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PoV
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2017 7:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I picked up an English smoked cheddar the other day, and again I'm very impressed.



This one is soft and creamy (9 month age), with a Paprika rub along the outside.

I guess so far I've yet to find a Cheddar I don't like.


Next up is Oka, a cheese I know nothing about, but the name is something I seem to remember time and time again.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2017 8:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I need to sit down and do a taste test of individual ingredients some day.

As an example, a bunch of onions.

* Yellow Onion
* Sweet Onion
* Red Onion
* Green Onion (Scallions (young) vs Spring Onion (mature), green vs bulb)
* Shallots
* Garlic
* Chives
* Leek

Right now I just haphazardly just throw the above ingredients into whatever I'm cooking. I don't expect too distinct a flavour difference in the 3 main onions, but I'm curious to know if they live up to their name in some sense. Also I want to understand what Shallots and Leeks do, and how their taste is different from onion.

If I was to fully science them, I'd prepare them 3 ways:

* raw
* sauteed
* boiled (as a broth)

Then take lots of notes.

***

Random link on how Green Onions should be prepared: https://food-hacks.wonderhowto.com/news/not-all-green-onions-are-same-heres-they-differ-0171371/
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PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2017 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Love raw red onion in things like fresh salsa or guacamole. Yellow onion is gross for such applications. :]
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PoV
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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm at the (Indie) Cabin next week where I get to cook/show off. I have a meat-heavy menu planned for my "Italian Night", but this year we have our first vegetarian staying the week. We've been having an e-mail discussion about it, and I decided to take it as a challenge: try to make something new and really good without meat (it will contain egg and flour though, so vegans and gluten free folks beware). I could fall back on a meatless tomato sauce for spaghetti, but you know, I wanted to go next level. So earlier in the week I called up my folks and said "hey Mom, I'm going to experiment on you, okay?".

Sunday rolls around, Mothers Day. Perfect.

My Dad whips up his specialty: Tenderloin steaks on the BBQ (note, my Dad doesn't cook much, but he does BBQ).

I decide to tackle something a bit more adventurous: Gnocchi in a Mushroom Gravy.


Actually to our family, Gnocchi are dumplings. My late polish grandmother used to make Dumplings and Roast Beef quite often. It was definitely a family favourite, and it's been years since I've had it. We eventually learned that the Italian gnocchi you buy from the grocery store is ... well, the recipe is identical. Just they're really small with added preservatives so they can avoid refrigeration.



This is what I'm used to. Large potato-dough yummy things. Imagine this, with super tended fall-apart roast beef, beef gravy, every other Saturday. This food is my childhood. Those were good times. ;)


With my mom's help we experimented, tried a few different batches, and I think we got it in the end. Visual, taste, texture, I think grandma would be proud.

The recipe is super basic:
- Peel, slice, boil a pot of potatoes until cooked.
- Drain potatoes, then mash them. Don't need to add anything to them at this stage, just mash 'em.
- Let the mashed potatoes cool. The cooler the mashed potato, the easier it is to work with.
- Scramble and add an egg, and a cup of flour. Mix/squish the resulting mush together with hands.
- You're going to need a lot more flour. You may need more egg (depending on how much potato you cook).
- We made the mistake at first using 2 eggs for one batch. You kind-of want to play it by ear. At least 1 egg, 2 eggs was just to moist, so the dough was very sticky, and required *A LOT* of flour. We fixed this in the 2nd batch.
- Add salt and pepper. In our first batch we forgot to season them. It's actually fine if you don't season, but a little salt and pepper makes them better.
- When it gets less gooey, move from your bowl to a floured work surface, with lots of extra flour on hand.
- Tear off pieces, and roll in to a long 1" diameter log. Feel free to tear them again to make rolling easier.
- More flour.
- Cut in to bite sized pieces, grab them with floured hands, squeeze 'em in to some sort of shape, then place on a cookie sheet for later.
- Once all the pieces are prepared, boil and salt some water.
- Add a portion of your cookie sheet's of dumplings to boiling water. Don't overcrowd the pot (do multiple batches).
- In about 2 minutes they'll start floating. When the entire batch is floating, they're done.
- Remove from boiling water, place somewhere to dry (A colander, another cookie sheet, etc).
- The face-up side will dry, so you may want to transfer them to another container/place to dry the other side. They are best if you give them time to dry out.
- If you overcook them, they end up gooey. If they end up gooey, you let them cook too long. 2 minutes! This is fresh "pasta", not dried, so it's fast!
- You're done. You have Gnocchi and/or Polish Dumplings.

