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Reply to topic GDR Forum Index -> Game Developer's Refuge -> Cooking Thread. Ya, that's food making yo! Page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
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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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PoV
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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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sonrisu
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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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PoV
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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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PoV
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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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