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Making Vegetable Broth and Soup?

No, it's better to strain the broth and add fresh vegetables. But to each his own.

Millions of soup recipes out there. Suggest the Daily Soup cookbook for really good ones. One I've been doing lately with my veg box is a greens/potato soup: saute chopped onions in olive oil till translucent, add a clove or two of chopped garlic, after a few minutes add some diced potato (peeled or not), salt, pepper, a bay leaf. Then add stock. Bring to boil and turn down to simmer.

Meantime, wash and chop greens, and blanch them if you like (sometimes I do, sometimes not). When potatoes are tender, add greens, adjust seasoning. Smash some of the potatoes against the side of the pan to thicken the soup and add texture. When greens are done, remove bay leaf and serve. Very simple and tasty.

Jan 16, 2010
Kagey in Home Cooking

What do you serve with steak?

I think I got this recipe from Nigella Express, but anyhow it's fantastic:

Heat some garlic-infused olive oil in a pan, then add canellini beans (either a can or dried beans soaked and cooked till soft). Season with salt and red chili flakes to taste. Add a little water, then make sure all is heated through and mash up the beans. Stir in some fresh chopped parsley right at the end. Makes a nice alternative to mashed potatoes.

Jan 09, 2010
Kagey in Home Cooking
1

Nigel Slater's 5 Best Cookery Books of All Time

Interesting, thanks for that. After years of thinking about Thompson's Thai Food and nearly buying it a few times, I just broke down and ordered it from Amazon after reading this.

How to Eat is also my best-loved, best-used cookbook, the one I'd save from a fire. I completely agree with Slater's take on it.

And for the record, I think Slater's Appetite is pretty far up my list, too.

Jan 09, 2010
Kagey in Home Cooking

Refrigerating fish sauce

I never refrigerate it. I do notice that it gets darker after a while, and sometimes the salt crystals do form, but it still seems fine. I go through a fair amount of it, though.

Jan 03, 2010
Kagey in Home Cooking

No knead bread question

That's exactly what I do. right down to the sealed baggie. Works like a charm, but yes, it takes a couple of uses and I still flour it every time. Just not as generously as the first couple of times.

Jan 03, 2010
Kagey in Home Cooking

Elements Of Americanization?

I really have to agree with you, Mike. I've only lived in England for 6 years, but I've visited loads of pubs (rural and town and city) and I think good, reasonably priced food in pubs is the exception rather than the rule. As you say, you can find higher-end 'gastropubs' all over, but very frequently it's reheated stodge or dry sandwiches.

Nov 28, 2009
Kagey in General Topics

Turmeric stain on plastic

Like others, I find the stain fades over time with normal use and washing. Turmeric is the worst staining ingredient I've ever seen. I can live with the stain on my processor or plastic containers or cutting board, but would never wear anything I'm not prepared to have stained yellow while cooking with the stuff. Keep that in mind when using turmeric in the future!

Nov 14, 2009
Kagey in Not About Food

Amount of unsweetened chocolate in brownies recipe?

It would be fine, and I'd even recommend it. The recipe I normally use is about half your recipe (recipes all seem to be either 13 x 9" pan, 1 cup flour, 1-1.5 sticks butter and 2 cups sugar; or 8 x 8" pan, 1/2 cup flour, 1/3-1/2 stick butter, and 1 cup sugar), and I use about 4 oz of chocolate.

The great thing about brownies is that it's hard to screw them up. A bit more or less butter, chocolate, sugar, or flour isn't going to ruin them. In fact, technique might be more important--for example, beating the eggs first will make the brownies cakier and prevent them from having that flaky, merengue-like top layer.

If I were doing your recipe and adding the extra unsweetened chocolate, I'd probably add a bit more sugar--maybe a spoonful or so, not to be too scientific.

I'd also add a little salt. Maybe 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon. Chocolate really benefits from a bit of salt.

Nov 14, 2009
Kagey in Home Cooking

Does anyone know Lyle's Golden syrup?

I love the stuff. Can see using it in any of those instances, but haven' t tried substituting for corn syrup.

Make a treacle tart.

Drizzle on leftover yorkshire puddings (popovers) and add cream if you have it.

Mix into yogurt?

Eat with spoon out of the can.

Nov 12, 2009
Kagey in Home Cooking

Killer Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Recipe

When I saw the title of your post I immediately thought 'Silver Palate.' Sorry they don't do it for you; they're my absolute favorite and I know a few folks who would protest if I changed recipes!

But I'd also second (or third) the Quaker recipe too. I used to use that one and it is really good.

Nov 11, 2009
Kagey in Home Cooking

Do you give out your recipes?

That's an interesting one!

I always share a recipe if I have it or can remember what I did. The point is to spread the good food, right?

But I've actually known people who will give out recipes and leave out an ingredient or detail so that nobody else's can be as "good" as theirs. Talk about mean-spirited!

Nov 07, 2009
Kagey in Not About Food

To Wax or Not to Wax? Homemade Jelly

I actually use one-piece lids, like ordinary screw-on lids. In fact, I frequently re-use the jars and tops from the organic peanut butter I buy, since I buy so much of it. Never used wax.

