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Erika L's Profile

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Cornflakes as a cookie ingredient?

Ah. You'll get better results if you crush the cereal into pretty small bits. If not, the cookies will have to be quite large in order to have enough dough to hang together. But big cookies might be what you want. You can whirl them (the corn flakes, not the cookies) in a food processor--they'll still provide lots of crunch--or go old skool by putting them into a zippie, then smashing with a rolling pin or the bottom of a frying pan. I second the distinction in how to measure. The cereal won't be absorbed into the dough--it's more like nuts or choco chips, goodies bound by the dough, so if you add too much (or if the flakes are too big), the dough won't hang together.

Sep 24, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking

Caramels without corn syrup?

The corn syrup's in there for texture. If you completely omit it, you'll have something with a texture more along the lines of peanut brittle--maybe not that hard, but definitely not soft or chewy. I can't, though, offer any suggestions for substitution.

Sep 24, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking

Cornflakes as a cookie ingredient?

It would be helpful if you posted the recipe. I have a couple that use corn flakes--in one, you crunch up the cereal and mix it into the dough and in the other, you roll balls of dough in the cereal. Either way, the cereal's there for texture, not flavor.

Sep 24, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking

Guiltiest Guilty Pleasures

Another vote for Kraft mac 'n' cheese in the blue box BUT with only 1/2 to 2/3 of the noodles. It's an even better salt bomb than when it's made the regulation way.

Sep 23, 2014
Erika L in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

(Smacking forehead with heel of hand.) What is it about "ethnic" food (read: not the food of your peeps) that makes people get all holier-than-thou about "authenticity?" Let's try this. I really want authentic American food. What should I search out? Burgers and fries? McD or Shake Shack? Navajo fry bread? Brunswick stew? Iowa pea salad? BBQ chicken pizza? Indian pudding? St. Louis gooey butter cake? PB&J on white balloon bread? I'm Chinese. If I make a stir fry with gai lan and hot dogs, is that authentic Chinese food? (The stir fried hot dog scenario is from "Typical American" by Gish Jen.) I have a (non-Asian) friend who brags that she knows that she's in an authentic Chinese resto when the menu is written in Mandarin. What she's actually telling me is that she can't recognize authentic Chinese anything.

People, people, people. It's FOOD. If you like it, eat it. If you don't, don't. But please don't get all uppity about "authenticity."

Sep 17, 2014
Erika L in General Topics
1

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

All restos are businesses, and business owners need and want to stay in business. If pu pu platters, sushi, teriyaki, whatever, are helping the owner to pay the rent and be able to offer other, more "authentic" dishes, then I'm not gonna fault them. BTW, I'm Chinese and will say that we love trashy food as much as the next person. I'll never turn down honey walnut shrimp, and I've eaten my share of crab Rangoon and cheese bings.

Slow Roasting and Jarring Tomatoes in Olive Oil

Another vote for freezing. I use heavy square plastic containers that are meant for freezer storage--they're much more space-efficient than jars.

Sep 08, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking

Can I substitute virgin coconut oil for butter in flourless chocolate cake?

I make GF DF desserts and always use coconut oil because I don't like vegan margarine. Coconut oil actually gives better results than butter in baked goods because it's 100% fat, whereas butter is about 85% fat and 15% water--moister, richer, denser, and it'll stay fresh longer. You can use refined coconut oil if you want no coconut flavor, but even virgin isn't that strongly flavored. It just depends on your and your guests' preferences.

Aug 28, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking

How should I make Peanut Butter cookies?

The no-flour recipe is much more intensely flavored--no flour to interfere. They also stay fresher much longer than the version with flour. The flourless ones are pretty sturdy but agree that they are more fragile than ones with flour.

Aug 06, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking

Best way to reheat cheong fun, leftover from dim sum?

My family has always put it on a glass pie plate, then put that onto a steaming rack (which for us was a small, flat round wire rack about the size of a cake pan). This way, you don't have to transfer the noodles to/from the steamer basket, plus the sauce stays put. We use this method for all leftover steamed dim sum. The baked stuff is either briefly microwaved or eaten at room temp.

Aug 06, 2014
Erika L in General Topics

Would you stuff "deviled eggs" with a meat/protein blend?

Caesar eggs--mash the yolks with minced anchovy, Parm, and a little garlic, then bind with olive oil.

Jul 25, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking
1

Mac and Cheese

Are you talking a stovetop or baked mac and cheese? Either way--Tabasco. It adds zip and amps up the cheese flavor. You can add an amazing amount (a teaspoon or more) before it starts to add heat. I make a baked version with a 50-50 mixture (give or take) sharp Cheddar and mozza, plus lots of Tabasco. Another trick is that I mix the noodles with the white sauce and *do not* add the cheese. Instead, I put half the noodle-bechamel sauce into the baking dish, add half the cheese, and repeat both layers. Then I pour another cup or so of milk over the whole thing, then bake. The cheese never separates and there are always strings attached to the mother casserole.

Jul 25, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking

Gluten free zucchini bread crumbled as soon as I cut into it. What happened?

GF baked goods have a diff texture than baked goods made with wheat flour. Gluten makes dough "stretchy" so when making GF baked goods, you have to add something like xanthan gum or guar gum to provide the structure that gluten provides. It sounds like the farmer/baker who sold the zucchini bread might not have their recipe completely figured out.

"Cooking Block" What Do You Do?

