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ellabee's Profile

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What's the best way to introduce Lamb to someone who's never had it?

I'd go with lamb kebabs, grilled alone or alongside peppers, onions and tomatoes (each on its own skewers). Serve with pita and tzatziki and slices of fresh tomato.

Lamb chops were almost my favorite restaurant food as a child (edged out by scallops). But I think all the accompaniments to kebabs do more to ease in those new to lamb.

1 day ago
ellabee in Home Cooking

Summer 2014 Yard/Estate/Tag Sale Scores

Wow, zoomer, any one of those would be an amazing find for free; all together: WOW! Enjoy your equipment. I especially love the look and feel of substantial copper-tin molds, and that's a most useful item since the tin lasts and lasts, not being subject to scraping or much heat.

Aug 18, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

Favorite oyster recipes?

I love oyster stew; I associate it with Christmas dinner. We sometimes had scalloped oysters at Thanksgiving, or for winter company, which are also excellent.

Both of those are simple, low-key preparations. Good, fresh oysters don't need much 'zazz.

Aug 17, 2014
ellabee in Home Cooking
1

What do *you* use your mortar and pestle for?

Updating to add that for the last year I've used it to grind cumin, coriander, and some other whole spices instead of restocking the ground versions.

Aug 15, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

Cookbooks that are more than just cookbooks.

Argh! Another addition to the shortlist...

But I give myself a lot more leeway with holiday gifts. Thanks very much for the heads-up.

Aug 11, 2014
ellabee in Home Cooking

I Wish I'd Kept…

Yes, there's still a little twinge for the old waffle iron, with its jewel-cut heating light and 30s-40s-looking streamlined bakelite handles. Its condition was just as Deb describes for hers.

Even though we hardly ever used it, it was hard to give away because it evoked memories of special suppers alone with my mother. My father's occasional absence, for active duty or a club meeting, meant we could break out of the meat-veg-starch&bread framework. Sometimes my mother made a gesture at a complete meal, and we'd have creamed chicken and veg over a waffle. But many times we'd cut loose and have just waffles and butter and syrup -- such a thrill to have illicit breakfast food for dinner!

Aug 10, 2014
ellabee in Cookware
1

Cookbooks that are more than just cookbooks.

One more that is on the Thompson Thai Food scale of comprehensiveness and culture/history material: the 2011 (latest) edition of Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies, by Najmieh Batmanglij. It's a definitive book on a very food-focused culture.

She first wrote it in the 1980s, for the many expatriate Iranians in the US, and has substantially revised it twice to reflect increased availability of authentic ingredients, reader feedback, and some changing dietary attitudes. I don't own it yet, but plan to before the end of the year.

Aug 08, 2014
ellabee in Home Cooking

Baking Sheet with rack?

I meant to say something about the prices at webstaurant -- they give the price for a dozen, but you can buy just one or two; the per-piece price is just higher (not a lot higher, and certainly not $15). I think if you go through the buying process, the onesy-twosy price shows up before you have to commit to purchasing. I'm 95% sure they're the same item as from the ebay seller.

If you have a little list of cookware / utensil needs, poke around the webstaurant site a bit -- the shipping can be a lot lower per item if you get a number of things that will all travel in the same box.

Aug 06, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

SS Pressure cooker or CI Bean Pot?

If space/mobility is important, a stainless pressure cooker is much more versatile if you're going to have only one cooking pot that takes up most of a square foot on your shelves. It's easier to double as a soup/boil pot, lighter and less vulnerable to chipping while washing and storing. A p.c. also significantly cuts down the time (and energy $) it takes to produce stock, cooked beans, long-cooking grains like wheat berries, and braises and stews.

A good 5- to 8-quart stainless pressure cooker with a thick aluminum-dish base will cost $50-150 (or more if you go deluxe with Kuhn-Rikon), and I think new is the way to go with a pressure cooker. Unless someone is giving you theirs -- ideal! you know it works and the price is right.

If thrift is the driving force, go with enameled cast iron. Good-quality used ones are a 'green' option as well as low cost; I see pristine or nearly so Copco 4-qt Dutch ovens (D3) all the time on the online sites for $30-$60. Because you use these for low and slow cooking (oven as well as stovetop), you'll spend significantly more on energy to cook in one of these over its lifetime than in the pressure cooker. However, in most U.S. locations, that won't amount to the difference in price between the two choices. And enameled cast iron pots have their own versatility: oven as well as stovetop use, and often attractive as serving dishes.

Many cooks have both, and my bet is that whichever one you start with, you'll end up with the other too eventually.

Baking Sheet with rack?

From this same seller in 2007, I bought this pair of racks that fit perfectly into 9x13 (quarter sheet) pans:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/300637873988

For less than half the price, I've seen what appears to be the same thing from a restaurant supply place (that I've bought other items from and been happy with). Can't guarantee results as I can with the ebay seller, but here it is:
http://www.webstaurantstore.com/8-1-2...

Aug 04, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

Best book for improving cooking skills?

