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PoV
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2016 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mission accomplished. Dinner with my parents was a success. Everybody has a new favorite dish I cook. :D

* * *

So on the way home, I finally hit one of the other specialty grocery stores that I've been meaning to "do recon" at (Remark). It's a bit more of a European Market than a grocery store.

To my delight, they had a few kinds of the De Cecco noodle I haven't found anywhere else, all for a really good price (best price yet).



I didn't realize you could go fancier, but this store carried the fancy Paparrdelle made entirely with egg (no water added).

More good news, the prices are about $1.30 cheaper, but the egg-noodles package is half the size (250g instead of 500g). I'm still at a stalemate. For $4.49 I can get the 500g of non-egg Paparrdelle ($3.99 on sale), or for $3.69 I can get 250g of egg Papardelle. /me shakes fist. That said, the other specialty noodles (the fancy linguine and whatever else) are the cheaper price for 500g.

So as things stand, there is only store I can buy my ideal noodle at (though there are 3 locations, and I did find the Egg version).

Anyway, I have some sauce left. I'll have to try the Egg Papardelle with it, just see if it's worth the extra money (I'm so much of a food snob now, I'll probably say yes, haha).


Also, they had another noodle, Spaghetti like, made with egg. I figured I'd grab a box to give it a try.


Finally, I grabbed some noodle flour. All proper Italian noodles are made with Semolina flour, though other flours can work. Of course, this is Canadian Semolina flour, but it's less about where the noodle is made and more how it's made (the De Cecco company, IMO they nail it).

I still haven't heard back from anyone I offered $20 for their used Noodle Maker. I did send it on a Friday night, so who knows. ;)

* * *

So now that I feel like I'm getting better at cooking, I've started paying more attention to my tools. I've moved every pot or pan that I don't like, or don't use to my storage closet (until I'm sure they're not needed).

I have an electric stove. It's not ideal, but it's actually fine. It just means that, to get the most even heat, the base of my cookware should fit the element. That means a 6" bases, and a 7-8" bases.

Of course, cookware always quotes the widest diameter, which is usually the top. So it makes finding things that actually fit a little tricky.


A couple months ago I picked up this Wok:



Best decision ever.

I picked it up at my local Chinese Grocery Store. Hilariously, I couldn't even read the packaging, as it was in Korean. But I just kinda liked how it looked, like some sort of composite stone.

As it turns out, yes, it is actually stone (similar pans call it marble). It has a core of some metal, and it's covered in this smooth hard stone. Somehow it's non-stick too, veeeeery non-stick. I have yet to make anything stick to it, even when I tried (recipes calling specifically for browning and deglazing, but I do cook with oil and grease).

I love it.

Almost everything I've cooked this past month, I made in this. It fits my 6" burners, and again it's a Wok, so it has very high sides. That means more room to mix things around than a skillet (less mess).

It also has a temperature gauge. The center of the pan heats up quickly, but the rest of the pan takes longer. It doesn't tell you an exact temperature, but the little oval symbol on the handle changes white when the rest of the pan is hot. Perfect for anything that needs to hit high heat all around (instead of just in the middle).

I can't remember what I paid for it, but I'm pretty sure it was under $30. Oh man, it was so worth it.


The reason I was looking, I'd picked up a cheaper ~$15 Wok from the same store some 6-12 months earlier. I really liked that one too. It was sooooo much lighter than much of my other cookware, especially my original Wok. Unfortunately, it got somewhat rough inside. The non-stick Teflon coating was peeling, which is never a good thing. My old rice cooker also did this, so I replaced that too. This has been happening with my cookware for years, and I never really looked in to why.

Well as it turns out, Teflon (PTFE), if you don't take care of it, it does that. So I've been eating trace amounts of Teflon for years. Hooray!

I'm no healthy eating nut, but after looking in to it, today there are lots of really good non-stick alternatives to Teflon. So now that I give a shit about my cooking, I don't need to eat Teflon anymore. :D

So I did good with my Wok. I accidentally bought a pan with a modern non-stick surface. Go me!

I've been suuuuper careful with it too. With my old Wok, I would leave it days without cleaning. That's what ruins Teflon. Although this new Wok isn't Teflon, I've been making an effort ever since to clean it after use. I could probably get away with not doing it, but so far I've formed a good habit, and I would hate to stop now. :D


So with that in mind, I picked up this today:



It's a 10" Stainless Steel Skillet, with a Ceramic coating. One of the other modern non-stick surfaces. It was on sale for $20 (Regular $35), so I bit. And lucky for me, it fits my 7-8" elements perfectly.

The other reason I bought it: It's oven safe. As far as I know, none of my stovetop cookware is oven safe (just some glass hand-me-downs). So that's what I was shooting for, something that wouldn't melt in the oven.

In hindsight I probably didn't need it. My Wok does me so well, but it does mean I'll have 2 good Sauteing pans, and they use opposite sized burners, so that's nice. I don't have to limit myself to one pan a a time. ;)


I'm eyeing some other cookware as well.

I guess there's 3 things I'm paying attention to now (maybe 4).

- A good deep pot (for boiling) - My boiling pots aren't deep enough, but I do have a larger pot that's too wide and too heavy.
- A stove-top cast-iron pan - Lets just call it "the Steak pan".
- A cast-iron crockpot - Something large and deep, coated in ceramic, perfect for a big-ass pot of chilli, or a roast in the oven.
- A mini pan - Something to replace the Teflon coated egg pan I'm using. Yes, I'm becoming conscientious.

I think I did find a deep boiling pot I like, but I'm going to wait for it to go on sale (It's like $40 right now). What's also nice, the lid will fit the new Skillet I just bought. Everything I'm reading when it comes to making noodles says that you should have waaay more water than noodle. The entire pack of Papardelle noodles, they say you should use 6 litres of water for the 500g package. My go-to pot barely holds 2.5 litres. If you don't have the right amount of water, the noodles stick together. So I have to stir it every minute or so just to make sure they don't stick. A bigger pot with more space, the rolling boil would often move them enough to not stick (you still want to stir, just not as much).

Cast Iron. The legendary pan. Notorious for its difficulty to clean, but that's partly due to misunderstanding how it should be used. I.e. you cook greasy things in it, and avoid acidic things (tomatoes). It's solid metal, and it needs to be seasoned (oiled). That also means cleanup for some dishes is just whipeing it out with a paper towel (skip the soap and the sink); The oil of the food is the same oils you use to season it. Oven safe too.

I'm used to my Wok's, so seeing skillets with their shallow height always seems a little short to me. So I'm slightly anxious to start using shallow pans again, but it's no biggie.

I had an 8" cast iron skillet I was going to pick up for $10 when I visited the US. It's a little simple. Nothing special, just a reputable brand. But after seeing something today I'm on the fence.

So, my good grocery store (Superstore, where I bought the ceramic pan), they have a pair of beautiful cast iron pans on sale this week (Reg $60, on for $30). A 10" square griddle pan, and a 12" round skillet (with pouring holes). I think I have to buy one of them, but like I mentioned, my grill tops are 6" and 7-8". So though the 10" griddle pan could work (you don't see square elements anyway, probably a 9.5" surface area, not ideal), as much as I want the 12" skillet, it's not going to necessarily work for my stove. In the stove yes, but on the stove, not so much. Maybe that's okay. It means the outsides of the pan are less for searing, and are more of a cool zone (since it wont fit the 8" burner). It's not ideal.

I need to figure out a bit more of the chemistry of Cast Iron. I believe they might be considered "enamel" coated (the bottom is a bright red, or blue, or orange). The packaging said oven safe up to 500 F. That's still hotter than my oven, but not hotter than my Dad's BBQ (another possible use for a Cast Iron pan). It sounds like it's the seasoning that starts to evaporate over 500 degrees, not the enamel. But a cast iron without seasoning is, well, not the same. I need to mull over this.

I think I might still look in to an 8" Cast Iron. It would be the perfect pan for cooking Saganaki cheese, then LIGHTING IT ON FIRE. :D

The other pan, a nice big ceramic (enamel?) coated Cast Iron crock pot. I got to use one at Cabin one year, and I really liked how it held-in the heat. Heavy as fuck, but you can cook a meal in it, take it off the heat, and it'll stay warm for like an hour. That's impressive. I haven't seen one I like yet (but I haven't looked too closely).

Mini pan, I've been eyeing this $10 6.5" stone pan to replace my Egg Breakfast Sandwich making pan (a deep 4" wide Teflon coated pan). It's always fit awkwardly on burner (too small). The eggs made by this pan tend to be smaller than a bagel (which is typically what I make my egg breakfast sandwiches on). It has a lid though, where the stone pan does not, so I'll have to find something for that. At a 6.5" diameter, I'd guess the base is somewhere between 5.5" and 4.5". So it's still too small for the burner, but it should fit far better (it's heavier too).