I usually wash the jars and lids, then dry them in a warm oven. Fill while jam/jelly and jars are still hot, put lids on. Usually I do a boiling water bath, but not always. The jars always seal properly (you can tell because the center of the lid becomes concave). Been doing this for 3 or 4 years now, haven't killed anyone yet!

Nov 07, 2009
Kagey in Home Cooking

We are so spoiled!

I think I'll miss those same things if I leave England, and also the fact that there's more emphasis on local and seasonal here.

Just to go back to the beef for a moment, it's not really the taste that I find difficult to like, it's the texture and (I think) the cut. It may be that I don't know what to ask for, but the roasting beef I always find at the supermarket or the butcher is always slightly tough and it doesn't seem to be the same cut as the roast beef in the US. If I ate meat often, I'd probably have investigated further by now. But I eat it maybe once or twice a month, so I'm not that bothered.

Nov 07, 2009
Kagey in General Topics

We are so spoiled!

I totally agree with cbrunelle's post above. While you figure out how to do without your American favorites, don't miss all the wonderful things you can get in Cairo. I know the feeling. I lived in Jordan for a while, where I learned to love fuul for breakfast and Amstel beer and schawarma. I really missed Thai food, believe it or not!

Now I'm in England, where there is lots of choice. However, I do miss a few things--like American beef (burgers, steak). It's difficult to find the same quality here. And strangely, I really miss American Chinese food. I mean plain-old, white carton-packed takeout Chinese. The Chinese here is very different, and I don't enjoy it.

The great thing in all of this is how much it makes you appreciate certain foods. You have to go without in order to appreciate fully what you have. If everything we wanted were available all the time, we'd never get to enjoy that sense of anticipation and incredible satisfaction when biting into that pizza after such a long time away.

Nov 05, 2009
Kagey in General Topics

Can you cook regular popcorn in the microwave?

Thanks, everyone! That's good news!

Nov 02, 2009
Kagey in Home Cooking

Can you cook regular popcorn in the microwave?

I just got a microwave a couple of months ago, mostly so I could heat up things quickly and more energy-efficiently. So far, so good, and I keep discovering new uses for it. Today I bought microwave popcorn and tried it out. It was good, but the only varieties available were salted or sweet (this is England). I'd rather have it completely plain and add the salt myself. So I got to thinking...could I just put the popcorn in a paper bag and nuke it like that? Or would that be a big mistake?

Nov 01, 2009
Kagey in Home Cooking

best flourless chocolate cake recipe?

Hey. Sorry for the delay. Here it is:

You need:
Butter for greasing
300g dark chocolate, broken into pieces, or use mix of dark and milk if you like.
225g sugar (caster or superfine if you can find it)
180ml boiling water
225g butter, cut into cubes
6 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Grease and line 20cm/8in or 23cm/9in round cake pan. A springform works well here.

2. Preheat oven to 180c, 350f.

3. In a food processor (in more than one batch if you need), pulse the chocolate and sugar till fine. Add boiling water, butter, egg yolks, coffee powder, and vanilla.

4. In a different bowl, whisk the egg whites till stiff. Add to food processor and mix for 10 seconds or so.

5. Pour into cake pan. 45-55 minutes (longer for smaller pan). The top will crack. When you take it out it will collapse. Let cool, then refrigerate for a few hours. Serve with cream and berries if you want.

Thanks for the MS recipe. I might try it sometime, but years ago I had a few terrible experiences with her recipes, and got rid of the book, never looked back! Might be worth another look...

Nov 01, 2009
Kagey in Home Cooking

The Laws of Diminishing (Culinary) Returns

Yes, definitely. If I spend too long smelling a dish as it cooks, I get so tired of the smell that I can't eat it. Or at least not with gusto.

Or if a dish is just loads of work--lots of peeling or slicing, using loads of pans, bowls, and other implements, lots of standing around frying things, etc.--I never enjoy it as much. I think there's a point at which I just get tired and impatient, and then there's no chance I'm really going to be thrilled with the result, no matter how much anyone else likes it.

Oct 31, 2009
Kagey in General Topics

Making good oven fries... is it possible?

That's exactly how I do mine, using either sweet or regular potatoes. But I've never timed it; just take them out when they look ready. And sometimes use spices on the sweet potatoes. They always turn out really good.

Oct 31, 2009
Kagey in Home Cooking

Should I have told the waiter he left a dessert off the check?

Well said.

Oct 30, 2009
Kagey in Not About Food

Besides soup, what to do with butternut squash?

Others have mentioned the roasted squash, and I can only add my $.02: Jamie Oliver's roasted squash wedges from his original Naked Chef book are a huge favorite in my house. Toss wedges (don't peel) with garlic mashed with salt, pepper, coriander seed, dried chili, oregano, and fennel seed, then loosened with a little olive oil. Roast on 400 F till the edges go nice and brown and crispy.

Also, squash goes really well in risotto, curries, and laksa.

Oct 30, 2009
Kagey in Home Cooking

I am giving up on dried mushrooms. Throwing in the towel. Is all that grit really worth it?

