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Absurdly, stupidly basic cooking questions (Part 2)

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How crucial is filé powder for Gumbo? Is it filé powder and okra ... or just one of them? I tried really hard, but it seems impossible to get filé powder where I live :(

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How crucial is filé powder for Gumbo? Is it filé powder and okra ... or just one of them? I tried really hard, but it seems impossible to get filé powder where I live :(

Gumbo filé powder is the essential flavoring and thickening ingredient of gumbo. Yeah, I couldn't find file powder anywhere either, except from that link (it's local to me). If there are any spice shops in your area, or I'm sure Penzey's and others carry it.

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i'm so embarrassed :(

what is sous vide cooking?  is it steaming at a low heat?

Meats and fish become "done" at various sub-boiling temperatures. For example, beef is medium rare at 65C and salmon is cooked at 40C. The theory of sous vide is that if you immerse food in a waterbath set at your desired temperature, the food will stay at that temperature for the duration of the cooking process. Sous vide foods are sealed in waterproof plastic bags with various flavouring ingredients and then cooked in either water or steam for prolonged periods of time. Food done sous vide tends to be more evenly cooked and usually more tender since there is more time for the connective tissue to break down (as in a braised dish) but is not well-done like braised meat.

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I've actually had sushi rice risotto and I thought it tasted pretty similar to arborio. They are both similar size and type of rice, so it made little difference.

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Hi all,

After lurking for a little while, it's probably fitting that my first post would be under this topic. :rolleyes: I have a stupid question about adding alcohol to hot pans, such as for deglazing. I know you're supposed to remove it from heat, but does this mean actually letting the pan cool down some before adding alcohol, or is it okay if you simply turn off the burner, immediately add alcohol, and then turn the burner back on? Is the danger from the open flame, or just the temperature of the pan?

Thanks!

-al

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Hi all,

After lurking for a little while, it's probably fitting that my first post would be under this topic.  :rolleyes:  I have a stupid question about adding alcohol to hot pans, such as for deglazing.  I know you're supposed to remove it from heat, but does this mean actually letting the pan cool down some before adding alcohol, or is it okay if you simply turn off the burner, immediately add alcohol, and then turn the burner back on?  Is the danger from the open flame, or just the temperature of the pan?

Thanks!

-al

As I understand it, you simply need to remove the pan from the fire. The danger is that the fire could flash-back all the way to the bottle, potentially leading the bottle to explode in your hand.

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Hi all,

After lurking for a little while, it's probably fitting that my first post would be under this topic.  :rolleyes:  I have a stupid question about adding alcohol to hot pans, such as for deglazing.  I know you're supposed to remove it from heat, but does this mean actually letting the pan cool down some before adding alcohol, or is it okay if you simply turn off the burner, immediately add alcohol, and then turn the burner back on?  Is the danger from the open flame, or just the temperature of the pan?

Thanks!

-al

It's actually a little of both. The hot pan is what vaporizes the alcohol and makes it airborn. If the flame beneath the pan were to light the vapor it you were still pouring from a bottle, it could ignite the contents of the bottle. Kaboom.

Generally speaking, I pre-measure my liquor into a separate vessel (small dish, ramekin) and then when I go to add the liquor, move the pan off of the flame, add the liquor from the dish and return it to the flame straight away. If you are flambe-ing the dish, tilt the pan slightly until the liquor ignites.

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Generally speaking, I pre-measure my liquor into a separate vessel (small dish, ramekin) and then when I go to add the liquor, move the pan off of the flame, add the liquor from the dish and return it to the flame straight away. If you are flambe-ing the dish, tilt the pan slightly until the liquor ignites.

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how do you pronounce raclette? As in the grill and the cheese by the same name?

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"How do I cut a mango? Is the skin edible (I'm thinking no, it looks tough?) It's soft, about the stage I'd eat a peach or plum at, so I'm guessing it's ripe."

The instructions given for cutting the mango are great. I don't bother to cut the little squares off - just stick it in my mouth and let the juice dribble down my chin!! I understand that it can cause allergic reactions; this generally happens here when (a) chopping off mango branches from the tree or (b) when the mango is eaten straight from the tree. Personally, it's never happened to me, but that doesn't mean it couldnt.

To test for ripeness, I squeeze the mango in the middle with thumb and forefinger. It should give very slightly; that way the fruit inside will be barely ripe and you'll experience the deliciously tart/sweet fruit at its best. It may also depend on the type of mango, however; we have a small, orange-skinned mango here known as "Mango Criollo", which is a little more "stringy" in texture than the big, hybrid varieties, but honey-sweet inside and bright orange.

Can you eat the skin? Well yes, but I prefer it pickled, in the Indian style. Lime juice, salt, ginger, spices, hot pepper and oil. Not for those who dislike "hot!" food, but glorious for those who do!

