the inimitable eG Cook-Off Series. In 2013, we've tackled the tricky cooking of Squid, Calamari and Octopus and we made delicious dishes out of the humble Summer Squash. (Click here http://forums.egulle...cook-off-index/ for the complete eG Cook-Off Index). But today we're shunning all manner of counting calories, salt or fat content--for what is rich in flavor is good for the soul my dear friends. Please join me in crafting, nuturing and savoring a dish of Confit.
  8. 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.
  9. Welcome to the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off! Click here for the Cook-Off index. This time, we're focusing on pickles. Pickling is a preservation method that uses vinegar or a brine and versions of pickled vegetables, fruit, fish and meat can be found throughout the world. Whether you've wanted to try your hand at tsukemono (Japanese pickles), kimchi (Korean), Moroccan preserved lemons, pickled watermelon, good old kosher dills, or any other pickle, now is the time to do it! There are no restrictions here - let's talk about refrigerator versus 'canning' in a hot water bath. Let's argue the merits of vinegar versus salt. Whatever we do, let's help me figure out how to make my grandmother's dill pickles! There are a few topics on pickles/pickling, including a topic about half and full sours, one on pickle terminology, this topic looked for perfect pickle preparations, and this one introduced a new, quick pickling technique, and most recently, we've had some pickle chat in the Cradle of Flavor cooking topic. If that's not enough inspiration for you, reading Fruit of the Brine, a Tangy Memoir may be just the trick. And don't forget to check the 13 recipes in RecipeGullet! One last thing. If, like me, you haven't pickled anything since you were five, I've asked for and received a few book recommendations: Quick Pickles by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby Ball Blue Book of Preserving The New Preserves : Pickles, Jams, and Jellies by Anne V. Nelson Pickled: Vegetables, Fruits, Roots, More--Preserving a World of Tastes and Traditions by Lucy Norris and Elizabeth Watt Who's in?
  10. Welcome to the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off! Click here for the Cook-Off index. It's still warm in the hemisphere in which the vast majority of our members reside, and so we turn, again, to a cool dish from down south: ceviche, the marinated seafood dish from Peru. It may be a popular item these days, having made appearances on Top Chef and prompting a Food Traditions & Culture topic here, but I've gotta say that I've never found a solid home recipe. That's too bad, because when they're good -- and the octopus ceviche I had at Ken Oringer's Toro in Boston last weekend was very, very good -- they're transcendent, balancing acid (usually citrus, with some help from vinegar in certain recipes), capiscum heat, salt, allium, and seafood flesh. We've got a topic or two in eG Forums (click here, e.g.) on the subject, but we've a dearth of recipes and techniques. Traditionalists, how do you find the balance in this world of lame limes and flabby fish? Innovators, how do you honor that balance with your yuzu, szechuan peppercorns, and lemongrass? Let's see what you've got!
  11. Welcome to the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off! Click here for the Cook-Off index. It's getting cold in some parts of the Northern Hemisphere, and with the cold weather comes the craving for comfort food. So this time, we're going to try our hands at stuffed cabbage rolls. This is one of those dishes that my grandmother would say takes a lot of 'patskying' -- playing around. But it's worth the effort. RecipeGullet offers two recipes -- Russian Stuffed Cabbage and Holishkes aka Stuffed Cabbage. And there's a Stuffed Cabbage topic here. So, if you've always wanted to make stuffed cabbage rolls, now is your chance. What do you stuff it with? Lots of ground beef or pork, or just a little to season the rice? I want to know whether you steam your cabbage or do you toss it in the freezer? Are you in favour of raisins in the sauce? What about gingersnaps? Canned tomato soup or crushed tomatoes? Let's get rolling!
  12. Welcome to the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off! Click here for the Cook-Off index. Tis the season for croquettes! Perhaps you never noticed that these breaded and fried bundles of minced or mashed food, bound with egg or thick sauce, were utterly cross-cultural. Though invented by the French, who lend transliterated variations of the term "croquette" to Dutch ("kroket") and Spanish ("croqeta"), they hail from a number of other countries/traditions, including Philipino, American Southern, and NY Jewish -- or so we surmise from this topic on salmon croquettes. They can be filled with anything from vegetables to ham to salmon, so dietary constraints aren't an issue. Finally, since we're hitting holidays (and the holiday party season), they make for great seasonal appetizers when the crowds arrive. As always, we're raising a pretty big tent here at the eG Cook-Off. As far as we're concerned, New England cod cakes and German "Meat Cakes" both qualify. Our quick snoop through the recipes suggest that two different binding agents -- a thick white sauce on the one hand, or potatoes on the other -- dominate, but we're eager to learn more. So what are you molding, breading, and frying?