I'll see if I can find a tiny lid.

I think that more-or-less covers what I'm keeping an eye out for now.

I could probably use a new saucepan (pot) too. My old one was (and is) fine, but I broke the lid, so I can't sauce with it anymore. It fit my 6" burners.

Maybe I'll look for a lid. I wonder if a 6.5" lid will fit (what the egg pan needs)?

EDIT: YES! 6 3/4" to the lip, 6 1/4" inside. Alrighty then. Now to find a lid. Then I can grab that $10 stone "Egg Pan" too. :D

I'll probably switch to a wooden chopping block. I've been using plastic, and my new Chefs knife is too sharp and strong, that it gets stuck in my plastic cutting boards. Oops!

* * *

Oh, and I picked up some Creme Fraiche. I did (finally) find a store with Cream specifically marked for cooking (Remark), but I've kinda sold myself on the idea of trying the Vodka Sauce with Creme Fraiche. Going all-authentic on the Ragu Bolognese, that's enough Italian authenticity. ;)

I should probably taste it.

EDIT: Oh weird! That's interesting! Wow! It's like something between Sour Cream and Cream Cheese, but it's creamy and not sour.

Yeah, that's going to work well. Thank you Gordon Ramsey for piquing my interest.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2016 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For reference, a guide on Cast Iron Steak grilling.

http://www.instructables.com/answers/How-do-you-cook-a-steak-on-a-cast-iron-grill-pan/

Quote:
Heat your pan really hot, and don't put any oil in it.

Salt your steak from both sides (don't use pepper now, the pepper will burn in the hot pan...) then put it in the pan.

After 1 (30 seconds for rare) minute flip it, and then fry till its how you like it
A steak should only be flipped one time, if you do it more often, its not that tender.
Also never use a fork to do that.

Now how to check if its done?
Open your hand (fingers all stretched, but just slightly, don't use any force)

Now bring the tip of thumb and index finger togheter, just let them touch, still no force.
Now press the ball on your hand under thumb (on the palm) with a finger of the other hand .
Then do the same thing with your steak, press it.

Thats a what a steak feels when its rare

Thumb and middle finger = medium rare
Thumb and ring finger = medium
Thumb and pinky = well done

After its out of the pan, put the pepper on it.

Some Cooks also use a sprinkle of sugar before they fry it, because sugar enhances the taste of almost any food, and if its fryed, the sugar caramelizes and won't make it sweet at all.


I think the last time I tried to understand that Steak Tenderness scale, it didn't click. I think I get it now. I just need to remember it. ;)

* * *

Anyway, I think I've decided to get the enamled 10" Cast Iron Griddle pan that's on sale, but NOT the 12" Cast Iron skillet. That also means a Cast Iron scrubbing brush, and maybe a griddle scraper (trying to clean my Teflon griddle pan and my old George Forman grill by hand always sucked). And when I visit the US (should be Friday'ish, my folks are planning a shopping trip, and I often join them), I'm going to grab the 8" Cast Iron skillet from Walmart or Target. $11, versus $25 here in Canada. Yup.

* * *

Finding a 6.5" Pot Lid is really tough. I can find all kinds of 8"+ lids, but 6.5" is super hard to find. Amazon US has a few, but with shipping it's going to be close to $20.

I might be better-off buying a new saucepan.

EDIT: I did find a lid. Doh, I had to use metric (16 cm instead of 6.5"). I still think I'm going to look for a new saucepan though. I was originally thinking stainless steel (not nonstick), but now I'm thinking I should watch for a non-Teflon non-stick (like stone/composite, ceramic, etc). I should check the Chinese grocery store for something. Maybe I'll luck out again, like I did with my Wok.

* * *

Okay, just walking through my buying plan again.

- 10" Cast Iron Griddle ($30 on sale, I want it :D)
- 8" Cast Iron Skillet ($11 in US-America)
- A 6.5" Sauce-Pan (Need to find one)
- "The Rock", 6.5" stone skillet ($10, when I see one, but I might wait until I get the saucepan)
- The Deep Pot ($40, waiting for a sale)

And a little later, once I do more homework.

- Cast Iron Crock Pot (Dutch Oven?)
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2016 7:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Darn. I did find a flaw with the ceramic pan: The handle is too long, and heavy (metal). As a result, the pan doesn't have a very good center of gravity. It sits slightly tilted on the elements of my stove.

Boo! I might end up returning it.

It did make a nice scrambled egg though. ;)

* * *

I picked up the Cast Iron Griddle that was on sale ($30, reg $60).



Pretty happy with it aesthetically so far. It's heavy, as Cast Iron should be, with that nice bright red coating (enamel?) all over the handle and bottom. Pouring spouts, and oven safe up to 500 F.

It still needs a good clean (human germs), and I want to season it (even though it's pre-seasoned). You know, start making good habits with it. :)

Unlike the ceramic pan, it's so heavy, it fits perfectly flat on the element.

* * *

I did a bunch of running around this evening (after the con). I wanted to check prices at a couple stores for pans and such, a few stores I hadn't check until now. Well as it turns out, Walmart and Superstore had the best selection (or rather, only selection worth mentioning). I like my chances with buying cookware from them *IF* they get something good, since unlike a specialty store they will put things are sale (Such as the griddle).

That said, I snuck in to Chinese Grocery Store, just in case they had more non-Teflon cookware like my Wok. And yes, they did. They had saucepans for $20-$25! Huzzah!

So I'll probably grab one next time I visit. They close at 9 PM, and I got there just before closing, so I wanted to be sure the other stores I visited didn't have anything comparable (they did not).

* * *

Looking at the stone "egg pan", I'm a little bit on the fence at the moment. They have a partially Ceramic one at Walmart that is marked as Oven Safe, but it's 6". My other store has a normal stone pan, 6.5", and with nothing on it that suggests it's oven safe. Boo.

I'm also starting to reconsider this pan. Or maybe just wait for a sale. It's not a super important piece of cookware.

* * *

I finally got one of the Noodle maker owners to talk to me, so we're negotiating a price. $50 listing, I offered $20, they counter-offered with $40, I countered with $30.

We'll see how that goes.

I'm hoping I can get it under $40. $35 would be fine.

* * *

So the pan plan:

- Big Burner Cast Iron (10" Griddle) - Check [$30]
- Small Burner Cast Iron (8" Skillet) - Soon (US visit) [$11]
- Big Burner Skillet (10" Ceramic) - Might be returning :( [$20]
- Small Burner Skillet (the Wok) - Check [Under $30]
- Big Burner Pot (5 Litre/Quart Deep Pot) - When it goes on sale [$40]
- Small Burner Pot ("Stone" Saucepan) - Soon (Chinese Grocery Store) [$22]

- Egg Sandwich Pan - *Maybe* when it goes on sale
- Cast Iron Dutch Oven - Need to do a bit more planning here

I found a 5 Quart cast iron dutch oven at Walmart today, but I didn't have a price, and it had a nick out of it. I found them again at another store for nearly $90, so *shrug*. I guess it's a question of what size I want. 5 Quarts/Litres seems decent. More would mean more weight, but the 5 is tolerable. Adequate for large Chilli Pot.

EDIT: Oh actually, I just did a test. My Wok fits 5 litres comfortably, 6 if I push it. So on that note I may have to consider a larger Pot. Or stick with that general size (5/6 Quarts/Litres).

You know, it's probably fine having a maximum of 6 Quarts/Litres, as I do with my Wok. It does mean less weight, and storing it is less insane.


They do seem to cost upward of $100 here in Canada. I found that the Lodge brand one is $60 in the US (80 CAD), and $110 in Canada ($150 @ Warmart).

...

Okay, they're expensive, and there's no way around it.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 7:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quick little bit of side homework on Ramen noodles.

The key difference between Italian Pasta and Ramen noodles is the addition of an Alkaline (the opposite of an Acid). Of course I'm way more familiar with Acids (Fruit, Vinegar), and if anything I cook happens to be an Alkaline, it's an accident up until this point.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/15/dining/15curious.html?_r=0

The key takeaway from this article is that Baking Soda can be used as a more common substitute for Lye, but you should bake it to reduce it, and raise the Alkalinity.

Also interesting, the Chinese have an ingredient "Jian", which is an Alkaline, and may just be Pre-baked Baking Soda. Something to keep an eye out for at the Chinese grocery store.

It's not entirely clear what Flour should be used. That same article does suggest Semolina, while not resulting in as stretchy a dough, does give the correct color, and a good flavor.

So it might be totally fine to just always use Semolina for noodle making, unless you're of course trying to make Pho or other non-wheat noodle.


