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Key Ingredients....  

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hi Denise, I would like to say that its an honor to have you here at cheftalk thanks for being here. With that said. In your recipe testing are there key ingredients that you look for that would make one recipe stand out above the others? Does any of your favorite flavors that maybe in a recipe sway your critique of a particular recipe? Agian thanks for joining us here at cheftalk...
post #2 of 17

Favorite flavors

I do have favorite flavors and favorite ingredients, but when I am working on someone else's recipe, the most important question is: does this accurately reflect the chef's work? After someone has finished following the recipe, would the chef say "yes, this is what it should look like, taste like..." This allows me to do a good job even on recipes for food I don't really care for. But -- of course! -- there are exceptions. Sometimes it's clear that a chef's taste might not serve the average reader. So, if a recipe comes into the New York Times for a dish that is extremely hot (spicy), I will have some discussion with my editor and the chef about whether it would be appropriate to tone it down somewhat. If the dish is commonly that hot, or if the article is about its spice, it will probably be left as is. Otherwise, I will reduce the hot spices and add instructions about how to add further seasoning to taste.

There are rare times when I try to impose my taste, or, you might say, my philosophy. I am afraid I have a prejudice against marshmallows in "salads" and -- with the greatest respect to those who love it -- Cool-Whip. I will test a recipe with these ingredients, do a good job editing it, even taste it (before sending the rest to the compost bin), but I will also tactfully suggest that you might want to substitute another ingredient...

And what are some of my favorite ingredients? I love Asian flavors (soy, ginger, mirin), I love garlic (!), grapefruit, fresh currants, maple, pomegranate syrup (heavenly! try it if you haven't!), burnt sugar, wines and spirits in food (the list is endless), meats cooked with beer, grilled flavors (grilled shrimp! grilled corn!)...cheeses! pickled things, hot peppers...whipped cream (the real thing, lightly sweetened), coffee, teas (liquid and used as rubs)...Smoked flavors (smoked salt, smoked paprika)...I really like almost everything, now that I think of it.
post #3 of 17
First off, any suggestions about what to use the pomeganate syrup with. Secondly your list sounds great, feel free if you have an extra place setting one night to give me a buzz, I'm always hungry:lips:
My latest musical venture!
Also "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
My latest musical venture!
Also "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Ch, I know she has my vote. Especially with the Asian flavor theme, love that.
post #5 of 17

Pomegranate syrup

Pomegranate syrup is fruity and tangy and it's a gorgeous ruby color. Use it in marinades, stews, fruit salad, salad dressings, dips, drinks, desserts... It's used in many Middle Eastern recipes. Roasted red pepper and walnut spread (great on crusty bread) gets a subtle kick from just a touch of the syrup. Once you taste the syrup you'll have ideas on how to use it. Make sure you buy thick Middle Eastern style pomegranate syrup. The pomegranate drink you'll find in the produce dept of your supermarket isn't the same, nor is grenadine, the pomegranate flavoring use for mixed drinks. You want the real stuff, thick and strongly flavored. And it's a bargain! A couple of dollars or so will buy a nice bottle that will last a while.
post #6 of 17
or pomagranite well with lamb too.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #7 of 17

Pomegranate syrup/molasses

Thanks for pointing that out. Actually, when I say pomegranate syrup, I mean pomegranate molasses -- it can go by either name, though I suppose some pomegranate syrups are sold that are not molasses. I recommend the thickest, most flavorful product you can find.
post #8 of 17
yep, I've got both in my cabinent.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #9 of 17
And lets not forget pickled things! I just discovered Pickled Okra. Living in the South does have it's advantages after all.....
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Tried pickled jalapenos and other peppers? Pretty good....
post #11 of 17

Pickles with fig leaf

I once had a recipe for sweet pickles that had a fig leaf tucked into the jar, for flavor and maybe to help keep them crisp...I lost the recipes years ago but keep hoping it will turn up. It came from the mother of a friend of mine in North Carolina. She grew her own cukes and had her own fig tree, but I don't remember whether the tree was indoors or out.
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
Its pretty much easy to pickle anything.Here in the south we pickle okra,peppers,cucmubers and other foods. Fig tree was most likely outdoors since they get way to big to grow in a flower pot.
post #13 of 17

Fig leaves

Have you ever heard of fig leaves being used in pickling?
post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
No can't say that I have. Would like to hear more though...
post #15 of 17
You know, here in Texas we have okra as shrubery.
the rural FM road shacks are full of pickled okra and anything else that farmer grows. I always pick up the jars with the fig leaves. You find them more as you leave the flat terrain and enter a hilly area with trees where the farmer will usually have the figs up at the main house. I have no idea just what the leaves do, but I find the okra to have a kind of a snap or maybe not the 'mouth feel' that is the reason that I cannot eat okra any other way. A yankee transplant of 30 yrs.;)
When the freestone peaches pop, I travel down to that county to one farm where they pickle peaches. I usually get 2 cs. My foodie friends can never figure it out. a little baked puff, peach quarted, rolled in brown/white sugar-torched. Homade vanilla ice cream, topped with a little aged Bal. yum
post #16 of 17
In Louisiana figs are used to make "faux strawberry jam".....little brown figs.

Grape tendrils pickled are kind of a novelty. I've always wanted to put up fresh grape leaves for dolmas....never knew when to pick.

Ball Jar used to have a 7 day pickle that was fussy but very good.

One of the restaurantuers in town pickles watermelon rind, now that's a real southern pickle. Dill green beans, green tomatoes (found in southern Louisana fried catfish houses or on salad bars)....pickled okra are wrapped in cream cheese and ham slices, it's so 60's and so yummy.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #17 of 17
Here in SE Oklahoma, my aunt uses figs and strawberry jello (and pectin) to make "strawberry preserves" and sometimes uses other jello flavors. She also does a pear marmalade and I think a fig butter.

She also pickles okra, and has a recipe for cinnamon apple rings only she substitutes extra large "old" cucumbers for the apples, which turn out surprisingly good.
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