lamb_da_calculus's Profile

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Why do most food blog recipes suck?

This may or may not be what's happening, but it's plenty possible to be a good cook, make something good, and write a terrible recipe out of it because you forgot something, mis-estimate a quantity or time, etc. And if you cook by handfuls or pinches or whatever it can be a pain in the ass to measure out everything you're doing.

That said I try to do this if I'm "working on" a recipe, as I can write it down with good measurements and come back to it later or pass it along to someone else. I keep recipes I've "worked out" in a Google doc. I kept a now-defunct blog for this for friends and family for a while (at zqcm.wordpress.com!), which is why I kind of sympathize with bloggers.

Why do most food blog recipes suck?

I like "Forager Chef" and "Ideas in Food", both of which are written by people with plenty of industry experience who are assuredly much better cooks than we are.

Forager Chef is written by a chef - I'm not clear on kitchen hierarchy, but I think he was somewhere up the totem pole at Heartland in Minnesota and is now executive chef somewhere else - who focuses a lot on wild/foraged food, especially mushrooms, and not just in a trendy well-I-guess-Noma-does-it kind of way. A few of the recipes linked from the main page are: rainbow trout with pickled chicken of the woods, bison black barley stew with fried chicken mushrooms, and partridge with pears and pickled ramp glace. The photograpy is also great, and the recipes are pitched at a nice Chowhound-type level. It has 2000 likes on Facebook, so if you like Indie cred...

Ideas in Food is a lot bigger since they've written a couple of books, but their methodical, scientific approach to food means their recipes are usually pretty tested. They're quite creative too.

I eat it my way

Not really unique, but I always make open-face sandwiches. Bread is fine and good but I usually don't want that much.

Favorite is probably sourdough + avocado + spanish peanuts + olive-oil packed canned tuna + salt and pepper + lime juice + cilantro + mirin. For something that takes about 4 minutes to put together it's pretty good/cheap/healthy.

I eat it my way

I like to slice a granny smith apple into thin, maybe 1/4"-1/8", slices, fan it out on a plate, and microwave until it starts to caramelize. Then I eat it with "natural" peanut butter. Not a bad breakfast.

Who cooks in a hotel room?

A while ago I lived in a Residence Inn for a couple of weeks while relocating to a new job. The room had a good-size refrigerator and a 2-burner flat-top stove so one night I made soupe de poisson/fish soup (garlic, onions, leeks, fennel bulb, and plum tomatoes, simmered with a few whole [gutted] porgies, orange zest, saffron, bouquet garni, and Grand Marnier). I didn't realize what a dumb idea it was until I started simmering the fish. And at the end I had to sheepishly take my trash bag down to the lobby and ask where I should throw it away because "it's full of fish carcasses".

The soup was lovely though, and the smell somehow didn't escape my room. Although it did take several days to dissipate.

Using colatura?

I thought this as well. It says the ingredients are "anchovy, salt, pickle", so I'm not sure why it's apparently so perishable.

Using colatura?

As far as I understand, colatura's basically Italian fish sauce, so you'd use it to add something savory to sauce or soup etc. Or wherever you might use anchovy paste.

The problem is I have a 5 oz. bottle of the stuff - a neat souvenir someone gave me from their trip to Italy - with a label that specifies I need to use the contents within 5 days of opening, and this seems impossible. Is it?

I haven't opened it due to that narrow window, but the fish sauce comparison makes me think it would take a lot of food to absorb 5 oz. of colatura without being horrible.

Orange dust/powder on Kon(m)bu...

Sorry to say I don't know what that is either, nor have I ever seen it before, although I've only used kombu maybe five or six times. I'm just posting to follow if anyone else says anything.

How did it taste different?

What's the point of celery in recipes?

Ditto. I'm pretty surprised by people who say celery has no taste. To me it tastes very savory and almost salty and is pretty noticeable in mirepoix even after sweating for a while.

Safe to eat ???

Please elaborate on "meat safe".

How to eat healthy as a picky adult

Cauliflower, brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, and radishes can be goddamn revelatory the first time you try slow-roasting them with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. They all take on a new sweet/savory element that is barely there in the raw or steamed version. All you really need to do is chop or break into maybe 2" pieces, add enough olive oil to coat but not pool, and roast at say 350F in a heavy baking dish while stirring every 10-15 minutes until they're soft and caramelized. Yeah, yeah, you can get more complicated but this procedure will be pretty good without much fuss.

(Note that I wouldn't do all of these together, though.)

Jan 25, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Beef bourguignon too sweet. How would you have tried to salvage it?

I used white onions. In my experience when cooked they are the least sweet. I think in increasing sweetness it goes white -> yelow -> red, but there were just too many of them.

Jan 11, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Beef bourguignon too sweet. How would you have tried to salvage it?

I can usually turn out a nice beef bourguignon without too much hassle, but last week I made one and did a couple of things wrong. First, I got distracted and forgot to salt the beef before browning it (I know...). Second, I followed the recipe's call for 4 onions even though I usually make it with 3, and it ended up being too onion-sweet and beef-weak as a result.

I also used a pinot noir instead of a burgundy, but I know basically nothing about wine and don't know if this did anything. I once made BB with merlot and thought it was OK, so who knows.

Anyway, I tried remedying all this by removing the liquid, adding beef stock to the liquid, and reducing it down to its original volume, and returning it to the stew. I also removed most of the onion pieces. But this only helped a little bit.

What would you have tried? Or, more generally, how do you approach a savory dish that's come out too sweet?

Jan 11, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Am I the only one who doesn't brunch?