If this was leftovers, I'd break out the ketchup and dig in.

But wait, there's more...
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Edited by PoV on Sun May 14, 2017 6:59 pm; edited 2 times
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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So the dumplings (gnocchi) was a big success. Took a couple tries to perfect it, but between my mother and I we got it.

That's half the battle though. To make it fit my Italian theme, I needed a sauce.

I've been thinking about mushroom gravy-like sauce for a while. Mushroom is something I've wanted to experiment more with, especially since there are so many varieties (and for some reason we have TONS of mushroom choice where I live, Chinese and "American"). The other day I threw together a no-meat pasta sauce with dried Morel mushrooms (first time trying them, not bad, but nothing special). I didn't really have a plan going in to this, just "mushroom gravy".

I brought a bag of dried Shiitake mushrooms with me. We re-hydrated them and took a sniff ... ugh... I think it smelled like feet. My mom had a huge pack of fresh brown mushrooms (Cremini), and I very quickly binned the dried shiitakes.

I'm definitely sticking with fresh mushroom from now on.

My mom doesn't have a ton of exotic ingredients, but she does have onions, and a little jar of minced Garlic. I think that works for me:

- Fresh Mushrooms
- Sweet Onion
- Minced Garlic

I did a bit of Googling for inspiration. I came across a bunch of cream sauces, a lot of recipes lazily using store bought gnocchi (fo shame), a number of sauces relying on herbs, and one sauce that was mostly wine.

In the back of my mind I've been thinking about a Roux, basically butter (fat) and flour (and the basis of many French sauces). My mom is a practical cook. Her first advice was "make your gravy with cornstarch", since it's easier. Pretty-much every gravy I'd made with her (Family dinners and whatnot) almost always used cornstarch. It's a great invention that cornstarch, but I grilled her "what's wrong with flour"? "You have to watch it or it lumps". Like I said, she's practical. I already cook by watching closely, and constantly stirring as needed, so as expected, no big deal. Just a nice little "hey mom, explain yourself" interaction. ;)

Cream sauces jumped out at me. Thanks to my Bolognese sauce, when I see cream I think Milk. It adds an amazing depth to the flavour, even with ordinary 1% and 2% Milk, you just have to reduce it while you cook.

I brought a box of Chicken Stock with me (salt free). Pretty standard fare in my cooking these days.

Herbs. Part of the reason I was visiting my folks was to drop off my herbs, since they tend to be very thirsty. As it turns out, I had a perfect use for some green onion and chives.

Wine. Pretty much a staple of my kitchen these days. Take a sip, give the food a drip.

At this point I had a plan.

- Melted some butter in a pan
- Sauteed half a chopped onion in the butter
- Added a fraction of a teaspoon of minced garlic (I love garlic, but my dad is all "whoa garlic")
- Added the mushrooms (3x more than the onions)
- Deglazed with Chicken Stock, let it simmer off
- Deglazed with some White Wine, let it simmer off
- At this point there was already a nice taste developing. I'd been adding pepper and salt along the way.
- Added Milk. Not a lot, as I was trying to keep this routine of add liquid->simmer liquid off, just to condense the flavours more.
- After simmering, added my first bit of flour, and stirred it well. Not much, just to get a feel for things.
- After Mom commented there wasn't enough gravy, I repeated the process of adding Chicken Stock, simmering, Milk, Simmering, and Flour, stirring.
- Flavour was really starting to get there. At this point I added my fresh herbs: Green Onion and Chives.
- It got a bit too thick at the end, so we finished it off with a bunch more wine. This was the accidental hero. The pan was already cooling, so it didn't entirely boil off, and the wine flavours got to mingle and mesh with the mushroom and cream (milk). We try to booze-up our meals at the Cabin where we can, and I think I found where the booze is going in my meal. ;)



I found myself nibbling on the sauce, dunking dumplings in it, trying to figure out what else it needed ... but it worked.

So here's what we ended up having for Mothers day dinner (Mom, Dad, and I).



Again Dad make the steak, Mom helped me with the Dumpling Science, and I created a gravy sauce to go with the sides.

I'm pretty happy with the results. So were the folks. My Dad rated them highly. If it was a Beef gravy I might have scored better. ;)


So okay! I have my vegetarian friendly Italian'ish but also Polish and a little French recipe ready.

