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Erika L's Profile

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Why are people slaves to a date, say February 14?

Hallmark. And Martha.

I know people who have "birthday day" on a random day when everyone in the fam can make it. It's very difficult to organize multiple times a year--schedules, spouse/partner schedules, kids' schedules, etc. I also know people who have TDay or Xmas on "another" day so that their adult kids don't have to choose between the in-laws and the outlaws.

When you think about what all these various days are supposed to celebrate, really, you could celebrate any day--or every day.

Mystery chinese food question -- What the heck did I eat ?

When I said that Chinese generally don't eat cuts of meat, I mean a whole chop, a roast, half a chicken, etc The meat is cut up so that the pieces can be picked up with chopsticks.

There are Chinese dishes that are meat-heavy--certainly, any banquet dish, when you're honoring your guests. That's also why whole fish are served: you're honoring your guests by serving the entire fish. But whole fish can be broken up and eaten with chopsticks, unlike, say, a steak.

Jan 14, 2015
Erika L in General Topics

Best website/seller to purchase high-quality strawberries?

Wait for the local season--for strawberries and for all other produce.

Frozen berries are mushy--freezing expands the water and breaks the cell walls. They work *great*, often better than fresh, in any custardy, pudding-y English dessert recipe: Eton mess, trifle, etc. Frozen were picked and frozen when perfectly ripe so the flavor is terrific.

Jan 14, 2015
Erika L in General Topics

Mystery chinese food question -- What the heck did I eat ?

FWIW, Chinese don't eat cuts of meat. Meat is either a flavoring or a delicacy or treat and is always served in small pieces and with bones. (Same for fish and seafood--you have to work for your meal.) I can't speak to whether the dish was or wasn't "Mongolian pork chops" but the style of serving sounds very typical of Chinese food in general.

Jan 12, 2015
Erika L in General Topics

What to do with Frozen Carrots?

Roast 50-50 with parsnips (450 for 20 - 30 min, til you can poke with the tip of a knife with no resistance and they're brown in spots). Smush with a potato masher or puree with an immersion blender, add whatever herbs or spices you want. Leave it thick for a side dish, thin with stock for a soup.

Jan 07, 2015
Erika L in Home Cooking

Mandatory municipal composting: how do you handle your food scraps?

Another Seattleite here. I have enough room in my freezer to keep a brown paper bag (lunchbag size) for green bin stuff--it'll stand up on its own--but I know this isn't feasible for everyone. I know a number of people who made compost transfer bins out of gallon jugs--be sure to keep the handle intact. They live under the kitchen sink. My Costco (the one on 4th south) has BioBags in the 1,000,000,000 count size.

Jan 05, 2015
Erika L in Not About Food

Great Recipe for Orange Cheesecake?

I've been making this orange cheesecake since 1977, my senior year in high school, when cheesecake was considered the height of gourmet cooking and eating. It has an intense orange flavor:

CRUST
1 c flour
1/4 c sugar
1 Tbsp grated orange rind
1/2 c butter
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix the flour, sugar, and rind. Cut in the butter, then stir in the yolk and vanilla. Press about 1/3 of the dough into the bottom of a 9" springform. Bake at 400 for five minutes. Remove and pat the remaining dough onto the sides, up to about 1/2" from the top.

FILLING
5 eight-oz packages of cream cheese, room temp
1 3/4 c sugar
3 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp grated orange rind
pinch of salt
5 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 c thawed frozen concentrated OJ--undiluted
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix the cream cheese, sugar, flour, rind, and salt. Turn to low and add the eggs and yolks one at a time, mixing well after each. Stir in the OJ concentrate and vanilla. Pour into the crust and put the pan on a cookie sheet. Bake at 400 for 10 min, then reduce heat to 225 and bake an additional 1 hour 20 min.

I've never used a water bath and honestly, this recipe was already so exotic to an 18 year old that I would have flipped out if the instructions included one. This recipe still works and still gets raves, unlike others I made in the 70's and that have since been quietly sent to a recipe rest home.

Dec 31, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking
1

Gluten-free sub for flour as soup/stew thickener?

Another vote to skip a thickener.

