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Topic: 2013 First Quarterly Cookbook Discussion

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Date Posted: 3/6/2013 5:01 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
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Ah, yes, now I remember why I do risotto from scratch now!  Too much salt is sooo true!

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 3/6/2013 8:04 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
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They do over-salt everything but it's also the preservatives. Most of them are sodium based. That's why I look to organic food a lot, with the lack of preservatives it's automatically lower in sodium. Not always enough but it sometimes works. I was so happy to recently find a brand of organic frozen french fries that have only 40mg of sodium per serving. I was missing fries and they're a pain to make at home.

Date Posted: 3/8/2013 7:08 PM ET
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Ok, so what do you have to have in your pantry for baking?  I have five kinds of flour (all purpose, cornbread flour, whole wheat, cake flour and bread flour); brown, white and powdered sugar; dutch process cocoa, baking chocolate (Valrhona, not the crappy Baker's brand) along with chips in semi-sweet, dark and vanilla; real vanilla; baking soda and powder recently replaced so it is fresh; corn syrup, molasses and honey.  I have fresh spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.  I love using vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks for that really vibrant taste.  Yeast I only buy when I am going to bake as I tend to let it sit too long.  I buy fruit fresh to make tea breads and coffee cakes.

I make my husbands favorite coffee cake about once a month, it is a sour cream cake with cinnamon streusel.  He also gets banana bread and apple muffins regularly.  I do killer brownies from scratch that have semi-sweet chocolate chips and dried blueberries.  Yum!

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 3/8/2013 11:15 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
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Oh geez. It would probably be easier to list what I don't have. I must have about 50 flavors, emulsions and extracts. Cocoa - regular, Hershey's special dark, African black, and red. I like Ghirardelli baking chocolate because you can get it in higher cacao levels. The things I like, I like to get in every form possible so I can layer or do different things with them, like I have probably 6 different forms of ginger. Whole nutmeg. Cake Enhancer from King Arthur Flour - must have. I also have mold inhibitor to keep my banana bread from going bad before I can eat it. I always have banana bread because I have to keep my potassium up and I don't like plain bananas very much. I've always used Wilton's Cake Release instead of greasing and flouring but they've changed it recently and I'm not quite as crazy about it as I was. I hate when they mess up things you like. Flour - regular, cake, bread and some rye I haven't gotten around to trying yet. I can't eat whole wheat stuff so I don't use that. Almond flour is fun but I don't have any at the moment. I love exotic ingredients and my last purchase was coconut sugar. It's made from coconut flowers and is a strongly flavored, hearty, dark sugar that goes well as a brown sugar substitute. It's large grained and doesn't dissolve well so it wouldn't work in cakes or a lot of cookies. I made coconut bread with it, coconut oil and flaked coconut. Good stuff. Parchment paper - squares and sheets. Huge time saver. Just slide the whole sheet off of the cookie sheet. I keep instant pudding mix to stabilize whippped cream. I have a couple different vanillas but honestly I can't tell the difference in the finished products. The stuff from Costco is good and way cheaper. Oh, I always use ultrafine baker's sugar. Costs a fortune but it's worth it. Real butter, I don't even allow Crisco in my house. Unless I want to have a fry fest, but I haven't done that in years. I don't use corn syrup in baking either but I do have some agave syrup. I don't buy the health things with corn syrup but it doesn't taste as good as sugar or other sweeteners. I do have some, there are some fudge recipes that need a bit to control hardening. I don't make them much though.

Black cocoa is what makes Oreo's different from all other chocolate cookies. That is the exact flavor it gives. It has weird properties though, it dries your baked goods out so you can't use much at a time but it's worth playing with. I'll use about a TBSP at most in a cup of regular cocoa. In fact Oreo's have that dry, crisp texture. King Arthur Flour carries it and it's not crazy expensive. About $7 for a bag that will last you the rest of your life since you don't use much at a time.

Date Posted: 3/9/2013 9:30 AM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
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Amen on the real butter and parchment paper.  I haven't tried almond flour yet, but I have recently come across recipes using it and it is lower in carbs.  I like experimenting with things too.  Yesterday I made tomato soup from whole tomatoes that a friend canned last year.  I added a puree of chipotle peppers and adobo sauce to the soup, which gave it is kick but didn't go overboard on spicy. 

