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Found 57 results

  1. eG Cook-Off #65: Pork Belly

    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.
  2. eG Cook-Off #64: Confit

    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.
  3. Cook-Off 63: Summer Squash

    Hello friends and welcome back to a time-honored tradition--the popular eG Cook-Off Series. We're in the heat of summer right now and our gardens are literally blooming with all manner of peak of the season ripe fruits and succulent vegetables. And there's no better time of year to honor a vegetable that is often maligned as not being as colorful or trendy as the chi-chi breakfast radish or the multi-hued rainbow chard. In addition to not always being recognized for it's looks, every August and September it becomes the butt of jokes at State Fair competitions across the country. If you can get past the embarassment of seeing the poor devils dressed up and carved into silly, cartoon-like farm figures or pumped-up with organic steroids, you'll find a delicious, low-calorie vegetable packed with potassium and vitamin A. Yes friends, your dreams have come true for today we kick-off eG Cook-Off #62, "Summer Squash." (Click here http://forums.egulle...cook-off-index/ for the complete eG Cook-Off Index). According to the University of Illinois Extension Office, summer squash, (also known in some circles as Italian marrow), are tender, warm-season vegetables that can be grown anytime during the warm, frost-free season. Summer squash differs from fall and winter squash, (like pumpkins, acorn and butternut squash), because it is harvested before the outer rind hardens. Some of the most popular summer squash are the Green and Yellow Zucchini, Scallop, Patty Pan, Globe, Butter Blossom and Yellow Crookneck. My personal favorite summer squash is the versatile zucchini. Slow-cooked with sliced onion and ham hock, zucchini is perfectly comfortable nestled on a plate next to juicy, fried pork chops and creamy macaroni and cheese. But the chi-chi haute crowd isn't forgotten when it comes to zucchini, or, as the sniffy French call it, the "courgette." Tiny, spring courgette blossoms stuffed with herbs and ricotta cheese then dipped in tempura batter and gently fried are a delicacy found on Michelin-Star menus across the globe. Won't you please join me in crafting some delicious masterpieces that showcase the culinary possibilities of delicious summer squash.
  4. Welcome to the 2013 kick-off of our popular eG Cook-Off Series. In 2012, our Cook-Offs ran the gamut from “Hash,” to “Cured, Brined, Smoked and Salted Fish,” onto “Banh Mi” and ending the 2012 season with a discussion of “Gels, Jell-O, Aspic.” (Click here http://forums.egullet.org/topic/143994-egullet-recipe-cook-off-index/ for the complet eG Cook-Off Index). I made a personal discovery during our “Gels, Jell-O, Aspic” Cook-off. I found a little metal Jell-O mold on a dark, back shelf in a kitchen cupboard. That little mold led to a cherished family memory and became the vessel that would hold one of the most delicious dishes I’ve ever crafted. (Click here http://forums.egullet.org/topic/143597-cook-off-61-gels-jell-o-and-aspic/ to read about the delicious jiggly dishes we created). Today we’re going to venture into the depths of a discussion about a sea-dweller that is so scary looking to some they refuse to eat the delicious little devils. The horrors of being presented with a steaming bowl of soup with little appendages peeking out. Join in and let’s put forth our very best “Squid, Calamari and Octopus” dishes. Knowing your passion for cuisine, I don’t expect to see squid rings coated in gummy batter and deep-fried to the point that they bounce on the floor like a rubber ball. No, I’m guessing we’ll plate some fabulous dishes that showcase the versatility of these unique creatures.
  5. Cook-Off 61: Gels, Jell-O and Aspic

