cowboyardee's Profile

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Let's ban the word GUYS!!!

Once a waiter came up to my table and said, 'Hi, how are you guys doing tonight?'

Irritated, I replied, 'do we look like guys to you?'

He looked at me and my brother, squinted at the one empty chair to see if maybe there was a little girl slouching under the table in it.

'Um... yes. Though it's a moot point because "guys" is a gender neutral colloquialism among people of my generation and upbringing.'

'Hold on there, "moot" means debatable, and neither my gender nor the English language is up for debate," I replied. Best defense, good offense and all that. I started to root around for the dictionary I keep with me at all times to show him this.

'"Moot" can mean "debatable" or "pointless and undeserving of debate." Both definitions are derived from the same origin, moot courts, in which law students historically debated topics for practice but to no other end. "Debatable" was originally the more common usage, but it has fallen out of favor compared to "pointless." That's the decadence of the English language for you - one definition is never enough.'

'Now you hold on there, young man. "Decadence" means "extravagance."'

'It shares its root with "decay."'

'Your menu calls the braised squab "decadent." It says so right here.'

'You mean the stewed pigeon?'

pressure cookers vs pressure canners

I'm not really sure what you're arguing anymore. I don't much care about what the USDA recommends beyond the extent to which I understand their logic. The main problem with weights as opposed to gauges is knowing exactly what relative pressure they're calibrated to. If you know this and you understand canning, weights can be used as opposed to gauges. I already described the concern with smaller vessels, and paulj elaborated on it.

I do believe the USDA has some interest in simplifying and standardizing the process of pressure canning along with recipes for doing so. Seeing as even many of the people who do their own canning don't seem to understand the process, I can see why they might want to do this. For example: high altitude pressure canning without a gauge and using a smaller pot than the recipe was designed for along with a natural release calls for more adjustments than the average person might be able to reliably make.

Oct 31, 2014
cowboyardee in Cookware

pressure cookers vs pressure canners

"I really doubt the theory that longer cooling time or longer warm up is better or a show stopper"
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Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying it's 'better.' Just that canning recipes generally account for it, and it gives you an ever-so-slightly higher margin of safety when the recipe just says 'cook x at y psi for z minutes, then natural release.' Designing recipes for a bigger pot mainly just allows for more standardization of canning recipes.

That said, I agree that it's not a necessity in the process. As I wrote above, the gauge is a bigger issue, and even that can be circumvented if you know what you're doing and know your equipment.

Oct 30, 2014
cowboyardee in Cookware

pressure cookers vs pressure canners

"A cooker and a canner are the same device, the size is the only USDA issue."
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The bigger distinction is the presence of a pressure gauge on a canner.

As I wrote in the post I linked to above (here it is again: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9854... ), you can still can in a pressure cooker (not canner) if you have reasonable assurance of its internal pressure capabilities and know your altitude. But the process is a little less foolproof and tougher to monitor.

The size affects warm up and cool down times, which are often factored into canning recipes - this is why the USDA specifies size as a requirement for canners (along with a little added temperature stability). On the other hand, it's relatively easy to account for this just by keeping smaller pot at high pressure for longer before cooling.

Oct 30, 2014
cowboyardee in Cookware

The Bored's...

I haven't been posting a whole lot recently... but I haven't jumped ship either.
Apologies to all who are disappointed ;)

Why are kitchen tools so expensive?

1) What acgold said

2) Some people, yes. Others buy/receive em as presents. While others appreciate small differences in craftswork enough to fork out exponentially more money for a slightly better tool, and couldn't care less about whether those brands have an air of prestige. And yet others have plenty of money and not a lot of time to shop around and research and just buy top of the line out of general habit.

3) This board is full of suggestions for tools that offer good bang for your buck. Some pans from Tramontina (clad or disc-bottom) or Ikea (clad or disc-bottom) or Lodge (cast iron) or a restaurant supply store can perform very well for the money. Victorinox and Kiwi make very nice inexpensive knives. Ebay has tons of perfectly decent inexpensive cookware. And that's all just the tip of the iceberg.

Oct 28, 2014
cowboyardee in Cookware
1

a great sorbet-Liquid Nitrogen-sorbet maker

Dry ice is far easier to come by and works comparably well to liquid nitrogen. It's also a little easier and safer to store, though handling it still requires care. It leaves ice creams and sorbets carbonated though - there's a soda-like bite from the CO2.

Generally there are two ways to use dry ice for this purpose - you either crush it very fine before adding to the base and then wait long enough that it melts entirely before you eat (you don't want to eat dry ice, obviously). Or you use somewhat larger ice-cube size chunks of it and remove them from the mixture once it sets up (they come out easily and cleanly, but make sure you don't leave any behind).