Plus, killing 2 birds with one stone, I recreated an old family favourite I hadn't had since my grandma passed. So hooray.
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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

These "Science of Good Cooking" videos by America's Test Kitcher are really interesting scientific experiments.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnbzopdwFrnb7QgoSDeIJH3R3Y9CagMCl

I'm pretty sure I've referenced them before, but there are a lot of useful tidbits to be found proven by science. Here's me writing down their findings, 'cause writing things down sometimes helps me remember stuff.

- Quinoa that says "washed" on the package will taste less bitter than "unwashed". Washing both washed and unwashed further improves the flavour.
- Porterhouse steaks are half Tenderloin, half Strip Loin (New York Strip)
- T-Bone steaks are Porterhouse steaks where the Tenderloin part is under 1 1/4 inches across (i.e. Porterhouse steaks are T-Bone's with more Tenderloin)
- Vein-End Porterhouse steaks are Porterhouses with larger Tenderloins and some Top Sirloin on the Strip Loin side. This is a larger overall steak, but the Top Sirloin is tougher, making it a less than ideal steak.
- This also applies to Strip Loin (New York Strip) steaks. If it has the Vein-End, it will be tougher. Prefer these steaks with the vein cut out.
- Unlike Vegetables and Meat, Mushrooms change very little in tenderness the longer you cook them. After 10 minutes they start becoming tougher, but even after an hour they're still fine.
- The best Parmesan is Italian Parmigiano Reggiano, the cheese closest to the rind.
- Fattier meat needs more salt due what our taste-buds do when they encounter fat (it dulls taste). Lean meats like Chicken and Pork may can get away with less salt.
- All steaks are better when cut against the grain.
- Muscly steak (Flank, etc) when cut with the grain takes 4x the amount of force to chew. More tender steaks require less than 2x the force.
- Muscly steak's cut against the grain are only 16% more chewy than tender steaks cut against the grain. This is why marinades and other tenderizing techniques can be extremely effective on muscly steaks.
- Rice actually only needs 1:1 water. Excess water is purely to compensate for water lost during evaporation. Brown rice has a harder shell, and simply takes more time for the water to penetrate.
- Mushy rice on the bottom of a pot means there is too much water. Cook rice in identical conditions, and adjust water ratio in later batches until entire pot is perfect.
- However much water you are using in excess to the amount of rice (remember rice is 1:1) is the evaporation water necessary for that rice and pot combination. To add another cup of rice to a batch, add another cup of water.
- 3:1 Fresh vs Dry Herbs. Dry herbs are more concentrated.
- Fresh herbs are almost always better, but dried Oregano in Chilli is too familiar to everyone that fresh tastes wrong.
- Herb flavour break down in to Volatile and Stable compounds. Stable herbs are more resilient to long cooking times and drying.
- Stable Herbs are most effective in long cooking time dishes (20+ minutes) and and dishes with much liquid. Dried can safely be used here too.
--- Rosemary
--- Sage
--- Thyme
--- Oregano
- Delicate (Volatile) Herbs benefit greatly being fresh, and are best added near the end of cooking or raw.
--- Basil
--- Cilantro
--- Parsley
--- Chives
--- Dill
--- Tarragon
- Again, all herbs are best fresh. Dry herbs have a staleness to them due to oxidation.
- Salting early requires more salt, and more evenly seasons the dish.
- Salting later requires much less salt, and primarily coats the surface.
- Ideal way to pan fry meat: Patting it dry (paper towel), Tablespoon of oil (until smoking), Skin side down.
- With skinned meats (chicken), less oil and less heat (shimmering not smoking) creates more stuff that sticks to the pan. Takes about a minute longer to cook, but gives you more to work with for pan sauces.
- If not using a skinned meat, disregard this hack.
- With the right preparation, frozen steaks can cooked from frozen better than defrosting.
--- Pre-freeze steaks uncovered to dry them out. Might take overnight.
--- Remove from freezer, wrap frozen steak in plastic wrap, THEN insert in to a bag for storage. Going right to ziploc bags encourages them to develop an icy surface.
--- Alternatively, a vacuum sealer will probably achieve the same thing.
--- To cook, use extra oil, covering the entire pan surface (1/8th of an inch deep). This is for a combination of heat control and to make sure cracks and crevasses are correctly cooked. Bring to temperature, and cook 90 seconds each side until browned. Cooking time for both thawed and unthawed are similar.
--- Transfer to a tray, and bake in the oven (18-20 minutes, vs 10-15 if thawed)
- Whisking left-to-right and back again is actually the most effective way to whisk. Swirling is useless. Beating does work a bit better for egg whites, but only egg whites.
- Younger cheeses melt better
- Brown sugar will make cookies softer, and it absorbs more moisture
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2017 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Before I get to the point, I just wanted to mention that I've gone and purchased that "Redwood Cheddar" (i.e. Soft Paprika Cheddar) a few times since. It's probably my favourite cheddar now, heh. I could literally sit here with a knife and eat a whole wedge of it. It's great. ;)

* * *

So I sliced up some Steaks in to cubes some time ago, froze them, and finally got around to defrosting and making another Goulash.



