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Simple tips that make your taste buds go wow - Page 2

post #31 of 46
I'm not a big fan of Portabellos, so I rarely eat them. However, when I do, the gills get scraped and I'll peel them. It actually physically annoys me when I see chefs and cooks on TV who don't at least scrape the gills.

But what you and I do is essentially irrelevent in the great big world out there. Most people, it seems, don't prepare their 'bellos with the same attention to detail, and many may have problems with water absorbtion. I only chose 'bellos becaus they were the first 'shroom that came to mind.

Well, I've not seen or participated in any AB type tests, but my point was more along the lines that different 'shrooms may behave differently, not that they do behave differently. Looking back at my message the qualifier, may, was used, precisely because I don't have hard facts or test results to fall back on. I suppose what I'm saying is that AB tested only one 'shroom and there's nothing to support the idea that his results will be comparable across the wide spectrum of mushroom types.
post #32 of 46

The subject is just too vast for me to make a dent in it in one post on a forum. I get the feeling you're looking for things like basil and oregano, basil and tomatoes and olive oil, and so forth -- but I don't know where to begin and if I began I wouldn't know where to stop.

The thing to do is to pay attention to what goes into the things you and most people like. What herbs are in fines herbes, for instance? How are fines herbes used? What are common barbecue rub combinations? How do you make barbecue sauce? What are the most popular spaghetti sauces (tomato basil)? How do you make curry from scratch?

You'll see spices in the same groups over and over, and you'll see which techniques make them shine.

Things like toasting seeds before grinding. Grinding fresh. Knowing when fresh is important or dry is OK, or even better. Learning the substitution ratio of 3 fresh to 1 dry and when it's wrong (dill, for instance).

The problem is that if I start getting specific, I'd not only write 20 pages which would barely scratch the surface, but they wouldn't be cohesive. Partly because a lot of spice combinations and techniques don't make sense unless they're in the context of larger dishes and even cuisines. It's hard to talk about cardamom without talking about both Indian and Swedish food.

The best I can do is say thank you for asking a question that really has me thinking about how to organize a lot of the information that's in my head and how to present a systematic way for other people to acquire it (and more).

Please take a look at my blog, especially the last entry -- I think you'll get some idea why the subject isn't approached in the way your question was asked. Not that it wasn't a good question. Well, it wasn't actually. It was great. Wish I had a better answer than "Seek and ye shall find." Maybe we'll come up with something. In the meantime, don't hold your breath.

Great question,
post #33 of 46
First, let me empahasize that this is for ExtraVirgin Olive Oil. Regular refined oils don’t suffer from refrigeration.

People want to put EVOO in the fridge because heat, light, and exposure to air work continuously to degrade the oil, and even get it to turn rancid. The refrigerator is cool and dark, ergo a good place to keep the oil.
Ideally, EVOO should be stored in a cool dark spot, and remain tightly capped. Fifty-seven degrees F is the ideal storage temp, but from 50-degrees to 70-degrees is acceptable. Personally, I try to get as close to 57-degrees as possible.

This information came from a couple-three olive oil councils and, closer to home, the Bariani family.
post #34 of 46
Hmmmmmm. Just one of those things I never thought of.

I pretty much store my evoo that way. It's in a tightly stoppered bottle (or the original can), in a dark pantry, which pretty much stays at ambient temperature. Overall I'd say closer to the 70 mark than the 57.

I've never had it turn rancid. Or even lose quality, near as I can tell. But, then again, it doesn't sit around here all that long. I use so much of it in my herbal products that I go through a gallon seemingly overnight.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #35 of 46
Well stored OO can last more than a year before losing noticable quality. If the container hasn't been opened, it can last much longer than that. Cans are the best packaging for evoo, followed by dark glass. I don't understand why some premiun OO producers use clear glass bottles unless it's to show off the product.

According to an article written about Bariani oil, "The oil keeps 18-24 months in good storage conditions (a cool and dark place) and the Barianis point out that 'our grandmother in Italy has had it for five years and it still tastes fresh.' "

Problems arise when the oil is not stored properly, or when it has not been handled well through the delivery chain. It's sometimes years (and I'm not kidding) between pressing and delivery to the consumer, so by the time the end user gets the oil it's already starting to go bad or lose it's potency and flavor.

