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audreyhtx1's Profile

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Roasting Bell Peppers - paper or plastic

I put them in a glass bowel, and then cover the bowl with plastic wrap to let them steam. Yes - I want the steam to loosen the skin. My roasted peppers don't come out "soggy" even though they release a lot of juice.

Aug 26, 2012
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

Dried Beans – to soak or not to soak, that is the question

I finally didn't soak the black beans because Roberto Santibañez in his Rosa's Mexican Table cookbook warns that soaking them causes off flavors due fermentation. That finally got me to "kick the habit". And yep - best black beans I ever made. Best color too.

Love the sofrito added at the end! Even in the locally ubiquitous Frijoles Charros, they add the seasoned meat and vegetables near the end, sauteeing first then adding to the pot (or vice versa). I live in TX along the Mexican border - known as "The Valley" and became determined to learn how to make this lovely bean soup/side dish.

Jul 21, 2012
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

pressure cooker beans vs. stovetop cooked beans

I use a slow cooker to avoid the hassle of keeping the water level right. My experience is 6 to 7 cups of water to 1 pound black or pinto beans is about right for my 3 1/2 quart slow cooker.

I don't soak the beans and the last batch of pintos were almost overdone when I returned after 4.5 hours. But no babysitting!

Anyway, since I like how my slow cooker does the beans I decided not to get a pressure cooker.

Jul 20, 2012
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

What am I doing wrong? Dried beans / garbanzo / chick peas / lentils

I live in a predominantly hispanic area, which means lots of dried bean turnover (easy to get fresh dried beans), and I only cook pinto and black beans.

The last two batches I did, I didn't soak the beans at all. I did a batch of black beans on the stove top - came out great in about 3 hours. I did a batch of pinto beans in the crockpot. Came out great at under 4 hours (4.5 hrs and they were getting a bit too soft). In both cases I had some roasted lard, herbs, garlic and onion in with the beans from the beginning and only added salt in the last hour of cooking when the beans were starting to get soft.

I use pretty heavily filtered water.

No more soaking beans for me! And I think I'll keep using a slow cooker because you don't have to worry about adding water like you do on the stovetop.

I learned Mexican cooks don't soak their beans, so I decided I should try without soaking and I'm so glad I did!

Garbanzos may be a different story - they may require soaking.

Jul 20, 2012
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

Using a kitchen torch to roast poblanos?

I use my gas grill outside. About 5 mins a side on med-high heat. Works great. It's easy to grill large quantities too.

Jul 20, 2012
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

Dried Beans – to soak or not to soak, that is the question

The other day I did black beans on the stove top without soaking. They came out great! The only problem was that I had to keep adding water. That was a pain. They were done in about 3 hours. Longer than the book said. I think I was following one of Roberto Santibañez books.

So, because I found that adding water was a pain, I decided to return to my trusty crockpot and try Rick Bayless Mexican Everyday recommendations for crockpot beans.

Those results are posted in a reply above.

Jul 20, 2012
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

Dried Beans – to soak or not to soak, that is the question

Today I tried it. I put half the cold water in with the non-soaked pinto beans, and then slowly poured in the rest of the water just off the boil. [I was just trying to avoid sudden temp changes for the crockery] The resulting water was pretty darn hot.

I set my timer for 6 hours on high, based on Rick Bayless Mexican Everyday (Rick brings the beans to a boil on the stovetop and then pours into a crockpot and adds the other ingredients and cooks for hours), thinking it would take longer perhaps since I didn't boil the beans in the water first.

I returned home after 4.5 hours, and the pinto beans were already quite soft, splitting and more than done. Broth already creamy. So 4 hours was probably all that was needed with the hot water.

No more soaking for me! And I don't even think I'll bother starting with the hot water. I don't mind if it takes a bit longer. In fact, I could have used the extra hour or two because I still need to add the sautee the veggies and meat to turn them into Frijoles Charros.

BTW - for 1 pound of beans, 6 to 7 cups of water is plenty for my 3 1/2 quart oval crock pot.

Jul 20, 2012
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

Fantastic Poblano Peppers....Recipes Other Than Chile Rellenos???

One of my Mexican cookbooks has a green rice that's done with poblanos. I haven't made it in a long time (we don't eat that much rice), but I remember it was pretty good. I see several recipes on line.

