gastronome
shoo-fly? shoe-fly?

Ok, folks - tonight I'm making pecan pie, gumbo, remoulade (red and white!) and shoo-fly pie. I'm covered on the how for everything but the shoo-fly. Any advice? Favorite recipes? (And is it shoo-fly, or shoe-fly? Hmmmm? And is it cake or pie?)

Posted by shock at 11:17 AM

cheese rind in soup stock?

so i read an interesting article about how the italians put parmesean rinds in soup stock. apparently you can even freeze your rinds and put them in the minestrone later... have you done this? does it add to the flavor? i've never considered freezing a cheese rind!

Posted by mo at 05:59 PM

lumpia?

At Tin-Pan last night the special appetizer was lumpia. I practically jumped out of my seat. Lumpia is a favorite food from my childhood. Unfortunately it was nothing like what I was expecting. Good, of course, but no clear noodles or ground carrot-like veggies. Any ideas on where to find a traditional recipe for lumpia? I'm not even certain what's in the homestyle version. Thanks!

Posted by mo at 08:41 PM

what's in your kitchen

i have been thinking about the tools that are in my cluttered kitchen, and realizing i rarely use most of them, and there is a long list of things i would like to add to my kitchen. so with that in mind, what are the top 5 tools/appliances that you can't live without?

Posted by karine at 04:51 PM

cooking repertoire challenge

By way of an introduction to my queries about people's personal cooking repertoires, I'm going to include a few excerpts from chapter 22 of the book I reviewed earlier, Cooking for Mr. Latte:

A few months ago, when visiting Tad's parents, I noticed one of his mother's cookbooks lying on the kitchen counter. It was opened to a recipe for slow-roasted turkey.... Over the years, Elizabeth had kept a record of her efforts to refine the recipe: "1977," one note read, "12 lb. turkey took 4 hours including 1/2 hour browning." Another note read, "make tent of foil over all."... I mentioned this to Tad. "I hope someday to have recipes like that," I said. "You know, ones that I'll return to for years and years." Tad nodded. "It's a good idea. You don't really seem to have a repertoire." He was right. Although I have a few favorite dishes, I rarely make them... When you make a dish again and again, altering it to your liking, it becomes an expression of your aesthetic, of your palate, of who you are. ...People used to learn to cook by making dishes in their mother's or grandmother's repertoire. But now that cooking is no longer a necessity, very few people do this, which is probably why many young people may never cook. Without a handful of recipes to start you off, cooking seems overwhelming. There are too many choices. ...Having your own stash of recipes also allows you to travel anywhere and cook in anyone's kitchen. If you can roast a chicken, make a salad and bake a simple cake, you will be a prized guest.

(Note: Confusingly, the author's fiance is named Tad - as is my husband. My mother-in-law's name is Marilyn - and she's never cooked a slow roasted turkey for us. -rl)

In chapter 24, the author goes on to discuss futher refinement of her own repertoire and the handful of recipes that made the cut: her mother's chocolate cake recipe and her mom's peach tart recipe, a greek tagliatelle recipe she got from a book she was reviewing, a linguine with arugala and Meyer lemon recipe she adopted from a friend.

All this talk of cooking repertoires made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, because I have been contemplating this very concept for the past couple years. I have been methodically collecting recipes for years and finally have a huge accordion folder full of recipes in addition to a nice little selection of cookbooks; however I recently realized that I only have a small handfull of recipes I make repeatedly and have commited to heart and can reproduce at a moment's notice. And most of them are cookie recipes, which is not quite the well-rounded repertoire that I would love to have as my 'cooking arsenal.' If I were to list my own repertoire now, the list would only contain chocolate chip cookies, Gingerbread Tiles, different variations of my Impromptu Beef Salad, and basic pasta with lemon and olive oil; definitely nothing to merit 'prized guest status' quite yet. I think I'd like to add at least one main roast course, and at least one or two basic cooked veggie dishes for the vegan husband to enjoy.

So here are my challenges to the Gastonome Collective:
* What is in your cooking repertoire? How did you find the dishes?
* What do you wish could be in your repertoire? Is there a dish you would like to become more proficient at?
* Want to share a recipe from your own arsenal? Why not post it to Gastronome, then leave a link in the comments on this post, so we can follow the thread?

Posted by rebecca at 12:09 AM

fall comfort?