With all that said, a lot of ice cream makers can manage to make a well-set ice cream or sorbet. It can depend on your technique though. Long pre-freezes, small batches, ensuring the mixture is very cold before adding to the maker, etc. Depending on the maker, even the salt-on-ice trick can be useful as well.

Oct 28, 2014
cowboyardee in Cookware

Help me save this weird soup I tried to make??!

Might've been unsalvageable. But I still woulda tried bacon.

Pizza Sauce versus Pasta Sauce

Personally:

Neapolitan style sauce - just canned tomatoes, pureed with a little salt and often a pinch of sugar. A small amount of garlic may be added.

For NY style sauce - puree canned tomatoes and cook down with onion (strain out at the end), salt, a bit of garlic, more sugar than Neapolitan style, and oregano.

I'm fussier and more elaborate with pasta sauce, usually.

Oct 25, 2014
cowboyardee in General Topics

Can't use alcohol so what can I substitute for the sherry? Thanks!

A couple tablespoons of sherry vinegar (if that's allowed) along with a couple tablespoons of honey.

Sherry is a pretty distinct flavor, and you're not likely to replicate it very closely with unrelated ingredients. If you can't do sherry vinegar, you might be better off asking 'what would taste good in this soup?' rather than 'what tastes like sherry?'

QUICK!!! Pizza question

The 00 issue has more to do with whether the flour is malted than its protein content. For example, you can make perfectly decent pizza at home with domestic bread flour, which is high protein (though you can also get decent results with lower protein AP flour if you treat the dough right). The domestic flour is malted, which ultimately helps it brown well at lower temperatures.

The 00 flours Italians use for Neapolitan pizzas are unmalted, and resistant to browning, which is why they develop the distinctive pale coloring with dark leopard spots when cooked in a very hot oven. Even worse is when people try to cook low hydration Neapolitan dough recipes in a low temp oven - you get very little oven spring and a very dense unpleasant texture.

As you pointed out, 00 indicates how flour is milled, not a specific kind of flour. But the particular 00 flours used in Neapolitan pizzas are ill-suited for home ovens not because of their protein but because they're unmalted, affecting how they ferment and how they brown.

Oct 24, 2014
cowboyardee in Home Cooking

Sharpening stones for Japanese Gyuto

Drywall screen is another cheap alternative to sandpaper, and it doesn't clog up as easily if you have a lot of flattening to do.

Oct 24, 2014
cowboyardee in Cookware

Which cheap entry level 240mm Gyuto?

It seems like you have two separate issues/questions:

1) Is it OK not to sharpen to a high polish that shaves very fine hair?

- Absolutely. How a knife performs on food is ultimately much more important than how it performs during sharpening tests. A knife that cuts effortlessly through ripe tomatoes is sharp.

And anyway, as you're starting to see, there are some advantages of a toothy (low grit) edge. At times, I deliberately leave an edge toothy - either because a toothy edge is better suited to the tasks I intend to use a knife for, or because on some knives a highly polished edge is a bit of a wasted effort (not enough retention to justify the effort). In fact, I often deliberately fail to fully polish out a lower grit scratch pattern even when I use a higher grit stone (by making a large jump in grits and limiting the amount of strokes I use on a polishing stone), in an effort to get some of the benefits of both kinds of edge. A lower grit can make for more aggressive slicing. A higher polish can make for enhanced edge retention and push-cutting ability.

2) Why are you having difficulty achieving a very high polish?

Again, this is not necessary. But improving your sharpening technique can be worthwhile in its own right, or at least interesting. For one, as Chem pointed out, not all arm hair is the same and yours might pose an extra hard test. But still, I think this is something you can achieve eventually.

I'll list a few possibilities here. Your problem could be one or several of these:
- Jumping from 1000 to 6000 grit is big enough that you might just have to do more work than you realize to polish out the scratch pattern from the 1k stone. Ultimately, the main reason to use an intermediate stone in between those two isn't because you can't make this jump... it's to save time.
- In general, the higher your grit, the better your technique needs to be. Think of it this way... at 1k, if you make a bad stroke or bump the edge a little bit slightly deforming the edge, you'll only need a couple more strokes to get the edge right back to where it was. A lot of times, you won't even notice you made a bad stroke. But at very fine grit, when you deform the edge slightly, you might wind up undoing several minutes worth of work. Same thing goes for rolling the edge while stropping, though this problem isn't particularly hard to avoid.
- If you don't have a very pristine edge coming off the 1k stone, your work on 6k can be a waste of time. From your results so far, this probably isn't your problem, but I though I'd throw it in there just FYI. If your bevels haven't met and formed a new edge, 6k is doing next to nothing for you.
- Check your fine stone to make sure you don't have high corners/edges on the stone. This can be undoing your work (or at least making it a lot harder) even while you're using it.
- Lastly, wire edge issues are a possibility. This, again, is highly unlikely in your case since you've said you deburr and you also are having the same issue with several different knives. But if you ever find that your knife is wicked sharp right off the stone and then seems not very sharp almost immediately into usage, then a wire edge might be your problem.

