Cooking

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jb
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Cooking

Post by jb » Sat Oct 26, 2019 10:01 pm

I've been cooking a lot for the last few months. Nothing fancy, just... cooking dinner, trying to use up stuff in the freezer or whatever, baking muffins and bread mostly out of recipes online. My primary consumers-- 1 wife, 1 toddler.

So here's a thread to talk about cooking and baking.

Earlier this week I found a bag of frozen strawberries in the freezer, so I looked up a strawberry muffin recipe. But it called for 2 cups of strawberries, which I didn't have, so I also used 2 frozen bananas I had in the freezer as well.

Muffins turned out great, though I had a lot of batter so I made a loaf as well. The loaf turned out pretty god damned dense, since the strawberry/banana concoction added a shitload of extra liquid that I failed to compensate for. Tastes great anyway.

I recently got an oven thermometer because some bread I made cooked SO MUCH FASTER than it was supposed to. And kind of burned a little bit, naturall. Also my parchment paper fucking scorched, so we didn't get a baking-bread scent in our house, we got a burning-paper stench. It looks as if my oven's calibration is like 50 degrees out of whack. Fuck this oven, man. Jenn-Air piece of shit. :x Hope it feels the target on its back. I'm shopping for induction ranges.

Tonight I made spaghetti with chicken. We eat a lot of pasta.
  • Ragu sauce (out of a jar)
  • Some chicken. One fried chicken breast from a grocery store, cut up, and one chicken breast I found frozen in the freezer from who the hell knows how long ago. I diced them so if I overcooked the frozen one it's less obvious. And it cooks super fast.
  • I dumped some dried oregano into the Ragu, along with half a stick of butter.
  • For quite some time I've been in the Internet-fueled habit of using a heckuva lot less water than "tradition" recommends for my pasta, and putting the pasta in when the water's cold. Turns out fine, cooks a lot faster. I definitely salt the water.
  • The chicken gets smooshed with some random poutry seasoning powder I got somewhere sometime
  • And I dump probably 2 tablespoons of minced garlic (from a jar) into the chicken as it cooks.
Kiddo ate three toddler plates full. WIN. I often dump some broccoli or green beans into it, but I didn't have any-- probably why he ate so much.

Later this evening I went to the grocery store and got fixins for shrimp fried rice. I'm going to make this recipe I think: https://www.averiecooks.com/easy-better ... ried-rice/#

Though I dunno-- I have a bag of brussel sprouts I got on a whim, and it's probably about to go bad. So maybe that'll get roasted sometime in the next couple days.

JB
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Re: Cooking

Post by jb » Sat Oct 26, 2019 10:01 pm

And yeah it's brussels sprouts but life's too short to try to pronounce that, even just in my head.
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Re: Cooking

Post by owl » Sat Oct 26, 2019 10:26 pm

I like food! Good thread idea. I got a free jar of these potato pieces at Penzey's today when I went to stock up on some other stuff. I need to figure out some ideas for what to do with it; it doesn't taste like a whole lot.

I made this onion tarte Tatin the other day and it got totally blackened (don't listen when they say to cook the onions on high heat!) but was actually delicious anyway. I made pie crust for it, but now I have it in my head that I want to make proper puff pastry from scratch and try it again, the whole daylong process. I've never made puff pastry before, but I'm good at pie crust.

Also recently made the pastitsio from the latest Cook's Illustrated but with turkey instead of beef, and mozzarella + parm instead of kasseri cheese. The béchamel was alarmingly liquid when it came out of the oven but firmed up perfectly once it cooled. Tasty recipe.
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Re: Cooking

Post by crumpart » Sat Oct 26, 2019 11:55 pm

Big fan of cooking here. Quite good at it as well, if I do say so myself.

