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Cooking from the Pantry (merged)


Malawry
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Did you husband comment on the breakfast? :cool:

Well, I was still making my French toast when I gave him his. I was yelling questions out of the kitchen--"How is it?" "Good." "Really? Are you sure?" "Yeah." "Did I cook it long enough?" "I think so." "Can you taste the oranges?" "Yeah." That was the end of the conversation, and also about how long it took him to eat his food! :rolleyes:

I'm starting on the lasagne now, I'm going to do the ragu first and let it sit while I concentrate on the bechamel. Question about the fresh mozzarella on top: should I put it on today (won't be baked until tomorrow)? I think the dish cooks for 20-30 minutes. Or is it something I should put on for the last 5-10 minutes? If I put it on now, to be baked tomorrow, is that going to affect the mozz which apparently needs to be kept in water?

Also, I worry because I'm going to have these warm sauces I'm going to combine with fresh pasta, and then let sit and congeal in my fridge. Isn't it going to partially cook because of the warm sauce? Mark Bittman says you can put it together and let it sit overnight, but I wonder if it will affect the quality of the final dish.

Rachel Sincere
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I don't think you need to worry about the sauce "cooking" the pasta, but if you are worrying, just let the sauce cool to room temperature before you combine it with the pasta. Then stick the whole pan in the fridge.

It will be fine to slice the mozz, put it on top, cover the whole thing with plastic wrap, and let it sit overnight.

Take the pan out of the fridge at least an hour before you plan to stick it in the oven. This will allow it to come up to room temperature, and it will cook more evenly than if it were going straight into the oven from the fridge.

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Lol.

Sounds like your husband is developing.

You'll be fine with the lasagne in the fridge, put it all together now in the fridge, tomorrow preheat the oven, put tinfoil on the lasagne, bake for 40 mins or so, take the foil off, back in the oven, and in 20 minutes or so the cheese will brown nicely. The recipes you are going by are a bit jejune, lasagne is basically a casserole, cook it long.

Let it sit 20-30 minutes til you cut it, as wise heads have said.

You'll be fine.

You're making me hungry!

:raz:

Edited by Samhill (log)
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Quick question...

Recipe says to add 3/4 cup of white wine (or tomato juice) to the sauce. I have some time before I have to do this.

I have an open bottle of dry sherry. Is this okay to use or should I open a new bottle of white wine?

Thanks!

By the way, you should see the awesome little cubes I did with the onion, carrot, and celery. It took me 20 minutes to do 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, and 1 small onion. :wacko: Which is why I'm doing this today! God bless the 10-year-old Walmart knife set...

---------

ONe more question. Recipe calls for lean ground beef. The best I could do was 100% ground chuck. The recipe started with 2 Tbsp olive oil plus 1/4 cup (I cheated and added a bit more) bacon, then you add the meat and brown. Doesn't say to drain; should I drain anyway, before I add the tomatoes, so it isn't too greasy? Or at least spoon out some of the fat?

I did call my mom and ask her these questions. She said that cooking with wine was gross and she did come down on the side of draining the beef.

---------------------

Too late! :biggrin: I did use the sherry, because I already had it measured and I love the smell of cooking alcohol. After the ground beef was cooked, I checked the pan for grease and there was quite a bit, so I just ladled out what I could get but didn't sweat the rest.

Also, I splurged and bought Muir Glen canned tomatoes for this. They are wonderful! What a big difference from the 49 cent discount store stuff I usually use--I think I'm a convert.

It smells awesome in here!

Edited by RSincere (log)
Rachel Sincere
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Definately drain the ground beef+bacon (ground chuck is fine), sherry is fine, so is water if you have no wine or sherry, it's for deglazing the pan after you saute the aromatics (onion, garlic, etc.), and before you add the tomato's and simmer the sauce. You could easily omit the deglazing step altogether.

You're doing fine, trust yourself!

I'm finding your story quite gripping, as I think are many others.

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Rereadin this thread I noticed that your are happier with the results (and the food sounds much better) when you try something on your own. I think it's time to THROW THAT FAKE DINNER COOK BOOK AWAY :wink: You don't need it and are too good of a cook to waste your time with it.

If you are interested in cookbook selections let us know. The web also has a million recipe websites. Much cheaper than buying new cookbooks.

The dinner party sounds like it is coming together very nicely. Have you thought at all about how you are setting the table? Maybe some flowers on the table?

You're doing fantastic!!!

