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Absurdly, stupidly basic cooking questions (Part 2)


Pontormo
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I doubt that 2.5 hours is that much too long for a 3-pound chuck roast. If it was too dry, I would think the culprit is more likely the temperature: 300F may be too high, depending on the conditions. Did you check it periodically to make sure it was keeping a gentle simmer and not boiling violently?

When you make it again, maybe try knocking the temperature down to 275F or even 250F, whatever it takes to keep it at a simmer, but not a full boil.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

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Did you halve the volume of liquid in the recipe? You might not have had enough liquid in the pot, or the pot may have been too big. A braised meat item needs a pretty snug environment to cook in, so that it won't dry out.

ETA: I can't type worth a damn.

Edited by judiu (log)

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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I've been reading a lot of baking recipes lately where it calls for a stick (4 oz.) of unsalted butter and also a 1/4 teapoon of salt.

A stick of regular (salted) butter is 4 oz. of unsalted butter with a 1/4 teaspoon of salt added.

So if you're going to add the salt anyways, why not just use regular (salted) butter?

There has been an eGullet discussion in the past where some have said that unsalted butter is considered fresher than salted butter (the salt in the butter acting as a preservative so that the salted butter can stay on the store shelf for a longer period of time). But in a well patronized grocery store in a large city, I don't think lack of product turnover really becomes an issue.

I've also heard the argument that it's better if you control the salt. But a 1/4 teaspoon is a 1/4 teaspoon, whether I add it or the manufacturer adds it to the butter.

So why make that trip to the grocery store to buy unsalted butter when the recipe math says that the salted butter I have on hand will suffice?

Talk to me.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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I've been reading a lot of baking recipes lately where it calls for a stick (4 oz.) of unsalted butter and also a 1/4 teapoon of salt.

A stick of regular (salted) butter is 4 oz. of unsalted butter with a 1/4 teaspoon of salt added.

So if you're going to add the salt anyways, why not just use regular (salted) butter?

. . .

Talk to me.

OK I am talking to you :smile:

I have bought salted butter that is so salty it is almost unedible so I don't think all butters contain the same amount of salt.

I'll wait for others to join the talk. :biggrin:

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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I've been reading a lot of baking recipes lately where it calls for a stick (4 oz.) of unsalted butter and also a 1/4 teapoon of salt.

A stick of regular (salted) butter is 4 oz. of unsalted butter with a 1/4 teaspoon of salt added.

So if you're going to add the salt anyways, why not just use regular (salted) butter?

. . .

Talk to me.

OK I am talking to you :smile:

I have bought salted butter that is so salty it is almost unedible so I don't think all butters contain the same amount of salt.

I'll wait for others to join the talk. :biggrin:

What she said...

You never know how much salt a particular manufacturer adds to the butter (although, I suppose that if you always buy butter from a particular manufacturer, you would probably get used to that level of salt and season your dishes accordingly). I like to control how much salt I'm using, both in baking items and in savory dishes. Also, when I serve butter at the table, I like the crunch of serving it with "fancy" salt sprinkled on it and don't want to overpower the taste with already salted butter.

Feast then thy heart, for what the heart has had, the hand of no heir shall ever hold.
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Exactly - you can always add salt, but you can't take it away. If you regularly cook savoury and sweet dishes, then you only need one type of butter in your fridge and that's unsalted.

Gives you more control, and fewer ingredients necessary, therefore the question should be, "Why would you not buy unsalted butter and add the salt later?"

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  • 1 month later...

I don't know if there's a similar thread in the Pastry forum, so moderators feel free to move this post!

When I make cheesecakes, I always press a large sheet of heavy duty foil around the springform pan before placing them in their water baths. But no matter how I wrap the pan, water inevitably leaks through the foil and soaks through the pan, resulting in a somewhat soggy crust. Last time, I used TWO sheets of foil, but no such luck. Are my wrapping skills sorely lacking? What am I doing wrong?

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I've been reading a lot of baking recipes lately where it calls for a stick (4 oz.) of unsalted butter and also a 1/4 teapoon of salt.

