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Cassels---Forget About It!

I know! Of course my memory of Cassels goes back to the early 80s when it was primo. It was FABULOUS then! Tough standard to live up to but if it isn't even good by ordinary standards that's awful.

Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies

Resting them in the fridge to fully hydrate and allow the flavors to develop is a fairly new technique. It makes a difference but if you use the JT recipe and bake right away you'll also get an excellent cookie.

If the people who are anticipating these try them made all in one day I bet fewer than half would notice the difference without making a side-by-side comparison.

Relax and have a lovely holiday. ; >

My Cookies Melted?!

Did you grease the pan? Use melted butter in the dough? Or a different kind of fat than you usually do? Skip a rest in the fridge for the flour to fully hydrate?

Dec 20, 2014
rainey in Home Cooking

Need Advice for serving soup to a crowd

Rewarming that much soup will take time. So I'd take the base and unopened containers of dairy out well in advance to come up to room temp.

After that, so much depends on the circumstances. Can you use several pots to have more conventional volumes warming up? Are you limited to one burner and an enormous stockpot? What's the proportion of base to dairy? You can be more aggressive about the base but how much dairy gets added determines how much the temperature will drop and how much time will be needed to bring it back to temp.

Many soup bases, if they're well seasoned, can stand on their own. How about adding a swirl of sour cream as a garnish? You'll need less for the flavor of dairy and it's thick enough to retain it's identity floating on the base until the diner stirs it in.

Dec 20, 2014
rainey in Home Cooking

Minestrone Soup

I've never used a recipe. I start with a large can of diced tomatoes* (I disagree that tomatoes would be much of a problem if they're not heavily spiced). I put in onion and garlic then pieces of carrot and zucchini. I add cannelloni or garbanzo beans, a Parmesan rind and basil and oregano then simmer, simmer, simmer. Salt & pepper to taste. When it's just about done I add a handful of strips of kale.

* I also put in either a hot or a sweet Italian sausage that I remove from the casing and sauté but you can skip that and that's the thing I'd leave out if your stomach is upset.

Dec 20, 2014
rainey in Home Cooking

Possibly the cutest Christmas cookies ever

Actually, not. A little royal icing which is whipped up in 4 seconds with egg white or meringue powder is all it takes. And keep in mind that these things are so tiny you can hold the 4 sides together with one hand until they're tacky enough to hold.

Construction probably takes less than 10 minutes entirely if you let the 4 house sections dry before attempting to add the roof. I put "glued" sections back in the oven on "convection" at the lowest setting to "cure" the icing. If it's securely dried it's easier to handle to add the roof sections.

If it's the thought of piping that's intimidating, consider these pipping pens that come in 2 sizes. I'm linking to the smaller one. The larger one will take any small piping tip. http://www.cuisipro.com/en/Baking/Dec... You hold them like pens and squeeze the sides to keep the flow going, adjusting the plunger when it needs more tension. My 4yo grandson uses the smaller one.

Decorating, of course, takes longer but then that's the fun part. ...and you can even hand that job off to the kids.

I wish they had included a bottom for the cottages. I could probably take a measurement and just cut them out of cookie dough. I've concluded that if a bottom were in place these little cottages would make adorable boxes for tiny things like chocolate coins, etc.

Dec 19, 2014
rainey in Cookware

Possibly the cutest Christmas cookies ever

These are adorable! http://www.goodcook.com/images/04757_...

They're made from an inexpensive cookie cutter that cuts all the pieces for one cottage. The cottages are about 2" x 1 1/2" x 2 1/4" baked. And the stampings fit together (head to toe) with almost no waste to be re-rolled. It's under $7.

I got mine at Target -- if you want one before Christmas -- or they're available online if you don't mind missing the holiday.

I made doghouse dog biscuits as well as gingerbread cottages. Too cute and too easy!

Dec 19, 2014
rainey in Cookware
1

Potato candy variations?

How about dipping them about halfway in chocolate. I've never tasted it so I have no idea of the flavor or consistency and what would enhance them, but how much could chocolate hurt?

If these things are sturdy you'd probably want to temper the chocolate so it behaves and stores nicely. If the candy base is very soft you might be better off with non-tempered chocolate and then store them in the fridge for their stability.