    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.
  6. Cook-Off 60: Banh Mi

    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.
  7. Welcome back to our popular eGullet Cook-Off Series. Our last Cook-Off, Hash, took us into a heated discussion of the meat of the matter--should it be chopped, hashed, sliced, diced, or chunked. Click here, for our Hash discussion, and the answers to all of your questions about this beloved diner staple. The complete eG Cook-Off Index can be found here. Today we’re launching eGullet Cook-Off 59: Cured, Brined, Smoked and Salted Fish. Drying fish is a method of preservation that dates back to Ancient times, but more recently, (let’s say a mere 500 years ago or so), salt mining became a major industry in Europe and salt was a fast and economical way of preserving fish. Curing agents like nitrates were introduced in the 19th century, furthering the safety and taste of preserved fish. Where I live in the Pacific Northwest, Native Americans have been preserving fish and seafood for millennia. While we are best known for our ruby-red, oily-rich, smoked salmon, other species of fish found in the Pacific and in our streams are delicious when cured and smoked including Halibut, Sablefish and Idaho Rainbow Trout. And don’t think that you can’t smoke shellfish, alder-smoked Dungeness Crab is a wondrous Pacific Northwest delicacy that evokes memories of crab roasting over a driftwood fire on the beach. Another method of preserving fish is to bath the beauties in a brine—a combination of water, sugar, salt and spices that adds flavor and moisture to fish before it is dried or smoked. And speaking of smoked fish, you can do it in a small pan on top of the stove, in a cast iron drum, a barbecue pit, an old woodshed or a fancy digital smoker. The methods and flavors produced by smoking fish are endless. Old-fashioned ways of preserving fish, (while adequate at the time), aren't always the best method today. Today's technology provides us with the tools to create cured fish that is moist, succulent, tender and with a hint of smoke. The Modernist movement has certainly played a role in bringing this age-old craft into the 21st century, so for the avant-garde in the crowd, show us your creative wizardry for preserving fish the "modern" way. Cured, Brined, Smoked or Salted, the art of preserving fish opens us up to limitless possibilities that transcend the boundaries of cuisine and culture. So let’s sew-up the holes in our fishnets, scrub the barnacles off the rowboat and set out to sea in search of some delectable fish to cure, brine, smoke and salt.
  8. eG Cook-Off 58: Hash

    Welcome back to our reknowned eGullet Cook-Off Series. Our last Cook-Off, Bolognese Sauce, led to a spirited discussion over the intricacies of the beloved Italian meat sauce. Click here for the complete eG Cook-Off Index. Today we’re launching eGullet Cook-Off 58: Hash, the classic American diner dish. Yet what appears as a humble, one-name dish is anything but ordinary. The difficulty in defining “Hash” is exactly why we’ve chosen it for a Cook-Off—simple definitions don’t apply when one considers that Hash is a dish that transcends regional and international boundaries. The ingredients one chooses to put into their version of Hash are limitless--we aren’t just talking cold meat and leftover potatoes folks. I for one, always thought Hash came out of a can from our friends at Hormel Foods, (as in "Mary Kitchen" Corned Beef Hash). It looks like Alpo when you scoop it out of the can, but it sure fries up nice and crispy. After a few weeks of research in the kitchen, I’ve experienced a new appreciation for Hash. So start putting together the fixins for your Hash and let’s start cooking. Hash, it’s what’s for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.
  9. eG Cook-Off 57: Bolognese Sauce

    Welcome back to our eGullet Cook-off Series. Recent Cook-Offs challenged our skills with Grilled Chicken, Gratins, Shrimp & Grits and Savory-Filled Pastries. (Click here for the Cook-Off Index). Today we’ll be launching eGullet Cook-Off 57: Bolognese Sauce. We've discussed Bolognese in the past here, but let's revist this classic dish and get into the heart,(with lots of discussion and photos), of one of the most traditional of all Italian sauces. Bolognese Sauce, (often called “Ragu” Bolognese), dates back literally hundreds of years to the 5th century when the Romans were in power. Yet the historical records as to who actually created Bolognese Sauce are somewhat sketchy. Even more unclear is the question as to what is the “definitive” Bolognese Sauce. The argument over the ingredients that go into a Bolognese is probably as deep as the complex, rich flavors of this classic sauce. As with many legendary recipes, there are literally thousands of variations of Bolognese-the meat, the vegetables, the spices, the “tomato” element and the pasta are all points for heated discussion and that’s exactly why we’ve chosen Bolognese sauce for our latest Cook-off. Along the way, I’ll be sharing a few suggestions for Bolognese from a James Beard Award-Winning Chef known for his expertise in Italian cuisine. Start scribing your shopping list and assembling your ingredients and let's get in the kitchen and cook some Bolognese Sauce.
  10. eG Cook-Off 56: Savory-Filled Pastry