I'll be honest, I wasn't quite happy with it.

It was BETTER than my last batch (not too spicy), but it's just not interesting enough.

I didn't use a recipe. I did the following:

- browned the defrosted cubes of beef (including some chunks of fat just for flavour, then disposed of the fat)
- chopped up 2 onion, 2 shallots, green and orange peppers, a jalepeno pepper, 2 king oyster mushrooms
- minced 5 cloves of garlic
- dropped in 6 bay leaves
- about half a tube of Italian Tomato Paste
- 3 teaspons of paprika (I'd guess)
- some cumin (do I want more?)
- some hot paprika (it's super effective. 2 rounds of "it needs more")
- salt, pepper
- cooked for about 60-90 minutes
- added 2 giant potatoes, cubed, with additional water, and a bit more seasoning

I ended up with some sort of Paprika Beef Stew. Tastes fine, but it's just not what I was looking for.

Some conclusions:

- I'm done with cubed beef. No more. I started with Steaks I cut in to cubes, but but I think I prefer strips. i.e. thinner with more surface area. The only good cubes IMO are steak, as steak.
- I tried large chunks of Mushrooms, but I don't think they're doing much, other than being a contrast to the potatoes
- I can't decide if the amount of Tomato I used was too much. Was the sauce too thick? Maybe

In general, I think I just need to have real proper Goulash again. I think it's been 10-15 years since I had some, so I'm going off a vague memory. I could be remembering a more cumin heavy Goulash (i.e. more reminiscent of an Indian dish). Bottom line though, I think I need to taste good Goulash before I attempt to make it again.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2017 11:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Today I attempted to make Italian Lasagna.

In general I used this recipe as reference.

https://www.walksofitaly.com/blog/food-and-wine/italian-lasagna-recipe

Growing up I recall my mother making Lasagna with meat sauce and cottage cheese, but as I dug in to "the Italian way", I read that you're supposed to use Bechamel sauce (or ricotta cheese according to more southern Italian cooking).

Bechamel sauce or "White Sauce" is made from a Roux (butter and flour) and Milk.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C3%A9chamel_sauce

I'd never actually made a Bechamel sauce before, so hey, something else new to learn. Before I could start though, I needed a meat sauce.

Rather than follow the recipe above, I decided to make my slow cooked meat sauce instead. Generally speaking the recipes are more-or-less the same, but I add stock and milk, and simmer for a few extra hours.

Over the past couple weeks I picked up two kinds of pancetta, so the meat sauce was a pancetta heavy sauce.



It was a typical sauce for me, using 2 lbs of meat (1 lb beef, 1 lb pork). As I've been doing lately, I went heavy on the vegetables. That said, I ended up using the entire pot of sauce to make my lasagna.



I did not expect that. 5 hours of work gone like that.

I've been somewhat frustrated lately that I didn't have a saucepan. At the Chinese grocery store, I stumbled across this saucepan with the strangest lid handle.



It also has a spout on it, making it a really good pot for sauce making.

Time to break it in.



The Bechamel sauce called for 1 quart of warm milk. I didn't exactly believe it though. In hindsight yes I needed 1 quart of it to make enough sauce for the lasagna. I used (had) maybe 3/5ths of a quart of Milk left after making my meat sauce.

After melting the butter and whisking in the flour (Canadian all-purpose flour, not Italian 0 flour), I seasoned the Bechamel with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Nutmeg is apparently what makes it a French Bechamel. I quite liked the taste of the sauce, and I think I can taste why a finer flour is preferred (very subtle grainyness due to the less refined all-purpose flour), but it's still very nice. I didn't use warm milk as the recipe requested, and I can see why that was a thing (cold milk lowered the temperature of the sauce too quickly).







Assembling the lasagna, I definitely made some mistakes.

