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Pairing spinach with a main dish?

I've been watching Master Chef (UK cooking programme). One of the professional chef judges, John Torode, is always going on about how iron-rich spinach doesn't go with whatever savory main dish the contestant has cooked. (Sorry, can't recall the dishes.)

Beyond standard recipes using spinach, how do you know how to pair it? Is there some sort of "litmus test"?

Nov 15, 2013
Journey in Home Cooking

Ibérico / Ibérican pork

Has anyone cooked black Ibérico / Ibérican pork - specifically chops - before? I've read that they should be served medium rare, and have a lovely nutty flavour, owing to their diet of acorns. I'm tending to think they should be simply seasoned with salt and pepper, then quickly seared in a hot pan and finished in the oven. However, some sort of sauce seems in order as well. Any ideas or recipes that would compliment the nuttiness of the pork?

Oct 22, 2013
Journey in Home Cooking

Thai curry using bone-in chicken thighs?

Bingo! - That is the missing step; geez, I should have thought of that! Thanks Arashall! Chopping the bones releases the flavour, whilst reducing the cooking time so the coconut doesn't curdle during the time it takes to cook the meat near the bones! Duh!

Mar 28, 2013
Journey in Home Cooking

is beef becoming tasteless?

It is probably a combination of things, beginning first and foremost on the farm. I'm no expert by ANY stretch, but if beef is like, say, flowers like sweetpeas and apples, many growers gravitate to hybrids, not the old-fashioned varieties. I suspect the same might be true with beef: they use breeds that produce the maximum amount of beef quickly and cheaply. Steriods, antibiotics, feed, and "happiness" of the cattle come into play as well - not to mention aging (dry vs. wet vs. little aging at all). Most supermarkets don't hang their meat for very long at all.

We are extremely fortunate to live in an area that raises old English breeds, free to roam and eat meadow grass, fresh hay and lots of treats from the villagers (apples, carrots, and the such). They aren't taken miles away before slaughter (no stress) and hung for a minimum of 6-8 weeks.

I also suspect the fresh produce used to prepare dishes our mums and dads used things that were in seaon and local. Try a home-grown late summer tomato vs store-bought in the middle of winter and you'll see what I mean; it makes a huge difference.

Finally, recipes with a zillion ingredients might be to suit the modern notion that more is better; the cook is putting more effort into the dish to make it more "special", etc. It helps sell cookbooks.

Mar 28, 2013
Journey in General Topics

Ugh--help me save some watery chicken soup

I don't know if it would make a difference, but last week I made chicken and dumplings for the first time, and the receipe called for WHOLE milk (1/4 cup to 4 1/2 cups homemade stock + 1/4 cup dry sherry). I'd never had chick'dumps before, but it was amazing and the soup had a lovely "mouth feel".

Mar 28, 2013
Journey in Home Cooking

Thai curry using bone-in chicken thighs?

I began making another dish using skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs when the group called in, all of whom decided they had a hankering for a Thai curry. Doesn't matter if it's Panang, Red or Green - I've got everything to hand and aim to please and now that the thought is in my head - I quite fancy it, too!

I've already browned the thighs and removed the skin, and was thinking of proceeding from there. The only thing is, I seem to recall the last time I tried using bone-in chicken, I did it slowly in the oven (covered) and the coconut milk coddled -- and, no - it didn't boil that I can remember.

Does anyone have advice? Should I do it on the stove top, bang it in a crock pot, or finish cooking the thighs in broth (poached) to be added to the sauce later? (The latter kinda seems a shame since it seems the bones would enrich the sauce with a deep chicken flavour.) Alternatively, go ahead with the original Chicken Tetrazzni and be dammed-LOL!

Cheers,
Christine

Mar 28, 2013
Journey in Home Cooking

Confusion and indecision: Two Lamb Madras recipes

Hubby has asked me to give a go at making lamb madras, which I've never done before and am confused about the vastly different ingredients used in two recipes I've found on the web. In addition to spices, one uses tomatoes and tamarind, and the other doesn't.. I realise everyone has their own recipes, but would have thought there would be more in common! Both claim to be "authentic", whatever that means!

Recipe 1: coriander, peppercorn, fennel, fenugreek, clove, red chillies, onion, ginger, garlic, fresh tomatoes, coconut, cilantro/coriander to garnish. This one has a sauce that clings to the meat.

Recipe 2: coriander seeds, cumin seeds, red chillies, fresh curry leaves, garlic, ginger, ground tumeric, ghee, onion, coconut milk, fennel seeds, cardamon pods, cinnamon, garam masala, tamarind. This one looks like it will be a bit saucier than the first.

