Come all ye self-styled chefs and kitchen users, we must talk.

So I did it, and wow are they good:

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flickr set
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But really rich

Rich but so good. (and on a side note, a dry sherry or dr. Pepper - similarly sweet, and the cherry notes pair so well with the dates)

Minarchist wrote:
Of course, I'm from Kentucky, so I use bourbon in a lot of places people don't; water, lemonade, mac & cheese etc.

FTFY

Fresh Pasta is so easy to make it is almost a crime to use dried most of the time. For a small investment a machine can be bought which simplifies the process immensly, but a straight pin works just as well (although I would recommend a set of thickness guides if using a pin until you can guage it my eye). I just made some Ravioli last night for some coworkers from about as scratch as a city boy can get it. Bought the flour, eggs and milk. Made the ricotta, noodles, and grew the rosemary I used in the Raviolli. Total prep time ~1 year if you count the rosemary and cheese (about a day), 2 hours after you have the basic ingredients together.

The other great thing about fresh pasta is that it's a really fun activity for kids. My four year old loves cranking the handle on the pasta machine, and he's more prone to actually eat what we made together. Fresh pasta is so easy--it's an extra 15-20 minutes on top of what you were going to have to do anyway.

We had doctor pepper actually with it :). We also varied the recipe for a second batch. The first set was bacon, maple syrup, dates and almods. The second batch was dates around asiego cheese then with bacon that has been dusted with paprika. SOO good.

edit - just realized Mack was the person I made this with... didn't know you were active on the forum yet

Passively active

I just made an awesome sandwich for lunch. Thought I'd share the experience.

I started out with spiral cut, honey roasted ham pieces that I placed in a food processor and pulsed until they were nice, small cubes. To that, I added diced celery, red onion, parsley, and light mayonnaise. Then I heated up a spinach tortilla and stuffed it with the aforementioned ham salad, mixed salad greens, light swiss cheese, black beans, half an avocado chopped, and two spoonfuls of picante sauce.

Yum.

I'm not a big fan of the oven-ready lasagna noodles. Perhaps it was just the recipe I used, but while the lasagna I made turned out fine the night I made it, the noodles were really mushy once refrigerated, and lasagna is one of those dishes that you make enough of for leftovers. I might give the recipe another shot dried or fresh noodles; I haven't made any pastas (outside of gnocchi and pierogies) yet and it might be fun. Also, ditto on the making of your own tomato sauce. I'd note that it's not necessary to buy whole tomatoes; crushed work just fine. Just get a good brand (Muir Glen is really good for the price).

Minarchist wrote:
If anyone's a fan of Alton Brown's and wants to dive deeper down that rabbit hole, I highly recommend Shirley O' Corriher's two books, Cookwise and Bakewise. She is the crazy white-haired lady who sometimes appears on Good Eats who seems as though she could shoot science out of her fingers. After reading both of these, I'm pretty sure AB picks up quite a bit of his show prep from them. Anyway, part recipe and part serious science, they are great for the geeky end of the pool. I got them both for Christmas. I'm currently baking my way through the first chapter of Cookwise (yeast bread), and I'm learning a ton. My loaves have improved dramatically over the past couple of months. These are probably as close to culinary school texts as you can get without actually shelling out a Benjamin for On Cooking or something similar.

Alton Brown actually has his own cookbook out called "Good Eats". We actually won it in some Food Network contest my wife added. In the preface he described wanting to make a cooking show that was basically Mr. Wizard meets meets Julia Child. He doesn't just want to tell you how to cook, he wants you know they "why's" as well.

I haven't made a thing from any of his recipes yet I find myself reading it like a novel. It's fantastic.

http://www.amazon.com/Good-Eats-Earl...