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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Rereadin this thread I noticed that your are happier with the results (and the food sounds much better) when you try something on your own.  I think it's time to THROW THAT FAKE DINNER COOK BOOK AWAY :wink:   You don't need it and are too good of a cook to waste your time with it.

If you are interested in cookbook selections let us know.  The web also has a million recipe websites.  Much cheaper than buying new cookbooks.

I am an experienced cook, but one of the best books I have found, for beginners and not-so beginners is the book Learning To Cook With Marion Cunningham.

There are some great recipes in there, wonderful in their simplicity. I found one of the best chicken-on-the-bone recipes in there, actually two recipes which I use over and over again. One is a one dish meal, and I never cease to get raves with it.

I don't know how to link to Amazon for this book. But I really think this is a truly wonderful book, and Cunningham is a masterful teacher, in my estimation. I would think this would be a good book for Rachel.

Edited by artisan02 (log)
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The lasagne is all put together. The ragu turned out very tasty. It's pink because of the cup of cream you add at the end, it's nothing like any pasta sauce I've ever made or seen on lasagne. I'm used to very very tomatoey sauce, and this isn't at all--but it's really good. And the bechamel turned out fantastic. I went out to my patio and picked a handful of basil leaves, tore them up and added them to the bechamel.

A few things didn't turn out like I expected. I was unhappy with the fresh pasta I bought. Some of it was stuck to the package and tore. Also, my 9 x 13 pan was wayyyy too rusty, so I actually threw it out. Thought I had another one, somewhere, but couldn't find it! Had to use what I think is a jelly roll pan, looks to be 10 x 15 or something. Which means that the noodles didn't cover the bottom all the way, so I kind of made the lasagne in one corner of the pan and left the side and end empty. Also, I was supposed to make 4 layers but there was only enough pasta for 3, but that's not the end of the world.

I cut the mozzarella balls into little discs and put them on the top, then decided to taste one. I should have done so beforehand, I didn't like the fresh mozzarella! It tasted really bland to me...so I'm debating picking it off before I bake the lasagne. Speaking of bland, I forgot to add pepper as I layered like I was supposed to, so I just ground some pepper on top. All in all, it's not as tall as I'm used to but after tasting the sauces I know it's going to be very good.

Now, get this! I am in a holding pattern as far as doing any more preparation...because his parents haven't called yet for directions and to let us know what time they plan to get here. They live 3 hours away. They talked to my husband on Tuesday and said they'd call "later in the week" to get directions, etc. but as the time is going by, I'm wondering if they changed their minds and didn't tell us?

If they don't come, it sure won't stop me from enjoying that food I spent all day making! I can't wait. But I'm still kind of in the air, are they or aren't they? Do I need to vacuum or not? :laugh:

OH! I would love cookbook suggestions! I love cookbooks, I read them like novels. But I'm not very successful at picking them. I did a search on eGullet for cookbook recommendations so I'm waiting for my library to come up with Chez Panisse Desserts, Louisiana Kitchen (Paul Prudhomme), Off the Shelf. I have a list of books to request from interlibrary loan but I like to only order 3 or so at a time so those sweet librarians don't get mad. :biggrin: I did read Chez Panisse Vegetables, and also on my list of books to look up are Cookwise, Minimalist, I'm Just Here For the Food, and I'm looking at the Marion Cunningham Fannie Farmer cookbook. If I like them, they go on my list of books to buy someday.

Edited by RSincere (log)
Rachel Sincere
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Fresh mozarella is a lot more about texture than taste. Should be creamy once it melts. The one thing that is worrying me is that the lasagne is in the corner of the pan, once it gets hot it might run a bit. Maybe you could press some crumpled foil in the empty corner, put a layer of buttered foil over it to compensate for the missing space?

In any case, it is sure to taste good, and if you plate it in the kitchen, no one is the wiser. As far as rusted pans, definitely replace, though next time you could in a pinch cover it with buttered foil. It's worth spending as much as you can afford on good pans (once you know what kinds of stuff you need), since that way you will only need to buy them once. Hope you have a nice dinner!

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I am an experienced cook, but one of the best books I have found, for beginners and not-so beginners is the book Learning To Cook With Marion Cunningham.... I don't know how to link to Amazon for this book.  But I really think this is a truly wonderderful book, and Cunningham is a masterful teacher, in my estimation.  I would think this would be a good book for Rachel.

Your wish is my command... oh you meant the other Rachel. Well, this is for both of you:

0375401180.01._PI_SCMZZZZZZZ_.jpg Learning to Cook With Marion Cunningham

Oh, and this link is for artisan: How to make an eGullet commissioned Amazon link.