I don't think you can beat Harold McGee for learning more about the food itself. The 1984 and 2004 editions of his big book,On Food and Cooking, are very different and equally worthwhile; see if your library has either of them.

The Zuni Cafe Cookbook by the late Judy Rodgers is full of useful tips about selecting and handling food as well as cooking techniques -- as a bonus it's full of excellent, well-tested recipes, so will keep on being valuable long after you've absorbed its lessons.

Some of the bigger breakthroughs for me in terms of technique came in watching skilled cooks and chefs do their work. Jacques Pepin's videos might be more useful to you than his book (The New Complete Techniques, which I'd still recommend heartily). There are also some fine cooking videos online -- on knife skills, on cutting up a chicken (look for the Gourmet one with Ian Knauer), making particular dishes...

Aug 03, 2014
ellabee in Home Cooking

Your best big gadget\tool?

My experience has been that the immersion blender purees at least as well as my old blender (admittedly, a 1970s Osterizer, not a top-power Waring or Vitamix). Partly that's because it's easier to see what's going on, to control where the blades go, and to stir/scrape the food being blended.

Just this week I'm reading the Zuni Cafe Cookbook for the first time, and came across Judy Rodgers' tip for maximum smoothness while using an immersion blender: Remove half or more of the liquid to another container and buzz the solids and remaining liquid to the desired smoothness, then add back liquid until the texture is what you want. This might seem to defeat some of the efficiency of using an immersion blender in the first place, but I know it would have shortened the blending time for a spinach-green pea soup I made this spring (delicious, but really did take so long to reach smoothness that I had to take breaks to avoid overheating the blender motor).

Aug 02, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

Vintage Corning Ware Experts - help please?

The Pyroceram (TM) versions of French White aren't made from clay; they're a kind of glass, just like the other CorningWare. Much of what's floating around thrift stores and the back of kitchen cabinets now was made in Corning's US plants, but it was also made in France under license by the glass company that makes Arcoroc (and a lot of other products with 'arc' in the name). It's still being produced there, and there was a brief moment in the early 2000's when it was imported; the Martha Stewart K-Mart line had some pieces.

So your different piece might be an example of that. If the bottom is completely slick, no ring of rougher material, it's pyroceram not stoneware.

Aug 02, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

pressure cookers vs pressure canners

I have a Fagor 10-qt pressure cooker/canner, which I've used to pressure can 4 pints of tomatoes at a go (it could handle quarts, but the wide-mouth pints are the best size and shape for my cooking purposes). I use it on a portable 1800-watt induction unit, which maintains the 15psi pressure at power setting 2. I add 2-3 minutes to the processing time to account for the fact that the cooker reaches the desired pressure/temp faster on induction than it would on a gas or electric burner.

I can't imagine why the Kuhn-Rikon 12-liter model, which has the same easily readable pressure indicator as the Fagor Chef, wouldn't work just as well or even better (reports are that K-Rs maintain pressure at a lower setting than Fagors).

Jul 29, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

Are copper lids really necessary for copper pots?

No issue whatsoever. I have a very mixed collection of cookware, and one of my favorite things about it is that each of my (stainless) lids fits at least two pans: a 9.5" for the medium skillet, the large saucier, and the 8-qt stock pot; the 8" for a large saucepan and a small skillet; and the 7"+ for the smaller saucepan and smaller saucier. Several of the pieces are copper, others tri-ply stainless.

Jul 27, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

What cookbooks have you bought recently, or are you lusting after? July 2014 edition! [OLD]

I just got a "used" (apparently never used) copy of the Zuni Cafe Cookbook and am thoroughly enjoying it. Judy Rodgers conveys a lot of wisdom about the many little ways to bring out the best in food, which is making it productive as well as a pleasure to read every evening.

Jul 27, 2014
ellabee in Home Cooking
1

What's your best yard sale or thrift store cookware find?

Sounds gorgeous! Could you post a pic?

Jul 25, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

Flare pan

I note in the DM link that we're already down to a 30% faster claim for boiling water.

Yes, that burner flame in the illustration is certainly an "artist's conception".

Can't resist, for those who haven't yet heard the Daily Mail Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eBT6...

Jul 14, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

Flare pan

I must be going blind in my old age. Where is the 'more information' button on that page?

Stainless flares make more sense than being part of the cast aluminum, which would have the effect of dissipating heat from the burner out into the kitchen. But their being separate items raises the question of how they're attached to the aluminum body.

Clearly, I need a 'MUCH more information' button! <g>

ETA: Aha. I clicked on the item name and got to a slightly fuller description, which answers one of my earlier questions (non-stick coating). But there's nothing about stainless steel that I could see. Or basics like the weight or complete dimensions of the pans.

Jul 13, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

Flare pan

Hadn't noticed until I watched the video that these cast aluminum pans are manufactured in the US (I'm assuming by Regal or another aluminum maker). I wonder what the thickness of the aluminum is (in the non-flared section) and whether the inside of the pot is coated with PTFE or other nonstick chemical, or anodized.

wekick: :: stainless steel in the flares? ::

Could you unpack this question a bit?

