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Cooking for 26!


jrshaul
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Well, I made a huge pot of bolognese this past wednesday. Due to a combination of shoddy equipment and crass stupidity, the whole affair ended up with me being in the kitchen for about seven hours. On the other hand, it was pretty tasty.

I started by browning the ground beef and big pieces of pork shoulder, then making a basic mirepoix in the grease from some finely-minced bacon. The mirepoix was blended and added to the meat with some red wine, and then I added some water and a little milk before cooking for a few hours. The pork was removed from the sauce, shredded by hand (this was more difficult than I had expected), and returned to cook some more.

At this point, I remembered something important: I haven't actually had an authentic bolognese in several years, but that's mostly because I don't like it very much. Also, the meat was all wrong anyway (3lb beef to 6lb pork + 1lb american bacon), so what the heck.

I then went quite mad and added garlic, some reconstituted ancho chilis, the liquor from some reconstituted chipotles, and the most tiny hint of about half the spice rack. And then I cooked it some more.

The end result was very good. It had a very strong untified meaty flavor, with no elements really protruding heavily. Despite the completely berserk ingredient list, it was pretty conceptually true to the original. Nothing mind-blowing, but it had positive reviews.

I also made some pasta i con fagioli which wasn't very good because the beans wouldn't cook and the tomato paste is crap, though the vegetarians didn't care much. Also, a lack of pasta meant that quite a lot of people ended up eating their bolognese with quinoa, which was surprisingly good. (Up until a peruvian guy demonstrated the wonders of quinoa with meat, I had sort of regarded the stuff as finely shredded cardboard for crazy hippies.)

I also whipped up a pot of rice pudding. A purchasing mishap meant that there was nearly a dozen cans of coconut milk in the pantry that were, in reality, 25% coconut and 75% water. I dumped about eight into a pot, added some sugar and seasoning, and simmered to infuse the flavor from some orange zest before making rice in the normal fashion. For a gluten-free vegan kosher halal mormon-friendly dessert, it's really, really good. And doesn't taste particularly strong of coconut.

Also, my camera went kablooey, so you just get cell phone pictures. Sorry.

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Edited by jrshaul (log)
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Someone's birthday is on Thursday, and I'd like to make them a cake. Can anyone make some suggestions for a sheet-pan-appropriate item that's pretty good? I have a particular loathing for "box mix" style cakes, but I'm not a particularly good pastry chef either.

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No suggestions on the cake... I tend to throw in stuff like spiced rum or sherry or blackberry wine which might not be appropriate.

But...

For a gluten-free vegan kosher halal mormon-friendly dessert...

Since you mentioned Mormons, I wonder if you've given any thought to Mormon Funeral Potatoes?

Always a crowd-pleaser (even a morose one). And goodness knows it's easy.

:rolleyes:

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Jrshaul,

Texas Sheet Cake - chocolate buttermilk sheet cake with a chewy, fudgelike icing spread on while warm. This one, from Recipe Gullet, looks good. It looks like it makes 24 servings, but I'd make separate cakes instead of trying to scale the recipe (if you need that much).

Thanks,

Zachary

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Thanks for the sheet cake suggestion. I think I'll be going for something a bit less traditional - possibly a huge batch of creme brulee. Poached pears in tea is also popular, and it has the major benefit of being both vegan and gluten-free. (I did it!)

After much lobbying, I think I've successfully badgered the house into acquiring a new Vita-Mix blender. (Hooray for customer loyalty programs.) It's $280 after discount, but that gives a 7-year warranty. Anyone have any thoughts on these? The last one managed roughly fourteen years, so it seems like a good investment.

Can anyone recommend a heavy-duty stick blender? I think we'd benefit a lot from having one. Also, maybe a food processor and whompy-stompy microwave?

I've been making vast quantities of pies. I'm not very good at pie and don't have proper tools (turns out a potato masher really isn't the same thing as a pastry cutter), but I'm getting better and have an excellent gauge of how much people like the result. My mom's Idiotproof Lemon Tart was actually eaten sans permission in my absence, which means I'll need to make it again shortly and then put a lock on it (or hide it under the celery.)

Can anyone suggest something to do with lots of fresh kiwis? We have a carton, and no one is eating them but me. Maybe some sort of fresh fruit tart with a cream base?

Since you mentioned Mormons, I wonder if you've given any thought to Mormon Funeral Potatoes?

Always a crowd-pleaser (even a morose one). And goodness knows it's easy.

Between the non-vegan nature and the frequency with which the French students make proper pommes de terres au gratin, I don't think they'd go over so well. Plain ol' roast spuds are inhaled at a genuinely frightening velocity, though. (For those interested, I did a test on whether low-sided pans really have an advantage over high-sided pans. Turns out they do.)

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Can anyone recommend a heavy-duty stick blender? I think we'd benefit a lot from having one. Also, maybe a food processor and whompy-stompy microwave?

Robot Coupe is the brand most restaurants use and it's built to be heavy duty.

Can anyone suggest something to do with lots of fresh kiwis? We have a carton, and no one is eating them but me. Maybe some sort of fresh fruit tart with a cream base?

Pavlova is a traditional dessert that involves kiwifruits.

PS: I am a guy.

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Pavlova is a traditional dessert that involves kiwifruits.

Guess what I made for someone's birthday?

Three pavlovas with kiwifruit and stabilized whipped cream(though I only had enough whipped cream for two)

Ten poached pears in tea with ginger (gluten-free and vegan!)

And, using the egg yolks from the fifteen eggs:

Eighteen small creme brulees.

The pavlovas were an excellent suggestion - I wouldn't have thought of them otherwise, but they went over fabulously. Very few of those attending had ever had it before, and it was a welcome change from box-mix birthday cake. It was also surprisingly easy to do - making three pavlovas isn't much more difficult from making just one.

I'm serving the creme brulees tonight. Serving meringues with creme brulee is a great combination, as it uses the surplus egg whites to produce a gluten-free low calorie counterpart. Gotta get over and start torching!

I did, however, learn that Knox gelatin is a bit more powerful than some brands, and 1 teaspoon per cup of whipping cream is really quite excessive. If anyone has a better suggestion for stabilizing whipped cream, I'd be open to hear it.

Still have a lot of kiwis, though. Can anyone suggest a vegan pastry cream recipe?

Edited by jrshaul (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...

So, you've been at it for several weeks now...

How goes it?

Successes? Failures?

And, most important (to me anyway): are you enjoying it?

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Pavlova is a traditional dessert that involves kiwifruits.

I did, however, learn that Knox gelatin is a bit more powerful than some brands, and 1 teaspoon per cup of whipping cream is really quite excessive. If anyone has a better suggestion for stabilizing whipped cream, I'd be open to hear it.

Instead of gelatin, try Instant ClearJel, which is a modified food starch. Good set, but not firm like gelatin. Use 1-2 tsps per cup of heavy cream, depending on how long you need it to hold. Clear Jel is great for fruit pie fillings too. It is great in any uncooked application--it will gel without heat, so you can slice up fresh fruit, sprinkle on a little sugar to draw out the fruit's juices, then stir in a little ClearJel & sugar to "set" the mixture. Great for preserving the nice fresh texture of strawberries, pineapple, etc. in tarts & pies.

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