You made me remember the extracts I have as well - lemon, cinnamon, orange, cherry and several liquors I use for the same purpose.

Did you know that adding the oil from a Vitamin E capsule (not the capsule itself, just the oil) acts as a natural preservative and will extend the freshness of breads by a couple of days?

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 3/9/2013 2:47 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
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I did not, I'll have to try that. Mold Inhibitor is kind of pricey. I live in Phoenix and my kitchen is in an unprotected southeast facing corner and the a/c duct in there doesn't work well, it's always hot in there. I have to store chocolate chips in another room or they stick together it gets so hot. Baked stuff goes bad fast at my house.

I was just thinking I could really go for some tomato soup but I can't eat the canned stuff anymore. I haven't made my own yet but I have to get on that.

 

I have grapes in the freezer to try the granita from the cookbook and the stuff to make the cous cous, chicken and grape stuff too. It's cold today, maybe I'll coook.

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 3/10/2013 1:19 AM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
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Ok, made the California Cous Cous from page 75. I don't like lemon so I flavored it with ginger and lemon grass and I added some already cooked and chopped up chicken I had left over to make it a meal. It was really good, and took about 3 minutes active work and 5 minutes to sit. So a meal in less than 10 minutes. It was tasty too. I think I would like it better if the grapes were cut in half, they were kind of big to get on a single forkfull with the other stuff. And they liked to roll off, lol. I would definitely add this to the repertoire.

I also made the grape granita on page 31. I made a big mistake with this one. I put the grapes in the food processor, drizzled over the honey, added a little vanilla cuz my grapes weren't very tasty, and something I wanted to see came on tv so I walked away for just a couple minutes. DO NOT DO THAT. When I came back the food processor wouldn't move, the honey had frozen the grapes together into a big, hard, stuck clump and froze the blade to the bottom of the bowl. I had to pry it all loose and add more honey then soak the frozen stuff off of the food processor. When I finally got it loose and made it it was really good though. It didn't look anything like the picture, mine is very purple, but it tastes really good. The vanilla is a good addition.

Date Posted: 3/10/2013 9:26 AM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
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I was out last evening with my husband for a rare evening of just strolling around some shops and dinner out.  There is a really nice place about 10 miles from us with condos over retail shops, restaurants and a theater.  Wandered into a new boutique that is all oils and vinegars.  I bought a wonderful cranberry vinegar, and am excited to try it on my favorite salad of spinach leaves, bacon bits, feta cheese and dried cranberries.  Also got a blend of dried tomatoes, cheese and spices called Bruscetta Fromagio that you blend with a little olive oil into a paste and spread on artisan bread.  Yum!!

Dinner was seared scallops with mozarella/onion polenta, fresh steamed broccoli and a wonderful cocktail called a 131 Maniac.  Never had one before.



Last Edited on: 3/10/13 9:27 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Mary (mepom) -
Date Posted: 3/10/2013 4:29 PM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2009
Posts: 1,192
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Today I will make something with mango. Just had a long email that I erased. Yikes.

Recipes that I want to try from the book

Citrus Walnut Pasta Salad p. 21

Mango Cuke Salad p. 25

Prov Roasted Olives p. 47

Red Grapefruit, feta, salad p. 61

Grape Tom, avocado, ht palm salad p. 67

Tiramisu Cheesecake Bars p.215

Berry Spinach Salad P. 14

Apple Chicken Stir Fry p.14

 

 

Date Posted: 3/10/2013 6:05 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
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Mary, we are on the same wavelength here.  I made the Berry Spinach Salad page 15, using my new cranberry vinegar and honey.  It was great, and hubby liked it too.

Mary (mepom) -
Date Posted: 3/11/2013 12:33 AM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2009
Posts: 1,192
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My shopping list includes flavored vinegars. Must try!!!!!

