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eG Foodblog: Chris Hennes (2012) - Chocolate, Tamales, Modernism, etc.


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Yeah, we'll see. I haven't tried the MC recipe in lasagne yet.

For those of you who compost, what do you use in your kitchen to hold the scraps? This is my compost bucket, next to my cutting board:

Compost container.jpg

I don't like it: it's ugly, and it has a rim that stuff gets caught in. On the plus side, I think it cost $0.99 at the Home Depot. I'd love to replace it with something easier to clean and a little more attractive.

We have a stainless steel compost pail from Lee Valley - see here. It looks ok, and has a lid, and is easy to clean. The downside is that after using for a few years, the inside is showing signs of corrosion - ie, it isn't the most stainless stainless steel in existance. Of course spending most of its life holding wet slimy stuff awaiting the compost pile is a tall order. There are other sources for stainless steel pails/buckets if you look around. It seems to me that a not so desirable stainless steel stock pot or saucepan from a thrift store or yard sale wouldn't be a bad way to go.

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Yeah, we'll see. I haven't tried the MC recipe in lasagne yet.

For those of you who compost, what do you use in your kitchen to hold the scraps? This is my compost bucket, next to my cutting board:

Compost container.jpg

I don't like it: it's ugly, and it has a rim that stuff gets caught in. On the plus side, I think it cost $0.99 at the Home Depot. I'd love to replace it with something easier to clean and a little more attractive.

Here are my outside bins at the moment:

Compost bins.jpg

Compost.jpg

Getting to be about time to turn over that big one.

Here, those buckets that plaster of Paris and ceiling paint come in are very popular for this purpose (they're free, have a wide mouth, a lid, a handle, and clean up easily); not hideous, but admittedly, not gorgeous.

I'm curious: Are your outside bins normally wrapped in plastic? I know open bins compost much more slowly.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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I bought three or four of these Rubbermaid buckets at Walmart several years ago as they are a good size for me to handle as the 5-gallon buckets I use to use are now awkward for me. They have held up remarkably well.

They were on sale last month. They also have the Sterilite brand which doesn't have the pour spout and I think has a lid you can buy separately.

I used to buy the 5 gallon utility buckets at Home Depot or Lowe's (one is yellow, one is orange) but they are now too big for me to handle easily. They were cheaper and had lids.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I'm curious: Are your outside bins normally wrapped in plastic? I know open bins compost much more slowly.

Nope: what you see is what I've got. I'm not concerned with the rate of decay, those bins are plenty large enough for the two of us. That said, I actually hadn't heard that closed bins were better, I thought the reverse was true. Most backyard bins are designed with ventilation slots, aren't they?

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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OK then. I guess we're having tacos for dinner. Despite adding far more water than the recipe calls for, the pasta dough is still too stiff, it just won't roll nicely without tearing. Alas, I am out of flour now, so I can't just redo it and make traditional pasta today, so the lasagne is now on hold until tomorrow. Doh!

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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You can often get lovely canisters in thrift shops.

I just use a bowl and empty it daily.

I'm amused by the title "lasagne al forno", even tho I want to try the recipe.

What does the xanthan gum do for the pasta?

"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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What does the xanthan gum do for the pasta?

It's a texturizing agent that the MC team uses to give fresh pasta an al dente bite like you get with dried. It works great for things like fettucini, I thought it would be entertaining to try in lasagne. How do you all knead your pasta dough? This one is quite stiff, I really struggled with it: it was probably under-kneaded in the end here.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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What does the xanthan gum do for the pasta?

It's a texturizing agent that the MC team uses to give fresh pasta an al dente bite like you get with dried. It works great for things like fettucini, I thought it would be entertaining to try in lasagne. How do you all knead your pasta dough? This one is quite stiff, I really struggled with it: it was probably under-kneaded in the end here.

I have used xantham gum in pasta once. I didn't used the MC recipe, but merely added 1% xanthan to my normal flour + eggs + salt pasta dough. I found the effect dramatic. Normally I end up kneading my pasta a great deal via the thickest setting on my roller (pass through rollers, fold, pass through again) until it gets to the point that it is elastic and won't stick together.

With the xantham added, it was different. As I passed through the rollers repeatedly it just became crumbly. It also didn't need much kneading to not be sticky. I settled on passing through the widest roller setting just enough times to get it full width and somewhat rectangular, and then cranking down the thickness as usual.

I really liked the resulting pasta - it had a much improved bite to the mouthfeel. I will continue to use it for all future pasta, whether for fettucine, lasagne, or anything else.