- Not enough Bechamel. The recipe called for full layers of it, and given that I didn't use enough milk, I don't think I had that.
- Not sure, but my Bechamel might have been too thick? We'll see when we cut in to it
- My meat sauce was VERY THICK... which is fine, but I should have maybe gone even more overboard with vegetables.
- My noodle, I used dry egg lasagna noodles. Recipe above was calling for a layer of Bechamel AND Meat Sauce. Given the thickness of my sauces, I should have alternated.
- Regrettably I only got 2 layers of noodles... I'm not even sure that's going to be enough for any sort of stability
- Bechamel, Meat, Noodle, Bechamel, Meat, Noodle, Bechamel (ran out), Meat (ran out), Fresh Graded Parmesan, Chunks of Mozzarella (another improvisation, 'cause I always have Mozza)

So, in to the oven.



I made the above dumb mistake of putting foil on top. If I was clever, I'd have foiled it BEFORE putting mozza on it, pulled it out, mozza'd it, then put it back in. Alas I'm dumb. Cheese got stuck to the tinfoil.



I did what I could to put the cheese back. Melted fine, but totally unprofessional hehe.

And the result.





The ingredients in it are all good, just they could have been used more effectively.

Anyways, I've been letting it sit since I started writing this post. Moment of truth...
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2017 12:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would like to introduce: Meat Soup.



The taste is amazing. The combination of the slow cooked Meat Sauce and the creamy Bechamel is incredible. It's so good. I'm really glad the hours of effort turned out something so delicious.

Of course, as expected, the lack of noodle means there is a severe lack of structure. There's some, but nothing to brag about.



Still, that taste is fantastic, but it's like eating a bowl of delicious meat goo. ;)

Some thoughts.

- putting the large pan in the oven was tough, so much that I broke out a cookie sheet when I removed it, just to be sure it didn't spill (soup)
- finishing it like a Neapolitan pizza (i.e. fresh basil with mozza on top) would probably elevate it even more.. next level.. holy shit
- I've had lasagna's with layers of Spinach before. I think it wouldn't hurt to have a layer of spinach or two.
- More vegetables are welcome. It'll help stretch the sauce further. I used 3 onions, 2 celery stalks, 2 shallots, and a larger hand-full of mini carrots than I usually use. Can go way more when doing this.
- I've had lasagnas with mushrooms too. Chunks of Mushroom certainly wouldn't hurt, but the Spinach and vegi multiplier might be enough.
- I seasoned the meat as I added it. I.e. salted and peppered it as it was added to the pan (raw). Saltyness was right.
- I added more milk and stock than I usually add, not much more, but more.
- I treated the vegi+pancetta mix with about half a tube of tomato paste, just to use it up. No idea if i can taste the difference, but the meat sauce is so lovely.
- I lowered the temperature of the sauce as I cooked it. As there was more liquid, higher temps were needed to keep the liquid at boil. But as the sauce finished, lower temps were fine, which avoided any burning on the bottom of the pot.
- I could use more noodle. The image on Step 4 of the original recipe page shows lots of coverage with fresh noodle
- Dude, this recipe with fresh noodle would be incredible! We would occasionally get a large lasagna similar to this catered for special occasion family dinners (xmas, when grandma was too weak to cook). My meat sauce is better, but the noodle was so fresh, delicate, and amazing. I'm 99% certain those noodles were fresh-from-scratch.

This was a lot of work. If nothing else I can fall back on this next year as my Cabin meal, as I'm sure I'll have it refined by then. Do a meat, and by then get-to-work on my vegetarian tomato sauce. I need to figure out what I can do for vegetarian umami (boil mushrooms and vegi scraps?).

Wow... How am I going to store all this? ;)
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2017 1:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Damn. That taste is amazing. I'm repeating myself, but the combination of my meat sauce and bechamel sauce is outstanding.

Actually now that I'm thinking about it, this really is an everything recipe.

- Meat Sauce (which itself is full of ingredients)
- Bechamel, which is 1 ingredient away from an Alfredo sauce (i.e. shred some Parmesan cheese in to it and boom)
- Noodle (structure)
- And potentially, topped with basil and mozzarella, and it's basically a Neapolitan pizza on top

I've heard lasagna referred to as the kitchen-sink of recipes before. Given that each of the above items is the foundation of a dish on its own, it makes so much more sense now.

So in a sense, as I improve each of the 4 elements of this recipe, the combination gets better. I was already super happy with the Bechamel and the Meat Sauce was on point, so this recipe is just a few steps away from perfection IMO.

Anyway, I've packed up the "meat soup".



They filled up 3 of my empty margarine contains (where I typically store food). I put 2 containers in the freezer, 'cause it's just too rich to eat all of it. I need to pace it.



This was huge.