Plan B, I might actually be able to find Lye at the Chinese Grocery store. #ChinaTown

http://omnivorescookbook.com/kansui

"Kansui" as it's called, is a mixture of Potassium Cabonate and Sodium Bi-Carbonate. That's the correct ingredient to use, but it does sound like the Baked Baking Soda is a good substitute.

Hooray, food chemistry.

* * *

Okay, so this chart proves I know nothing of the Acidity and Alkalinity of food.

http://www.acidalkalinediet.net/acid-alkaline-food-chart.php

There seems to be a dieting movement based around controlling the Acid/Alkaline levels of food. That's not really my intent, more just understanding flavour consequences.

http://foodary.com/649/are-eggs-acidic-or-alkaline/

So *shrug*.

* * *

Interesting. So I found an online review of the Starfrit "The Rock" branded pans that pointed out something I kind-of expected.

The bottom and outsides of all the Starfrit "The Rock" pans has a painted-on coating that looks the same as the inside. You can tell it's different, as the colors don't perfectly match. This reviewer noticed that over time, the painted coating began to peel. The insides, totally fine, but the bottom was peeling off, revealing the metal element. This is not an issue with my Wok (or the saucepan I'll be grabbing), as they have a proper exposed metal on the bottom. But these cheaper Starfrit are perhaps not the best designed. Correct manufacturing process (the material is fantastic), but not designed for the visual longevity. My Wok, I've been using it for 2 months, and it still looks good as new, 'cause they weren't dumb enough to paint the heating element.

So alright, that may mean I'm out on the Egg Pan. Or at least, I'm going to wait until I find an alternative brand to Starfrit.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Egg Papardelle, it's fine. There is a subtle taste difference, like you would assume with an all-egg made noodle, a hint of a more eggy flavour.

It's not pronounced though. Like if I didn't know it was more eggy, I probably wouldn't have noticed.

Comparing the regular De Cecco Papardelle against it, both work equally well with the Ragu Bolognese sauce. The dish isn't necessarily better or worse with more or less egg flavour. I'd say they're interchangeable. So, buy whatever is cheaper. Yes sir Mike!

* * *

I returned the Ceramic Skillet pan. Sad day. ;)

* * *

I did however pick-up the saucepan.



I had the choice of a 16 cm saucepan (6.5"), or a 20 cm saucepan (8"). There was an 18 cm listed, but they didn't have any in stock (and there is really no way of knowing if they ever will).

I chose the 20 cm, since the 16 cm didn't quite fit the element. It cost $25.

It's a non-stick stone pan with a metal core, like my Wok. And like I was saying, it has an exposed metal bottom, unlike the cheaper stone pans with a painted bottom.



The texture inside the saucepan itself is rougher than the Wok. Stirring it with a Fork makes a sound that reminds me slightly of nails on a chalkboard. It's just not pleasant. So that's a change I think I need to make (Stir with Wood or Plastic). I've been using Wooden spoons for all my Italian cooking in the Wok (I usually to use plastic), but when I'm being thoughtless I do find that I use cutlery (forks, spoons, knives). For the sake of my cookware I need to kill that habit, and just accept you're cleaning another spoon.

It can hold 3 Litres/Quarts comfortably, more than the pot I was cooking my Noodle in.

It's light, with a metal handle that does warm up, but not too bad.

I did however find that it took much longer to boil the water than the stainless steel pot I was previously using to heat my water... but I'm not entirely sure I did it right. I made a faux pas at first, turning on the wrong burner (doh), but even then it was 20'ish minutes to heat up. I'll have to re-test this.

That said, the Egg Papardelle cooked way faster. The packaging quoted 5 minutes, which is exactly what it took (regular Paprdelle quotes 6 minutes, but it actually takes 7).

So, first impression is *shrug*. I'll have to cook with it again to better see what I think.

* * *

Just to compare, I wanted to show the bottom of the Wok.



I believe it's a 28 cm pan, but funneled to fit smaller burners. If I remember, the contact element was about 15 cm across (6"), which is slightly larger than the element itself, but just slightly.

After 2 months of use, it's getting some very slight imperfections in the element, but you can barely see them. When the pan is a year old, they might be easier to see.

Again, I am extremely super happy with this pan.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

All-right, we're doing some science. I want to rule out the possibility that the pot is bad once and for all.

Challenge: Boiling 1 litre of water, when does it reach a rolling boil?

Other Parameters:

- Lids.
- Let element fully cool between tests.
- Medium-High heat.
- Try to minimize the amount of steam you let out when checking boils.

The test is not super scientifically accurate, but if I see similar or improved results, I'll be good. :)

New Stone Saucepan (above)
- Holds 3 Litres, and will fit 3.5 litres to the pot-lid line
- Bubbles started forming in around 10-11 minutes
- Rolling boil was achieved in under 12 minutes
- Top of pot (outside) was around 60 degrees (C) halfway through.
- After 15 minutes off the heat, covered, the base of the pot (inside) still holds about 75 degrees (C).
- I was dumb, and didn't think to check temperatures before I took it off the burner. Doh!
- *NEW* Rolling Boil for 2 litres: 21-22 minutes. It sat bubbly since the 15 minute mark, but didn't boil. ~90 C at the base, after taking off burner.

I'm actually much more happy with these results, now that there's a better understanding of water ratios.

Old Staneless Steel Pot (that I was using as a saucepan)
- Holds 2 Litres. 2.5 Litres wont fit.
- Bubbles forming at 10 minutes (I forgot to check sooner)
- Rolling boil by 11 minutes.
- Top of top (outside) was 40 degrees after 10 minutes.
- Inside bottom was ~88 degrees (C) shorly after taking it off the heat.
- Inside bottom (covered) was 79 degrees (C) after 15 minutes. Top (inside) was 70 degrees (C).
- *NEW* Rolling Boil for 2 litres: 19-20 minutes. A light boil by 19 minutes, but proper boil by 20. ~95 C at the base, after taking off burner.

So it's true, the boil is faster, but just 1 minute faster.

It's also possible the element wasn't fully cooled. It was cool enough to touch, but it wasn't necessarily as cold as an element that's been sitting for 12 hours.

Old Smaller Stainless Stell Pot (that I was using before I realized I needed more room)
- Holds 1.5 Litres, but 2 litres will not fit
- Will not be testing.

* * *

The next test would be to boil 2 liters of water, which is near capacity of the original pot.

In conclusion though, the new pot is just fine. I'm just not good at estimating how much water is in it. :)
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Edited by PoV on Mon Nov 07, 2016 6:07 pm; edited 3 times
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 12:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Finally cleaned the Cast Iron Griddle. I didn't season it though.

One article I read suggested heating it up to evaporate the water on the pan, instead of assuming your towels will do a good enough job.

I timed it. It took about 3 minutes for the pan to reach 200°C (~400°F) in the center, about 160°C at the edge (140°C on the sides). That is hot enough to evaporate water (100°C).

http://www.weber.com/weber-nation/blog/how-to-sear

This article about searing says you sear roughly between 450 and 500°F (230-260°C), but searing can begin at 300°F.

The cast iron pan heated up really fast. I haven't really checked other pans heat-up speeds, but it was interesting to check (using an infrared thermometer).

* * *

Trying to understand the smoke point of oils.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoke_point
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/smoke-point-matters-in-cooking-with-oil/article26569060/

A detail that seems not-so-well communicated is that when things bubble in an oiled pan, it's because the temperature is above the boiling point of water, not oil.

When you see smoke, it's above the boiling point of the oil. Cooking with oil above the boiling point hurts the flavor of the oil (because it's burning).

* * *

New can of worms: The oil production process.

https://jonbarron.org/diet-and-nutrition/healthiest-cooking-oil-chart-smoke-points
http://lifespa.com/dont-use-these-oils/
http://www.livestrong.com/article/145529-what-is-cold-pressed-oil/

Quote:
Oils made with health (rather than shelf life) in mind are:
- Sold in dark glass bottles that say unrefined on the label.
- Look for expeller pressed (screw press) oils by manufacturers that make an effort to keep the pressing temperature low. A manufacturer concerned about overheating oils will mention expeller pressure temperature on the label.
- Look for pressing temperatures below 122°F, which is the European standard for cold (expeller) pressing.


You know what: I'm getting conflicting information here. Cold Pressing claims to be the better process, but dumbface is claiming it's actually worse, and not actually cold. *shrug*

I have 3 oils that I use.

- a "Cold Pressed" Extra Virgin Olive Oil, "product of Greece" (160-207°C. Virgin is ~210°C)
- a "Pure" Sesame Oil (177°C)
- a generic Canola Oil that claims to be "premium" (190-232°C, or maybe 204°C)

I wanted to check online what the smoke point of these oils was, but I might just have to smoke my oils and find out myself.

