Shallots are an interesting subject because not all "shallots" are created equal! "Onions and Other Vegetable Alliums" by J.L. Brewster offers an excellent overview of the complex world of shallots.
Much of what is sold as shallot is infinitely mixed up with ONION, Allium cepa, genetics. This is especially true of a) the red shallots, b) those sold as seed by Dutch companies, and c) the famed banana shallots of France. While it is fashionable to claim a botanical "ascalonicum" for them, in fact this is not really true.
There appears to be 3 broad lines of descent in the Onion family:
Allium vavilovii and the cepa stream : the "onions"
Allium psekemense/ oschanini stream : the grey shallots, which also have some amount of the onion genome mixed in
Allium altaicum stream: the Asian scallions [and almost 138 other species ]
This is a rough and dirty scheme, not a taxonomically accurate summation. It is meant to promote discussion into the topic of shallots!
My question is: We find 2 types of shallots on sale. The small, round Asian type in Oriental markets, and the larger, elongated type in supermarkets.
Quite obviously, the latter is the product of Dutch genetics and has CONSIDERABLE ALLIUM CEPA in its genome, it is more than half onion, unlike the gray shallot, which has just a modest amount [<1/3 of total] of the cepa chromosomes mixed in.
Bourdain et al. are kidding themselves when they speak of the "special flavor" of shallots that are currently available. So does Gordon Ramsay, when he speaks of the "banana shallots" of Normandy. Those are Allium cepa, almost all the way through. A rose by any other name.
YES, true French red shallots WOULD taste different from ONIONS, as would TRUE GRAY SHALLOTS.
But the monsters available today in the supermarkets are more onion than true shallots. Super-Chefs are kidding themselves if they can taste X, Y, Z! Where do they think the SIZE comes from?
So, where can we find true gray shallots for sale, for culinary use? I should be grateful to be guided to a reliable source in the US. Thanks in advance.
May I ask if you have objections to eating bone-in meat? It makes for succulence and adds depth to the stew. I am left puzzled by the penchant for boneless meat, because it completely destroys the "reason for being" for meat, given my cultural roots. Not trying to impose any ideas, but just trying to think my way through this "strange" predilection I have never gotten used to after more than 36 years in this country. More me boneless = no taste at all, no attached fat = no taste at all, either!! Indian cooking teachers who advise cubes of trimmed lamb leg for "curry", to which "water" is added, have not the slightest idea of either North Indian meat cookery. They know about social networking for sure, and being Jack the Lad about town, but not about lamb cookery! Just in case folks were going to attempt such a recipe and come up with powdery, crumbly, dry meat in their slow cookers.
Did add a whole lot of celery, onions, Minor's chicken base derived broth and dried sage leaves from fresh home grown. You are right, the Streit's experiment was not a success! Other than freshness which definitely was a concern, the product itself might need a bit more reworking? The texture is indifferent, and this from someone who is very fond of regular matzoh in any guise.
For me Thanksgiving is complete with just Pepperidge Farm stuffing with celery, onions and poultry seasoning, good gravy, Ocean Spray cranberry sauce, and a baked potato [even microwaved is fine]. Very ho-hum, but I like it that way.
Depending on how many vegetarians are coming, and how big the gathering is going to be, I don't know the right thing to do. Should the host be expected to extend him/herself to cook a rather special dish for a lone guest or two out of 20, or should the vegetarian understand that ahimsa includes being compassionate towards the needs of the many and very harried hosts, and place her own needs on the backburner?
Perhaps mentally make Thanksgiving a fast day, BUT a feast of the spirit, allowing the needs of the many to take precedence over one's own for a day?
This year, I experimented with Streit's whole wheat farfale (spelling?) a kosher product used as stuffing or baking outside a bird. It was marginally acceptable, as cooked according to package directions, substituting olive oil for chicken fat.
There was a musty smell, which could have been the product, or just could have been an older package sitting too long on the grocery shelf.
Perhaps turkey drippings might have improved things, or the Southern can of cream soup?
Your mentioning potatoes in stuffing reminded me of India; I had never seen bread stuffing until I came to this country. Roast chicken and fresh killed turkey are quite popular in certain circles in Calcutta, at least in my time in the early 60s. However, "roast" meant braised, and stuffing always followed the same formula.
Potatoes, skin on or off, cut into small dice.
Sweat minced onions in butter & oil. Add veg. except green peas, if frozen. Add giblets, S & P, sauce, and raisins, cook until barely tender, including the peas somewhere here. All of these will cook again. You may add a pinch of sugar to balance taste, and minute pinches of the spices if smell too strong. All the turkeys and such were raised on open range, and quite gamey.
