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Chiles Rellenos - Meh?

Yes! It takes about 20 minutes at 350F.

My chiles usually split lengthwise while I'm peeling them, so the baking method allows me to just roll the cheese up in a half-chile and lay them in the gratin like stuffed cabbages. That part can be done well ahead, and refrigerated. So at the end, while oven preheats and baking dish comes to room temperature, make up the batter and pour over the dish.

Craving some right now, and just realized that I have poblanos in the house! Will be making some this evening.

1 day ago
ellabee in Home Cooking

Chiles Rellenos - Meh?

I usually use poblanos; if they seem mild, I use pepper Jack cheese. Or even if they don't...

After making these fried once or twice, I started baking them and haven't looked back. (Same batter, poured over the filled peppers in an oiled gratin pan.) Sauce is a tomato puree cooked with a bit of cumin and cinnamon.

1 day ago
ellabee in Home Cooking

Pressure cooker and mixing bowls

It's not worth it to purchase different sized pressure cookers, at least sizes as close as 6 qts and 8 qts. I'd be able to make a case for getting a 10-qt (the Fagor Chef in that size can be used for canning -- four wide-mouth pints works well) and a 6-qt. Smaller than 6 qt is only useful for small households (like mine; I use the 4qt part of a 4/6qt set often, for brown rice and other grains).

Apr 20, 2015
ellabee in Cookware

Any tips for cooking with induction?

Do you already have an induction cooktop? Is it a full cooktop or one of the portable units?

If you're just considering a full cooktop and want to get familiar with how your existing pots and cooking techniques work on induction, it might be worth it to get one of the under-$100 portable units to experiment.

If you are thinking just of getting a portable unit, not a full cooktop, I think the Vollrath Mirage Pro is the best value for the money ($400-$500; full cooktops are at least $800+ and most are closer to $1500 and up). The advantage over the cheap single units, which is worth the difference in price, is much bigger range of power and temperature settings, with finer gradations between them (so that you can achieve a true, stable simmer, or temper chocolate, e.g.).

A portable unit can supplement your existing cooktop, which means you won't have to get rid of any cookware.

Apr 20, 2015
ellabee in Cookware

Handles and Rivets for Copper Cookware

:: Mauviel 2.5 with stainless handles that I didn't know existed. ::

Nor did I! It's possible that it's really 2mm, not 2.5.

Apr 17, 2015
ellabee in Cookware

Handles and Rivets for Copper Cookware

No, just interested. They actually do seem still to have a 5-piece and an 8-piece set in the 2mm, with 3 rivets, but they don't appear to be marked with the W-S/France circle. Hard to tell, though; they're all a stock image with only one angle. The mark is almost always near the left side of the handle attachment.

Apr 16, 2015
ellabee in Cookware

Handles and Rivets for Copper Cookware

Just checked the Williams-Sonoma site. As I expected would happen pretty soon, the W-S branded Mauviel 2mm copper-stainless is now gone; there were still pieces of it and even a basic set before the holidays. Now they're just selling the straight current Mauviel production: mostly 1.5mm with brass handles, and some 2.5mm with iron handles.

There are a few pieces still of the 2mm with brass handles (and, yes, W-S and Mauviel still calling the handles "bronze") -- a 3-qt Windsor and a 6.5qt Dutch oven/soup pot. They're 'Exclusive', but appear not to be marked with the W-S name as previously.

Apr 16, 2015
ellabee in Cookware

Cookware you're obsessed with...

kaleokahu :: You can amortize the cost difference over your life with the pan ... And you get to cook in (and look at) something beautiful every day ::

Yes, that's the beauty of cookware -- frequent use over a long period makes even pricey pieces a better value than many other things you might spend money on.

I've had serial cookware obsessions, but blessedly they seemed to fade once I got pieces that filled the need (which, I admit, is not only pure function but also that daily-enjoying-the-beauty thing).

The items here that still give me a little thrill every time I use or look at them are a slick black Wagner cast iron skillet from my grandparents' house, a set of ribbed depression glass mixing bowls by Hazel-Atlas (mid-1930s), and a copper skillet with a long, comfortable stainless handle (Mauviel Cuprinox Style).

