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What is It With All the Duck Fat Hype?

Haven't been to Belgium in years, but we found some places in the Netherlands that used beef tallow for their fries: Gollem in Amsterdam is the one name I remember.

Mar 26, 2015
tardigrade in General Topics

garbanzo beans

Ottolenghi's cookbook Plenty has several recipes featuring garbanzos. Indian cookbooks are also a good source for recipe. I recently had a spicy garbanzo bean veggie burger that I'd like to reproduce. I occasionally make a garbanzo/avocado/feta/olive salad, with a simple vinaigrette dressing, for potlucks.

Mar 24, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking

What is a "medium" chinese eggplant?

Well, it's bigger than a small eggplant but not as big as a large eggplant...I had the same problem yesterday with a different recipe and sweet potatoes: it would be nice if the recipe gave at least approximate weights.

If I had to guess, I'd say "medium" was 6-9" long and 1-2" in diameter, which is the size I usually see in my regular grocery. (Just to confuse things, there are also Thai eggplants, which are green and about the size of golf balls.) Asian eggplants IMHO are more watery than their rotund Italian/Mediterranean cousins, and tend to cook down somewhat.

Mar 23, 2015
tardigrade in General Topics

Is this a safe marinade to make?

Too much lemon or other acid, though, may start to cure the fish, a al ceviche. Otherwise, go for it: I do.

Mar 20, 2015
tardigrade in General Topics

Recipie for Drunken Beans

The Rancho Gordo heirloom bean cookbook has a good one. The Tacolicious cookbook has one I've been meaning to try, since I love their frijoles borrachos at their restaurants. Check your local library for availability.

Mar 20, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Ree Drummond - Grilled Lettuce?

No, but Alton Brown did grilled romaine on one of the Good Eats episodes, the one about granitas. Sounded yummy!

Mar 06, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Why delicious Indian food is surprisingly unpopular in the U.S.

The Indian population of the US has increased dramatically in that time as well. In 1980 there was very little Indian cuisine to be found in the SF Bay Area; now it's ubiquitous. IMHO it needed the immigrant community to not only provide the cooks who knew what they were doing but a steady supply of customers to appreciate it.

Why not? ... Stuffed peppers

I am so stealing that tabbouleh with chickpeas idea!

Mar 04, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking
1

Why not? ... Stuffed peppers

Hey, it's a free country :-) I've had chiles rellenos (Spanish for stuffed peppers) filled with a wide variety of things:, cheese, rice and summer squash, corn and beans, spiced minced meats. Bell peppers stuffed with a shrimp paste are a dim sum standard. I've made them stuffed with ground lamb and brown rice.

For more spice-based mixtures, green bell peppers may clash with the seasoning, so you might consider something milder, like a red bell pepper, or one of the sweet Italian ones, or even a milder chile like a poblano. If you're feeling really bold, stuffing habaneros with fruit and maybe a mild cheese would be interesting: they have a very fruity flavor under all that capsicum!

Mar 04, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Stock question--need answer fast-ish

I wouldn't, but I would use the stock to make a nice gravy to pour over the dressing.

I often make turkey stock with a carcass that still has bits of stuffing clinging to it. It's ok - it's basically free materials - but it's always cloudy.

Mar 04, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking
1

Things to do with tiny salty shrimp

Similar: mine are pinker and tiny (at least they look that way)

Feb 21, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Entertaining a picky visitor: suggestions we both can enjoy

I think a taqueria would fall into the "too weird" category -especially my favorite one in Redwood City, which features lengua, tripe, and brains - and incorporates the seasonings into the meat. I was thinking of an upscale Mexican place like Reposado, or maybe Tacolicious.

(Sister, actually. Her twin is a lot more open to experimentation.)

Entertaining a picky visitor: suggestions we both can enjoy

Thanks! I haven't been there in years.

Entertaining a picky visitor: suggestions we both can enjoy

What I love about living in the Bay Area is the wide range of foods available, from All-American to Vietnamese (and now someone will tell me I missed that great Yugoslavian place :-)), and I love vegetables (I'll eat meat, but it's not essential). However, I'm having a relative visiting from the Midwest who's a rather picky eater. She won't eat wheat, doesn't like anything even mildly spicy, says she does paleo but won't touch organ meats, won't touch sushi, hates mayonnaise, and pretty much subsists on overcooked (IMHO) meat. Any suggestions for places I can take her to -preferably mid-Peninsula- that will show off the region but that won't freak her out?

