CPla's Profile

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Micro/baked potato...need help asap!

That's definitely worth a try.

May 21, 2009
CPla in Home Cooking

Micro/baked potato...need help asap!

Good point about potatoes and microwaves being different. High on my MW is a lot gentler than some other units I have used. For a couple of potatoes, I MW for 10 mins. I prick them with a fork first. Didn't turn, but I must try that.

Rather than a straight baked potato, I then halve them lengthwise, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with grated parmesan and put under the broiler for 15 mins or so until the cheese turns golden brown. Skin turns out pretty crispy.

CPla
http://www.chefpla.com

May 18, 2009
CPla in Home Cooking

What are your cooking "shortcuts"?

One of the things I like about Thai curries is the use of curry pastes, like red and green. Granted, these have to be prepared ahead (or buy them ready made if you prefer), but once you have a batch in the fridge, cooking the actual dish is a breeze.

Compare that to Indonesian / Malay or Indian curries which typically start from scratch and you will see the big difference.

As I get fresh ingredients here, I just make up a batch of curry paste on the weekend and use it for weeknight meals as and when. I store the paste in a jar in the fridge - it keeps fine for 3 - 4 months. If it starts to lose its flavour, I toss it out and make a new batch.

CPla
http://www.chefpla.com

May 18, 2009
CPla in Home Cooking

Is Pork Brisket the same as Pork Belly?

"On a pig, belly includes all the underside between the picnic shoulder at the front to the ham (rear leg). On a cow, brisket is the part closest to the front leg. The rest is plate and flank."

A very precise description; I would have to draw a chart to equal it.

Apr 29, 2009
CPla in Home Cooking

Is Pork Brisket the same as Pork Belly?

I have not come across any references to brisket in pork, as that is usually a beef cut.

The equivalent part in a pig is usually referred to as the 'shoulder' or 'arm shoulder' if necessary to differentiate from the 'blade shoulder' which gives 'pork butt'.

Pork Belly is the cut to the rear of the arm shoulder.

CPla
www.chefpla.com

Apr 29, 2009
CPla in Home Cooking

what to do with fresh curry leaves?

Many South Indian curries call for curry leaves to be added, usually cooked together with the onions at the beginning.

I do not remove the curry leaves, they go into the final dish and I eat them. Supposedly they have medicinal properties, but whatever, they taste fine.

I grow my own plant here, but the leaves freeze well in zipper bags. When I have to prune my plant, I freeze the best leaves - yes I can always get fresh ones but it just seems a shame to throw away those lovely big leaves. Silly maybe, but I console myself that at least I do not have to clip leaves from the plant for a while.

CPla
www.chefpla.com

Apr 13, 2009
CPla in Home Cooking

What do you cook when you are too tired and just not in the mood?

Pork Spare Rib and Watercress Soup as an all in one, plus jasmine rice in the rice cooker. Only need to chop one onion and mince a couple of cloves of garlic. If I want chilli/garlic in soy sauce on the side, I'll have to slice a few chillies and maybe 3 cloves of garlic.

15 mins from getting the stuff together to having the soup simmering, leave it to simmer for an hour, toss in the watercress and 10 mins later it's ready.

If that is too much work, I might happen to have some frozen curries and soups (I like to cook large portions and freeze the extras) that I can heat up.

Apr 06, 2009
CPla in Home Cooking

My dirty secret: I don't know how to use the oven's broiler

Every oven is different - when I changed mine I used to get utterly frustrated with broiling in the new oven.

Experiment using the level that is about 5 - 6 inches from the heat. In my oven it takes 35 - 40 minutes to broil bone-in chicken legs, turned every 8 - 10 minutes so that one side does not burn.

I rarely use the top level really close to the heat other than for crisping or browning stuff. Low and slow usually gets me great results.

CPla
www.ChefPla.com

Mar 15, 2009
CPla in Home Cooking

oversalted yellow rice and chicken -- help me "rescue" it

Not sure if it is too oversalted for this to work, but squeezing lime juice over does help. When I have curries and the like which are oversalted, I add vinegar which neutralises the salt.
I'd try adding more rice as suggested by ipsedixit, and squeezing lime juice over and mixing it in.

CPla
www.ChefPla.com

Mar 09, 2009
CPla in Home Cooking

Making Laksa paste: Candlenut subsitute?

Almonds or cashewnuts make good substitutes.

Mar 07, 2009
CPla in Home Cooking

frustrated non-chef needs help

Some good advice for you on this thread.