    Welcome back to the long-running eGullet Cook-off Series. Today we're launching Cook-Off #56: Savory-Filled Pastry. Click here for the Cook-off Index. In the UK, they call them "Pasties," in India they are referred to as "Samosa's," and in Latin countries they are called "Empanadas." Savory-Filled Pastries are the perfect little bite-combining multiple flavors and textures-crisp yet light, flaky pastry enveloping a warm cocoon of savory filling. They are the definition of street food-you eat them with your hands and just a few bites will sate your appetite. Often the simplest, most humble dishes are ones that open the cook to a myriad of creative possibilities--should the dough be made exclusively with butter or should we work in some vegetable oil or rendered pork lard for another flavor and texture element? Will the pastry hold up to the hot, juicy filling and shock of frying in oil? We talked about the best pastry for Samosa's here. Should the filling be ground beef or braised, shredded beef? What about minced lamb in a spicy chile sauce? We can make a savory filling with seafood, perhaps spicy shrimp in a peanut curry sauce? What about a vegetarian pastry filled with pickled eggplant spiced with ras el hanout? Do we deep-fry our savory-filled pastries or fry them in oil in a skillet? If we bake our little savory-filled bundles are we still being true to the intent of the dish? We've relished in Great Moments in Deep-Frying here. I'll admit I never knew how much I would fall in love with these tasty bites until I made a batch-now I'm addicted. So let's get cooking and showcase our best savory-filled pastries.
  11. eG Cook-Off 55: Shrimp & Grits

    Welcome to the eGullet Cook-off 55: Shrimp & Grits. Click here for the Cook-off index. Let's just start with a shameful fact: until this moment, eG Forums has had no topic dedicated to making this classic southern dish. True, there's this rambly topic on the origins and particulars of shrimp & grits, and this one on a shrimp & cauliflower "grits" project by Chappie, and a couple dozen on grits basics. But nothing focused on preparing shrimp & grits. Perhaps this is because many think of it as a dish without need for specificity or even care. I mentioned to someone recently that I had to do some prep for a shrimp & grits dinner; he retorted, "How much prep is there?" I suppose you could toss some grits into boiling water, toss some shrimp into a skillet, dump B onto A and call it done. But that seems unfair, doesn't it? The grits below can be a simple foil for dolled-up shrimp, or they can be the luxurious star, creamy, cheese-y, and more. Additional ingredients, garnishes, and accompaniments vary widely, too. If you've had a top-notch version of the dish, you know it isn't just, well, shrimp & grits. Even this Yankee knows that it's good for what ail's you, late winter blues included. So let's see what your basic recipe is, and then you can show us what you do to kick things up a notch. So to speak.
  12. eG Cook-Off 54: Gratins

    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!
  13. Grilled Chicken -- eG Cook-Off 53

    Welcome to eG Cook-Off 53, grilled chicken! (For previous Cook-Offs, check out the eG Cook-Off Index.) For such a ubiquitous summer protein, there have been few eG Forums topics on the subject. CDRFloppingham asked us to consider his grilled chicken dilemmas over in this topic, and there have been a few discussions about par-cooking chicken prior to grilling, a recent long one here and a brief excursion into the topic here (during the Cradle of Flavor topic). But parcooking is just the tip of the wing. Rubs or marinades? Gas or charcoal? Direct or indirect? Whole, spatchcocked, or parts? When do you add salt? Acid? Anyone want to drag the grill out and throw a few birds on it? Just keep your hands off the charred skin I "accidentally" pulled from that stray thigh....
  14. Lasagna -- eG Cook-Off 52

    We were wondering what a good next cook-off would be when Restaurants and Institutions posted this list of the Top 10 Most Googled Recipes of 2009. We compared it to our eG Cook-Off Index and realized that we'd hit most of those main dishes save one. So: Welcome to the latest eG Cook-Off 52, lasagna! We've had a few discussions on the dish (click here and here) but long ago. Given the poke from Restaurants and Institutions, it seemed an update was in order. I've often made both the bolognese & bechamel version as well as the Italian-American red sauce & ricotta, mozzarella, and parmiggiano version, and I love 'em both. I'm also a convert to using as many fresh ingredients as possible, most especially the pasta itself. With kids in the house, it's a fun dish to assemble, and they wolf it down. So is anyone up for some lasagna al forno?
  15. Chicken and Dumplings--Cook-Off 51

