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Fat Guy

Recipe instructions and quantities you routinely ignore

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Oh, cocktails. I always ignore the amount of whatever the sweet ingredient is (cointreau, simple syrup, etc.), and generally start by cutting it in half.

Wow - so your Manhattans are 4:1?


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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I always add lots more vanilla. And I always use dark brown sugar instead of light.

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If the recipie is American, I always cut back on the sugar by 20-25%. I never use measuring cups, but directly "translate" the recipie into metric weight before even pulling out any ingredients.

Any recipies other than for baking or confectionary are only "guidelines".

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When baking we usually cut the sugar and note the change in the recipe. For us American recipes are generally too sweet.


The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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Recipes that tell you to dump all the vegetables and seasonings into the pot at the same time and saute them together. Not happening in my kitchen. If we're cooking, we're taking our time and building up our flavors carefully, one or two at a time, in the correct order.

And whatever amount of garlic a recipe calls for, I'll be putting in more. Ditto onions, and most other vegetables. Things like that, I don't measure. In fact, I don't measure much of anything. Recipes are more like templates or patterns for me -- variations on techniques I'm already familiar with, or a new technique that I can fit into an existing framework.

Well, I guess I am more precise with baking, but I tend to bake only a few things like bread and tarts.

Now that I have my own homemade vanilla (thank you, Fat Guy!), lots of it goes in everything!

We have both salted and unsalted butter in our house, but it's really just habit. I think it's time to switch to all unsalted.

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The salted butter issue is an interesting one. I know that pastry professionals are nearly unanimous on calling for unsalted. And I understand the theory. But in practice I've found that salted butter tastes better than butter plus salt, especially when you're talking about supermarket butter, perhaps because of the preservative effect of the salt. And while there's some loss of precision when you use pre-salted butter due to varying salt levels in commercial butter (although you could do a careful computation based on the nutrition-facts label), I've found that everything tends to work out fine when you use salted butter. I have never actually seen a real-world example of someone saying a recipe came out badly for using salted butter.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I was brought up with the unsalted (shield your eyes) margarine in all the German/Austrian/Hungarian pastries. They went through that period where butter was not around and they adopted margarine. Anyway- we would go on store crawls for the unsalted Fleishmans. In my current experience I do not bake that much and I keep salted butter in the fridge. No complaints when I hand out sweets.

I am also not a follower of sifting, ingredient order, or oil quantities that you saute or prep things in.

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Like others, I generally add double vanilla and an extra bit of salt to cookies (especially chocolate chip). Salted/unsalted butter isn't an issue in our house. We only keep unsalted butter (or ocassionally cultured unsalted). Never had any problems with freshness/quality.

I always add the garlic after the onion is nearly ready, and I may start adding the carrots and celery later as well after reading some of these posts...

If a recipe calls for cooking anything that doesn't need constant stirring over a bowl of hot water, I use the microwave instead. And I always make hollandaise and sabayon in the pot straight on the burner (not that I make these things on a daily basis).

I generally adjust recipes that seem to call for excess amounts of chemical leavening. I HATE the greasy metallic taste of too much baking powder/soda. For example, last night I made these green pancakes with lime butter, but I left out the additional 1 tablespoon of baking powder (really, for 110 grams of self-raising flour?) and used 3 whipped eggwhites instead of 1. They were delicious. In pancake/muffin recipes I sometimes swap baking powder for bicarb soda and add an acid, or use buttermilk instead of sweet milk.

If a recipe calls for what seems like an excess of egg yolks in a custard, I will sometimes swap out two yolks for 1 whole egg. And my go-to icecream base recipe uses two whole eggs to 3 cups of milk/cream, no additional yolks. It still beats anything at the shops, but I should try one of the yolks-only ones sometime.

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Always more garlic usually more onion - depending on what I'm making

If I'm baking and it calls for cinnamon, I usually add nutmeg and a bit of clove - unless it's something specific like cinnamon buns

Always, more salt and pepper - haven't actually measured either of these for eons

Unless it's baking - almost everything is 'eyeball' and my tried and true recipes are in my head with printed recipes used as reference. Like lasagna, I can never remember the order of the noodles, to cheese to meat to sauce and have to refer to my 1974 Better Homes and Gardens cook book. (This is actually one of the best recipes I have ever used).

The butter thing - it's always salted - and butter to me can be a 'snack food'.

