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What kind of vinegars do you keep on hand?

Thanks!

2 days ago
ellabee in Home Cooking

What kind of vinegars do you keep on hand?

And you've used the black vinegar to make...?

Sep 13, 2014
ellabee in Home Cooking

What kind of vinegars do you keep on hand?

They last well in the fridge, so over time I've accumulated quite a few kinds as recipes call for them:

cider vinegar - when I was young, this _was_ vinegar.
red wine - basic, and produced by a not-far-away winery
rice wine - in Asian marinades, salads
balsamic - no substitute when called for
sherry - in Mexican as well as Spanish dishes
malt - ?? need to look up some recipes and make more use
white wine - see red wine vinegar above

Is there anyone here who has or uses Chinese black vinegar? None of the local food stores, even the most adventurous, have this available from their distributors.

Sep 12, 2014
ellabee in Home Cooking

Mistakes, I've made a few

That's the one; just about exactly what I paid for mine three-plus years ago. Spring and summer seem like the times to get bargains on cookware, while prices firm up once the weather cools and the cooking/entertaining season approaches.

Sep 04, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

Mistakes, I've made a few

If I had extra money lying around, I believe I *would* try to snag this duplicate 'Style' skillet. Just to sell later; the current listing doesn't convey what's special about it.

I'm sure if I started doing that kind of thing, I'd also end up with a sizable pile of original All-Clad Master Chef, another superior product no longer made. Right now there's a 3.5 qt. saucepan with the rarely seen helper handle; hard to overstate what a handy pan that is. Over the winter and spring I've had similar pangs over an original MC 2 qt. saucier, a 1.5 qt. saucepan, and a two-handled 4 qt. soup pot [which was *truly* original -- from before they standardized the handles, and before they called it Master Chef].

Sep 02, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

Mistakes, I've made a few

I already have one just like it! Not in need of another; was mentioning in case anyone here might be interested.

Sep 01, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

Mistakes, I've made a few

Just now checked ebay for the first time in a month or so, and what's there but my favorite skillet! The combination of a long, comfortable, cool cast stainless handle and 2mm copper-stainless isn't made any more (the handles are available on Mauviel pieces, but only on 1.5mm copper.)

I've only seen one or two 'Style' skillets on ebay since getting mine more than three years ago. The auction, with two days left, is at an extreme bargain level at the moment.

Sep 01, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

Which cookware for cooking for 1, 2, or 3 people?

Herring's advice is unbeatable.

And would be a good m.o. for anyone who's interested in paring down, whether cooking for one or many.

Aug 31, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

Best omelet pan?

Putting in a good word here for cast aluminum, if the pan is only used for omelets (and crepes).

In the 1970s a company called Gourmet, based in northern Illinois, made omelet and crepe pans with walnut handles. They look very similar to the bare aluminum skillets from the same era put out by Copco (I believe those were manufactured in Japan rather than in the Danish foundry where their enameled cast iron was made).

Both of those can be found used on the online sites. [A very similar pan recommended by Julia Child in the same era is still made by a Boston company, but for an unreasonably large amount of money.] Cast aluminum omelet pans last forever if not washed. If anything ever sticks (like a bit of cheese leaking out of the omelet, just let the pan cool a bit and scrub out with kosher salt and a paper towel.

Aug 31, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

Mistakes, I've made a few

That 2-qt Tribute is an excellent pan -- a third of what the Falk cost even in the olden days of 2011, and vastly superior to most saucier offerings. If I'd gotten it instead of the Demeyere, I'd probably never have sprung for the Falk -- and would have a good bit more whisking leeway for souffle bechamel base...

Aug 31, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

Mistakes, I've made a few

It would indeed! I'll make a note for the ebay description... <g>

My small saucier is the 18cm 'try me' from Falk, which can handle a quart of liquid (technically about a third of a quart more, up to the rim, but in real life, with stirring, a quart is the limit). My big one holds 3 quarts, 9.5" across. I wish it had a helper handle, and that the long handle it has were stainless rather than brass -- it gets hot quickly. It's a great pan for curries, risotto, etc., and larger quantities of sauce (though a helper handle would make it easier to pour from). I'm glad it's only 2mm copper, because it would be that much harder to pour from if it were even heavier.

If I could only have one saucier, I'd want it to have about the same capacity as the Demeyere, 2.5 qts, but be a bit deeper and narrower, 2mm copper lined with stainless, with a pouring lip and a cast stainless handle. There apparently was exactly such a pan once, made by Mauviel from sometime in the mid-2000s to 2011, in their 'Cuprinox Style' line. My absolute favorite pan is a 9.5" skillet that was part of that line.

Aug 31, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

Mistakes, I've made a few

The $200 Demeyere 2.6 qt saucier ("conic sauteuse") that I craved for a year before treating myself to it. It's a good, high-quality pot, but vastly inferior to the larger and smaller copper-stainless sauciers I got for significantly less $.

The main annoyance was the lack of a pouring lip, combined with a slightly too-shallow shape. I wasn't fond of the tubular handle, either -- a shade too big around, and I have fairly large hands.

