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koshermasterchef's Profile

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Hot "pantry" dinners that aren't pasta...

Rice and beans are great. I keep a few boxes of Spanish Rice on hand and several cans of pinto beans (but if you don't care to make your own, refried beans). Some taco shells or tortillas and you're in business. I cook up the rice, refry the pintos with olive oil and a sprinkling of onion powder and ground black pepper. Add fresh tomatoes, if I have them or salsa if I have it, lettuce if it's on hand, but if it's not, no worries, roll up in a tortilla or spoon into taco shells and you've got a quick dinner.

I also throw beans, some pasta and stock into a pot for quick soup; or beans and white rice and stock.

Tuna melts always work and experimenting with adding different flavors to your mayo can change the sandwich.

Patties made with canned salmon (deboned) or canned tuna, some ketchup, some onion powder, egg and breadcrumbs or matzo meal, then gently fried, are delicious, quick and have protein. Can be served with a salad or even some instant mash.

Instant mash with some spices added makes a great coating for a variety of things that are then fried.

Have you tried mashed beans? Small white beans or cannelli beans warmed in a fry pan with canola oil, salt to taste and pepper, lots of thyme and then when warmed right through, mashed with a potato masher. It's a great side-dish or main dish, even.

White rice, cooked to which baked beans are added is made yummy when some curry powder, additional coriander and corn, green beans or peas are added.

I'm sure I'll think of more and add them later.

Jan 16, 2010
koshermasterchef in Home Cooking

What is one tip that you learned about cooking that was simple but made a huge difference? [old]

You'll forgive me if I don't read all 226 posts before mine, to see if this was mentioned prior, but the one tip I learned about cooking that was simple and made a huge difference is to think a step ahead. For example, if you are going to drain pasta, prepare the draining basket BEFORE you take the pot off the stove. If you are going to remove something from the oven, decide where and prepare the place you are going to put it BEFORE you open the oven and take it out. Get out all of your ingredients BEFORE you start putting the dish together, so you know if you left something out of the recipe and then work in the order of the ingredients. Think ahead!! Made a huge difference in the way I work in the kitchen.

Jan 09, 2010
koshermasterchef in Home Cooking

Bread Book?

I absolutely love (and have the original hardcover version of) Bernard Clayton's Complete Book of Bread. I have made bagels, Southern biscuits, Hawaiian Banana Bread, French Bread and many, many others. The book is very clear in it's directions. It makes modifications for any type of equipment that you may have, giving essentially several versions of the same recipe using different methods, for the same result. It also tells you what temperature to use if you are using a convection oven or a conventional oven, dark pans, or regular pans, etc. It is a book that takes absolutely nothing at all for granted and is completely accommodating to the user. I highly recommend it as a first book because it does not make any unrealistic assumptions of the user's skills. I have also found it to be the most complete book of bread making I have seen on the shelves.

Dec 02, 2009
koshermasterchef in Home Cooking

How many pounds of potatoes? Latkes for 75 people

28 lbs, perhaps a little less if you use a lot of onion in your recipe. People tend to eat several latkes even in preference over other food offered. It's a "carb" thing, but also a "holiday" thing. It will probably take a little longer than three hours to make them, if you factor in the preparation time as they need to be grated and mixed. Don't forget to factor prep time in your time calculations.

Dec 02, 2009
koshermasterchef in Kosher

Freezing Unbaked Apple Pie

It sounds like you did this properly. Which means that the tapioca broke down. As I said above, cornstarch would break down too. Adding a couple of tablespoons of flour to the recipe will probably take care of the sogginess. Not that they're readily available, but I use MacIntosh apples whenever I can. I find the results with them the best. I don't think Granny Smith have enough pectin to stop the "runny" effect. Also, something that is not commonly known is that sugar is actually considered a "liquid" in baking, as it becomes a liquid when cooked. Your recipe may actually work better if you cut back on the sugar and use a few sweeter apples, instead.

