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Absurdly, stupidly basic cooking questions (Part 1)


jhlurie
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Do you say  SHALL it  or shall OT?

  ah pricot or A pricot

Dictionary.com gives both pronunciations, but I almost always hear it spoken by with the emphasis on the first syllable.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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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:

In this day and age, I think it has to do with space. The most formal of dinners in the "Gilded Age" used what was called the "French" service; i.e., platters of food were set down on the table in front of the diners and the longer the table, the more platters were set out. I believe (and I am glad to be corrected on this) the White House used what was called "Russian" service for State dinners; i.e., waiters came around with a platter from which the diner helped him/herself. The Clintons changed this because "Russian" service required that nobody take the last serving. Therefore, a lot of food was wasted. (For those interested in minutiae, the State Dining Room holds 120 people. PERIOD. That's 120 servings of everything gone to waste). The Clintons instituted "American" service, which was highly resented by the staff at the time, which resulted in plating in the kitchen and individuals plates placed in front of each diner.

Personally, I grew up with food being put in serving dishes and passed around the table. However, my MIL plated in the kitchen and brought stuff out. If you wanted seconds, you could go to the kitchen and help yourself. This works well for me because my apartment is so small, as is the dining table, that there is simply no room to place any serving dishes, nor do I have the space to set up a buffet. I instituted the policy of telling my guests that, since I fixed the plates, they should eat what they wanted and I wouldn't notice what they left on their plates. And, I let everybody know that more was available, if it indeed was.

Having read Miss Manners columns since she first started writing them, I use her dictums of making your guests comfortable first and foremost, and using what you have/can.

I don't have anybody turn down invitations to dinner in my place. They all know the food will be (mostly) good and I won't try and force anybody to eat more than they want. If you put the well-being of your guests in the forefront, you can't go wrong. And, if you have inadvertently invited some twit who announces that you've done everything wrong, then you know who not to invite again.

I don't know if this answers all your questions, but I hope it helps.

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.... I believe (and I am glad to be corrected on this) the White House used what was called "Russian" service for State dinners; i.e., waiters came around with a platter from which the diner helped him/herself.  The Clintons changed this because "Russian" service required that nobody take the last serving.  Therefore, a lot of food was wasted.....

Here in Minnesota it's still considered rude to take the last piece - so when there's one serving left, somebody cuts that in two and takes one of the halves. The next person cuts it in half again and takes a bit. And so it goes...until we're down to crumbs, but nobody took the last piece! :laugh:

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

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I believe (and I am glad to be corrected on this) the White House used what was called "Russian" service for State dinners; i.e., waiters came around with a platter from which the diner helped him/herself.  The Clintons changed this because "Russian" service required that nobody take the last serving.  Therefore, a lot of food was wasted.  (For those interested in minutiae, the State Dining Room holds 120 people.  PERIOD.  That's 120 servings of everything gone to waste).

Actually, assuming 10 people per table, that would be about 12 servings of everything going to waste, not 120.

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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.

The problem with getting this question answered here is that it is not "absurdly stupidly simple" enough. I suggest asking this in the Japanese or Cooking forums, where you are more likely to get some help.

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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.

I'm translating the Japanese instructions from packets of soba that I have at home right now, and adding a few comments of my own.

Bring a large quantity of water to the boil (at least 1 liter of water for 100 grams of dry soba). When the water has come to a boil, add the soba gradually, return to a boil, reduce the heat, and boil 4-5 minutes.

The second packet calls for a cooking time of 5-6 minutes, though the soba are the same width as the first.

Bite into a piece to check for done-ness. Drain, and rinse the soba thoroughly under running water - hot or cold, depending on how you are going to use the soba.

My own comments: if you've been cooking it like pasta, maybe you've been cooking it for too long and that's why it's sticking together?

Alternatively, maybe you did not have quite enough water, or did not rinse the cooked soba thoroughly enough?

For rinsing the cooked soba, I find the easiest way is to dump the lot in a sieve, then run fresh water into the original cooking pot, put the drained soba from the sieve back into this fresh water, and use your hands to separate out the noodles and, if necessary, to even rub them gently to rub away the excess starch.