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Now, I haven't read through all 22 pages of this thread so I hope I'm not repeating a question, but what is chicken fried steak? I've always imagined it has a coating on it like fried chicken, but I really have no idea.

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Now, I haven't read through all 22 pages of this thread so I hope I'm not repeating a question, but what is chicken fried steak? I've always imagined it has a coating on it like fried chicken, but I really have no idea.

Yeah, it's a steak that's been pounded flat (typically with the smooth side of the mallet, but depending on the quality of the meat, the notched side can be used to tenderize the meat if need be), and then coated and fried like you'd do a typical southern fried chicken. It's good eats.

I've always wondered about ordering chicken fried chicken, but I'm thinking I'd get my ass kicked for something like that :smile:

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Hi all,

After lurking for a little while, it's probably fitting that my first post would be under this topic.  :rolleyes:  I have a stupid question about adding alcohol to hot pans, such as for deglazing.  I know you're supposed to remove it from heat, but does this mean actually letting the pan cool down some before adding alcohol, or is it okay if you simply turn off the burner, immediately add alcohol, and then turn the burner back on?  Is the danger from the open flame, or just the temperature of the pan?

Thanks!

-al

It's actually a little of both. The hot pan is what vaporizes the alcohol and makes it airborn. If the flame beneath the pan were to light the vapor it you were still pouring from a bottle, it could ignite the contents of the bottle. Kaboom.

Has anybody ever experienced a liquor bottle exploding in such a way? Or heard of it? I and many others I've worked with have splashed plenty of liquor into hot saute pans over flames (and done other things like light lighter fluid streams out of bottles and spray out of aerosol cans). Never a once had an explosion. Or even remember the flame traveling up the stream. I tend to think an explosion isn't possible - at most, perhaps the (high-alcohol) liquid in the bottle would slowly burn like various flaming drinks before rapidly exhausting the oxygen supply in the bottle. It's like gasoline - it needs to be aerosolized like it is in the pan for it to combust rapidly.

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I have a stupid question about adding alcohol to hot pans, such as for deglazing. I know you're supposed to remove it from heat, but does this mean actually letting the pan cool down some before adding alcohol, or is it okay if you simply turn off the burner, immediately add alcohol, and then turn the burner back on? Is the danger from the open flame, or just the temperature of the pan?

To answer this question properly, we must explore the flash point and flammable range (often called explosive range) for ethyl alcohol (ethanol). Here is the basic safety information for ethyl alcohol (link to NIOSH):

Ethyl alcohol's flash point is 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius). If the temperature is lower than the flash point, the ethanol will not catch on fire. Unless you have a very cold kitchen, the temperature exceeds ethanol’s flash point even before you fire up the range.

Ethyl alcohol's flammable range in air is 3.3% to 19%. A flammable liquid will only burn when its concentration in the air is within the flammable range. If the concentration of ethanol in the air is less than 3.3% or more than 19%, it cannot catch fire. Safety geek note: ethanol concentrations higher than 0.3% (ten times lower than the flammable range) are immediately dangerous to life and health. In other words, you would keel over pretty quickly if the air throughout the kitchen was within ethanol's flammable range. Fortunately, only the air immediately above the hot pan has a sufficiently high concentration of ethanol vapor to exceed the lower end of the flammable range.

So what happens when you flambe? When you pour a liquid containing alcohol into a hot pan, the heat causes the ethanol to evaporate rapidly. If enough ethanol evaporates, its concentration in the air above the pan will exceed 3.3% and you will be within ethanol’s flammable range. An ignition source (stove burner, match, spark, etc.) can then ignite the ethanol vapors. Voila, flambé. Or, if you are deglazing the pan near a flame, unexpected fireball. Move the pan away from any flames before deglazing with liquids containing alcohol, and don't return the pan to the burner until the ethyl alcohol vapors have had a chance to disperse.

Has anybody ever experienced a liquor bottle exploding in such a way? Or heard of it? I and many others I've worked with have splashed plenty of liquor into hot saute pans over flames (and done other things like light lighter fluid streams out of bottles and spray out of aerosol cans). Never a once had an explosion. Or even remember the flame traveling up the stream. I tend to think an explosion isn't possible - at most, perhaps the (high-alcohol) liquid in the bottle would slowly burn like various flaming drinks before rapidly exhausting the oxygen supply in the bottle. It's like gasoline - it needs to be aerosolized like it is in the pan for it to combust rapidly.

OK, people flambé regularly. Why don’t we hear of exploding liquor bottles? Why doesn't your lighter explode? Remember that ethyl alcohol's flammable range is 3% to 19%. Ethanol vapors inside the liquor bottle probably exceed 19%, so they cannot burn. The same principle applies to your lighter (although the flammable range will be different for different chemicals).

Does this mean that a bottle of liquor is completely safe around fire? Absolutely not! What would happen if a cook was startled by the huge eruption of flame from a hot pan and knocked over the liquor bottle near the burners? Bad stuff. This is why tino27’s advice to pre-measure the liquor is spot on.