I thought the lack of interior rivets would be oh-so-important, and the ability to use it on induction. But as it turns out, I use sauciers on the front gas burner because they're in use for highly interactive cooking, and the rivetlessness just isn't a big deal.

It remained the least-used of my pots and pans for more than two years, and last winter I moved it to the garage with the little pile of cookware I intend to sell on ebay this fall. This year for sure!

Aug 30, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

Please recommend your cooking utensils

My most-used utensil is a melamine spoon with a gently squared-off, blunt end. Melamine utensils are no longer recommended in combination with high heat, and I'd ditch it if I were a lot younger or were in a household with children. But as it is, I love its versatility, ease of cleaning, and impermeability. I have a wooden version (olive wood) whose blunt end is even more spatula-like; excellent for making pan sauces.

Stainless tongs are indispensible. Mine are fairly cheap, from a kitchen supply store, and seem as if they'll go on forever. They lock by pulling a ring at the base, and can be unlocked with one hand (press the ring against your hip, or any convenient surface). I'd be constantly accidentally locking the kind that lock with a flipping latch.

Other tools that are extremely handy and that I just love to use because they're so solidly made: Cuisipro silicone spoonula with metal handle, WMF all-stainless 'spider' strainer, and an all-stainless whisk that's sealed where the wires meet the handle, for ease of cleaning.

And a Lamson-Sharp slotted fish turner (see snax's nearby post) -- nothing better for hash browns, frying tofu, fritters, and even the occasional piece of fish.

Aug 28, 2014
ellabee in Cookware

No Regrets: Glad I bought it!

The pressure cooker set (4- and 6-quart Fagor Futuro) that I got after reading a lot about PCs on this board.

I didn't have any previous experience with pressure cooking, and my expectations were fairly modest. But it's transformed my cooking in several ways:
I make stock and cook dried beans much more regularly (because it takes so much less time).
It pushed me off the fence on getting an induction cookplate, which has been a boon in and of itself.
It's returned stews and braises to the menu in summer, when I'd be unwilling to have the oven on for several hours.
And it gave me the confidence to snag a used pressure canner (Fagor Chef 10 qt) that was half price on ebay, giving me the ability to put up jars of stock for cupboard storage and not be limited by my tiny fridge freezer.

Looking for ideas for a Sunday Supper for 30

There goes my eastern Mediterranean mezze suggestion... unless your previous Med meal was more the other end of the region.

Lots of nice spreads for pita -- muhammara, baba ghanoush, hummus, tzatziki -- with cut-up fresh vegetables and a few more protein-rich offerings like falafel or kebabs.

Aug 25, 2014
ellabee in Home Cooking

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? August 2014 Edition!

:: also intrigued by The Cookbook Book ... it would be fun to take a look at it and see what books have been covered ::

It would, but based on other Phaidon books I'll probably want to do that via someone else's coffee table or in a bookstore.

This one's put together by an art director, so I'd expect more artiness and less cooking / cookbook wisdom than from the one that came out two years ago from the Fales Library, '101 Classic Cookbooks: 501 Classic Recipes'. Which I haven't laid eyes on, either, but want to. In fact, I'm not confident that this new Cookbook Book actually reproduces any recipes, so a somewhat meta project...

Aug 25, 2014
ellabee in Home Cooking

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? August 2014 Edition!

It would, but I seem to need a (metaphorical) gun to my head to do any serious thinning.

Aug 25, 2014
ellabee in Home Cooking

Must have mexican cookbooks

Leaving aside all the subsequent books, I find it hard to imagine what criticisms could be made of Bayless' first, Authentic Mexican, and would be interested in reading any that you have.

For me, its strengths include:
- a clear overview of Mexico's culinary regions.
- detailed and helpful review of major ingredients
- full, traditional preparations -- not at all dumbed down

Both Bayless and Kennedy cover restaurant and festival dishes as well as "honest Mexican home cooking"

When I compare several specific recipes in Bayless' AMC with the only Diana Kennedy I have, Mexican Regional Cooking, I find either very few differences or, in cases of departures, that the Bayless instructions make more sense (case in point: tinga poblana).

So what are some problems with Bayless recipes in Authentic Mexican?

Diana Kennedy's My Mexican Kitchen has been on my wishlist for some time; I love to read about ingredients, equipment, and techniques. But reading articles and excerpts of other books by her, I've wondered if the underlying message isn't just "you can't really be cooking Mexican food if you aren't in Mexico."

Aug 25, 2014
ellabee in Home Cooking

Baking Sheet with rack?

Many happy years of prep and cooking to the both of you!

The arrival of my quarter sheets + racks changed my cooking for the better as much as almost anything I've ever acquired. They're hugely helpful in a ton of different tasks -- resting dredged or crumbed proteins or patties, making bacon in the oven, warming cooked fritters in a low oven while frying the rest of the batch, resting/draining salted eggplant, cooling baked items, resting roasts...

Aug 23, 2014
ellabee in Cookware
1

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.

Aug 21, 2014
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