I go through stretches of cooking block, too. During those periods, I fall back onto tried and true (and beloved) meals. I'm OK eating farro, shrimp, cherry tomatoes, basil, and feta for fourth time this month. There's nothing ingenious about it and I've been assembling these ingredients (or some version of them) for 20+ years. But it's fast, it tastes like summer, and it doesn't heat up the kitchen--all virtues. I'm not cooking for a family, so you have more considerations. But my house rule is that food be nourishing (in all senses of the word), and I try to not resort to processed or convenience foods on a regular basis.

Why coconut oil?

I don't know about its virtues as a paleo food but it's a non-dairy fat (as in, no lactose, casein, or whey) that's FAR superior to vegan margarine for cooking and baking. (For eating, such as atop toast--that's another matter.) Virgin coconut oil retains some coconut aroma and flavor; refined is neutral smelling and tasting.

Jul 23, 2014
Erika L in Special Diets

Can I substitute melted dark chocolate bars for cocoa powder when making frosting?

You'll get fudge frosting, not chocolate frosting. In other words, the end product will be a little chewier than a standard chocolate frosting because the bar chocolate will re-solidify when cool whereas the cocoa powder will not. +1 AlexRast in terms of ordering. A little corn syrup might help with the blending.

Jul 14, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking

Is it ok to soak quinoa

I regularly soak quinoa but not that long: instead of rinsing it under running water, I soak it for 30 - 60 minutes, then swish it around, drain, add fresh water, and cook. I'm with the rest of the posters: don't soak it all day. FWIW, cooked quinoa holds up well in the fridge for several days, much longer than cooked rice does.

Jul 02, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking

Natural, cage free eggs that have an obvious coating?

Some egg producers coat eggs with oil after washing them, to seal the pores so that they stay fresh longer. That's why thinner shell spots sometimes look translucent.

Jun 02, 2014
Erika L in General Topics

Help! Gluten-free dish to make for new neighbors.

It's a lovely thought but people who can't eat gluten must be extremely careful and if there's any doubt, they'll pass. So here's another vote for a non-food item. (And btw not all GF noodles are created equal--some are just plain nasty. Just subbing may not work well--some work better in certain dishes.)

May 30, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking
2

Gluten Free Memorial Day Outdoor BBQ

Lots of great suggestions here--my addition is to bring something that's naturally gluten free. Many recipes that are re-engineered to be gluten free call for ingredients that you may not keep around the kitchen on a regular basis, and substituting a gluten free flour blend in a "regular" recipe doesn't always work well.

May 22, 2014
Erika L in Special Diets

Ice Cream Truck - totally weird

Ice cream trucks in my nabe (Seattle) play "Bicycle Built For Two."

May 14, 2014
Erika L in Not About Food

Costco is starting to get more gluten free foods

I go to the Costco on 4th South in Seattle and they regularly carry two kinds of almond flour, as well as Mary's Gone Crackers cookies and Crunchmaster crackers...all in huge Costco sizes.

Apr 23, 2014
Erika L in Special Diets

Non-dairy quiche, can I use almond milk?

That would explain it!

Apr 16, 2014
Erika L in Special Diets

Chinese Sausage

Yes, you can steam them. I put them in whole with my rice or quinoa and cook everything together, then slice at the end.

+1 on keeping them in the pantry til the package is opened, then they get repackaged into a double zippie and stored in the fridge.

Apr 15, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking

Non-dairy quiche, can I use almond milk?

I've never made quiche with almond milk but have made flan with both almond milk and also rice milk (two diff flans, I didn't put both milks into the same flan). I found that custards made with almond milk aren't as "solid" as those made with dairy milk. For ex, no matter how many eggs or yolks I used, the flan would collapse after a serving or spoonful was taken. Also, the flan I made in a large ring mold was very jiggly and didn't hold its shape. Those things said, it tasted fine, albeit with a thin mouthfeel. My guess is that a quiche with almond milk would be fine because the crust would hold the shape and all the other things in there (meat, cheese, veggies) would contribute heft.

Apr 15, 2014
Erika L in Special Diets

Another Chocolate Chip Cookie Problem: Once Flat, Now Puffy

The current (April-May 2014) issue of Cook's Country re-engineers thick, chewy CC cookies--if you're willing to take a flyer on those.

Mar 24, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking

Dim Sum or Yum Cha?

It's sort of like "sic fahn," which is literally "eat rice" but in my (Cantonese) fam has always generally meant eat or have a meal.

Mar 17, 2014
Erika L in General Topics

Dim Sum or Yum Cha?

My fam is also Cantonese and we've always used the phrase yum cha. (preceded by the Cantonese word for "go," which I'm not even going to try to render phonetically). We don't distinguish yum cha and dim sum--it's all yum cha.

Mar 17, 2014
Erika L in General Topics

Help! I'm allergic to meat and love bacon!

The salt is vegan and kosher and honestly does take like bacon. They also make bacon mayo.

Mar 07, 2014
Erika L in General Topics

Hmmm….Chocolate chip cookie question...

Shortening (and also coconut oil) make very chewy cookies and moist baked goods in general because they're 100% fat, whereas butter is only about 85% fat. That's also why baked goods made with butter go stale more quickly than those made with 100% fats. That said, butter has a depth of flavor that can't be duplicated, or at least, not that I've been able to figure out.

Mar 03, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking