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January 2015 COTM "THE HAKKA COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 1 & 2

Seemed close enough to a braise to me - the tofu was seared/fried in oil, then simmered in liquid. How would you describe it if not a braise?

My La Chamba pots get plenty of use. No pot is going to take up space in my kitchen and then be a wallflower when it comes time to cook! The one in the picture I've had for about 5 years now, and it's holding up nicely. The only downside on the La Chamba is that the lids are not snug-fitting, so you can get more evaporation than you might want. There are clay pots made that have very precisely fitting lids, such as these:
http://micaceouscookware.com/
But they are a bit pricey for me.

about 1 hour ago
MelMM in Home Cooking
1

January 2015 COTM "THE HAKKA COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 1 & 2

I'll weigh in on the clay pot debate. Whether or not the clay imparts a flavor to the food will depend upon the type of clay and the glaze. Some clay pots are unglazed. Some pots have a glaze, but the glaze is not completely waterproof (you can see the clay change color if you soak the pot). And others have a glaze that is pretty much impermeable. I have a lot of Emile Henry flameware, which I'd put in the latter category. I also have a couple La Chamba pots, which are unglazed. That's what I used for this recipe. Note that both the Emile Henry and the La Chamba can be used directly on the stovetop.

I think the real thing with clay is the way it heats. Clay has a very, very low thermal conductivity. As far as thermal conductivity goes, copper>aluminum>>cast iron>>>>clay. What this means in practical terms is that the clay takes a long time to heat up, and a long time to cool down.

In terms of this recipe, it means my braise in a clay pot spent a lot more time on the stove at sub-boiling temperatures than it would have if I'd used another kind of pot. And then, when I took it off the stove, I was able to grab the handles of my pot without pot-holders, because they still were not hot. I carried the pot into the dining room and took four photos of it, and it was still boiling the whole time (holding heat). Then carried it back into the breakfast room, where we ate, and it was still boiling when I served it. If I'd been using an All-Clad pot, it would have stopped boiling almost as soon as I took it off the stove. After a leisurely meal, the bottom of the clay pot was still hot, and the tofu still quite warm.

January 2015 COTM "THE HAKKA COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 1 & 2

Braised Tofu and Vegetable Clay Pot Pg. 47

My turn for this one. The prep has already been described, so I'll just mention where I deviated. My block of tofu was slightly less than the 1 lb called for, so I went heavy on the shitakes. I also had a bunch of chard on hand, so I used that instead of bok choy (diced the stems and added those early, added the leaves later). Sliced the carrots thinner than called for. I don't have a Chinese sandpot, so I used a La Chamba clay pot.

We enjoyed this quite a bit - it's got that hearty, comforting feel to it, without being heavy. We did find it a bit underseasoned, so once again, extra salt and chile oil were added at the table. I liked that the dish was super easy to put together, and with the addition of rice, made a complete meal. This is one I'd happily make again.

about 6 hours ago
MelMM in Home Cooking
1

“A Cookbook a Week” Challenge (CAWC) – Thread #3 - Will you join me? [Old]

Two more (yes, I might as well add them) from the Jones book.

Lemon Chard Aloo, p. 162, and Kitchari, conveniently located on p. 163, so I could look at both recipes simultaneously.

Both winners. The Kitchari made with brown rice, made it a little different, and a robust version. The recipe worked perfectly, and the dish was heavily perfumed with the spices. The lemon chard aloo was more potatoey than I expected, but still very good, with a twinge of heat. The addition of lemon zest and juice at the end kept the flavors bright. Both dishes made a large quantity (I'd say the kitchari serves 8, rather than 4-6 as stated, at least if you have another dish with it). If I so desire, I could take the rest of the weekend off from cooking.

This books seems to be strong on the Indian flavored dishes in addition to the soups. Such a compelling book to cook from! I wish it were out in the US so more of you could be cooking from it and I could know what you think.

2 days ago
MelMM in Home Cooking

V+V dinners, boreal winter, austral summer

The place was Southern in style, so it was a "pick two sides" situation, all of which were typical Southern type vegetables.