Bear wrote:
Minarchist wrote:
If anyone's a fan of Alton Brown's and wants to dive deeper down that rabbit hole, I highly recommend Shirley O' Corriher's two books, Cookwise and Bakewise. She is the crazy white-haired lady who sometimes appears on Good Eats who seems as though she could shoot science out of her fingers. After reading both of these, I'm pretty sure AB picks up quite a bit of his show prep from them. Anyway, part recipe and part serious science, they are great for the geeky end of the pool. I got them both for Christmas. I'm currently baking my way through the first chapter of Cookwise (yeast bread), and I'm learning a ton. My loaves have improved dramatically over the past couple of months. These are probably as close to culinary school texts as you can get without actually shelling out a Benjamin for On Cooking or something similar.

Alton Brown actually has his own cookbook out called "Good Eats". We actually won it in some Food Network contest my wife added. In the preface he described wanting to make a cooking show that was basically Mr. Wizard meets meets Julia Child. He doesn't just want to tell you how to cook, he wants you know they "why's" as well.

I haven't made a thing from any of his recipes yet I find myself reading it like a novel. It's fantastic.

http://www.amazon.com/Good-Eats-Earl...

I have his I'm Just Here for the Food book, and it is awesome. Much more streamlined than the Good Eats book. Good Eats is part cook book, part biography, and part show history, so it does handle much more like a book. If you want to just get into the science of cooking that he offers, grab I'm Just Here for the Food. I have also skimmed his Kitchen Gear book, and will most likely pick that up. I am a big fan of his no uni-taskers in the kitchen rule. Anything that can help keep things simple is welcome in my kitchen.

Links to the books mentioned:
http://www.amazon.com/Im-Just-Here-F...

http://www.amazon.com/Alton-Browns-G...

For the record, the Good Eats cookbooks are great; I mentioned Shirley O' Corriher's books because they're like his, but much more in-depth. When you're done with Alton Brown, she's the next place to go.

Also, check out Alton Brown's baking book, I'm Just Here for More Food; I don't think it's been mentioned yet. The pizza dough recipe in here is awesome. I usually make it once a week.

The weather outside definitely smells of spring, which means I'm getting an itch to wake up my charcoal grill from hibernation. And just yesterday I met the thing I always dreamed of: Weber pizza stone for my Weber One Touch! The only problem is I can't really find any reviews or recommendations. Anyone has an experience with it to share?

I've got all of the Alton Brown books, and I'll add another recommendation for all of them, particularly if you want to know why things work.

My wife has just found her cooking Guru: by which I mean the cookery writer with whom she completely connects.

This has been great for me because, while she's always been a good cook, this has ignited her excitement and creativity and I get to nom the benefits. Better still, as her new guru is Bill Granger, she cooks me loads of tasty Australian dishes now.

In other news I sharpened up my Kasumi knives on the weekend, having finally found a technique that works for me. My knives are now razor sharp and I feel at least 15% more manly.

We just watched Julie & Julia yesterday evening (rating: we loved it unanimously). My comment is that there should be more movies about food, cooking and eating.

wanderingtaoist wrote:
We just watched Julie & Julia yesterday evening (rating: we loved it unanimously). My comment is that there should be more movies about food, cooking and eating.

If you haven't already, watch "Tampopo"

Big Night

So I made a Pasta dish tonight that my hubby said I needed to post. So here goes:

1 large onion diced
1 tsp garlic minced
1 lb chorizo sliced in to rounds
2 cans rotel undrained
2 cans black beans rinsed and drained
2 cans whole kernel corn
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano

Spray a heavy pan with cooking spray and add the onion, garlic, and the chorizo. Cook until the chorizo is browned and the onion is soft. Add everything else and simmer while you cook one pound of any smallish pasta that you choose in well salted water (we had farfalle). Once the pasta is done, take one "cup" (Racheal Ray style) of pasta water and add it to the meat/veggie mix, and then drain the pasta well. Don't rinse it. Put it into the meat/veggie mixture and let sit for about five minutes.
Serve!

it is enough for about 8 servings. But be forewarned, if you don't like spice just use stewed tomatoes.

Enjoy.

I was the one who asked for it- thanks!

wheres the pictures! must see what this looks like.... or has it been consumed?