Things to do with tiny salty shrimp

On a recent trip to 99 Ranch [West Coast grocery chain catering to a largely Chinese customer base] I bought a large package of tiny dried shrimp. Any suggestions for using them? I'm open to uses in non-Chinese and non-Asian dishes as well: I once had some interesting tapas that combined potatoes, tiny shrimp and poached egg that might be adaptable.

Feb 20, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Secrets to easy kitchen cleaning?

Step #1: paint your kitchen walls and cabinets anything other than brilliant, blinding white - it shows every mark and fingerprint. And use a washable paint.

More serious suggestions:
-bleach is good for cleaning porcelain sinks: fill with cold water, add a good glug of clorox, let sit for about 30 minutes and drain. A 50/50 solution of bleach and water can be squirted on paper towels and applied to stains on white walls. Do not wear your favorite black shirt while doing this.

-linen dishtowels are best for cleaning glass without streaks

Feb 20, 2015
tardigrade in Not About Food

Secrets to easy kitchen cleaning?

Depending on what we're cooking, every 1-2 days (we're both retired, and making and eating 3 meals a day makes the dishes add up: when we were working it was more like every 2-3 days (I'm a big believer in the powers of soap and hot water)).

Knives, cutting boards, and the cast-iron cookware are done by hand.

Feb 20, 2015
tardigrade in Not About Food

ISO Reference Cookbook(s) - Good and Bad?

If you're interested in how cooking works, try Alton Brown's books, especially "I'm Only Here for the Food": he explains the physics and chemistry of what's going on from a lay person's perspective. His shows are good, although he sometimes gets a bit obsessive: the underlying message is that anyone can cook anything, given the ingredients, techniques, and attitude.

Lately I've been trying out cookbooks from my local library before deciding whether to purchase them: check there to see what they have in the way of basics.

Feb 20, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking
1

ISO Reference Cookbook(s) - Good and Bad?

I learned to cook from my mother's c. 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook: it had key recipes - the basic stuff - and suggestions for variations.

Feb 20, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Homemade chicken soup question

I think you're over-obsessing on this. As many have pointed out, there's a lot of leeway, and there's no one true carved-in-stone-and-handed-done-from-on-high recipe. Try making chicken soup a few different ways, noting what you did, and decide which way you like the best.

As for cooking times: the longer you simmer the chicken parts the richer it gets, since the collagen in the bones is released. When I make stock, I simmer it until I can easily break the smaller bones: that indicates they've given their all. Whether I cover the pot depends on whether I can find the cover easily :-)

Feb 20, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Have you made Indian lemon pickles?

The one time I made them (also using Meyers since I have a tree) I kept them out of direct sunlight, but in a brightly lit room. My recipe didn't include sugar - and Meyers tend to be sweeter than most lemons. If anything, any additional moisture from frozen turmeric would help dissolve the sugar! It took about 3 weeks for them to cure.

Feb 19, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Why aren't we eating more geese?

I'm game: can we start with the blasted Canada geese that are infesting the parks?

The Food Babe Says There’s Beaver Butt in Your Ice Cream

I had some chili powder once that listed silicon dioxide as an ingredient. As long as the grains are small enough, and smooth, it's not a problem. It's no worse than kids eating sand :-)

Feb 18, 2015
tardigrade in Food Media & News

What type of cuisine do you NOT like?

Out here in the West what's available at highway rest stops mostly is water: occasionally there will be a vending machine, but that's about it. If you want food you either pack a picnic or head off to the nearest town.

I've eaten at the train stations in Japan. I'd say they were mediocre rather than delicious - and that includes the bottled teas (which I did develop a craving for). I've had a number of not-great meals in Japan despite its culinary reputation because I was always there for work, and the places were usually chosen by my local co-workers, who thought that Italian or Chinese would be great on the company's tab. It's a different experience from that of a tourist who spends the time seeking out the most highly recommended places.

Feb 18, 2015
tardigrade in General Topics

What type of cuisine do you NOT like?