Cool and stuff bird which is trussed and browned in oil/butter, then removed. In same fat, sweat minced onions in proportion to weight until begin to change color, add small qty. minced garlic and bay leaf, peppercorns, and celery leaves or Calcutta parsley stems, a dash or 3 of the L & P, salt.
Some might caramelize sugar before adding the minced onions or add a bit of caramel water, but with a very light hand. This is braised under a tight dough seal. Sometimes peeled sauteed potatoes are cooked along with this so-called roast.
After it is done, the gravy is reduced to demi-glace or even to a glaze and reconstituted with additions of boiling water, to get a specific taste, but care must be taken not too take this too far as an unpleasant overcooked, bitter note will take over everything.
Served with dinner rolls, butter, and often a composed salad of tender-firm cooked beet, ditto cauliflower, other fresh vegetables, sometimes dressed with home-made mayonnaise.
Ha ha, thanks much to both of you, Sunshine and Sushiqueen. Have a super T-day. I wonder if an expert confit maker would like to experiment once, take one for the team?
1. Pure olive or pomace oil is cheaper than duck fat? Sometimes?
2. You can make oil-poached fingerling potatoes with the residual oil. Poach vegetables in the oil, in a warm vinaigrette a la Nico Ladenis, and use it to paoch fish as well, then use part of it warm on salad dressings [frisee, poached egg?]
3. More uses for the residual oil than duck fat?
4. Waterfowl will honk when you pass, and be your BFF? Sort of, at least?
5. Might turn out to taste really, really good? The ultimate criterion?
Rick Stein has a great sweet-sour red cabbage braised in the oven to accompany confit duck; enjoy!
This may be taking you off on a slightly different direction but being faithful to your original idea of remaining vegetarian, low in calories, full of vegetables, and based on healthful, low-glygemic index. I am interpolating the last, as a personal concern. However, I am drawing from an Indian tradition, that may not suit your taste, or may be overly fussy.
Dalma is a "dal" preparation from Odisha, that uses dal, primarily split and hulled pigeon peas, Cajanus cajan. I like to experiment with a mix of split red lentils, yellow split mung beans [lightly dry-roasted in a pan, then washed], split yellow Indian chick peas [very low Glycemic Index & Load], and washed split pigeon peas [called arhar or tuvar dal in Indian groceries]. You could substitute split green peas or just use split red lentils and split chick peas. A bit of baking soda makes the dals soften and "melt" faster.
The vegtables in this case should be added by their order of softening, INTO the cooking dal, which should be covered ( slightly ajar) and at a brisk simmer. What you choose to add is your choice. Perhaps parsnips & carrots togetner or celeriac may not be a good thing, pulling the flavors away towards a Germanic direction. Green beans, Daikon radishes cut in thick sticks, fresh stalks of collards or kale [add leaves a bit later], kohl rabi, rutabaga, many types of true yams and tropical roots, winter melon, acorn squash with skin on, big chunks of cauliflower stalks [the pedicels or flower stalks holding the florets], the middle stems of cabbage cores trimmed of hard parts, fresh moringa drumsticks, tender YOUNG plantains, and so many more things.
Skim the scum of the dals, and add a little turmeric powder. Cook a bit and only now start adding each lot of veggies in turn. Carefully time each veggie to not overcook because you will be adding either just a couple of types, or many, as per your tastes. When they are 3/4 done you will add some good quality powdered asafetida, not something many Western cooks are used to. This is important in Indian vegetarian cooking, where onion and garlic are abjured. There are dalmas where these are used, but I am giving you a pure veg. style.
Next comes grated fresh ginger, into the pot, quite a bit, but use sound judgment!
Then drop in fresh grated coconut, either made yourself, or more conveniently the stuff made by Goya and frozen in flat packets. Available in many ordinary groceries, and thus convenient. There are some Asian brands, that seem to be very expensive.
Next add dark brown sugar, or unsulfured molasses, NOT blackstrap. Even dark maple syrup is excellent. There should be the faintest hint of sweetness.
Seasalt, and should not overpower or fight the sweetness, which is very unpleasant. You fortunately do not like much salt!!
Finally, the tempering. Good Indian cow ghee is the norm here, but clarified butter will do. NOT butter which will turn into hazelnut butter and burn. You heat the ghee until it shimmers but never to smoking point. Add a decent quantity of cumin SEED, so that they can swim around, sizzle and release aroma. Right at the peak moment, before they have the chance to turn from the very light golden to any darker shade, drop the whole shebang into your dal, which should be hot. Cover immediately, simmer for a couple of minutes, serve with a wedge of fresh lime.