  13. Welcome to the eGullet Cook-off 54: Gratins. Click here for the Cook-off index. Now that we're all battening down the hatches to wait out winter in our kitchens, it seems like a good time to consider the gratin. It's cold outside; the shops are filled with reasonably-priced root vegetables; and we can still kinda-sorta justify calorie-dense dishes that help us maintain our winter weights. Gratins are not something I knock out much in the kitchen, so I've had a look in my Larousse to get a starting point: Gratins have been discussed before, but we've never done a cook-off to properly get under the "skin" of this dish, if you will. RecipeGullet is full of recipes from our members: Fifi gave us Fifi's Favourite Eggplant Gratin; jackal10 contributed quick potato gratin a la dauphinois; Dave the Cook saw his quick potato gratin and raised it to a Really Simple potato gratin; and even Russ Parson's weighed in with his mushroom and spaghetti squash gratin. Shalmanese has asked about non-soupy cauliflower gratins; Chris Hennes has yearned to know why his gratin broke. Kim Shook just plain feels she's gratin-challenged. There's lots for us to discuss with regards to gratin: meat or vegetables? What kind of cheese? How about breadcrumbs? Do you use cream? Do you have a special gratin dish, or do you just use a casserole? Let's get layering. Allez gratin!
  14. Welcome to the latest eGullet Cook-off, Chicken and Dumplings, Number 51 in our Cook-Off Series. You’ll find the complete Cook-off Index here. The eGullet Cook-off Series has covered such far-ranging and delicious topics as Cold Soups to Ossobuco and Enchiladas. Our last Cook-Off captivated us with the earthy aromas of a slow-braised Lamb Stew wafting through the kitchen, (and down the halls of an apartment building). As the cold, windy drafts of January blow us into a new decade, there are still plenty of winter days ahead and that's the perfect weather to savor a favorite comfort dish, Chicken and Dumplings. (For more discussion on this classic dish, you can read through our Chicken and Dumplings Topic here). While I consider myself somewhat of an accomplished cook when it comes to another classic comfort dish, Chicken Pie with Biscuits, I’m a novice Chicken and Dumplings cook. As I began to contemplate the task of cooking Chicken and Dumplings, I soon discovered that while both dishes share some common cooking techniques, they also have a number of subtle yet quite distinctive differences. I also uncovered a number of subtleties within the hundreds of recipes one finds in the Chicken and Dumplings library. The 1913 edition of the Boston Cooking School Cookbook by Fannie Merritt Farmer doesn’t include a specific recipe for Chicken and Dumplings. Like other cookbooks of the day, it does have a recipe for a “Chicken Fricassee,” described in part as “a fowl, cleaned and cut-up” and then sautéed in pork fat and stewed in either water or stock and served with a white or brown sauce. Dumplings were prepared separately from the chicken, then steamed and served with gravy on the side. According to the 1945 edition of the “American Women’s Cookbook,” (Consolidated Book Publishers of Chicago), the opening instructions called for “cleaning and singeing the feathers of the bird.” Most cooks were apparently still raising chickens in their backyards in the 1940’s, (or at least buying freshly killed birds at the market). The cook was instructed to simmer the bird “in plain water for a very long time-an old fowl will require at least 3 or 4 hours slow cooking.” Folks must have liked their food plain back then as the instructions continued with these gentle words-“if desired, an onion and a stalk of celery may be cooked with the chicken before the dumplings are added.” The chicken was removed from the pot and the stewing liquid was thickened into a gravy with flour and milk. The dumplings were cooked in the gravy, which was then spooned over the chicken before the platter was brought to the table. I typically use 4 ½ lb. roasting chickens to make chicken stock and for the base of stews. Should I be using large roasting hens or capons instead? I’ve used frozen capons in the past for braised chicken dishes, and while they are advertised as having “fuller” flavor, I’ve found them bland and the meat stringy. I assume that’s due in part to the freezer burn they acquire by sitting for years in the back cases of supermarket freezers. I’m wondering what others have experienced with larger chickens. I’ve always been under the impression that for stewed chicken dishes one uses the chicken to make a stock enriched with vegetables and aromatics and then the meat of the chicken is put back in the finished stock. Is a true Chicken and Dumpling dish made by poaching a chicken in plain water with no seasonings? Is the flavoring of the liquid a matter of regional or family