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Rachel,

I would absolutely second the suggestion that you put some buttered foil down on the part of the pan where you don't have the lasagna. Also, I would very strongly recommend that you try to squish some foil down between the edge of the pan (all the way around) and the edge of the lasagne, and use it to make a foil "wall" on the side of the pan (again all the way around). Lasagne can get pretty drippy as it cooks, and if you're using what I think of as a jelly-roll pan, you don't really have any sides to it, and the lasagne could drip over the sides.

The reason the mozz is bland is that it is probably unsalted -- which doesn't taste like much. But cooking it will turn it creamy and will also brown it in bits, which will give it a pleasantly bitter taste.

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Boy, do I feel STUPID. They never called. I don't think they're coming. They told my husband on Tuesday that they were coming today, but that they'd call later for directions. They have no idea where we live and never told us exactly what time they were coming, so since they didn't call, they must have changed their minds.

Now I feel bad for panicking and posting about it, you all gave me such great advice! :blink:

The good news is, we get to actually enjoy the lasagne without having to take Tums along with it. But I'm kind of upset that I overstretched the grocery budget on this. On the other hand, I learned a lot about feeding guests and am more prepared if I have company again, so that's good. I'm 30, so it's time to grow out of ordering from Pizza Hut anytime people come over. My friends and relatives understand, because I'm often too sick to cook, but it would be cool to surprise everyone sometime!

For the yummy lasagne, I will stuff the unused portions of the pan with buttered foil as suggested. Yes, it is a jelly roll pan, but as I mentioned, oddly this is not a very "tall" lasagne at all. It's about half the height that I'm used to, and it's not because it's spread out in the larger pan, because it isn't. I think maybe it's because the pasta is so thin, compared to the dry stuff, and also there wasn't much bechamel, compared to a thick ricotta/mozzarella layer. I used more ragu than the recipe called for, probably about 4 cups rather than 3.

I'm still torn about the fresh mozzarella. It just tastes like milk, you're right, it isn't salted. But I already have a bechamel sauce layer, and cream in the ragu. Maybe it will be overkill.

I'm reading the Amazon reviews for that Marion Cunningham book. It looks good, and there are used versions for $8, which makes me happy! Thank you for suggesting it!

Thanks to all for the advice, we'll have a pretty festive meal today, regardless!

---

Wanted to add something I noticed about the lasagne recipe itself. I was really surprised when making the ragu that the only seasoning called for was salt and pepper! No oregano, basil, "Italian Seasoning"...it tastes fabulous though. And I did sneak fresh basil in the bechamel, because I could!

Edited by RSincere (log)
Rachel Sincere
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...we'll have a pretty festive meal today, regardless!

Absolutely you will. Gah! These people don't deserve such effort being put forth for them, but at least you and your family will enjoy a grand meal tonight.

By the way, my vote on the mozz would be to go ahead and dot the lasagna with some. It gets lovely and creamy and melty, and as mags said will brown a bit and take on a nice flavor.

Oh, and lasagna (even cooked lasagna) will freeze and reheat pretty decently. If you've made a big old pan of it, and you don't have guests to help eat it, slice some into family-appropriate portions and pop it into the freezer; it'll be a quick and delicious meal one night when you don't feel like cooking.

enrevanche <http://enrevanche.blogspot.com>

Greenwich Village, NYC

The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not.

- Mark Twain

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Our big meal is traditionally at lunchtime, because my husband works 2nd shift. So...

He loved the lasagne! He said it was "really, really good," which is high praise indeed from Mr. "Watch me eat this meatball sub in less than 30 seconds." In fact, he ate 1/3 of the pan. And how he stays under 130 lbs is beyond me. :blink:

I did like the lasagne, although I thought it was very rich. I had put two pieces on my plate, and I could only eat the first one. I think I put on a bit too much shredded Parmesan cheese, it seems that that was a bit too much of a good thing. I learned that I can't use Parmesan the same way I would use shredded mozzarella. But I'm being picky--it was good!

The dots of fresh mozzarella on the top did melt and brown, but I wasn't able to discern any flavor that they added. However, they made the finished lasagne look really cute. And it's cool to have my food look cute...especially after years of vegetarian casseroles where everything I made was brown.

And his parents never did call us.

