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Stein the Fine's Profile

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Thanksgiving: something new that WORKED

I imagine that would improve the caramels.

After I started this cane syrup digression, I went back to read up on it, and saw that golden syrup IS partially invert sugar syrup. The sugar is partly broken down by an acid according to the Lyle's site.

Nov 29, 2011
Stein the Fine in Home Cooking

5 "Meals" Even Cheaper Than the Toast Sandwich

But, does that count the cost of electricity for the toaster?

Nov 29, 2011
Stein the Fine in Features

Gluten-free roux? [moved from General Topics]

Whoa! By my reading, people were expressing dislike for roux thickened, milk-based chowders, not trying to out-authentic anyone. "Authentic" in this context meant for many years prior to the latest practice of using roux. You are absolutely right that New Englanders were eating chowder before potatoes were in general usage. You also misread my post. When I said that old-fashioned corn chowder recipes call for creamed corn, I was thinking of corn "creamed" on the spot, not canned. My reference to canned was regarding the creamed corn most commonly used at present, and was to warn about the possible inclusion of wheat flour and excessive sweetness.

But most importantly, I believe your indignation stems from misunderstanding the intentions of the posters, and perhaps, the OP. As I and apparently most posters read it, we'd have to disagree w/ your assertion that "the question was regarding gluten-free alternative flours in roux". What we saw was an appeal for a way to make delicious chowder w/o gluten, which is difficult when including roux--gluten free flour mixes weren't made for it, so potato starch roux?--but dead simple using a recipe thickened w/ potatoes. THAT was why replies introduced the idea that potato-based chowders taste better and are more traditional anyhow--to offer the best help they knew. How you got from there to the idea that they were somehow "slamming" the questioner, I can't fathom.

BTW, I don't see in your long, and quite interesting and informative post, an attempt at solving the OPer's dilemma. What do you suggest she do?

Nov 29, 2011
Stein the Fine in Home Cooking

coriander seed

Ooooo. I can just taste (mentally) how wonderful it would be w/ shrimp, scallops, the rest of the crustaceans and perhaps monkfish---seafood that is naturally a bit sweet. Can you imagine a coriander-scented shrimp bisque?

In my very first do-alone kitchen garden, the most successful plants were coriander & Early Girl tomatoes. As long as you have full sun, coriander grows like a weed. It's a pleasure.

Nov 28, 2011
Stein the Fine in Home Cooking

Why Do So Many Foodies Hate Whole Foods?

Have any of the commenters read the articles linked to in the post above?

Here they are again:

http://gawker.com/5824287/read-a-disgruntled-whole-foods-employees-epic-resignation-letter

http://gawker.com/5825451/the-whole-f...

After reading about the abuse the employees who manage to stay employed there by having perfect health and never having a family emergency or an accident, I could never bring myself to walk through those doors again.

Remember, their large, flashy stores w/ their disregarded-in-practice environmental messages, are the cause of the bankruptcy of most of the better-run, more responsive, local natural foods stores. Fortunately in my area I have three less expensive sources of good organic produce. There is the flagship store of a small, local chain--"Mrs. Greens Natural Foods", an east coast subscription organics delivery service "door2door east", and 4 mos./yr. of the local farmer's market. If I wanted to drive an hour roundtrip every week, I could also join a CSA. I truly can't understand why so many Chowhounders prefer to support a mega-corporate model, when given a choice.

I encourge all to do an online search for their nearest CSA, farmers' market, and seasonal truck stands. And door2door and door2door east serve a large part of the country where the other options are not easily available.

Nov 28, 2011
Stein the Fine in Features

Thanksgiving: something new that WORKED

Aah. That sounds a lot like what they call "golden syrup" in the UK or using the brand name generically, Lyle's syrup. I remember once trying to find that (can't remember for what), when all the time I probably could have gotten cane syrup from a small outfit in the U.S. south. I did try sorghum syrup, but that was too molassesy tasting for what I'd planned, as I recall. Since sorghum juice is not naturally acidic, I think they have to get out a lot of the water to avoid quick spoilage..

Anywhoo, thanks for the 411 on cane syrup. And that pie looks mighty tempting.

Nov 27, 2011
Stein the Fine in Home Cooking

Pie Crust...I will not be defeated!