Jul 14, 2012
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

Fantastic Poblano Peppers....Recipes Other Than Chile Rellenos???

Thanks - yes! I figured that a poblano chowder with corn would also need shrimp. :) I'll definitley check it out.

BTW - I added some smoked salmon to my poblano and corn chowder, and smoked salmon is also very compatible with roasted poblano.

Jul 14, 2012
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

Fantastic Poblano Peppers....Recipes Other Than Chile Rellenos???

For some reason all the jalapeños down here in South TX are super mild. If I want heat, I have to add a serrano chile.

Jul 14, 2012
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

Fantastic Poblano Peppers....Recipes Other Than Chile Rellenos???

My experience is highly variable. A month ago, a batch of four were all so mild, the chowder I made had no heat and I had to add some, LOL!. Then then next batch - all super spicy. The rajas con crema I made - delicious, but could only eat in small amounts. This last batch had 1 super hot, 1 med hot, and 5 super mild. You just never know, and you have to test each one.

You can tone down the heat with a vinegar water solution. You soak the chile after roasting, peeling, deseeding, etc. I tried this last night and it's super effective. I tried 3 cups of water and about 1.5 tbsps of distilled white vinegar. I put my 1 super hot chile in there, and let it soak for about 10 minutes. All traces of heat seemed to be gone (and maybe a little flavor). I think I overdid it, but it prooved to me that I can at least manage the heat of the chiles which is a big deal.

Jul 14, 2012
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

Fantastic Poblano Peppers....Recipes Other Than Chile Rellenos???

I'm afraid that this is only true in New Mexico. Well - maybe in parts of TX, although other areas they use poblanos. In Mexico, they use only poblanos for certain dishes like Chiles en Nogada, but they will stuff anything in Mexico. I'm actually not sure they have ever heard of New Mexico chiles in Mexico - LOL!

Jul 14, 2012
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

Fantastic Poblano Peppers....Recipes Other Than Chile Rellenos???

Crema de Chile Poblano - Cream of Roasted Poblano soup. This is a mind blowing incredibly decadent soup that shows off the lovely flavor of roasted poblanos. I made a version last night from the Susan Trilling book "Seasons Of My Heart" that features the cuisine of Oaxaca. It came the closest to match the soup I used to always order at Manuel's in Austin, TX. Sprinkled a little cotija cheese on top as a garnish - and really - it was almost identical. Next time I will add less milk - it wasn't quite as rich/intense as I wanted.

I found a version from the book on-line. This version is half the recipe. I used 7 chiles poblanos and the rest of the ingredients doubled. Next time I'm going to try half the milk at first. http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

Recently did Rajas con Crema. There are a couple of good recipes on the internet including at Epicurous. This is probably the easiest thing to do with poblanos, and goes great as a garnish for any kind of taco or quesadilla (great with black beans). Will go well with beef. Can also use as part of the filling for enchiladas - mix with shredded chicken, for example. Can be spicy!

I roast the poblanos on the outside grill. It's just easiest that way. I brush them with OO (probably not necessary) and then about 5 mins per side on a medium-hot grill grill about does it. You want them well blistered, but not too charred, or the flesh will come off with the skin. Let cool in a covered dish so they steam while they cool to help release the skins.

Dealing with the heat - poblanos vary a great deal with the heat. Sometimes they have almost none, sometimes they are super hot. I have gotten to where, after peeling, taking the stem off (If you are not stuffing), quickly rinsing the seeds out, and trimming off the veins of each chile, I cut a teeny bit and taste it. If it seems like it is too hot, then let it soak in vinegar and water (3 cups water, 1 to 2 tbps vinegar) for 5 to 10 mins. This soaking solution can end up erasing all traces of heat, so don't overdo it. If the chile is only mildly hot I don't soak it because I don't want to lose too much flavor. The last batch of seven I did - the first chile was really hot, the second moderate, and the remainder totally mild. So I only soaked the first one for any length of time. I ended up with the soup with no initial heat, but then a slow gentle afterburn - very nice!

I've tried a Roasted Poblano and Corn chowder (those flavors pair well), but am not happy with my recipe yet.