A stick of regular (salted) butter is 4 oz. of unsalted butter with a 1/4 teaspoon of salt added.

So if you're going to add the salt anyways, why not just use regular (salted) butter?

There has been an eGullet discussion in the past where some have said that unsalted butter is considered fresher than salted butter (the salt in the butter acting as a preservative so that the salted butter can stay on the store shelf for a longer period of time). But in a well patronized grocery store in a large city, I don't think lack of product turnover really becomes an issue.

I've also heard the argument that it's better if you control the salt. But a 1/4 teaspoon is a 1/4 teaspoon, whether I add it or the manufacturer adds it to the butter.

So why make that trip to the grocery store to buy unsalted butter when the recipe math says that the salted butter I have on hand will suffice?

Talk to me.

You might also want to consider that salted butter contains a higher level of water content than unsalted, particularly if baking figures in your repertoire.

As Anna and others have pointed out, not all salted butters are created equal. You'll likely need to adjust your recipe. For something as precise as say, a beurre blanc, that could lead to disastrous results. Also heat reduces/evaporates liquid, thereby concentrating flavor which in turn will significantly affect the final product particularly if salted butter is used.

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I don't know if there's a similar thread in the Pastry forum, so moderators feel free to move this post! 

When I make cheesecakes, I always press a large sheet of heavy duty foil around the springform pan before placing them in their water baths.  But no matter how I wrap the pan, water inevitably leaks through the foil and soaks through the pan, resulting in a somewhat soggy crust.  Last time, I used TWO sheets of foil, but no such luck.  Are my wrapping skills sorely lacking?  What am I doing wrong?

Check out this springform pan. You set the ring on top of the base before securing it with the clasp on the ring section. I have several of these and I have never had any problems with leaking. In fact, I usually forego even wrapping the base with any kind of aluminum foil.

Granted, they are more expensive than a standard springform pan, but I really dig mine.

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I don't know if there's a similar thread in the Pastry forum, so moderators feel free to move this post! 

When I make cheesecakes, I always press a large sheet of heavy duty foil around the springform pan before placing them in their water baths.  But no matter how I wrap the pan, water inevitably leaks through the foil and soaks through the pan, resulting in a somewhat soggy crust.  Last time, I used TWO sheets of foil, but no such luck.  Are my wrapping skills sorely lacking?  What am I doing wrong?

Beebs, at my work we sometimes nest the cheesecake pans into a slightly larger disposible foil round pan before putting it in the bain marie. This NEVER leaks.

If only I'd worn looser pants....

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I've been reading a lot of baking recipes lately where it calls for a stick (4 oz.) of unsalted butter and also a 1/4 teapoon of salt.

A stick of regular (salted) butter is 4 oz. of unsalted butter with a 1/4 teaspoon of salt added.

So if you're going to add the salt anyways, why not just use regular (salted) butter?

There has been an eGullet discussion in the past where some have said that unsalted butter is considered fresher than salted butter (the salt in the butter acting as a preservative so that the salted butter can stay on the store shelf for a longer period of time). But in a well patronized grocery store in a large city, I don't think lack of product turnover really becomes an issue.

I've also heard the argument that it's better if you control the salt. But a 1/4 teaspoon is a 1/4 teaspoon, whether I add it or the manufacturer adds it to the butter.

So why make that trip to the grocery store to buy unsalted butter when the recipe math says that the salted butter I have on hand will suffice?

Talk to me.

You might also want to consider that salted butter contains a higher level of water content than unsalted, particularly if baking figures in your repertoire.

As Anna and others have pointed out, not all salted butters are created equal. You'll likely need to adjust your recipe. For something as precise as say, a beurre blanc, that could lead to disastrous results. Also heat reduces/evaporates liquid, thereby concentrating flavor which in turn will significantly affect the final product particularly if salted butter is used.

The percentage of actual butter fat will also very from brand to brand, so to expand, not all butters are created equal.

Find one that you like, learn it's properties and then you have a better shot at consistency.

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Is grilling the same thiing as broiling?

Technically, no. The heat source for grilling is under the food and the heat source for broiling is over the food.