KAF also sells pastry flour online and by phone order from their catalog in addition to their AP flour.

Nov 27, 2011
Stein the Fine in Home Cooking

Pie Crust...I will not be defeated!

According to Rose Levy Beranbaum:

"The secret to success is finely incorporating about two thirds of the butter into the flour [as per the associated recipe, she means processing it to the coarse crumb stage], which keeps the flour from absorbing too much water and forming gluten, which would make the crust tough. The remaining one third of the butter is incorporated in larger pieces, which serve to seperate the layers, resulting in the desired flakiness. This pie crust does not shrink or distort as much as the standard all-butter crust because there is less gluten development.

"If when adding the water, you find you need more than indicated in the recipe, chances are you haven't moisture-proofed the flour adequately (you haven't used the correct amount of butter or processed it fine enough), leaving the flour free to absorb more liquid. The resulting crust will be flakier but less tender."

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

Nov 27, 2011
Stein the Fine in Home Cooking

Freezing cookies

On 2nd thought, there's one other thing to watch out for. If you use decorative beads or dots that can be easily knocked off, you'll have to pack them carefully, perhaps paper between the layers, in a hard container. Perhaps a good idea for chocoate dipped, too, just to be on the safe side.

Also I've never tried freezing lemon bars or other pudding textured bars, so I can't vouch for those.

On edit: David Lebovitz says about his lemon bars, "You can freeze the lemon bars as well for up to one month, letting them come to room temperature before serving", so I guess it's okay.

Nov 27, 2011
Stein the Fine in Home Cooking

Freezing cookies

Now you've got me curious. Are you talking about lace cookies? What happens to them? Do they absorb too much moisture from the air when they thaw and get sort of wet and melted?

Nov 27, 2011
Stein the Fine in Home Cooking

Freezing cookies

The only kind of cookies I can think of where freezing might be a problem would be something w/ a marshmallow middle. The texture might be altered when they thawed.

Every other kind--shortbread, marzipan, oatmeal, chocolate dipped, jam dotted or filled, and anything else under the sun comes out the same as it goes in. The only caveats are to let them cool first to avoid ice crystals, and to package in an airtight container to avoid absorbing any possible off-flavor.

Happy baking!

Nov 27, 2011
Stein the Fine in Home Cooking

Thanksgiving: something new that WORKED

Forgive this ignorant Yankee question, but what is the difference between cane syrup and molasses?

Nov 27, 2011
Stein the Fine in Home Cooking

What are you baking these days? October 2011, part deux [old]

"engineered apples"?

"This apple originated in New Zealand in the early 1950s, as a chance seedling with Lady Hamilton and Granny Smith as possible parents. Now grown in the United States, Braeburn is a multipurpose apple good for all types of apple uses. Its color varies from orange to red over a yellow background. This crisp, juicy apple has a rich, spicy−sweet flavor. U.S. Braeburns are available beginning in October through July."

http://www.usapple.org/consumers/all-...

Odds are New Zealand farmers were trying to get apples that suited their climate and were resistant to local pests, so like the creators of all heirloom varieties before them, they planted the seeds of the best apples (for quality, heavy bearing, and storage) they grew until they had trees that reliably reproduced those characteristics. They allowed the various traditional varieties they were growing naturally to cross-pollinate, and that was the extent of the "engineering".

As for their value in cooking, it depends on what you are making. They wouldn't work for applesauce or apple butter as they mostly keep their shape, but if you like dense, many-layered apple pies made w/ a huge amount of very thinly sliced apples sprinkled every few tiers w/ sugar/cinnamon & dots of butter as my grandmother used to make, they are excellent. I think she used Rome Beauty, but she was infamous for not sharing her cooking secrets. She also used a rich cookie-dough like crust that may have been more forgiving of long, slow cooking than a standard pie crust would have been.

Nov 27, 2011
Stein the Fine in Home Cooking

Vegetarian soup?