Nov 29, 2009
koshermasterchef in Home Cooking

Mini Cupcakes From A Cake Mix - In Or Our Of Paper Liners

For the next time, if there ever is a "next time," I recommend using the mini FOIL cupcake liners. They don't require a special pan, as they hold up on their own. They can be sprayed, but don't need to be, and the shimmery silver color is prettier than the paper liners (in my opinion).

Nov 29, 2009
koshermasterchef in Home Cooking

Slightly stinky chicken... Am I crazy or is it okay?

When I was growing up, we were really poor. I was the cook in the house AND I was studying cooking in High School (was a great way to get some decent food). I was told by my teacher that if the meat was a tad slimy and "stinky" to "wash" it with a mixture of vinegar and baking soda. I did this fairly regularly because on the rare occasions we could buy some meat, we did not have refrigeration to keep it fresh. I'm still here to tell the tale and I'm in my late forties! These days, I'm fortunate enough to not have to go to these lengths. I'm not posting this as a recommendation, just as a demonstration relevant to the post.

Nov 29, 2009
koshermasterchef in General Topics

Freezing Unbaked Apple Pie

Thank you for pointing that out. I'm working on my laptop and everything is kinda small! Yes, I pop the frozen, UNBAKED pie into the oven WITHOUT defrosting it. I always freeze my pies unbaked as I find the results to be superior to when they've been baked. The next time you're in the frozen section of your department store, take a look at all the frozen pie options. All of those pies are unbaked. Sometimes the instructions for those pies are helpful for your own success with your own frozen pies, so check out the baking instructions on the boxes for pies that you like to make. You can experiment a little to adapt for home, but most of the fruit pies can successfully handle freezing when unbaked. I wrap my pies first with plastic wrap, then with foil and then I pop them into a large plastic resealable bag. I have no idea if this does anything other than ensures that "smells" of any kind in my freezer will not affect the pie crust flavor.

Nov 29, 2009
koshermasterchef in Home Cooking

Freezing Unbaked Apple Pie

Cornstarch would not hold up so well, but flour would. However, I suspect that you may not have cooked your pie long enough, or hot enough. I always freeze my UNCOOKED apple pie with very successful results. I do not use any thickeners though as apples have pectin in them which is usually sufficient to hold it together so that it's not too watery, so I have never found it truly necessary. I pop the frozen UNBAKED pie into a 350 degree oven for at least an hour. Generally, I put it into the oven when we sit down for our meal and serve it hot at the end of the meal. Again, I only do this with uncooked pies that I make. Usually cooked pies are better if they are simply defrosted and then warmed a little. You didn't say whether the pie was already baked or not.

EDITED TO ADD: I see you put that it was unbaked in your title. Apologies and thanks to The Dairy Queen

Nov 29, 2009
koshermasterchef in Home Cooking

leftover fresh cranberries

Here's a link to an easy recipe I came up with when I had this dilemma. It does, indeed, have orange zest in it and will be in the recipe book I am working on (172 pages, bleh). http://www.chow.com/recipes/27984

Nov 29, 2009
koshermasterchef in Home Cooking

CRANBERRY CAKE

Nov 29, 2009
koshermasterchef in Recipes

Is there a substitute for evaporated milk?

For the next time, if there is a next time, you can substitute vanilla flavored regular soy milk. I make my pumpkin pies this way as we have vegan and kosher (no mixing of milk and meat products or serving them at the same meal) considerations at our Thanksgiving feasts. The vanilla soy is the better substitute in this instance.

Nov 28, 2009
koshermasterchef in Home Cooking

Your tips for shipping goodies, please

I buy plastic containers with lids that are sized so that they fit almost snuggly or completely snuggly into a "flat rate" United States Post Office square box without too much space around it or in the depth. Then I buy that shiny, basket tinsel stuff that they sell by the large bag at all the craft stores. I put tinsel into the container, at the bottom and up the sides. Then I put the cookies in and put more tinsel. I tape the lid of the container down, securely. I put the container into the post office box. Then, if necessary, I pack paper around the container to hold it still. I send out about twenty boxes a year.