Dec 31, 2014
Erika L in Special Diets
1

New Profile Setting: Collapse Previously Read Comments (also defaults to "See All" page)

My turn! Bump!

Dec 22, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking

What will happen if I double the amount of chocolate chips in my chocolate chip cookies?

Another vote for starting with an extra 50%--you can always add more if the dough is hanging together. And swapping in pastry flour might not produce the results you want. If you're after chewy cookies, it's gluten that produces chew, along with sugar. Melting and then cooling the butter helps, too.

Dec 22, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking
1

How many days ahead can I make a soup with dairy?

Another vote for making the soup ahead and adding the dairy at the last minute.

Dec 17, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking

Storing matzoh crack for 2 weeks: freeze or not?

I don't know about the garage but I regularly freeze mine, just to keep it safe--it doesn't taste like much cold, so I'm not tempted to go into the stash. Or if I do, I have to think couple of hours ahead of time to let it sit on the counter.

Dec 15, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking

Your best CRISPY, CRUNCHY cookie recipe. Go!

Chicago choco chip cookies. Not sure what makes em Chicago but that's what my friend Betty (source of the recipe) calls them. They're super crunchy--I don't generally keep corn flakes around the house except for these and Momofuku cookies.

1 c butter
1 c brown sugar
1 c sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 c flour
3 tsp baking soda
1 c plain oil
1 c smashed corn flakes
1 c oats
12 oz package of choco chips

Cream the butter and sugars, then add the egg and vanilla. Sift or dry-whisk the flour and baking soda, then add alternatively with the oil. Stir in the corn flakes, oats and choco chips.

Drop by heaping tsp about 2" apart and bake for 10 - 12 min at 350 Yield about 8 doz (really).

Dec 08, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking

Gluten-free crackers for cheese course?

Be aware the cross-contamination can occur if a knife touches wheat bread and then is used to cut cheese for the gluten-free person. Gluten sensitivity varies from person to person but one contact with wheat bread is enough to contaminate the entire piece of cheese for some GF people.

That said--my votes are for Blue Diamond (my all-time fave cheese cracker, GF or with gluten) and Crunchmaster.

Dec 05, 2014
Erika L in Special Diets

DEVILED EGGS! Home Cooking Dish of the Month (December 2014)

Rooster bombs: make your fave stuffed or deviled egg recipe, then put the tip of a Sriracha bottle into each yolk, give a little squeeze (maybe 1/4 tsp), then repair the hole in the yolk.

Should I be offended over a frozen pie?

It's just food. Get over it. And get over yourself. My fam loves canned cranberries and Marie Callendar apple pie. I brought homemade cranberries and pies for years, trying to show them how much more sophisticated I was. But what I was also doing was demonstrating how dismissive I was of their food preferences. If a frozen pie will really, truly make you gag, take a small piece, cut it into little bites, and then push them around on your plate until it's time to clear the dishes. Really, the point of TDay is to gather with family and friends, not to show off kitchen projects.

Are homemade marshmallows worth the effort?

Yes! Home made marshmallows are a revelation--pillowy-soft and very vanilla, not bouncy-chewy. I've made them only for parties (stand-alone and also in "mallomars") so I can't tell you how long they last, sorry.

Dec 01, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking

Cream that is not made with Cow's milk

Is it a sweet or savory tart? What are the other flavors? Coconut milk is the only non-dairy "milk" with any appreciable fat--it's about 33%, about the same as heavy cream. Other non-dairy milks such as soy, almond, rice, etc. are very thin and watery. That's consideration #1.

Also be aware that non-dairy milks won't thicken with egg yolks the way that a custard does--they lack the proteins to coagulate. So any tart made with a non-dairy milk will not hold its structure very well. I've made flans with an entire dozen eggs, and they collapse after a serving is spooned out.

Lastly, coconut milk does taste of coconut, albeit faintly. This works in some cases, not so well in others. I've used it in pumpkin pies--no prob, the spices muted the coconut plus everyone at dinner likes coconut. BTW the texture of a pumpkin pie made with coconut milk is terrific. However, the taste might interfere with, say, a leek and Gruyere tart.

BTW, you guest might be OK with olive oil to dip bread.

Nov 26, 2014
Erika L in General Topics

can you replace butter with Crisco shorting in gluten free ginger bread dough.

