Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Absurdly, stupidly basic cooking questions (Part 1)


jhlurie
 Share

Recommended Posts

So, why is it called "corned" beef? Where's the corn? Seriously.

Someone explained it here once before but, um... I forget.

Thanks.

It's because the grains of salt used to cure it look like kernels of corn!!!!

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Folks, please... a reminder. Let's try and answer only current questions. This topic doesn't work very well if we keep answering questions from page 1 on page 16. The newer questions get buried too quickly that way. The idea of this topic is that it's kind of a hit and run opportunity for questions "too small" (and sometimes too embarassing :biggrin: ) to support their own topics.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What is the point of olive oil bottles with the spout -- wouldn't that allow air to get into the bottle and hasten the oil's spoilage?

Also, what does mean exactly to "brown" meat? It seems like by the time the meat is sufficiently brown to me, it's already cooked.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6) Indian carrot pickle. My mother in law makes a traditional North Indian black carrot pickle every winter. This involves black carrots, about 8 cups of water, 1 teaspoon crushed mustard seeds, and 2 tablespoons salt. You put the lot in a big jar and leave it in the sun for about 4-5 days. This is during winter in Delhi, so temperatures are very roughly comparable with the temperatures in California. One is meant to drink the liquid and eat the carrot pieces.

I have NEVER dared eat any of this pickle - I've got bad food poisoning from my mother in law's food a couple of times and now always err on the side of caution. But, should it actually be okay?? Are the quantities of salt and mustard in this much water enough to make this stuff safe, or is it just sitting there and breeding up a whole bunch of bacteria?

I would keep staying out of this carrot pickle. I don't think it is enough salt and mastard to prevent bacteria growing. Unless carrots itself produce some preservative like cabbidge when you shred it and put salt in it

do other members of your MIL's household eat and thrive on the

carrot pickle?

If yes, then you should be fine.

Slicing veggies and marinating in water or oil and salt and spices in the sun

is the most common Indian pickle making technique.

Milagai

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also, what does mean exactly to "brown" meat?  It seems like by the time the meat is sufficiently brown to me, it's already cooked.

To 'brown' a piece of meat usually means to first get a pan with some oil (one with a high smoking point) and heat it 'till it is very, very hot. Then sear and brown only the outside of the meat in the hot oil. The inside should still be un-cooked. Depending on the size of the meat, this should take just a few minutes. So basically, the idea is to achieve a nice, brown outside quickly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
what are the correct pronunciations of:

Ragout.  I think its RAG  OOT

And, Chevre

Is it Chev Rey?

My friend said it was Chev RA and I laughed.  Id hate to think she was right.

Ragout is pronounced "rah-goo" (ideally with a french "r", but I don't know how to type that :smile: ). the "t" is silent.

A good approximation to Chevre would be "shev-ruh"

Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

what are the correct pronunciations of:

Ragout.  I think its RAG  OOT

And, Chevre

Is it Chev Rey?

My friend said it was Chev RA and I laughed.  Id hate to think she was right.

Sorry, CaliPoutine, you're wrong on both counts.

The final T is silent in Ragout.

In Chevre, the final e is technically called a schwa. It's the faint 'uh' sound you get in english in, for example, the 'a' in alone, the 'i' in easily, the 'o' in gallop, and the 'u' in circus.

So strictly speaking it is not 'ra' either, but that is a lot closer to the correct sound than chev rey.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What is the point of olive oil bottles with the spout -- wouldn't that allow air to get into the bottle and hasten the oil's spoilage?

Also, what does mean exactly to "brown" meat?  It seems like by the time the meat is sufficiently brown to me, it's already cooked.

I'd love to answer the second one. Browning meat is caused by the interaction of amino acids and heat. It's called the malliard reaction after the french scientist who first described it. It's similar to but not the same as carmelization which is the interaction of sugars and heat. The malliard reaction does not require high heat (as in the case of reducing stocks) but a lot cooking methods that call for browning require it be done quickly with minimal heat ingress from the surface and finish cooking to the requisite doneness through some other means (Braise for stews, dry oven for steaks). The malliard reaction is generates hundreds of flavor compounds and is a big part of the artificial flavor industry. The complexity of the flavors generated by the reaction is the reason for browning meat.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What is different about a Belgian waffle - as compared to a non-Belgian waffle and on the same tack - what is the difference between a Belgian waffle iron and a non-Belgian waffle iron?

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

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What is different about a Belgian waffle - as compared to a non-Belgian waffle and on the same tack - what is the difference between a Belgian waffle iron and a non-Belgian waffle iron?

I always assumed the Belgian Waffles had deeper, larger impressions in them, the better to hold butter, fruit, whipped cream, etc. "Normal" waffles are much flatter in comparison.