This is pure vegetarian food, and authentic, of a general type served in homes where a good number of Indians live. Not the pattern of the stuff served in restaurants.
Do you recognize that it originates from a time before there were chiles, tomatoes, potatoes and such in India? These are the dishes preserved in brahman homes, and regularly eaten and served as votive offerings.
Another very typical dish from Bengal and my favorite, eaten together with bitter, newly emerging fried neem leaves!
Whole green mung beans: you can use a large slow cooker. What goes in are whole vegetables such as [wash well!] bunches of red radish,l leaves and all, bunches of spinach, including roots [a delicacy in Bengal], Chewy stems of flowering radish [e.g. rattail], whole baby eggplant or use oriental eggplant whole [they will shrink], whole baby potatoes like fingerlings. This was a dish meant to help mothers NOT work in the kitchen, so not cutting of anything, which takes hours of work in Bengal, and also some symbolic reasons, not useful to go into here. Our mung beans were slightly different and more sapid than the ones found in Chinese groceries for sprouting, but those will have to do. You can add a knob or two of root ginger, lightly crushed, a cassia leaf or two, or a bay leaf, and later on, seasalt and brown sugar or cane jaggery. The dish makes its own flavor,and is eaten with steaming converted rice, and a drop of hot ghee, or cultured butter, a wedge of lime, plus some bitters, like boiled mashed bitter melon, or neem leaves.
These are some truly authentic dishes of Bengal and neighboring Odisha, using legumes in very healthful ways, chockful of vegetables that include their roots, which are also extremely nutrient-rich.
At the risk of going way off-topic [sincere apologies!], just wanted to offer a glimpse REALLY authentic home cooking from India, using legumes and vegetables. Do you see a pattern: NO OIL, NO SPICE? What do restaurants serve, and some food writers explain to the world?
However, I must commend Ammini Ramachandran's "Grains, Greens and Grated Coconuts", one of the finest books on authentic Indian cuisines from the home, and from a particular region and community. Try looking it up. Very, very healthful. I have zero interests here except absolute admiration. This is how real Indian cookbooks should be written, by real, not pseudo, experts.
I can write down literally scores of recipes from the repertore of Rarhi Brahman cooking that will show you a cuisine that does not use much of these for its daily fare. At least the traditional orthodox fare! Just so that you know that I am not cherry picking!
[They WILL taste bland to palates not used to them, though, but ambrosial to those who have grown up with them. It is really funny to read some Indian sites on food and cooking. An Indian expatriate in France complains, the food here tastes of nothing and is not worth eating!!!! He has lived there for years, and has never outgrown his small- town roots!]
Slices of Hunter extra sharp Cabot $4/lb on sale in our neck of the woods when we are lucky, on the side, along with the ripe avocado slices, with hot chapati, are my wife's contribution to Indian and American fusion! Very amaing just by itself, and worth making fresh hot chapatis as a real health food! Sometimes we get the Jalapeno Jack Cabot too!! yay!
Halloumi, fried slices, on the side: expensive luxury, but if you find it an occasional treat, that is wonderful.
Paneer slices, ditto.
The avocado and/or cheese should remain constant, as a side to the lentils IHOP! It adds a certain something that lentil soup alone lacks. For vegetarians, especially.
Happy eating, friends.
What would happen if someone were to confit in pure olive oil or olive pomace oil? Place everything in cold oil and slowly bake at 200-215F?
Lentils are a daily staple in our Indian home, not necessarily cooked with Indian flavors.
May I ask why you are simmering for 2 hours? That kills many flavors and makes things acrid and muddy. Are you at an elevation? Then use a pressure cooker, and aromas and textures will remain brisk and flavors/mouthfeel sapid.
A daily staple is the split orange lentils boiled plain with or without a little turmeric until soft, whirred a bit with a hand blender, seasoned with sea salt, and eaten with steaming plain rice, fresh cut green limes [lime rind oils necessary] and a drop of ghee or good butter. This is saadaa vaaran, a type of meal that is the staple of orthodox families all over northern India. Real "Indian" food. Note, no oil, no spices, no onions and garlic!
Next, same boiled orange lentils to which you add nigella seeds and bay leaves sizzled in mix of hot butter and vegetable oil. Or cumin seed, nigella seed, or just cumin powder sizzled in butter/oil mix, added to the lentils.