Well, Scotland is not renowned for its wines, although I hear they make some decent whisky....

Last time I was in Scotland, about 5 years ago, I ate rather well. I remember the scallops with blood sausage, the former harvested from the sea loch outside, the latter a local product; locally made haggis (better than I expected it to be); a local take on sourdough; jams made by the landlady of the B&B. I can't think of any Scottish cheeses offhand, but I'd say British cheeses can hold their own against any other country's.

One thing France (at least the southern part), Italy and Spain have going for them is climate. Unlike Britain - or much of Europe - they have a Mediterranean climate similar to coastal California, with a long growing season and cool winters that don't kill everything. So of course "traditional" (how far back do we go: pre-colonialism? pre-Industrial Revolution? pre-Columbian exchange?) cuisines from those areas are going to feature a wider and different variety of foods available over more of the year.

Feb 18, 2015
tardigrade in General Topics

Homemade chicken soup question

Either will work, although the tastes will be different. The broth made with the roasted chicken will be darker, and if any herbs or spices were used in roasting they will come through in the finished product. The raw chicken broth will be paler and probably fattier (although you can skim off the fat or refrigerate the soup and remove the fatty layer that forms and use it for cooking something else).

If you want meat in the finished product, simmer the bird for about an hour, then remove. Let it cool enough to handle, then get as much meat off as you can (I don't bother picking everything off the neck or wings or back) Return the bones to the broth and let simmer further.

Bottom line: there are probably as many ways of making chicken soup as there are grandmothers!

Newbie questions about chicken stock (possibly dumb)

1.With stocks, simpler is better: keep the vegetables to at most onion, carrot, and celery - I also add bay leaf and peppercorns. Remember that the stock can become the base for a lot of different soups - that's where you can add potatoes (assuming you want a potato soup).

2. I'll use celery stalks that have gone limp, but otherwise I don't use peelings. No reason one can't (if they're clean) but they go into my compost.

4. I once had a cat who was crazy about poultry. However, he turned his nose up at the meat from my chicken stock: once all the goodness was cooked out of it he didn't find it appealing. Lately I've taken to cooking the chicken backs for about an hour, removing any meat, then returning the bones to the stock pot: they still have some flavor left at that point.

5. Before I started canning I used the plastic containers ricotta cheese comes in in my neck of the woods: they're less likely to leak than plastic bags (although I've used bags for stocks on occasion)

6. I buy whole chickens at Costco, the disassemble them. The backs, necks, wing tips, and occasionally hearts and gizards go into one bag to freeze until I get around to the next batch of stock (three bags fill up my stock pot nicely). Some people object to gizzards because of their taste: I don't think it's that noticeable, but I don't put the livers in since they tend to take over.

There are a lot of variations - some people insist on roasting the bones, some don't - but it's a forgiving process. After all, people around the world have been making stock since the invention of fire!

Feb 15, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking

What To Make With Leftover Prime Rib?

How rare is it? I deliberately cook mine on the rare side to give me more options, such as (in addition to those already mentioned)
-sorta steak tartare: minced finely, served with Worchestershire sauce, capers, onions and a nice baguette
-beef tacos or burritos or fajitas
-marinated in rice wine vinegar and served on an Asian-inspired salad
-wrapped in wontons with thinly sliced green onions, carrots, cabbage, etc.
-stir-fries
-sliced, for steak and eggs
-and that old standby, hash
-beef pot pies (which aren't that far removed from shepherd's pies)
-sandwiches,sliced as thin as you can
-Thai-style curries

Feb 13, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Lent Starts One Week From Today

I don't observe Lent myself, but I'm always open to new vegetarian dishes! My sister gave me a copy of Claudia Rosen's Book of Jewish Cooking (it's a long story), and I find I lean more towards the Sephardic recipes - they're a lot lighter, it seems.

Giving up meat isn't a hardship for me. Cheese, on the other hand, is one of my basic food groups.

I left my refridgerated eggs out for 3-4 hours--is this okay?

I leave eggs out for 2-4 hours before using because I like to bring them up to room temperature before cooking. If you're going to cook them anyway I wouldn't sweat it: the FDA writes for the least common denominator and over-compensates a lot.

In Europe eggs are sold at room temperature.

Feb 13, 2015
tardigrade in General Topics