I've never had it, but the husband - who loves it - can't recall the overall taste, but thinks it has tomatoes or was otherwise a deep red, so not much help!

Does anyone have any opinions? I'm one of these who end up with bland curries (despite using fresh whole herbs, etc.) and really don't want to end up with yet another dish that fails to "wow".

Jun 19, 2012
Journey in Home Cooking

Thank you gift ideas for hospitality?

* A cookbook produced by organisations or companies in your area. For example, my collection of books includes one by the Nashua (NH) Telegraph, which compiled the best recipes submitted by its readers, and another by Richland Washington Allied Arts Association, and a few gathered over the years from B&Bs.

* If your hosts are into genealogy, a gift certificate covering the cost of research at a local library or historical society.

* A locally-produced food item. Farmer's markets, small resturants, and smaller gourmet shops are good for finding unique items. (A local wine or beer from a micro-brewery, BBQ sauce, chutney/jam, herb or spice mix, etc.) My US friends always get a kick out of the unique flavours of crips/potato chips we get in the UK, just to live you an idea.

* Locally-produced soaps, lotions, etc.

* If they like antiques, maybe you could find a commerative paperweight or some other interesting item featuring the name or photo of your area.

* A CD by a local musician.

* Something made by a local craftsman or artist.

May 06, 2012
Journey in Los Angeles Area

Yellow Loue Chicken?

Donald Russell (UK) sells Yellow Loue Chicken, which is supposed to taste "like chicken used to taste" and has no added water. At £8.67/kilo, a 1.5kg bird costs £13, which is rather steep. We normally buy free range corn fed chicken at the grocery store or butcher at around £4.99/kg and it's very, but I don't know if water has been added (though its probable).

Has anyone tried Loue chicken, and is it worth the price?

Mar 30, 2012
Journey in U.K./Ireland

Potato salad secrets?

My mum made THE best potato salad, and while I'm sure there are others who made it like her, I've yet to see it.

Her "secret" ingredient was the addition of ketchup/catsup.

After boiling the potatoes (peeled), while still very hot she cut them into large chunks and marinated them in a mixture of mayo, ketchup, mustard, celery seed, vinegar, salt, pepper and a little bit of sugar. Taste as go until you get a ratio that pleases you. Mom's dressing was always a pleasant orange-pink colour, not too light but not too dark.

When cool, more of the mayo/ketchup sauce was added to make them creamy, and then she added chopped hard boiled eggs, onion, celery and green bell pepper.

Mar 30, 2012
Journey in Home Cooking

Trio of dessert combination recommendations

Many thanks to everyone for your critique and suggestions. Our friends came over last night and I went with the panna cotta, brownie (without icing), and a stack made with shortbread, cream and strawberries. Everyone loved it, but I didn't actually care for the orange panna cotta. It seemed a wee bit bitter to me. Didn't think I caught the orange pithe when I grated the peel, but that's the only reason I can think would account for the bitterness. As I was the only one who thought that, maybe I just don't like orange panna cotta! Oh yeah...I didn't do the onion tart, at Jules' suggestion. Thanks again everyone!

Mar 11, 2012
Journey in Home Cooking

Trio of dessert combination recommendations

I've never done a trio before, but what do you all think of these combinations:

* Orange panna cotta --OR-- orange posset (with a little cardamon shortbread on the side?)
* Chocolate brownie with chocolate ganache frosting
* Strawberry tart (uses marcapone and almonds)

OR
* Lemon posset (with a little cardamon shortbread on the side?)
* Rasberry sorbet OR strawberry sorbet
* Poppyseed cake OR cardamon cake

Please feel free to mix the two up for a different combination, or add something different altogether. The only requirement is that everything can be made hours or a full day before and fairly easy.

My main menu is:
* Appetiser: Individual onion tarts with greens (Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe')
* Parmasan-crusted swordfish on a bed of home made linguine (sauce has white wine, lemon, capers, parsley)
* steamed sugarsnaps and asparagus

Everyone here always has such great advise, I'm looking forward to hearing your advice and recommendations!

Mar 01, 2012
Journey in Home Cooking

Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon?

Many thanks for your recipes and tips, Tom. Ya know, I have that huge 12-qt. pasta All-Clad pot and insert given as a birthday present years ago. It's so big it's sat in the garage because I rarely have occasion to use it, so your tip to use it for stock will breathe new life into it.

Finding beef bones of any sort is proving to be more difficult than anticipated. Our local Tesco doesn't sell sirloin on the bone and all three butchers in our area don't stock marrow bones, beef ribs or any type of bones! Fortunately, one of them has kindly agreed to save any off-cut bones he can gather over the course of the week, so hopefully he'll have enough by Saturday. Can't wait to get started!