I sort of stumbled into doing an hilariously pared-down soup which I've named "Two Ingredient Tomato Bisque". The only veggie it contains is tomato so it doesn't solve the problem of getting children to eat greens, but what there is of it is wholesome and kid friendly in flavor. What you do is take 1 Tbsp. of good quality tomato paste per serving (I like the Contadina that's made w/ Roma-type tomatoes and is less sour than most, or Bionaturae organic from Italy when I can find it), mix in a small amount of milk, lowfat or whole to loosen the paste w/o creating lumps, then very gradually mix in more until you get a thick liquid texture you like for creamy soup. Heat it slowly on a low burner until just before it boils. It can actually be served like that and it's fairly nice, but I usually do season it. There are endless possibilities using the easiest ground dried spices and herbs, but my favorite so far is some onion powder, ground ancho chilis, smidge of cinnamon, and s&p. If you're a little under the weather but still have to come up w/ something hot to go w/ sandwiches, this'll do the trick admirably, and it costs a tiny fraction of what you'd pay for a deli soup.

Nov 27, 2011
Stein the Fine in Home Cooking

cooking for vegan's please help

I know that in the UK, Mexican seasoned food is not as well known as in the U.S., but here during cold weather seasons we love our chili. There are a zillion recipes for vegan versions. I'd stick w/ one that uses whole beans, fresh onions and fresh bell peppers in addition to some powdered dried chili peppers (ancho is the best for this purpose IMO), and avoid those that call for TVP (textured vegetable protein) or other fake ground beef as it tends to have a weird flavor. I cook mine in a Dutch oven (big, heavy, covered stew pot). Then I put the chili somewhere to cool, mix up the simplest cornbread recipe using what you'd call yellow maize flour and no sugar, pour it gently on top of the cooled cooked chili as you would put a mashed potato topping on shephard's pie, and put the uncovered pot into a hot oven on a rack on the top position, and bake just until the cornbread is cooked. Here's a good vegan cornbread recipe: http://www.theppk.com/2007/10/vegan-c... For your purposes I'd mix up about 2/3 of a recipe's worth, and omit the syrup.

Nov 27, 2011
Stein the Fine in Home Cooking

What are the best apples for pie?

BRAEBURN.

Nov 27, 2011
Stein the Fine in Home Cooking

Pie Crust...I will not be defeated!

When I read the OP, I thought he said that he was rotating the dough as he rolled it out; not that he was folding and rerolling it.

Nov 27, 2011
Stein the Fine in Home Cooking

Pie Crust...I will not be defeated!

Ditto your point about the flour/fat not being blended enough, but the main flaw in NB's method is that he's gone overboard trying to avoid warmth and overworking. (See paragraphs below.) I use my family's handed down technique (not from any book I'm aware of) and I was always told to blend the fat into the flour just until the you start seeing coarse crumbs though part of the butter is still in bitty pieces. We also use either European butter (Plugra) or a mixture of butter and shortening. Someone I know says she uses part butter and part solid coconut oil, but I can't vouch for that.

But I think perhaps that nickblesch went overboard w/ the chilling, and instead of the butter being too warm, it is frozen rather than cold, which means the water it contains doesn't mix w/ the flour, necessitating extra water to hold the dough together. Then, during rolling or baking, the butter releases its water and you've got a tough crust. NB did you read about freezing the butter somewhere, or did you just figure that if cold is good, colder would be better?

Since all the other ingredients in his method are equally frigid, the fat never melts even a little before the dough is created and rechilled in the refrigerator. The fault is that we now have food processors. If a person were trying to cut in the fat w/ a pastry blender or a couple of forks, it physically couldn't be done before the fat softened a bit. A food processor makes it possible to get to the "pea" stage while the butter is still rock-hard.

NB, I can see how hard you've been trying not to let the mixture get too warm, and not to overmix or overwork it. I think that actually easing up a bit, chilling rather than freezing and processing a bit longer and you'll have it! Let us know when you become victorious.

Nov 27, 2011
Stein the Fine in Home Cooking

Your favorite no-brine recipe for roasted whole turkey

Sounds like it takes some advanced BBQing skills.

Nov 26, 2011
Stein the Fine in Home Cooking

Your favorite no-brine recipe for roasted whole turkey

Or you could split the difference and take it off 1/2 hour before the expected end of cooking. Thanks again.

Nov 26, 2011
Stein the Fine in Home Cooking

Your favorite no-brine recipe for roasted whole turkey

The technique sounds very similar to my first turkey recipe using cheesecloth instead of flour sacking! It's reassuring to read that the cloth doesn't catch fire even though it's in the oven a long time before it's basted. So grateful you've told me the timing for this method of cooking a stuffed bird. How long before the turkey is finished do you remove the cloth?