The burners in the video are somewhat wider than the ones on my gas stove, but they don't seem beyond the household norm. Maybe some UK gas stove users will weigh in.

Jul 13, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

Can the lid of an All-Clad frying pan be used with an All-clad sauté pan of the same size?

Yes.

Jul 12, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

De-Electrifying the Kitchen

Non-electric items I use fairly often (and that help me feel independent if there's no power):

- food mill (Oxo, with three plates of varying fineness)

- big-hole grater (Rosle horizontal version, easy to do a large quantity of cheese or potatoes or carrots right over a plate)

- pastry blender, for cutting butter or shortening into flour

- rotary eggbeater. I just can't get egg whites or whipped cream to the same point using a whisk without wearing out.

These are jobs for which a lot of cooks use a food processor or powered mixer. Oh, and a mortar and pestle in place of an electric spice grinder.

I don't have a mandoline, but it's another example. If very even, thin ribbons or slices are needed, it takes exceptional knife skills to get the same result, or a special blade on the food processor.

Jul 10, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

What cookbooks have you bought recently, or are you lusting after? July 2014 edition! [OLD]

Saving the Season is much more than a collection of recipes.

Kevin West is an excellent writer who reaches readers on many levels. I was especially moved by his family's foodways vignettes because of similar background (Appalachian & western South Carolina), but there's also art appreciation, world history, and a ton of little down-to-earth practicalities. Also gorgeous photos.

A most worthwhile book even for those without the slightest intention of putting up anything.

Jul 10, 2014
ellabee in Home Cooking
2

Water Bath Canning on a Single Induction Burner--Anybody do this?

I've used my portable induction unit several times for water bath canning. I only ever make small batches -- half-pints or half-cup jars, using an 8-qt tri-ply stock pot.

The cycling of power on induction units only happens at the lowest power levels; for '3' and above, which sustain a boil, the power is continuous. Flat bottoms are best, but your pot may well work fine. Is there any way you can try it out ahead of time? The burner on my Max Burton unit is a 7" one, and a 10" pot is the largest they recommend using. [My stock pot's 9.5" x 9.5".]

I've also pressure canned on the induction unit, with a 10-qt Fagor pressure cooker. [It has a 9.5" base also.] Again, this is a more modest production than many canning operations, producing four wide-mouth pints at a go. The more traditional pressure canners, big rigs, are too large for a portable induction unit, but I'm sure that there are some that work on the largest burner of full induction cooktops.

The Max Burton 6200 auto-shutoff happens after 180 minutes (3 hours), so more of an issue for long braises than for canning.

Jul 08, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

Nathan Myhrvold's Recipe for a Better Oven

Somewhat related article of interest that I read in the hour before coming across this post: recs for restaurant kitchen equipment for large and small setups by five people who set up professional kitchens for a living: http://www.foodarts.com/tools/kitchen...

Jul 05, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

What cooking vessel should be your best?

To me, the pieces that best take advantage of thick conductive materials like copper or aluminum are the saucier (curved-sided saucepan) and the saute (vertical-walled pan with wide base).

The saucier is more likely to be affordable, because it's smaller: A 2-qt saucier covers most cooks' needs for roux-based sauces, custards, hollandaise, creme anglaise, melting chocolate, etc. A saute or rondeau is going to involve a lot more metal -- with a capacity of at least 3 quarts (9-9.5" base), and often 5-7 qts (11" or 12" base).

So the saucier is a more realistic splurge.

Jul 03, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

What cookbooks have you bought recently, or are you lusting after? July 2014 edition! [OLD]

I've ordered and am waiting to get The Zuni Cafe Cookbook (used) and The Italian Cooking Course by Katie Caldesi (paperback of a book that came out in 2010 under a different title).

Meanwhile I'm enjoying Kevin West's Saving the Season, which caught my eye at the library.

Jul 02, 2014
ellabee in Home Cooking
2

Cookbook defects - is it just me?

Yikes. Egged on by chowhounders and Eat Your Books, I've bought quite a few new cookbooks in the last two years, but haven't had any of those experiences.

But am on my way downstairs to make sure all the pages in my Pepin New Complete Techniques are there... it's one of my favorite acquisitions, since I left an original La Technique behind in a move in the 1980s.

Jul 01, 2014
ellabee in Home Cooking

What's your best yard sale or thrift store cookware find?

I think it may have been more like 30 years ago or more. There was a year when several of my parents' drinking circle got one for Christmas. Remember finding the coffee flavored the best of bunch.

Also occasioned a conversation in which my father made comment that became a saying in the same circle:
"It takes one HELL of a lot of cherries to make cherry heering."

Jul 01, 2014
ellabee in Cookware
1

What cookbooks have you bought recently, or are you lusting after? June 2014 edition! [OLD]

No, there are some new pictures, some even in color, but it's probably not the thing for people who have one of the originals.

But it's an outstanding gift for new cooks, or a reference for one whose interest is deepening...

Jun 27, 2014
ellabee in Home Cooking
2