Jan 22, 2015
MelMM in Vegetarian & Vegan

V+V dinners, boreal winter, austral summer

This was actually a late lunch, but late enough and big enough that dinner is unnecessary. It was eaten out at a place called Bean Vegan Cuisine in Charlotte, NC. Jackfruit "carnitas" tacos also contained grilled onion and red bell pepper, tomatillo salsa, and some kind of vegan "crema". Delicious. The sides were collard greens and red beans and rice, and since the whole meal was more than I could eat, those got packed up and will make a nice lunch for tomorrow.

Jan 22, 2015
MelMM in Vegetarian & Vegan

What's for Dinner #344 - Happy MLK Day Edition! [through Jan. 21, 2015]

Made a pot of black beans today, so I decided to have tacos for dinner. Besides the beans, there were sweet potatoes that were roasted with a chile rub (some random thing I had left over from some other recipe), pico de gallo, guacamole, and sour cream made from raw milk from a local dairy. Made some red rice to go with. I did eat more than one taco, but I made them up as I ate them, so just one at a time on the plate.

Lemon thief

Wow.

Jan 21, 2015
MelMM in Not About Food

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy New Year January 2015 edition!

Burma was COTM a while back (by "a while", I mean at least a year ago, maybe two. You might check out the old COTM threads to see what people liked. And maybe add to them once you start cooking from it. It's a fun book.

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy New Year January 2015 edition!

It's not a steakhouse, although they have steaks. It is completely unrelated to the NYC restaurant Delmonico's. After the success of the New York restaurant in the 1800's, many restaurateurs wanted to name their restaurants that, even if they were serving a completely different kind of food. The New Orleans restaurant opened in 1895, and Emeril bought it (I think in the late 1990's), renovated it, and reopened it as Emeril's Delmonico. They serve "modern creole" cuisine. In the cookbook, there is a recipe for a homemade worcestershire sauce that is very worthwhile.

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy New Year January 2015 edition!

Here's a link to the current CAWC thread, and it, in turn, has links to the previous threads. If you want to review a book, do a search on the newest thread. If you see the book has already been posted in a previous thread, follow the link and post on that thread as a reply to the original post (just like on COTM). That way, all the reviews for a single book stay together.
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1001058

I'd suggest if you are interested, you "follow" the current thread and the past ones, so you'll see in your profile when new reviews are added.

BTW, it is OK on these threads to review a book without cooking from it. You can just pick one from your shelves, browse through it, and tell us if you will keep it or not and why.

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy New Year January 2015 edition!

I have that book. I also had (until recently) his French Feasts, which was a very frustrating book by design (tiny print, horrible fonts, horrible index, vague instructions). 365 Reasons improves on some of these issues. I've made one or two recipes from it, and as I recall they were pretty good, but that's not much considering I've had it for a few years. I also have his Terrine book, which I have not cooked from. Please report back when you use the book, or put it on the CAWC thread. I could use some inspiration to cook from it.

Voting Thread: Cookbook of the Month February 2015

That was helpful. Nice to hear about that document as well. Maybe at some point we could start a COTM Coordinator thread so the information is stored here on CH, and then each coordinator could add updates as needed if there are changes, or just comments about what worked for them, in terms of organization.

January 2015 COTM "THE HAKKA COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 1 & 2

Uncle Henry's Tofu Triangles, pg. 31

QN and I seem to be chasing all the stuffed tofu recipes in this book, and there are a number to choose from. This one was on my agenda for tonight. Prep has been described above. I used fresh shrimp, dried shrimp, and pork for the filling, skipping the fish. I added two extra shrimp to make up the difference, but as QN says, the stuffing is twice what you need, so I needn't have bothered. Also as QN notes, a large pan is needed to fit all the tofu triangles in (there aren't really that many, but they are large). I used a sauté pan rather than a wok. I've noticed that many recipes in this book seem to work well in Western style pans, perhaps even better than in a wok.

Mr. MM and I are with Mr. QN on liking this version of stuffed tofu best, over the all-fried version we tried. In this version, the filling is firmer than the surrounding tofu, and it really plays up the delicacy of the tofu. The filling is also nicely flavored here. It may not be the prettiest version, but it is really delicious. This is our favorite dish from the book so far, by a wide margin.

January 2015 COTM "THE HAKKA COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 3 & 4

I've also noticed that the recipes call for more liquid than I think is necessary. I've reduced the volume of water or broth by about 30% on the recipes I've made.

Jan 18, 2015
MelMM in Home Cooking

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy New Year January 2015 edition!