It'll work just fine. As pointed out, Crisco is 100% fat and butter is something like 85% fat, so the texture will be diff--actually moister, and it'll stay fresh longer without either the water or the gluten to dry things out. The spices and molasses will cover up the lack of depth of flavor that butter adds.

Nov 24, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking

Why Chinese cuisines/dishes do not include raw vegetables...

I was about 15 at the time and didn't ask for details but am assuming they didn't use the john.

When I said "parking strip," I mean the strip of dirt between the sidewalk and the curb, about 2' - 3' wide.

I now live in WA and there are lots of places where you can smell manure. Green acres is the place to be...

Nov 19, 2014
Erika L in General Topics

apple pie no cinnamon

Maybe serve the pie with cinnamon ice cream or a cinnamon-laced sauce if you think that others would miss the cinnamon? FWIW I'll be making an apple tart for TDay that has no spices in it at all.

Nov 19, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking
1

Gingersnap crust for pumpkin pie?

I do this all the time and in fact, it's my standard crust for a gluten free pumpkin pie (gf gingersnaps are very ez to find). Definitely pre-bake it and +1 for toasting the pecans.

Nov 19, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking

Cooking Ahead Question - Minnesota Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

I make this soup, or a version of it, on a regular basis. It will hold for 2 - 3 days in the fridge, no prob. If you use cream, don't add it til you reheat. I don't find the rice mushy after a spell in the fridge but if you want to be super cautious, you could do up til step 3 and finish right before the meal.

Nov 19, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking
1

Why Chinese cuisines/dishes do not include raw vegetables...

jsager--I can't relate a personal experience about nightsoil in China but I can tell this story about my grandmother and an aunt who both lived in El Cerrito, CA:

My aunt didn't leave China with the rest of the fam after WWII and was "lost" for many years. After U.S. relations were opened with the PRC, my aunt was permitted to emigrate in the mid-70's and she moved in with my grandmother. They decided to plant veggies in the parking strip in front of the apartment building and used nightsoil to fertilize it, until other fam members found out and gently counseled against that practice.

Nov 19, 2014
Erika L in General Topics

Gluten free flour used for gravy?

It depends on the composition of your gf flour. Wheat flour does a lot of things--thickens sauces, makes delicate puffy pastries, produces chewy bread. Some non-wheat flours are strong tasting and, I'm guessing, don't have much thickening power (buckwheat flour comes to mind). Others, such as rice flour, potato flour, and tapioca flour, will do the job. Cornstarch is very easy to work with and it's what I use to make gravy and also to thicken pie fillings. You have to make a slurry of the cornstarch with a little (a spoonful or two) of cold liquid, then stir that into the hot gravy. You can't stir the cornstarch directly into the hot gravy or it will get lumpy.

Nov 17, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking
1

Can I make jook with a smoked turkey wing?

Good to hear that it worked out and was a hit! Here's another vote for jook as a post-TDay use of the leftover meat and carcass--Mom always made it over the weekend, after the carcass was picked mostly bare. With slivers of scallion and ginger, now we're talking!

Nov 17, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking

Why Chinese cuisines/dishes do not include raw vegetables...

I'm Chinese and we rarely, if ever, had cold food or raw food when I was a kid. If we did, it was when Mom was serving "American" food. To this day, I don't like cold or raw food.

Nov 14, 2014
Erika L in General Topics

Gluten free brownies - need help!

I don't know about GF brownies from a mix but when I make them from scratch, they stay fresh longer than brownies made with wheat flour. My guess is that wheat flour tends to be drying. Some GF "flours" may also be drying--I don't know which ones are in your mix.

Oct 22, 2014
Erika L in Special Diets

Recipes from NY Times

I've used NYT recipes for years--absolutely dependable. Food 52 is an outgrowth of the founders' efforts to crowdsource recipes for the most recent NYT cookbook. There's also a NYT cooking app that launched about a month ago.

Oct 22, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking

HELP: Replacing 16 oz Cottage Cheese with Cream Cheese?

+1, need to see the recipe or at least know what dish you're talking about. Those are two very diff food items and I can imagine many dishes in which they would not be interchangeable--at all.

Oct 13, 2014
Erika L in Home Cooking