Or sweat onion and bay leaf, in pur olive oil [not EVOO] + butter, you can add small quantity of red bell pepper if you care of rth taste or not, or some chopped fresh ginger root, or a tiny thai hot chili pepper for a very subliminal kick, add cumin powder that you already have, and when it smells fragrant, add the boiled, whirred red lentils into the mix. Cover, cook briefly. In the boiled lentils, before whirring, you could have added potatoes, green beans, cauliflowers, etc. Yuou want to keep the veggies whole, and fish them out and just whir the lentils and return them to the pot. Add cilantro, tiny bit, if you care, or not. Always use a bit of lime or lemon to perk up flavors on your plate. That bare hint of heat that cannot be detected also perks up flavor, e.g. a tiny thai chili or a few dashes of tabasco.
Wash split orange lentils and drain. Sweat your onions, garlic, bay leaves, as you did, add some chopped red pepper if you want, and/or coarse diced carrot if you wish, and some good quality fresh American style curry powder like Mccormick or Frontier Spice. Add the washed lentils, and cook in the oil for a bit until the orange turns yellow. Add some nice veg.stock, home made or the ones in the paper cartons. Cook covered until the lentils are tender, and it will not be more than 35-40 min at sea level on brisk simmer. Whir with hand blender but leave some veg. chunky. Make an Italian thingie, finely mince Italian parsley, ditto garlic cloves, zest of lemon. Add into hot pot of soup just before serving, and juice the zested lemon into the soup. Serve with toasted bread crouton or whatever you wish. I also like to cube ukes and add to the hot soup to briefly cook. You can vary the base veggies any way you like to change the consistency or flavor. This is a basic lentil soup, so you can add tomato puree, in very small doses, or things that catch your fancy, like chopped plum tomato, parsnip, etc. The exact idea behind your own soup, except you are using orange split lentils that have a lot of umami and far less astringency than whole lentils.
Now for whole brown lentils: wash and then cook them in water until just tender in a big pot. Now add a bit of turmeric,salt to taste, chopped green or red bell pepper, chopped plum or any tomato, chopped onion, chopped garlic, minced fresh ginger, fresh powdered cumin, fresh powdered coriander seed, a tiny bit of chopped thai or jalapeno pepper, and simmer just until raw smells gone and nice aromatic smell emerges. Taste to your liking and add chopped fresh cilantro, leaves, stalks, roots, all. Eat with 100% whole wheat tortilla puffed above flame until they balloon, or chapati, plus nice avocado, plus cabot sharp cheddar cheese, cucumbers, fresh lime. Or, rice is also good. BTW, onions, tomato, peppers, garlic, ginger, in the "dal" are in 1 cup qusntities, and the last in 2X Tb quantities, per lb brown lentil; use your taste and cook's sense as guide and suit your own taste. You may or may not like this, but you would have wasted just 1 pkg of lentils and some veggies as a trial.
Thank you ever so much. I believe it is indeed the one I was searching for. I knew the experts here would come through. Thank you so very much again.
Did you see how expertly he made just a single cut down the backbone? No hacking, sawing, shears, wrestling, nothing! And his chicken does not look too shabby either! What do you think? Which technique would you choose, having seen so many?
There is one more technique I was taught that is a bit difficult to explain but easy to do once seen. If you turn the chicken on its back, you will see where the wishbones are, and a flat bone from the breast join near to there. I do not know the anatomical name for that bone. There is one on each side, and you will see them clearly standing out against the skin, right above the rib cage.
If you slide the knife blade under those scimitar-sped bones on each side, and pull, the neck and rib cage and back will pull away intact. You need to be careful about how much of the breast bone you are going to pull out or leave behind, but you will have a spatchcocked chicken in a minute.
Let me know if this is complete nonsense to you. Do you see that roast chicken picture to the right? If we were to turn it over on its back, right about where you see the bend in the wing joint in the photo, you will see those flat bones. Scapula? Or whatever they are called. Slide the knife under pulling towards the neck, on both sides. This will free up the backbone from the breast bone, and the rest of the backbone area can be removed easily.
Thank you very much, indeed. You might enjoy this one as well. VERY rich, but an easy entertainment dish!
You might enjoy this: very rich, perhaps less butter?
Deeply appreciate your reply. Would you please provide a link or reference? Thanks much.
What I remeber was that it was a white-coated butcher in his shop, demostrating a series of operations. It could even have been tucked into a Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver or a similar chef program but my memory fails me completely. There is a gentleman on Youtube, lesterfontayne, with a great channel, but don't think it is there. Thanks for any leads, though.
Tell us how you liked the dish, and what you felt was lacking, and what were its best point! That way we too can learn from your adventures!!