/skim

I'm here for selfish purposes but it's not without reason that I could share down the line. I started cooking some months ago (I'm healthier now!)

Has anyone made some great, healthy fish tacos and could post the recipe? There are some useful recipe sites but I thought I'd ask here first. My family has been wanting some fish tacos for weeks. We're about to head to Columbus to visit family and watch the HS basketball tourney. I'd like to make my family some on Thursday night before we leave.

I've tried two recipes before now, via the web and a book, and both were average; My taste buds demand greatness.

There's a good amount of Tilapia in the freezer so I'll probably use that. I've got some whole wheat and white corn tortillas.

Fish tacos exist? I always thought they were a euphemism.

wanderingtaoist wrote:
I'll add to the food porn: the results of my weekly bread-baking ritual.

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Just my own sourdough (it's called The Beast and lives in my fridge for half a year now), bread flour, water and salt. No breadmaker, just good old handwork.

That sourdough looks amazing. I've been experimenting with various starters and techniques but haven't gotten anything that looks as bubbly and perfect as that. Do you have any tips or starter recipes you're willing to share?

cyrax wrote:
/skim

I'm here for selfish purposes but it's not without reason that I could share down the line. I started cooking some months ago (I'm healthier now!)

Has anyone made some great, healthy fish tacos and could post the recipe? There are some useful recipe sites but I thought I'd ask here first. My family has been wanting some fish tacos for weeks. We're about to head to Columbus to visit family and watch the HS basketball tourney. I'd like to make my family some on Thursday night before we leave.

I've tried two recipes before now, via the web and a book, and both were average; My taste buds demand greatness.

There's a good amount of Tilapia in the freezer so I'll probably use that. I've got some whole wheat and white corn tortillas.

Good summer meal. I would go with either marinating the fish (plus some other ingredients) in lime juice, ceviche style, or with blackening the fillets. Other than that just add the usual stuff--diced onion, cilantro, tomato, etc. There are tons of ceviche & blackening seasoning recipes on the web; both are pretty hard to mess up.

Now I want fish tacos.

I just want to extol the virtues of induction hobs. When I moved to a house without gas in the kitchen, I thought that I was stuffed. I hate cooking on electric hobs; the control is never good enough.

I was looking for the best quality electric hob that I could afford, and a guy in a shop suggested induction. It's just amazing; it doesn't actually generate heat, it causes the pan itself to become hot.

It is quicker to reach temperature than gas, and control is even finer; my NEFF has 18 settings per ring. Another crucial bonus is that it is child safe, since the rings deactivate if a pan isn't detected on one after 10 seconds or so.

The only downside is that getting pans can be a bit of a pain. The pan has to have a certain ferrous content to work, and a lot of high street and outlet places just don't stock them I found a surprisingly good set of cheap saucepans, and my old wok works, but everything else had to be binned. Getting a 30" frying pan was a real problem. I bought one that looked decent, and the paint of the bottom of the pan burned off and onto the hob! Hobscrapers are a fine invention. Eventually, I bought a really nice Tefal one with a stainless steel base and it is amazing.

hubbinsd wrote:
That sourdough looks amazing. I've been experimenting with various starters and techniques but haven't gotten anything that looks as bubbly and perfect as that. Do you have any tips or starter recipes you're willing to share?

I'm really more of a trial-and-error guy and there are baking experts floating around who will probably add more useful tips, but here's a quick step-by-step.

0. Create a starter, if I remember correctly I used these steps. Boil your water before using and let it cool, that way you'll get rid of most of the potential off flavors or chemicals that might hamper your progress (such as chlorine, which kills bacteria). If you do it correctly, your starter will smell a bit like beer and a bit like bread. Altogether a pleasant, sour smell.

1. Name your starter, it brings luck. Plus you can consider it a pet of sorts, as it needs regular feeding. (I call mine The Beast.)