Favorite baked dish with stuffed poblanos - definitely Chiles en Nogada - which is a fruited picadillo (spiced shredded meat) stuffed poblano baked, and then served topped with a walnut sauce and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. This colorful dish matches the colors of the Mexican Flag, so it is often served in Mexico on their independence day - 16th of September. Manuel's in Austin serves this dish, and I highly recommend it. Recipes abound on the internet - some fried, but many baked. It's a LOT of trouble, so I haven't tried making it.

Jul 14, 2012
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

Vital Choice mail order seafood review

Thanks for posting your review! I've been looking for a mail-order supplier for King Salmon. I am able to get decent flash frozen Alaskan sockeye down here, but frozen King seems to be conspicously absent. From my searches of reviews, etc. on-line, Vital Choice is the only one coming up as a reliable quality supplier for shipping frozen fish.

I'll definitely get some (unsmoked) black cod/sablefish too. I keep hearing wonderful things about that fish.

Jun 08, 2012
audreyhtx1 in General Topics

Less Fattening Pesto Sauce?

I also suggest trying a chimichurri sauce with basil instead of parsley. It has no cheese or nuts. Then just add as much olive oil as you want. The olive oil is actually good for you, and a little pesto goes a long way, but a chimichurri sauce offers intense flavor with less fat calories if that's what you really want.

Jun 27, 2011
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

How would you use Plum Chutney?

Put it in Chicken or Turkey salad.

Plum chutney sounds like a wonderful idea!!!!

I would definitely serve it alongside grilled or roasted pork tenderloin. Yum!

I love the cheese ideas.

Jun 18, 2011
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

Grainy peach ice cream

I had a bit of the same problem. I think it's the stringy part of the flesh near the peach pit. Puree really well, but then you would probably have to press it through some kind of a strainer to get it really smooth.

Jun 18, 2011
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

Frozen Yogurt - Yummmm!

So I'm the only one around here making frozen yogurt this summer? LOL!

Update on the Blackberry%3

I did it again but with just plain yogurt (3 cups). I increased the sugar to 1/3 cup to make up for the missing (sweetened) vanilla yogurt. It came out wonderful. I may drop back to 1/4 cup of sugar though. It wasn't too sweet, but I think it could still be slightly less sweet.

I also put the blackberries straight through the food mill without pureeing in the food processor. It seemed to yield about the same, so saved a step. My food mill is awkward though - it's the OXO brand. I would like to find another solution for getting the blackberry seeds out.

Mmmmm! This blackberry frozen yogurt is so gorgeous with an incredible deep purple color. Amazing that that much flavor can come out of just 6 ounces of fresh berries.

I might try raspberry next.

NOTE: Correction to the peach and amaretto frozen yogurt above. I only used 2 tablespoons of amaretto - don't know how I typed in 3!

Jun 18, 2011
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

Dry white wine

Dry vermouth. I have been very, very, VERY happy using it.

We don't drink white wine. And many wines I have tried in cooking give a bit of an off aftertaste unless they are super dry. I have never had this problem with vermouth.

Jun 17, 2011
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

Wasted wine?

With red - no problem. We're always ready to drink the rest

With white, my problems were solved when I started using dry vermouth as a white wine substitute. That keeps well for a long time and no refrigeration needed.

Jun 17, 2011
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

Freezing focaccia dough?

If you can make the dough the day ahead, you don't need to freeze it. It'll be fine in the fridge over night IMO.

Jun 17, 2011
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

Freezing focaccia dough?

Even if the defrosted dough rises a bit. (S)he can still punch it down and shape it. It won't really matter if there was a bit of a middle rise while the dough defrosted as long as she reshapes the dough for the final proof. The slow fridge rises can really help build some flavor in the dough too.

Jun 16, 2011
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

Canned hominy - you drain and rinse it, don't you?

If you have eaten a corn tortilla, then Mexican style hominy tastes just like that. Do you get corn tortillas in Nova Scotia?

Dried hominy is not worth the long hours IMO unless you are an aficionado. I always use canned.

Jun 16, 2011
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

Canned hominy - you drain and rinse it, don't you?

I drain, but don't rinse. I want that "lime" flavor of the posole cooking liquid, so I don't want to rinse it off.

Jun 16, 2011
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

Freezing focaccia dough?

Yes. Leavened dough freezes just fine. Let it defrost in the fridge - maybe just takes 1 day - and then it will do the final rise. Those little yeastie beasties handle freezing just fine.