The key takeaway is that I may have to put more effort in to keeping my stovetop temperatures below a certain point. Boiling water is fine, but Smoking Oil is not.

* * *

http://www.chowhound.com/post/sesame-oil-taste-690181

Quote:
Generally speaking, sesame oil should have a very intense aroma and flavor, and should be used as a finishing drizzle, rather than to cook/fry with.

You can get less intense sesame oil, but then it sort of ruins the point of it, IMO.

Use it in general to finish stir fries, add a drop or two to soups, or toss cooked vegetables with it.

It generally works very well with soy sauce. I like to make a soy sauce - citrus - spicy - sweet - scallion/garlic dipping sauce that goes well on almost anything, especially tofu.


Okay! I've probably been using Sesame Oil wrong.

* * *

Quote:
When you’re making salad dressing or sautéing vegetables over medium heat, olive oil is an excellent choice.

If you’re cooking over high heat, don’t choose olive oil. Olive oil has a lower smoke point—the point at which an oil literally begins to smokee


*shrug* okay, I'm also probably using my Extra Virgin Olive Oil wrong. Ha! Medium heat only... which a bit of a vague way to look at it.

* * *

https://www.cooksillustrated.com/how_tos/5820-the-ultimate-way-to-season-cast-iron
http://gnowfglins.com/2010/03/12/how-to-season-cast-iron/

Seasoning Cast Iron with Flaxseed Oil seems to come up often. Unusually, it has a very low smoke point, 107 C, nearly as low as water. Now that's bizarre.

Quote:
The Science
The science of cooking with oil is the exact opposite of the science of seasoning with oil.

When cooking, we don’t want our oils to smoke because they then release carcinogenic free radicals. This is called the “smoke point”. See the bottom of this post for a chart of smoke points for different oils.

When seasoning, we want to hit the smoke point. We want the oil to get so hot that a chemical reaction — polymerization — occurs, thus changing the oil into a sealant, of sorts. When flax seed oil changes into a sealant, we want it to be in the open pores of our cast iron pans.


Hmm. Okay.

Quote:
high grade, organic flax seed oil (should be refrigerated and fresh; check the expiration date)

Never use flax seed oil when cooking with heat. It smokes at very low temperatures and releases free radicals into your food. However, this oil is wonderfully beneficial when consumed unheated in salad dressings, etc.


Gotcha. You can eat it, just don't cook with it. Seasoning only.

Sounds like freshness is a big deal though.

Quote:
“Also, how do you know when flax oil has gone bad?”

Smell it, it will smell bad, strong or fishy. Normally flax oil has a mild smell to it. As for color, this can very for many other reasons so it is not a sound indicator of rancidity.


The 2nd article further goes in to recommending fully scraping-off the coating put on by the original manufacturer of the pan, and seasoning with (at least) 6 coats of Flax Seed Oil.

I think I'm going to try *with* the default coating, but once it starts going bad, giving it the Flax Seed treatment.

* * *

- Butter, Smoking Point: 150 C
- Margarine, Smoking Point: 215 C

Worth remembering. Gotta be gentle with butter.

Also, it turns out that Margarine figure might be off, as Margarine can be made from several different oils, even Olive.

That probably explains "I can't believe it's not butter". It's probably a blend of oils with the most butter-like flavour.

* * *

http://balancedbites.com/PDFs/BOOK_EXTRAS/PracticalPaleo_GuidetoCookingFats.pdf
http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/05/cooking-fats-101-whats-a-smoke-point-and-why-does-it-matter.html

- Bacon Fat (Lard) Smoking Point: 190 C (375 F)
- Beef Fat Smoking Point: 250 C (400 F)
- Chicken Fat Smoking Point: 190 C (375 F)

I was thinking about starting to save some Bacon Fat.

* * *

Okay. Pot comparison, the new pot does take more time, but only 10% more time per litre. So 11 vs 10 minutes, and 22 vs 20 minutes.

*phew*, that's a relief.

I may have to settle for $40 for the Noodle Maker. Nobody wants to budge lower (still better than $50 I suppose). I could *almost* get it for $30 from the US, but it's a can of worms.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2016 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Happy thoughts. Happy thoughts. ;)

I still haven't picked up a noodle maker. I might have over-negotiated with one of the 2 sellers, so I'm hoping to get a reaction out of the OTHER one tonight with an offer of $40 (asking $50).

I also have two Vintage Cast Iron pans I'm trying to get my hands on. It's not that Vintage is better (which tends to be the word that goes around), but they do tend to be smoother, thanks to changes in the manufacturing process. An 11" pan, and a 6.5" for $20 and $15 respectfully.

Oh, and as I was typing this I got a reply to the 11". Great. Now I just need to hear back from the rest.

The main downside with the vintage pans is they're probably going to need to be fully re-seasoned. That could take a while (and smell), so I'm more just getting them while I can get them (cheap). And maybe during the spring next year, I'll visit my parents, and season them outdoors using my Dad's BBQ.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2016 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, we have a vintage Cast Iron skillet now. A mere $20.





As you can see, it needs to be restored. Scrub all that rust and gunk off. That's the magic of Cast Iron: You can always fix it (unless it's cracked). This is the plate mail of cooking. :D

10.5" top diameter, 9.5" bottom. So not quite a perfect fit for my 8" elements, but better than the 12" would have been. And again, it's a vintage skillet, meaning it's perfectly smooth.

Once I can scrape off all the caked on gunk and re-season it, it'll be goooood. :D

Unfortunately, cleaning it and re-seasoning will probably eat-up an afternoon. :)


I want to try cooking a steak on the Griddle (my other cast iron pan). I'm curious to see how good the seasoning is on the store-bought pan.

I ordered some cleaning tools for cast iron this morning: a pair of scrapers, a brush, and (not actually for cleaning but) a removable silicon handle for dealing with the heat.


I'm also hearing that the "Lodge" brand cast iron pans might actually be better than the ones I'm finding in stores (Country Cabin brand). The "Country Cabin" cast irons are bumpy, just as my $30 griddle is. I was almost ready to just pay the difference ($15 CAD vs $10 USD) and buy the Country Cabin, just to have it, but I think I am going to wait until I visit the US and grab the Lodge brand 8" after all. This way I have a Lodge, since they seem to be one of the more respected brands still making cast iron cookware.

I also found that Walmart had a cheaper (Country Cabin brand) 10" cast iron Griddle for $20, but the enamel coating on mine ($30, reg $60) looks too cool. :D

Plus my pan is slightly larger (10.5"), and has bigger pouring spouts.

I'm having no luck reaching the other cast Iron dude, so I'm going to skip it. If buddy would have got back to me, I would have bit. I don't need it though, and I'm tired of BS.

* * *

Cast Iron Plan:
- 10.5" Griddle (Superstore Special, for 8" element/oven) - Check ($30)
- 10.5" Skillet (Vintage, for 8" element/oven) - Check ($20, needs restoration)
- 8" Skillet (Lodge, for 6" element/oven) - TODO ($10 USD)
- Crock Pot/Dutch Oven (~5 Quarts/Litres, Ceramic/Enamel coated, for 8" element/oven) - TBD

This feels like a good set.

Again, I'm not replacing my cookware with Cast Iron. It's just the better choice when it comes to searing food (Steak), and some Stovetop->Oven dishes.

I don't have a BBQ (or balcony), so this is the next-best-thing (better in some cases).

The Crock Pot/Dutch oven is because I don't have a good pot to cook a roast in. Not that I've needed to make a roast yet, but I like the option (Cast Iron Skillet+Tin Foil might work though).

* * *

Cookware Plan:
- Stone Wok (28 cm, Chinese Grocery Store Special, 6" element) - Check ($30)
- Stone Saucepan (3 Quarts/Litres, Chinese Grocery Store Special, 6" element) - Check ($25)
- Stainless Steel Deep Pot (8 Quarts/Litres, Superstore Special, 8" element) - Waiting for Sale ($40)
- 10" Skillet, non-Teflon, oven safe, 8" element - TBD (~$20)
- Egg Sandwitch Pan, non-Teflon, oven safe - TBD

Keeping my "deep pot" stainless steel because of weight. Stone and cast iron are potentially too heavy... maybe. I guess I really didn't look at the other stone option. I should probably have something that's not a random Chinese/Korean brand though. I've been pretty happy with the "Superstore Specials" though. Even the ceramic pan I used to have, it was great. It was just weighted poorly.

Like the "deep pot", I'd like a proper skillet I can use on my 8" elements. I also woludn't mind something that's oven safe too. I actually found 2 pans at Walmart. One ceramic that's a bit more expensive ($35), and a a stone ($20 on sale). The Stone pan is a Starfrit again though, but it doesn't a fully painted bottom, like the ones I was complaining about. It does have painted sides, quite literally for style though. It can be yours in Copper Colored, Red, and Blue. "wow"... except I found scratches out of the paint of a few of them. What a waste. Could have just kept it stainless steel looking.