2. Keep it in the fridge, feed it flour and water once a week or two weeks to keep the bacteria thriving. Try to keep a constant flour/water ratio when feeding (1:1 by weight is optimum) to keep your baking ratio constant.

3. Feed it a day before you make a dough, to kickstart the bacteria. If you bake once a week like I do then the feeding and baking process work together nicely.

4. Make a dough: I use 600 ml of water per 1 kg of flour, which is the most common ratio. Don't forget your starter is 1:1 flour/water. I usually use 300 g of starter (i.e. 150 g flour, 150 g water), 600 g of flour, 300 g water and a tablespoon of salt. Mix well, mixer with a kneading hook really helps. Feed the starter afterwards.

5. Let it rise for at least four hours at room temperature, or two hours plus overnight in fridge (helps to develop nicer flavor, plus makes dough stiffer and easier to produce a loaf). You should experiment with the time though, it's your local bacteria in your starter after all and might be different from mine.

6. Shape a loaf and let rise for three hours, four if it was refrigerated. I use a banetton for this final rising, it's basically a linen-lined basket, which shapes the loaf nicely and makes the crust a bit dry, which turns it more crunchy.

7. Put in an oven of 230C/450F with water container in it. Water should be boiling, you need the steam to create a tasty crust (something with gelatinizing starches mumbo-jumbo). Slash the crust with the sharp knife beforehand to create natural tearing point when the bread rises, otherwise it will tear up.

8. If you have a window on your oven, sit down and watch. Seriously. One of the things I love watching again and again is the oven spring in the first ten minutes, how the loaf takes final shape. It's very satisfying.

9. It takes about 35 minutes for bread to bake - knock on it to hear if it's done, it should sound hollow. Or stick a long needle in it to see if some dough sticks to it inside.

10. Take it out, put it on a mesh to let it cool and cover it with a cloth. If you place it on a solid surface, the steam evaporating from the bottom of the loaf will make it damp, the mesh will avoid that. Try and wait at least 20-30 minutes before the first bite. The wait's difficult (the smell and the feel of the crust is heavenly), but it's been done before.

This bread will keep in a cupboard 6 to 7 days without going stale, dry or mouldy.

Experiment, it's fun and satisfying. Try new flours (rye is a classic and adds fantastic "bready" taste to your bread, I use rye at 25 to 30 percent of total flour weight). If you don't have bubbles, you might need to leave the loaf to rise longer. Or your flour doesn't have enough gluten. There is a wealth of information about sourdough and its troubleshooting on the net, just show up and ask. An exhaustive 101 on sourdough is in the Free Culinary School podcasts, including videos. And in forums there are great tips for troubleshooting (I'm active there too a bit).

Don't be afraid of the length of this post, baking bread is really easy and relaxing. I'm looking forward to it whole week.

conejote wrote:
blackening the fillets

The first hit seems to be a hit. I'll be broiling it and using olive oil instead of butter. Can't wait.

Blotto The Clown wrote:
wheres the pictures! must see what this looks like.... or has it been consumed? :(

It's been consumed, but we'll get photos next time we have it.

cyrax wrote:
conejote wrote:
blackening the fillets

The first hit seems to be a hit. I'll be broiling it and using olive oil instead of butter. Can't wait. :D

Watch out--even broiling it instead of doing it on the stovetop can create lots and lots of smoke. I do it in an iron skillet outside on a grill.

Behold:
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Ok, that's perhaps not a very impressive photo. It's a couple of bags of the frozen veal stock I just made (bagged into 250ml/1cup measures). Continuing in my aim to make everything in the French Laundry cookbook I made the veal stock in the book for some of the upcoming recipes. You start with 10lbs of veal bones and off cuts, the cooking time is around 17 hours. And it makes just less than 2 litres of stock (2 US quarts). All in it took 1 and a half days; from 11am Saturday morning all the way through to 1am, then a further 6 hours the following day.

I have learnt 2 things:
a) I'm never doing that again
b) Blanching bones does not smell great and the scum is disturbingly green.

Note to self: in future just use a light chicken stock.