Suggestion for eGullet: add a science geek icon (smiley wearing safety glasses) as a warning to the science-averse :biggrin:

Edit: spelling


Edited by C. sapidus (log)

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That explanation completely rocked. :biggrin:

It makes me want to start experimenting < 3% and > 19% vapor concentation just to see if that actually works. :blink:

Just kidding.

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Does this mean that a bottle of liquir is completely safe around fire? Absolutely not! What would happen if a cook was startled by the huge eruption of flame from a hot pan and knocked over the liquor bottle near the burners? Bad stuff. This is why tino27’s advice to pre-measure the liquor is spot on.

Hmm, we NEVER kept alcohol near the burners (doesn't heat break them down?) except for the brief moment off adding it, and certainly wouldn't have been startled by erupting flames (a prep cook though, might be).

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Is it dangerous to eat the fuzzy stuff that grows on food after it has been in the fridge for a while? Or could it actually be healthful, since I think I remember reading that penicillin might come from it.

I never eat food in such state a state, but think I may have eaten bread that had the tiniest of splotches of mold starting to form (with no ill effects).

Bonus points for actually describing what the fuzzy stuff actually is ;).


Edited by johnsmith45678 (log)

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Is it dangerous to eat the fuzzy stuff that grows on food after it has been in the fridge for a while? Or could it actually be healthful, since I think I remember reading that penicillin might come from it.

I never eat food in such state a state, but think I may have eaten bread that had the tiniest of splotches of mold starting to form (with no ill effects).

Bonus points for actually describing what the fuzzy stuff actually is ;).

The fuzzy stuff is mold. It is made up of the thread-like mycelia of various fungi. Some molds are dangerous, for instance those which produce mycotoxins, and some are harmless.

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Not necessarily simple, but some might think stupid...

What can you do with powdered goat's milk?

I may have to start a new topic for this one.

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speaking of fuzzy things in your food, what about floating fuzzy stuff in vinegar? i've got a bottle of homemade (by a friend) cider vinegar that's lightly clouded with what looks like it might be 'mother' if there was more of it and a commercially bottled white balsalmic that came with floaty wisps. Use? Toss? Strain and use the wisps to start my first batch of homemade vinegar?

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Decant most of the vinegars into clean bottles, using a coffee filter strainer.

Pour the remaining vinegar into a glass measure and rinse the stuff that may have collected on the filter back into the remaining liquid.

Wash and scald the original bottles and caps. Using a scalded funnel, pour the liquid back into the bottles, add about a teaspoon of sugar and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of white wine to each bottle. Replace the caps and set in a place away from light for 3 - 4 weeks.

If the mother is active, it should have grown and formed a thin mat on the surface of the liquid.

Now you can add some more wine or add this active mother to a bottle of wine. Just remember that the more wine, the more time it will take.

If it has sunk to the bottom and the liquid is cloudy, discard it.

You can still use the vinegar you have filtered out of the original stuff.

Bragg's unfiltered and unpasteurized vinegar, available in most health food stores, includes an active mother. It can be used in wine, although some people will advise you to buy a commercial mother, but after just one 4-6 month session of growth in red wine, the mother will have adapted. It usually takes two sessions for white wine, but you can use smaller quantities to speed up the process.

Balasmic vinegars are most often cooked before bottling to inactivate any mother, however occasionally one will develop in the very young types, which are not actually true balsamic.

In fact, according to one marketing study, less than 20% of the balsamic sold in the U.S. is actually true Balsamic.

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Not necessarily simple, but some might think stupid...

What can you do with powdered goat's milk?

I may have to start a new topic for this one.

I know you can use it in baby formula and to make soap. Also, reconstituted use with cereal, out of the glass, substituting for baking.

This is a good place to start: Meyenberg Goat Milk Recipes

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I'm having people over tomorrow and making lasagne with asparagus and pesto as one of the courses. I won't have time to complete the entire recipe in one day so I need to do some prep today. Is it better to:

A) Assemble the lasagna today and bake it tomorrow

B) Bake the lasagna today and reheat tomorrow

C) Get as much done today (make the sauce, pasta dough, blanch asparagus etc...) as possible and assemble and bake tomorrow?


Edited by Mallet (log)

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I'm having people over tomorrow and making lasagne with asparagus and pesto as one of the courses. I won't have time to complete the entire recipe in one day so I need to do some prep today. Is it better to:

A) Assemble the lasagna today and bake it tomorrow

B) Bake the lasagna today and reheat tomorrow

C) Get as much done today (make the sauce, pasta dough, blanch asparagus etc...) as possible and assemble and bake tomorrow?

Go with A or C. If you're using a beschamel and NOT ricotta go ahead and assemble it. If you're using ricotta, the tomato sauce may toughen it up and make it less creamy and soft, so use option C. Tell us how it turns out!

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