Last night’s dinner that I mentioned in the other thread is the usual thing I make from leftovers, which is frittata. I had recently roasted carrots and potatoes with steamed peas and green beans, and some less recently roasted butternut squash. I couldn’t remember when I’d cooked that, but passed the smell test and wasn’t growing mould, so I figured it was still ok. I also had half a raw celeriac root that I’d peeled and not used. I cut away some discolouration on the celeriac, then sliced it up super fine and caramelised it with an onion and a crushed up birds eye chilli in butter (Irish butter is like a dream; absolutely one of the best things about living here). I added all the vegetables then whisked up six eggs with salt and pepper, then poured them over the veggies. Cooked that on the stove for a few minutes while I grated some cheese over the top then put the whole thing in the oven for 11 minutes to cook through. Was delicious!
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Re: Cooking

Post by jb » Sun Oct 27, 2019 8:53 am

How hot of an oven, crumpart?
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Re: Cooking

Post by irwin » Sun Oct 27, 2019 10:59 am

I am making crock pot shredded chicken today. Works well as filling for tacos, enchiladas, tamales… Delicious, easy to rework leftovers, and almost zero work.
2 pounds chicken breasts (I actually prefer thighs; shredding is more work, but they are tastier IMO)
1 tablespoon olive oil (use if you are using breasts, I skip it when using thighs)
1/2 cup mild salsa (medium if you like spicy)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4-ounce can mild green chilies
14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon each garlic powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (you can do ground chipotles from a can as well, but I prefer the powder)
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Rub chicken breasts with oil and place in a slow cooker. Add all ingredients, cook on low for 6-7 hours or until chicken is tender enough to shred.

Remove chicken to a cutting board, and let it rest 5 minutes before shredding. There will be liquid remaining.

Return shredded chicken to the slow cooker, and cook on low for an additional 20 minutes to absorb some of the liquid. Using a strainer over a bowl, drain all excess liquid from the chicken. Reserve the liquid and use it to cook rice. I like to use a 50/50 mix of the reserved liquid and water to cook the rice.
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Re: Cooking

Post by crumpart » Sun Oct 27, 2019 11:04 am

jb wrote:
Sun Oct 27, 2019 8:53 am
How hot of an oven, crumpart?
Somewhere between 180 and 200 celsius, which off the top of my head is like 350-400F I think. Just standard oven heat. Enough to cook the egg properly through.
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Re: Cooking

Post by crumpart » Sun Oct 27, 2019 12:00 pm

Currently cooking tonight's dinner, which is middle eastern slow roasted eggplant from Greg & Lucy Malouf's amazing book, New Feast (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21544616-new-feast)

Roughly, it's this:
3 eggplants cut into wedges
2 onions diced large
2 long red chillies cut into 1cm pieces
a few cloves of garlic sliced
1tsp of ground cumin
1tsp of ground coriander seeds
salt and pepper
chilli flakes

Tossed in:
200ml of vegetable stock
200ml of olive oil (editing to say: you could probably halve this amount and still be fine; I think this is too much oil)
juice of 1 lemon

Then roasted in the oven for 35 minutes at 200°C (400F), tossed occasionally so it cooks evenly.

Even if you think you don't like eggplant, give this a try. It is amazing. The whole cookbook is brilliant if you can get your hands on it.

The recipe in the book serves it with a lemon saffron cream, but I have neither cream or saffron in the house, so we'll be having it with some toast and greek yoghourt.
Last edited by crumpart on Mon Oct 28, 2019 2:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cooking

Post by irwin » Sun Oct 27, 2019 12:12 pm

crumpart wrote:
Sun Oct 27, 2019 12:00 pm
Currently cooking tonight's dinner, which is middle eastern slow roasted eggplant from Greg & Lucy Malouf's amazing book, New Feast (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21544616-new-feast)
That sounds good! I will save this for the next time I have some eggplant to use up.
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Re: Cooking

Post by fluffy » Sun Oct 27, 2019 12:56 pm

I go through phases of doing sous vide cooking, which is a fancy faux-French way of saying "using a warm water bath to bring food up to a consistent internal temperature." Which is a mouthful so sous vide it is.

It's best known as being an amazing way of cooking steak, but I mostly use it for cooking chicken and pork, both of which do really well without getting tough and dry. I also sometimes cook fish with it although that's a bit more touchy. It's amazing for tuna confit though.

Sous vide circulators are also useful for pasteurizing eggs (for making meringues and foams and so on), and for some reason every time I bring it up the first comment I get is "Oh, I bet you could make yogurt with it!" which is technically true but I don't eat nearly enough yogurt for it to be more cost-effective than just buying that at the store.