I'm still in my early 20s and at least among my age group the weekend brunch reasoning you mentioned is pretty on point. It's also a way to feel OK with waking up at 11 or something, at least according to the people I've asked. It's not really my thing either.

"Brown on all sides"

This would be my follow-up question. Browning on all sides for a big cut of meat seems doable, but working with small 1"-1.5" cuts doesn't.

Jan 04, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

"Brown on all sides"

In recipes for braises the common procedure is cut up meat -> brown on all sides -> stew for a while.

But how do you interpret "brown on all sides"? The meat is usually cut into rough rectangles, so technically there are 6 sides. I only ever do top and bottom. Does anyone actually turn to all 6 sides? Have I been misinterpreting this all along? I'm browning pieces of chuck steak for beef bourguignon right now and wondering.

Jan 04, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Freezing demi-glace

I like this idea since I usually spill a little when pouring into an ice cube tray. Thanks to everyone else for the bag+straw tip though.

Jan 01, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Freezing demi-glace

This weekend the plan is to finally try making demi-glace from beef stock. I haven't done either before. I'll be following the loose method Bourdain outlines in the Les Halles Cookbook for veal demi-glace - really just substituting beef bones for veal bones - and see what happens. While we're at it, if anyone has opinions on the Les Halles stock method I'd like to hear them.

Anyway, my question is: how do I store the demi-glace at the end? I'd like to be able to use it over a few months a few spoonfuls at a time. For example the day after the demi-glace I plan to make beef bourguignon and boost it with a little bit of the demi. Bourdain refers to Julia Childs' method of freezing in an ice cube tray, but wouldn't that just give the demi that weird stale freezer taste?

Jan 01, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Your kitchen in a word (or two, or three...)

"Try"

Pear desserts

The French Laundry cookbook has a recipe in which you simmer toasted walnuts in cream and vanilla and then poach some pears in a mixture of white wine, water, and sugar. At the end the pears, a bit of their poaching liquid, and the strained walnut cream are pureed together for a sweet soup. If you have it, it's pretty lovely, and quick and easy (especially by French Laundry standards).

I've been meaning to make it with gingerbread crumbs sprinkled over the top.

Dec 21, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

establishments that barter for meyer lemons

Not to hijack this thread, but do restaurants usually trade for produce? Is this something I don't know about?

Being "put to work" at a Christmas Party

I'm continually confused by posts on here where people attend parties hosted by individuals they clearly don't like.

Favorite cooking task(s)?

*lean

Dec 09, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Favorite cooking task(s)?

I like that sound too. If I learn in close it reminds me of birdsong.

Dec 08, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Favorite cooking task(s)?

When I say "task", I mean something that would be relegated to a single sentence in a recipe. So trussing a chicken is a task, but roasting a chicken isn't. You know what I mean.

For me, there's a special place in my heart reserved for any time I get to brunoise a red bell pepper. The actual knifework gives me an opportunity to be fast, delicate, and precise - I don't think anything else cuts quite as nicely as a bell pepper - and at the end I'm left with a pretty little pile of rubies.

What about you?

Dec 07, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

When oven-roasting a chicken, how do you evenly brown the skin?

I don't have a convection oven. Are there any workarounds?

Nov 23, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

When oven-roasting a chicken, how do you evenly brown the skin?

Evenly browned skin is more of a problem than crispy skin for me, but while we're at it, roughly how much baking soda are we talking here?

Nov 23, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

When oven-roasting a chicken, how do you evenly brown the skin?

I've been roasting a chicken every week for about six weeks. One problem persists: the skin does not brown evenly. Instead, I end up with a lot of tan/light-brown skin and then a few spots of brown to dark-brown skin. I'm trying for that uniform medium brown. What I get isn't bad. It's reasonably crispy. But it's not that rich brown I'm looking for. Problem spots tend to be the highest points of the breasts and, when turned over, the back.

See here for an example of the even browning I'm shooting for:

http://www.chow.com/food-news/136983/...

I basically use the Zuni Cafe chicken recipe except for trussing the bird and leaving it in the fridge uncovered for the last day of the brine. The chicken sits out for an hour before going in the oven. The oven itself sits at 460F for a solid 20 minutes before the chicken goes in. I've double-checked it with an oven thermometer.

The chicken is on the lowest rack, on top of a bed of carrots, pearl onions, and parsnips in a 2" deep cast iron skillet. I'm assuming this is a matter of having hot spots in my oven, but I'm not sure. Do you think the vegetables steam enough to really affect the cooking process for the skin? I put them in the oven about 10 minutes before the bird to try and alleviate this, but it's about 2 lbs of vegetables before trimming. It doesn't seem to steam that much.

How do you get even browning of roast chicken skin?

Nov 23, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

So What Dishes do you top with a Runny Poached Egg?

I'm on the 4th or 5th iteration of this dish: rehydrate some porcinis, strain the remaining liquid and simmer some hulled barley in a 1:1 mixture of some of the mushroom liquid and water. Add a bay leaf in the last 10 minutes.

Mince the mushrooms, mince some shallots, cook the shallots in a little butter and olive oil until translucent, then add the mushrooms and the remaining liquid. Cook down until almost dry, mix into the barley, and top each serving with a runny soft-boiled egg. I like to smear a little fig mostarda on the egg. I think it plays well with porcinis' unusual sweet/rich/earthy quality.

Nov 17, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

how to keep crispy cookies crispy

I've had success storing cookies in/on dry grains of rice, but I'm not sure how practical this is. I only did it once.

Commercial food-grade dessicants might be overkill, but they'd work.

Nov 16, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking