tardigrade's Profile

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2014 in the kitchen: What were the best new things you made?

Injera, made with teff and wild yeast. It took three days for it to ferment, and it came out a bit too thick, but it had a delicious, almost chocolate taste.

Dec 14, 2014
tardigrade in Home Cooking


More specifically, they taste of where they come from. Oysters from the western Atlantic seaboard are IIRC all the same species, but they taste different depending on where they're raised. I find that ones from the Maritimes taste crisper and sharper, and more southern ones are more buttery (of course, this could just be my imposing my own beliefs on the bivalves).

Otherwise, it's a hard taste to describe, since there's nothing quite like the not-really-fishy, slightly iodiney, briny taste. Raw oysters can be strong tasting: cooking mellows them somewhat.

Dec 13, 2014
tardigrade in General Topics

"live music tip"

I prefer my meals without a sound track: when I eat out I like to be able to speak to my dinner companions and actually hear what they say.

Dec 13, 2014
tardigrade in Not About Food

Mole - Substitution Chiles?

I find the chipotles have a smoky taste that comes through somewhat strongly in everything I use them in. Otherwise, as Raffles says, there are about as many variations as there are grandmothers: I use whatever I have on hand. Just remember to dry roast them until the skins start to blister, soak in hot water for at least an hour to rehydrate, and pass through a food mill to remove the waxy skins and get all that chile goodness. You can save the soaking water and use it to amp up the taste if you like.

Dec 13, 2014
tardigrade in General Topics

Snail Caviar

If they need more stock they're welcome to visit my garden...blasted gastropods eat anything that moves slower than them. And they're not native to California in the first place.

Dec 11, 2014
tardigrade in General Topics

Should I bring a whole fish to a dinner party?

Cold fish can be rather good: salmon is a common buffet dish.

Dec 11, 2014
tardigrade in General Topics

Should I bring a whole fish to a dinner party?

If it were my party I'd say bring it on. But some people - even carnivores - are squeamish about being reminded that their food was once a living creature. Plus, mackerel is a rather strong-tasting fish, and some people don't like that (more for me, I say)

How well do you know your friends?

Dec 11, 2014
tardigrade in General Topics

Ben Edelman, Harvard Business School Professor, Goes to War Over $4 Worth of Chinese Food

Both sides are in the wrong, IMHO. Edelman, while technically correct about overcharging, is making a mountain out of a molehill. Throwing in ethnic slurs reflects more on him than on his target. OTOH, the restaurant has older comments on Yelp claiming it charges more than posted prices, and "but we're just a small business and he's picking on us" is not an excuse.

Dec 10, 2014
tardigrade in Food Media & News

Is it just me, or is this really utterly ridiculous?

Both sides are in the wrong, IMHO. Edelman, while technically correct about overcharging, is making a mountain out of a molehill. And ethnic slurs are right out. OTOH, the restaurant has older comments on Yelp claiming it charges more than posted prices, and "but we're just a small business and he's picking on us" is not an excuse.

One pot cooking. Really?

"tetris-style dishwasher loading" - been there, keep doing that! I still don't understand how my spouse's way of making brownies ends up with flour in the microwave and all over the cat.

Dec 09, 2014
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Buffalo Recommendations from Ontario Hounds [split from Ontario]

Mulberry's is worth the trip: just follow your GPS's instructions even though the neighborhood doesn't look like the place to find a good restaurant (it's an old-style neighborhood from back when the steel plants dominated the area - it's been cleaned up a lot since). And while you're in the neighborhood, I've been pleased with Curly's in Lackawanna. Root Five in Hamburg - a few miles further south - is so-so: the first time I was there it was great, the second time OK except for the desserts - but the view is great.

Ham Bones For Soup

I've always thought the best part of a ham was the bone! I don't understand people who refuse to use leftovers, especially meat: not only is it expensive, a creature gave its life and IMHO that should be respected by not wasting it.

And now I want split pea soup...

Crab boil water as stock?

I get my crabs already cooked, but I do use the shell, etc (I call them "bones", too) for stock. I might strain or filter it to get the little bits of stuff out, but otherwise I just use the liquid as is.

BTW, what are you calling the "head"? I don't think of crabs as having distinct heads, and there's a lot of edible meat on the body- along with some very inedible bits.

