All posts filed under: Test Kitchen

Tales of Woe: the one with The Cake

Several months ago, I came across this peach cake recipe from the Barefoot Contessa… And, while I’m not a huge fan of fresh fruit in cakes, this one sounded interesting… so I gave it a go. I was right, while the idea was good, the fresh peaches congealed in the bottom of the cake pan and the batter never really set. So, since FRESH peaches are overly watery and have  that fresh fruit enzyme going on, why not try it with tinned peaches – maybe they would work better. So, I scrapped the idea of peaches – and tried again. This time with tinned pears, and I added sweetened dried cranberries to balance out the pear flavor. It was…. OK… just. I thought maybe changing out the spice profile might give it some zing… My sis had given me a jar of Mahlab for Christmas, and I thought the bitter cherry / slightly floral notes might lift it up some. I also flipped the fruit layers and since the pears were going to slump… I’d just …

A New England (inspired) Clam Chowder

Every culture has a dish, or handful of dishes, that they claim the all-encompassing rights to. Here in the South, it’s grits… and fried chicken. Although.. truth be told, I grew up here and I still have no clear understanding exactly what Southern Fried Chicken is. If I go by my Great Grandmother, it’s heavily peppered, pan fried chicken, placed in a pan after cooking – covered and allowed to steam…. it isn’t crunchy. Jane’s is crunchy… but no pepper. Evelyn’s was buttermilk dipped, but not steamed. … and on and on it goes, throughout every single household here in the Deep South – slight differences in techniques, varying outcomes, different seasoning profiles… but all of them Southern Fried Chicken. It’s ours… we Own it. So, I get it when someone from New England foams at the corners of the mouth when some outlander makes a “traditional” Clam Chowder. It’s just one of those things that if you aren’t from here (well, there)… you can’t make. I’m sensitive to that. That’s why you never see me make a …

Getting to Yes – Double Dipped Buttermilk Chicken Nuggets

The airwaves have been inundated with the talk…  10 nuggets for $1.49. How good could they be, really. And that’s the basis of this whole exercise. The thing is, I don’t make very good fried chicken, and Jane knows it. I didn’t get that grandmotherly gene of tempering flavor / heat / coating to make bone-in Southern Fried Chicken work.    So… a dollar forty-nine, a cheap, easy way to get that crispy fried soulful satisfaction – it seemed like a doer. It’s not. Aside from the questionable oil that it’s fried in, it honestly isn’t even chicken. I’m not sure a chicken walked very close to the factory where they were made. They’re stodgy, spongy… kinda rubbery…. with the most notable flavor being an overabundance of soy protein. And to be brutally honest, it’s the same with any mass-produced, faster – than – prudent establishment serving up the little crispy jewels. So, it’s back to the drawing board and finding a way to get maximum flavor out of a relatively tasteless piece of protein where you …

Under Pressure ~ Pressure Cooker Mexican Chicken

  Microwave Pressure Cooker – Round 3 (ignore that.. I think we’re way past that number now.) Huh… (head scratch) I coulda sworn I did this already. But, in going through and readjusting things for the new layout, I realized I didn’t actually do any of the original cooker tests. I’m feeling a little like Brian Williams. (meh) So we’re playing catch up and  getting to those CooksEssentials Microwave Pressure Cooker Tests that  should have been up in September… Mexican Chicken Okey dokey – This round I’ve decided to adapt one of the recipes provided with the cooker. I’ll give my changes beside the listed ingredients, underlined 1 – 3 Pound Chicken – In stews, roasts… well, just about anything in chicken pieces, I like to use one cut… be it all thighs, breasts, whatever. One cut of meat will generally cook at the same time, so you never worry about over or under cooking the proteins. This time, there was a sale on fresh-cut (not frozen) chicken legs at the butcher. I’ve substituted 8 …

Tahini Grilled Chicken

  Yes, yes… it does day “eating allergy free” up there in the picture. But, before you go all cat lady crazy on me – let me explain. First off, I’m not calling it “All Encompassing Allergy Free” because frankly if you go that far, you’re just living off air… that’s been scrubbed… and hasn’t been anywhere near people… or farms… We, unfortunately, have a very specific set of allergens that I have to navigate in order to provide food that is tasty, appealing, and somewhat resembles foods we used to enjoy. And instead of dredging all that back up here.. just go back to The Long, Slow Train to Crazytown and catch up. The thing is.. we like peanut satays. Scratch that – we love anything with peanuts. But like the train ride tells you, it’s just another of the things I’ve had to scour out of our diet. Among the substitutions I’ve been testing in our diet, I’ve found that Jane has absolutely no issue with sesame… in any form. Lately, she’s even …

