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Felila's Profile

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Flavoring roasted chickpeas

I have not been able to roast chickpeas successfully. (One hour at 360; my ailing oven doesn't go higher than that.) Some are crunchy, but most are merely a little dried out. The flavoring I was using worked: salt, pepper, harissa. The substrate didn't.

Today I found a new item at my health food co-op: roasted chickpeas. They are pleasantly crunchy, but they taste like ... chickpeas. Utterly plain.

How could I spice them up without making them soggy? I salted and peppered them, but all that sifted to the bottom of the bowl. Didn't cling.

Wish I could get some of that horrible, wonderful, greasy Cheeto powder :)

Jul 09, 2014
Felila in Home Cooking

Salad dressing

Used some organic, extra-virgin olive oil from my health-food co-op. Wasn't bitter at all :)

Jun 22, 2014
Felila in Home Cooking

Salad dressing

I never thought that I could make a salad dressing that would taste as good as bottled. For too many years I bought bottled. I can't afford it now, so I had to confront my dressing-impairment directly.

Sat down with Bittman's How to Cook Everything and read his diatribe re bottled dressings. The key to making better dressings, he explained, was a blender, which would thoroughly emulsify the oil and vinegar. Oy, what a dumbkopf I've been, with my puny fork-whipped dressings. No wonder they separated immediately.

I blended some fancy organic olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and a large garlic clove. Success! I am enjoying wilted-cabbage-and-peanut salad right now :)

Jun 21, 2014
Felila in Home Cooking

Patterns for everyday and china dinnerware

I bought plain white Corelle years ago and am still using it. It is made from tempered glass. It does not break easily. You can drop it on a tile floor and most of the time, it will not break. Occasionally it hits just right (or just wrong) and shatters into a zillion pieces, like auto glass.

I would not buy something that breaks if I can buy something that will not.

Jun 13, 2014
Felila in Cookware
1

Spicy Oven-Roasted Chickpeas

Thanks, this is useful. I have been having bad luck with these. My oven will not go above 360 (one element broken, cannot afford new stove) and 45 minutes is apparently not long enough. I will try one hour.

Olive oil, sea salt, freshly-ground pepper, and harissa make for a lovely taste, even if I haven't achieved crunchy yet.

Jun 04, 2014
Felila in Recipes

Clean/wash up while cooking ?

I didn't clean while I cooked until I was in my twenties; my mother never taught me to do so. Then a German visitor looked at the mess in the kitchen and asked, "Why don't you wash up as you go?" I immediately saw her point and have washed up ever since.

Current kitchen is small and has no dishwasher, so it is even more important to stay on top of things.

Feb 01, 2014
Felila in Not About Food

Costly culinary tools that you own that don't get much use, or that have caused you buyers remorse.

The Joe Pastry blog recently did a whole series of posts on making cannele. Perhaps you could read those posts and regain your enthusiasm for cannele.

Jan 02, 2014
Felila in Cookware

A Rant! About the evolution of books. Cookbooks especially!

I have been reading and making ebooks for ten years. I don't know why you're so upset about their existence. As for me, I would like to replace most of my several thousand deadtree books with ebooks, leaving me with one bookcase full of books that are beautiful or better in paper. (I also have close to 3000 ebooks stored in my Dropbox.) I can carry dozens of ebooks on my iPod, to read whenever and wherever; I can read in bed on a backlit screen; I can read a book with one hand, lying down.

I think i'd keep my cookbooks ... but eventually we'll probably have nice e-versions. They will probably include videos. When I was editing cookbooks, I frequently used YouTube to research techniques and recipes that I hadn't personally used. Descriptions of how to prepare squid for cooking pale in comparison to a video showing the whole process.