I would just add that you should cook as often as you can and do not be afraid to experiment. You will gain experience that way and I promise you that someday you will look back at what you felt was difficult and think about how comfortable and relaxed you are doing it.

Sure, you'll burn some stuff along the way, or mess up dishes. Who hasn't?

CPla
www.ChefPla.com

Feb 23, 2009
CPla in Home Cooking

Need garbanzo bean ideas

I do braised chicken legs with chickpeas and chorizo sausage. Its lovely.

CPla
www.ChefPla.com

Feb 23, 2009
CPla in Home Cooking

Ba Mee?

Asked my wife as promised;

Flat egg noodles, a.k.a. flat yellow noodles - Ba Mee Sen Ban in Thai.
Flat rice noodles, a.k.a. flat white noodles - Sen Chan in Thai (see below for pronunciation)

'Ba Mee' refers to egg noodles, never rice noodles which are called Sen xxxx. If you just say 'Ba Mee', then you are referring to fine round egg noodles.

Whilst Ba Mee Sen Ban is not quite as ubiquitous as Ba Mee, she tells me that she makes it a point to tell order takers not to use Ba Mee Sen Ban, just in case they have it and assume it's OK to use that. It is a matter of preference though.

CPla
www.ChefPla.com

Sen Chan - Thais pronounce the Ch as Jh, and the 'an' as 'un' similar to the 'un' in 'thunder. So, it sounds to me like Sen Jhun.

Jan 30, 2009
CPla in Home Cooking

Indian Cooking for One

I cook for 2. That said, every Indian curry (chicken or meat, not fish or veg) I cook is at least 5 - 6 portions, because they certainly take time, and they freeze very well.
I've been busier lately, and upped it to 6-8 portions. Work is about the same and I get 3 meals cooked in 1 go.
I portion out meals for 2, plus a couple of single portions that I can microwave when I am alone for lunch.

CPla
www.ChefPla.com

Jan 29, 2009
CPla in Home Cooking

Ba Mee?

Those look like the flat egg noodles I mentioned in my previous post. Not the typical Ba Mee I get when I order my favourite Ba Mee Moo Daeng, or Ba Mee with barbecued pork.
I'll ask my wife in the morning if there is a specific name for it, though I notice Ba Mee is also used generically for egg noodles - when I cook Malaysian style Mee, my wife calls it Ba Mee, perhaps because Thais do not have that sort of egg noodles in their cuisine, at least in the central plains.

CPla
www.ChefPla.com

Jan 29, 2009
CPla in Home Cooking

Cardamom seed

Goes well with lamb curries.

CPla
www.ChefPla.com

Jan 29, 2009
CPla in Home Cooking

Just bought curry leaves on a whim - smelled them and tasted them [ick] - what am I missing?

They certainly can be eaten and are reputedly good for the health. I grow my own plant here and have blogged about the challenges I went through getting a plant in Bangkok - it is not something typically used in Thai food, and most people here do not even know about it.

CPla
www.ChefPla.com

Jan 29, 2009
CPla in Home Cooking

Ba Mee?

I live in Bangkok, Ba Mee is Thai, and best I can tell, the photo looks like you have the right thing. Ba Mee is what I would call fine egg noodles, not flat. It is very similar to wantan noodles in Malaysia, though not exactly the same in taste for some reason. If I ever go to Malaysia again, I'd like to bring back a pack or 2 of wantan noodles and get a Thai to check out the difference.
There is a flat egg noodle common in Malaysia, but I cannot remember the Chinese name for it. It is not commonly used in Thailand.
The thicker ones are the regular mee, or egg noodles that are used in Malaysia and Singapore for laksa, mee goreng and the like.
I don't have the noodles to measure, but from memory figure on Ba Mee around 1/16 or 3/32 inch diameter, usually sold dry in packs like the photo, and egg noodles (mee) sold fresh, about 5/32 or 6/32 inch diameter.
Per the photo, one 'ball' is typically a single portion here, and I always have to ask for two in order to have a meal.

CPla
www.ChefPla.com

Jan 29, 2009
CPla in Home Cooking

Favorite High Heat Cooking Oil

Grapeseed. Neutral and quite light, though I do not mean that in the sense of 'light' that seems to get on every label nowadays.

Jan 10, 2009
CPla in Home Cooking

What's the best way to label containers for the freezer?

Oops, sorry, make that a whiteboard marker.

Jan 10, 2009
CPla in Not About Food

Path to take to being a very good Cook at home

Steady Habits, an excellent post!

Jan 10, 2009
CPla in Not About Food

How do you organize recipes you find online?