heritage? Now following on that thought, can the “stew” for Chicken and Dumplings be thickened with a roux? Does it have to stay “nude” as it were? If we use a roux, can the roux be further thickened with cream or half and half? What about those dreaded little peas and carrots that go into a Chicken Pie? Are they banned in Chicken and Dumplings? What about pearl onions, sliced mushrooms, diced potatoes, or maybe some chopped celery added to our Chicken and Dumplings? And what about these little puffs of flour and shortening that we call Dumplings? Is it a pre-requisite that dumplings be made with all-purpose white flour? What about using whole wheat flour, or semolina, or cornmeal, or even blue cornmeal? Should we add some fresh herbs or some nice Oregon Rogue River Bleu cheese to our dumplings? Is it an afront to tradition to even suggest putting an artisanal cheese in your dumplings? And does the size of the dumpling matter? Should they be the size of the end of your thumb, or the size of a big softball? At this point I seem to have more questions than answers. I know I can adapt my Chicken and Biscuit recipe by substituting beautiful little Dumplings for the Biscuits and I know my rendition will be delicious. But will I be true in creating an authentic Chicken and Dumplings dish?
  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-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!
  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 sweet sixteenth Cook-Off, we're making potato pancakes. Sure, many of you make potato pancakes now and then, and you may be thinking that this is not a very special dish. Allow me to disagree! First, let's admit that we haven't had any Jewish cooking here in the cook-off before, and as Chanukah approaches (Dec. 25, 2005 to Jan. 2, 2006 this year) we have a natural opportunity to share latke recipes for that holiday staple. In addition, many folks get out the grater for holiday brunches and New Years Eve parties, since the potato pancake is a great party food as well. Finally, there are many versions of the potato pancake to be found throughout the spud-eating world, including Belarusian draniki, Boxti Irish pancakes, Swedish potato lefse, Polish kartoflane placki... the list goes on and on! Finally and as always, the eGullet Society has some folks ready to share ideas and recipes for this dish. Start by clicking here for a titanic latke thread, started by our own Steven Shaw, who has in fact been crowned as a latke king. You can also click here for a controversial discussion about whether latkes require potatoes. Truth be told, I'm not finding much on the others -- so we've got some work to do! Get your graters, skillets, and fats out, people!
  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. I think that T. S. Eliot was wrong: July, not April, is the cruelest month, at least when it comes to food. Many of us in the northern hemisphere are struggling with hot, humid conditions (conditions many of us in the southern hemisphere, especially those near the equator, tolerate year-round), and for folks in the U.S. the food-dreary holiday of Independence Day arrives soon. Who wants to be in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove, or out back, pushing lousy franks around a grill? (Of course, if you were in on the previous cook-off, you know the solution to lousy franks....) So, for our eleventh Cook-Off, we're going to chill out with ice cream, gelato, and sherbet. How you define those things -- dairy or no? egg custard or no? -- is entirely up to you. "But frozen treats require special equipment!" you say. Well, er... yes and no. If you're game, there are ways to make ice cream et al with buckets, ice, and salt; perhaps a few intrepid members will show us the way. However, a Donvier ice cream maker does a great job, is inexpensive retail, and is widely available on eBay and at your local thrift stores, flea markets, and yard sales. There's even a thread here devoted to inexpensive ice cream makers, as well as one devoted to machines that don't have those pesky frozen canisters. As you can see, those frosty eGulleteers have been doing some homework for us. We've got a thread devoted to ice cream recipes and tips, another concerning interesting ice cream recipes, the chocolate ice cream thread, another for sorting out ice cream making problems, one about sorbets and ice creams in general, even one on ice cream made from pig brains. There are also many, many sorbet threads and a few gelato threads, all of which you can find by clicking on the "Search" button in the top right of every window. So grab your cream or milk, fruit, chocolate, herbs, spices, and/or pig brains, and... Wait. On second thought, don't grab the pig brains. I don't even wanna know about that. So grab your cream or milk, fruit, chocolate, herbs, and/or spices and have at it!