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I'm amused by the title "lasagne al forno", even tho I want to try the recipe.

What's amusing about the title? This is actual Italian name for the baked, layered dish typically called "lasagna" in the United States (meaning "lasagna noodles [cooked] in the oven").

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I'm amused by the title "lasagne al forno", even tho I want to try the recipe.

What's amusing about the title? This is actual Italian name for the baked, layered dish typically called "lasagna" in the United States (meaning "lasagna noodles [cooked] in the oven").

Because its being used to distinguish the dish from standard american lasagna, which is all 'al forno' too, so my amusement is because the term is inherent in the US understanding of the dish. (at least, I've only ever heard of it being baked. Maybe someone makes a stovetop version?)

And yes, I know the version being prepared differs considerably from US std, but not because its baked in the oven.

Does it bother me Chris uses it? Not in the least. Does it make me giggle? Yes it does.

"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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Does it bother me Chris uses it? Not in the least. Does it make me giggle? Yes it does.

To be honest, the only reason I'm using it here in writing is because that's the title of the recipe in the book (and there are a couple different lasagne in there, so this distinguishes it, I think). At home, to us it's just "lasagna".

Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org

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Huh. I just call it that (whether I'm making the Emilia-Romagna version or the Italian-American version) because that's what it is. For the same reason I don't call a single sandwich a "panini."

But, I suppose it actually makes sense to call the Italian-American version "lasagna" and the Italian version "lasagne al forno" as a way of distinguishing between the two.

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I figured it was the title of the recipe from the way you used it.

Kinda curious now, what are the other titles?

The one you plan to make sounds like the one we ate at Lake Garda, and if it looks like it when you take your pix, I'm a gonna hafta make it. Not gonna call it 'al forno' tho. Not til I start making my US-style without an oven.

"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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With the xantham added, it was different. As I passed through the rollers repeatedly it just became crumbly.

Sorry Mark I was wondering if you could clarify. Pasta dough that becomes more crumbly the more you knead it does not sound like a good thing. To my mind, crumbly pasta dough won't come together. Perhaps you meant to say the opposite?

There is no love more sincere than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw
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So, the backup plan for tonight's dinner was to make tomorrow's dinner instead, which was designed to be fast to make: back to Bayless's Fiesta at Rick's and to my favorite recipe in the book, Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano and Caramelized Onion. I am making this as a taco filling (you could just serve it as-is, or use it as a chip dip, or put it on toast points, etc.) so I started by making tortillas. Here is my setup:

13 of 13 - Tortilla station.jpg

I think there are probably as many "secrets" to making tortillas as there are Mexican grandmothers, but here's my technique. I have a single cooking surface at a single temperature: medium high or so on my electric range. I'm using a non-stick pan here only because it's the only one I've got with low sides: tortillas won't stick to a plain steel or cast iron surface either, as long as it's hot enough. I let it heat all the way up before beginning, then I put a tortilla on. I give it just a few seconds, enough time to release from the pan if you give the handle a shake, then I flip it over for the first time:

12 of 13 - Tortilla after first flip.jpg

At this point I scoop and form the next tortilla while I am waiting. You have to make sure to give it enough time on this side or it won't puff up properly and will tend to wind up doughy inside. I wait until I can smell toasting corn before I flip it. If your timing is right, the tortilla will immediately puff up like a pita bread:

11 of 13 - Second flip.jpg

It takes less time to cook this side since it's already partially cooked, but again, once you can smell the corn toasting, take it off. They should look something like this:

10 of 13 - Finished tortillas.jpg

OK, onto the filling.The poblanos are roasted and sliced:

9 of 13 - Roasted poblanos.jpg

Meanwhile you saute the chicken. Remove it and add the onions. Cook them until they take on some color:

8 of 13 - Onions.jpg

Add the poblanos and garlic to the onions:

7 of 13 - Add poblanos.jpg

Let that cook until fragrant, then add the greens (spinach in this case), stock, and thyme:

6 of 13 - Add spinach and stock.jpg

Let that cook for a few minutes:

5 of 13 - Reduce.jpg

Reduce that to a glaze over high heat, then add the crema (or cream, as I had to do here, being out of crema):

4 of 13 - Add crema.jpg

Reduce until it's the desired consistency:

3 of 13 - Reduce again.jpg

And served:

2 of 13 - Served as taco filling.jpg

1 of 13 - Taco.jpg

This is the first time I've used cream instead of crema in this dish: it was still a delicious dish, but the crema makes a difference, so if you have access to it, use that instead for sure.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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