The heat source for broiling is also usually just a full force non-adjustable heat. With grilling you can usually adjust either the heat source or placement of the food over the heat source to control cooking.

When broiling you control the cooking by adjusting the time that the food is under the broiling heat.

Grilling can also refer to either cooking on a outdoor barbecue or refer to a method of cooking like when grilling a cheese sandwich in a skillet or saute pan on your stovetop. Both kinds of cooking are called grilling.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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Why don't they make non-stick sealed cooktops? They'd be so much easier to clean.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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Why don't they make non-stick sealed cooktops? They'd be so much easier to clean.

The PTFE (teflon) in non-stick coatings breaks down under high heat plus it's susceptible to mechanical damage, so it probably wouldn't last long. Plus super-heated teflon releases stuff into the air that you're probably better off not breathing.

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Is grilling the same thiing as broiling?

Technically, no. The heat source for grilling is under the food and the heat source for broiling is over the food.

The heat source for broiling is also usually just a full force non-adjustable heat. With grilling you can usually adjust either the heat source or placement of the food over the heat source to control cooking.

When broiling you control the cooking by adjusting the time that the food is under the broiling heat.

Grilling can also refer to either cooking on a outdoor barbecue or refer to a method of cooking like when grilling a cheese sandwich in a skillet or saute pan on your stovetop. Both kinds of cooking are called grilling.

Actually, there might be a bit of leeway in broiling, depending on what kind of broiler you have. The broiler part of our oven has 2 levels to put the shelf so we can control how close the food is to the heat source above it.

"Fat is money." (Per a cracklings maker shown on Dirty Jobs.)
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Why don't they make non-stick sealed cooktops? They'd be so much easier to clean.

The PTFE (teflon) in non-stick coatings breaks down under high heat plus it's susceptible to mechanical damage, so it probably wouldn't last long. Plus super-heated teflon releases stuff into the air that you're probably better off not breathing.

"High heat" as in what we're cooking with? So you're saying it breaks down in our pots and pans, as well, using this same heat to cook with.

What about an anodized coated stove top? Is that any better?

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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Is grilling the same thiing as broiling?

In can be confusing. Here (Australia) I've never heard anyone ever talk about "broiling", but of course we do use broilers. The best I can make of the translation (USA terminology on the left, Australian on the right):

Broil = Grill/oven-grill (as in, non-adjustable heat source above the food)

Grill = Char-grill/barbecue/grill

BBQ is a different beast. When we fire up the bbq to cook some sausages or kebabs Americans tend to fire up the grill. I was looking for a thread the other day to mourn what seems to be an Australian tradition of cooking meat to a dry crisp at weekend bbqs, but every bbq thread was about cooking ribs and the like.

Dr. Zoidberg: Goose liver? Fish eggs? Where's the goose? Where's the fish?

Elzar: Hey, that's what rich people eat. The garbage parts of the food.

My blog: The second pancake

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Is grilling the same thiing as broiling?

In can be confusing. Here (Australia) I've never heard anyone ever talk about "broiling", but of course we do use broilers. The best I can make of the translation (USA terminology on the left, Australian on the right):

Broil = Grill/oven-grill (as in, non-adjustable heat source above the food)

Grill = Char-grill/barbecue/grill

BBQ is a different beast. When we fire up the bbq to cook some sausages or kebabs Americans tend to fire up the grill. I was looking for a thread the other day to mourn what seems to be an Australian tradition of cooking meat to a dry crisp at weekend bbqs, but every bbq thread was about cooking ribs and the like.

Why hello fellow Aussie!

I believe that must be source of my confusion! I'm also from Australia (Sydney) and reading various cookbooks and whatnot, I always get frustrated trying to decide whether I should do the 'heat over food' or 'heat under food'.

...I think I may still be confused...

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

http://musingsandmorsels.weebly.com/

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Is grilling the same thiing as broiling?

In can be confusing. Here (Australia) I've never heard anyone ever talk about "broiling", but of course we do use broilers. The best I can make of the translation (USA terminology on the left, Australian on the right):

Broil = Grill/oven-grill (as in, non-adjustable heat source above the food)

Grill = Char-grill/barbecue/grill

BBQ is a different beast. When we fire up the bbq to cook some sausages or kebabs Americans tend to fire up the grill. I was looking for a thread the other day to mourn what seems to be an Australian tradition of cooking meat to a dry crisp at weekend bbqs, but every bbq thread was about cooking ribs and the like.