Nov 28, 2009
koshermasterchef in Home Cooking

Christmas Day Vegan Soup Challenge!!!

Easiest recipe I know is the Butternut Squash soup I make for Thanksgiving. Using 2lbs of cleaned, peeled and diced squash. Two onions, cut into quarters and two large garlic cloves, a generous sprinkling of salt, pepper and a generous slathering of olive oil. Roast at 375 till the squash is very, very soft. Pour the entire pan of vegetables, oil, etc. into a large pot. Add about five fresh Sage leaves, sliced thinly and about four stripped Thyme stalks. Pour vegetable stock till it is just covered. Allow to simmer for about fifteen minutes. Using a stick blender (or a blender and doing it in small batches) finely blend all the ingredients. Adjust for salt and pepper seasoning. Simmer for five or so minutes and serve. We have "Organic Vegan" family members I have to cater for every Thanksgiving. They love this soup.

Nov 28, 2009
koshermasterchef in Home Cooking

Please Help the Pie Crust Challenged!

It may not be well-understood, but water quantities for pastry (or other liquids, for that matter) are mostly suggestive, not rules. Pastry is very delicate and the absorption properties of flour vary daily, depending on factors such as the weather, the temperature in the room, where it is stored, etc. Doubling up a recipe can be a disaster for this very reason. Liquid should always be added slowly and adjusted to compensate for the flour properties on the day it is being made. There is a reason that water is measured in tablespoons of water, rather than cupfuls and it should be added in small amounts till the dough incorporates, because it cannot be taken out, once added.

Nov 28, 2009
koshermasterchef in Home Cooking

Lasagna Noodles

When I use no boil lasagna noodles, I make lasagna in my slow cooker. Yes you can do this. The advantage is that all of the liquid stays in the pot and so it cooks the noodles perfectly. I layer the noodles and the ricotta (or other filling) and sauce in exactly the same way I would if I were baking it in the oven. Then I set the cooker on "warm" and leave for six hours or so. If you want the brown bubbly cheese, pop it under the broiler for a few minutes. It's the ultimate "fix it and forget it" dish.

Nov 28, 2009
koshermasterchef in Home Cooking

Please Help the Pie Crust Challenged!

I was "Cordon Bleu" trained, back in the day BEFORE food processors were things that every household owned. I aced every pastry class following basic rules. You HAVE to use your fingertips. You "rub," using a gentle touch, the ice cold (and you can use chunks of frozen butter if you use this method) shortening into the flour, lifting up the flour all the while and taking care not to warm the shortening (butter or otherwise) too much. If it warms, put the entire bowl into the freezer for a short while after you rub the shortening into the flour. Then (as someone said below) using a FORK, gently incorporate ice-cold water into the flour. Refrigerate the dough till well chilled, before rolling. Marble or granite make good surfaces for rolling dough because they stay cold. The key to good crust or pastry of any kind is keeping everything cold. You can even place the bowl over a larger bowl with iced water in it. One thing we were taught, but since I always have fairly cold hands I never had to do it, is that if you place ice cold water onto your wrists, it cools your hands down. I don't know if it works because I never needed such "desperate" measures.

All "old-fashioned" cooks "rub" the shortening into the dough for a flaky crust.

Nov 28, 2009
koshermasterchef in Home Cooking

Yeshiva Break In L A

I recommended Glatt Hut only as a source for take-out Shabbos food.

Nov 20, 2009
koshermasterchef in Kosher

Yeshiva Break In L A

Yes, it's been over a year since I was there and I couldn't remember it off the top of my head. Actually, my recommendations were based more on the "kid friendly" comment than the idea that the food in the area is "gourmet." Milk and Honey for dairy or Pat's might be more "upscale," though I admit there is nothing gourmet in Los Angeles for the kosher palate. After 24 years there, I resigned myself to the idea of tasty ethnic, rather than "gourmet."