In other pantry cooking news, I figured out what the mystery slab of meat is--it's a pork shoulder steak. I don't know what I thought I'd do with it, but it was on sale. Also, has anyone heard of "American cut" pork chops? I bought two--they are at least 1-1/2 inches thick and almost perfectly round, no bone. I Googled that phrase but didn't come up with anything helpful. Our butcher is kind of weird.

Rachel Sincere
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And his parents never did call us.

In other pantry cooking news, I figured out what the mystery slab of meat is--it's a pork shoulder steak.  I don't know what I thought I'd do with it, but it was on sale.  Also, has anyone heard of "American cut" pork chops?  I bought two--they are at least 1-1/2 inches thick and almost perfectly round, no bone.  I Googled that phrase but didn't come up with anything helpful.  Our butcher is kind of weird.

Aren't you the lucky girl.

The Pork Shoulder steak could be cut up for stir-fry or marinated and grilled. American cut pork chops sound like boneless thick cut pork chops. Brown and finish in the oven. Pork unfortunately has gotten very lean in this country so brining would help.

I recommend you try to find a used copy of "Cutting Up in the Kitchen" by Merle Ellis to find your way around the various cuts of meat.

Edited by winesonoma (log)

Bruce Frigard

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"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have a pantry challenge of sorts - it's more like a garden challenge though. Am feeling bit harrassed as my enthusiatic planting efforts a few months ago are now coming to fruition - all at the same time :blink: (must sort that out next year).

I love the idea of making a meal entirely from my own garden or at least a component of the meal (don't have any fish or cows out there) but am currently up against it just finding ways to use them up that doesn't involve soup and a pretty uninspired salad.

I would really appreciate any ideas of what to do with gluts of the following:

- beetroot (these are still quite small so could use them as babes or wait til they are bigger)

- courgettes

- spinach

- raddiccio

- aubergines

- loads of herbs - rosemary, thyme, mint and basil (parsley died)

in a few weeks will have masses of tomatoes as well.

I am close to a good market here in london so can shop for anything else I need there if extra ingredients are required.

Any help would be warmly welcomed

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Pickles and freezable soups come immediately to mind, likewise various versions of ratatouille and vegetable "hash" (I swear by a tomato-and-courgette hash recipe I swiped from one of the Union Square cookbooks -- other ingredients are olive oil, garlic, chicken base or bullion cubes, and either fresh marjoram or thyme, as a substitute). Nearly everything you mentioned is delicious grilled or fried (even deep fried), tomatoes say sauce, and everything save maybe the radicchio makes for a swell couscous or lasagna.

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  • 2 months later...

Soba mentioned this thread in another thread--thanks! I was just looking for it because I desperately need to use up some "stuff" in my fridge and I'm suffering from a failure of imagination.

7 oz. chorizo (ground, not precooked) already has been frozen/thawed, must use soon!

1 1/2 cups already-cooked plain basmati rice

1/2 cup paneer

curry leaves

1 cup coconut milk

one poblano pepper

a couple jalapenos

a couple serranos

TONS of green bell peppers (given to us...and I don't like them raw at all)

three leeks that need using

a couple scallions

shallots

garlic

OUT OF ONIONS!

russet potatoes

shredded Parmesan

2 yellow summer squash and a zucchini getting old

I have tons of dried beans, 9 eggs, and also have meats such as stew beef, pork tenderloin, various ground chuck/round/sirloin/turkey, LOTS of chicken thigh/leg combos, four chicken breast halves, 20 oz. cooked ham. ALso have canned tomatoes, different pastas, and tons of rice, basic pantry stuff, and I'm a compulsive spice shopper so I have most anything herb/spicewise that I might need.

I am imagining some kind of chili might be a good way to use up the chorizo/peppers...not too sure on amounts. There's a good Indian meal in there somewhere too. But these veggies were all purchased a week and a half ago, and I HATE throwing away food, so that's my main concern!

Thanks for helping!

Edited by RSincere (log)
Rachel Sincere
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Yes, you do have the makings of lots of good stuff there!

The first thing I see at a quick look-through as a possibility would be a layered Mexican-themed sort of gratin.

You could use up...the chorizo, lots of peppers, leeks/scallions/garlic,potatoes, parmesan and squash.

Brown chorizo....roast peppers...saute the onion family...slice the potatoes very very thinly....grate parmesan...slice squash very thinly or grate.

Layer up...add some sort of tomato-y base somewhere in there if you have it on hand....any herbs you like...season and cook in a slow oven till potatoes are tender.