 

“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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gravy separators. What's with these? Ok, I can clearly see that when you use one, the fat rises to the top and "separates" from the rest of the liquid. So far so good. But at what point do you stop pouring before the fat goes back in? I can't figure this out!

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You can actually see when the fat is approaching the spout and just stop pouring so that the fat remains in the separator. I have two - a very large one and a small one and would not be without them for anything. Like you, I couldn't visualize how it worked until I actually owned one.

Edited to add: The spout leaves the vessel at the lowest point so that since the fat rises to the top, the liquid leaving the spout is the good stuff! Only when the liquid gets very low does the fat threaten to enter that very low spout.

Edited by Anna N (log)

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

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My Mom always told me you salt for 2 reasons.

1) flavor

2) it raises the boiling temp of the water, and pasta tastes better and cooks faster in hotter water.

She could be wrong, but I'm not going to argue with her.

Flavor, yes. Raising boiling point of water, no. An old tale. The small amount of salt used will have no noticiible effect on the boiling point. Tap water already has dissolved solids (calcium, magnesium, salts). Salt will, however, coagulate tiny particles (micelles) dispersed in the water (stuff that flakes off the pasta).

He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise. --- Henry David Thoreau
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2) How do I effectively thicken stew gravy.  I make a really flavorful boeuf bourgognone but the sauce is always runny and I can never thicken it (I have tried lots of stuff).

Thanks.

Beurre maniere---equal parts flour and softened butter, blended well with a rubber spatula. If your runny sauce is well flavored, further reduction will ruin it by over-concentrating flavors and salt. You can whisk in small amounts of beurre maniere without risk of making lumps in the gravy. Second is to remove some sauce plus some of the veg (carrots+ potato) and puree it, then stir it back in. This works well depending on what veg you have in the stew.

He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise. --- Henry David Thoreau
Link to comment
Share on other sites

How do you pronounce "ragout" and what is it?

Also, when you make a garlic confit, what is the confit? Is it the garlic or the oil that results?

Also, does ketchup expire?

Pronuciation of ragout has already been explained (rah-goo). Definition has not. Ragout is a spicy stew. Could be all veg, or meat (or fish), or veg+meat. Comes from French "ragouter" (spelled with a ^ over the u), which means to make tastey.

Confit is a method of poaching in oil or fat originally intended to preserve food. Confit means "preserved" in French. A garlic confit nowadays means whole cloves of garlic poached in oil or roasted with oil until soft. The resulting garlic turns into a soft paste and can be squeezed out of the paper cloves. Much more mild than raw garlic. If you make it by poaching in oil, the resulting oil may be used (keep refrigerated) as a flavored oil.

I keep ketchup unrefrigerated. I've never known it to spoil; I think it's got so much vinegar and sugar in it that any bugs are retarded. I've had it on my shelf for 6+ months and it still tastes fine.

He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise. --- Henry David Thoreau
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I keep ketchup unrefrigerated. I've never known it to spoil...

In the past, I've had unrefrigerated ketchup "ferment" on me. It develops an odd almost yeasty taste. Of course it gets hot here during the summer (107°F all week, folks!) so I don't blame the ketchup for wilting in the cupboard. :raz: That's why I refrigerate mine.

 

“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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ok i've got one: assuming that i hadn't burned the coating on my fried chicken last night--which i did, so this question is actually moot, and merely a preparation for next time--would i have been able to reuse the crisco, if i filtered it? or is it not like deep frying oil that has a few uses in it?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So I'm standing over a pot of ravioli waiting for them to start floating. And I suddenly wondered - WHY? Why do they float? These are frozen cheese-filled ravioli, but in general, there's several types of pasta that "they're done when they float." That's what Mom told me anyway....

Well, how about that - a question that hasn't been answered yet, and is in danger of sinking to the bottom of the thread like undercooked ravioli. I'm bringing this back up even though I'm not sure of the answer, so someone who REALLY knows may see it and respond.

Here's what I know for sure: the pasta floats because it's less dense than the surrounding water.

Here's what I think is happening: as the pasta cooks, the starches relax their little kinks and swell, but the swelling doesn't necessarily allow an equivalent amount of water to enter the space. That means the pasta expands and becomes less dense. The pockets of filling may provide extra bouyancy by swelling without taking on water, if the ravioli is well sealed, making essentially little flotation cushions.

Straight pasta noodles definitely get "lighter" (less dense) as they cook - you can tell by the way they drift around in the water instead of trying to sit on the bottom. However, the geometry of relatively skinny noodles is such that they have a very high surface-to-volume ratio. The outer surface, that takes on the most water, never really protects the interior. A rounded fat piece like ravioli, or dumplings (they do the same thing as I recall) has a smaller surface to volume ratio, so they take on less water for the overall piece.