Nov 20, 2009
koshermasterchef in Kosher

Yeshiva Break In L A

Szchechuan (sp?) Garden is a kosher Chinese restaurant with a sushi bar. Chick 'n Chow is a small but decent fried chicken place. There is a restaurant right next door to it that has a buffet Shabbos take out.

Nov 19, 2009
koshermasterchef in Kosher

Hawaii

I have visited Hawaii a half a dozen times. I have stayed on Oahu and on Maui. We stayed in a condo and I kashered a couple of the stainless steel pots and some cutlery. There is an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables and there was Empire chicken available. I barbequed a few times. Fish is also abundant. I also went to a couple of restaurants and asked them to please cook a piece of fish in foil for me and all the restaurants obliged and happily gave it to me in a takeout container with plastic , but I know there are kosher people who would not consider this suitable.

Nov 15, 2009
koshermasterchef in Kosher

Ad hoc at home ok for kosher kitchen?

Though I am a Kosher Chef and though I do have a number of non-kosher cookbooks (more than just a few), I always wonder what message it transmits to give a non-kosher cookbook to someone who is Kosher (as opposed to them buying it for themselves). There is a "non-kosher" book I always give that is very well-received. It is "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" by Deborah Madison. I think the one thing that a lot of kosher cooks (and not just kosher cooks) get frustrated and bored with is how to serve vegetables in new and exciting ways. This book is a wonderful resource. I highly recommend it for any cook, no matter how sophisticated.

Nov 05, 2009
koshermasterchef in Kosher

Cranberry Sauce

Concur with the basic recipe on the back of the Ocean Spray Cranberry bag. The only thing I add to the basic recipe is some candied ginger, which I chop very finely of just press between my finger tips.

Nov 05, 2009
koshermasterchef in Home Cooking

Signature Caterers by Roz?

Hasiny, I'm in New Jersey. I cater sit-down affairs with passed appetizers. Buffets have their limitations and I abhor the limitations that they present, like quality control, hygiene issues, waste, to mention a few. I attended an "after services" kiddush buffet. I can't think of a single thing that was on the table that I have not seen at every other kiddush. It surprised me that whole filets of whitefish were served, instead of them being cut. Not a piece of parsley in sight. One of my biggest gripes are when sliced onions and tomatoes for the bagels are cut very thick. Most people (but most especially women) don't like to eat bagels with a huge piece of onion or a very thick slice of tomato. Bagels were piled high in baskets. Again, nothing particularly wrong, just that, to me, there's nothing special about dumping three dozen bagels into a basket and putting it onto the buffet table. The dessert table was overloaded and overcrowded. Sometimes, less is more. Putting fewer amounts out and replenishing frequently is more elegant and will be especially important at a wedding, but I think is appropriate for a Bat Mitzvah too. The egg salad and tuna salad had been run through a food processor till it was so fine that they were virtually indistinguisable from one another. Food processors have a valuable function in kitchens, but I would NEVER use one to make egg salad or tuna salad, or most salads, for that matter. I told someone that I would be very surprised if the cucumber salad was eaten as the combination of vegetables in it (peppers, among other things) seemed unusual and indeed very little of it was consumed and much of what was taken was left on guest plates. They made little finger sandwiches, which were a nice touch and everyone seemed to like those. The pepper wraps were also not popular at this event. I suspect the french toast was fried in oil. I didn't taste it as it looked unappetizing. If they had sprinkled it with a little confectioner's sugar, it would have looked more appealing. Again, everything they served was "standard" fare, but nothing they served was extraordinary and I really like when events have a touch of the extraordinary. I have grown increasingly impatient having less spectacular, simply because it has to be kosher. I was classically trained in French cuisine and there is an "art." A cook is not a chef. Lots of people cook really, really well. A chef can take things to a higher level and I think, has an obligation to do so. It's what makes the profession a profession. We are hired to do what others cannot do themselves. I always feel that when a person pays for someone to prepare what they themselves could have prepared, then they certainly will be satisfied, but they'll not likely be overjoyed. I strive for "overjoyed," because I was trained to. That, however, is simply my pet peeve and no reflection on the caterers who spend tireless hours catering events. I just think many could do just a little better than they do, yet they don't. I tend to be verbose about this. Sorry for the length of the response, but I think it only fair that you understand what my definition of "no frills" is.