Drain again, then serve.

If not serving immediately, store the noodles floating in cold, fresh water (I leave them in the sieve which is suspended within the cooking pot full of water, and when needed simply lift up the whole sieve out of the pot, thus draining the soba).

If you need to reheat, plunge the sieve still containing the soba into hot water for a few seconds, just long enough for them to be reheated.

If after all of this still your soba still stick together, some Japanese cooks advocate cooking the soba at a full boil for the entire 4-6 minutes, and adding a little cold water into the pot each time it looks as if it will boil over.

I never found that this method made any difference, in taste or texture, but I suppose it's worth a try if nothing else has worked for you.

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If after all of this still your soba still stick together, some Japanese cooks advocate cooking the soba at a full boil for the entire 4-6 minutes, and adding a little cold water into the pot each time it looks as if it will boil over.

Just to clarify, this means to add a little water each time the water comes to a roiling boil, after adding the noodels. Typically, you might have to do this 2-3 times before your noodles are ready (should be al dente with some bite).

This is the way I've always been taught to boil soba noodles.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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  • 1 month later...

errrrrrrrrrrrrm, OK - deep breath. this is sort of hard to admit.

i've had a mouli-legumes for four years. i've used it once. i'd love to use it more often but i'm pretty sure i'm not using it right. it doesn't seem very efficient. when i turn the handles nothing very much happens. purees come out in dribs and drabs, not in a clean, easy mass. i've tried turning the handle both ways and nothing seems... well... right. any idea what i'm doing wrong?

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errrrrrrrrrrrrm, OK - deep breath. this is sort of hard to admit.

i've had a mouli-legumes for four years. i've used it once. i'd love to use it more often but i'm pretty sure i'm not using it right. it doesn't seem very efficient. when i turn the handles nothing very much happens. purees come out in dribs and drabs, not in a clean, easy mass. i've tried turning the handle both ways and nothing seems... well... right. any idea what i'm doing wrong?

Well, my question may make you feel better: What's a mouli-legumes? :biggrin: Is it what we call a food mill over here? If so, you might have it assembled incorrectly (I don't know how, but perhaps the spring tension isn't right, or the bottom is on upside down) or, more importantly, it might not work properly. The first food mill I bought had lovely smooth stamped holes in the bottom (sieve) part. They were so smooth that the food passed over them without being torn. I got tomato puree, watermelon puree, you name it out in little dribs and drabs just as you describe. The bottom of the food mill has to feel rough to the touch, because those rough edges have to catch and tear the stuff you're moving around the sieve.

There might be other reasons too, that I'm not thinking of. Finally, I might be thinking of the wrong implement altogether. So you see, your question isn't as daft as you think! Do you have a photo you can post of your mouli-legume?

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

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I have a glass cooktop. When we purchased it, they said no cast iron. So my 60 year old skillet is now stored away. Can't I use it because it's so heavy that they're afraid you'll drop it and break the cooktop, or is there some kind of heat reaction that will harm the cooktop? What about a wok; could I use a diffuser? And my ancient glass double-boiler has a triangular wire thingy that I put on top of my former coil burner -- I assume I don't use it now, but will the glass be okay? What about a cast iron tagine or something else that is coated. Appliance booklets obviously weren't written with me in mind!

Burgundy makes you think silly things, Bordeaux makes you talk about them, and Champagne makes you do them ---

Brillat-Savarin

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errrrrrrrrrrrrm, OK - deep breath. this is sort of hard to admit.

i've had a mouli-legumes for four years. i've used it once. i'd love to use it more often but i'm pretty sure i'm not using it right. it doesn't seem very efficient. when i turn the handles nothing very much happens. purees come out in dribs and drabs, not in a clean, easy mass. i've tried turning the handle both ways and nothing seems... well... right. any idea what i'm doing wrong?