The rice could be made into round little balls...bound with beaten egg (and parmesan if you would rather use it here than in the other recipe) rolled in breadcrumbs and gently sauteed to brown.

Nice collection of stuff, rsincere. Must go investigate my own fridge, too, now! :smile:

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Thank you for this! I'm going to experiment today. Friday is grocery shopping day and I want to make room, also don't want to waste anything I already have.

I think I'll look up gratin recipes so I get an idea of how much liquid to use, etc. So I can use, maybe, pureed canned tomatoes instead of or in addition to milk/cream?

Rachel Sincere
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I have a pantry challenge of sorts - it's more like a garden challenge though.  Am feeling bit harrassed as my enthusiatic planting efforts a few months ago are now coming to fruition - all at the same time  :blink:  (must sort that out next year).

I love the idea of making a meal entirely from my own garden or at least a component of the meal (don't have any fish or cows out there) but am currently up against it just finding ways to use them up that doesn't involve soup and a pretty uninspired salad. 

I would really appreciate any ideas of what to do with gluts of the following:

- beetroot (these are still quite small so could use them as babes or wait til they are bigger)

- courgettes

- spinach

- raddiccio

- aubergines

- loads of herbs - rosemary, thyme, mint and basil (parsley died)

in a few weeks will have masses of tomatoes as well.

I am close to a good market here in london so can shop for anything else I need there if extra ingredients are required.

Any help would be warmly welcomed

Remind me what courgettes are again? Aubergines are eggplants?

Looks like you might have the makings for pan bagna. Do you like anchovies? Beetroot could be good roasted or as borscht. Maybe a spinach and raddicchio salad, with endive and pears?

Could make an herb pesto with your herbs and use it as dressing for roasted veg or in salads. Try making rosemary infused oil as well.

Soba

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Soba mentioned this thread in another thread--thanks!  I was just looking for it because I desperately need to use up some "stuff" in my fridge and I'm suffering from a failure of imagination.

7 oz. chorizo (ground, not precooked) already has been frozen/thawed, must use soon!

1 1/2 cups already-cooked plain basmati rice

1/2 cup paneer

curry leaves

1 cup coconut milk

one poblano pepper

a couple jalapenos

a couple serranos

TONS of green bell peppers (given to us...and I don't like them raw at all)

three leeks that need using

a couple scallions

shallots

garlic

OUT OF ONIONS!

russet potatoes

shredded Parmesan

2 yellow summer squash and a zucchini getting old

I have tons of dried beans, 9 eggs, and also have meats such as stew beef, pork tenderloin, various ground chuck/round/sirloin/turkey, LOTS of chicken thigh/leg combos, four chicken breast halves, 20 oz. cooked ham.  ALso have canned tomatoes, different pastas, and tons of rice, basic pantry stuff, and I'm a compulsive spice shopper so I have most anything herb/spicewise that I might need.

I am imagining some kind of chili might be a good way to use up the chorizo/peppers...not too sure on amounts.  There's a good Indian meal in there somewhere too.  But these veggies were all purchased a week and a half ago, and I HATE throwing away food, so that's my main concern!

Thanks for helping!

You could make a Thai style curry with the chicken thighs or breasts, the coconut milk, the serranos and jalapenos, and any of the vegetables -- some of the green peppers, the zucchini and summer squash, potatoes if you want. Then you could serve it over the rice.

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rachel,

it's good to hear you're still cooking! you have so much cool stuff to work with.

you could stuff the green peppers with a mix of rice, sauteed veggies and chorizo - top with something tomato-y and bake until tender...

i agree on the chicken curry idea - do you have fish sauce? limes? both will give your curry (along with chilis and some sugar) the right "thai" feel.

let's see..what else you could make coconut rice pudding with the leftover rice, coc. milk and eggs. i think rice pudding is gross though :laugh: so i have no real recipe for you.

you could make a delicious potato/paneer dish with some of the spicy peppers, other veg, curry leaves, garlic, leeks, shallots, toasted cumin, and corriander. i'd start by cubing and sauteeing the paneer until golden, then pulling it out until the end. that dish might be good with the stuffed peppers.

i also am not a fan of green peppers, but i like them better roasted, peeled and marinated in rice vinegar, garlic, salt and thinly sliced onion (shallot is fine). i'd add a bit of olive oil too to cut the vinegar bite. they'll keep for at least a week and be "ready" as soon as 12 hours after you marinate. very good on thick bread with cheddar cheese and mayonnaise.

from overheard in new york:

Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!

Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train

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