janniecooks's Profile

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Old Brownie recipe, bad results lately?

Well then, let's hope you'll get better results with better quality chocolate.

2 days ago
janniecooks in Home Cooking

Old Brownie recipe, bad results lately?

Another perhaps obvious thing is to check the freshness of your ingredients. Flour does go rancid, and unless you give it a good sniff before using it you might not realize that it has gone off. Same for the butter. I always give ingredients like these the smell test if they've been in my pantry for a while.

Mar 04, 2015
janniecooks in Home Cooking

Old Brownie recipe, bad results lately?

Yeah, Baker's chocolate is not good. Ghiradelli or Scharffen Berger are better and pretty widely available, Valrhona may be harder to find but is excellent. Better chocolate equals better brownies.

Mar 03, 2015
janniecooks in Home Cooking

A really stupid question...

Your question is not stupid, but you're reallying asking for an education, not a simple answer. You can look up the difference between perennials and annuals in any gardening book or on any gardening website (first link below provides definition). Seed packets and plant identification labels on purchased seedlings/starter plants will define whether the flower is a perennial or an annual. In SoCal, many annuals last for several years, behaving almost as perennials. Some flowers need to be deadheaded - removing spent blossoms - for increased bloom, but some do not. Impatiens, for example, shed their flowers on their own and continually produce new blooms, therefore deadheading is not necessary. Here are a couple of links about annuals/perennials and deadheading, from sites that can be explored for a wealth of gardening information:


Feb 25, 2015
janniecooks in Gardening

ISO Reference Cookbook(s) - Good and Bad?

One cookbook alone is not likely to meet your requirements. Get one good book for techniques, and another for the seasoning/flavor combinations or variations.

Take a serious look at "The Cook's Book". I've touted this book before on the HC board, with its great photographs of basic prep steps and chapters by top chefs. It is a wonderful resource.


You might consider "The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity" for your second objective. I don't have this book yet, but the comments/blurbs about it make me want it:


Feb 20, 2015
janniecooks in Home Cooking

Favorite broccoli raab (rabe) preps?

The allrecipes recipe calls for only one clove of garlic for 1 pound of broccoli rabe - not nearly enough! I'd do at least three cloves per pound. Some people take the bitter edge off by blanching it first, then sauteeing. I don't bother to blanch because I like the bitterness, but I have blanched and that does tame the bite.

Simply sauteed in olive oil with garlic and crushed red peppers, then topped with roasted pine nuts for serving, is a simple and good side dish. Introduce diced pancetta into the saute before adding the garlic and greens, then maybe some sliced or chopped sun-dried tomato (packed in oil), or quartered cherry tomatoes. Topped with poached eggs, shaved parmesan or romano, drizzled with evoo and served with toasted country bread, it makes a nice main dish.

Saute broccoli rabe with olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, then toss in cooked penne pasta and sliced, cooked italian sausages with a bit of pasta cooking water, and serve with grated cheese of your choice.

Just to reiterate, if you find the bitterness off-putting, blanching first will take care of that. Also, you might introduce a small quantity of chicken broth, like a quarter cup, once the greens have wilted.

Newbie questions about chicken stock (possibly dumb)

Your questions have been answered by the other posters. Just wanted to advise against using plastic bags. Last time I made stock I poured the cold stock into ziploc freezer bags; they leaked a bit in the freezer until the stock completely froze and they leaked a lot while defrosting.

Feb 15, 2015
janniecooks in Home Cooking

How long can homemade lemon curd go unrefrigerated?

Unless you immediately processed the curd in a water bath, following a tested recipe for canning homemade curd, it is likely NOT safe to process your curd later in a water bath. Here is a recipe from the National Center for Home Food Preservation that you should read. Note that it suggests that since fresh lemon juice can vary in acidity, bottled lemon juice be used.


Feb 14, 2015
janniecooks in Home Cooking

I need help making the perfect omelet

The Jacques Pepin video posted by fourunder presents two omelets, here's Julia Child's method which is slightly different:


These two offer classic omelet techniques, which I've never encountered at a coffee shop or diner. It is possible that your platonic ideal is not an omelet in the classic french mode, but if you follow the basic principles outlined by these chefs you should be able to overcome the problems of dry and spongy omelets. And omelets aren't turned as you can see from the videos.

Feb 14, 2015
janniecooks in Home Cooking

make fine texture puree without getting air in it, best machine/technique

If you want to avoid air you need to do it the (hard) old-fashioned way:

Happy accident - keeping salad greens fresh

Reading your reply here just now - several years after your post! Your experience storing garlic in copper is intriguing; are you still using it? Did you try copper for onion storage? What's your assessment 2 1/2 years later?

Feb 13, 2015
janniecooks in General Topics

Need Ideas for My Menu for Two

Your menu sounds lovely. For a side, go with something green and crisp, either a salad or simple vegetable.