The Hybrid Portuguese Broa

Now, about that loaf… What began as a way to get a better English Muffin, evolved into something even more fantastic than I really could imagine. As you read earlier, I was out to make a modified starter – which we did, and succeeded in that task. What came next was to modify the dough to impart more flavor. To do that, I borrowed a lot from a standard  sourdough recipe utilizing a long slow refrigerated proof and by adding a certain amount of corn flour (superfine milled corn meal) to the mix as well. Tasting the dough, I knew I was on to something. So, I decided to check around through my books and see if there was an actual existing loaf like what I was creating. There is…. kinda… sorta. This is basically a Portuguese Broa loaf. Although mine has the addition of the starter.. and  less corn flour, and there is less sugar than in a traditional loaf…. then there’s the whole 24 to 36 hour cooler rise going on… So…yeah… kinda, but …

Bread Whore ~ The “Not Quite Sourdough ” Starter

This story was going to be just about making a loaf of bread. But, I realized that before I could talk about the loaf, I had to tell you about the starter – or it just wasn’t going to make any sense. And when I put everything together into one long, rambling, never-ending scroll, … it was just to boring to get through… I think I even fell asleep a couple of times. So…SCRAPPED… And, instead of tempting you with loverly pictures of We have to get there , first…. with THIS! (and yes, it’s not nearly as sexy) This whole process started by me trying to improve on the taste and texture of The Modern English Muffin from a couple of month back. Don’t get me wrong, the muffins were / are great, but they just don’t have that dark, musky, sourdough-y hint that some of the bakery versions have. So, the little demon in my head says, “Start with sourdough starter”. Only, I really don’t like sourdough. .. and I’ve always made a …

Snacktime! ~ Honeycomb Popped Corn

I like me some Caramel Corn. However, the thought of popping corn, cooking a syrup, mixing it up, then baking it for 45 minutes to an hour JUST to get it where you can eat it… is  WAY more effort than I want to put in a snack. Over a year ago while Jane and I were poking around some odd curb market, we came across a dry mix for caramel popcorn. The idea was to heat your butter and kernels in the whirly popcorn popper thing, pour in the dry mix… and Voila!, caramel corn. You know… it actually worked. Unfortunately, I don’t remember where we got it…. and I didn’t keep the bottle after it was empty… and any of the alternatives I’ve been able to find on the  internetowebbyversothing  have just a HUGE amount of artificial ingredients and colorants. I decided I could make my own.. and it be JUST as good, and healthier than the manufactured stuff…. … you know… if you discount the copious amounts of butter… and sugar. Honeycomb …

Kitchen Fodder – Meatballs Under Pressure

Curry No, I’m not talking about the little red & white can that sits in the pantry growing dust bunnies because you only pull it out once every 6 years to make those curried glazed carrots you’ve read so much about. No. That stuff is for Cretans and Malcontents.  Anywhere else in the world, curry is a dance – a give and take of spices and aromatics – that when blended properly, transforms a dish to such exotic heights, it is the culinary equivalent of Mount Everest…. (sought by many, obtained only by the very adventurous). So… Seeing the Curried Lamb Meatball recipe the the little CooksEssentials Microwave Pressure Cookery Bookerlette… I was intrigued… but very, very cautious. Like most things, I monkeyed around with their recipe. Not because I’m just a bad person, but like finding that curry nirvana, I have my own particular likes and dislikes that play into the picture when creating that perfect spice blend. Granted, if you’re not terribly particular, you could just open up that red/white container and hawk in 2 big spoonfuls …

Kitchen Fodder Guest Test – Micro Pressure Cooker Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Bah! Humbug! Alright…. I’m not the happiest elf this time of year – and getting my chops in gear to do anything other than just exist, is damned near impossible… (I’m just not your holiday food guy.) Luckily, in talking to my sis today, I found out she was using her Microwave Pressure Cooker to make… of all things… MAC n CHEESE! I roped her into doing a guest post (slash) recipe test on it for Plate Fodder. So… Go grab a bowl of popcorn and get ready to be amazed! (I’m going to go steal the neighbor’s inflatable snowman…. again…) ______________________________________________________________________________ After seeing Toby demo his microwave pressure cooker several times, I had to get one for myself. This seemed like such a marvelous gadget! I have cooked many different things in the pressure cooker… Pot Roast, Chili, Rustic Bolognese Sauce, Lemony Chicken Thighs with Potatoes, Olives and Oregano. Everything so far has turned out well. I had a couple of lamb shanks hanging out in the fridge that I thought I would take for …