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rhizomatique's Profile

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ISO cookie recipes without butter

I second the coconut oil. It makes fabulous cookies.

Mar 06, 2010
rhizomatique in Home Cooking

Help me use up my dried chili stash

There are lots of good recipes in Rick Bayless' Mexican kitchen for salsas and moles that will use up several ounces of dried chilies at a time. The basic guajillo sauce and the roasted tomatillo/chipotle salsa are especially good. It's one of my favorite cookbooks. Also I've used various Mexican chilies for Thai roasted chili paste, which makes an awesome soup base.

Mar 04, 2010
rhizomatique in Home Cooking

Best Utensil Set Brand and Material

I love my stainless steel ladle, spatula, slotted spoon and potato masher. They are light, thin, and durable, especially the spatula. I got them at an estate sale. I also use bamboo spoons and flat ended spoons. I have never had a problem with stainless steel on cast iron but I avoid it on my enameled cast iron.

Mar 04, 2010
rhizomatique in Cookware

Any opinions on best cheap knife brands and models under $30.

I just bought a new cleaver last week in a Chinese market for $8.99 that I'm really enjoying. It was between a Kiwi cleaver and a Cleverest Son's Wife cleaver. I chose Cleverest Son's Wife because it looked like a good, heavy bone-cutting knife and I mostly need it to cut up whole chickens. Also it was hard to pass up such a quirky, idiomatic name. I got it home and noticed it said "æ–‡æ­Šćˆ€â€ (wenwu dao) on the blade. I had no idea what that meant. According to Baidu it's a newish kind of cleaver popular with Chinese chefs. It's called a "military-civilian knife" because it can be used both to cut through bone (military) and chop vegetables (civilian). I've been using it for everything this week since I have a wrist injury and cutting with a cleaver is less painful because the weight of the knife helps with the cutting and I don't move my wrist as much as I do with a chef's knife.

That's a long way of saying I like my new $9 cleaver and its name.

I might get a smaller Kiwi vegetable cleaver next time I'm at the market.

Feb 27, 2010
rhizomatique in Cookware

Vegetarian cookbook recommendation needed

Isa Chandra Moscowitz and Terry Hope Romero's Veganomicon. It's vegan, not vegetarian, but it's a fabulously modern, flavorful, non-sloppy, non-hippie vegetable-centered cookbook. If you want to make the recipes lacto-ovo veg it's easy to add cheese or eggs. There is a huge reference section on how to prepare beans, grains and veggies and a nice range of flavors and spices.

Feb 23, 2010
rhizomatique in Home Cooking

CI 'Best Chewy Brownie' Recipe

It's a really good recipe. They did turn out chewy. The only mod I made was to halve the amount of chocolate pieces that go in at the end because I don't like solid chocolate in brownies much and it was just the right amount for me. I baked in a foil-lined glass pan at the recommended temperature and the edges were perfect. It's definitely worth the fussiness if you like chewy brownies.

Feb 22, 2010
rhizomatique in Home Cooking

Grace Young's The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen - what basic items will I need?

Definitely need:
Ginger, light and dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, shaoxing rice wine, peanut oil, white pepper, red rice vinegar, fermented black beans, garlic, dried black mushrooms, pickled mustard greens/Sichuan preserved vegetable, tapioca or corn starch, sesame oil, honey. And rice.

Sometimes need:
Cloudear, woodear, lily buds, dried Chinese red dates, star anise, red fermented bean curd, rice flour, dried shrimp, dried scallops,dried lotus seeds, gingko nuts, hoisin sauce, both white and black sesame seeds.

There is also some medicinal stuff and more esoteric ingredients that show up in only one recipe.

Feb 21, 2010
rhizomatique in Home Cooking

Two questions about gelatin

Agar is a vegetarian alternative to gelatin. It behaves a little differently but you can make gelled desserts with it.

Feb 20, 2010
rhizomatique in Home Cooking

Cast Iron Techniques?

I'm a cast iron fiend. Since my husband and I moved in together his expensive All Clad skillet has hardly gotten any play because I prefer cast iron and do most of the cooking. I have a baby one, a 10" and a 12." One of them was free because the cashier at the church tag sale felt bad charging me for something so crusty! I also have an uncoated dutch oven I don't use much and two enameled cast iron ovens that I use all the time. I will probably buy a corn stick pan next time I see one at a flea market.

The most important thing I can think of is to use moderate heat since cast iron gets and stays hot.

Fun with cast iron:

Bake cornbread in a preheated and greased pan. It gets crisp and tasty.
Deep dish pizza.
Any stovetop to oven dish. Jerk pork tenderloin is my favorite.
Spanish tortilla
Use it instead of a pizza stone for baking bread
Yummy scrambled eggs, fried eggs (be really careful with the heat for eggs and use enough fat)
Quick, effective veggie stir fry action
Dry toast nuts and spices
Use as grill weight, tofu press weight
Use as roasting pan. My 12" skillet is great for this.
Excellent meat searing

The only time I've used my uncoated dutch oven this year was to fry something. It's really good for frying because it maintains an even temperature. Frying is also good for the seasoning.

Pancakes take some trial and error in a new pan. Use lots of oil and a lower flame than you would think.

Don't try:

Cooking without any fat unless you're cooking something that will grease itself or toasting nuts or spices.
Cooking cold, straight from the fridge tofu or potatoes. They will stick like crazy. Cold starchy anything is a bad idea.
Making tomato sauce
Long, slow, wet stuff, especially in a new pan. It's not good for the seasoning. You can do it in a well seasoned pan but there are other pans that do it better.

Don't be afraid of a little lemon juice, tomato or vinegar in a recipe, just don't go crazy with the acid, especially not with a new pan. I make pan sauces in my cast iron and they turn out fine, although I prefer my enameled cast iron for deglazing and pan sauces.

When I need a lid I usually use a basic restaurant supply store style aluminum pot lid on my skillets and it works well.

Feb 19, 2010
rhizomatique in Cookware

soft and limpy my waffles are :-(

I second the awesomeness of this recipe. I made them last weekend and was impressed.

Feb 18, 2010
rhizomatique in Home Cooking

non-nonstick waffler, sandwich maker, grill?

I just went through the process of looking for a non-nonstick waffle iron. What I discovered is that there isn't a new one available for less than $200 or so. I ended up with this: (a Universal EA-3001 from the '30s) which I found at the Alameda Point flea market for $20. It has a cast aluminum heating plate and makes the best waffles I've ever had. I saw a bunch of similar waffle irons and sandwich presses on eBay when I was looking.

Feb 18, 2010
rhizomatique in Cookware