Dec 06, 2014
tardigrade in Home Cooking

kosher cauliflower mash.

I find cauliflower wet enough after steaming that it doesn't need any more liquid to mash. I'm partial to Indian spices in my mashed cauliflower, even something as simple as a squirt of tomato paste and some garam masala. And, of course, onions sauteed in olive oil until they're rich and buttery - but completely vegan.

Getting back to potatoes: in a pub in Edinburgh some years back I had some mashed potatoes that used mustard with very coarsely ground seeds instead of butter/milk/cream. I tried it at home, and it worked out well - it got the creamy texture but with a bite. A half and half mash-up of potatoes and turnips, maybe with a pinch of cinnamon, is also a possibility.

Mattar Paneer regional differences?

On the one hand, there are a billion+ people in India, so some variation might be expected. On the other hand, I once heard the proprietor of an Indian restaurant try to explain to a patron that yes, the dish he ordered was supposed to be that carbonized and the smoke spewing from the kitchen was a perfectly normal part of the preparation...

My gigando India Cookbook has a couple versions of mattar paneer from Awadh that don't have tomatoes but are otherwise highly spiced. No cream, either.

Dec 03, 2014
tardigrade in General Topics

Great article: Nathan Myhrvold talks food-borne illness and more...

I'd like to see this article as an auto-reply to those "is it safe to eat?" questions. The human race managed to survive tens of thousands of years - and still does in many places - without modern refrigeration, and the theory of spontaneous generation was disproved long ago.

There's also a tendency, I think, to blame every instance of gastric distress on "food poisoning". It happens occasionally, and salmonella and botulism are really nasty things. But it's also a symptom of a lot of other things, including maybe whatever flu-like illness is popular among 2nd graders these days.

Dec 01, 2014
tardigrade in Food Media & News

What can I make with ground beef?

What my mother called goulash - ground beef, macaroni and canned tomatoes, mixed together and baked. Tacos (or burritos or enchiladas); mix with leftover rice and vegetables for a variation on fried rice; fry with diced potatoes for hash; stuffed peppers (or squash or zucchini or tomatoes or eggplant).

And when all else fails, there's hamburgers!

Nov 30, 2014
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Quick query--Amount of Morton kosher salt per cup of uncooked white rice?

None - it's bad for the rice cooker.

It's a regional thing: I've gotten used to the Asian way of cooking rice so any salt at all in it strikes me as, well, weird.

Nov 29, 2014
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Uses for chestnuts

Cream of chestnut soup, taken from a c. 1930 Fanny Farmer cookbook: peel roasted chestnuts, then simmer (either plain or in a stock) until tender. Puree, then add cream (roughly 2 parts cream to 3 parts puree, or to whatever consistency you like), reheat and serve.

And there's always plain roasted chestnuts, like they used to sell in the streets when I was a kid.

Nov 29, 2014
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Does Risotto Reheat?

Reheat it low and slow, with more liquid as needed, if you're doing it on a stovetop. Microwaving may be more effective.

One classic way to use leftover risotto is to mix in an egg, make patties, and fry them up - that's what I do with mine. Risotto takes a lot of liquid, roughtly 4-5 parts per part of rice.

Nov 29, 2014
tardigrade in Home Cooking

T-day leftovers game plan

After everyone leaves, I disassemble the carcass and get as much meat off the bones as I can. The wing tips and the bones go into the big stockpot, [people who overly worry about food safety can stop here] which gets stashed covered in the coldest part of the house until morning - my mother used to put it outside in the snow. In the morning, I had roughly chopped carrots, onions, celery and some bay leaves, cover with water, bring to a boil for at least 15 minutes, then simmered until it's stock. I'll strain and can this later in the day. [end USDA frowned-upon behavior].

I keep enough meat in the fridge for about 3-4 days; the rest is divided into meal-sized portions and frozen. And labeled and dated.

Nov 27, 2014
tardigrade in Home Cooking

"Low FODMAP" options for a party?

The last time I had to deal with an out-of-the-ordinary food (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free are pretty mainstream), I asked the person concerned for some suggestions, since she knew more about her restrictions than I did. That way she got enough of what she could eat and I had clear guidelines.

Nov 27, 2014
tardigrade in Special Diets

Would you say your Thanksgiving this year is going to be a big deal . Or your just going to make it simple ?