Anyway, I get to enjoy this for a while. It made about 10 portions, and I only managed to eat 1 of them. :)


I need to start experimenting with noodles-from-scratch some time. Pizza dough too.

About 1-2 more years of experimenting, and I think I'll have a pretty satisfying Italian menu. :)
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 12:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote



Made another batch of lasagna.

New ingredients:

- Fresh Mozzarella
- Fresh Basil from my garden (on top, under the mozzarella)
- Light drizzle of Olive oil (on top, like a Neapolitan)
- Fresh Spinach (between meat and white sauce layers)





This batch I forgot to use parmesan cheese (i.e. salty cheese), plus I only used beef (no pork), and forgot to use Italian tomato paste while cooking the vegetables. I also forgot to season (salt) the meat while I was cooking it.

I want to say I managed to 3-4 layers of pasta... I forget which. It might only be 3 layers, but that's better than nothing.

I haven't tasted it yet (still letting it cool).
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh I forgot to mention, it was quite good. Not as salty as I used unsalted butter and didn't season the meat as I added it to the pan. Nor did I use any layers of Parmesan.

After I made it I was less thrilled about the taste, but as they days went by and I enjoyed it as leftovers, I started to appreciate it more.

The fresh Basil is a very distinct taste, almost overpowering. But again, after giving it more time I think it actually was really nice. Made it taste more special.



Almost a repeat of Meat Soup, but in the pan there was more structure.



Also, way too greasy! I learned why too.

So it turns out US and Canada have different fat ratios for ground meat. I assumed Medium was 20% fat, Lean 10%, but it's actually 23% and 17% respectfully.

http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/retail-food/information-bulletins/ground-meat/eng/1331668408417/1331668480561

The above was an all-beef mix of Lean ground beef, i.e. 17%, where typically I do half Medium (23%) and a half Extra Lean Pork (10%).

That, and I'm pretty sure my fresh Butcher Counter ground beef I get at the local Chinese grocery store is actually better quality than the pre-packed bargain stuff I made this with. It's fresher, that's for sure. Maybe it was purely the freshness?

Anyway, by the end of the first night I had nearly sworn off "topped with fresh basil", but damn, by the end of the week I think I'm back again, sold on it.


Oh, and as expected the Spinach disappeared in to it. I could definitely use more Spinach.

Also, I really need a deeper pan. ;)

* * *

Tonight I reheated some sauces in my freezer. I've accumulated so many sauces though (6 sandwich sized ziplocs), that I ended up combining 2 sauces: One made with chunks of King Oyster mushroom (no meat, delicious), and my Vodka sauce from way back (w/ just Pancetta as meat).

Damn, that was great. ;)

So I'm sure I'll do more of that, using up what's in my freezer.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anyway, I've been looking for inspiration lately.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRodQr0lVww

(sorry, I don't seem to be able to post youtube embeds anymore. the forum glitches out on me)

Above is a recipe for Gyro meat, but it's basically a meatloaf. The trick is re-frying it before use. Very interesting.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2017 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



So I grabbed a bottle of this at the Chinese grocery store the other day (it was on sale). We had Bulgogi at the Cabin (i.e "Korean Beef"), and I remember really enjoying it. The marinade was made fresh, from scratch. Obviously if I'm using a bottle of store bought, that's not the same, but I wanted to try it at least.

(For my reference, what we had was based on this recipe)

https://www.maangchi.com/recipe/bulgogi

Also what went along with it was this lovely spicy sauce made with Gochijang.

https://www.maangchi.com/recipe/ssamjang

So I need to make-up some of that.




Not the best photo, but I picked up a cheap Flank steak. Sliced it against the grain, and put it in to a Ziploc bag alongside the bottle of Marinade.

I read somewhere that marinated Bulgogi is great because you can portion it, freeze it, and defrost/cook up portions on demand. Very interesting.

Anyways, I'm going to give it another couple hours before I cook. I should probably sneak out and grab some green onion (I forgot to).
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2017 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



Well I never needed the sauce. The marinade was extremely flavourful, and in hindsight I think I used too much of it, as the meat was basically swimming in it. I ended up with way more liquid in the pan than expected.

I was going to complain that I didn't cut the meat thin enough... but frankly it was still pretty good. To get it any thinner, I would have had to lay the flank steak on a tray and freeze it briefly, just to keep it from moving so much. The less effort needed was almost worth it, but I should at least try that some time.

So hey, I've got a big bag of marinating meat. That's a thing. I could throw this meal together again in maybe 15 minutes.