You probably need to do the second rise after it defrosts. I assume that second rise is in the final shape. So after you defrost the dough and then do the last rise and bake. Once the dough is defrosted you could do that last rise in the fridge it will just take longer.

Baked breads freeze really well also. An alternative would be to partly bake it, then freeze, then when defrosted finish the baking to warm it.

Over the years I have found yeast doughs to be amazingly versatile and not finicky at all. Just be observant and patient.

Jun 16, 2011
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

Frozen Yogurt - Yummmm!

I have been having a lot of fun with frozen yogurt lately. Mainly because we have a lot of really ripe summer fruit available here, and I have bought oodles of it.

I've made several batches already, and in the process refined and simplified. My husband has been adamant about some of the flavors, so many of the refinements have been to suit his taste. His initial complaint was he really didn't like any lemon added, so I dropped adding any lemon zest or lemon juice. And then he decided he didn't care for the flavors introduced from the vanilla yogurt (I thought it was fine).

Here are a couple of them.

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Blackberry Frozen Yogurt with Cassis
(this would work for any soft berry)

2 cups of lowfat plain yogurt (Stonyfield brand)
1 cup of lowfat vanilla yogurt (Stonyfield brand)
6 ounces fresh blackberries, washed and dried
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon Cassis liqueur

Put both yogurts in a yogurt strainer and let drain for about 4 hours. [The reason I do this and not buy already strained or thicker yogurt is because these yogurts are what we already have on hand all the time].

Puree the blackberries and pass through a food mill to strain out the seeds. Stir the sugar and Cassis into the strained blackberries.

Whisk the strained yogurt to make it smooth, and then stir in the fruit mixture, whisking until well mixed and smoothed. Chill yogurt mix in fridge until ready to make yogurt.

I used the Cuisinart 1 quart frozen ice cream maker with the bowl you keep in the freezer to freeze this yogurt. Follow the manufacturers instructions.

I thought this came out fantastic. Deep purple color and wonderful flavor. My husband didn't care for the vanilla yogurt, so next time I'm going to only use plain yogurt and increase the sugar to 1/3 cup.

By the way - I had some leftover club soda, and I tried a good splash of Cassis in the soda water. Delicious!!!!

------------------

Frozen Peach and Amaretto Yogurt

3 cups of lowfat plain yogurt (Stonyfield brand)
several ripe peaches - mine were small and I used 8 of them!
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons Amaretto

Put yogurt in a yogurt strainer and let drain for about 4 hours.

Puree the peaches until totally liquified. Stir the sugar and Amaretto into the peaches.

Whisk the strained yogurt to make it smooth, and then stir in the fruit mixture, whisking until well mixed and smoothed. Chill yogurt mix in fridge until ready to make yogurt.

I used the Cuisinart 1 quart frozen ice cream maker with the bowl you keep in the freezer to freeze this yogurt. Follow the manufacturers instructions.

This was just awesome. My husband loved it. Peaches and Amaretto go together VERY well.

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In general, I find that if the frozen yogurt is still a bit soft when the machine seems to think it is done, then putting the mix in a container in the freezer for about 20 mins will firm up a texture nicely. The manufacturers instructions suggest this.

Return leftovers to the freezer. To eat the leftovers, put the container in the fridge for about 2 to 2.5 hours before you wish to serve it. The firmness should be just about perfect.

Jun 12, 2011
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

Skirt steak

Hey - tacos and salad - what else could you want? You could always eat some leftovers with eggs one morning.

Jun 12, 2011
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

Your Favorite Manufacturers' Recipes...

We pretty much swear by the bran muffins on the back of the Quaker Oat Bran box. We always do them with frozen blueberries. This muffins have a lovely texture and AREN'T TOO SWEET - a reason I eschew most muffins.

Jun 12, 2011
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

What do you cook in your microwave?

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, of course. But one of the most wonderful things about a microwave is that they don't heat up the kitchen like a stove top or oven does. And the time savings is awesome. And frankly, some things like steaming, come out way better than stovetop with way less water. Very meaningful to me.

Here is the hot climate I really appreciate any appliance that doesn't heat the kitchen.

This goes double for an RV where space is very limited, and using the stovetop is usually a hassle.

Jun 12, 2011
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking

What do you cook in your microwave?

Hmmm - I may have to try this method. It would be a lot easier to leave it whole.

Jun 12, 2011
audreyhtx1 in Home Cooking