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    • By David Ross
      Ah, the avocado! For many of us, this humble little fruit inspires only one dish. Yet the avocado has a culinary history that is deeper than we may understand.
       
      The avocado (Persea Americana) is a tree thought to have originated in South Central Mexico.  It’s a member of the flowering plant family Lauraceae.  The fruit of the plant - yes, it's a fruit and not a vegetable - is also called avocado.
       
      Avocados grow in tropical and warm climates throughout the world.  The season in California typically runs from February through September, but avocados from Mexico are now available year-round.
       
      The avocado has a higher fat content than other fruits, and as such serves as an important staple in the diet of consumers who are seeking other sources of protein than meats and fatty foods.  Avocado oil has found a new customer base due to its flavor in dressings and sauces and the high smoke point is favorable when sautéing meat and seafood. 
       
      In recent years, due in part to catchy television commercials and the influence of Pinterest, the avocado has seen a resurgence in popularity with home cooks and professionals.  Walk into your local casual spot and the menu will undoubtedly have some derivation of avocado toast, typically topped with bacon.  Avocados have found a rightful place back on fine dining menus, but unfortunately all too often over-worked dishes with too many ingredients and garnishes erase the pure taste and silky texture of an avocado. 
       
      When I think of an avocado it’s the Hass variety.  However, a friend who lives in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, can buy Choquette, Hall and Lulu avocados in the local markets.  This link provides good information about the different varieties of avocados, when they’re in season and the differences in taste and texture. https://www.foodrepublic.com/2012/10/18/know-your-avocado-varieties-and-when-theyre-in-season/
       
      I for one must challenge myself to start eating and cooking more avocados.  I think my recipe for guacamole served with chicharrones is superb, and the cobb salad with large chunks of ripe avocado is delicious, but as a close friend recently said, “one person’s ‘not especially new’ is another’s “eureka moment.” Well said and as history tells us, we’ll find plenty of eureka moments as we discuss and share our tales and dishes of avocado during eG Cook-Off #81: The Avocado.
       
      Fun fact: The name avocado derives from the Nahuatl word “ahuacatl,” which was also slang for “testicle.”
      See the complete eG Cook-Off Index here https://forums.egullet.org/topic/143994-egullet-recipe-cook-off-index/
    • By markovitch
      A while ago, to learn the ins and outs of Horseradish, I began making my own mustard. I have managed some really really good varieties, (one with black mustard seeds, rice-wine vinegar, horseradish and Kabocha squash) and some really god awful ones too. I recall that my grandmother used to make her own ketchup too. it wasn't all that good.
      has anyone made their own condiments before?
      care to share experiences?
    • By Darienne
      Chile Rellenos.  Every Mexican or Mexican type restaurant we've ever been in almost, I've chosen Chile Rellenos.   I keep thinking I'll pick something different...and then I don't.  I've made them.  Once.  So much trouble.  And deep fat frying.  And of course in the Far Frozen North where we live, we've been able to get Poblanos (that's it) for only about five years now.  
       
      Imagine my delight, the appeal to my very lazy side, to discover the following recipe just a few days ago: https://www.homesicktexan.com/2018/09/chile-relleno-casserole-el-paso-style.html  .  And yesterday I made them and served them to guests with Mexican rice and black beans.  Died and gone to heaven.
       
      OK.  Truth time.  I used Poblanos and  I did not roast them to remove the skins.  In an electric oven, it's not a nice job.  And besides the skins have never bothered me or Ed at all.  But I did roast the Poblanos in the oven.  And then I used commercial salsa because we had one we liked.  (Did I say that I can be lazy sometimes?)  And I used Pepper Jack cheese.  Jack cheese is not always available in the small Ontario city we live outside of and pepper jack is even less common.  Buy it when you see it.  I defrosted some frozen guacamole I had in the freezer.  But by heavens the casserole was delicious and now it's on our menu permanently.
       