Apr 15, 2015
ellabee in Cookware

Steaming--can you flavor things?

Couscous made in the traditional way is steamed over a stew. The fundamental idea is to take advantage of the cooking steam, but I'd assume that the flavors in the stew would influence the couscous as well.

Apr 12, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking

Replacing electric appliances with non-electric cookware

Spice grinder ---> mortar and pestle.
Immersion blender/blender ---> food mill.
Coffee maker ---> French press or pour-over filter setup.
Can opener ----> manual Swing-away or the like.
Toaster ---> oven or broiler
Microwave ---> stovetop, oven
Food processor ---> For pastry, a D-shaped pastry blender. For cutting up/shredding veg, finely chopping nuts, etc.: sharp knives.
Hand mixer ---> whisk.

Apr 09, 2015
ellabee in Cookware
1

Handles and Rivets for Copper Cookware

Maybe there are Mauviel pans made with bronze handles. I haven't seen any. The line that they make/made for Williams-Sonoma, 2mm copper lined with stainless, with pouring lips on all the pieces, has brass handles. Those handles get hot significantly more quickly than cast iron or cast stainless handles. While I was trying to settle on a frying pan, ebay bargains allowed me to make a true apples-to-apples comparison: the brass-handled Mauviel/W-S 9.5" skillet and a stainless-handled version of the same pan, from Mauviels's Cuprinox Style line.

[Typical pieces seem from the Mauviel/W-S line, 2mm copper/stainless lined are: a 9.5" skillet, a 9.5" saute pan (~3.5 qt), a 9.5" soup/stock pot/Dutch oven (~5-6 qt), a 9.5" saucier (~3 qt) and some saucepans. Most of these were part of sets as well as sold open stock. There was also a larger saute, 28cm, with a helper handle (also brass).]

Mar 28, 2015
ellabee in Cookware

Handles and Rivets for Copper Cookware

No idea about the grey/silver rivets on tin-lined copper pieces, but re handles: My strong impression is that the metal of the handles on many copper pieces is not bronze but brass. Bronze has a distinctive brownish appearance, where brass is gold-colored and shiny.

Mar 27, 2015
ellabee in Cookware
1

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy scrag end of winter March 2015 edition! [old]

Not personal experience, and not a guarantee of anything, but another indicator of possible quality: the book is on 104 members' shelves at EYB, significantly more than any of the other dim sum books in their library (there are 45 or so, 7 of them published in the last year). The next most popular is by Rhoda Yee from 1977 (49 members' bookshelves).

Mar 27, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy scrag end of winter March 2015 edition! [old]

Thanks, Caitlin. Certainly chapter recipe listings without page numbers are better than no chapter ToCs at all...

Mar 26, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy scrag end of winter March 2015 edition! [old]

I'm not a dessert lover, or a baker. But on a gray, cold day earlier this month I decided to get hold of the highly recommended Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax, and what a pleasure it is! Full of literary and culinary asides, and the only book I'll ever need for making dessert for guests.

What a remarkable amount Sax accomplished in his too-short life (he was only 46 when he died, a year after Classic Home Desserts was published (1994); he'd worked on it for pretty much the entire previous decade.

[cookbook geek nitpicks-->] My copy is one of the early printings; I'd like to see the versions re-issued in 1999 and 2010. Among other things, I wonder if the later re-issues add page numbers to the chapter table of contents, and/or do anything to make the chapter opening pages visually distinctive. I fixed those issues in my own copy with a pencil -- just making a great book even better.

Mar 25, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking
1

PC advise, please

The induction unit is a Max Burton 1800-watt, I think the 6200. It was $80ish.

I use the default power level of 5 to bring the p.c. to pressure, then after the indicator pops up I reduce the level to 3 (which maintains a boil in regular cooking), then after a moment 2, and then 1 once the indicator won't yield to finger pressure.

If it's something long like stock, I bring it back up to 2 after 20 minutes for about 3 minutes, then back down to 1. If it's something shorter like beans or brown rice, I leave it at 2 the whole time unless it begins to hiss or bubble from beneath the handle. My experience pressure canning with the 10-qt Chef leads me to believe that level 2 is necessary to main continuous pressure of 15psi. Falling below that isn't a big deal in pressure cooking, but e.g. with stock, I find if I just leave it at 1 the whole time under pressure that it's not as flavorful and rich as if I make an effort to "refresh" the pressure. One indicator of sub-par pressure is how long the natural release takes; unless it's 10 minutes or more, it probably was below 15psi for much of the time.