  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 eighth Cook-Off, due to an on-going campaign for same, we're going to be making pizza. Boy, talk about the perfect cook-off item: lots of folks eat pizza outside their home or toss a frozen pie into the oven, but few make it at home. By putting our heads and hands together, we can learn and share lots of good techniques here, particularly involving the dough. As always, there's a goldmine of information already on eGullet to check out, including threads devoted to pizza stones, pizza stones, and pizza stone thickness, Patsy's pizza and dough, doughs sticking to peels, unusual toppings, pies at home, dough tips, yet more dough tips, and several dozen more. So get our your peels and stones, find some good cheese and gravy, and let's get going!
  19. Welcome to eG Cook-Off 46! Click here for the Cook-Off index. We spent the last Cook-Off perfecting french fries, delightful yet leaning toward the one-dimensional. This time we're shifting gears and making the multi-dimensional Mexican dish, enchiladas. The variations on enchiladas are endless-there doesn't seem to be one "definitive," classic, enchilada recipe. They can be filled with beef, pork, chicken, smoked duck, smoked turkey or steamed octopus. An enchilada might be slathered with melted cheese, sprinkled with queso fresco, or have no cheese at all. It seems as though the only thing that enchiladas have in common is that all versions are wrapped in some type of tortilla. There are lots of possibilities for saucing an enchilada, everything from what one finds in a can on the supermarket shelf to homemade salsas using dried chilies. And of course, the variety of dried chilies to use for the sauce -- from mild to devil hot -- is also endless. In her definitive Art of Mexican Cooking, Diana Kennedy describes the two methods for making enchiladas. In one, you lightly fry the tortilla before dipping it into sauce; the process is reversed in the other. For both versions, you then fill the sauced and fried tortilla and roll it up. Kennedy's enchiladas placeras are sauced with a garlic, serrano, and tomato salsa and then filled with shredded beef; her enchiladas de Santa Clara uses an ancho and garlic sauce and an egg and cheese filling (and sounds delicious). Enchiladas benefit from corny, lardy homemade tortillas but also can mask mediocre ones to good effect, and they are an excellent way to showcase a perfect salsa. The previous main enchilada topic can be found here. You can also find topics on making tortillas at home here and a pictorial topic on Making Mexican at home is here. I've eaten hundreds of enchiladas in restaurants, but I was never able to duplicate that "restaurant-quality" enchilada flavor at home. My tortillas were either mushy or were too cold and broke when I rolled them with the filling. I also didn't want to serve my enchiladas with the requisite mushy beans and marginal "Spanish rice." What would be a unique side dish for Enchiladas? And what tortilla recipes would best stand up to the abuse of enchilada manufacture?
  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. 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!
  21. 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 seventeenth Cook-Off, we're making sausages. Wait! Come back!! I think sausages get a lousy rap. There are many, many bad sausages around, ones that include animal body parts that even Fergus Henderson won't eat, and as a result a lot of folks here probably don't incorporate them into their diet regularly. But they're perfect for a cook-off, and here's why. Your effort is rewarded amply, because you can make a huge batch of sausages in roughly the same amount of time it takes to make a small batch, and most sausages freeze with ease. You don't really need any fancy equipment; indeed, you can make patties instead of links and "grind" the meat with a chef's knife or cleaver. Of course, there are more kinds of sausages than you can shake a link at. If you look at the list below, you'll see that there's a wide variety of pork-based European (and some Chinese) sausages explored in the eGullet Society forums. However, there are many kinds of sausages that aren't made with pork and that come from other cuisines. For example, I'm looking forward to making a new batch of sai oua, Thai sausage, in the next week or two, and I might take a crack at lobster sausages for a new years eve treat. Finally, sausages are one of the world's great foods. The snap of the casing, the flavor of the meat, the aroma of the seasonings, the lovely coating of fat on your tongue... once you start making your own, you'll begin to realize that there really is not limit to what you can make into sausages. Sausage fans should certainly check out Klink's sausage diary, days one, two, three, four, five, and (no typo) twenty four. There's also a great newer thread devoted mainly to cured European sausages here. There are other threads devoted to fat ratios in sausage, fresh Chinese pork sausages, a boudin making, equipment, sweet Italian sausage recipes, Nullo Modo's sausage-making party, and homemade sausage. There's even a previous sausage cook-off in the China forum. Finally, folks are cooking from eGullet's own Michael Ruhlman's new Charcuterie book here. So, all you sausage-phobes out there, remember that the purpose of a cook-off is to try to make something that you've never made before. As far as I can tell, sausage making is a bit precarious, but all the more fun because of that; I stress out about air pockets, while the gang curing their own get to worry about maggots and botulism. It's all part of what makes a cook-off great, though, imposing your anxieties on willing chums, right? Trust me: if you take a crack at making sausages from scratch, you'll never look back. Of course, we then need to discuss dishes in which to use them, so if you'd rather start on the bunny slope using storebought sausages, have at it! Let's get to grindin' and stuffin', folks!