I save the web page (Internet explorer) into a recipes folder, so I have the photos etc exactly as displayed.

For the recipes I get around to using, I print them out either as displayed, or copied to Word if there is not a printer friendly option and there are loads of ads on the web page - no point wasting ink on that.

Storing them - I use clear folders, the ones with plastic pockets. Looking over my shoulder I see about 6 folders, probably a couple more downstairs. Organised by Chicken, Beef, Seafood, Soups, etc. I have one on just curries, because I found some great articles on that and felt it deserved a subject folder.

The folders are hard wearing, splashes wipe off easily, and I can put them in the kitchen when I need them there.

And it is a lot easier for me to browse them by flipping through. I have limited patience for opening multiple files on the computer, or maybe my kids would say I'm just old fashioned

CPla
http://www.chefpla.com

Jan 07, 2009
CPla in Not About Food

What's the best way to label containers for the freezer?

I store food in rubbermaid containers that have areas with a smooth surface on the sides. So I just use a permanent marker and write on the smooth area, because it actually washes off with just dish washing liquid under the tap.

If I were to write on a rough portion I guess I would need alcohol to erase it.

Works just as well on Ziploc bags.

Jan 07, 2009
CPla in Not About Food

How often do you shop and where?

I wish I could plan meals in advance like you, but other than a vague notion that I'd like to cook a dish sometime in the week, I tend to cook on impulse.

On the plus side, I am constantly indulging myself.

But, it can be a pain when inspiration does not strike, or it does and some ingredients are not handy.

It does make for a pretty full freezer and my wife teasing me about opening a supermarket.

Dec 29, 2008
CPla in Not About Food

What do you wear while you cook?

Good point about the blouse.

My late mother once managed to set her blouse on fire while cooking. Apparently there were a couple of 'strings' that were supposed to be tied in a bow or something and she just did a rough tie leaving too much dangling.

Front burner on the gas stove, material that burned quickly and before you know it she was having to beat out the flames on her blouse. Fortunately she only had slight burns, but it was a real shock for her.

I don't tuck my T-shirt in and sometimes have to be a little wary when I have front and back burners going and lean over to attend to food on the back.

Dec 17, 2008
CPla in Not About Food

Tandoori chicken thighs

Thank You.

Dec 17, 2008
CPla in Home Cooking

Tandoori chicken thighs

I have a recipe for Chicken Tikka on my website. The Marinade I use is:

1 container (180 g. / 6 oz.) plain natural yoghurt*
4 cloves garlic
4 bird chillies (prik ki nu)
1 tsp. chilli powder
1 tsp. coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp ginger powder
½ tsp. dried mango powder (amchur or amchoor)
½ tsp. dried mint powder
1 heaped teaspoon Garam Masala (see recipe)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (roasted)
1 tbsp. tomato paste.
3 tbsp. coriander leaves
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt

Put everything in a blender and pulse.

It tastes great and I normally use large drumsticks. I'm going to have to change this though because for more than a month the drumsticks here have been tiny (compared to the usual), so bone-in chicken legs will be my plan B.

No browning, straight under the broiler.

CPla

http://www.chefpla.com

Dec 17, 2008
CPla in Home Cooking

What do you wear while you cook?

A pair of shorts and a T-shirt. Its hot here and I have trouble staying cool at the best of times.

Dec 17, 2008
CPla in Not About Food

In which country would you (a Hound & more) like to retire?

Eating out - right where I am, Bangkok. Good local and international cuisine, reasonably priced and available literally at all hours, even at 4 or 5 a.m. And after all these years, my broken Thai would allow me to at least survive in a local setting.

To cook......this is a tough one, but if I ignore language then Italy or Provence or maybe Spain.

Dec 17, 2008
CPla in Not About Food

How often do you shop and where?

No specifics from me because I am not in the States, but I generally stock up once a week.

There are 2 supermarkets I go to regularly. One is better for meat, poultry and fish and has generally better quality vegetables in smaller packs (I cook for 2). As this supermarket caters to expats, I can get a lot of imported items here also. Most surprisingly, this place is often cheaper than the one that caters mainly to locals.

The other supermarket has a wider range of local vegetables.

There is a third supermarket that has a great selection of shrimp so that's where I go for it.

Then there is a local market way across the city that has GREAT seafood. If I'm doing a BBQ or want something specific like Black Pomfret that's the place.

For Indian spices, an ethnic grocery.

In summary, I identify the best place for specific items and shop accordingly.

Dec 17, 2008
CPla in Not About Food