    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?
  16. Lamb Stew -- Cook-Off 50

    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.
  17. Slaws -- Cook-off 49

    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.
  18. Grilled Pizza--Cook-Off 48

    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.
  19. Asian Tofu Dishes--Cook-off 47

    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.
  20. Welcome to the eGullet Cook-Off XLV! Click here for the Cook-Off index. After our recent braised brisket and ossobuco Cook-Offs, we thought it was time for a change. We're going from soft and succulent meat to crisp and crunchy fried potatoes. Whether you call them fries, frites or chips, it's time to get the deep fryer (or pot of oil) going. Fries are a popular topic in the eG Forums. For a seemingly simple dish, there's a lot to discuss. First, we need to know what kind of potatoes to use. The standard seems to be the Idaho potato, but I prefer a good red, while some of our members like to experiment with sweet potatoes. Next, what kind of oil do you use? Peanut, canola, soybean? Is there a difference? How about duck fat? Then there's the method - fry once? Fry twice at different temperatures? Do you peel them, soak them in water, use a deep fryer or a pot of oil? Now is the time to try the Robuchon Method if you haven't yet. Finally, what's your condiment of choice? Ketchup, mayo and vinagars (malt or white) are common, but I'm sure Society members are getting creative. Potatoes are still inexpensive so stock up, get your knife out, heat the oil and tell us how you do fries.
  21. Ossobuco -- eG Cook-Off 44

    Welcome to eGullet Cook-Off XLIV! Click here for the Cook-Off index. We've just devoted a Cook-Off to braised brisket, and we're turning again to moist, well-cooked proteins for our next adventure: ossobuco. You will see it spelled a number of different ways out there, but Marcella Hazan refers to it as one word in her definitive Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, so I'm going with that spelling. No reason to argue with Marcella, after all. Ossobuco is braised veal shank, named after the "bone with a hole" that used to be attached to the hind shank of a calf. (Let's all agree to stick to veal, and not have, say, halibut ossobuco. ) The classic Milanese version includes vegetables, tomatoes, wine, and broth, and is served with risotto alla milanese, perfumed with saffron, and with gremolada. Some of the versions out there are a bit wacky. In particular, The Silver Spoon Cookbook simmers the 2" thick shanks for 30 minutes atop the stove. Given that Hazan has 1 1/2" shanks in a 350F oven for two hours, I'm pretty sure the SSC is a waste of good veal. Indeed, I'd think that a much lower oven for longer would work wonders. There are more things to talk about here than just braising temps and times! For example, many other versions of ossobuco depart from the Milanese approach. In her out-of-print More Classic Italian Cooking, Hazan provides the recipe for Ossobuchi in Bianco, the white referring to a sauce lacking tomato. In The Fine Art of Italian Cooking, Giuliano Bugialli offers ossobuco Florentine style, with peas and pancetta, and Lynne Rossetto Kasper's Italian Country Table offers a home-style version with mushrooms, favas or snap peas, and more intense flavors such as anchovy, sage, and rosemary. We have one short discussion of ossobuco here, and an even shorter one on wine pairings here. Indeed, as is often the case with Italian food, the best discussion is the one shepherded by Kevin72, the Cooking and Cuisine of Lombardia, which muses on on the dish's origins and execution throughout. I'm wondering a few things myself. Some folks say that braised veal cannot be reheated, unlike other dishes that benefit from a night in the fridge. I'm also wondering what other sorts of sides -- polenta, say, or the Italian mashed potatoes that Hazan suggests for the ossobuchi in bianco -- would work and/or are traditional. So who wants to welcome the new year with some bones with holes?
  22. Braised Brisket -- Cook-Off 43

    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.
  23. Ratatouille--Cook-Off 42