  22. 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!
  23. Welcome back to a time-honored, cherished eG tradition, the eG Cook-Off Series. Today were venturing into a new world for Cook-Off's. Member Kerry Beal came forward with a Cook-Off idea we just couldn't pass up--Pork Belly--and inspired a new idea for future Cook-Off's. Knowing we're a community of great culinary minds, we'll be inviting the Members to send us ideas for potential future Cook-Off's, (more information to come later). Take it away Kerry and let's raid the larder and start cookin.
  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 ninth Cook-Off, we're going to be making Mole Poblano de Guajolote. If you're like me, you can't get decent mole poblano where you live; instead, you get the "Mexican" equivalent of Hershey's chocolate syrup, which is sure to make you wonder what the fuss is all about. But if you've ever had the rich, piquant, incredibly complex sauce made from dried chiles, spices vegetables, nuts, seeds, lard, stock, and chocolate... well, you're in for a treat. You're also in for an absurdly long list of ingredients and a substantial simmering time. But it's worth it, trust me -- and what other dish might get you seriously thinking about how delicious turkey is in May? As usual, our eGulleteer forebears have done a lot of good work for us. Here's a thread on mole poblano, a great tamale thread with Abra's mole photo essay, and a more expansive, and a bit older, mole thread. Starting researching recipes and sourcing ingredients people!
  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 fifth Cook-Off, we're moving away from gumbos, curries, and other stews (sorry, Jason, mole poblano is on the way, as is tagine, Smithy!) and, thanks to a substantial campaign, we'll be firing up the stove for fried chicken. Like gumbo, fried chicken inspires some heated debates, so we'll likely have quite a few different approaches. Bring 'em on! I'll start with a confession. Though I have figured out a fool-proof fried chicken recipe that I'll post soon, that recipe was borne not only out of convenience and family preference but also out of shame and failure. Yes, my recipe is for deep-fried chunks of skinless, boneless breast meat chicken (don't you dare call them nuggets!). I fry chicken in this manner both because we like it that way and because I have yet to figure out how to cook whole pieces of chicken to crunchy, juicy perfection. However, if I could bring one food to a desert island, it may well be fried chicken skin from a breast or thigh that's just been pulled out of the oil (I guess I'd need a Fry Baby, too, huh?). So I'm ready to come clean about my fried chicken problem and begin my reeducation pronto. Incredibly important matters to consider include: -- skillet or deep frying: Check out the debate on this thread. There are also some tips on pan frying here. -- coatings: Do you soak? Dredge? Batter? Nothin'? -- fat: What works? What doesn't? Do you have any consideration whatsoever for your arterial health, or are you a bacon fat and crisco kind of gal or guy? -- seasonings: Salt 'n' pepper purist? Lots of cayenne? A secret blend of herbs and spices, Colonel? -- regional affiliation: Where's your receipt from, exactly? -- accompaniments: Here's a consideration of "healthy" sides. (Stop sniggering.) And, last but certainly not least, Jinmyo's "perfect" fried chicken: the debate. So get our your cast iron skillets or deep fryers, digital cameras, grease splatter screens, a bird or two, flour, buttermilk, and way, way more fat, grease, and/or oil than you should consume in a month -- and start fryin'!
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