Occasionally I've found a note or a handwritten recipe or a newspaper clipping in a book. I consider these bonus features!

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy New Year January 2015 edition!

Welcome to the asylum!

Voting Thread: Cookbook of the Month February 2015

I think it is time for me to step up. I've put it off because of travel and other obligations, but in truth, it should be doable from anywhere. So I'm in.

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy New Year January 2015 edition!

I also buy a lot of used books through Amazon, and have generally had very good luck. It's a good way to get out-of-print books, or older books where there is no ebook version available. Worst thing that has ever happened, was once I got one that smelled heavily of cigarette smoke, and I'm very sensitive to the smell so I had a hard time using that book. But that has only happened once.

Jan 17, 2015
MelMM in Home Cooking
1

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy New Year January 2015 edition!

I've been buying most of my cookbooks for the iPad for the past few years. Really saves on space, and they tend to be a bit cheaper as well. Some of the books have interactive features added, or imbedded video, so that's cool. When I'm cooking, I have a cookbook stand in the kitchen to keep the iPad up off the counter and out of the way of any spills (some people just slip it into a ziploc bag). Of course the cookbook stand gets used for hardcopy books as well, as I like to keep them off the counter also.

As for the hardcopy books, I have about 2,000 (therefore the lack of any more space!). I have large bookshelves in my breakfast room, dining room, and fitness room (yes, I do see the irony in that) downstairs, and an office upstairs with shelves filling one wall. All packed to the gills.

January 2015 COTM "THE HAKKA COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 5 & 6

Stir-fried Carrots, Radishes, and Shrimp - p. 206

I've noticed that the recipes in this book are very friendly to supermarket and winter produce. Lots of hard vegetables that store well. This dish is a great example. Nothing fancy here, but what's not to like?

I made this as directed, except for subbing rye whiskey for the rice wine, and I did briefly brine the shrimp before marinating them. Perhaps my palate is adjusting to the mild flavors in this book - I didn't feel a need to spike it up, and just enjoyed the clean flavors of the shrimp and vegetables.

Jan 17, 2015
MelMM in Home Cooking
2

January 2015 COTM "THE HAKKA COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 1 & 2

Ginger-Scented Squash, Peas, and Lily Bulbs (Shallots), p. 52

I picked this one because it called for winter squash and I had a large chunk of butternut I wanted to use up. I used the suggested substitution of shallots for the lily bulbs, and beyond that, the recipe was pantry-friendly.

The squash is cut into batons. The shallots are cut into quarters lengthwise and then the layers are separated (I cut thinner lengthwise strips). I also cut my snow peas on an angle, because I like my snow peas to be in bite-sized pieces. The sauce is just water, shaoxing wine (rye in my case), sugar, and salt. As I have with other recipes in this book, I reduced the amount of water a bit.

You start by stir-frying the squash with a goodly amount of minced ginger, then add the sauce mixture and cover the wok to let the squash steam until just tender. Then the peas and shallots are stirred in, the wok is again covered, and the vegetables cook just a couple minutes more, until just tender.

This is extremely simple, but I loved the colors, and the ginger did shine through with nothing much to compete with it. Because I was enjoying the highlight of the ginger against the vegetable background, I did not feel the need to add condiments at the table.

January 2015 COTM "THE HAKKA COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 1 & 2

Fragrant Rice, p. 59-60

Goblin's description of this dish really intrigued me, so I included it in my menu for last night. Instead of the Chinese bacon and sausage, I just used a bit of leftover home-smoked ham that I had around (I'm all for this working with what you've philosophy!). I had oyster sauce, so that part I made as directed. The recipe has you boil the rice uncovered 7 to 10 minutes or until the surface of the rice is exposed, and I can tell you it didn't take nearly that long. Like Goblin, I really didn't get a crust on the bottom, but that is fine with me.

This was a nice alternative to plain steamed rice. I especially love the fried shallots in there. We had it with the ginger-scented squash, peas, and lily bulbs from p. 52, and the stir-fried carrots, radishes, and shrimp from p. 206.

Jan 17, 2015
MelMM in Home Cooking
1

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy New Year January 2015 edition!

I've got Flavor Flours, Heritage, Prune, A Change of Appetite, and My Paris Kitchen. Wanna take a guess how much I've cooked from these? I have made a couple things from A Change of Appetite and My Paris Kitchen, which came out earlier in the year, but I haven't gotten to the other three, even though they really appeal to me.

