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What's your favourite or most useful, kitchen item?

Apartments with limited cooking facilities.

I have lots of friends who live in apartments where the cooking facilities consist of a single hotplate, and maybe a microwave.

In that sort of situation, a multi-purpose electric device that stews/braises/steams/slow cooks/makes rice/does limited baking would be incredibly useful, particularly in small places where you don't have room to store multiple appliances.

about 13 hours ago
tastesgoodwhatisit in Cookware

Anchovy Paste: advise, please

I've done roast cauliflower where you sautee garlic in olive oil, add anchovy paste and lemon juice, toss with blanched cauliflower, and then layer with breadcrumbs and parmesan before roasting. The anchovy is very mellow, but adds a lot of umami.

Salad dressings

Two slightly less-usual ones I really like.

Olive oil, anchovy paste and a little bit of lemon juice. Good on bitter greens.

Olive oil, lemon zest and juice, miso and fresh ground black pepper. Very good on ripe tomatoes.

What goodies to send to Navy personnel

If you're doing brittle, pack it in an air tight container and include a desiccant pack, in case they are somewhere humid. In high humidity and heat, candy-like products will get sticky and melt from the humidity very quickly.

All-purpose red and white wines for cooking vegetables

I will often use sherry or brandy or even Chinese rice wine when I need a little bit of wine-like alcohol for cooking, as it keeps much better than wine does. If I'm planning on drinking with the meal, I'll open a bottle, but otherwise it's not worth it.

How to make nori less chewy

Ah, in that case, I'd role immediately before you eat. With something like hummus involved, it's going to get mushy pretty much immediately.

Or go the traditional onigiri route - use strips of nori and use them to pick up the fillings bite by bite, so the nori is nearly pristine.

Good vs. Bad Pizza: Is there such a huge difference?

There's definitely a huge difference between bad pizza and great pizza.

And your basic Pizza Hut is not bad pizza - it's decent fast-food style pizza (the "how much cheese can we stuff into this product" is another issue, though). It can get much worse. Think crust that simultaneously doughy, soggy and slightly burnt, too sweet tomato sauce, toppings that are either overcooked to cardboard/mushy or not cooked enough, gloopy, gummy cheese smothering the whole thing.

Now, I do think when you get to the different between really good pizza, great pizza, and fantastic pizza, the differences are smaller than cult-like adherents would like you to believe, and more up to personal preferences and/or snobbish turf wars.

How to make nori less chewy

In a sandwich, it's just going to get chewy.

For grocery store sushi, the nori is next to rice - it will get soggy, but not as fast as if you put it next to a paste like hummus.

If you want it crispy, leave it out and add it to the sandwich at the last minute.

As an aside - the absolute best wrapping I've seen for keeping nori crispy is what's used for convenience store onigiri in Japan and Taiwan.


Worst Cooking Disaster Thread

About 30 years ago, microwaves were becoming popular in the home market. My family bought one. It came with a cookbook.

One of the 'tips' in the cookbook informed us that if you microwaved a whole, unbroken coconut for five minutes on high, it made it really easy to get the meat out. For some reason, we happened to have a coconut on hand.

(I will note that this was well *before* I obtained multiple degrees in physics....)

So we wrapped the coconut in a towel, and started up the microwave. At about the 2.5 minute mark, there's a loud boom, and the door of the microwave flew open. The meat was easy to get out - in fact, the coconut, now missing part of its shell, was empty. There was liquified coconut on the inside of the microwave, the floor, and the opposite wall of the kitchen. The part of the towel in the path of the had all the fuzz blown off it.

Japanese Raman: Do you mix the ingredients before eating?

I've had some very good ramen in airports in Japan - it's a dish that's well suited to that sort of situation, as it's a combination of things that can be prepped well ahead of time, and things that are cooked quickly after ordering.

QUICK (15 mins) Dessert Recipes?

The OP said they're in Korea, though, and international shipping is expensive and not very fast.

QUICK (15 mins) Dessert Recipes?

That's what I'd do - as Hallowe'en themed cookie cutters are unlikely to be easily found, you could make large circles, and a bunch of small triangles, and have them decorate them as jack-o-lanterns.

Freezer door ajar

For trips, you can put a baggie of icecubes in the fridge. If you come home, and they've melted and re-thawed you're in trouble. If they're still in pieces, there hasn't been a problem.

Japanese Raman: Do you mix the ingredients before eating?

I eat as is, digging through for the noodles. Stirring takes precious time away from enjoying the noodles before they get soggy.

Beef Stew - what are your secrets or tips for making a really good meal?