For a dessert you can pretty much make slightly ahead of time and pop into the oven when you start the dinner clean-up, try Nigella Lawson's Gooey Chocolate Puddings. Most appropriate for Valentine's Day. Made in ramekins, those you don't eat keep well in the fridge and taste equally good as leftovers. Here's a link:


(I have only ever made these with AP flour, in her cookbook she doesn't mention using Italian 00 flour).

Another possibility is 7-minute steamed chocolate pudding, basically a microwave variation on the gooey chocolate pudding, made in a single casserole so slightly less work than having to butter and flour individual ramekins. I've made this several times for my chocolate-loving spouse, and while a single recipe is more than needed for a dinner for two, it tastes equally good the next day or two. Nigella Lawson adapted this from Barbara Kafka's recipe in Microwave cooking:


While the directions tell you to grate the chocolate in the food processor, I prefer to first chop the chocolate then put it in the FP and chop more finely with the metal blade. Using the grating disk made a mess and a lot of the chocolate got stuck around the rim of the disk.

Feb 09, 2015
janniecooks in Home Cooking

Ever heard of "Allegretti cake"? (a.k.a., Allegretti chiffon cake)

Okay, since you're going to make the cake, the 1956 BC cookbook says to melt one square of unsweetened chocolate with 1/4 teaspoon shortening, then drizzle with a teaspoon. The shortening (I assume you can sub butter for the shortening - who cooks with shortening anymore?) will keep the chocolate from becoming as hard as it was before melting. Good luck!

Feb 08, 2015
janniecooks in Home Cooking

Is my dutch oven starting to get ruined?

It's fine, consider the scratches cosmetic - the patina that results from "normal gentle" use and age. Nothing to do with the brand. My Le Creuset dutch ovens look way worse than yours but feel smooth and satiny, even after several decades of use.

Feb 08, 2015
janniecooks in Cookware

Ever heard of "Allegretti cake"? (a.k.a., Allegretti chiffon cake)

It's in my 1976 Betty Crocker cookbook as merely a frosting design of unsweetened chocolate melted with a bit of shortening then drizzled over the edge of a two-layer cake. The 1956 Betty Crocker cookbook provides a bit more guidance, stating it was "named after a famous candy shop in New York": bake a golden layer cake (yellow cake), ice it with white mountain frosting, then drip chocolate around the top edge of the cake allowing the chocolate to run down the sides in uneven lines.

What makes "allegretti cake" distinctive is the chocolate drizzle, otherwise it's just a yellow layer cake with a white frosting that develops a crust (white mountain, 7-minute, etc.).

Feb 08, 2015
janniecooks in Home Cooking

Fun facts about Ketchup, Mustard and Mayo

Ninety-seven percent of American households have a bottle of ketchup in their home at all times. Mustard is a protein-rich food. The sales of mayonnaise exceed ketchup sales. Who knew?


Feb 07, 2015
janniecooks in Food Media & News

want meat substitution, but no beans or lentils please

You already asked this question:


Feb 07, 2015
janniecooks in General Topics

Need Help Deciding On Kitchen Appliances

Check local building codes - installing a gas range may require the installation of a hood vented to the outside. It ought to be a crime, especially for new construction, to design a kitchen with no external venting. All a recirculating hood does is move the smelly air back into your home, only somewhat cleansed of grease.

I'm in the process of replacing an OTR recirculating microwave with an externally vented hood and an electric cooktop with a gas cooktop, and until the new hood is in I have eliminated most all cooking on the electric cooktop due to the ineffectual OTR microwave. For example last night I cooked a dried chicken soup mix with the recirculating fan on and this morning the entire kitchen and great room still smelled.

The cooktop is a 30-inch GE model, and it actually cooks better than the JennAir smooth top range we installed in the previous house.

Our new home was delivered with a 2013 GE french door fridge which we really like after overcoming initial skepticism, and a bottom of the line GE dishwasher, which we hate. Much prefer the bosch dishwasher we installed in the previous home, but for now since the GE is functional we'll keep it.

Other posters' advice to check the reliability ratings on Consumer Reports is good. Our research over the last few months indicated that LG is a brand to avoid in general. You'll probably be happy with GE if your builder won't install other brands, or won't give you credit for the GE appliances you'd rather have replaced with another brand.

Feb 06, 2015
janniecooks in Cookware

Which packaged bacon is sliced the thinnest?

Oscay Meyer bacon is sliced so thin it is translucent in some spots. I stopped buying it for that reason.

Feb 02, 2015
janniecooks in General Topics

Kitchen remodel--floor question

Our house had 20+ year old 8-inch white ceramic tile when we bought it, and it was too costly to rip it up so we had a concrete-epoxy-polymer surface applied right on top of the old tile, throughout the kitchen, entry foyer and powder room. We had the floor colored to complement the cabinets, in a kind of marble-ish look. It turned out great, it is not hard and solid like plain concrete, feels great underfoot, cleans like a dream. Here's a link to the installer, who is local to Vero Beach. I don't know if his surface treatment is proprietary, but perhaps you could have your tradesperson contact him. If I had a troublesome floor, I wouldn't hesitate to do this again:


Jan 29, 2015
janniecooks in Cookware

Gas Cooktops - 30-inch under $1000

We're looking to replace a smooth top electric cooktop with a gas cooktop that can be converted to LP gas. Because the countertops are granite, the new cooktop must fit into the existing cut out. So far I've found five candidates that will fit: Maytag, Whirlpool, Frigidaire, Verona and Dacor. GE also makes cooktops that will fit the opening, but the BTUs on the GEs are lower than the other manufacturers I've listed. The Dacor is my preferred choice, but I can't convince the spouse that it is worth the approximately $500 more than the others cost.