Jan 03, 2012
Journey in Home Cooking

Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon?

That "wineyness" taste is one of the things I didn't care for the other times I've tried this dish (with a non-JC recipe). Before even tasting it, you could see how the meat and gravy was a deep wine-red, rather than a rich mahogany colour, which I believe a well-made BB should have. The addition of jam sounds quite nice, but wouldn't it add a tart-sweet note to the dish that shouldn't actually be there?

Jan 02, 2012
Journey in Home Cooking

Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon?

Thanks for the advice on the meat, Mateo. I don't have enough of either the beef shin or ox cheeks and, after checking the packages, one takes 2½-3 hours, the other 2-2½ hours. I'm assuming, rather than cooking separately, I could add the shin first, then the cheeks after ½ hour, yes?

If using rump, would that be top rump silverside or a top side rump, or just a plain rump? (As you might guess, I'm not knowledgeable about beef cuts. Compounded with the fact I'm an American in England, I'm still trying to come to grips with English/UK cuts and the different terminology!

Jan 01, 2012
Journey in Home Cooking

Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon?

Hi Tom and all. We don't have Trader Joe's in the UK, but I actually don't mind peeling little onions. For other recipes, I usually blanch them in chicken stock, peel, then saute in a little butter to brown them, so might do that with this dish as well.

I like the idea of making my own stock and would appreciate your recipe. If you use marrow bones, any recommendations for substitutes would be nice as it's really difficult to get them where I am; oxtail is a LITTLE easier to find, and veal bones are near to impossible.

Jan 01, 2012
Journey in Home Cooking

I want to love my slow cooker, can you help?

One dish that is very successful in a crock pot is lamb shanks. I also use a timer if I'm going to be away for longer than 4 hours, and often have it start during the night. When I wake up, I uncover and let it cool and pop it into the fridge. It's then easy to skim off any fat, and then reheat with added carrots or potatoes, etc. before eating.

Dec 31, 2011
Journey in Home Cooking

Coconut milk in the slow cooker?

I tried making Thai Massaman Curry in a slow cooker, thinking the lamb would benefit from a long, slow simmer. The coconut split and, while the lamb was nice and tender, we felt the dish was pretty much ruined.

Dec 31, 2011
Journey in Home Cooking

Do you have a favorite I'm-alone-now-so-nobody-will-know favorite dish?

A stickler for presentation and cooking from scratch with fresh ingredients when others are around, left on my own I make up a batch of frozen mashed potatoes, some sweet corn and a pan of Bisto gravy granules (any flavour). Mix the lot together and then....blush...eat right out of the pan to save on washing up!

Dec 31, 2011
Journey in General Topics

What was your favourite childhood concoction, which you now think is disgusting?

When my brothers and I were kids (under 10 I think), mom used to mix a tin of tuna with Campbell's cream of mushroom soup and tinned peas, served bubbly hot on top of toast with crumbled potato chips on top, then some melted Velvetta or cheese curds. Sometimes she's throw in leftover Kielbasa or hotdogs, in which case we'd add catsup. It was yummy! However, when I recalled it after an absence of something like 30 years and made it myself, it was awful!

Dec 31, 2011
Journey in General Topics

Perplexed by lack of food availability.

Supermarkets cater to their local clientel. We live in a very rural village and the nearest place to shop is a working-class market town where the local store devotes practically an entire isle to tinned beans in tomato sauce and carries lots of ready-made sauces and the like, but try to find a staple like polenta or even mustard seed and you're plumb out of luck! Go a few miles away to a more "up-market" town and the choice increases greatly, but still depends on the make-up of the population, i.e. ethic diversity, culture, etc. So, product availability depends on the client base served by the shops and what people cook (or don't). Shops carry what sells and has a good turnover. Speciality shops, markets and good-ol' mail order help us fill the many gaps...and it pays to plan ahead and be flexible!

Dec 31, 2011
Journey in General Topics

Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon?

Silly me, Cantkick! Guess I'll have to drink more wine-LOL!

Dec 31, 2011
Journey in Home Cooking

Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon?

Jay, why frozen onions? Surely you mean the frozen kind, which are chopped, for the braising part, and not the small white ones that go in later, yes?

Dec 31, 2011
Journey in Home Cooking

What side dishes with scallops?

Gordon Ramsay does scallops over a bed of culiflower puree with a dressing of white raisins
and capers, which we really like. Serve with just wilted spinach done Indian style with toasted almonds. Ramsay's recipe is here: http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles...

Dec 31, 2011
Journey in Home Cooking

Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon?