The Olive Oil Scandal
Bariani Olive Oil Feature

In some households where oo is consumed quickly, the oo is left out in a bottle with one of those pouring spouts. They use the oil so quickly it has no appreciable chance of going bad.
post #36 of 46
That would be me.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

post #37 of 46
BDL and KYHeirloomer,

Thank you so much for your responses. This forum is so inspiring and I appreciate your time. These are great ideas on where to focus my attention to take my cooking to the next level. I will start by taking notes of where I’m seeing spice combinations, then will start experimenting with more ethnic cooking.

Can I ask for a few specific examples on how to improve a few of my dishes?

1.Chicken Stock. I make it with fryer chickens, carrots, celery and onion. I add just enough water to cover the chicken and vegetables. Then I add fresh sage and thyme and dried oregano, garlic, pepper, tarragon, parsley, sage and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then barely simmer for 3-4 hours or until the meat easily falls off the bone. The stock is a beautiful golden color and I’m happy with the flavor but in some dishes the flavor isn’t strong enough. I do reduce the liquid in some dishes but I would love to increase the flavor. Any suggestions? Should I be adding the seasoning at the end of the cooking time or still add them at the beginning?
2.Pan gravy from a roast. I make a gravy by deglazing the pan from a roast. For the liquid I use a beef broth reserved from a crock pot roast. Again, this gravy is lacking in flavor. Are they any herbs you add to your gravies?

BDL- I read your blog entry and I love the idea of your project. It is so needed, especially for me! I’m one of those people you make reference to that has found some great recipes and does a great job following a recipe but is desperately trying to learn the “whys” of cooking.

I have a unique diet that makes it necessary for me to improvise and adapt recipes. This would be so much easier if I understood the reasons behind a recipe. I’m slowly learning but its taking years of trial and error in the kitchen to learn these techniques. I would love to really improve my cooking and I feel like truly understanding the techniques is the only way to do so.

I can’t wait for your cookbook to be released- I’ll be one of the first to pick up a copy.

post #38 of 46
If your stock makes a decent broth with the addition of a little salt in it, the stock's fine as a regular chicken stock. If you don't get the intensity of flavor you want, even when reduced there are two ways to go: The first is to use your stock to make chicken demi-glace; the second is to make a roasted chicken stock, which has a lot more flavor than a regular.
I usually use wine of some sort or beer, Worcestershire sauce and/or Maggi Seasoning Sauce and a little bit of tomato paste when making beef gravies. But not always.

You didn't say whether you roasted aromatic vegetables in the bottom of the pan, and pressed them into the gravy. That will make a lot of difference in flavor and structure.

And again, there's demi-glace.

There's also a step beyond demi, called glace de viande which is frequently done with beef stock and sometimes chicken too. It's a straight (no additions) 10:1 reduction that makes a sort of paste you add when you want a lot of beef or chicken pop. You dilute it in other liquids, like wine to get the maximum meat intensity in sauces.

There's are some pre-made commercial glaces that work less well than home made but in the greater scheme of things they work very well indeed. You can find one of them pretty easily, it's called "Better than Bullion," and is available in beef, chicken and roasted chicken. The knock on these is that they've got some salt and definitely taste tinny -- but you can moderate the salt elsehwhere and all of the tinniness disappears with a little cooking and appropriate dilution.

I find two cups lasts four to six months -- as long as you don't use it to make soup. You can make that much with 5 quarts of stock. If you're going to try chicken, really take your time on the reduction. Chicken stock can get bitter if you cook it too hot for too long. Too long is pretty much built into making glace, so that means you'll have to watch the heat very carefully. Beef or chicken, it takes awhile.

post #39 of 46
Thanks BDL, I'll experiment with a roasted chicken stock. I don't drink wine or beer and I can't have Worcestershire sauce but I'll try the tomato paste in my gravy- that's a great idea.

I generally roast vegetables with a roast but have never pressed them into the gravy. Do you mean I should puree them and add the puree to the gravy?

Thanks, Emily
post #40 of 46
Sounds like you've got some allergies. No wonder you're so interested in other sources of flavor. Aha!

On beer and wine -- there are work arounds, but they're not in my repertoire. Too bad about the Worcestershire -- what about the Maggi? It was actually developed, so Nestle says, as a soy sauce substitute for those who had health issues with soy.