Why hello fellow Aussie!

I believe that must be source of my confusion! I'm also from Australia (Sydney) and reading various cookbooks and whatnot, I always get frustrated trying to decide whether I should do the 'heat over food' or 'heat under food'.

...I think I may still be confused...

For the most part, if asked by an American recipe to grill something I'll head to the bbq (or if I'm lazy, a charcoal-y cast iron griddle pan I have). It's a safe assumption, and usually it's made obvious by the context if this is not the case.

Dr. Zoidberg: Goose liver? Fish eggs? Where's the goose? Where's the fish?

Elzar: Hey, that's what rich people eat. The garbage parts of the food.

My blog: The second pancake

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Is grilling the same thiing as broiling?

In can be confusing. Here (Australia) I've never heard anyone ever talk about "broiling", but of course we do use broilers. The best I can make of the translation (USA terminology on the left, Australian on the right):

Broil = Grill/oven-grill (as in, non-adjustable heat source above the food)

Grill = Char-grill/barbecue/grill

BBQ is a different beast. When we fire up the bbq to cook some sausages or kebabs Americans tend to fire up the grill. I was looking for a thread the other day to mourn what seems to be an Australian tradition of cooking meat to a dry crisp at weekend bbqs, but every bbq thread was about cooking ribs and the like.

Why hello fellow Aussie!

I believe that must be source of my confusion! I'm also from Australia (Sydney) and reading various cookbooks and whatnot, I always get frustrated trying to decide whether I should do the 'heat over food' or 'heat under food'.

...I think I may still be confused...

For the most part, if asked by an American recipe to grill something I'll head to the bbq (or if I'm lazy, a charcoal-y cast iron griddle pan I have). It's a safe assumption, and usually it's made obvious by the context if this is not the case.

Thanks for the heads up. And I suppose broiling would refer to the 'on top heat' which we refer to as a 'grill' back home :huh:

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

http://musingsandmorsels.weebly.com/

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Mark Bittman wrote about the grill/broil distinction in the NY Times today (click here):

adly, the broiler is not an exact replacement for the grill, because even the most powerful ones never become as hot as a grill fire.

Unlike a grill, by the time a broiler browns something nicely, it’s cooked all the way through, even overcooked. For example, it is difficult — impossible? — for a broiler to sear a hamburger while keeping the inside rare.

But if the interior is already cooked through, and a little more heat won’t hurt it, then the broiler becomes as effective as the grill. This is what you wind up with by braising meat first, then finishing it over high heat.

It’s a pretty nifty method that works equally well on the broiler or on the grill, producing delicious, super-tender meat with a nice external crisp. Even if it rains.

The braise-then-broil method he describes was the basic strategy for a great chicken thigh dish from James Oseland's Cradle of Flavor, btw.

Chris Amirault

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  • 2 weeks later...

What does (SQ) mean in a list of recipe ingredients?

I am looking at the big Alain Ducasse dessert cookbook, and while for most of the items, a weight or amount is listed, there will occasionally be the note (SQ). For example, in a recipe for Szechwan Pepper Creme Brulee, there are the quantities for milk, cream, egg yolks, etc. But the last item is "Szechwan Pepper (SQ)." If I had to guess, it would be "to taste," but I was wondering if someone actually knew.

Thanks.

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Just catching up on this thread...

Exactly - you can always add salt, but you can't take it away. If you regularly cook savoury and sweet dishes, then you only need one type of butter in your fridge and that's unsalted.

Gives you more control, and fewer ingredients necessary, therefore the question should be, "Why would you not buy unsalted butter and add the salt later?"

because of the $$? Unsalted butter costs about $1/pound more here... My choice has been to buy one of a couple of brands of salted butter for day to day use, and taste it before I use in a new recipe. For "fancy" baking, or clients, I use unsalted.

Karen Dar Woon

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