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  1. #61
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    I've been using a different kind of zester for years, but have just ordered a microplane as everyone goes on about how great it is.

    This weekend I made my own pie crust for quiche - big step for me as I've never been much of a baker and to date have avoided it and instead used Tenderflake frozen crusts. But, we're trying to eliminate as much packaged and pre-processed foods as we can, so it had to be done. It worked out really well (and is surprisingly easy!) - just need to tweek the recipe for taste a bit, and we're home free.

    We've also been making pizza dough - includes the dreaded yeast/rise, but again, quite easy. And the payoff?

  2. #62

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny View Post
    I've been using a different kind of zester for years, but have just ordered a microplane as everyone goes on about how great it is.
    It's a versatile tool; I use mine for grating fresh nutmeg when I need it - fresh grated nutmeg is sooooo much better than that nasty ground stuff in a jar.

  3. #63
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    Here are my tried and true recipes for Cranberry Sauce and for Chunky Beef Chili. I really prefer beef chunks to ground beef. Seems more authentic and I like the texture and appearance much better.

    Aimless's Cranberry Sauce
    1 package (3 cups) cranberries
    1 cup red wine
    3/4 cup sugar
    1 stick cinnamon
    shredded zest of one orange

    Put it all in a pot, simmer 10-15 minutes, until the berries have popped. Chill and it will thicken. You will like it. Works with Thanksgiving dinner and you can even put it on ice cream or cake, or put whipped cream or hard sauce on top of it.

    Chunky Beef Chili

    3 pounds boneless stew beef in bite-sized chunks
    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    two 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
    2 large onions, chopped (about 3 cups)
    1 tablespoon minced garlic
    2 carrots, sliced thin or shredded
    1/4 cup chili powder
    1 tablespoon ground cumin
    2 tablespoons paprika
    1 tablespoon crumbled dried orégano
    1 tablespoon dried hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
    1 1/4 cups beef broth
    3 tablespoons cider vinegar
    a 19-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
    1 red and 1 green bell pepper, chopped
    Corn masa to taste (optional)

    Brown the beef chunks in some of the oil in a large pot, in batches, setting aside each batch in a bowl as it is browned. Deglaze the pan with the tomato sauce and pour this over the browned meat. Wipe out the pot.
    Saute the onions in the rest of the oil over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until they are softened and beginning to color. Add the garlic and the carrots, and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute.
    Add the chili powder, the cumin, the paprika, the orégano, and the red pepper flakes and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the beef & tomato sauce mixture, the broth, and the vinegar, bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer it slowly, covered, stirring occasionally, for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender. Add the kidney beans, the bell peppers, and salt and black pepper to taste and simmer the mixture, uncovered, for 15 minutes, or until the bell peppers are tender.
    It is an excellent idea to add some corn masa (Mexican corn meal flour) judiciously along with the beans/peppers to thicken the sauce and add authentic flavor. Start with a scant quarter of a cup and see if you like the consistency, then add more if desired.
    This improves significantly if chilled overnight and reheated.

  4. #64

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny View Post

    We've also been making pizza dough - includes the dreaded yeast/rise, but again, quite easy. And the payoff?
    If we're making pizza, I refuse to buy crusts... it's all about homemade pizza in my house (save for takeout from time to time).
    My mom taught me how to make pizza dough when I was a teenager. It's not hard and is definitely worth the time/effort. Our recipe is great!

  5. #65
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    People do tend to be afraid of yeasted doughs, but it's a pity because I think actually they're an excellent choice for less confident/experienced bakers. Mostly they're much more forgiving than cakes, biscuits and pastries.
    I am too long away from water;
    I have a need of water near.

  6. #66

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jodi View Post
    People do tend to be afraid of yeasted doughs, but it's a pity because I think actually they're an excellent choice for less confident/experienced bakers. Mostly they're much more forgiving than cakes, biscuits and pastries.
    One day I'll be brave enough to make my own breads and even pie crusts (I still use pre-made)...I've only recently learned to make cakes from scratch....it's still daunting to me, especially the part where you add the yeast.

  7. #67

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex View Post
    One day I'll be brave enough to make my own breads and even pie crusts (I still use pre-made)...I've only recently learned to make cakes from scratch....it's still daunting to me, especially the part where you add the yeast.
    Get over it!

  8. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex View Post
    One day I'll be brave enough to make my own breads and even pie crusts (I still use pre-made)...I've only recently learned to make cakes from scratch....it's still daunting to me, especially the part where you add the yeast.
    No yeast in pie crust!

  9. #69

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny View Post
    No yeast in pie crust!
    Oh, I know that...I was just saying that I've never attempted those either, and they are supposed to be easy.

  10. #70
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    I find pie crust to be harder to make than yeast bread, or maybe more nervewracking. The more you handle pie crust dough, the tougher it gets. So I am always worried that I am handling it too much. With bread dough, you have to handle it a lot and as far as I know you can't knead it too much (?) The only bread I have consistantly had trouble with is crumpets.

  11. #71

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    This is what med students do instead of studying. We'll also tell our patients to lose weight, and eat this. :-) Everything in moderation of course... at a dessert party..!

    About half of our spread (minus some brownies and cookies and bread)
    My 7 layered Dobos torte (though you can't see the layers in this pic
    My friend's artisan-quality white chocolate brie cheesecake

    I also made an apple crisp that tasted.... like roses! Maybe it's because I left it in the fridge overnight? Or because I didn't add any sugar to the sliced apples-lemon mix (I forgot)? Or it's the apples I used--Granny SMith, Stayman winesap, and Braeburn? ANyone with experience on this?