Hilariously, I picked up some fancy dishes at the Chinese Grocery store for meals like this. It's a bit difficult to see, but I used one above. I bought a larger size and a smaller size, as I actually didn't think the smaller would be enough. Lo and behold, I barely filled the bowl half way. Will definitely try the smaller bowl next time.

I was going to buy some fancy chopsticks too, but I didn't find anything I liked (was hoping for ceramic, not wood/metal). That said I also decided I didn't know enough about buying chopsticks, so I wanted to check online if there was some wisdom.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 7:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Birthday today.

I suckered my folks in to taking me to the clubhouse for dinner (Dad's a member of private golf course). Here's why:



The angle is terrible, but IMO this is my absolute favourite basic burger (as in no uncommon toppings). I had it with Cheddar Cheese, and Smoked Bacon. The star though is that bun. Everything works together harmoniously, but FFS that toasted bun makes me so happy. :D

AND I FINALLY KNOW WHAT IT IS.

http://www.theclevercarrot.com/2013/05/light-brioche-hamburger-buns/

IT'S BRIOCHE! OMFG!

It DOES involve an egg wash, but the wash is part of the baking. It's a French bread. I shouldn't be surprised, as I know I already love the French bread rolls from the European bakery. This is different though (softer).

That's it. Just wanted to share that.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

IT'S BRIOCHE! OMFG!

It DOES involve an egg wash, but the wash is part of the baking. It's a French bread. I shouldn't be surprised, as I know I already love the French bread rolls from the European bakery. This is different though (softer).



Thanks. I've been experimenting a lot and have always wanted to know what various places use. Our local Publix has highly decent rolls that toast up well, but...
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ho ho ho! Watched some videos last night about Brioche buns. Learned something.

Before I get to it, there's a trick to French Bread (buns) that I want to talk about. I don't have a photo handy, but here's what I found on Google.



Not the best photo, but it shows one of the interesting elements of French Bread buns: The crystalline way the crack. Notice the lines. That's butter for ya.

French Bread buns tend to have a crispy shell and soft interior when they are fresh. HOWEVER, stick them in a plastic bag for 24 hours, and they soften up really well. That's one of the reasons I love the French Bread buns: they have a BETTER 2nd day. :)

(More googling)



That's what a fresh Brioche tents to look like. If you cook them in a ring you can make them taller, but the key here is the solid browned shell on top (I get the same effect when I egg-wash my bread and toast it).

SUPPOSEDLY, the plastic bag trick works for Brioche, and they end up much softer.



I think that explains how the Brioche was so soft.

I'd guess that the nice grilling (difficult to see, except right along the edge) was that they toasted the bun by treating it a bit like Grilled cheese: layer of butter on the bread, dropped right in the pan to crisp up.

Anyway, that's my theory how the burger bun in that burger I love came to be.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Slightly renovated the kitchen in my apartment. My mom decided her birthday gift to me would be to help find something I'd like, and we'd do it.



Above is these large 10x10" sticky tiles she found at a the dollar store. Totally gets the job done (backsplash). We cleaned up my bathroom too with a different one, but I wont bore anyone with home improvement shite. ;)

The point is that tray (notably deeper than last time): It's Lasagna time again!

After mulling it over, I decided to stick with the same recipe:

- Meat Sauce
- Bechamel
- Dry Noodle
- Spinach
- Basil (on top)
- Mozzarella cheese (on top)

The only real problem I'm having with the recipe is I keep burning my Bechamel. I'm probably not using enough butter (in zee French cookin, ve uze butter az water).

It still tastes fine, but I definitely feel this is an area for improvement.



Bechamel is a good enough sauce to be the star of a dish, not just a layer in a lasagna.



A couple assembly shots:



Oh right, I added some fresh grated Italian Parmesan. Last time I made it, it didn't taste salty enough (best guess: fresh spinach dilutes the saltyness), but as the lasagna had more time to meld (overnight in fridge) it was less of an issue. So I added a layer of this, since Parmesan is effectively the salt of cheeses. Frankly it didn't quite change anything, but it didn't hurt either.



Baked up nicely, 30 minutes with under heat, 4 minutes above.





The freshest slices are always soupy. After the lasagna cools, it has soooo much more structure. I don't have a photo handy, but I've accepted that this is just how things work.

Overall I'd call this a victory.

I think most people would call this good enough, but I like to think there's room to still improve (I still want to try FRESH noodle). That said, it's definitely good enough to share (i.e. make at Cabin).

Also, what would I do with a Vegetarian Lasagna? I think it's pretty-much down to the sauce.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stumbled across this today.