Dec 19, 2014
rainey in Home Cooking

Need a great gift

Thanks. Got it covered but I hope someone else profits from your ideas!

Happy holidays!!!

Dec 18, 2014
rainey in Not About Food

What kind of giftable quick bread or simple cake would you bake in these?

Anything you'd do in a bundt pan. And did you know that bundt and muffin recipes are interchangeable? So what do you like and have you got a cake tester or a thermometer available (about 195˚ internal temp)?

Keep in mind these things don't unmold particularly easily so plan something with the pretty on the top and tear the sides away to cut and serve.

Dec 18, 2014
rainey in Home Cooking

Faves to buy at King Arthur Flour - Wish List

Thanks for the reminder. I have been erasing those ads from my e-mail like crazy but it really is too good an opportunity to let pass.

In addition to a bunch of replacement stuff I got myself a couple USA Pan cookie sheets. Their stuff really is terrific and so heavy I would never, otherwise, have mail ordered it.

I also got this handy thing which, if it comes in time, could be a huge time saver this Christmas. http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/i... I am so sick of trying to find the little rubber rings and diddling with them on the pin. No more skinny over-browned cookies for me!

Thanks again for the reminder.

Dec 17, 2014
rainey in General Topics

Faves to buy at King Arthur Flour - Wish List

King Arthur may be a little more expensive but it's an employee-owned company that provides state of the art and hard to find items that are essential to many bakers. They also provide a baking hot line where you can ask questions of a actual baker as well as a blog so chock full of info that I've never gotten through all of it.

Contrast that with Amazon that works people to exhaustion, provides little if anything to the larger community and is eliminating businesses and jobs all over the country.

Soufflé help

Here's any easy, tasty and fairly foolproof soufflé to start with. Use good cheese and you can't go wrong.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al...

Dec 17, 2014
rainey in Home Cooking

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

I prepare everything else and add the dairy and whatever fresh herbs after it's been rewarmed.

When I make large amounts of soup for the freezer I do the same writing the amount and kind of dairy on the freezer container.

Dec 16, 2014
rainey in Home Cooking

Need ideas for things to make for under-the-weather preschooler, please!

I would freeze some fruit juice into popsicles and see if that tempts him. If not, don't panic; he won't starve. Let his appetite be a guide. He'll have an appetite when he's ready to eat. And you don't want to add vomiting to his woes.

Just keep him hydrated!

Dec 16, 2014
rainey in Home Cooking

How do I tell if unlabled cocoa powder is natural or dutched?

Dutched is significantly darker.

Dec 16, 2014
rainey in General Topics

Need a great gift

Thanks for all the great ideas!

I was making soup and pulled out my La Chamba stockpot. I have loved this thing since someone gave it to me a couple Christmases ago so I thought she might like it too. Hey! it may not be sexy but it could be a best friend...

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...

I called W-S and it will be gift wrapped and on its way before I'd ever get my act together. And maybe Food52 will be restocked by her b-day because the things I was obsessing about that they were out of really struck me as so right for her.

Choruses of fa-la-la-la-la and wishes for you to all have wonderful holidays!

Dec 16, 2014
rainey in Not About Food

Need a great gift

Great ideas but I'm looking for specifics. Objects you've seen online that you admired.

The problem is we've been living out of the country for 9 months and we just moved back 10 days ago. I'm reopening my house, unpacking another household from boxes, doing laundry, restarting services, interviewing, etc. and I *seriously* haven't had time.

I am hoping to order something and get it on its way and get back to trying to make a household and Christmas simultaneously.

Dec 16, 2014
rainey in Not About Food

Need a great gift

OK. I waited too long but I thought I was going to be able to go to Food52 and order a lovely something-food-related and have it shipped direct to my friend. So tonight I finally picked out the item and -- $%@#^&*@#& -- EVERYTHING worth having under $150 is GONE.

Anyone know where I could get a lovely bowl or a smashing carved wood ____ or a really attractive ________ and have in sent in time for Christmas? It should be stylish and first quality but I'm open to any number of things hostess-ish.

Thanks so much and I hope everyone finds everything you're hoping for for the holidays!