Nov 03, 2009
koshermasterchef in Kosher

Shochet for hire in Los Angeles?

You're right and I know this, but the LA Jewish population is nevertheless a heck of a lot larger than the population in Seattle, WA (for example) and yet Seattle has a higher quality of kosher meat (in my personal opinion) at it is more convenient to purchase (in supermarkets in Jewish areas) and, finally, it is cheaper! I just don't understand this. Apologies for the gripe and threadjack.

Nov 02, 2009
koshermasterchef in Kosher

Shochet for hire in Los Angeles?

I know. Disturbing isn't it? Not to mention the fact that it's a difficult habit to break, even if one was so inclined. More than you ever wanted to know about eggs in kosher commercial products can be found on the star-K site here: http://www.star-k.org/kashrus/kk-pala... and on the halacha regarding this, here: http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/english/jo...

I'll probably go to my grave checking eggs, even though I cater events for as many as a couple of a hundred people.

Nov 02, 2009
koshermasterchef in Kosher

Signature Caterers by Roz?

I recently attended a Bat Mitzvah in New Jersey, catered by them and they offered standard fare, decently presented, but as someone here said, no frills. Then again, I am a caterer and I'm tough to please. (Said more as a disclaimer, than a criticism.)

Nov 02, 2009
koshermasterchef in Kosher

Shochet for hire in Los Angeles?

I have another idea. If the main goal here is to go with free-range, natural diet, etc. have you considered buying ready packaged kosher chickens like that? Wise comes to mind: http://www.wiseorganicpastures.com/ca.... I think there are probably other suppliers closer to you. At one point, there was a Canadian supplier. Also, I'd check the Seattle area as they have a number of kosher butchers located inside regular supermarkets and some pretty fierce competition for business. Unfortunately, I found the quality of kosher meats in Los Angeles severely lacking, compared to what I found available elsewhere, which is (as they say) a "shanda" when you consider that they have the second largest Jewish population outside of Israel. They just don't seem to have discerning kosher consumers. You might also pop into Doheny Meats and ask the butchers there if they can special order it for you. Of course, if the whole point is to be involved in the process from buying to shocheting, none of these ideas mean anything.

Nov 02, 2009
koshermasterchef in Kosher

Shochet for hire in Los Angeles?

Yes, I have never heard that feathers can be soaked and salted, rendering the animal kosher and removed using hot water afterward. I would love to learn if this is so. I learned that the feathers must be removed before kashering, but that using hot water "cooks" the animal, making it so that the animal cannot be kashered. If the goal is to "leech" the blood out, I would think leaving the feathers on would defeat that goal. Then again, I recently read an article that said one no longer has to check eggs for bloodspots are bloodspots no longer render an egg unkosher. I'm still checking my eggs. The idea of a bloodspot in one of the eggs I cook with makes me feel ill!!

Nov 02, 2009
koshermasterchef in Kosher

Thanksgiving without butter? Oy.

Chicken fat is delicious, but it will simply end up on the bottom of the pan, frying and flavoring the underneath of the bird as it has a very low melting point. If the OP decides to use chicken fat, a more frequent basting schedule should be followed. What's easier is to remove the fatty skin parts that are just inside the cavity of the bird, to gently lift the breast skin and to lay those fatty skin parts inside the lifted breast skin. They will stay there for the duration of the cooking process and slowly render. As they render, the fat will be trapped under the skin and take longer to drip into the bottom of the pan. This is my preferred method. Unfortunately, sometimes the butchers who prepare the birds have removed those parts from the turkey. This also works very successfully with chickens (assuming the butcher did not remove those fatty skin parts to make his own rendered chicken fat).

Nov 02, 2009
koshermasterchef in Kosher