My gourmet version:

Take some small shitake mushrooms (loonie sized at most), trim of the stems, rehydrate, and squeeze out the liquid. Saute small whole pearl onions and the shitakes for a few minutes, then brown the meat. Add sliced carrots (fairly big chunks), whole button mushrooms, beef stock and red wine, a bay leaf, and a pinch of thyme. Let simmer, add the potatoes about half an hour before the meat is ready, so they don't disintegrate too badly.

I don't put in any sort of tomatoes, but if I did it would be in the form of sliced sun-dried tomatoes. If it's not thick enough, I thicken with flour at the end, rather than the beginning, because I find the pre-thickened version is more likely to burn.

For another variation, simply onions, carrots, mushrooms, beef and dark beer.

Can I re-cook jelly that has not set? Is there such a thing as cooking too long?

How are you testing for doneness? And what kind of recipe is it? And did you boil it on the stove and test for doneness first?

If you're using an established recipe, and the temperature has reached jelly level, it should cool to a good thickness. If you're using the cold plate method, testing is trickier, and you may need more cooking.

If the 10 minutes in the canner is the *only* boiling you've done, it probably needs a lot more cooking.

Ramen "buffet" for smallish group?

I think I'd do a simple pork based broth, and one with a mushroom base, which will give lot of umami. Provide salt, soy sauce, and miso paste for custom seasoning of the broth (which covers the three main broth types) and some sesame oil.

For toppings - sliced hardboiled eggs, blanched leafy greens (like bok choi), chopped green onions, thinly sliced shitake mushrooms, enoki (straw) mushrooms, some kimchi, julienned ginger, and some nori (the roasted seaweed used in sushi).

I'd let guests flavour their broth, and then cook and add the noodles into it. You want to eat it right away, before the noodles soak up the broth and get soggy.

Peeling Salted Duck Eggs

I was recently taught how to handle salted duck eggs with zero fuss, unlike the painstaking and messy result of trying to peel them.

Tap the egg to crack it at the end where the air bubble is.

Slice in half lengthwise with a sharp knife.

Scoop out the egg with a small spoon.

It works beautifully.

Hello, I am looking for some recommendations for some store bought marinades,sauces, and pre mixed seasonings for chicken.

It's possible to find very good Thai curry pastes and Tom Yum soup paste. Look for ones where the ingredients look like a recipe rather than a chemical experiment.

For the curry pastes, you sautee a package of paste in some oil, add a can of coconut milk, and then your meat and vegetables - chicken and eggplant is classic, but you can improvise. Simmer, and serve over rice. Some fresh basil/lime juice and a bit of fish sauce is nice at the end.

For the Tom Yum paste, you can mix it with water or chicken stock as the basis of a soup.

Help needed with clumping seasoning

If it's not too clumped, take a fork or a chopstick and use it to stir/scrape the powder until you can shake some out (you may have to do this repeatedly).

If you can't scrape loose powder off the top with a fork, throw it out.

I get this problem regularly, as I live in a humid climate - garlic powder and paprika are a particular issue. I had to throw out two containers of not at all bargain garlic powder that had turned to a rock recently.

Heating in the oven will probably just make it harder. Rice/desiccants will help keep it from clumping in the first place, but once it's fused together, you have to break it apart. If you can crunch it into fine powder again, and *then* bake it or add desiccant it might help it from clumping again.

Moving a fridge full of food... HELP?!

Your BF's solution sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. The food will stay cold, no problem, but is going bounce around all over the place. And taping a fridge full of stuff into place is going to be more work than packing properly.

What I would do - low spoilage items like mustard, ketchup, hard cheese, pickles, olives etc. go in a box - half an hour in hot weather isn't going to hurt them. Vegetables and eggs will be fine in a box, too - I regularly buy both in an outdoor, 100+ F market.

The rest can go into coolers (borrow some from friends). Pack frozen stuff into a cooler as tightly as possible, put easily spoilable refrigerated stuff like mayonnaise and meat into another cooler with some ice packs on the bottom.

Kids and Allergies - long and a bit of a rant.

For small children (primary and younger) and anaphylactic reactions, I do think a case by case ban on the offending food in the classroom of the child is appropriate, if possible. Kids have to reach a certain age before they are able to self police.

I do not thing banning all potentially serious allergens completely in the schools is appropriate or practical. The list of top anaphylaxis causing foods is nuts, shellfish, fish, milk, eggs and some preservatives - you can see the problems in a blanket ban on eggs and milk, for example.

For a twelve year old an an allergy that is not potentially fatal - the child is old enough to self police. The example list is ridiculous. It is also not possible to make the environment completely safe. You cannot police what people do outside of the school and you cannot inspect every single item that is brought in. Even with people who are trying, there can be honest mistakes. The egg ban will fail, for example, because eggs are an ingredient in so many foods, processed and otherwise.

