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Top-5 Cooking Goals for 2009

Strange, but I've found all butter dough much easier to work with than shortening dough, and it tastes better. For years I struggled with Crisco dough then I started using all butter and Rose Levy Beranbaum's recipes and it handled much easier. I figured this "shortening is easier" meme came from Crisco propaganda from the time when food companies did all they could to convince house wives that cooking from scratch or with traditional ingredients was much too hard.

Jan 03, 2009
fran124 in Home Cooking

Whole-wheat sandwich bread: no eggs, no dairy. Possible?

Check out Rose Levy Beranbaum's site realbakingwithrose. She's the author of "The Bread Bible". She's developed a whole wheat loaf that might be similar to what you want. Search for whole wheat on her site.

Dec 30, 2008
fran124 in Home Cooking

HELP!!! Tried to make pumpkin puree from sugar pumpkins

I've also been disappointed by the taste of sugar pie pumpkins. The texture is good, but the taste is lacking. The cheese pumpkins others mentioned are too watery. For Thanksgiving, I'm going to use an ambercup squash. They're the orange relatives of buttercup and turban squashes. I cooked one yesterday - just took it off the front porch, put it one a sheet pan and roasted it whole. They have very hard skins and mine was frozen to boot. The smell as it cooked was heavenly. After it was very soft, I peeled back the skin and scooped out the flesh around the seeds. It tasted so sweet and lovely, we had some for supper last night. The flesh is dry, soft, not stringy at all. It would make a terrific filling for ravioli too.

Nov 25, 2008
fran124 in Home Cooking

Passover Mushroom Schnitzel

Question: Could these be formed, fried and then cooled (maybe frozen) and then reheated in the oven?

Mar 23, 2008
fran124 in Recipes

Am I the only one who hates Harry & David?

Is there a polite way to tell someone not to give us the H&D Fruit of the Month Club again? The fruit's mediocre and in the winter it gets frozen. It's not worth our postman's efforts to get it to us without being frozen or cooked. And they shipped NY State apples from Oregon to the Hudson Valley! What a waste of energy.

Mar 20, 2008
fran124 in General Topics

Has anyone ever had a good experience at IHOP?

We had a wonderful experience at an IHOP! It was New Year's Eve the year the movie Ghandi came out. We were living in Cupertino and had a friend from Brooklyn visiting us. The three of us went to see Ghandi, which you might recall was a fairly long movie. Afterwards, we started driving down the Camino Real toward San Jose looking for someplace to eat. Nothing! New Years Eve, and nothing still open... except the IHOP.

When we walked in, we realized we were the only customers. There was a large party there, but they were friends of the owner, and they were Polynesian. They were having a great time laughing and singing Polynesian songs. The owner graciously welcomed us and brought us party hats, paper leis and champagne - which wasn't bad with pancakes. We loved it. It was one of my favorite New Years celebrations.

Feb 01, 2008
fran124 in Chains

Is the expensive shun mandoline worth it [Moved from Site Talk board]

Oh, what a great suggestion! I was going to ask if there was a generic pusher that works. I have a Matfer mandoline with a fiberglass frame. It's fine, cleans up easily, but the pusher is totally useless, so I use the tool much less than I could. Are you talking about the metal gloves or heavy leather? Does anyone know where to buy such gloves?

Feb 01, 2008
fran124 in Cookware

Big Supermarket in Queens with Organic products

Another alternative is Fairway in Manetto Hills. Take the Grand Central which becomes the Northern State to exit 37. Take a right and it's at the second traffic light. It's about a 20 minute drive from Forest Hills.

We live near Natural which is a very nice store, but oh those prices! (And pantry moths.) No one has coffee like Fairway does.

Trader Joe's is fun, but very weak in the vegetable dept.

Jan 19, 2008
fran124 in Outer Boroughs

Stuffed Pork Chops: What to stuff it with and how to cook?

I think the chop cooks better and tastes better with the stuffing on top rather than in a slit , and you get more stuffing. I brown the chops on both sides then place them in a baking dish, pile the stuffing on top and bake in a 350 oven till done. My favorite stuffing comes from a Paul Prodhomme cookbook. Sprinkle the chops before browning with your favorite Cajun type seasoning. Saute onions, chopped green peppers and garlic. Add the breadcrumbs (agree with the rye suggestion), more of the seasoning, and some corn kernels (frozen is ok) and a little liquid. Pile on top of the chops and bake.

Also, I like smallish crumbs - larger than dry crumbs but smaller than cubes. The food processor is good for this.

Jan 03, 2008
fran124 in Home Cooking

great cakes/pies in the Forest Hills area?

Bonelle is the best! She uses only the best ingredients, real butter, eggs and cream, and you can taste the difference. Those apple turnovers are darn good, as are the croissants, the danish, lemon meringue, carrot cake, tiramisu, and the eclairs. If I were going to buy a cake for something special, this would be the place. They do so many things well in so little space with so few people. Bravo Bonelle!!!!

Jan 03, 2008
fran124 in Outer Boroughs

Fish Market in Wappingers Area?

I noticed the fish store on route 44 for the first time a few weeks ago when we were stuck in very slow traffic in a snowstorm. We'll try it next time we're down that way. The Adams markets have decent fish counters too. They often have fresh, never frozen Gulf shrimp for about $10/lb. and also never frozen cod and tuna. Sometimes they also have sushi grade tuna (previously frozen).

Which of Your Cookies was Best Received?