If you are thickening with starch, different starches behave differently in acids, in heated gravies, and even in slow cooker types of situations. Cornstarch, potato starch, tapioca, arrowroot, Wondra flour, all give you different thickening power, mouthfeel and last for different times before losing their gel in hot gravies. You might like to look up kitchen chemistry books like Corriher. I think cornstarch loses thickening earliest, while potato and tapioca are a bit more lasting. Acids like tomato or wine that has not evaporated, in a closed crockpot, affects them in other ways.
A whole can of anchovies is about 3.5 oz, and you had 1.3 kg chicken plus a lot of beans, veggies, tomato, etc. Chicken breast needs all the help it can get, and 3.5 oz is not too much to my taste. Others have cringed, but they may be sensitive to anchovy!
Re: durian. ALL durian on sale in the USA has been frozen before shipping. That is the equivalent of de-fanging a cobra. There is hardly any "durian" remaining there, a mere apology and an excuse for charging a high price.
Have you tasted frozen mango or pineapple sold by Dole? They are not bad as bits of cold, sweet-tart chewy, wet edibles go, but do they taste of fresh, prime ripe pineapple or the best quality mango to you? Same here.
Re: the canned lychees in syrup? Try them with some excellent jersey cow cream, not mere whipping cream. Lychees, syrup and that cream! Cuts the sweetness! Say "thank you lychee tree" if you really like the combo!
Asian cuts a large swath, and your specs include a number of Cambodian curry pastes and recipes that need not incorporate coconut. There are subregions within Cambodia as well. Also, Thai jungle curries have no coconut, by definition. Some of these grind in good quality chicharrones or you can make your own fried chicken skin or duck skin cracklings in the oven, and grind them into green or red curry paste. Cook a melange of slighly moist vegetables, like shredded Lagenaria, zucchini, lightly steamed chayote squash, with selected other vegetables, e.g. shredded daikon, or red radish, broccoli stem, shredded or thin cut acorn squash, cauliflower, cabbage, stuff that daughter likes, with small amounts of that pork-rind enriched curry paste. When you make curry paste at home, you can use less-hot green peppers, ancho chiles, and all sorts of your own tweaks including canned anchovies or anchovy paste, lightly roasted and powdered cumin, whole nutmeg for meats, mace for strong meats, cloves for duck, etc. In a blender whizzing a good-enough curry paste, with the pork rind, is easy. You are not Thompson, you just want to make your family mighty happy!!
So, you can take mild red chiles of several sorts, place them in boiling water, and boil them for a bit, and you have the base for a red curry paste, sans the seeds if you want. You can take the seeds out before and roast them for an added toasty flavor. Thriow your galangal, garlic, etc, in with yor anchovy paste, and pork rinds or chicken.duck cracklins and you are good to go. If you roast small pearl onions and garlic when you are cooking something in the oven, those are the best to put in these curry pastes. NOT raw garlic, shallots or onions. Don't hassle with shallots, which in the US markets and thanks to the Dutch breeders are functionally onions anyway, at $3.78/lb where onions are $5/10 lbs. Let the rich enjoy their delusions, and ignore the genetic evidence! Banana shallots and certain TV chefs! A rich expletive is in order here!
There is a huge range of Indian regional cuisines that have NO chillies, no heat. My own is a case in point. Not many spices, either. No onions, no garlic.
Anyway, here is a dish I modified from a Moosewood recipe, and which uses a number of fall root vegetables and greens.
You will need to cube up acorn or butternut squash or both, or kabocha, with skin on, in fairly big chunks. Kohlrabi peeled and ditto, Rutabaga (!!), if you like, or turnips, and daikon, all chunks. Sweet potatoes, if you like them. Add a small qty. of carrots or parsnips if you want them, even beets, although purple beets will stain the whole dish. Cauliflower stems, the thick parts or stalks of the florets, and use the florets midway into the cooking, if the baby likes them. Some greens late into the cooking, e.g. Chard, or collard, or spinach [if you like]. Green papaya, chayote, winter melon, etc. all good, very low in calories. Potatoes : small red, fingerlings, and a couple of russets to melt down and thicken sauce.