The gravy sounds lovely. Ain't immersion blenders the bomb?!

With the exception of using my favorite chestnut, part whole wheat bread stuffing (w/ onions & a little apple, ground coriander seed, and savory, s&p), I think I'll do next year's turkey your way.

Nov 26, 2011
Stein the Fine in Home Cooking

Vegan Hot./Sour Soup

Nov 26, 2011
Stein the Fine in Recipes

Dairy-Free Golden Sunshine Griddle Cakes

Nov 26, 2011
Stein the Fine in Recipes

Your favorite no-brine recipe for roasted whole turkey

Assuming that some people will be cooking whole turkey again in a month, there should still be interest in cooking methods. I know I'm flying in the face of most "expert" opinion, but brined turkeys have always tasted inferior to my unbrined one, IMO. There hasn't been much on this forum from the no-brine crowd, so I'll describe one way I've done an unbrined turkey in the past, and I'd love to hear others.

I think the most important factor for a yummy bird is the bird itself. I've never used a turkey that's been frozen. Everyone understands that w/ chicken freezing breaks down the cell walls causing the meat to lose flavorful juices. Why should it be otherwise w/ turkey? I believe that pre-basted turkeys and brining turkeys originated to compensate for the lost juice in frozen birds. So I've always bought my bird where I can order a fresh one that arrives the day before I'll cook it, presumably recently slaughtered. This usually means a "free-range", veg-fed turkey, but I don't know if that or the freshness is responsible for the superior taste and texture.

I no longer make my turkey the best possible way. The one I cooked that way was my first bird, I was using a borrowed vintage cookbook, I didn't cook one for a number of years after that, and I no longer remember the exact times & temperatures. To my best recollection, I rubbed the bird everywhere I could reach, under & over the skin, inside & out w/ a mixture of powdered poultry seasoning mixed w/ a smaller amount of quality white garlic powder, but I didn't put an excessive amount anyplace. I lightly salted the skin and cavity only. I placed the bird unstuffed on a shallow roasting rack in a pan, and sadly, I can't remember if it was breast up or down. Then I took an unbleached flour sack lintless towel, saturated it w/ melted butter, laid it over the bird and put the covered turkey in a preheated oven. I'd gotten a simple seasoned bread, butter, celery & onions dressing ready, w/ very little broth made by boiling the giblets in minimal water, which I placed it in a casserole dish and left it in the refrigerator during the early part of cooking the turkey. I hadn't planned on making gravy, probably b/c back then I didn't know how. As soon as the turkey started producing juices, I started basting that towel at regular intervals. Whatever juice I didn't need to keep the towel moist, went into the dish of dressing. At some point when it was moist enough, I put the covered casserole of dressing in the oven w/ the turkey, and at another point in time specified by the recipe, I removed the towel to let the skin get crisp. I salted the small amount of juices produced during the later part of the roasting and poured it over the sliced turkey before serving. As I said, that was the best turkey I've ever made, and even in my exhausted, stressed out, newbie cook state, I truly enjoyed it.

I've produced many quite nice turkeys since then (usually butter rubbed, breast down, foil tented), but how I wish I knew how to do the flour sacking one w/o risking setting the kitchen on fire.

Nov 26, 2011
Stein the Fine in Home Cooking

The Basics: How to Make Roasted Chicken Breast

SO much more complicated than how I do them in my tiny 4-slice toaster oven. Mine come out heavenly.

Nov 26, 2011
Stein the Fine in Features

coriander seed

Sorry to bump this, but I'd like to be more exact for someone who's never tasted the seed. Seems to me the flavor of coriander seed is similar to the taste of nutmeg w/o the bitterness and w/ a trace of lemon zest--clearly not remotely like the cilantro plant it comes from. I use the ground seed as a sweet-compatible spice to season winter squash, though I wouldn't use it in desserts as I do cardamom.

Nov 26, 2011
Stein the Fine in Home Cooking

Gluten-free roux? [moved from General Topics]

Gluten-free flour has a weird texture b/c it's been developed to make baked goods that have a texture as similar as possible to standard yeast-raised baked goods. That's also why it sometimes contains gum(s). Clearly that's not the result you're going for in chowder, so there's no advantage to using gluten-free baking mix or gums.