And I've mentioned it, but the egg sandwich pan is a continuing adventure. I have a few Teflon egg pans to hold me over (dude that sold me the cast iron threw one in), and I wasn't as impresed with the Starfrit rock pans (painted bottoms), but I'm on the lookout.

* * *

I'm going to settle on $45 for the Noodle Maker. It's new in box, and I'm tired of negotiating. I could *maybe* get it for $5 less used (once), but it's a much further drive. I just want this quest to be over.

I got in touch with the person selling it, but the timing was all bad (they were going to sleep in an hour, but I got the email an hour later). I should have it tomorrow though.

* * *

I'm tempted to look in to a Carbon Steel skillet as well. Lighter than Cast Iron, a bit pricier (for a good one). They also require seasoning.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to find a decent price in Canada, nor stock at a US retail store (Walmart/Target).

Lodge makes some, but I saw DeBuyer mentioned as another brand choice, making pans with slightly thicker sheet metal.

I don't really have a good spot for one on my lists, since it more fits in the Cast Iron category. It's arguably a better Cast Iron, but Cast Iron will hold heat longer. Lodge pans for ~$30 on US Amazon/Walmart for either the 10" or the 12" (same price), but I can't exactly buy from either of those directly. Hmm.

EDIT: It does look like I could get the 8" Lodge Carbon Steel from Amazon for $21+12, but only that one. The other sizes don't seem to offer that option.

Also Amazon will ship the DeBuyer to Canada. $31+12 for the 8", $51+16 for the 10", $60+17.50 for the 12".

Also, as it turns out DeBuyer is a French company (hence the spike).

Another French Company, Matfer Bourgeat. Best value is the $35+15 for the 11" pan. Highly rated by Cooks Illustrated (according to comments). From "The Chefs Connection" amazon store, $46 for the 10", $40 for the 9", $36 for the 8", all with Free Shipping.

Also found a company Vollrath mentioned. One dude speaks highly of it (another not so much), and the pricing is better (not as good as Lodge). Made in USA. $18+12 for the 8".

Quote:
Know this is an older thread, but here is some info that may be helpful to others. I too have been looking at purchasing carbon steel pans for a while. My September/October 2015 issue of Cook's Illustrated just came and lo and behold they did an informative article on carbon steel as well as their testing results for 8 different brands of pans. The Matfer Bourgeat came out at #1. Yes, you do want a thicker carbon steel. Thinner will warp over time. Their tips, which were from Matfer Bourgeat, for seasoning and cleaning the pan were as follows: To remove the new pan's wax or grease coating use very hot water, dish soap, and vigorous scrubbing with a bristle brush. Dry the pan and then put it on low heat to finish drying. Add 1/3 cup oil, 2/3 cup salt, and peels from two potatoes (these help pull up any remaining wax or grease from the pan surface). Cook over medium heat, occasionally moving the peels around the pan and up the sides to the rim for 8-10 minutes. The pan will turn brown. Discard the contents, allow the pan to cool, and wipe with paper towels. It is ready to use. If you experience any sticking, repeat the above steps once more. This method will work on any carbon-steel skillet.


http://www.cheftalk.com/t/57818/carbon-steel-pans-de-buyer-or-matfer-bourgeat

Okay, so unlike the Cast Iron, it's probably best to stick with a brand. Matfer Bourgeat, importing one from the US will cost between $48 and $61, depending on the size (8", 9", 10").

* * *

An alternative seasoning I'm seeing rumblings about is about the Crisbee Puck.

http://www.crisbee.org/

Supposedly it works better for seasoning Carbon Steel. According to an Amazon review, Flax Seed Oil tends to rub off on anything that sticks.

EDIT: It's apparently better in general, as it doesn't smell (as bad). It's a mix of Beeswax and oil(s). They also make a variant: Larabee Pucks. There's a mix+match deal, 4 pucks (2 types) for $25. Shipping was $7.50 last I checked, so a larger order is likely best.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2016 11:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, made a more-or less improv Vodka Sauce. I loosely followed this, mainly to give me an idea what ingredients to use.

http://www.dirtykitchensecrets.com/penne-ala-vodka/

These were some other resources I looked at later.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FlfOUTUC9A
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVALxVBu2xA

The recipe typically calls for heavy cream, but again, as I've been "threatening", I used Creme Fraiche.

* * *

Okay, so the reference recipe I used was basically the same as a Neapolitan, so I winged it, and more or less made a Neapolitan instead.

I started with a Soffritto of Carrot, Celery, a Scallion, Garlic, Pepper and some dry parsley and oregano. My first time cooking with Scallions! :)

The Scallions were surprising. They look like a thin onion outside, but they're actually Garlic'esc, with like 2 huge cloves inside. Flavour, when I tasted it raw, it was more intense then a Red Onion (despite some internet website calling them "sweeter").



The reference recipe called for adding roughly 4 shots of Vodka. I did about 3 shots. I didn't flambe it because it's late, and it's not a good to start a fire.

In hindsight, I can't say I really tasted what the Vodka brought to the sauce. While I was cooking the Vodka off, it certainly smelled of vodka (kinda nice). But taste, I'm not entirely sure I tasted it.

Either I needed more Vodka, or the flambe was actually necessary.



Crushed in some regular Italian Tomatoes. Simmered for a while.



Finished with nearly 3 heaping scoops of Creme Fraiche. 2 just wasn't creamy enough for me. Also added Basil and Salt, to finish it as a Neapolitan. Simmered until the noodle was ready.



Lightly sauced the noodle and served.


Result: It was nice, but missing something.

- the Vodka didn't stand out as far as I could tell
- It was a light sort of creamy. Not quite as nice as the long-reduced milk in the Ragu Bolognese.
- I suppose it didn't need to be a chunky sauce. One of the later references showed it more smooth (pre-crushed tomato). Long simmered (90 minutes) and smooth.
- I used more ingredients, but less Scallion that the reference recipe called for. And you know, I don't think it necessarily hurt it.
- It was very tomato. That was the most prominent flavour. Maybe that's what the vodka did *shrug*. Of course, there was no meat, and not much else vegetable for that matter. It more straight-up a creamy tomato.
- It's probably an Umami'ness that's missing. Gotta bring that in with either some mushroom, some fish sauce, or such.
- I'll probably *NOT* buy Rigatoni anymore. It's fine, but the noodle is really thick. The box quotes a 14 minute cook time, which is double most other De Cecco noodles I cook. It is far thicker though. Took me about 20 minutes to cook.
- It's probably best as a "fully sauce" the noodle sauce, rather than a partial sauce and top (like Ragu Bolognese), or just top (Spaghetti).
- Pancetta. Add Pancetta.
- Go Spicy? Does spicy work with Vodka?
- I probably don't need more chunky vegetables (i.e. peppers)... I guess unless they're spicy.
- Twirly/Swirly noodle, that might be a better match than the Rigatoni.

Don't get me wrong. It was a good sauce (it just proves I don't need to buy canned tomato sauce anymore). But in this post-Ragu Bolognese world, a sauce needs to go further.


So yeah. I'm not sure where to go with this. It's lacking. It's light and smooth, but there's no real complexity to it.

Messy Mikes, that'll probably be a sweeter sauce. It gets it's Umami from the steak sauce (possibly containing anchovy), and it's texture from the Bacon and Beans.

That means this needs to go creamy, with something.

* * *

Some side things:

- Yes, I've been burning my Olive Oil all this time. Oops! I added it by mistake, but kept it so I could test. I let it heat up, and watched for it to smoke. I started seeing oil smoke just under 200 C.
- My saucepan (i.e. the new pot) is great. The lid, it's fantastic. My old lids had round handles, and this lid is a bar handles. It's also lighter (glass instead of stainless steel). Managing it is just so much easier.
- I still don't put enough water in my noodle. I put in about a litre, added half a box. I had to pay too close attention to it, making sure it was well submerged. I need to accept I should have used 2 litres, and waited the extra 10 minutes for it to boil.
- I need to remember to chop my Garlic the same way I chop my onions. I suppose my other vegetables (the tiny carrots, cellery) could be the same too. Hmm
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Edited by PoV on Fri Nov 11, 2016 9:46 am; edited 1 time
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2016 11:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have been seeing morel mushrooms at my local grocery stores lately. Dried. I've mainly noticed them because they tend to be the most expensive. Not crazy like a truffle, but $10 for a box of dried instead of $3.

http://oureverydaylife.com/way-cook-morel-mushrooms-25170.html

I will admit, I'm not the biggest fan of mushrooms, but I don't mind them on pizza. I also really haven't given them much of a chance. I used to use a mushroom based tomato sauce for making my Messy Mikes recipe. I always use lots of meat, so it was nice to have a sauce flavored with ingredients I wasn't using.