In some olive oil,+ neutral vegetable oil and butter, sautee finely minced onion, until pale and changing color. Add finely minced fresh ginger and garlic and some green pepper and hot pepper. No heat will be felt but will add a subliminal touch. Cook briefly. Add some good US curry powder like Frontier, and a touch of garam masala, ditto, and a little cumin powder, roasted whole cumin, ground, if possible. Cook a bit, and add potatoes, cook with the spices, add some fresh tomatoes, and cook them into a saucy mess, add the vegetables, and start adding boiling water in small increments, covering and simmering in between. bring up your gravy, seasoning along the way. The vegetables will develop a rich broth this way. Add the greens at the correct time. Then add some creamy peanut butter that has been mixed with warm water to liaison with the gravy. This will be the last thing, and you will cook not much longer. You can add cashew or almond butter instead. Cook just until the greens are tender and the gravy is enriched. The nut butter will sink to the bottom and scorch. So add a heat diffuser, and be very careful to stir up from the bottom. Now for the finishing touches. Some like to add a bit of cilantro, some like a bit of lemon or lime juice, fresh, and a little zest, others a bit of roasted ground cumin. Whatever suits your palate. Let the stew rest for a while, perhaps 30 min to cool a little and let flavors meld while you make your noodles, rice or chapatis. Great with whole wheat pitas and a salad. You can absolutely add Knorr Tamarind Soup mix, only just a little ( like 2 tsp), to the above dish, to add a great zip. Plain Laxmi Tamarind concentrate in the GLASS JAR [not plastic] is good too. NEVER use Tamcon; it tastes just like it sounds. Pomegranate molasses is great too. For my taste, nothing beats fresh lime or lemon, sliced at the table, and squeezed with thumb and fingers to extract all the rind oils.
You can add lemongrass into this stew, hard tofu, other herbs like basil, adding and subtracting to your taste. Microplaned lemon zest at the very end always improves most things, IHOP.
Let us know if the family liked this! Tell your daughter you are SO lucky to have a great kid like her. She is so not wimpy! I wish I had a daughter exactly like her!! God bless you all.
P.S. Did you know, allergens lurk in strange corners in strange ways? The birch pollen protein is now found to be present in apples, as 3 fractions, in skin, flesh and core! No avoiding it for the susceptible individual, but some varieties are more allergenic than others. So, there is a lot of concern, trying to understand exactly which those might be, and how they affect the apple-eating consumer, how many people are susceptible to what products, e.g, whole fresh fruit, cut fruit, juice, etc.
For all chciken breast, please do this first: on the whole breast, beat the meat up with the back of a cleaver or a meat paddle. Not pulverize, but enough. When the fibers are broken up somewhat, then cut int dice or make cutlets or cook as you wish. You will find that your chk. breask remains softer and much juicier than it were just chunked.
If you were to cook up some of the bacon in a little olive oil or butter, to whatever degree you want, you would have a bit of fat. You might then wish to flour your chicken, pepper at least, maybe Wondra flour if you have [not in the UK!], and lightly brown the whole beaten floured breasts, and then dice. Add coarse chopped onions to the same pan you have sauteed the chicken [non reactive] sweat a bit, add the anchovies, melt them, deglaze with tomato liquid into pot, add crushed tomato, some of the fried bacom saving some for later, a stock cube if you feel you have to have one, after tasting. Add the veggies accordin to your taste for how soft you like them and your cooker's cooking nous. Thyme midway? A few dashes of hot sauce wakes up falvors. You cannot taste any heat, but it does something subliminal. Also, if you have some lemon and parsley, at the last minute before serving, a very, very fine mince of lemon zest and parsley often wakes up flavors, as does a squuee of lemon juice.
Before buying from Cookware stores, it is always interesting to check out the prices and the range of offerings a t several restaurant supply stores, online. They sell to anyone, and the quality is excellent, although you should know what you are buying, the various brands, sizes, and what each of the terms/descriptors actually mean. The names mean a lot, as you probably know, regarding function, durability and quality.
The wire rack is not a necessity: for the few times one roasts a large bird, a doughnut of heavy duty foil, carefully wrought, is sufficient, and one less thing to clean/store/buy. YMMV.
So much depends on how much money you have lying around to play with. Let us consider the induction route first. There are 2 "sizes" that are useful for my way of cooking, the 1800 Watts and the 3500 Watts.
The former works on the 110/120 volt house current and most 12 Ampere domestic wiring found in kitchens BUT you need to check with landlord about overloading circuits, since fridges, and other appliances may be hooked up to the same wiring.
The 3500 Watts is available in Single phase and 3 Phase, 120 V/12 Amp and 220 Volts, and higher Amp versions. You will need to talk to someone who is an expert on electricity and safety.
For my druthers, there is a catch, and that is the weight-bearing capacity of the induction surface, its heat resistance and general longevity. Since I have no affiliations, I can mention something like the Cooktek COMMERCIAL dropin version, which is portable and very sturdy. Don't ever get any digital versions because electronics and heat are not a good combination. Get the plain, old-fashioned analog or whatever else they are called, with a knob to turn. The bummer is the price, >$1500; mind you these are commercial models, built for heavy use. There are $60-120 ones which will last for only a short while, and area come-hither waste of money. Your decision.