Dec 15, 2014
rainey in Not About Food

Xmas Eve menu with a standing rib roast.....serve with rolls for sandwiches?

Precisely, sunshine. And if you read the link to Serious Eats, Lorenzo, you'll see that they found no difference between prime rib roasted with the bones intact and bones severed and roast tied on as sunshine suggests. They found only slight difference between either and boneless, in which case they found the bottom of the roast slightly less tender without the insulation of the ribs.

They didn't address not having the bones to gnaw on when everyone was gone...

Dec 15, 2014
rainey in Home Cooking
1

Xmas Eve menu with a standing rib roast.....serve with rolls for sandwiches?

OK. I give up. I would LOVE it but I guess it's not for everyone.

Dec 15, 2014
rainey in Home Cooking

Xmas Eve menu with a standing rib roast.....serve with rolls for sandwiches?

OK. I'll concede that people may not be comfortable with carving themselves and a hacked apart roast is a shame but it still sounds like a sensational idea to me and worth problem-solving through.

Dec 15, 2014
rainey in Home Cooking

Question re candied orange peel

I don't see why not. You're going to blanch them a few times and then boil the living cr## out of them in a 230˚ or so sugar syrup. How much "freshness" is going to be missing after that?

Just wrap them well. They're going to be delicious! And you're not going to be trying to figure out what to do with a pound or so of peeled fruit to deal with all at once.

Dec 15, 2014
rainey in Home Cooking

Xmas Eve menu with a standing rib roast.....serve with rolls for sandwiches?

I LOVE it!

Simplify carving by removing the bones before you put the roast on a carving board. Hide them away for yourself!!!

Give your guests a sharp knife and a cutting board with a generous trench and try to stick around to give a hand where needed. Honestly, how difficult is it to slice de-boned tender meat with a good knife so don't be discouraged by people telling you other people aren't up to it. You could also wander over and slice off several pieces from time to time as well.

I think it's a fabulous idea and I wish I were coming to your Christmas Eve.

PS If you had a second carving board to switch it out at some point it might be prettier and avoid spill over on your buffet.

PPS Serious Eats' Food Lab found that there wasn't a difference between a rib roasted bone in and one cut off the bones and placed back onto them as a rack before roasting. http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/12/fo...

Dec 15, 2014
rainey in Home Cooking

Meringue tower -- what is "golden caster sugar"?

Actually, American confectioners' sugar is about 3% cornstarch. It's added to prevent caking.

I was once under the impression that it was a much larger percentage until someone straightened me out. http://www.food.com/library/powdered-...

Dec 14, 2014
rainey in Home Cooking

Meringue tower -- what is "golden caster sugar"?

That's the way I'd go.

And if anyone is on the West Coast C&H makes something called "washed raw sugar". Any one of them whizzed to a fine consistency would fit the bill.

Dec 14, 2014
rainey in Home Cooking

Printable tag for dog treats?

My grandson and I are baking dog treats for our own pooch and some friends'. I'd love to find a cute printable tag for them with a Christmas theme.

Anyone seen any?

Thanks in advance! And Happy Holidays whatever you celebrate!!!

Dec 13, 2014
rainey in Not About Food

TJ's Chocolate Espresso Pillows?

Yup, absolutely certain it was the espresso pillows. I had a conversation with the person behind me in at the check out stand about them and I would have picked up more but I've still got a few unopened tins.

It may be that, the home office being on the West Coast, we're the last to feel the shortage. But I'm betting they'll be back.

Dec 13, 2014
rainey in Chains

TJ's Chocolate Espresso Pillows?

Love those things! They're a perfect little sweet for after dinner if you don't bother with dessert (I don't). When I was in Vancouver (no TJs) I took stacks of those with me.

I just saw them the other day at a TJs in Los Angeles. Maybe we just haven't sold out here yet.

Sometimes they back off on orders of some everyday things when they fill their shelves with holiday stuff.

Dec 12, 2014
rainey in Chains

Need help making bark

Actually, for crème it's Option ` (to the left of 1) and then add the e below it for an accent grave. Option e gives you the accent aigu of sauté.

Just ignore me if that's too fine a point but there are 2 similar choices.

Dec 11, 2014
rainey in Home Cooking