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Old 03-25-2013, 11:10 PM   #31
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If your recipe calls for beer or wine, ALWAYS use a beer or wine that you would be willing to drink. Don't get the cheap wine or worse yet the so called cooking wine which had a ton of salt added to it.

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Old 03-25-2013, 11:16 PM   #32
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What is this 'recipe' you speak of? ;-)

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Old 03-25-2013, 11:22 PM   #33
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Asparagus Francaise with Shaved Parmesan

Assuming you made some form of chicken to go along with it (not chicken francaise though... that would be too similar)...

Use the saute pan containing the cooked crispy chicken brown bits, drain off any oil, add butter and brown it (brown butter). Deglaze pan with a dry white wine (use a cheap French Languedoc Pinet). After you have scraped up the brown bits and deglazed, add fresh lemon juice & unsalted chicken stock (not broth) to taste. Reduce to sauce consistency, season with kosher salt, turn off heat, mount with a tbsp. or so of fresh butter.

Upfront, the sauce should be acidic & lemony with just enough (but not too much) butter fat to sort of balance the acidity. Just add enough salt for taste, but don't go overboard. The fatty salty parm will do the rest of the job as it pertains to balance. It will also add texture.

Sauce the roasted asparagus. Sprinkle fresh chopped parsley, finely shaved lemon zest for brightness, cracked black peppercorn for heat, and large yet really thin shavings of aged parm.

-------------

**Roast the asparagus before you add the sauce (recipe above). The asparagus is simple:

Preheat a sheet tray and oven to 450 F. Season the asparagus with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add asparagus to piping hot sheet tray and cook til al dente. You have to taste your food to know when it's cooked... can't go by eye alone or common sense. Coat asparagus with the francaise sauce and add the lemon zest, shaved parm, and chopped parsley on top.

Never has a side dish been so sexy.
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Old 03-25-2013, 11:33 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffjm View Post
What is this 'recipe' you speak of? ;-)
They are rough outlines of how to produce a certain food when you have never made it before.

Most everything that I make has no recipe and varies a little reach time I make it.

How about this:

Never cook with beer or wine you wouldn't be willing to drink. Avoid cooking wines as they are loaded with salt to discourage people from drinking them.
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Old 03-26-2013, 06:37 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by gratus fermentatio View Post
Subsailor, do you heat those pots to grow your ginger? I have a hard time keeping the soil warm enough fo growing ginger. What's your technique?
Regards, GF.
No, no heating of the pots, they are in my plant room upstairs. We keep the house at 68F during the winter and I use flourescent lights on a timer. I keep the top of the pot about 18" to 20" from the lights. I use T8 bulbs in 4ft cheap shop fixtures from Lowes. I keep the soil damp to dry and end up with stalks about 4ft tall. I trim back the stalks. When we want some fresh ginger, I pull up a root, cut off what I want and put it back in the pot, barely covered with soil. We haven't purchased ginger from the store in about 5 years.

I have let them go totally dry and later remembered to water them and they came back with no problems. I have found them to be low maintenance.
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Old 03-27-2013, 01:35 AM   #36
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Few other ones I've thought of.

When cooking meat, always add a healthy amount of salt to the meat. The difference often between a restaurant steak/burger/bolognese/etc. and a home one is often the amount of salt. I also say the same aboutmy tomato sauces and cheese sauces. People look at me like I have 2 heads when I add a full tablespoon of salt to my cheese sauce, but when that salt makes the cheese sauce go from good to best thing at the party, they realize there's a method to my madness.

Also if by some chance you over salt a sauce, there is a remedy. Slice up a peeled potato and let it sit for about 15 minutes in it. And you should have a slightly less salty (though more starchy) sauce. Not the ideal fix, but it's a fix.

Now the tricky one is if you overseason beef or potatoes. What I've found that helps with that is citrus, don't know why exactly but it does.

Another favorite thing I do is save all that delicious bacon fat when you're frying bacon. That's perfect for some fried potatoes. Also great for adding to lower fat ground beef to make a richer burger. Another one I've played with but I haven't seen the results pay off enough to say it's a great tip is before you fry something in oil, fry some bacon in it first, that way you add some bacon flavor to your cooking oil (in theory)

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Old 03-27-2013, 11:47 AM   #37
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No, no heating of the pots, they are in my plant room upstairs. We keep the house at 68F during the winter and I use flourescent lights on a timer. I keep the top of the pot about 18" to 20" from the lights. I use T8 bulbs in 4ft cheap shop fixtures from Lowes. I keep the soil damp to dry and end up with stalks about 4ft tall. I trim back the stalks. When we want some fresh ginger, I pull up a root, cut off what I want and put it back in the pot, barely covered with soil. We haven't purchased ginger from the store in about 5 years.

I have let them go totally dry and later remembered to water them and they came back with no problems. I have found them to be low maintenance.
Thanks for the tips, I'll give it another shot when things warm a bit.
Regards, GF.
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Old 04-15-2013, 07:08 PM   #38
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Ok bumping with a few more.

I am a sucker for just ground beef tacos. Something about them is comforting. It's also the only form of meet SWMBO eats so I can't do anything but ground beef, chicken or turkey tacos. Anyway, unlike burgers, the fatness of the beef doesn't matter for tacos since you wind up dumping the excess anyway so it's a great use for lean burgers (we use 93%) anyway just make tacos (we make so much we just bought a big jar of McCormick taco seasoning from BJs) in large batches and fridge the remainder. There's 2 things I make with this for quick and easy meals that I love.