Well, my question may make you feel better: What's a mouli-legumes? :biggrin: Is it what we call a food mill over here? If so, you might have it assembled incorrectly (I don't know how, but perhaps the spring tension isn't right, or the bottom is on upside down) or, more importantly, it might not work properly. The first food mill I bought had lovely smooth stamped holes in the bottom (sieve) part. They were so smooth that the food passed over them without being torn. I got tomato puree, watermelon puree, you name it out in little dribs and drabs just as you describe. The bottom of the food mill has to feel rough to the touch, because those rough edges have to catch and tear the stuff you're moving around the sieve.

There might be other reasons too, that I'm not thinking of. Finally, I might be thinking of the wrong implement altogether. So you see, your question isn't as daft as you think! Do you have a photo you can post of your mouli-legume?

"the Mouli-Legume is a french cooking instrument that is a cross between a sieve and food mill. It grind the food quickly into a coarse or fine texture".

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

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

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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I have a glass cooktop.  When we purchased it, they said no cast iron.  So my 60 year old skillet is now stored away. Can't I use it because it's so heavy that they're afraid you'll drop it and break the cooktop, or is there some kind of heat reaction that will harm the cooktop?  What about a wok; could I use a diffuser?  And my ancient glass double-boiler has a triangular wire thingy that I put on top of my former coil burner -- I assume I don't use it now, but will the glass be okay?  What about a cast iron tagine or something else that is coated.  Appliance booklets obviously weren't written with me in mind!

My mom still uses her cast iron on her solid surface range. She's just careful about setting it down carefully and not sliding it to prevent scratches.

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  • 2 weeks later...
I have a glass cooktop.  When we purchased it, they said no cast iron.  So my 60 year old skillet is now stored away. Can't I use it because it's so heavy that they're afraid you'll drop it and break the cooktop, or is there some kind of heat reaction that will harm the cooktop? 

The problem is only that the rough cast iron bottom surface of the pan can easily scratch the glass cooktop. These is no other reason that you can not use that pan.

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Up until recently I had a glass cooktop and I always used my cast iron pans. You do need to be careful about sliding it, but there's no reason you can't use it.

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.

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Why is rabbit always included in the poultry chapters in cookbooks?

Long ago, rabbits were classified as rodents. Except in some parts of the country, I don't think a "rodent" category will be very appealing.

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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  • 5 months later...

Absurdly Stupid Question: How long in advance can I mix up brownie batter? Can I mix up the batter and then just add the leavening agent to the batter just before putting them in the pan? I want them to be hot out of the oven when I serve them. Am I just not thinking outside of the box?

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Absurdly Stupid Question:  How long in advance can I mix up brownie batter?  Can I mix up the batter and then just add the leavening agent to the batter just before putting them in the pan?  I want them to be hot out of the oven when I serve them.  Am I just not thinking outside of the box?

I'd think it would work, but it you are really concerned, how about getting all of the wet ingredients, dry ingredients and pan ready -- it wouldn't take much to get them mixed together, in the pan and in the oven.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Since I like to have roast garlic puree on hand, I break up the head into individual, unpeeled cloves, put them in a baking dish with olive oil, and bake as already directed above until the cloves are lightly browned -- if they get too dark, they will end up burnt and bitter. I let them cool some, then dump the whole mess into a food mill. Drain off the oil (and of course save it in a jar in the fridge), then pass the garlic through the mill. The skins stay, and I end up with a lovely puree. Keeps quite well in the fridge, especially if I put some of the oil back on top to seal it.

I don't have the fun of squeezing the soft sweet garlic out of the cloves that way, but I've got it for whenever I need it.  :smile:

How long does it last in your fridge?
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Absurdly Stupid Question:  How long in advance can I mix up brownie batter?  Can I mix up the batter and then just add the leavening agent to the batter just before putting them in the pan?  I want them to be hot out of the oven when I serve them.  Am I just not thinking outside of the box?

A lot of brownie recipes don't have any added leavening like baking powder or soda. I would think that the batter could hold without much if anything happening to it. However, most recipes also say to cool brownies for a period of time before cutting them. There is a recipe in an Alice Mederich book where the brownies go into the freezer right after coming out of the oven. That one might work for your situation.

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