Futher complicating things, I can't find out anything on conversion kits for the Maytag and Whirlpool. Is one natural gas to LP gas conversion kit the same as any other, or do they need to be specific for the cooktop?

Does anyone have any experience with Verona cooktops? I like the european sealed burners on the Verona - it looks like the flames shoot up the top as opposed to out to the side of the burner. The price is also very attractive at $800 for the model I'm considering.

Any experiences also with the Maytag, Whirlpool or Frigidaire?

Jan 24, 2015
janniecooks in Cookware

Cookware- $600

Save your budget for the important stuff and replace that non-stick with another non-stick from Walmart, but this time buy it from the restaurant supply aisle. You can get quality non-stick skillets there for under $20, ours are still going strong after about 10 years.

Jan 22, 2015
janniecooks in Cookware

Recs for a casual dinner? Vero Beach?

Both Fishack and Kilted Mermaid are open Sundays, don't think they take reservations. Haven't been to Fishack, though we've been meaning to go. Went to Kilted Mermaid, they have a great beer selection and very friendly staff, but the menu didn't leave me wanting to return. There are a number of other Vero restaurants, but I can't in good conscience recommend any place I've not had a meal at. Also prefer not to suggest any place I don't care for. But those shall remain nameless for now.

Jan 20, 2015
janniecooks in Florida

increase in sticklers on the Home Cooking Board?

And the names of things are important too - they have meaning that conveys a common understanding. I think some of the complaints about "sticklers" result when people use names too loosely and are called on that. I'm thinking of the bolognese thread, where one poster said another's suggestion was not a bolognese sauce. The question is (as just one example) does bolognese mean just one thing - one set of ingredients prepared in a certain way? If so, then we all agree that the name conveys the thing, and one cannot use that name to describe some similar preparation. Or take the recent chicken cacciatore thread - the preparation described therein resembles no chicken cacciatore recipe I have ever seen or tasted, so pointing that out is not pedantry, it illuminates the point that the time-tested techniques and recipe for chicken cacciatore go hand in hand.

Jan 20, 2015
janniecooks in Site Talk

Etiquette question (re: BYO and food) when hosting a birthday party?

Ignoring all the non-essential, distracting info, the basic question is: is it rude to throw your own birthday party and then ask the guests to bring food and beverages. The answer is simple: yes it is rude to throw a party and ask the guests to supply the provisions.

Recs for a casual dinner? Vero Beach?

Osceola Bistro is one of our favorite restaurants in Vero Beach, using local ingredients as much as possible:


Citrus Grillhouse is consistently excellent, albeit pricey:


The Tides has disappointed us once or twice on the summer dining menu, but still worthy of consideration, though we reserve this one for special occasions thus it may not satisfy your desire for casual:


Then there are Bijou, Avanzare and a new seafood/steak restaurant opened by the same group. We're off both Bijou and Avanzare. We find their pricing high and the condition of the restaurants and atmosphere doesn't jive with the menu and its pricing. But some folks like them and they are casual.

Of all these, I'd choose Osceola Bistro, unless by casual you really mean like a bar & burger joint.

Jan 17, 2015
janniecooks in Florida

Vero Beach + Gumbo

Not sure there's any place in Vero where you can get gumbo, decent or terrible.

Jan 16, 2015
janniecooks in Florida

Sponge Cake Help Please!

Joy of baking has a good reference for pan dimensions and volumes, but doesn't address 7-inch round pan sizes. You should determine the capacity/volume of your 7-inch pan, then find the height of your 9-inch pan on the table in Joy of baking, to find the corresponding volume of the 9-inch pan. That should help you determine whether you need to adjust the recipe at all.


Jan 16, 2015
janniecooks in Home Cooking

Under Cabinet Range Hood Recommendations

Yes, I think we're looking at the same range hood because of the baffles. We just moved two days ago, so haven't bought it yet, but that is the one I intend to install. My understanding is that baffles are considerably more effective than the mesh filters - the mesh actually reduces the air flow, and in addition to capturing vapors, grease and odors, the mesh also capture a lot of lint thus their effectiveness actually degrades fairly quickly. Baffles are also easier to clean, so I've heard and so DuffyH testifies.

Jan 15, 2015
janniecooks in Cookware

Can I do the hot water bath a few days after filling the jars and sealing them?

Further on sparrowgrass's reply, you must also wash and sterilize the jars and lids again.