Anyway. There's a lot of great sous vide recipes on the Internet and it's mostly about technique, but the technique is pretty simple:
  1. Season your stuff
  2. Optionally portion it out
  3. Bag it up (you can use vacuum bags and a vacuum sealer but that's not actually necessary for most things)
  4. Heat the water bath to your target cook temperature (I usually do 150ºF for chicken, 140ºF for pork, and 134ºF for steak)
  5. Have the stuff hang out in the water for a few hours
  6. Remove it from the bag and pat it dry
  7. Sear it (I use a blowtorch, but a fry pan or a broiler work fine too although they're way less fun) and enjoy
When bagging it up the important thing is that the bath water shouldn't be able to get into the bag, and the food should all be below water level. This is easier with a vacuum sealer but you can also just put stuff into a regular zip-top bag, let the bath water displace most of the air out, and then close the bag. If you go with the zip-top bag approach I recommend using a binder clip to hold the top of the bag against the side of the bath to prevent the zipper from ever going underwater (since it isn't perfectly water-tight).

It all sounds like a lot of work but I find it pretty easy to deal with. Sometimes I'll just buy a large amount of meat, portion it out, and then season/vacuum-bag the individual portions and keep them in the freezer, and then when I want that for dinner I'll just pop it into the water bath at like 3 PM and then it'll be ready by dinner time.

I've had the best results with meat. Vegetables generally don't work as well; their cook temperature is a lot higher (which is harder for the circulator to maintain) and they tend to outgas while cooking which can complicate things.

It's also good for doing a controlled fermentation; my longest "cook" was making a large batch of black garlic (which took about a month and a half!) and I've considered using it to do bulk fermentation of other things. And like... I guess yogurt is technically fermented milk?

Anyway. My website also has a food section.
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Re: Cooking

Post by crumpart » Sun Oct 27, 2019 1:43 pm

fluffy wrote:
Sun Oct 27, 2019 12:56 pm
Sous vide circulators are also useful for pasteurizing eggs (for making meringues and foams and so on), and for some reason every time I bring it up the first comment I get is "Oh, I bet you could make yogurt with it!" which is technically true but I don't eat nearly enough yogurt for it to be more cost-effective than just buying that at the store.
See, I do actually make my own yoghourt! I use an easiyo thermos thingy (http://www.easiyo.com/) but I don't use their mixes, just milk and cultures from my previous batch, and instead of putting boiling water in the thermos bath I put 40°C water, which is the temperature of my milk when I put the yoghourt cultures in, then I leave it overnight. Basically the steps are: heat full fat milk to 80°C, keep it there for 20 minutes, cool it gradually to 40°C, stir in culture, incubate overnight. I do it as a way to cut down on packaging and because Irish greek style yoghourt is not tart enough. The only half decent one I've found here is only sold in 500ml tubs, which I go through at a rate of knots.
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Re: Cooking

Post by fluffy » Sun Oct 27, 2019 1:52 pm

Oh yeah, I'm sure sous vide yogurt makes sense for a lot of people! Just not me. At least where I live, you can get pretty good whole-milk yogurt at the store for about the same price as what it would cost to get the milk to make your own, and I don't use it fast enough before it goes bad.
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Re: Cooking

Post by crumpart » Sun Oct 27, 2019 2:48 pm

fluffy wrote:
Sun Oct 27, 2019 1:52 pm
Oh yeah, I'm sure sous vide yogurt makes sense for a lot of people! Just not me. At least where I live, you can get pretty good whole-milk yogurt at the store for about the same price as what it would cost to get the milk to make your own, and I don't use it fast enough before it goes bad.
Back in 2010 I was working 4 days a week and studying for my Master of Fine Art, so I would go in to uni really early every morning and work in my studio before I went to work. The train station had this fruit and yoghourt place that would sell their day old yoghourt and granola with strawberries for $1, and that's when my breakfast yoghourt addiction dug its claws in. The day old stuff was even better than the fresh containers, as the granola soaked up all the yoghourt and got really chewy and good.
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Re: Cooking

Post by fluffy » Sun Oct 27, 2019 2:52 pm

Yeah I use it instead of milk in a lot of things. Just not quickly enough. Sometimes I’ll have it with granola or cereal, or I use it in baking, or make smoothies or lassi. I also like it better than milk when making pasta dishes. It’s versatile stuff.
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Re: Cooking

Post by jb » Sun Oct 27, 2019 4:26 pm

Tonight I made chicken and chick pea chili. I make the recipe then dump two cups of cooked brown rice into it before portioning it out and into the fridge.