Another helpful replacement for Worcestershire is adding some of your salt in the from of chopped anchovies or anchovy paste. You'd be surprised what a difference a little anchovy makes -- and it's not fishy. It just adds depth.

With quick pan sauces, cook the tomato paste on the bottom of the pan BEFORE doing the deglaze. It's important that the paste be cooked, otherwise it will be simultaneously sweet, bitter and offensive. Properly used it adds structure, color and depth of flavor. A little tomato does a lot to enhance the beef.

Restaurants which make a big thing about (good) gravy, roast big trays of vegetables just for the gravy. Think of the vegetables used for sauces and other cooking as different from the vegetables destined for service. The first can be ugly, unevenly cut, and overcooked. The second, well you'll have to do better if you want to see KYHeirloomer over for dinner. Unlike me, he has standards.

Puree? Well, yes. And no. And maybe. The "trad" way is to press them through a Chinese cap with the pusher, or through a coarse sieve with the back of a spoon. These methods get all the good goo, and leave the fiber. The early 20th Century method is to use a food mill, which will pass far more of the fiber. And then there's the blender, the immersion blender, the food processor and other tools of the devil. They'll put everything in the gravy/sauce.

It comes down to how clear, how shiny and how structured you want your gravy/sauce. The sieve will give you most the shine and clarity, the machines will give you the most structure. It's not uncommon to process with a machine, and then sieve. If I were feeding 20, that's how I'd do it. If I were feeding 6 or less, I'd sieve. In between... ?

Glad to help,
post #41 of 46
>if you want to see KYHeirloomer over for dinner. Unlike me, he has standards. <

It's true, it's true. I've got all sorts of class.....

....about third grade.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #42 of 46
One of the biggest tips is the food is done when it is done. Rushing it will sacrifice either flavor or texture. This is especially true in the BBQ world.
post #43 of 46
You are correct, I’m extremely sensitive to free glutamic acid (the harmful component of monosodium glutamate or msg) and all the ingredients it is listed under (there are about 50 different ingredients I avoid). I can eat almost anything as long as I make it myself and I’m very picky on brands (no restaurants, no eating at family or friends homes and no quick and easy packaged or canned foods).

I love to eat and the only way to eat good food is to figure out how to make it myself. J Because I can’t eat at other people’s homes we generally have our friends and family over for dinners. This has created an even greater desire to be an amazing cook. J

I’ll look into Maggi and also anchovy paste- great suggestions. I also can’t wait to try the sieve with the roasted vegetables and tomato paste for my beef gravy. I assume the roasted vegetables technique would also work when using a chicken stock to make a gravy. . .

Thank you again. I can't say enough how helpful this forum is.

Thanks, Emily
post #44 of 46
I'm guessing no on Maggi, but that's a guess only. Please do look it up.

If you can eat oily, salty fish, you're in like Flynn.

Most definitely. It's one of those "now you're really cooking things." Sieving sauces is one of those things that separates pros from schmoes.

post #45 of 46
>Sieving sauces is one of those things that separates pros from schmoes.<

Generally a true statement. But does it really apply to home cooks? They don't have to be pros.

Mitchell Davis, author of Kitchen Sense touched on that in an interview. He said:

"I recall another recipe that had you strain a soup twice through a chinois...This sort of exess use of equipment and refinement is a hallmark of chef recipes. When we eat at home, the soup can be a little lumpy."

Well, so much for my standards. But I agree with him 100%. If I want a smoother soup I'll puree the solids, using either an immersion blender or stationary one. But that's as far as I go for everyday eating.

With dinner guests, or when having a party, that's a different story.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #46 of 46
mushrooms are heavy in umami....msg

zests, orange/lemon and occasionally tangerine or lime give a pop to food, both savory and sweet, ie beef bourgonon has a rich redwine beef stock gravy that has thyme, bay, garlic, onions, aromatic veg and orange zest.

I use hens for stock and if a rich stock is desired will compound it and make a stock then cook another hen in the stock....super rich.

Using top quality fresh produce, meats, good evo....I use Colavita for everyday use, kosher salt, Penzey's herbs/spices as well as fresh, their dried zests are good too....ditto granulated garlic which I use as much or more than fresh.

Various vinagers will also give you more flavors to play with......
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
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