Fall is, hands-down, my favorite season. The crispy San Francisco air, the alternating mist and fog with clear cold sunny days, the fall apples and mushrooms hitting the markets, and the beginning of the glorious rain - there's more than i can begin to describe. When the weather starts turning, i definitely shift modes, as well. I want to go out less - instead, i want to welcome my friends into my home. I want to cook for them, sit around candles with a glass of wine or an irish coffee and chat, late into the night. It's a social season for me - but a quietly social season. What are some of the things you cook in fall? Your autumn rituals? I'll share some of mine - and would love to hear yours...

In the fall, i tend towards cheese courses over dessert. With a tasty dessert wine or a rich red. I love to cook soup for the beginning of every meal - my menu planning starts falling back into soup-entrée-salad-cheese again. I start thinking about beef bourgignon, chantarelles with persillade, and butternut squash soup. (In fact, i made a transitionary contribution to a potluck last weekend - my first pot of butternut squash soup, a fall food - and a lemon-raspberry tart, with the last of the summer berries.) I want to bake - pizzas and bread, cookies and coffee cakes, tarte tatin and savory brunch tarts. Cinnamon buns to share with neighbors on a cold morning.

I start wanting to send out paper-based invitations to dinner parties - i focus on the creative things that are nice to look at, and lovely to touch. I pay more attention to my space, keeping things tidy, ready at any moment for guests to drop in. I tend to keep food on hand in the fridge in anticipation of feeding people when they drop by - a tidbit of this, or a morsel of that. I start thinking about menus for Thanksgiving, for our annual tree-trimming, for birthday dinners and special meals for dear friends. I even start musing on the theme for NYF. I tend to journal more - re-reading my menu-journal, i see i have many more entries in the autumn and spring than the summer and winter.

So - do tell - what are your autumn habits, rituals, and comforts?

Posted by shock at 10:33 AM

cocktail party menu?

Ok, kids - this isn't a Friday Five, but it is a Friday discussion!
I'm having a cocktail party, resplendant with champagne cocktails (and of course, a few other varieties and non-alcoholic yummies).

What are your favorite champagne cocktails? What kind of food would you serve alongside them? I'm looking for inspiration here, folks!

Posted by shock at 07:43 AM

egg cream for yeast dough pastry?

I'm trying to recreate my favourite buns from the recent trip to Sweden... They were a brioche-like pastry (a little denser) flavoured with cardamom and shaped into round buns. The buns were then filled with a thick egg custard cream.

I have a Swedish recipe book with instructions for making the rolls *without* egg cream, but I'm wondering how you make them with a filling. Can you cook egg custard cream at brioche-baking temperature without having it curdle or dry out? Would you have to pipe it into the buns while they were still warm?

Any thoughts?

Posted by naomi at 12:39 PM

iced tea and lemonade

Does anyone have a good recipe for iced tea or for lemonade? I tend to prefer both on the less-syrupy side, which means making my own, but I've not had much success.

When I tried this before, I used good quality tea, so I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. Is it absolutely essential to cool the tea immediately? I almost never have enough ice on hand.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Tips?

Posted by naomi at 12:48 PM

leftovers

Say, what are your favorite things to do with leftovers? I love repurposing leftovers into new dishes; it excercises frugality and creativity - and often, you can get a really quick dinner on the table after work.

notsochoppedsalad!The latest leftover creation i played around with involved salad & risotto cakes. We made dinner for Forrest (actually, the meal is mentioned in the not-quite-chopped-salad entry) I intentionally made extra risotto so we could me the cakes later, and we still had a bunch of cabbage and lettuce from the salad. Voila! Nice 'n' easy. (click on the avocado - you know you want to!)

What do you do with leftovers?

Other tricks:


  • An urban picnic with cheese, crackers, a little toast rubbed with garlic, maybe, anchovies, maybe a rogue sausage or some proscuitto if we have it, whatever fruit is around, and a salad. Any small leftovers that are eaten cool or cold or even a bowl of soup reheated, if there's only a little, is perfect for this.

  • Roasted chicken turns into a lovely avgolemono soup, if you pull the meat off the bone to throw in the soup.

  • A bit of soup can often turn into a nice pasta sauce, thinned or thickened as appropriate. Veggie purées, especially. In fact, i can turn just about ANYTHING into a reasonable pasta sauce or bruschetta topping as a leftover. Again, with a bit of salad, perfect!
  • Posted by shock at 05:43 PM

Tea

It has been over two years since I stopped drinking coffee on a regular basis. I miss my coffee but I know it is better for me to not be drinking it. So I have been drinking tea instead. I need suggestions of quality brands of tea. I normally drink English Breakfast in the morning, or Darjeeling (though I think it is a little light.)