At any rate, learning to sharpen is a marathon, not a sprint, and it sounds like you're making fine progress. So congrats.

Hope you don't mind the long post.

Oct 15, 2014
cowboyardee in Cookware

Absolute Tomatoey-est Tasting Tomato Sauce You Will EVER Eat

"A food mill rather than a masher?? A hand blender??"
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The end texture of this sauce is somewhat rustic rather than a smooth puree. If you prefer a smoother puree, an immersion blender works just fine. A food mill works as well, but IMO it doesn't have as many upsides in a sauce where you are deliberately straining and reserving the gel.

All that said, tomatoes without added calcium chloride break down on their own into a relatively smooth sauce without much elbow grease from the masher (which is just what I happened to have on hand). So if you're finding that your sauces aren't doing most of the work for you in terms of breaking down, check to see if your canned tomatoes have calcium chloride added.

Oct 13, 2014
cowboyardee in Home Cooking

Absolute Tomatoey-est Tasting Tomato Sauce You Will EVER Eat

Sorry for any confusion - the tomatoes are added in step 4 above. If you are supplementing with canned tomatoes, you saute the onion, add the canned tomatoes, and then cook them down for a little before adding the roasted tomatoes from the oven and continuing to reduce the sauce down. If you're not using any canned tomatoes, you add the roasted tomatoes to sauteed onions, then mash down and continue cooking to fully reduce.

The uncooked gel is not added until later at the very end of the recipe (step 6).

Oct 13, 2014
cowboyardee in Home Cooking

MAC the(bread) knife..

No kidding. Nice photos. And nice review.

Looking forward to reading how you like it after putting it through its paces.

Oct 13, 2014
cowboyardee in Cookware

Pre-searing steak before sous vide

My bad. Though my main point was that you don't need to pre-sear in order to avoid over-cooking the meat as you seemed to imply. If you just prefer the crust or flavor on meat that's been seared both before and after SV, by all means suit yourself. A pre-sear certainly doesn't hurt anything in any case.

Oct 13, 2014
cowboyardee in Home Cooking

Pre-searing steak before sous vide

"That isn't what the article you linked to said; it said testers were evenly split about which they preferred. Even so, they weren't able to guess which was which."
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Not exactly. I was writing above about pre-searing without post-searing as well. The tasters in the above article were unable to tell the difference between a steak that had been pre- AND post-seared vs one that had been post-seared only. A quote from said article:
"Conclusion: Don't bother with the pre-sear—you develop plenty of flavor with just the single, post-water bath sear."

Here is another article (from a very excellent website) where different searing techniques are ranked in terms of preference:
http://www.cookingissues.com/uploads/...

"The advantage to pre-searing is that you can sear the steak right out of the refrigerator, which will cook the meat below the surface less than one right out of the bath or even at room temperature."
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Pre-searing does have some advantages:
- Some prefer the flavor and appearance of a steak that's seared both before AND after a sous vide bath. I don't personally find the difference between this and a post-sear-only to be significant enough to be worth the extra effort, but YMMV.
- Also, scubadoo97 informed me below of the potential to use a pre-sear to kill the microbes on beef before a very long sous vide bath in order to avoid the off-flavors that sometimes develop on long-cooked sous vide beef. I've normally used a quick dunk in near-boiling water to accomplish the same thing, but if a pre-sear works, it might be easier and better flavor-wise.

That said, you seem to be recommending that people pre-sear only, and I just can't agree with you on that one. You get better, tastier results with when you post-sear (pre-sear or not). It is important that you let the meat rest a short while after its bath and before post-searing it to avoid over-cooking. And for the same reason, it's also important that you ensure you're getting a very good quick sear. I recommend using a generous amount of oil with a very high smoke point to accomplish this. Using these techniques you can post-sear and still achieve a very even gradient of doneness on all but the thinnest of steaks - there are pictures on both links I've pasted to prove it.

Oct 12, 2014
cowboyardee in Home Cooking

Lovely, tongue tickling Neapolitan style pizza at home. Tips?

Don't worry about using 00 flour. More readily available domestic AP or bread flour will work better given your cooking setup anyway.