Gluten plays little or no part in roux--it's the starch, not the gluten, which does the thickening. Plain starch, whatever the source, is gluten-free. I agree w/ the consensus that potatoes are a nicer thickener for clam chowder than starch paste anyhow, so the solution is easy--find a more authentic recipe that doesn't call for roux . If you miss the butterfat taste of roux in a New England clam chowder, you can restore it by including cream or half & half in the liquid portion.

Most classic corn chowder recipes call for creamed corn, but canned is no longer made traditionally, may include wheat flour (read the label carefully), and is always too sweet. Creamed corn was originally thickened by coarsely chopping some of the fresh corn to release its starch. Here is a recipe using the food processor to get the same result: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/cr... The old-fashioned recipes for corn chowder also call for fatty bacon and diced potatoes. The recipe usually goes like this: render bacon in a heavy-bottomed pot, remove meat and put aside, sautee diced potatoes in the fat until they are cooked, add creamed corn, whole corn, and milk, heat through & season w/ salt & pepper to taste. Serve garnished w/ the chopped crisp bacon meat. Voila! No gluten.

Nov 26, 2011
Stein the Fine in Home Cooking

shortcut for chickpeas - falafel

Oh dear. Are the fermented beans good for anything? Maybe Korean? The fridge next time of course.

Oddly, I'm okay w/ canned chickpeas in channa masala, and have even used (blush) MDH packaged seasoning for that dish, but I'd never use falafel mix. I guess I have to put "Falafel Purist" on my next message T-shirt.

I have to admit that I've never actually tried green chickpeas. I was just extrapolating from fava beans. How did you find out that they don't work? Is there a story there?

Nov 23, 2011
Stein the Fine in Home Cooking

Falafel: canned chickpeas, or soaked, dried chickpeas?

I was expanding on shaun theewe's post, and clarifying that the need for uncooked chickpeas in falafel is an issue of FUNCTION and authenticity, not a matter of opinion or taste. And I checked, no other poster made this point. I was trying to spare cooks like ursy_ten from wasting time and ingredients, including a whole lot of frying oil.

Does your post have any other point than to tell me I had no right to post mine?

Nov 22, 2011
Stein the Fine in Home Cooking

Help me find a vegan, gluten-free recipe to cook my love!

Along the Asian line, I've created a lovely vegan hot sour soup. It doesn't pretend to be authentic, but it is delicious. This will be the first time I've written out the recipe, so here goes:

Vegan Hot./Sour Soup (for two)

Ingredients:

2/3 block firm tofu in 1/2 inch dice

1/4 tsp. 5-spice powder

1/4 c. lower sodium soy sauce (divided--use less if your soy sauce is not the lower sodium variety)

4 tsp. peanut or other bland oil (divided)

1/2 in. ginger root, finely grated

1 small or 1/2 larger onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 tsp. ground ancho chilis or hot paprika

10 "grape" tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise

a few drops toasted sesame oil or a tiny smidge ground chipotle peppers (for a little smoky flavor)

1-2/3 c. boiling water

1 Tbsp (or to taste). fresh squeezed lemon juice

a little sliced green scallions

Directions:

1. Mix the 5-spice powder and 2 tsp. of the soy sauce in a bowl, add the tofu cubes, and stir gently to coat. Put aside.

2. In a medium sized heavy bottomed pot or wok heat 3 tsp. of the oil to medium low. Add the ginger and stirfry 1 minute.

3. Add the sliced onions and sautee approx. 4 minutes until translucent but not brown.

4. Add the minced garlic and sautee 30 seconds more.

5. Move everything in the pot or wok to one side, add the remaining tsp. of oil, dump in the marinated tofu cubes, and gently stirfry them for about a minute.

6. Reduce the heat to low, stir in the halved tomatoes, sprinkle in the sesame oil or ground chipotle powder, add the remaining soy sauce, and slowly (carefully) pour in the boiling water. Let simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.

7. Turn off heat, stir in the lemon juice. Taste to adjust seasoning (soy sauce, lemon, water).

8. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish w/ sliced scallions.

May serve w/ a bowl of rice or rice cakes on the side.

Nov 22, 2011
Stein the Fine in Home Cooking