Tomorrow is very simple and small, just us and a couple of friends. I'm having a big turkey dinner in two weeks, though, for friends who have family commitments this week.

Of course I'm bringing out the good silver for both!

Nov 26, 2014
tardigrade in General Topics

The Thanksgiving Recipes Googled in Every State

I don't think it's so much representative of normal foods as much as those only-make-occasionally ones that you need to look up the recipe for. Like persimmon bread. Here in northern California the persimmons are ripening and people keep trying to give them away and what else are you going to do with a box of the blasted things? (Got carried away for a minute. Persimmons are gorgeous trees, but I've tried several times to like the fruit and have failed. It's the texture.)

What are the cuisines that you know little about but want to try?

All of them!

Based on what I've read, there seem to be a lot of Mexican cuisines that don't make it to the US. Then there's all of South American: I've had just enough Peruvian cuisine to want to try more (you can keep the Inka Cola, though).

The more western Chinese cuisines, including those of the more Muslim areas. There are southern Asian cuisines like Indonesian, Malasian and Filipino that don't get much exposure in the US. And I know nothing about Central Asian cuisine at all!

Nov 26, 2014
tardigrade in General Topics

girlfriend is alergic to mushrooms. my favorite mamacaroni and cheese recipe calls for cream of mushroom soup. does anyone have a suggestion of a substitute i could use?

Learn how to make a basic white sauce, as vanyali suggests: you can even cook the butter and flour together ahead of time (the crucial step: these two components have to be combined before adding any liquid) and refrigerate until you need them. Rule of thumb is that a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of flour will thicken one cup of milk.

And a white sauce is just the beginning. You can add your favorite herbs and spices - I like curry powder for my mac and cheese - or vary the fat or liquid (use stock to make a basic gravy). You have total control over taste, thickness and sodium.

Nov 26, 2014
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Weight your own vegetables at Wegmans

It's one of the things that always surprises me when I shop in the Buffalo area: out here on the left coast (at least at the places I shop) all produce is weighed at the checkout. If I'm buying a few pieces - one or two - no, I'm not going to waste a bag for that. Otherwise, it depends on if I remember where I am :)

Nov 25, 2014
tardigrade in Chains

Recipes for better beans

A good bean-oriented cookbook helps, if only for ideas. Crescent Dragonwagon's Bean by Bean is a good starter bean book. I'll second the idea of going with a flavor profile, but rather than going for a week I'd cook up what you'd need for 3-4 days, so you won't get tired of one particular type. I'm experimenting with not quite cooking them all the way through the first time so I'll have a little more flexibility later on: so far I've been pleased with the results.

My current favorite pinto bean recipe: frijoles borrachos. Soak the pintos at least overnight, then cook until al dente and drain. When you want to use them, finely chop and saute an onion and some garlic, add some minced chiles and/or tomatoes, crushed cumin seed and more chile powder if you want. Add the beans and enough of a decent beer to cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes (or as much time as it takes to make a batch of cornbread), and serve in bowls with some of the liquid.

The beans themselves make a big difference: buy them if you can at a store that has a lot of customers who eat them. The pintos I get at the general-purpose grocery tend to be small even after soaking, and cook to a mush. The ones I get at the Mexican market turn big and fat after soaking, and hold their shape through cooking - and even plain they're a lot more tasty.

Himalayan Salt Experience? Anyone?

Why stop at fancy Himalayan and Hawaiian salts? Why not craft your own artisanal salt right at home! Just titer a solution of sodium hydroxide with hydrochloric acid until you have a pH of 7, then boil. The remaining residue will be pure sodium hydroxide - salt. You can add your own touches: Caribbean beach sand, a pinch of cinnabar for that San Francisco Bay treat - the possibilities are endless!

I sometimes wonder if they still teach chemistry in high schools.

Nov 24, 2014
tardigrade in General Topics

What do you do with leftover seafood ?

Seafood/pasta salad, a cold salad with flaked, cooked seafood, pasta, and mayo, sometimes with capers or onions.

Seafood crepes with a curry sauce.

Seafood cakes, like crabcakes but with whatever seafood's on hand.

Seafood salad (cold, chopped, mixed with green onions and a simple vinagraitte) as a stuffing for avocado halfs.

Seafood chowder, if there's a lot of it.

Nov 22, 2014
tardigrade in Home Cooking