There are flat, "French style" cooktops, as they are known in the trade, to distinguish them from the coil type. You can go to any restaurant supply warehouse, e.g. GalaSource online, and turn to the CATERING section. Take a look at their electric catering cooktops, and study what is on offer. Those are good buys, for not much money. Get a single burner, and see how that works for you. Compare several restaurant supply houses for the best price.
Third alternative, using the stovetop you already have. I have a long cast iron griddle, about 19 inches x 8 or 9 inches; whatever is a double burner spanning griddle, with one face ridged, the other plain. You can pick one up at a garage sale or find one fairly cheaply at a Christmas or post-Christmas sale, or get a relative to give you one. This is not elegant, but works well: in those same restaurant supply stores, you will find great sales on Lincoln roasting pans, aluminum, that will span 2 burners. These pans can be used as excellent multi-purpose vessels for deep frying chicken [caution, 2 inches of oil, not more], stir frying with extreme success, and cooking a vast variety of dishes in many ethnic styles provided you understand what you are doing and are organized.
Note that the roasters come as a shallower top, and a deeper bottom, and you can choose which part you will need to do what on your stove top, sitting on the ridged cast iron heat tamer. Works well, not the greatest elegant or super efficient in terms of energy savings, but excellent in terms of results. Saves money, and you get a very useful piece of kitchen equipment in that cast iron grill whose value is legion. You can slip it inside the oven and it becomes a baking stone, and do so many things with it, such as make chapatis, naans, great pancakes etc. besides, great steaks, various Indian and Middle Eastern kebabs, roast eggplant right on the stove, roast tomatoes and green peppers for Mexican and other cuisines, etc.
Another piece of equipment I find useful, but others may find unwieldy, is a 20 inch steel frying pan with heavy 3ple clad bottom that I picked up cheaply at a restaurant suply store. Winco and various Chinese outfits make these things. They are sometimes on sale but you need to be careful. Get a cover, sold separately. An aluminum cover for a Johnson-Rose stockpot or aluminum brazier is great.
[Indeed, a 25 quart aluminum brazier can be had for a modest price, if you are not afraid of using aluminum; get the ones with shallow sides, not more than 3 inches high. They will span all three or 4 burners. Please get some soft refractory or firebrick, to make sure you are not damagng the stove, and insert it at the corners, PLUS the cheat wiremesh heat tamers must go in under each burner. If you like to cook for a crowd, yu are all set. But otherwise, think of that 25 qt, brazier as the best surface to cook pad thai, chinese noodles of all sorts, many Indian meats like kadhai, katakat, and so much else like thai shellfish crepes, Korean pajeon etc.. Anything that requires a large surface area to cook, and slightly different surface temperature gradients where different materials might simulataneously cook or be held for a few seconds or minutes, you have the ideal vessel for 1-4 people. Use the long Chinese wok tools and long handled tongs and you will be all set with practice. You already know that thai & Chinese food of the street vendor sort are not shy of oil, so be warned. If you want that smokey taste, know that it does not come from a health food fanatic's rations of oil.
Even a steel brazier or frying pan can become so well seasoned as to become almost non-stick with use. I have several like this, but you must be careful about using them properly.
The steel frying pans by Winco etc. are not fantastic, but for the price they will do the job reasonably well.
If you have the money to spend, go ahead and buy Vollrath or the best Sitram or Demeyere you can afford. There is much to be said for skill and focus. It is not the equipment that is paramount.
Here are a few of the solutions that work for me, to convert weak gas burners to more reasonable sources of heat. YMMV.
There was a very funny episode of Rumpole on PBS, where that barrister takes a dig at American dietary preferences. With his scathing and very dry wit, he expresses astonishment at the fact that a simple mixture of "salad cream" and ketchup, i.e. Thousand Island dressing, should exercise such a hold on the collective US imagination and bring forth such collective ingenuity in its marketing. I cannot possibly communicate the sarcasm and irony that Rumpole manages in a few words and his inimitable delivery!!!! See if you can find it in a library.
The other sad thing is garam masala, pushed by so many cookbook authors. About some, the less said the better. So, people are mislead into using inappropriate mixes for different styles or regional cuisines, and buying stale and inappropriate mixes that have no value at all.
Ground black pepper in cans or bottles are a third item that should be prepared at home by all, with the aid of a very fine pepper mill, or even a cheap coffee grinder.