I honestly believe that you can make a pretty decent pizza in one form or another in just about any reasonable oven and with any reasonable restrictions. The trick is to tailor your process and your recipe to get the best results from what you have, rather than to use a recipe made for a different kind of setup.

Oct 09, 2014
cowboyardee in Home Cooking

Does anyone really LOVE sous vide?

That's not sous vide. That's boil in bag.

Oct 09, 2014
cowboyardee in General Topics

~$100 to spend on chefs knife

Very good (and accurate) point that their tests for sharpness were about as flawed as their methods of dulling a knife.

In my post above, I forgot to mention one other interesting thing about edge dulling that could be investigated: how corrosion/oxidation affects sharpness. Chad Ward made a big deal about this with respect to carbon steel knives, IIRC. And I've certainly noticed a mild dulling of some carbon steel knives even when they're not being used - e.g. a knife that's wicked sharp off the stones, hung up on the magnet for a couple months, and only pretty sharp when I get around to using it. Would have been another interesting subject to explore, but C.I.'s methods weren't designed to test for this either.

Oct 05, 2014
cowboyardee in Cookware

~$100 to spend on chefs knife

In my experience, having bought a few victorinox knives, their factory edge is pretty good for the price, at least on their chef knives. Shaves hair right out of the box.

Anyway, I agree. C.I. seems to think that Victorinox steel is something special. Don't get me wrong - their steel is fine - but it's just pretty standard decent stainless knife steel. The big reasons to buy Victorinox are their geometry, profile, comfort, price, etc.

Oct 05, 2014
cowboyardee in Cookware

~$100 to spend on chefs knife

Edge dulling:

Downthread, I wrote about how C.I.'s previous dulling tests (which used abrasive sandpaper) only got part of the story in terms of edge dulling - wear resistance, but not resistance to deformity (rolling or chipping) at the edge. Basically, in this test they did the opposite - by using a glass plate to dull their knives, they tested edge deformity alone, but not wear resistance. It's the combination of the two (along with sharpening technique and edge geometry) that determines how a knife holds its edge.

You might say, 'Well, they did cut up some chicken and some parsley.' Which is true - these would have been excellent tests of overall edge retention if C.I. had continued them. But they didn't perform either test long enough for a noticeable result, and then they went with a final method (glass) that was pure overkill and had no bearing on wear resistance. It's like claiming to test the cold and heat tolerances of a spacesuit by leaving it in an air-conditioned room, and then dropping a hydrogen bomb on it - you didn't really find out all that much about either end of the spectrum.
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How hardness affects a knife:

Testing how hardness affects a knife without including sharpening is just a lost cause. They conflated a low hardness with being dull out of the box - in truth, this was not much more than coincidence. They also seemed to equate harder knives as being sharper at the edge on a microscopic level. This is misleading.

Harder knives typically do resist edge deformity better than softer knives - which can explain why they might be sharper under a microscope after usage. They are also generally more able to retain a very high level of polish and/or a very low angle edge (without succumbing to the aforementioned deformity). But C.I. didn't specify any of this, and left the impression instead that harder knives are just sharper. Which isn't true. Soft steel can be made extremely sharp - it just has a harder time holding that edge in use.

Also of note, by leaving sharpening out of the equation, they left out one of the biggest reasons you might want a softer knife - it generally sharpens very easily with a wide variety of methods.
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How aspects of a knife's geometry beyond its edge angle affects a knife:

They mentioned the thinness of a blade, and I was impressed... until they specified that by 'thinness' they only meant the edge angle. Here's a demonstrative test: sharpen both a thin-bladed chef's knife and a thick heavy meat cleaver to 20 degrees per side. Cut through an onion with both. Compare. It won't even be close - the meat cleaver will still cut like a meat cleaver. This is because the it's not only the edge angle that matters but also the thinness immediately above the edge.

Less obviously but for the exact same reasons, an asymmetrical edge will cut with less resistance than a symmetrical one on an otherwise identical knife using the same edge angles. And then there's the whole issue of food release, which C.I. hasn't touched at all.
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Why comparing sharpness using the factory edge might be misleading:

I thought this one was obvious. Some makers sharpen really well; some don't bother. The factory edge only affects the first few months of usage. You presumably intend to use a knife much longer than that. So maybe C.I. should quit pretending sharpening doesn't exist.

Also of note though, some of these tests might have been more interesting and useful if multiple edge angles were tested. That would indeed give the reader a better sense of the capabilities of a knife and why you might be interested in spending 10 times the cost of a Victorinox on one (or not).

~$100 to spend on chefs knife

I watched the video.