    Welcome to the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off! Click here for the Cook-Off index. There was this rat, and he wanted to be a cook. When he finally made it into the kitchen of a Parisian restaurant, he needed some help coming up with a signature dish to impress the critics. So he sent his producer to stage a few days at the French Laundry, a little-known, out-of-the-way joint run by a guy named Thomas Keller. Keller had come up with a dish he called "byaldi," and with a bit of tweaking, handed over a recipe for Thomas Keller's "confit byaldi." Rat made it, critic was thrilled, everyone's happy. A little while later, this eGullet Society member, KarenM, prints out the recipe and makes this thing of beauty: Fortunately, there were many dozen grateful Heartlanders eager to devour the dish, which some of them called by its ancestral name: ratatouille. Ratatouille is the perfect late summer Cook-Off. Shockingly, we have only one topic dedicated to it, but it's a beaut. You'll find disagreements about whether ratatouille should be a jammy, stewy ratatouille or a discretely sautéed and layered dish. Advocates of Provencal authenticity face off against the fresh, clean, and bright brigade who know no region. And then there's that picky olive oil question. I'll admit that I've always hated ratatouille, which has been throughout my life the potluck dish I should avoid at all costs, so I'm game to figure out how to make something that doesn't suck. I also have no fear of the mandoline, if it comes to that. So where do you stand? Jammy goodness or definitive elements? Are you a Provencal stickler or a "what's ready in my garden" free spirit?
  24. Welcome to the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off! Click here for the Cook-Off index. Perhaps the most internationally well-known food from Jamaica involves the spicy dry-rub Jerk seasoning, cooked in a 55-gallon drum converted into a charcoal grill, and served screaming-hot as street food across the island. While most of us don't have 55-gallon drums in our backyards, jerk-style meats (and even tofu!) are perfect for outdoor grilling, and (in a pinch) roasting for those without access to a grill. The recipes in RecipeGullet have the common theme of Allspice and Scotch Bonnet peppers, in addition to the inclusion of scallions, garlic, nutmeg, cinnamon, etc. We have a recipe for Jerk Chicken and for Jamaican Jerk Paste which it seems can be readily adapted to nearly any protein, with pork, goat, and chicken being the best-known examples. In addition, entire cookbooks exist dedicated to the subject—Jerk from Jamaica: Barbecue Caribbean Style, for example. Here on the eGullet Forums we have topics devoted to Jerk Chicken, Jerk Sauce, Jerk Pork, a discussion on the authenticity of using Soy Sauce in Jerk, and even some advice on Oil Drum Cooking. What is your "house blend" of Jerk spices? Soy Sauce included, or sacrilege? Doin' your thing over gas, or burning Pimento Wood, or living in an apartment with no grill and winging it?
  25. Cold Soups -- Cook-Off 40

    Cold Soups--Cook-Off XL eGullet Recipe Cook-Off Series Welcome to the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off! Click here for the Cook-Off index. From avocado to zucchini, cold soups know no bounds. And, with summer quickly approaching in the northern hemisphere, we thought it might be a good time to take a look at all the wonderful varieties of cold soups that work so well in the warmer months. After all, who doesn't remember that wonderful first slurp of an icy, spicy gazpacho? Or mixing your side of sour cream into a shockingly red borscht for a dish that is so much more than the sum of its parts. Perhaps yours was fancier, the potato and leek wonder known by its French name, vichyssoise...(and which, by the way, is also known as potage parmentier when served hot, according to Bernard Clayton, in his great primer The Complete Book of Soups and Stews; Clayton's book has 29 cold soup recipes - not bad). Stepping back in time, if you'll allow me to poach a couple of cold ones that I made last year, there's ample room for sweet as well as the savory. Strawberries make an awesome soup, or so I'm told. Cherries do too - just take a look below...this sour cherry soup was quite tasty, as well as a great vehicle for ice cream and sorbet ... Perhaps something a little more savory is to your liking...everyone loved cacik, a Turkish yogurt and cucumber soup, redolent with dill and garlic...though I may have served portions a bit too large - So, bring it on eG'ers - get out your blenders, hand mixers, food processors, chopping blocks, ice cubes, etc. and show us what's keeping you cool, at least in the soup department, this coming summer.
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