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I always, always add a pinch of salt to anything sweet I'm making, whether the recipe calls for it or not. Custards, ice creams, sauces, syrups, whatever. The other day I made a cherry crisp with some Bings that were about to go south, and both the fruit and the crisp topping got a sprinkle. IMO, it just really does bring out all the flavors, even in a sweet dish.


--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

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I used margarine instead of butter in almost all baking ... unless the customer specifically asked for butter. Or for high-end shortbread. At home I use a 50-50 butter-margarine mix. Hardly ever no-salt butter.


Edited by Just loafing (log)

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1. Always more garlic.

2. A bit of sugar added to anything with canned tomatos.

3. Always omit the bell pepper and celery (hate 'em!). This makes stuff interesting when cooking Cajun. I'll typically use some green onions, and maybe a mild Anaheim chili.


Don't ask. Eat it.

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Most recipes for me are more for guidance, unless it's when i'm learning a new regional cuisine where it helps to learn to understand how the particular ingredients are combined to create the essential flavours and textures even then I can never follow a recipe to the letter - I virtualy always need to increase garlic & adjust for flavour balance.

In baking I tend to follow the recipe but adjust flavoring amounts for example I always need more cinamon and vanilla.

I use salted butter for baking/cooking simply because If I want butter on bread it has to be salted. The only times I buy unsalted is for the rare recipes I don't want any salt in the only two I can think of are lemon curd and light fruity buttercream fillings for chocolates (if using white chocolate).

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Except when baking, I rarely measure anything.

In general though, I:

-decrease salt, increase pepper

-increase cayenne, chili powder, chiles, hot sauce, etc.

-decrease sugar

-increase vanilla

-increase garlic

-will use an "entire vegetable" (there is no way I am saving 2/5's of a red pepper)

-only use salted butter (salted butter tastes better and is there really that much salt in salted butter?)

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I only buy unslated butter and adjust salt to taste. I always ignore the salt except in cures.

I double the vanilla usually in baking or replace it.

I add chipolte or sesame oil to stuff on the grill in most cases.

I add fish sauce to dang near every stock I make. It seems to make the flavor richer.

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-only use salted butter (salted butter tastes better and is there really that much salt in salted butter?)

Canadian butter has more salt in it than American butter...IMHO


Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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Never sift

Always use salted butter (costco customer here)

rarely adjust for egg size

always add extra vanilla

often add small qties of vanilla to recipes that dont call for it

often sub grand marnier for vanilla

almost always add extra garlic

brown garlic last, after all the other stuff is browned

usually add extra soysauce


"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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A few things:

- we cut back on salt most often, and increase the pepper

- we add more vegetables than the recipe calls for...more for flavour and nutrition

- everything always needs more garlic, doesn't it?

- if it has caraway seeds, or dill, we don't add in (personal preference)

- mostly ignore the final temperature if it is beef, lamb or pork. How many recipes call for an internal temp of 140 for medium rare! Beef and lamb generally get pulled at 120ish and pork at 140. Too many safety nazis.

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I'm stunned by the number of people that never sift-- when I sift, I always find lumps, especially of baking powder, cocoa, or malt powder. Once I found a 1-inch twig in my flour-- I think my kid put it in there, but the sifter took it out. Plus, my sifter is a family heirloom from my Great-Aunt Rose, the best baker in the family.

Jen

P.S. I always double the amount of ginger-- fresh or dried.

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Plus.. Sifting makes a big difference in the final product. Skipping steps like that in baking is just foolishness. Will the formula still work, sure, but like staining sauces its a point of refinement. Do I really need to rest my bread dough in before shaping?.. {sigh}

There are lots of times when you can change recipes or procedures, it's prudent to understand what they are there for.. often it's more than just the obvious.

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What's the argument for sifting? There are plenty of credible sources saying it's usually a waste of time. While I'm willing to believe that there are certain recipes where sifting might make a difference, I'm also sure that most of the time the instruction is not worth following. Especially when dealing with older cookbooks, written at a time when flour production was different, it's eminently ignorable advice. Just a couple of citations...

Better Homes & Gardens:

Q: Do I need to sift the flour when making cookies?

A: Thanks to advances in flour production, for most recipes, it's no longer necessary to sift flour.

Rose Levy Berenbaum says sifting is not necessary if you weigh your ingredients:

Is it really necessary to sift flour?

Not if you weigh it. Sifting makes it easier to measure consistently. It does not, however, evenly incorporate dry ingredients. Whisking them together by hand, beating them in a mixing bowl, or whirling them for a few seconds in a food processor does a far better job of mixing.

http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/2006/03/is_it_really_necessary_to_sift.html


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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