The off-on push control on the Max Burton unit has just recently begun to get a little touchy, but that's the only problem in almost four years. If/when this one dies, my plan is to get a Vollrath (Mirage Pro, I think is the model) with much finer-grained power and temperature steps, $400-500ish. The MB's level 1 isn't quite high enough, and level 2 seems sometimes too high, so my hope is that the Vollrath would have a setting that would be just right.

Mar 22, 2015
ellabee in Cookware
1

PC advise, please

There's a little bit more info in my comments below in response to questions from DuffyH (plus comments on the newer Fagor Chef line). To forestall possible confusion for anyone reading along, here'a a link to the set in question: http://www1.macys.com/shop/product/fa...

The other piece in the "5-pc" set, the little steamer basket with a grater built into the base, is something I ditched early on -- it felt much cheesier than the pots and lids, I had no plans for using the p.c. that way, and cut myself on the grater base while putting it away for the first time. A steamer for the p.c. can probably be rigged up easily if the need arises (hasn't yet).

I love the Futuro set. It's easy to work, but the manual that comes with it isn't very good. I got both the confidence to buy a pressure cooker and the skills to use this one from informative discussion here in the cookware forum supplemented with useful reading at hippressurecooking.com. For some reason, it hadn't sunk in that stovetop pressure cookers can be used as regular cooking pots until a poster on a p.c. thread here mentioned being happy with this set, which shared regular and pressure lids. The light bulb went on; once I began to look at p.c.'s that way, the virtues of the Fagor set were clear: the larger pot is the size that many/most pressure recipes are written for, and the smaller one is an excellent boil pot, one of the most-often used pieces in the kitchen.

As it turned out, the 4-qt Fagor ended up displacing my previous boil pot, a 5-qt of similar construction (stainless body with aluminum-disk base), primarily because the old one didn't work on induction. I got a portable induction unit within days of starting to work with the pressure cooker, because it was immediately clear how much simpler and safer it would be, given the irregularities of the gas pressure on my stove. I'd already been actively considering getting an induction unit, because of those same gas issues: It's hard to keep anything at a very low flame for a long period, the flame tending to gutter out on its own or from a breeze -- and breezes there are, as the kitchen door is the main route out to the yard and garden. Turning on a burner too quickly while another one's on often shuts off the flame on the first burner. Even if the flame stays lit, its level is significantly affected when another burner is turned up or down. These are irritants and dangers enough for regular cooking, but real impediments to pressure cooking: How could I hope to learn the correct minimum flame level for maintaining pressure if it were going to be affected by what else is on the stove? What would be the point of having a p.c. if I couldn't use the stove for anything else while it was going?

The induction unit solved those problems with a convenience bonus: the unit can be set to timer mode once at the power level to maintain pressure, so that it will automatically shut off when time's up. This is particularly freeing for me, as I rarely cook anything in the p.c. that involves quick release of the pressure. For those who do use quick-release, the Fagor Futuro (and Chef) have one of the easiest and best methods: turn a dial, and the steam shoots straight up from the center of the pot.

It takes a little practice to get the pressure lid lined up correctly so you can smoothly rotate into the locked position, but the satisfying, heavy click when it locks is reassuringly unmistakable. Once or twice early on I had a hard time opening the lid after the natural pressure release; it seemed to stick with a kind of vacuum. Not wanting to force anything, I slid it back into the locked position and waited until things cooled a bit more. This would have been more anxiety-producing had I been cooking quick-release foods where it was urgent to get the ingredients out before they overcook. So I strongly encourage anyone new to pressure cookers to start out with natural-release things like stock, moving on only once you get completely confident with adjusting to the right burner level for maintaining pressure and with putting on and removing the lid.

I haven't used the low pressure for anything yet, so really this set hasn't enabled me to do anything that couldn't be done just as well with any other Fagor model. But the set has provided me with the dynamic duo of the 4-qt boil pot on an induction unit, sitting atop an aluminum cookie sheet at the rear of my stovetop conveniently right under the vent hood, ready for a quick boil or a long slow safe simmer -- two things for which the weeny "simmer burner" it replaced was wholly unsuited.