So, I want to think that mushrooms are a good next ingredient for me to understand. I know there is something to them, especially given how popular and how much variety of them there are. I know there's like an earthyness, which who really knows what that means (tastes like dirt?). Certainly if the Truffle is so legendary, there just has to be something of merit to even the best of the reasonably priced mushrooms.

Anyway, it sounds like the morel mushroom is best prepared sauteed in butter. Sounds easy enough. Pre soaking the dried ones, then into the pan. Then either it as is, or Dice and then add to whatever you're cooking.

I figured, since I know so little of mushroom, I might have better luck starting from the top. That is the theory anyway.

* * *

Still not entirely convinced that the mushrooms are that difference in taste. Morel mushrooms were not called out in this following article, but the rest were.

http://www.chatelaine.com/recipes/cooking-tips/best-sauteed-mushrooms/

Preparation method is more or less the same, except this one talks about hitting them directly in a hot cast-iron pan. That is kind of the reason why I started getting into cast-iron. Or steak of course, but vegetables that need a good sear too. I could probably do them just fine in a pan though, so long as it was hot.

* * *

An odd opinion piece on Mushrooms.

http://frumpyhausfrau.com/farm/americans-dont-know-what-mushrooms-taste-like/

Their conclusions:

- White Button, Crimini, Portabello, and Meadow mushrooms taste the same
- King Trumpet Oyster mushrooms are nice
- White Garden Elm Oyster, Angel Wing Oysters, similar
- Chanterelles, like a better normal mushroom
- Paddy Straw (Volvariella Volvacea) mushrooms are quite good
- Porcini are good
- Hedgehog (Sweet Tooth) mushrooms are quite good
- Morels are great
- Shaggy Mane "taste like Chicken"

The writer claims not to like Mushrooms, yet found many they did like. That used to be my stance, but I don't mind them. I usually let them disappear in to a sauce, and in hindsight, I'd only ever cooked with mild mushrooms.

So alright. I'm tempted to visit the Chinese Grocery store, to see what they happen to carry. I know they carry a lot of stuff, but I never educated myself in what was good. Too many varieties. :)
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2016 12:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



Okay, I have fancy mushrooms.

Chinese grocery store had a variety of fresh Oyster mushrooms (King Oysters above come from them), in addition to common mushrooms you find everywhere else. They also had quite a number of dried mushrooms, many with names I didn't recognize, as well as generously large packs of dried Shiitake for a reasonable price.

As for other grocery stores, Farmboy carried the common mushrooms (whites, browns, large portabella) and actually, to my surprise, fresh Shiitake and Oyster. I didn't actually notice those until I reviewed my photos. They also had a small variety of chilled+dried mushrooms, notably including Porcini and Chanterelle. Angellos (Italian Market) had fresh common mushrooms, and a variety of dried Porcini.

Sobey's, they also had the usual fresh common mushrooms, and a variety of dried. Notably Lobster, Black Trumpet, Porcini, Chanterelle, and Morel.

Of course, the Morel's come from Sobey's. They painfully cost $10, versus $4 for the rest. That said, I want to see if they're any good.


The plan, I'll be making soup stocks from each mushroom. Eventually, making a tomato sauce from the stock, just to see if that's what's missing.

* * *

Weird. A lot of "mushroom culture" tends to be around picking wild mushrooms. Here's a site with some details for identifying varieties found in northern USA/Canada.

http://mushroom-collecting.com/mushroommorel.html

I've certainly never considered the possibility of collecting edible fungi while out on a walk in the spring, but apparently that's a thing.

Huh.

I live near some decent walkways and paths through trees, near a few small rivers, etc. I'm really not confident enough to harvest wild mushrooms for cooking, but it might be interesting to pay attention to fungus on my walks, snap some photos with my phone, and lookup what I find if I find something interesting (like bird watching... of mushrooms). ;)

* * *

I'm not big on fish, but after watching so many Gordon Ramsay reality shows, I feel like I should at least understand Scallops.

http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/08/the-food-lab-how-to-sear-scallops.html

The article makes mention of Clarified Butter, which is a variation of butter with a higher smoke point. Same flavour, less milk ingredients. You can make it from (unsalted) butter.

Alternatively, I've often seen Ghee in the grocery store, which is effectively the same thing (just cooked longer). Both will last a long time in the fridge.

* * *

Decent writeup on dried Shiitake.

http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/2013/01/shiitake-mushroom-tips-how-to-buy-soak-prep.html

Quote:
Thick mushrooms with deep white fissures on the caps tend to have the most flavor. They may be labeled hana, or flower mushroom, a term Japanese packagers use to signal the highest grade. Second-grade mushrooms are also thick but have fewer fissures. The downside to the thick-capped mushroom is that they take longer to rehydrate.


* * *

Interesting. Broth and Stock making tends to be a good place for vegetable scraps.

http://www.thekitchn.com/tip-save-vegetable-scraps-for-stock-67995

* * *

A King Oyster Mushroom soup.

http://www.phamfatale.com/id_4078/title_King-Mushroom-Soup-Recipe/

I mainly like this because how it recommends dealing with the mushroom: cut in half, the use a knife to help you rip strips of mushroom.

* * *

Decent article on drying Morels.

http://localfoods.about.com/od/preparationtips/tp/drymorels.htm

Some dude finding lots of them in a forest.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdwApyWOhAQ

You know, just in case. ;)

They are rather expensive, and seasonal. Would certainly be interesting to stockpile a bunch of wild ones, dry 'em, and have them for the rest of the year.

* * *

Foraging. That's the magic word.

http://www.outdoorcanada.ca/15-wild-plants-you-can-eat

More edible wild plants:

http://northernbushcraft.com/guide.php?ctgy=edible_mushrooms&region=ontario

Database of poisonous wild plants:

http://novascotia.ca/museum/poison/

* * *

Stumbled across some Iranian cuisine info. There's a kebab place a few blocks away with some really good food, and I've been rather curious what it was (so I could steal the recipe).

My main goto meal is something they call the "Salari". It's basically two kebabs, one beef (hamburger) and one chicken, on a bed of rice. I've had no luck finding Salari as a real name of the dishes. I've found similar things, but no exact matches. I've also had some pretty nice lamb chops on this interesting dill rice.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabab_koobideh

Quote:
Lamb or beef (precisely 20% fat, 80% meat) is minced twice for a finer consistency. Salt, garlic powder, black pepper, celery powder, sumac, very finely grated onion (the extra juice is squeezed out and saved for later) and one egg yolk per pound of meat are added. All ingredients are mixed, covered, and left to marinate in the refrigerator for at least four hours or overnight.

Kabab koobideh is grilled on skewers, traditionally over hot coal, and is served with Polo (Iranian rice pilaf with oil, salt and saffron), accompanied by grilled tomatoes and onions. Sumac is usually served as a tableside garnishing spice.

Chicken kabab koobideh is made using chives or green onions, parsley, salt and pepperno turmeric and no sumac. It is served over Baghali Polo (dill and broad bean rice pilaf).


So as it turns out, Koobideh is the "hamburger on a stick". It's tasty. The history is pretty amusing too, being a dish that was historically "cooked on swords". Hell yeah. Spice wise, using the wikipedia page as reference, the only uncommon ingredient is the sumac, and even then I'm not entirely sure that's what makes the kebabs from over-there taste so good. But hey, science must be done! :)

Another helpful tip from above, Polo is what they call their rice dishes. I always suspected their rice was a combination of saffron rice and regular rice, but I haven't had luck finding an accurate recipe. Baghali Polo is clearly the dill rice dish I know from the lamb chops. Excellent.

Now all that's left is to figure out exactly what the chicken kebab dish is.

EDIT: I think it's this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jujeh_kabab

Googling photos of Jujeh Kabab's look remarkably similar. Ha, apparently the secret ingredient is Saffron, but that likely just colors it. For the most part it's a lemon marinade.

...

Which inherently makes it somewhat similar to the food truck "Chicken and Rice" recipe from Cabin, which is only really missing the Saffron (everywhere).

Fascinating.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2016 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fancy Shmancy.





My folks picked this up for me while they were in the US (I was supposed to go with them, but I've been too busy). A Lodge 8" Cast Iron Skillet. ~$11 from Walmart (~$15 CAD).

Actually, the texture is much smoother than I was expecting. The cheap cast iron pans we have around here are much rougher. I'm definitely glad I went with Lodge.

* * *

So I've been doing a bit more homework. The Cast Iron Griddle I have is enameled (glass coated), even though it sort of doesn't actually look like it.

The key thing about enameled cookware is that it doesn't need to be seasoned... sort of.