 

Date Posted: 3/13/2013 6:17 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
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So, what are your staples for dried, canned and bottled products?  I keep low-sodium chicken and beef broth, water packed tuna, corn in cans, and Prego spaghetti sauce in a glass jar.  Otherwise, I don't buy much in cans, prefering fresh foods.  I keep low sodium soy sauce, terriyaki sauce, worchestershire sauce, horseraddish and several types of mustards, all to use in cooking or making sandwiches.  I also keep sun dried tomatoes and dried ancho chilis.

Did you know that you should never buy canned tomatoes in metal cans?  The acidity of the tomatoes will leech the chemical BPA out of the lining of the can and can be toxic.  Google it and be amazed at the number of articles on it.  So I disagree with the recommendation of the book to keep canned plum tomatoes.  I do use fresh ones.

I don't like olives so don't keep those.  Although I like olive oil and use it a bunch.

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 3/13/2013 10:44 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
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Most things in cans have super high sodium, and if they're no salt added they taste just weird, so I'm pretty safe from cans. I do buy canned tuna, Starkist makes a very low sodium variety and I will usually mix it with regular tuna cuz the low sodium stuff is albacore and I don't really like albacore. I will use some canned no salt added tomatoes if I make regular spaghetti sauce but I haven't made it in forever since I found a recipe for roasted tomatpes with garlic and ginger that makes awesome pasta sauce. I buy low sodium chicken broth and coconut milk in cartons, not cans. Um, packages....matzo meal (sucker for matzo balls), panko bread crumbs (they're low sodium), graham cracker meal for cheesecakes, dried pasta. Love sun dried tomatoes but haven't used them much since I changed pasta sauce m.o. There's a no salt added spaghetti sauce that isn't bad if you doctor it up, I have a bunch of that. I should start eating it again, it's gonna expire on me. I couldn't find it locally so I had to buy a case from the manufacturer. I love olives and there are some good low sodium green ones. I used to eat the giant queen olives that come in the big jars from Costco but they have 220mg sodium EACH. I can't believe I used to be able to eat them by the handful. Haven't found any good low sodium black olives yet but I keep some regular to put in salads, especially if I'm making them for other people.

Condiments and sauces are hard, they are mostly sodium bombs. Even low sodium soy sauce is too much, but I recently found a brand from one place online that's made in Jamaica that is truly low sodium and actually tastes good so I am loving that. The local farmer's market has a guy who sells artisan meat sauces, last time I bought lavendar/blackberry, that have no sodium. I love Miracle Whip but sodium, of course. I mix it with greek yogurt to stretch it and lower the sodium when I make things like tuna salad.

Date Posted: 3/15/2013 5:17 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
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Just don't buy your tomaoes in cans, buy them in jars or go with fresh.

Last question, spices and herbs?  I keep two kinds of salt (regular and sea salt), black and green pepercorns for fresh grinding and all the usual spices for baking and cooking - cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, oregano, thyme, basil, parsley, sage, dill, cumin, rosemary, garlic poweder and my favorite Lemon-Pepper.  Unusual things I like include a German paprika (much more heat than regular), chipoltle chili powder, a spicy blend seasoning from Paul Prudhomme, and an Italian mix of basil, oregano, parmesan cheese and sundried tomatoes in a shaker.  I also keep regular sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, poppy seeds and sunflower seeds to add crunch and flavor to the top of breads or baked meats, and to add to baked gooods.

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 3/15/2013 6:48 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
Posts: 5,767
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I have a bunch of spices that were for one off recipes or sounded interesting but honestly I've never been very good with them. I've never really developed the skill of figuring out what would taste good where so I keep it pretty simple. I discovered ginger and lemongrass make a good flavor base for chicken soup, that's about my only original discovery. I don't use salt anymore but I use a lot of pepper and a couple salt substitutes. I don't use Mrs Dash, it's all onions and I can't eat them. Herbes de Provance is my usual spice for things like spaghetti and vinegrette. I try to keep fresh basil plants around. I like fresh garlic but keep powder around too. It is good for dips, not as harsh as fresh. Whole nutmegs. Good cinnamon. Corriander for the pickled tomatoes. Peppercorns. Love my electric grinder.