Lighten up :)

Oct 31, 2013
Felila in Not About Food

Halloween Candy

I live in condo complex in the middle of a city block (it replaces the old mansion that first sold off the lawns and was later demolished for the condo). I usually get five to six kids, tops. The next-door neighbors :) There was one year a roving gang of teens, not in costume, showed up with pillowcases ... I thought that was rude, but gave them candy anyway. Better they should have it than I should eat it.

I usually buy a bag or two of good-quality fun-size bars, try not to eat candy before or during (and fail), then give away the rest. I've lost over fifty pounds and I'm not gonna gain it back!

Oct 09, 2013
Felila in General Topics

Cuban Hash Recipe

That's picadillo. I make a similar recipe from a Cuban cookbook titled Memories of a Cuban Kitchen. Written by an older emigre, it's a time-capsule of 1950s Cuban cooking. Recipe uses ground meat, onion, garlic, bell pepper, tomatoes, sherry and Worcestershire sauce, raisins, stuffed green olives, and small cubes of fried potato.

I gather that there are many, many ways to make picadillo, which is a staple in several Latin American countries. I like the oomph that the raisins and olives give this hash recipe.

Sep 17, 2013
Felila in Home Cooking

No-Knead Sourdough... Help Adapting Lahey Method?

I started baking again with no-knead bread, but have ended up making regular kneaded bread, which I find tastier and more fun to vary. Not so hard if you have a good stand mixer, which takes care of the kneading, and follow the procedures outlined by Peter Reinhart in his Artisan Bread Every Day. A pre-ferment, mixing, French folds, retarding in the refrigerator, baking -- spread out over three days or longer. Use of the refrigerator allows you to fit baking around your schedule, whatever that is.

I bake sourdough bread usually -- have a culture that has been going for years.

Visit the website The Fresh Loaf for advice from experienced bakers.

Sep 15, 2013
Felila in Home Cooking

Your household & food term neologisms?

From a college roommate: cheese greasies for quesadillas. I still like to make cheese greasies.

I cut the tortilla in half, put cheese and salsa in the center, and fold the two edges of the tortilla semicircle inwards. Makes a neat triangular packet, which is yummy fried in a little olive oil till it is crisp on the outside. Can fit six of these in my cast-iron frying pan.

Sep 03, 2013
Felila in Not About Food

Removing skin from hazelnuts - HELP!

Oh, and I'm making the fig and hazelnut sourdough bread from Hamelman's bread book.

Aug 12, 2013
Felila in Home Cooking

Removing skin from hazelnuts - HELP!

I also think that the boiling took a lot of flavor out of the nuts. Dangnabit.

The nuts are mostly dry now, but I am still having to process one nut at a time, scraping off skin with my thumbnail. At least the scrapings don't cling to my fingers.

Aug 12, 2013
Felila in Home Cooking

Removing skin from hazelnuts - HELP!

I tried baking them and then rubbing the skins off, per the directions in the bread recipe (Hamelman). Didn't work all that well. Looked online and found several recipes (including here) for boiling nuts in water and baking soda. I had a lot of nuts, so I used 8 cups water and 3/4 cup baking soda. Should have used a bigger pot. Foamed up and boiled over.

BUT, the skins slipped right off. Formed a mess of slippery shreds of skin that were the devil to clean off the nuts.

I tried soaking the mess in water; perhaps the skins would float to the top. NOPE.

I tried cleaning them off with my fingers. My hands were soon covered with clinging shreds of skin, which transferred back to the nuts.

I got a towel and tried wiping either the nuts or my hands on the towel. The towel was soon covered with clinging shreds of skin, which transferred back to the nuts.

I shook the dang towel onto the floor and went back to work, again and again. I was soon sitting in the middle of a mess of skins. It had taken me an hour to clean one cup of nuts.

I have given up for the night. Washed everything, swept and wiped the floor, and put the remaining nuts (still covered with shreds of wet skin) on a sheet pan. I'm hoping that they will dry out overnight and the skins will fall away rather than clinging damply.

This can't be the way that they process the nuts commercially. ADVICE - HELP - PLEASE.