Listening to the ingredients and process, it sounds awfully like my meat sauce (they use red wine, I use white wine), served over pan fried sourdough bread with salad.

Doesn't sound like something I'd crave, but rather something I want to file away in the brain as another way to use my meat sauce.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 4:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I forget if I posted about this, but last November I acquired a vintage Cast Iron pan. After a bit of digging, this pan is somewhere between 70-100 years old.




Was in pretty rough shape, rust forming on the handle, and a thick layer of something charred on to the bottom.

Two Saturday's ago, I spent a good few hours sanding and chiselling gunk off this pan for a good 3-4 hours, and here was the result.




Ha! You couldn't even tell there was a product code on the pan before.




I left it with my Dad, who offered to helped put 5 of 6 coats of Flakseed Oil seasoning on the pan. Here is the result.





The back has a beautiful blackness to it, but the inside has an unusual patchy brown.

No problem! That's what BACON is for.





After cleaning that up.



It's still not perfect, but much better looking than the blotchy brown it started with.

I guess we'll be having more bacon this week. :D
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We also seasoned this Chinese wok.



It used to be silver.



:)

Technically the way you season a Chinese wok is supposed to be different, but hey, there was no reason not to do both pans at once (in the BBQ).
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Found a frozen bag of something tomato colored in my freezer.

At first I assumed it was a sauce, then I thought it was Chili (it smelled like Chili), then I remembered it was actually a Goulash (Hungarian Stew).

Man, it smells so much like Chili. Frankly, I think I would prefer Chili.

I think I might try that next time. Rather than trying to make a Hungarian Goulash work, maybe try adapting it in to some sort of Goulash Chili. I bet that would be pretty nice.

I'm going to add a can of beans to this, even though it has Potato and steak chunks in it.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 8:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Note to self: The Philips pasta-barfing machine is now ~50 USD cheaper.

The udon adapter is expensive as fuck though (~70 USD locally). And I still have no idea how often I'd even use it. Christmas, maybe?? MAYBE?
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2017 10:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Had some extra fresh ground beef, so on a whim I decided to try making a meatloaf. It was between meatloaf or meatballs (to later use with a pasta). I need to experiment with both really.



On the surface it looked pretty good, but I made some mistakes. Chunks kept breaking off, so I have a pile of meatloaf chunks.



I finished off the loaf by frying each side in a pan. That part was fine (it helped remove some of the excess moisture).

Some notes for next time:

- Don't use large chopped vegetables! They hurt the overall structure of the meatloaf, and make it difficult to slice.
- Saute onions first, so they even further reduce.
- I cooked it in a parchment lined bread pan. Ended up rather soggy on the bottom, so I kept throwing it back in the oven to dry out.
--- What might have been better is a regular flat pan, shaped like a loaf by hand, so more open air crust develops on the surface (surface area crust helps give it more structure).
--- Cooking on a drip tray in a pan is also recommended (so bottom doesn't end up soggy). It turns out moisture is a common problem (hence why some recipes suggest soaking breadcrumbs in milk). I did use fattier meat that what's usually recommended, plus the bread pan made it cook in its own juices, with nowhere to escape, so moisture wasn't an issue.

I basically just added stuff I had to it.

--- ~1.5 lbs of Medium Ground Beef
--- an Onion, Crushed Garlic
--- a small dish of leftover sauteed mushroom and onion (containing large chunks of mushroom and onion)
--- Dry Breadcrumbs (probably too much, not sure how it affected structure)
--- 2x Jalepeno's
--- 2x Eggs
--- Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes
--- Fresh Oregano, Dry Thyme, Dry Basil (because Italian meatball recipes suggested it)
--- Nutmeg (because Swedish meatballs apparently use it)
--- Ketchup and Mustard (because whatever, they were recommended by the recipe I was looking at)
--- Some water (just to finish up the mustard container)
--- Some soup stock (just to have more moisture)

Taste was fine. Maybe a bit too flavourful, not meaty enough, though there were some nice bites.

I will say prepping a meatloaf is easy. Just add everything to a bowl and mix it up by hand. Separating the other ingredients and mixing that before mixing in the beef sounds like a way to improve structure. Also making sure your other ingredients are finely ground,

It wasn't bad. Nothing to brag about, but a decent first step towards meatloaf and meatballs.


I want to have a nice meatball recipe to go with spaghetti. I'm pretty happy with my tomato and meat sauces (though I still want to try the "90% cooked, finish in the pan" technique with sauce and noodle).
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