Chicken & Chickpea Chili

Ingredients:
* 4 teaspoons olive oil
* 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
* 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
* 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
* 1 red onion, chopped
* 3/4 pound chicked breast, cut into bite-sized pieces (actually I use ground chicken instead, but whatevs)
* 1 tablespoon yellow corn meal
* 1 tablespoon chili powder
* 1 tablespoon ground cumin
* 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
* 3 14-1/2 ounce cans diced tomatoes
* 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
* 1 15-ounce can chick peas (garbanzo beans)


Preparation:
1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick saucepan. Saute the bell peppers and onion until softened, bout 5 minutes.
2. Add the chicken and cook, breaking apart with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink (cooked through).
3. Sprinkle with corn meal, chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder, and cayenne. Cook, stirring briskly and constantly for 1 minute.
4. Stir in the tomatoes and vinegar, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until thick, 25-30 minutes.
5. Stir in the chickpeas and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes.

We’ll have this for lunch and dinner for a couple days.

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Re: Cooking

Post by fluffy » Sun Oct 27, 2019 4:29 pm

oh wow that recipe sounds amazing. Corn meal seems like a strange addition, though... is that just used as a thickener or to add some texture or something?
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Re: Cooking

Post by jb » Sun Oct 27, 2019 4:41 pm

fluffy wrote:
Sun Oct 27, 2019 4:29 pm
oh wow that recipe sounds amazing. Corn meal seems like a strange addition, though... is that just used as a thickener or to add some texture or something?
Ha yeah I forgot that — I never do the cornmeal, I just use all purpose flour. Turns out fine— the recipe makes a lot so that’s gotta just be thickener like a bit of a rouxish idea— the fat’s in there from the oil to start. I mix all the powders in a little dish before I sprinkle ‘em.

I cook the heck out of it to get the tomatoes down to a tolerable size. I don’t like chunks of tomato in anything.
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Re: Cooking

Post by gizo » Sun Oct 27, 2019 5:57 pm

crumpart wrote:
Sat Oct 26, 2019 11:55 pm
Big fan of cooking here. Quite good at it as well, if I do say so myself.
I can verify this statement. Crump is indeed a Good Cooker
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Re: Cooking

Post by jb » Mon Oct 28, 2019 1:58 pm

https://slate.com/human-interest/2012/0 ... elize.html

“Why do recipe writers lie and lie and lie about how long it takes to caramelize onions?”
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Re: Cooking

Post by crumpart » Mon Oct 28, 2019 2:45 pm

I made a mushroom and pea Indian style curry tonight. I don’t use recipes for this type of cooking, but will write it up if anyone’s interested.
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Re: Cooking

Post by owl » Mon Oct 28, 2019 2:47 pm

jb wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 1:58 pm
https://slate.com/human-interest/2012/0 ... elize.html

“Why do recipe writers lie and lie and lie about how long it takes to caramelize onions?”
Wait... is it just me, or did that article completely fail to answer that question?

Anyway, you can caramelize them faster by adding baking soda although it also makes them kind of mushy. I did that for the filling-in-the-gaps caramelized onion goo in the tarte Tatin I linked to earlier.
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Re: Cooking

Post by fluffy » Mon Oct 28, 2019 2:55 pm

It implied an answer, in the form of "it makes the recipes seem more doable."

I'd love to see more recipes be structured in the form of, like, here's multiple parallel things to do, and here's when to start each one. That would make it a lot easier to break down prep tasks to multiple people if they're working together, or give a better overall plan for people like me who have trouble juggling lots of moving parts and need an overall game plan to stay focused.

I was trying Blue Apron for a while and the two things that drove me the most nuts about it were:

1. SO MUCH packing material! I mean, holy fuck!
2. The recipes had so many parallel things but they weren't broken down in a way that made them easy/coherent to follow

It almost felt like the recipes were written by an AI which was just tasked with "here's this week's ingredients, generate a recipe that makes use of them." (Which leads to another thing that drove me nuts: there were often ingredients which seemed to be included only to justify the price of the box, and not because they actually added anything to the recipe. Also, why was olive oil, salt, and pepper a thing you're supposed to have already, but vinegar and butter are things they needed to ship, with more packing material and these stupid little 1-ounce tubs? Which goes back to point 1.)

Anyway weekly recipe box deliveries are bullshit and I'm glad that grocery stores are starting to carry comparably-priced ones that you can just, like, buy once and not commit to a shitload of mediocre food on an ongoing basis.
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