You are not picky. Gritty mushrooms (or salad or spinach) are horrible.

Maybe you should try a different brand or type of mushroom. I get dried wild mushrooms and sometimes porcinis...usually in the clear cylindrical container from Waitrose (I'm in the UK). You might also try Asian shops--you can often get great shiitakes and/or other dried mushrooms there for cheaper than other places have them.

I just usually throw them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them, then put a plate over it and let it sit a while. I may slosh them around a bit to rinse the grit off, but I like the idea of sloshing them around in clean water too. Then I don't touch the soaking liquid. If I use it in my dish, I very carefully ladle it from the top, making sure not to agitate too much, thus avoiding the grit, which sinks. I've very rarely had a problem that way.

The only reason I urge you to persist is that dried mushrooms are so wonderful and if you like them, it's worth finding a way of using them that works for you. My first thought, though, is to try different mushrooms.

Oct 30, 2009
Kagey in Home Cooking

best flourless chocolate cake recipe?

Thanks for posting back to let us know how it went.

I've been investigating flourless chocolate cakes for ages, since I've got a few friends here who are gluten-free. My usual complaint with them is that they can be very crumbly and dry in texture (except for tarts, which usually feature pure ganache in a shell). I'd just about given up when someone gave me Sophie Dahl's cookbook. It happens to have a flourless chocolate cake recipe. I tried it on the spur of the moment once and it was fantastic. Brought it to friends who all insisted on having the recipe. It was light but moist, and really deeply flavorful. That will be my go-to recipe from now on. If you are interested, I'll find and post it.

Oct 25, 2009
Kagey in Home Cooking

How to try quince at its most elemental?

Quinces have a very distinct aroma/flavor, which is complemented by the spices. Still, if you want to try it "naked," just cut it in half lengthwise, place cut side down in a pan, just cover with water or water with a little wine, and poach till soft. I like to add a clove or two and a bit of cinnamon, but leave them out if you don't want to use them. However, I'd highly recommend at least a little sugar, which won't cover up the flavor but will make it taste really good. Plus, once the quince is cooked, you can save the leftover syrup. It's delicious over yogurt or oatmeal or drizzled on toast...

I've been living and breathing quinces lately; I picked about 50 of them from an orchard nearby about 3 weeks ago. Just used up the last of them today, on jelly cooked with a few bits of orange rind. Turned out delicious.

Oct 25, 2009
Kagey in Home Cooking

WTF Ziploc?

Or you could get some small plastic containers with lids. You wash them. You don't have to throw them away. This is supposed to be about sustainability, right?

Oct 23, 2009
Kagey in Features

People Watching You Cook

People hang around in my kitchen, and there's room, so I'm happy for them to be around while I'm cooking.

But there is another side to this question: the observer who can't help but be a backseat cook. He doesn't like that you salt your pasta water or that you use the "wrong" knife for the prep. And he won't keep quiet about it. She insists on adding salt to your pot or taking your cake out of the oven because she just knows better. Don't we all know this person? Many of us probably are this person! I used to have slight tendencies in that direction, but later realized that it's infinitely better to let the cook do what he wants unless I'm asked for an opinion.

Oct 04, 2009
Kagey in Not About Food

People Watching You Cook

I'm sorry to be contrary, but if her cooking is so bad and she's asking you questions and trying to help, maybe she's trying to learn something. Maybe instead of being annoyed you could take it as an opportunity to show her a thing or two?

Oct 04, 2009
Kagey in Not About Food

Help me out of my cooking funk - what is the absolute best thing you have ever made?

When I feel like that it's time to start flipping through cookbooks. If you don't have any that particularly appeal to you just now, head to the library or the bookshop and browse. At least that always helps to inspire me.

Also, that fear of wasting time and money on a dish you might not like? You need to get over that. If you cook, occasionally you're going to fail. That's just how it is. If you're lucky you get a good story out of it, and maybe some good takeout.

Oct 04, 2009
Kagey in Home Cooking

I'm Afraid of Indian Food.

That's a difficult one. Is there someone you can go with who knows his/her way around an Indian menu? That's how I learned, and I really think there isn't a better way!

Sep 29, 2009
Kagey in General Topics

dining with plain eating friends- coping strategies? ;-)

I do feel your pain and welcome the opportunity to rant about the time a few months ago that I met a colleague/friend (though I didn't know her very well) in Shepherd's Bush, London. We were going to have lunch and then see a play. I got there early and scoped out the neighborhood. Really interesting Lebanese, Greek, Thai, and a few other good choices. Even a big market with a good-looking felafel stand. When she arrived she wanted to go to Cafe Rouge- a chain 'bistro' that you can find on just about any High Street. Very disappointing.

It does seem unfair that the "plain" eaters get their way so often, but I like the idea proposed by a couple of other people to suggest perhaps you take turns choosing with no questions asked.

I also wonder what you mean by "plain" food. Would these people eat Chinese? There might be something you can build upon there.

Otherwise, if these people mean a lot to you and you want to keep eating with them, I think you're going to have to scour menus and maybe heed Sam Fujisaka's advice about Tabasco.

Sep 29, 2009
Kagey in Not About Food