Mar 22, 2015
ellabee in Cookware

PC advise, please

No, there's just one lock; the handle on that side is shaped a little differently, and is marked (embossed) with an arrow for lining up the lid.

I haven't checked lately, but at the time I bought the Futuro set four years ago they were being made in Spain, and I believe the Duo and Rapide models were being produced in China.

The Duo has all the same features and functions (the locking design and emergency vent, the pressure/release valve with two pressure settings). It's made in most of the same sizes but with one long handle, and uses the same silicone gaskets as corresponding Futuro models. [There are two gasket sizes that are shared among all the Fagor lines and models, the smaller is "9 inch" (22 cm) and the larger "10-inch" (24 cm).]

Just FYI - The Chef line has appeared since I got a Futuro set. It has a little riser-indicator to visibly assure that the cooker is at low or high pressure. That's important for canning (which is only relevant to the largest model, the 10 qt), but might be a confidence-inspiring feature for regular pressure cooking. The disk base is also wider than on the corresponding sizes of other Fagor models, which again is more crucial for canning and some modernist precision work, but also makes it a better piece of cookware. The handles are even more compact than the Futuro. {Updating: didn't read all of the recent comments before replying, I see the Chef was mentioned upthread. Agree that it has nice features but would be more compelling at somewhat lower price. I lucked into a once-used 10qt on ebay that I use for pressure canning and the occasional extra-big batch of stock.}

Mar 19, 2015
ellabee in Cookware

PC advise, please

It's true that the single Fagor Futuro cookers are bell-shaped, but the 4&6qt set are straight-sided, so they can nest for storage. [Another storage plus for Futuro is that the two short handles make the set a little easier to accommodate in a cabinet than cookers with a long handle.]

The straight sides also make the two pieces more usable as regular, non-pressure soup/boil/stock pots, which is what really sold me on this set.

Mar 18, 2015
ellabee in Cookware

PC advise, please

I cook for two also, and like you I don't do like to turn the oven on for long in summer. The pressure cooker has been a big help, because in summer I often don't come in from the garden until it's late, and I'm too tired and ravenous to do more than warm something up. An already-cooked soup or stew is nice to have in that situation. As are grain and bean salads, and the pressure cooker is especially great for things like farro, wheat berries, and dried beans that would otherwise take a long time on the stove.

Here the p.c. sits right under the vent hood, and cooks on an induction burner, so there's very little additional heat or steam.

The two sizes in my Fagor Futuro set are 4 qt (grains, small-scale stews and soups) and 6 qt (beans, stock, and larger batches of soups and stews). The 4 qt is in constant use also as a regular stovetop pot for boiling (blanching, pasta, potatoes) and soup-making.

A similar set or a 5-qt p.c. wouldn't be too big for you. Because they're used at most 2/3 full, and work fine when only 1/3 full (as long as a minimum amount of liquid is used), the results shouldn't doom you to much dining on leftovers.

Mar 18, 2015
ellabee in Cookware

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy scrag end of winter March 2015 edition! [old]

Thanks for the pointer! That 100 Recipes book was already on my long just-for-reading wishlist, now moving higher...

[Minor irritant in the article: Bee Wilson doesn't know what a timbale is, or how to make a syrup? Not buying it; fake populism.]

Are there advantatages to a pressure cooker besides saving time?

Brown rice is only slightly faster in a p.c. than with regular stovetop cooking, when you account for the time to come to pressure and the ten minutes or so of natural release. But I much prefer to pressure cook it because the results are so consistent and just the texture I want, with no anxiety: once at pressure, just set the induction unit's timer and turn attention somewhere else.

Mar 11, 2015
ellabee in Cookware

Are Small Sauce Pans Necessary?

The 1 qt saucepan we used to have seemed too cramped at 6" diameter for sauce making. Since getting a 1.5 qt rounded saucier that's just over 7" across, I haven't felt the need for anything smaller.

When I'm doing a truly tiny task -- melting butter, making a very small amount of gravy, or sweating a few tablespoons of shallots, I find it easiest to use a small (8-inch) skillet.