Prior to the low sodium diet I was a salt fanatic, have been all my life. I still have some of them around for rare treats but I had salt from all over the world. Different colors, textures, and tatses. The mineral content of where they come from makes a big difference in flavor. My favorites were Australian pink and Hawaiian black. Fresh tomatoes and lots of large grain salt, exquisite. I haven't had table salt in my house for years, it's always kosher for regular salting like pasta. Big flavor difference.

Date Posted: 3/16/2013 8:30 AM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
Posts: 2,353
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I would love to try those pink and black salts, where do you find such things?  Around here we have Fresh Market, Earthfaire and World market, I'll be checking those out.

I use an old fashioned mortar and pestle, have a marble one received as a gift years ago and I like it.

I like to grow fresh herbs in the spring and summer.  One year I had so much basil!!  I pulled off all the leaves and froze them.  Frozen, they crumbled easily and flavored about the same as fresh.  I actually still have some in the freezer, even though I did this three years ago.  I use it in the winter when fresh is harder to come by.  My rosemary didn't thrive last year, but the basil did again. 

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 3/16/2013 2:57 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
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I don't remember where I got all of them, I've been collecting them for years, but I buy most stuff online since I don't get around much. The Australian is called Murray River Australian Flake salt and it comes from this place. Fleur De Sel is a definite must try. I love the Himilayan Pink too but it's a harder salt. The Australian is soft, you can crumble it with your fingers over things. I keep it on my desk for spot applications. I don't remember where I bought the black Hawaiian but this is the company that made it. I just finished my jar, I'm gonna have to order another one. Love those large, crunchy black grains. Great on fresh tomatoes.

I have an abundance of a couple kinds because they came in such large containers, like a very large flake Welsh salt and some smoked salt. If you want some pm me your address and I'll find some little containers to put them in. I use a coffee grinder on large, hard salt like the Welsh but I think a mortar and pestle would probably work better. You could leave the grain a bit bigger.



Last Edited on: 3/16/13 3:00 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/17/2013 9:19 AM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
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What wonderful websites!  It must be torture to have to eat low sodium!  I cannot believe that I have been a foodie this long and never knew about pink or black salt.  I have been exploring those sites, will bookmark them for later.  I'll be ordering the sea salt from there.  I used to get the Fleur del Sel brand at a specialty store, but I cannot find it here.  World Market carries another brand. 

I found the Himilayan Pink last night while we were out for dinner (World Market was on the way).  They didn't have the black, it might be a rare item.  Love to have a pinch to try, just a bit in a plastic bag would do.  Thanks for the offer!

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 3/17/2013 11:41 AM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
Posts: 5,767
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My friend's daughter lives in Hawaii, I should get her to send me some of the black. She doesn't cook and knows squat about food, wonder if she could manage buying salt, lol.

Date Posted: 3/22/2013 7:33 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
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Used the pink salt for the last few days, I don't see a big difference between it and sea salt.  I am thinking there aren't enough minerals to affect the taste.  But it looks interesting on the table in my little crystal salt cellers.

Mary (mepom) -
Date Posted: 3/22/2013 10:13 PM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2009
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I am a Giada fan. Today, at Tuesday Morning. I found the Giada Tuscan spices. Have tried it in multiple recipes. DH likes it, too. It is no salt added,

Mary (mepom) -
Date Posted: 3/22/2013 10:14 PM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2009
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Do you have Tuesday Morning stores?

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 3/22/2013 10:21 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
Posts: 5,767
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Specialty salt mainly works as a finisher, somewhere that you can taste it. Like sprinkling on a cooked steak at the table. Or on fresh tomatoes. A few grains on a cucumber slice. Somewhere that it's on top. It's not just the flavor, the crunch of the larger grains is part of the fun. And it's pretty.

It is more flavorful in general so you use a bit less in cooking which lowers the sodium, even if some of them don't taste much different.



Last Edited on: 3/22/13 10:22 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 3/25/2013 6:26 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
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There is a Tuesday Morning here, but I rarely get to it.

Mary (mepom) -
Date Posted: 3/25/2013 6:34 PM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2009
Posts: 1,192
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Tuesday Morning is a hit or miss place. We do not have Whole Foods or Costco or any speciality cooking places. Sam's Wholesale (part of the Wal-Mart family) is the only place close and it is major wholesale/large quantity store. Too much for our condo living. No storage space.

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