Seasoning a cast iron is filling the crevasses and imperfections of the iron with an oil, heating it beyond the smoke point, so it polymerizes. Enameling is filling those crevasses with enamel (glass).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seasoning_(cookware)

The *sort of* is that with regular cast iron, not only are the crevasses filled, but a layer of polymerized oil (called a Patina) also directly covers the metal, giving it that desirable non-stick property. So while enameled pans don't need seasoning per se, seasoning an enameled cast iron pan can still build up a Patina, which in turn makes the pan even more non-stick. But because the enameled pan is now less porous (like a smooth Carbon Steel), under certain cleaning conditions the Patina might peel off, or come off with some foods. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it goes to explain why certain seasonings may be more or less effective on certain surfaces (supposedly Crisbee (a pun on Crisco+Beeswax) tends to form a better Patina on Carbon Steel then flax-seed oil).

At least, that's how I'm understanding it.

The science of metal cookware seems to be somewhat well understood (or understood enough), but not well collected.


It does make me wonder a bit about seasoning Stainless Steel cookware. A quick search though suggests that the smoothness of Stainless Steel isn't necessarily porous enough for a seasoning to adhere to a Stainless Steel pan. Deglazing works fine though, just not every food is suitable for deglazing. That and a Stainless Steel piece of cookware isn't necessarily oven safe. Plus smoking-it could take away that beautiful shine.

I suppose at this point I just need to do a bit more reading on Teflon and Ceramic coated cookware. Teflon just to know more about "what I've been doing all these years", and Ceramic just to complete my picture (though I imagine it's similar ballpark good/bad as an enameled cast iron).
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2016 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two things:

1. YARG! Google changed the Camera app on Android, and I'm not entirely convinced I have the best sense of how to make the most of it yet.

2. Spaghetti



Started with a SERIOUS base for the sauce.

- Carrot, Onion, Celery, Garlic
- Leek
- Shallot
- Green Pepper
- Pancetta (the only meat)
- Chunks of King Oyster Mushrooms *



- White wine
- Butter
- Fake "San Marzano" tomatoes (can labeled "San Marzano style")
- A nice long simmer
- Fresh Basil
- Topped with Italian Parmesan



Turned out great! The best "almost vegetarian" spaghetti sauce I've made. :D

The real surprise: King Oyster Mushrooms! Holy shit!

The chewyness of these mushrooms is incredible. I never believed the idea that a mushroom could taste like a meat, but lo and behold, the big chunks of King Oyster Mushroom really did bring a meat-like taste to the dish. No doubt the intense flavourful sauce helped mask that it wasn't actually meat, but it worked so well. Definitely a sauce to be proud of.

Now, I did actually use some pancetta (meat). I had a bunch left over, and wanted to use it up. Basically 1 and a half slices of a small Pancetta. Far less than I usually use. So yes, some of those meat-like bites did contain meat, but when I was tasting just the mushrooms, they totally worked.


Now I'm really curious. Something I hope to try soon:

- chopping up another King Oyster Mushroom
- lightly breading it (flour, salt, pepper)
- pan frying them in my cast iron pan, as if it was a meat. :)

I still have those Morels as well. This is the same recommended way to try these too.

Hmm! Mushrooms! No wonder I wasn't ever much of a fan. I was always eating shitty mushrooms. :)

* * *

Speaking of mushrooms: I also picked some dried Shiitake and Black Fungus mushrooms from the Chinese grocery store.

From what I understand, Shiitake mushrooms tend to be nice to cook with.

Black Fungus tends to be a good "sponge" mushroom, one that works well to absorb what it's cooked in, and add texture. Ahem, it was cheap, and it wasn't medicinal tasting like all the others they carried.


So yeah, food.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 2016 4:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

The real surprise: King Oyster Mushrooms! Holy shit!


I don't like shrooms but I'd give those a try.


Quote:

The science of metal cookware seems to be somewhat well understood (or understood enough), but not well collected.



I've been meaning to go full cast-iron for a while now, but as you've noted there is no "cast iron for dummies" book. Maybe this year?
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2016 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay! First attempt at Steak in a cast iron.

Result: Tasty, but actually I'd say it was a fail.


We started with a decent looking steak.



A 1 inch thick "CAB Strip Loin Grilling Steak" as it was marked (CAB=Certified Angus Beef), costing just under $7. More marbling than I typically get in my steaks, and a nice thick rind of fat along one side (for the flavour).

As it's suggested, I let it warm up to room temperature for about 25 minutes (plus the 10-15 minutes it took me to buy-it and get home).

I seasoned with just salt, as pepper would burn in the cast iron. Canola Oil in the pan... probably too much.


I want to say I let the pan heat up to about 160 C (320 F) on just above Medium heat.

Something I learned in my experiments with Cast Iron, the ENTIRE pan will eventually reach a heat equilibrium (i.e. handle gets very hot), so I what I hoped I to do was wait until more of the pan was hot. I don't think I waited long enough though.

The meat did stick initially, but just along the edges. This is the first thing I've cooked in this pan, so that shouldn't be a surprise. After peeling the steak off, I had no troubles with sticking (It was also swimming in oil).



3 minutes first side. I'm not entirely sure what to think of that sear. I didn't dry the steak, but it didn't seem wet either.

Also seen above, at this time I added some butter, to introduce more flavor, not really heading the advice that butter smokes at 150 C (and in theory our surface should be hotter than that). Flavor wise it did work, but it was clear this is what was smoking.

Another 3 minutes on the other side, but this was a thick steak, so I gave it another minute (or two?) on the original side. I realize that's taboo, but I didn't trust how cooked it was.



About a minute on the fatty side, and a bit less on the other sides.



And there it is. Rested for about 5 minutes (maybe a tad shorter).

An acceptable sear around the edges, but the face (and back-face) were somewhat pale.



Steak was cooked about medium (medium-rare?) throughout. You might be able to see that the top sear was thicker than the bottom. So it has that unbalance going against it.


Taste wise, I will say everything along the edges tasted really nice (gristle removed). But inside, in the middle, though it was cooked, but not very appetizing.

I think my main complaint was that this was a very marbled steak, and the fats in the middle just weren't cooked enough. A fatty bite right in the middle of the steak really threw things off. Like I said, the edges were great, but the middle just wasn't there.


So, learning experience. I nearly bought one of the more expensive dry-aged steaks, but I'm glad I didn't. I need to practice more, learn how to cook a shittier steak in cast-iron first.




As for cleanup, I should have removed the silicon handle sooner, rather than let it sit on the pan as it cooled. It didn't melt or anything, but it was hotter than it needed to be.

After letting it cool, I cleaned the pan with just water. I used a plastic Cast Iron scraper to help get the chunks off the surface. There was still a tiny bit of brown baked on to the surface, almost looking like rust (nope), too thin for the scraper to do anything about. So I hit it with more water and my usual dish sponge (1 rougher side), and that worked beautifully. Black surface was revealed again. NO SOAP!

Dried the pan with a towel, put it back on a burner and brought it to over 100 degrees (boiling point of water) just to be sure the water was all gone.


Cast Iron: Ready for the next meal.

* * *

Just an article on it.

http://www.fifteenspatulas.com/how-to-properly-sear-a-steak/

Yeah, my sear wasn't enough. More heat next time. I should be able to safely push it to 200 C (~400 F). That will give more time for the pan itself to heat up.

Also yeah, I should have dried my steak before seasoning. I still think Oil is the right answer, but swiming in oil, not so much.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2016 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OH SHIT!!

http://www.usa.philips.com/c-m-ho/cooking/airfryer-top



Air Fryers! These are a thing that exists! Deep fryers without the deep part (they use a fraction of the oil, and blow it around).

Unsurprisingly, Philips makes "the good one", like that automatic magical noodle maker. Price is about the same price too ($250-$300).


I've been avoiding deep frying because of the mess, and all that wasted oil, storage, etc. But lo-and-behold, science to the rescue.

I did a bit of online checking and found a well reviewed clone for $100 CAD (~$75 US), a Molla brand. There are probably better options, but not in Canada.



Of course, I've ordered it. ;). I should have it next week.

The cheaper models, they say you should give the cooking tray a shake every so often. That's fine by me. More importantly, I just want to see something resembling fried food in my kitchen without a hazmat suit. ;)


As soon as it arrives, I'm slicing up some potatos, and throwing them in.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2016 1:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

Of course, I've ordered it. ;). I should have it next week.


You gotta let us know how that turns out. I'd love to make fries but hate the whole "oil" bit.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2016 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a bunch more notes, this time on potatoes.

So Potatoes tend to fall between to two categories: starchy and waxy. A good french fry potato tends to sit in the middle. Too starchy/dry and they fall apart. Too waxy/moist and they're too hard.

https://www.chefsteps.com/activities/finding-perfect-french-fry-potatoes

So this is supposedly the scientific method for finding the best French Fry potatoes. Creating two brines with 12% and 9% salt, and check if they float.