Someone should start a Piglet 2015 cooking from thread! We could cook along and opine on the books.

Jan 16, 2015
MelMM in Home Cooking
1

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy New Year January 2015 edition!

I have 5 of them, and I'm going to try holding off on any more. This is better than previous years, where I've had almost all of them. I'm really running - no, I have already run - out of space, plus I realize I spend way too much on cookbooks, so I need to curtail my purchases. The only ones on the list that are tempting me are Huckleberry, Smashing Plates, and perhaps Green Kitchen Travels.

Jan 16, 2015
MelMM in Home Cooking
1

January 2015 COTM "THE HAKKA COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 3 & 4

Did you store them mixed together, or in separate containers? Just wondering if it took a day for you to get your head around the combination, or if something actually changed by sitting together.

Jan 16, 2015
MelMM in Home Cooking

January 2015 COTM "THE HAKKA COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 3 & 4

That's a really interesting combination!

Jan 16, 2015
MelMM in Home Cooking

January 2015 COTM "THE HAKKA COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 1 & 2

It really is hard. As I recall, the Samuelsson book was frustrating for the opposite reason - it was organized in the standard manner, with no way to find recipes by country or region. A good index would have taken care of that, however. I think Grace Young's Sky's Edge book handles it nicely, with traditional organization interspersed with features about cooks in different parts of world.

Jan 16, 2015
MelMM in Home Cooking

January 2015 COTM "THE HAKKA COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 1 & 2

Braised Fried Tofu with Pork, p. 76

I don't know what it is with me and this book, but I seem incapable of reading the recipes all the way through. I'm not usually like that, honest. Anyway I decided to make this after just looking at the title and glancing through the ingredient list, not realizing that I'd chosen a stuffed tofu dish. Not that it really matters, but I might have started the prep differently if I'd actually known what I was making.

For the pork filling, you mix ground pork with soy sauce, ginger, shaoxing wine (I used rye whiskey), cornstarch, and salt. I made 1/2 the amount of filling in the recipe. I also ground my pork very coarsely - I would have used a finer grind if I'd realized I was making a tofu filling, but at this point I did not. Half the amount of filling, btw, was plenty to stuff my tofu. I used 14 oz. of tofu, which was just a little less than the full pound called for.

The tofu is cut into squares, which are supposed to be 2" squares, about 1/2-3/4" thick. I cut mine into more like 1"X2" rectangles, because I didn't realize I was stuffing it. Then you are supposed to scoop out a depression in the center of each square or rectangle of tofu. I used a small melon-baller for this, and it worked very nicely. You press the pork filling into the scooped out part of the tofu. These get fried briefly, pork side down, then flipped pork side up. I was very happy to see they held together - I was a bit concerned because of the coarse grind of my pork. The fried, stuffed tofu is then set aside to drain. Seems to me, you could make the recipe ahead up to this point (oh, wait, just looked, and the author says you can make it up to a day in advance).

For the braising, I deviated a bit from the recipe (this was intentional). I had decided to add mushrooms and tomatoes to my braise. I sautéed the mushrooms in the pan before adding the garlic and ginger, then added the tomatoes after, just before adding the liquids. After the aromatics are sautéed (and in my case the mushrooms and tomatoes), you add broth, oyster sauce, and shaoxing wine (rye for me), then add the tofu, filling side down. I reduced the amount of broth a bit. This simmers for just a couple minutes, then the tofu is flipped right side up, and it simmers a couple minutes more. Once again I was pleased with how the stuffed tofu held together. At this point the tofu is removed to a serving plate (and I removed as much mushroom and tomato as I could easily get) and the sauce is thickened with a cornstarch slurry., then poured over the tofu.

This was very good. Once again, the seasoning is pretty bland, but a little chile oil and extra soy sauce perked it up just fine. This is just one of a number of variations of stuffed tofu which are scattered throughout the book. I kind of wish they were all grouped together to make it easier to compare. I'm hoping to try at least one other variation.

Jan 16, 2015
MelMM in Home Cooking
1

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy New Year January 2015 edition!

Glad to hear you like what you've seen so far. I hope you end up loving that book as much as I do.

Jan 15, 2015
MelMM in Home Cooking