Aug 12, 2013
Felila in Home Cooking

Breakfast - The Most Important Meal of the Day

I eat my breakfast at noon. I'm doing intermittent fasting (eating only noon to 8 PM). I find that having a small eating window helps me stay on my diet.

Usually have a few prunes and a banana, then perhaps some oatmeal with 2% organic milk and raw sugar. Or leftovers.

Aug 06, 2013
Felila in General Topics

Piecrust redux

There are a great many Bittman recipes that I find just MEH. I have always chalked that up to differing tastes. The one cookbook author who always pleases me is Madhur Jaffrey.

Jul 26, 2013
Felila in Home Cooking

Piecrust redux

Yes, a bit of hard liquor does improve the crust. I've been using tequila, which is all I have at the moment. Vodka or brandy would work too.

Jul 26, 2013
Felila in Home Cooking

Piecrust redux

Oh, butter to flour. Bittman, 2 cups, 4 tablespoons flour to 1 cup butter. JoC, 2 cups flour to 2/3 cup butter. A lot less butter.

Jul 26, 2013
Felila in Home Cooking

Piecrust redux

I probably should get a pastry cutter. Hands have worked in the past, but it's HOT here in Honolulu of late.

Jul 26, 2013
Felila in Home Cooking

Piecrust redux

When I used the JoC recipe, I never refrigerated the pie crust. It was just put it together fast, roll it out, pie!

Of course, I was starting with cold butter and flour that had been stored in the freezer.

Jul 26, 2013
Felila in Home Cooking

Piecrust redux

I was boasting of my piecrust in another thread. Pride goeth before a fall. The latest apple pie (the first pie I had baked in months) flirted with disaster. I used the Bittman piecrust recipe rather than the Joy of Cooking. I thought it was too much butter, but was willing to give it a try. The pie crust came together almost instantly, after perhaps two tablespoons of liquid (a tablespoon of tequila and perhaps a tablespoon from a dripping kitchen faucet), and was too soft to roll out easily. It disintegrated when I tried to transfer it to the pie plate. I ended up patting the bottom crust into place and dropping slabs of crust on top of the apple filling.

The Bittman recipe calls for making the pie crust in a food processor, which I do not have. I did my usual slow crumbling of the butter by hand, until I had a cornmeal-textured blend. I think that must have softened the butter more than it would have softened when cut up by processor blades. The Joy of Cooking recipe, which has a higher flour to butter ratio, works better for hand processing. It's not as buttery, but it is, as I remember, flakier.

The actual pie, while not photogenic, was delicious, The crust was crisp and buttery. Next time, however, I'm going to use the old tried-and-true Joy of Cooking recipe, which works for the tools that I have. Less difficult to roll out and assemble.

Jul 25, 2013
Felila in Home Cooking

Bacon grease

If it's not one thing it's another. I do not subscribe to the newspaper. Or to any paper magazines, for that matter. I bring my own bags to market. Nothing to recycle or throw away. Nothing to absorb grease :)

Jul 15, 2013
Felila in General Topics

Bacon grease

I cook S, SE, and E Asian; Central Asian, Iranian, Arab, Mediterranean, and Latin American. Some European and standard American, but not a lot. What do you mean I never try anything new?

Having grown up in the 1950s with an ill-tempered, domineering father who refused to eat anything but a bog-standard American meat and potatoes diet, I never want to eat a dad diet again.

Jul 13, 2013
Felila in General Topics

Bacon grease

Let me remind you again ... I don't cook many things that use bacon grease. I don't think you can use bacon grease in South Asian, East Asian, or Southeast Asian cooking. I don't know anyone who does cook with bacon grease, perhaps because I live in Honolulu, have Asian neighbors, and many vegetarian friends. Indeed, the majority of my meals are vegetarian.