  12. #72

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    Quote Originally Posted by altai_rose View Post
    This is what med students do instead of studying. We'll also tell our patients to lose weight, and eat this. :-) Everything in moderation of course... at a dessert party..!

    About half of our spread (minus some brownies and cookies and bread)
    My 7 layered Dobos torte (though you can't see the layers in this pic
    My friend's artisan-quality white chocolate brie cheesecake

    I also made an apple crisp that tasted.... like roses! Maybe it's because I left it in the fridge overnight? Or because I didn't add any sugar to the sliced apples-lemon mix (I forgot)? Or it's the apples I used--Granny SMith, Stayman winesap, and Braeburn? ANyone with experience on this?
    That cheesecake looks orgasmic!

    I always make crisps at "the last minute", so that they are warm and I can serve them with ice cream....

  13. #73

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex View Post
    That cheesecake looks orgasmic!

    I always make crisps at "the last minute", so that they are warm and I can serve them with ice cream....
    Oh I mean that I left it unbaked in the fridge overnight then baked it and served it warm. And it tasted like roses!

  14. #74

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    Quote Originally Posted by altai_rose View Post
    Oh I mean that I left it unbaked in the fridge overnight then baked it and served it warm. And it tasted like roses!
    LOL, I misread it, sorry.

    Roses, you say? Is that good or bad?

  15. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrokenAnkle View Post
    I find pie crust to be harder to make than yeast bread, or maybe more nervewracking. The more you handle pie crust dough, the tougher it gets. So I am always worried that I am handling it too much. With bread dough, you have to handle it a lot and as far as I know you can't knead it too much (?) The only bread I have consistantly had trouble with is crumpets.
    The recipe I'm using has a genius way to handle the butter - as you know it must be very cold, and then worked into the dry ingredients quickly.

    This recipe suggests that you use a box grater to grate the cold butter into pea-sized pieces, quickly toss it in the flour like a salad, and then easily turn it into a dough because the pieces are so small, without overworking it. For good measure, I've been putting the box grater in the fridge to cool it down before I use it.

    Works like a charm, and both times the crust has come up really flaky - and I'm a novice at best!

  16. #76

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny View Post
    The recipe I'm using has a genius way to handle the butter - as you know it must be very cold, and then worked into the dry ingredients quickly.

    This recipe suggests that you use a box grater to grate the cold butter into pea-sized pieces, quickly toss it in the flour like a salad, and then easily turn it into a dough because the pieces are so small, without overworking it. For good measure, I've been putting the box grater in the fridge to cool it down before I use it.

    Works like a charm, and both times the crust has come up really flaky - and I'm a novice at best!
    This sounds like a great idea; I'm going to give it a try the next time I make a pie.

  17. #77
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    Thanks Jenny. Sounds like a great tip. I can't accomplish a flaky dough no matter how hard I try so I shall give your technique a try.

    Last night was my first try at "Chicken Francese". I can't even pronounce this dish (somebody help me out )but Shabarros got me hook I always eat it from their menu...so last night I googled and it turned out it wasnt so hard to make at all. My slightly fried chicken breast looked and tasted great. My lemon butter sauce even without the wine was a hit, only thing is I did not make enough to smother the pasta noodles that I cooked to go along with the chicken.

  18. #78
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    Gotta give credit where credit is due - the pastry recipe (and my new pizza dough recipe) is from Earth to Table by Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann: http://www.amazon.com/Earth-Table-Se...6050575&sr=8-1

    Which, btw, is a gorgeous book focused on local, seasonal eating but not in a slam it down your throat way. The authors are based at a country restaurant in Ontario, so it's a nice change for those of us who do not have the benefit of living in the bounty that is California

    Highly recommended.

  19. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrokenAnkle View Post
    I find pie crust to be harder to make than yeast bread, or maybe more nervewracking.
    Most definitely! Pastry is the only thing in baking that I'm really not good at or keen on. Someone told me once it's down to whether you have a tendency to warm or cool hands - makes sense to me, and people do always say "Ooh, you're so warm!" if they touch my hand

    Choux pastry is another matter, of course I'd heard it spoken about with such mystery and yet it was a great success the first time I tried it, I found it dead easy. But a basic half fat to flour and water to mix pastry? It's the only thing I bake where it sometimes comes out such that the best thing that can be said for it is "edible." :/

    The sainted Delia (though I don't actually like her myself) suggests the grating method, she puts the butter in the freezer for a while first. I have thought about trying it but I have such a history of grater injuries that I cringe and ball my fingers into protective fists at the thought of it I have done pastry by sticking the butter and flour into a food processor until the butter's chopped up before, with results no different to rubbing it in by hand, but without the finger cramping at least.

    Nigella Lawson's easy Danish pastry *did* work really well for me - back to the yeasted doughs again! I made a version as the flaky pastry for sausage rolls last Christmas, replacing half the butter with lard and the milk with water, and that was amazing
    I am too long away from water;
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  20. #80

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jodi View Post
    Pastry is the only thing in baking that I'm really not good at or keen on.
    Everyone in my family has a sweet tooth, and when I was a child my mother an I were constantly in the kitchen making something sweet: fudge, brownies, eclairs, cookies, cakes, etc.

    However, my mother could never make a pie crust; she just couldn't get it. As a result, she developed a repertoire of pies that used graham cracker or cookies crust. Mom could turn out a chocolate pudding pie or Brandy Alexander pie or Grasshopper pie at the drop of a hat.

    I can make a decent pie crust, but my specialty is baking powder biscuits, which is a different technique altogether. I think sometimes we can be good at one thing and just not get the other.

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