Interesting tests but their methods are still pretty flawed, leading to oversimplified results. Cooks Illustrated still doesn't understand edge dulling, how hardness affects a knife, how aspects of a knife's geometry beyond its edge angle affects a knife, or why comparing sharpness using the factory edge might be misleading.

At this point I honestly don't know whether they are under-informed as testers or whether they're just trying to sound technical while confirming what their readers want/expect to hear.

Oct 03, 2014
cowboyardee in Cookware

Cold brew coffee - what device?

I've used the toddy system, and a DIY collander & filter setup. I'd wager that just about any reasonable system can get you good results, since cold brewing comes down to just a few easily controlled variables. The advantage of the toddy system is its ease of use. Minimal effort needed.

Probably the biggest downside of the toddy is the thinness of its carafe. This isn't necessarily a huge deal - the glassis about as thin as the glass on an average cheap auto drip carafe. I had no problems with the cork, except that I eventually lost the damn thing. So I whittled a wine cork into the correct shape, and that works fine - took maybe five minutes.

Sep 30, 2014
cowboyardee in Cookware

The Perils of Coffee Snobbery

"Be that as it may, I find much of the third wave coffee I've had to be overly sour and undrinkable."
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I like acidic coffees - surely including some you would find too sour - and I understand that some people don't. But I find it weird that 3rd wave as a whole gets called 'too sour' since I don't really find that the average third wave coffee roast is really pushing the boundaries of sourness. In other words, while you won't easily find third wave dark roasts, (to me) it seems there are still at least as many if not more medium roasts available than really light ones. Is the nothing-but-light-roasts trend a west coast thing? Are my local markets just weird?

"For everyday drinking I want something decent, easy to find, and inexpensive."
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Me too. OTOH, if the best wine I'd ever tasted was ~50 cents per glass to drink at home, I'd probably drink a whole lot more of it. FWIW, the most expensive coffees I've tried (kopi luwak and blue mountain) have not been among my personal favorites.

"The pretentiousness of some of the third wave I find rather off-putting as well. For some reason similar behavior with say wine, chocolate, tea, or even farm-to-table doesn't annoy me nearly as much."
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Interesting. Any insight as to why? What about craft beer fanatics?

Sep 29, 2014
cowboyardee in Food Media & News

The Perils of Coffee Snobbery

"I really see nothing new in the third wave other than under roasting, an unhealthy obsession with single estate coffees..."
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These first two factors are very much related. The consistency and quality of the coffee beans makes a much bigger difference to the final drinkable coffee when it's lightly roasted than when it's dark roasted. Narrowing a coffee's origin down from a single country/region (as in 2nd wave coffee) to a single farm (3rd wave) isn't an obsession or eccentric quirk or even bragging rights - it's a method of quality control that's necessitated by the roasting method.

Sep 24, 2014
cowboyardee in Food Media & News

The Perils of Coffee Snobbery

I understand the different usages of 'myth,' and I stand by my post above - even the definition you're using implies a degree of untruth. This is one reason why we differentiate between 'Greek mythology' and 'Greek history.'

I'm not interested in further semantic arguments with each of us running to different dictionaries for backup. So lets do this: lets pretend you never said these coffee origin stories were untrue... merely unverified. Sounds good. No less apt to be true than any other unverified claim (safe defect-free cars, honest charities, etc) - after all, you make no claim at all towards their truthiness, if I understand correctly.

So hows about instead of calling people names over unverified claims you and/or Ozersky actually, you know, look into them. As I pointed out a while ago, plenty of third wave producers list their suppliers right on the bag.

Sep 24, 2014
cowboyardee in Food Media & News

The Perils of Coffee Snobbery

"Even the top price you've shown, $.62, is "well under a buck", at least the way I do math. Don't you think so?"
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You misunderstand me - I wasn't claiming that k cups cost a buck each. I wrote intelligentsia beans cost well under a buck per cup not to imply that was the price of k cups but because I was being lazy and didn't feel like actually quoting an exact price per cup of intelligentsia beans. I didn't mean to imply that k cups are as expensive as a buck per cup - only that in general they often cost more than most third wave coffee. And I stand by that statement.

I can see how my wording was confusing though.

FWIW, I think amazon.com pricing is a fair benchmark. Yeah, you can find cheaper if you look around enough. You can also find more expensive. And frankly, even paying 35 cents each for 10 gram cups is damn near $16 per pound. For coffee that's almost always roasted many moons ago. Your lowest prices for k cups aren't that low.

Sep 24, 2014
cowboyardee in Food Media & News

The Perils of Coffee Snobbery

Read the post taster was responding to. I never used 'lie' as shorthand.

Sep 23, 2014
cowboyardee in Food Media & News