We made these candy "cookies" this year. http://www.pbs.org/everydayfood/recip...
It was so easy and everyone loved them. I used Callabeau (sp?) white chocolate which was surprisingly good. I didn't have a lot of it, so we made some using Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate chips. I didn't think they were as good 'cause the chocolate wasn't as good, but people loved them too. Some were reluctant to try the white chocolate since they were used to crap white chocolate, but when they tasted them, they changed their minds. We used what we had on hand: pecans, almonds, dried apricots and raisins. I lightly toasted the nuts in the toaster oven. It was a good two person thing to make (though two were not necessary): I prepared the fruit and nuts while my husband melted the chocolate. Then I poured the chocolate and he placed the nuts. It was the easiest well-received treat I've ever made.

Dec 26, 2007
fran124 in Home Cooking

Humus hummus hummous

Your grandmother was right. It's a pain, but the result is smooth hummus.

I don't like packaged hummus like Sabra 'cause they use oils other than olive. Canola makes my husband sick.

Dec 09, 2007
fran124 in Home Cooking

Fresh Ham?

Today our local market had two beautiful, large fresh hams from a small local producer. Oooh they looked beautiful, but with only two people to feed, all I could do was window shop. Fresh hams are so good.

Oct 10, 2007
fran124 in Home Cooking

Offensively bad NYT article

I'm not sure why people think this puff piece is beneath The Times. Afterall, this is the paper that recently devoted a page to pictures of handbags and the dogs they look like!

But this steak thing may be a trend. Listen to this piece on npr by Daniel Pinkwater about the most concise piece of writing he's ever read:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st...

Aug 13, 2007
fran124 in Food Media & News

Soybean Juice

Thanks for the explanation. When we lived in Silicon Valley in the early '80s, a friend was courting a waitress at a Chinese restaurant in San Jose, so he would get together a group to go there for Sunday brunch. It was wonderful: sweet soy milk into which we dipped fried cruellers (bao) wrapped in scallion pancake with a touch of hot chili oil; a salty soup, usually vegetable; a few other dishes including maybe a noodle pancake; and a sweet red bean baked pastry the likes of which I haven't seen since. I always wondered why grocery soy milk, which I don't like, tasted so different from the Chinese stuff.

I googled "how to make soy milk" and found some answers. I'd like to try this since there are no Chinese markets nearby. Has anyone tried to make soy milk?

BTW, "Martin Yan's Chinatown Cooking" has recipes for bao which he calls Chinese twisted doughnuts, noodle pancake, and scallion pancake. I haven't tried the bao yet - been waiting for some correct tasting soy milk.

Jul 19, 2007
fran124 in Features

cookbooks: hidden gems?

I have that one too! The pages are starting to crumble it's so old. They taught me how to make pasta. Also, there is a fantastic beef in wine braise. So good.

Jun 30, 2007
fran124 in Home Cooking

Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting

This probably doesn't taste weird to many non-vegans 'cause many (if not most) packaged baked goods use vegetable shortening "buttercream". To avoid all that fat, I usually just sift confectioners sugar over cupcakes. If the cake is good, that's all it needs for a finish.

Jun 12, 2007
fran124 in Recipes

How do you peel a peach? Really, how do you?

Zeiless(sp?) also makes one of those and it works great on both peaches and tomatoes. For thicker-skinned fruits and vegs, use a regular peeler or you will score the fruit. They cost about $6.

Jun 02, 2007
fran124 in Home Cooking

Foot Fetish

Are bamboo laminate floors really that delicate? If so, what's the point of having a floor you can't walk on?

Jun 02, 2007
fran124 in Features

Staub Round Cocotte

No way Staub. Those suckers are even heavier than LeCreuset.

Jun 02, 2007
fran124 in Features

Mixing It Up

I'm proud to live in a Queens neighborhood, Forest Hills, where a Cold Stone Creamery quickly went out of business. When it first opened, I had no idea what it was and went in expecting to get a scoop of strawberry on a sugar cone. I quickly realized the only option was a bucket of glop with stuff and left.

Apparently, many in the neighborhood did the same. There's a Baskin Robbins nearby, and though it's not the best ice cream, at least parents can get their young children a small dish of ice cream or yogurt. Same for the old folks. Phooey on huge portions of crap!

May 17, 2007
fran124 in Features

Throw-back tuna casserole

My husband came up with this one: Saute onions and garlic in butter. Add grated ginger, salt and pepper, some curry powder and flour, then milk to make a white sauce. To this mix in cooked macaroni and tuna in olive oil mostly drained. Top it all with good old Kraft plastic cheese. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake till plastic is melted and browning.

May 07, 2007
fran124 in Home Cooking

Looking for good (healthy) sandwich ideas

bulgur, lentils, tahini, olive oil, sour pickle, crispy onion shreds (sliced thin, fried in a little oil till brown), and tomato in season served on pita.

Apr 25, 2007
fran124 in Home Cooking

Cuban Fast Food on Austin Street

We had a good Cubano sandwich from there for lunch today: hot pork, ham, cheese on pressed soft roll. It was large enough for us to share.

They're very busy. It's still sort of chaotic, but I imagine things will go more smoothly as they settle in. It looks like it's going to be a hit. By the time I left, the line was out the door!

Oh, so much better than the 2 dreadful empanada places that preceded it in that location.

Apr 25, 2007
fran124 in Outer Boroughs

Best Pizza in Queens ??

I do think Nick's is a nice place, but I have mixed feelings about it. It's amazing that they can get such a nice charred crust from a gas-fired oven and I like the wait-staff and general atmosphere. However, their cheese lands with a thud in my stomach. One guy is responsible for cutting the pizza and adding basil, tossing the salad and preparing the desserts - all with bare hands that he wipes off on a towel. So I avoid salad and basil during flu season.

Apr 23, 2007
fran124 in Outer Boroughs