I can sympathize with parents being overprotective. Having a kid who can die from eating the wrong snack is a horrible thing, and a possibility that is always there. I can empathize with someone who goes overboard a lot more than with a parent who going overboard about something relatively benign. There are also harmful adults - the ones that don't believe in allergies, or think the kid is lying, and will try to force the kid to eat unsafe food, which is hard for a child to stand up to.

But being too protective does a disservice to the kid. They need to learn how to manage their allergy on their own, from as young an age as possible. This includes learning not to swap lunch items, saying no even to yummy snacks, taking their own safe food when appropriate, inquiring about the contents of food, and how to use an epi-pen. Focussing on totally controlling the environment of the child instead leaves the child without the coping skills they need, and can give a false sense of security, if they've been restricted to safe environments when most places in the larger world have risks.

So in summary - it's appropriate to have bans on foods on a case by case basis in the classrooms of small children. Kids trained from as young an age as possible about understanding and managing their own allergies. General education about allergies and not sharing lunches, training for school personal in the use of epi-pens and the identification of the kids who might need them.

Not appropriate - attempts to 100% control the environment of an allergic child, banning foods related to allergies that do not cause anaphylaxis, bans on what people eat or do outside the school.

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

There's a dish I've had repeatedly in Taiwan that consists of breaded deep fried shrimp, pineapple, Asian mayonnaise and sprinkles.

Wheat/Dairy Free Wedding Guest Ettiquette

With a family member or close friend, I'd ask about the details of what they were serving - I'd know them well enough to know how they'd take the question, and they'd know me well enough to know I was asking for information, not fishing for special accommodation.

With a coworker I didn't know, I wouldn't ask, and I certainly wouldn't start offering suggestions about how they could give me the meal I want. I would have a snack before going, eat what I could at the meal, push what I couldn't around the plate, and take some discreet snacks in my purse if I needed them (a few granola bars, for example, or some dried fruit), which I could slip off and quickly eat if I were getting hungry.

I can understand why they didn't ask, because if they ask it's basically an offer to accommodate whatever people respond with, which can get unmanageable with multiple, conflicting requests.

For anyone with serious dietary restrictions, learning the art of moving stuff around the plate is essential, particularly at large events like this.

Zucchini bread: why?

The zucchini makes it nice and moist, and, as you said "I have a lot of garden zucchini here". I'd guess it was initially a variation on carrot cake, by someone who had too many zucchinis.

Cooked Green and Wax Beans -- Need Your Ideas!

My three favourite dressings for beans

- butter and fresh herbs
- fresh lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper
- Japanese roasted sesame dressing

Does it HAVE to be "pretty"?!?

I adore beet greens, so I'd probably have gone for the small bunches in season, and gotten two separate dishes out of it.

For me, I find it varies. Pretty is not necessary, but if it's something that's being sold cheap because it's starting to go off, then it depends on when I'll be able to cook it. Bruised apples are great for applesauce, but will rot before I work my way through a bag of them for eating.

Restaurants and 'Presold' dinners

I'd be wary about this sort of offered deal, for the reasons mentioned above.

From a basic financial perspective, it's a risk for the customer, much like buying a long term membership for a gym. The business sells a bunch of stuff in advance, which gives them an influx of cash. But they have to pay out over an extended period. If they've already spent the income from the pre-sales, they're risking not having enough money to run the business.

When it comes to trading services for extended-term goods like that, I'd also be wary. Are they paying in kind because they don't have the cash, and do I risk not getting paid because they go out of business.

Ideas for side dishes for Thanksgiving?

Carmelized onion tart with a sharp cheese would be a great side dish for a Thanksgiving dinner.

Cookbooks or recipes for jaded, time-constrained mom

You might look more to Asian cuisines for variety.

One slowcooker recipe I love, that's definitely different, is Okinawan pork belly.

A couple of strips of pork belly
1 cup sake
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup dashi
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 green onions, whole
2 inch piece of ginger, thickly sliced (you don't need to peel).

Put everything in the slow cooker, add enough water to cover the meat, and cook on low for 8-10 hours. I finish it by cutting the pork into chopstick size pieces and removing the skin, and then cooking in a pan with some of the marinade to get a nice glaze.

Serve with steamed rice, a side of blanched green beans or spinach with roasted sesame dressing, and salad with a sesame and rice vinegar based dressing.

It's possible to get really good Thai curry pastes, which makes doing a curry very simple. Vegetables and meat of your choice, curry paste, coconut milk, and you've got a good one pot main course. Add steamed rice and a salad, and you've got a good meal.

A lot of Indian curries are well suited to being made ahead, either the night before, or when you have time, and then frozen for later.