If you have a cheap electronic thermocouple probe thermometer, like a Taylor, and can doctor up a slow cooker to keep a volume of water to stay between 140-150F, then eggs placed in this bath for roughly 50 minutes will come out pasteurized. The results will not be as fine as professionally pasteurized eggs, but at $ 1.50 -2.50/doz for good free range eggs, you can certainly use the yolks with a measure of confidence. Plus, you will be putting some acidic Dijon mustard into the beaten yolk and a bit of lemon juice in the yolks before you begin to whip in the oil.
The slightly gelatinized egg whites, post the pasteurization process, should not be wasted. They will whip up to a froth, but will take longer, and the structure will be a little less generous than fresh egg whites. Still, they are quite usable, and most certainly in omelets and other egg dishes.
With 12 egg yolks you can emulsify 6- 12 cups of oil, depending on how eggy you like your mayonnaise. 6 cups is a decent quantity for a small party, as this type should not be kept long, not more than 2 days at most. A 12 hour limit is better.
My Wegmans, a lovely store with great customer service, has a great Mediterranean food bar where everything is $8.50/lb and over, including said pico de gallo.
Which is chopped plum tomato [$1.19 lb in winter, 79c summer], onion yellow, red, 49-99 c, your choice of green chile $2.29 (serrano, jalapeno)-6.99 (thai), cilantro ($2/lg bunch) and lime (3.69/2lbs) etc. My labor and convenience value, ??? I prefer the freshness of my own tomatoes cut with my own hands under my own eyes! Takes me about 5 minutes to cut the tomatoes, onions etc.and these fixings are things I always have on hand. So, such fresh salsas definitely are cheaper for me to make at home, especially in any quantity.
Marinated olives, green ones especially. So expensive in deli cases! Preserved lemons, too. Pickled beets.
Modified Lebanese salads, where I reduce the amount of parsley, and add more legumes and veggies to my taste.
All egg, tuna and chicken salads: I blanch when I see pans of such sitting under lights in deli cases, the tops drying out and turning brownish at the corners, in even the best stores.
Many Indian snacks & mains some might prefer to purchase frozen or to order out.
Green and red thai curry paste, when the rare mood strikes.
Fresh grated coconut: it is a hassle, but essential for Indian sweets, and mandatory for any food used as votive offerings.
A late question, with reference to the many Youtube links:
I have watched all, and am proficient at spatchcocking chicken by cutting out the backbone, etc. However, I remeber watching a video of a British butcher execute a remarkably expert and elegant spatchcocking technique that was very miles above anything else I have seen. I cannot find that video. I should be most grateful if any here have knowledge of professional spatchcocking techniques in Europe/UK? Yes, I have watched Raichlen and all Youtube clips available and NO, those are not it. And, yes, I have cooked professionally, albeit Chinese,Thai and Indian, so knife/cleaver skills are not an area where I come up short. I am also experienced with cooking spatchcocked chicken in my preferred styles. This particular British butcher was remarkable for the negligible knife work he needed, and that is what I should wish to watch once more and learn. Thank you in advance.
Thanks for your response. The difference in that mixer is that it does not have a planetary motion, i.e. rotating like most others. Instead, there are two "arms" that lift and knead, stretch the dough in alternate strokes, a reciprocal motion.
I have never seen a gear or motor ensemble in commercial mixers, here a 20 or 30 qt, that is set up like that. Would like to expand my limited knowledge base and am asking experienced bakers.
Would be most grateful if anyone on CH can clue me in to the type of dough mixer used by “Bob”: it has reciprocating arms doing the kneading.
Bill Buford begins to explain the specific action of the “arms” of the kneader, but then digresses into exaggerated and pointless loquacity, detracting from the subject at hand.
We never get to learn the interesting details about that specific machine. I should be grateful for any information about the manufacturer. Thank you.
You are quite right. Cooktek sells commercial quality flat-top and wok-shaped induction stove rated at 1800 W and 3500 Watts. The 1800 Watts, with analog controls is good enough for ordinary household current and circuits. These are drop-in or portable units, very rugged. So are the Vollrath units of similar quality.
Thanks. I was looking through a very interesting website, Mad After Madeira: have you come across it? It takes you through each of the 7 major producers and their product range, which i very helpful.
I find using expensive drinking wines for cooking to be "cruel" in my personal judgment: most of the precious flavor compounds that have been so painstakingly developed by the vintner's art and toil are among the first to leave the pan at even a simmer, let alone a reduction! Why massacre such precious fluids at the altar of fire?
I would like to learn of Madeira-style wines from CA, TX, and other places that do the "job" of cooking or making stock adequately, and without extravagance. Thanks.