Moroccan mine is another of my favorites, and for awhile I was on a Tetley's kick.

Now I can't stand Tetleys and I want something different. The only Tea's I know I don't like are Eral Grey and Jassmine... I would say I don't like Chai, but I am drinking a good earth brand now at the suggestion of a friend.

Anyone have a favorite tea they want to share, or a tea house that also sells tea that I could go and sample at?

Suggestions are appreciated.

Posted by karine at 07:52 PM

cheesecake

Anyone have a favorite cheesecake recipe? I'm making a stack of them as birthday cakes for a friend this weekend. I'm not particularly fond of cheesecake myself, so if someone has a killer recipe, share, share! My current one is a pretty basic one, full of vanilla beans, from Food & Wine - i made a bunch during the holidays of 2001.

Posted by shock at 03:23 PM

bridal shower help

hi all
i have a bridal shower to attend this weekend and i am supposed to bring two recipes. the couple (my cousin and his soon to be wife) are early 20's with a young child, students budget. i need help coming up with the recipes.

i was thinking rosemary garlic potatoes and lavender teacake. both are fairly easy recipes and not too expensive to make.

any other suggestions?

Posted by karine at 09:04 PM

soft & squishy

My least favorite phrase of late (that seems to be in every recipe) is "softened butter".

How in the name of heck am I supposed to have soft butter in any part of a chilly San Fransicsco kitchen? I leave the butter in a bowl on the stove, with the oven on, for an hour, it's still rock hard. Last night I put the butter in a bowl over not-quite-boiling water, and the butter was both rock hard and liquid.

I don't have a microwave, (yet), so I am pleading for suggestions. How can I take the chip off my stick's shoulder?

Posted by heather at 11:17 AM

key lime pie?

So tell me about your key lime pie. I tried making some last night, after looking at several recipes, and i'm not sure i like what they are. I guess somewhere in my head i thought key lime pie was more like a lemon merengue pie with no merengue... and lime. It was clear from the recipes that that isn't true, but i'm not sure i'm willing to take these out to the Thanksgiving we're joining today, unless i hear that they're what they should be! They look gorgeous, but texturally, they're halfway to a fallen souffle, almost.... good flavor, but the texture is just weird for me. Russell likes them.... but tell me - what should a key lime pie be? More to report on the other pies in a few hours.

(oh, i settled on the recipe from How to Be a Domestic Goddess.)

Friday Morning addendum: The wee pies settled down into a much better texture after a night in the refrigerator - more like something between a custard and a cheesecake. The lime flavor really shone through - the adults loved them, and one of the kids said "It's too lemony!" and went back to the lemon-blueberry tart for more. Overall, i think they were a hit! I topped them with a dollop of freshly whipped cream, and a few strands of lime zest. Unfortunately, the battery on my camera was out of fuel, so no photos.

Posted by shock at 09:46 AM

coconut cream pie

Ok. Coconut cream pie. Do you have a recipe? If not, what do you love about coconut cream pie? Or other coconut pies, for that matter? I don't care for them, but it looks like i'm going to try and cook one tonight to finish off the spicy birthday dinner. Help!

Posted by shock at 08:56 AM

Purple Mashed Potatoes

I purchased some purple potatoes from Trader Joes the other night and thought it would be really cool to make them into mashed potatoes. So lastnight I made dinner for Shari and I and included the purple potatoes, mashed.

I boiled them, added butter, milk, salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic, mashed them up and served them. Shari would not eat them. She thought they were too strange. I thought they were really really cool.

As they cooled down they changed from blue to a deep purple. It was really neat.

So my question, would you find it too strange to eat if you were served purple potatoes mashed?

Posted by karine at 05:11 PM

*chop*chop*chop*

Two queries here!

What's important in a chopping block? I'm looking for one for our kitchen island, and I have no idea what factors to consider. What kind of woods should they be made out of, does size matter (just kidding) and how should I treat it when I have one? Mineral oil?

Also -- to go with it -- I just got a BB&B 20% off coupon and we were thinking about splurging on some knives soon. I have one Wustof Grand Prix chef's knife that I like, but I'd love to hear what other people like in a knife!

Posted by heather at 11:23 AM