I wish I could donate my grease to all of you grease-lovers via the magic of the internet, but no one has developed a bacon grease transfer protocol yet :)

Bacon grease

If I put it in a plastic yogurt tub, still hot, it will melt the tub. Perhaps a tin can, if I could find a lid that fit ...

I don't want to turn on the oven just to make bacon bits. Heating up the oven in my electric stove uses a lot of electricity, which is extremely expensive here in Honolulu.

I don't do much frying at all. When I do saute -- say, a sofrito -- I use canola or olive oil. I cook vegetarian and East or South Asian, for the most part, and bacon grease is not the best thing for a stir-fry or curry :) I have a container of bacon grease in the refrigerator, been there forever, never used.

Jul 11, 2013
Felila in General Topics

Bacon grease

One of my roomies is on a bacon binge. I've been cooking bacon too -- I like bacon bits in my green pea salads, so I fry up a whole pound of bacon and freeze the crispy bits. We have been making a lot of bacon grease.

We're not supposed to pour it down the drain, as it clogs the condo drains. We've been pouring the grease into a jar on the kitchen counter, then throwing out the jar when it's full. I wrap it in paper towels, two plastic bags, and put it in the condo dumpster.

I don't like doing that either; a lot of the grease stays liquid, and the jar will doubtless break when the garbage is picked up, drenching everything in grease. It is true that it will go to a garbage-to-energy plant, but still ...

Does anyone have any ideas as to safe and green disposal of bacon grease?

Jul 10, 2013
Felila in General Topics

I AM NEVER ATTEMPTING PIE CRUST AGAIN!!!!!! (unless you help me)

As you toss the dough to distribute the water, it starts to clump. There may still be a little flour left in the bottom of the bowl. Scoop it up and dampen it. The clumps of dough will start clinging together. Try squeezing them together (lightly). If the dough forms one ball, it's ready to roll out.

If you were here in my kitchen, I could show you. I could put your hands in the bowl so that you could feel the moment when the consistency was just right.

Since you're not here, you're going to have to experiment. That means too wet one time, too dry the next time. Remember how the dough felt at those times and try again. Do not be discouraged by the failures; they are part of the cook's learning process.

Jul 09, 2013
Felila in Home Cooking

I AM NEVER ATTEMPTING PIE CRUST AGAIN!!!!!! (unless you help me)

My pie crusts are perfect :) I use chilled butter, cut it up into chunks, and then work the butter into the flour (which is also chilled, because I live in the tropics and have to store it in the freezer) with my fingers. Slowly. Carefully. Mindfully. Brushing my thumb across my fingers, to make little flakes.

When the mixture is like coarse cornmeal, I add a tablespoon or so of hard liquor (I've been using tequila, because that's all I've got), toss the mixture with my fingers to mix, then turn on the kitchen faucet (cold water) so that it is a slow drip. I put the bowl into the sink and let the water drip into the bowl, tossing the whole time. When the mixture comes together (just when it hits this point, not after) it is ready to be rolled out. I'm usually in a hurry, so I don't stop to chill the dough. Still seems to work for me. I roll it out on a plastic mat and roll it up on the rolling pin to transfer to the pie.

It's all in FEELING when the butter is well distributed, and when you've added just enough liquid. Measuring the liquid never worked for me.

Jul 06, 2013
Felila in Home Cooking

All things Cabbage

Wilted cabbage salad. Chop cabbage (green, red, mixed variety, whatever), salt, put in covered container for a few hours. When the cabbage has wilted, rinse, rinse, rinse. Add chopped green onions, perhaps some slivered fresh spinach, and chopped roasted peanuts (unsalted, coz you need to keep the salt DOWN for this one to work). Add a vinaigrette made with rice vinegar, oil (I use peanut), pepper, and some powdered cumin.

I usually leave out the spinach, because I like the way the cabbage-only version lasts in the fridge. I can make a big batch and have salad for several days.

Jul 06, 2013
Felila in Home Cooking