A late bloomer, I just saw the movie "Julie & Julia" on the telly. Although I've made Beef Bourguignon before, I've always found it too "winey", but that could be because I used the wrong/cheap wine or didn't cook it well or long enough. It's been okay, but nothing to write home about.

Inspired by the movie to give it another go -- in the hope of making something that will knock the socks off my hubby -- I did an internet search for Julia's recipe and was amazed to see so many recipes adapted from her original. This may be a silly question, but as the original goddess of French cooking, isn't Julia's version perfect as-is? Also, as it is called Beef Bourguignon, why does the receipe call for Beujolias, Côtes du Rhône, Bordeau- Saint-Émilion, Chianti **OR**Burgundy?

I have also seen comments from on-line posters who say they found the original recipe bland, and recommend using Pinot Noir and substituting dark chicken stock in lieu of brown beef stock.

Speaking of brown beef stock, short of making it from scratch (marrow bones are hard to come by), is fresh beef stock from the grocery store okay and/or would a bit of More Than Gourmet demi-glace give a better finish?

In case it matters, I'll be using a combination of aged beef shin and beef cheeks for the meat.

Any thoughts, hints and tips will be most welcome!

Dec 31, 2011
Journey in Home Cooking

Cooking potato skins in advance?

Many thanks, Monavano and Lisavf. I'm so glad they can be made in advance as it will take lots of pressure off an already crammed cooking schedule!

Dec 21, 2011
Journey in Home Cooking

"Sous vide" at home?

Hubby and I have never had anything cooked by this method before, so didn't know what to expect when we the recipe at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJQQPK... for "Chef John's" duck. It was easy and delicious with his peach sweet and sour sauce (http://foodwishes.blogspot.com/2011/0...).

I'm not certain how or if the sous vide had anything to do with it, but that was the first time we (hubby and I) were ever able to get the skin so incredibly crispy, even though we've always scored the skin before when frying in a cast iron pan.

Dec 21, 2011
Journey in Home Cooking

Cooking potato skins in advance?

I want to include loaded potato skins on a party menu but would like to do as much in advance as possible. I've thought about baking the potatoes and scooping them out a day in advance, but worry the skins might get soft and floppy during storage in (or out?) of the fridge.

Does anyone have any experience and some tips for doing them in advance?

Many thanks,
Christine

Dec 21, 2011
Journey in Home Cooking

Can anyone identify this Thai appetiser?

Update. Well, I made the Hoy Jor recipes found on the internet, (http://www.ezythaicooking.com/free_re... and http://en.petitchef.com/recipes/deep-...), using bits from both and substituting with what I had to hand. The final product used pork mince, shredded suet, tinned shreaded crab, hens egg, cornflour/starch, a bit of dried shrimp, Chinese dried mushroom, spring onion/scallion, cilantro/coriander, Chinese cooking wine, white pepper, and soy. Would not use the suet again. I served them with a sweet and sour sauce and a salad of bean sprouts, carrots, seseme oil and soy. See picture. The Hoy Jor is sitting on bamboo leaves used to line the steamer.

They turned out pretty tasty but weren't what I'd hoped for or remembered from so long ago. Shrimp would have been better in my humble opinion, perhaps with a 60/40 ratio to the pork, which me thinks would be better using hand-chopped pork vs mince. Duck egg may have produced a richer finish. I cut back on the recipe's recommended garlic, which may have been a mistake as well.

All things considered, they were nice all things considered, but not memorable. Next time, maybe following a recipe would be a good idea! I'm using the left-over mixture for wontons tonight with some added prawn/shrimp and ginger for wonton soup.

As for the dried tofu skin, they were much thinner than I had expected looking at the package: How on earth do they do that! Extremely fragile, they reminded me of pork cull, like you use for faggots/sausage. I see endless possibilities!

Sep 01, 2011
Journey in Home Cooking

Can anyone identify this Thai appetiser?

Many thanks to alkapal and everyone who responded. Hoy Jor is indeed what I was looking for - yipee! I think the ones I had so long ago were made with shrimp, which is what I'm going to try first, and replace the plum sauce with a lighter sweet chilie sauce as we have a bumper crop of chilies in the garden now.

The only thing I'm unsure about is the wheat flour, which I don't normally have on hand. The recipe calls for 3 tablespoons, and it seems a waste to have to buy a large bag just for this as it goes stale so quickly. As it is used as a binder, do you think a bit of cornflour/starch, arrowroot or white flour would be the best substitute? (I'm thinking cornflour/starch would be the way to go.

Can't wait to give it a go. Again, cheers to all who came to my rescue!

Aug 30, 2011
Journey in Home Cooking