That's what I think is happening. Anyone else?

Edited for speling

Edited by Smithy (log)

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

Follow us on social media! Facebook; instagram.com/egulletx; twitter.com/egullet

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)
"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In theory eGullet caters to people of all levels--as long as you eat you might be reading or posting here.  But I think that no matter what, there's always a level of intimidation in posting really simple cooking questions.

Sometimes it's just a case of having a little hole--a knowledge gap--in something really basic.  You might be a real ace as a cook but have some single simple embarrassing gap that you've never managed to fill.  Or sometimes it's the case that a user may be something of a "professional" restaurant patron and a total amateur at creating anything themselves.

I see this thread as an opportunity for people in this position to band together rather than hiding in the shadows.  Sure, you may be putting yourself out there, but you will be in good company!

I'm talking about the REALLY simple things--the things that can likely be answered with a yes or no, or maybe a few sentences.  Stuff you might have easily learned from Mom, if you'd listened, or Google, if you are a really really good searcher, or Home Ec. class if you hadn't taken Shop class instead.  But probably too damn simple for most cookbooks.

Okay, I suppose I'll have to take a stab at it, and then after someone answers another person can ask their "stupid" question in turn and wait for their answer (I'm putting "stupid" in quotes, because hey... you know that they say...  there are no stupid questions, only... oh, never mind).

When you boil pasta you sometimes get a nice sticky glutenous coating all over it--even if the pasta still seems al dente otherwise.  Does this mean that you did something wrong?  Overcooked it?  Didn't stir enough?  Had it boiling too furiously?  Bought bad pasta?  Should you be washing that coating off afterwards or just leaving it be?

I've found that the lower quality pasta does that. I used to get Barilla's (sp?), which is a good quality at its price. Then I discovered Trader Joe's pasta. It even cheaper ($0.69 for a pound) and it's comparable to Barilla's.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OK - my question is about soba noodles (100% buckwheat version). I've bought them from the Japanese supermarket, so all the packet instructions are in Japanese. I tend to cook them just for me, so I can stand a little stickiness/chewiness, but I'd really like to give them to guests, and I would welcome a foolproof way of getting them nice and slippery and tender and - most importantly - separate! any hints here? I tend to start mine in boiling water like normal pasta, but this may be entirely wrong.

Fi Kirkpatrick

tofu fi fie pho fum

"Your avatar shoes look like Marge Simpson's hair." - therese

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok, this isn't about cooking--don't hit me--but I couldn't think of where else to put it, since the question seems absurdly stupidly simple.

Where I come from (southwest U.S.), whenever my family had friends over for a casual dinner, everything was set out family-style; I did the same in college and the same when I had friends over, on my own. I no longer live in the U.S., and when my (non-U.S.) husband and I have friends over, it seems weird to say, "Help yourself!" When we eat as a family with my husband's family in Prague, his dad always plates everything. Here, in Israel, when we go over to friends' houses, they plate everything. Does the American family-style, bowl-and-platter way strike other cultures as weird?

So...what would you (or do you) do? Should I learn to plate? Or stick to family-style? Only fellow eGulleteers will understand why I'm obsessed with this sort of question. :rolleyes:

Edited by Rehovot (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok, this isn't about cooking--don't hit me--but I couldn't think of where else to put it, since the question seems absurdly stupidly simple.

Where I come from (southwest U.S.), whenever my family had friends over for a casual dinner, everything was set out family-style; I did the same in college and the same when I had friends over, on my own. I no longer live in the U.S., and when my (non-U.S.) husband and I have friends over, it seems weird to say, "Help yourself!" When we eat as a family with my husband's family in Prague, his dad always plates everything. Here, in Israel, when we go over to friends' houses, they plate everything. Does the American family-style, bowl-and-platter way strike other cultures as weird?

So...what would you (or do you) do? Should I learn to plate? Or stick to family-style? Only fellow eGulleteers will understand why I'm obsessed with this sort of question. :rolleyes:

I think it may seem weird in some cultures, normal in others. I've been in some places where they put all the food out in front of us and then disappeared around the corner, I suppose to make it clear that we could eat all we wanted (the ultimate hospitality). Every so often someone would appear from around the corner and replenish a bowl that we'd finally managed to empty. We thought that was pretty weird, but it seemed to be the norm there.

I'd say you should do as they do in the culture where you're living - which means to plate your guests' food now - except for those adventuresome guests you might have over for an "American style family dinner". Or you could do as my family did when I was growing up in California: plate the initial servings, and then pass the serving dishes around for seconds as appropriate.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

Follow us on social media! Facebook; instagram.com/egulletx; twitter.com/egullet

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)
"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...