... Yeah, that's too much work. But, still interesting to know that the mass of the potato plays a role in their ideal quality.


I don't pay much attention to the potatoes in the store, but off the top of my head there is usually:

- Yukon Gold (what I usually buy) - All Purpose
- White Potatoes (they seem to look like Yukon Golds, just less yellow) - All Purpose (?)
- "Russet" I guess they're called (large and dry) - Starchy
- Red Potatoes - Waxy
- "New" Potatoes - Waxy (yes, apparently picking them early ensures a greater waxyness)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/02/types-of-potatoes_n_4877050.html

http://www.rd.com/food/recipes-cooking/potatoes-101-a-guide-to-the-most-common-varieties-2/

Quote:
Idaho or Russet Potatoes

Larger in size and thicker skinned than new potatoes, russets have a flaky texture thanks to their high starch and low moisture content. This quality allows them to easily absorb milk and melted butter, making them the perfect potato for baking, mashing, and making gnocchi.

Ah hey! That's interesting! One of the dishes I'm looking to recreate is essentially a Gnocchi (polish version). Okay that's good to know. The best potatoes for becoming a mash are starchy Russets. A shame the peels are so unsightly.

A bit more reading on this, it sounds like peeling potatoes became a thing because of heavy pesticide use. "Organic" potatoes shouldn't have this problem, but hey, there's nothing wrong with a good scrub to get the excess dirt off.

http://www.wikihow.com/Decide-Whether-or-Not-to-Peel-Potatoes

Quote:
Mashed potatoes

You'll need to peel first unless the potato skin is very thin and fine. Thick peel doesn't mash well and it tends to simply tear apart and get stuck throughout the mash, annoying the diner when eating. If you are absolutely certain that the potato skin is thin and likely to disintegrate, then you can probably get away with not peeling but be sure to wash well first. Never leave peel on if you want really smooth mashed potato.

Fair enough. I don't always necessarily want smooth mash, especially when making a Garlic Mash. If I remember any time I had it in a fancy restaraunt, Garlic Mash always had bits of red skin in them... I guess meaning they used waxier potatoes. Interesting.

But certainly, if making Gnocchi, peeling may be desirable. I seem to remember having a decent batch of potato dumplings with bits of skin in them though. I guess it boils down to how they look.

I think I saw somewhere that Yukon Gold's are starchier than White Potatoes, but both are still considered All Purpose.

http://lifehacker.com/5304541/soaking-is-key-for-perfect-homemade-french-fries

Quote:
Russets or baking potatoes are the best, whereas waxy potatoes (such as Red Bliss or new potatoes) simply won't do. Soaking is key-this removes the starch, keeps the potatoes from sticking together, and eliminates the sugars that prevent the potatoes from achieving maximum crispness.


Conflicting advice again. Yay. But I think the key to this is the soak. Russets (starchy) without the soak I'm sure are lacking, where an all-purpose probably holds up better without the soak (but would benefit).
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2016 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So hilariously, I heard back from the person selling the Noodle Maker yesterday. They're just really bad at checking e-mail it seems (sent over a week ago).

Like I said, I got tired of haggling, so I accepted the offer of $45 (~$33 US), for what was described as "brand new never used".





Kirby for scale. It's big. :)

Other than a few smudges on the stainless steel, the box was packed perfectly, and if it was used, I certainly couldn't tell.

That said, I think I figured out what might have turned them off (assuming they're not selling because they have no interest in noodling/already have one): the rubber feet on the unit leave some serious marks. So, at least for the next little while, I need to scrub my counter (and freezer) to get black marks off them after using.

So there it is. Pasta maker. $45 CAD for a unit that typically retails for $90 USD.

* * *

Continuing this topic, I bought one of these too: a wooden cutting board.



Exciting no?

Actually I didn't buy it for cutting. To be honest, I'm not exactly that trustworthy of my countertop. Partially the apartment's fault, partially my fault (I could clean better), so I decided I wanted a better work surface for when I work with flour (ala Noodle Making). So I went with a nice big heavy cutting board.

Again, this is only for flouring. I have plastic cutting boards I use for actual cutting, since they're lighter/smaller/easy to funnel food in to pan and easier to clean. I had a few choices (see the top), but I found this very bizarre wood grain that looked like straight lines, and decided to grab this one. They were "on sale" for $40, reg $70, so with tax I nearly spent as much for this cutting board as I did the pasta maker. LOL.

So... maybe not the best deal, but I'm pretty happy with the quality. I mainly wanted a large quality board to work on.

* * *

And this isn't anything new, but I had a bit of a moment the other day.

To me, this might be one of my most important a-typical kitchen tools.



A cheap Infrared Thermometer. Cost about $8 USD from China. Now that I'm dabbling with Cast Iron, plus all those other experiments I'm doing, I find myself wanting to know the heat of surfaces quite often. Be it knowing if my pan is hotter than the smoke point of an oil, or anything else, I'm turning to this little guy quite often.

I originally bought it for my electronics "lab", but I'm finding I use it in the kitchen extremely often.


So I actually bought another one a few weeks ago, and now that I'm thinking, I bought one for my mom as an Xmas gift... but knowing my luck it may not arrive in time.

Anyways, I'm just saying. An Infrared Thermometer is a great tool.

I have some temperature probes on the way now too. Infrared thermometers are good for surface temperature, but useless for the internal temperature of meat. Like many things China, given how cheap they were, I bought a few variants, so I can see which one in practice I like best.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2016 5:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are pretty much a mad scientist in the kitchen PoV.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2016 8:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

A cheap Infrared Thermometer. Cost about $8 USD from China. Now that I'm dabbling with Cast Iron, plus all those other experiments I'm doing, I find myself wanting to know the heat of surfaces quite often. Be it knowing if my pan is hotter than the smoke point of an oil, or anything else, I'm turning to this little guy quite often.


At the temp ranges you are measuring, how is the consistency and accuracy? I've used expensive models before and they are a little suspect, but this was about a decade ago. They were useful for getting a general idea of how hot something was, but there was no illusion of real accuracy given how the measurements varied from one sample to the next.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2016 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BadMrBox wrote:
You are pretty much a mad scientist in the kitchen PoV.

:D

Quote:
At the temp ranges you are measuring, how is the consistency and accuracy?

Yes, it's not super accurate. Given than we're controlling heat with a knob that goes from 0 to 10 (or low-medium-high), that shouldn't be a surprise. And it's not really about hitting exact temperatures, just gauging when you're approaching (or have passed) key temperatures.

In general there are really only a few numbers of interest:

- 100 C (212 F) Boiling point of water (i.e. when sauteing can begin)
- 150 C (302 F) Smoke point of butter
- 204 C (400 F) Smoke point of canola oil (or whatever you choose as your neutral oil)
- 260 C (500 F) What a bunch of "oven safe" cookware maxes out at (which means other things may smoke)

Knowing your other oils is good too, but in general, other oils tend to be close to one of the numbers above. Like you can say a soft Margarine (150-160 C) is similar to Butter. Olive Oil is tougher to nail-down exactly where it sits (I've found all kinds of conflicting information, some saying Extra Virgin is as low as butter at 160 C, other saying it's higher at 190 C).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooking_oil#Types_of_oils_and_their_characteristics

A pan isn't going to be consistently hot on an electric stove (like mine), so you're checking the surface to see what the highs and lows are. My cheap infrared temperature sensor actually has its sampling point slightly below where it shines the laser, so there's that also to take in to account.

Cast Iron throws another wrench in things. A regular pan, you mainly care about the heat of the flat surface touching the burner. With Cast Iron, you care about the heat of the pan as a whole, the sides and the handle. It gives you gauge of how well it will hold the heat once the food hits the pan. I don't have data to back this up (yet), but you can expect that the heat going in to the food shouldn't be lower than the heat of the sides (as the heat stored in the sides balances the heat losses from food contact). One article I read suggested giving a Cast Iron pan 10 minutes to heat up, which I'm pretty sure was what I messed up when I tried making that Steak. Cast Iron, you feel the heat very quickly, but you need to be patient and give time for the rest of the pan to heat up, so it can keep that heat longer.

I sometimes have to cook with cookware or on stove-tops that are not my own. If you've ever done that, you may recall running in to problems where there was too much or too little heat, compared to what you're used to. That's where I think something like this can really shine. If you can learn the actual heats of your usual stove, you'll be able to better gauge what's different about stoves you aren't familiar with. Usually you figure it out with practice, but actually knowing temperatures, and being able to check them, should help anyone do better when going in blind.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2016 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bump.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2016 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bump.
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