Mar 05, 2015
ellabee in Cookware
1

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy scrag end of winter March 2015 edition! [old]

Something that disappoints about this e-book: no overall listing of recipes, either in front table of contents or as chapter ToCs. There's no excuse for this omission in an e-book, where space is not an issue.

Menus with links to the recipes are dotted at irregular intervals throughout the book; however, the menus aren't listed in the table of contents, so there's no way to get an overview of them or go directly to any one of them. At least in this case there's a workaround: I paged through and bookmarked each menu.

Hope the staff at Workman have done better with newer Kindle versions...

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy scrag end of winter March 2015 edition! [old]

Thanks to a tip in the February thread, I added Sarah Leah Chase's Cold Weather Cooking to our Kindle, and am well pleased. I love the progression from fall through the holidays to the depths of winter and on through to "early spring" and Easter.

I'm making the cabbage-wrapped spring rolls right now, in fact (taking a break between the shredding & slicing and the assembly). Celebrating our first sighting of a patch of ground in the backyard where the snow's melted!

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy Valentine's Day 2015 edition! [OLD]

Smashing Plates sounds like a terrific book for someone who will be entertaining and socializing regularly with friends who like to share food adventures. It's the opposite of the kind of cooking I'm doing and like to do, but I can see the fun in it.

Re the Piglet round with SP and A Change of Appetite:

I sympathize with the reviewer's point about the the disorienting way that A Change of Appetite jumps from cuisine to cuisine from one recipe to the next. An editor might have noticed that and easily resolved it by having Diana Henry offer a few suggested menus or combinations. Since that didn't happen, there's an interesting job for the engaged reader/cook.

That makes it not a very serious defect in the book -- unless someone who's tried doing that finds that very few of the recipes fit together. As Change of App is the most attractive to me of this year's Piglet contestants, it's probably worth studying its recipe listing at Eat Your Books with pairings/groupings in mind.

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy Valentine's Day 2015 edition! [OLD]

My Bombay Kitchen is also something to look forward to.

I've already taken it out twice from the local library: the first time around, reading and learning, the second cooking along and copying out a few other most-appealing recipes.

Feb 23, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking
1

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy Valentine's Day 2015 edition! [OLD]

:: chapter by chapter table of recipes, a feature I love ::

Same here! They make it much easier to get a sense of the scope of a cookbook, and to focus in on particular recipes. Maybe it's because I'm a big-picture person, but I think it's true for many cooks: The larger the book, the more difficult the absence of decent chapter ToCs makes it to pick a starting point to engage with the recipes.

Just recently, in time for Tet, I added Vietnamese-language recipe titles to the Eat Your Books listings for Andrea Nguyen's Into the Vietnamese Kitchen (ingredient-indexed in EYB's early days). Her chapter ToCs are exemplary.

First, they're on pages edged in red, so that it's easy to spot a chapter opening while riffling through. Then, they're often subdivided into kindred groups -- e.g., the soup chapter is grouped into 'Everyday quick soups' (canh), 'Creamy rice soups' (cháo), and 'Special-occasion soups' (súp). After the close look at each chapter table of contents required to add the Vietnamese titles, I had a much better appreciation for the range of recipes in the book.

But even without the help of these conceptual groupings, a table of contents for each chapter with large, readable page numbers greatly speeds the transition from "book full of recipes" to "Mmmm! That sounds tasty, and I already have xxx..."

Feb 22, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking
1

What sizes of stockpots do I need?

I'd hold off getting anything larger than the 6 quart until you actually experience the situation of not having a pot big enough to do what you want.

A 10 qt pressure cooker, like the Fagor Chef, can be used as a regular pot, a pressure cooker, and even a pressure canner (10 qt being minimum recommended size). That would be a lot more versatile for family cooking than a slightly larger stockpot.

Feb 15, 2015
ellabee in Cookware

Goat cheese haters?

Not quite. Very few foods contain uric acid, which is created in your body as food is digested. Most cheese, not just goat cheese, is high in purines, the compounds that break down into uric acid.

You're welcome to your opinion on the taste, of course, but it's not based on goat cheese containing uric acid.