      So shoot me.  But I thought I'd share my joy anyway. 
    • By jackie40503
      I lived in Phoenix AZ a total of 24 years and during that time I found what the local restaurants call a Green Chili Burro. I have also lived and worked in 48 states and the only ones who have them is either in Arizona, Western New Mexico or Southern California. I am now retired in Northwest Washington State. I have searched the internet for recipes and have found that none of them taste the same. I have also written to many Mexican restaurants and either did not receive a reply or was told that they could not give out the recipe. I am now going around to blogs/forums dealing with Mexican foods hoping that someone would have the actual recipe from one of the restaurants. Its not like I am going trying to compete with them since I live along way from those areas and only wish to serve it in my own household.
    • By Lisa Shock
      The basic formula for these cakes was developed by the wife of a mayonnaise salesman in an effort to help him out. I did a bit of research, and have found many variations. Early variants generally involve using less cocoa, which I cannot recommend. Later variants involve using cold water instead of boiling, adding salt, and additional leaveners. I personally do not feel that any additional salt is needed, as mayonnaise and that famous, tangy brand of salad dressing (sometimes the label just says 'Dressing') both contain a fair amount of salt. If you are using homemade mayonnaise or a low sodium product, an eighth teaspoon of salt may boost the flavor a bit. And, of course, somewhere along the way fans who prefer a certain salad dressing over mayonnaise started using it to make this cake. Nowadays, the Hellman's website has a different formula -one with added eggs and baking powder. I have not tried this newer formulation.
       
      Some versions of this recipe specify sifted cake flour. This will result in a very light cake with virtually no structural integrity, due to the paucity of eggs in this recipe compared to a regular cake. Cupcakes made this way give beautifully light results. However, every time I try to make a traditional 8" double layer cake with cake flour, I experience collapse. I recommend AP flour or at least a mix of cake and pastry flour.
       
      I have never made this with a gluten-free flour replacer. This recipe does not have very much structural integrity and as such does not make a good candidate for a gluten-free cake.
       
      I have made this cake many times, the type of sandwich spread you choose will affect the outcome. Made with mayonnaise, the cake has a good chocolate flavor and moistness. Made with that famous, tangy, off-white salad dressing that gets used as a sandwich spread, the cake has a subtle bit of extra brightness to the flavor. If one chooses to use a vegan mayonnaise, the result is tasty but lacking a little in structure; I would bake this in a square pan and frost and serve from the pan.
       
      The cocoa you use will also affect the flavor.  For a classic, homey flavor use a supermarket brand of cocoa. To add a little sophistication, use better, artisan type cocoa and use chocolate extract instead of the vanilla extract.
       
      Supposedly, the traditional frosting for this cake should have a caramel flavor. Look for one where you actually caramelize some sugar first. Modern recipes for the icing seem like weak imitations to me; using brown sugar as the main flavor instead of true caramel.
       
      Chocolate Mayonnaise or Salad Dressing Cake
      makes enough for two 8" round pans, or a 9" square (about 7 cups of batter)
       
      2 ounces/56g unsweetened, non-alkalized cocoa
      1 cup/236g boiling water
      1 teaspoon/4g regular strength vanilla extract
      3/4 cup/162g mayonnaise, vegan mayonnaise, or salad dressing (the tangy, off-white, sandwich spread type dressing)
      10.5ounces/300g all-purpose flour
      7 ounces/200g sugar
      0.35ounce/10g baking soda
       
      Preheat your oven to 350°.
      Grease or spray two 8" round pans or an equivalent volume square or rectangle.
      Place the cocoa in a medium (4-5 cup) bowl. Add the hot water and stir with a fork to break up any clumps. Allow to cool down a little,  then add the vanilla extract and the mayonnaise or salad dressing spread. Beat well to eliminate lumps. In the bowl of an electric mixer or larger regular bowl if making by hand, sift in the flour and add the sugar and baking soda. Mix the dry ingredients to distribute evenly. Slowly beat in the cocoa mixture. Mix until the batter has an even color. Pour immediately into the pans. If making two 8" rounds, weigh them to ensure they contain equal amounts.
      Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until the center of the top springs back when touched lightly. (The toothpick test does NOT work well on this moist cake!) Allow the cake to cool a little and shrink from the sides of the pan before removing. Removal is easier while still a little warm.
      Good with or without frosting.
      Good beginner cake for kids to make.
       
       
       
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