First up is microwave nachos. Just nice and simple. For me I make them a very specific way and it turns out great every time.First you heat the meat and the chips for 30 seconds on high. Then add anything you want warmed, which for me is only cheese. Heat until cheese melts. Then add your cool stuff. Since I eat like a 5 year old and hate vegetables, for me that usually consists of lime, cilantro and hot sauce. Sometimes I mix it up to keep things interesting.

Second is burritos. I have in my fridge at all times burrito sized tortillas. Now for me I make my burritos using these steps and it works without fail. First heat the tortilla and meat (and I usually do rice as well at this time) for 25 seconds in the microwave. Then add everything else you want inside. First and more important thing to remember with burritos, never over fill them. Trickiest part is rolling them. What I do and I like is to fill on one half, then fold the sides in, tuck the back and then roll tight and fast. After it's rolled you need to heat it and I've used 3 methods. First the microwave which is my least favorite. Second is a toaster oven which rocks cause it bakes and toasts, third is in a pan to sear.

This place explains the rolling better (and I should give thme credit since I adapted their method)

LINK

My last tip is a walkthrough on how I make cheesesauces. I started making these years ago for adding to nachos and love it.

This is the step by step with explanations. I'll go more into my methods later

In a saucepan melt 2 table spoons of butter. Once melted add 2 tablespoons of flour to make a roux and let it cook for at least aminute. The idea here is that you're making a thickening agent and you're also cooking out the flour taste replacing it with a nutty taste. For me I don't let this get darker, I'm not making Gumbo.

While you're making the roux (or before if you're not a multitasker) heat 1 cup of milk until it's warm. Basically you don't want ot add cold milk to a hot pan or it will take forever to make your cheese sauce.

Now that your roux is cooked and your milk is warm add the milk to your pan in a stream while furiously whisking. Whisking here will seperate a clumpy sauce from a smooth sauce. If you want to take it more carefully you can also add your milk in batches like say a third at a time. Continue to whisk until it thickens. Usually takes 3-5 minutes, you can test if it's thick by coating the back of a spoon and dragging your finger across it and see if it still runs. Personally I've done it so much that I can see when it's done by how it looks.

Ok now comes the fun and customizable part. Always add a healthy amount of salt. then add whatever spices you like. What I almost always add (since my cheese sauces are for Nachos I almost always make them spicy) is salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, coriander, cumin, and some dry red chili flake. Once you're seasoned up remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cheese. I don't use premeasured amounts because sometimes I want more of a cheese flavor than others. But a good guess is you'll use at least 2 ounces of cheese for this amount of sauce. Once the cheese is added you can be done. But I never am this is where I add my finishing touches, such as hot sauce, or peppers, or ground beef, anything to make it a little more special.

Only thing that really matters through the whole process is to continually taste the cheese sauce. It's hard to over season something if you keep tasting it. Also a tip as well if your aim is to make a spicy cheese sauce not a cheese sauce with a spicy hint. You're gonna add more than what you may think. I've added 30 dashes of Tabasco to a sauce just to get it to the right heat.

Now if your cheese sauce is too thick or too thin, there are remedies for both. If it's too thin it's a tougher fix, you have to basically add more fat and flour, you can do it as either another roux to make sure your flavor stays together, or you can use another thickener, Or you can just add the butter and flour if you're lazy. If it's too thick add more milk in a splash at a time.

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Old 05-13-2013, 12:42 AM   #39
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Cooking Meat, especially Beef. Get that meat to room temperature before cooking it. Makes it more tender. If you are browning cubed meat for chili or stew, not only bring it to room temperature first, but also brown it under a low low low heat. It will be more tender.

Pancakes: Add a little more water than the box calls for. I'm usually 1/2 c. of mix to 1/2c of water. Do not use cold water. Do not mix until your pan is hot. Batter will thicken (clot) as you wait for the pan to heat up and you will need to add more room temperature water. This is also true if you are making more than one pancake, you will likely need to add water as you go.

A hotter grill makes a better tasting pancake. Most non-stick cookware cannot handle extreme heat. Cast iron is best. For non-stick pans, use 7-8/10 heat level and be patient letting it heat up. For electric griddles, crank it to 11. Use light oil and don't let it burn before the pour.

Pour a nice sized (5-7 inches) pancake in the center of your pre-heated and lightly oiled pan. After the pour, keep an eye on it. When its bubbly all over the top, but before the top gets dry, you want to flip it over. Before you flip it over, go over the entire edge with the corner of your nylon flipper. This will ensure it won't stick when you go to flip, and also allows you to check the color. Too light yellow, it's not done yet. Too dark brown/black, the outside is done. Too thick, the middle might not cook. Then flip it quick, making sure your flipper went all the way across. It is now pretty side up. If you missed the center on the flip, adjust the pan to center the pancake over the heat source so it cooks evenly. I lower the heat a few notches to cook the second side. Do not recook the first side. You flip it once and only once on the griddle.

When it's done, flip it onto a plate with ugly, hard side down. The steam will soften that side in a minute or so. Then serve it pretty side up. This side absorbs syrup better than the roof shingle side which at least is no longer crunchy.

Want to add fruit? Add small pieces of fruit (blueberry) to the uncooked pancake right after you pour it on the pan. Otherwise, they sink to the bottom of your pitcher and it doesn't work as well. Do not crush the fruit, or mash a banana, the sugars will caramelize from the heat. It may burn and/or stick to your pan. For strawberries, you are well advised to quarter them and put them on a pancake after its cooked.

Want to add chocolate? Insert chips to the pancake right after take it off the grill. this way they do not burn. Add a bit of baking cocoa to the mix if you must; this works better than powdered chocolate milk mix or syrup which may cause burning and/or sticking.

For best results, serve with bacon.

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