Intro to the Kitchen

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Re: Intro to the Kitchen

Post by pumpkincat »

Deepbluediver wrote:
pumpkincat wrote:-boiling ground beef in water in the microwave.
...I have no words...

Now, boiled-beef is actually a thing. It's a very popular dish is Austria, where they serve it even in fancy restaurants, but it's more like stewed beef in broth with dumplings, and certainly not at all like what your spouse was attempting.
In due fairness to him, this was a very long time ago, we'd been married less than a year at the time. But he's never living it down.

kd7sov wrote:I tend to get a little nervous, for no very excellent reason, when ingredient amounts are listed only in proportion to one another. Just thought I'd share that.
Also, a contribution to the item list, though I have no idea where it would go: a kitchen scale.
Deepbluediver wrote: I tried to give general amounts to emphasize that they didn't need to be exact. Some people are turned off then they see a recipe like "372 grams of sugar UND NOT A ZINGLE GRAIN MOORE!". I also kept the standard measurements though because some people are nervous about estimating.

A scale can be useful, depending on what recipes you are using. I've made do for years without one, though my parents tell me it's very helpful. IMO it's more help for baking, since weight and volume need to be more precise and are less interchangeable. I'll think about where it could best fit.
I find I use my kitchen scale most frequently in pastry-making (specifically, as opposed to general baking - most breads and cookies are fairly forgiving, as an example) and in preserve-making. Preserves can be REMARKABLY finicky.
crayzz wrote:There are many ways to make crepes, but this is one of the simplest.
Deepbluediver wrote: Another very simple-in-concept food, and good for experimentation, but not the first thing I would have run to for a beginner or someone just learning how to cook. I invite people to try new things and push their limits, but there are several areas where it's easy to get hung up on with crepes.

The batter needs to be the right consistency- to thick and it won't spread, to thin and it won't cook properly.
Also, both spreading the batter evenly on the pan and flipping the crepe without folding it over or missing the pan entirely require skill and practice.

If anyone is trying crepes for the first time, I would recommend starting out with your smallest fry-pan, and watching at least one of Youtube's many videos on the subject.
crayzz wrote:Haha, no no. Most hamburgers also contain egg, bread crumbs, onions, and whatever spices you want to add, but I don't think someone just learning to cook would know about the first 3.
You can make hamburgers with just ground beef; the egg and bread-crumbs are usually binding agents. I see them more often in recipes for meat-loaf, which needs more help to hold it together since it's larger.

I've got my own recipe for shepherd's pie that I was planning to post eventually. No rush, but when you get the chance, post yours, if you want, and we'll see how they compare.

I have a pretty good meatloaf recipe if anyone wants!
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Re: Intro to the Kitchen

Post by Horizon »

If you bake it in a cake pan, then cover it in a layer of mashed potatoes, it's meat cake, which is goddamned delicious.
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Re: Intro to the Kitchen

Post by Fifth »

I have two related recipes.

One is a recipe I got from somewhere on the Internet, and saved to a Google Doc to record mine and others' experiments.

It's a single-serving brownie that can be made in a microwave. As a result, it's a great testbed for experimentation. It's a great recipe for small kitchens, or for date nights.
Feel free to add your own experiment notes. Here's the link: ... sp=sharing

Mug Brownies

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour

1. Mix liquids thoroughly.

2. Mix in solids but flour - very thoroughly. Then mix again. VERY thoroughly.

3. Mix in flour. You want this mixed in evenly but not too much - overmixing the flour can cause gluten to bind together, and mess up the texture.

3. Microwave on HIGH for about 75-90 seconds. Serve.

If making multiple servings, it works to mix up batter in a single bowl and pour into multiple coffee mugs.This might not be advisable if, like me, you're not very practiced at pouring glop into mugs.

As noted above, this is a great test bed because it's so modular. You can add flavoring or change components to experiment with the base flavor or texture. For example, doubling the amount of cocoa powder can change the flavor to taste like dark chocolate, or remove the cocoa powder to make a sort of cake-base.

An experiment that worked out really well this holiday season was the gingersnap variant: For every 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder, add 3/4 teaspoon each of powdered ginger and cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Replace the sugar with brown sugar. It smells frickin' AMAZING. This experiment then applied to conventional brownies, so this recipe can be used to test modifications to conventional brownie recipes.

Which leads to #2: Gingersnap Brownie Bites
Once I had the Gingersnap Brownie spice-addition nailed, I decided to expand it for a potluck. The mug brownies are nice, but party-scale production requires a slightly more complicated recipe. This one is made for a potluck party, so it's in little bite-sized muffins of chocolate and spice.

1 pkg. (4 oz.) Baker's chocolate
¾ (1.5 sticks) cup butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
crystallized ginger chunks
4 tsp powdered ginger
4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

The 4/4/1 spice-mix was too spicy, so this may be a less spicy variant:
2 tsp powdered ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg

HEAT oven to 350°F.
MICROWAVE chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar and spices. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour; mix well.
PLACE paper or foil mini-muffin cups into mini-muffin tray, and spoon batter into cups. Batter should be slightly under top of muffin cups. This makes about 30-36, depending on the size of your muffin cups. Place a chunk of crystallized ginger on top of the batter.
BAKE 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Cool completely.
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Re: Intro to the Kitchen

Post by Deepbluediver »

Ok, sorry for letting this lag for so long. I took a break over Christmas and then things where busy at work, but now I'm back.
pumpkincat wrote:In due fairness to him, this was a very long time ago, we'd been married less than a year at the time. But he's never living it down.
Something like that just seems like it requires an almost willful ignorance of how food is prepared. If you see the raw food in your fridge, and you've (presumably) seen cooked food on your plate at some point, getting from point A to point B that includes the aforementioned atrocity is like taking a detour on your road trip through the twilight zone. :mrgreen:
pumpkincat wrote:I have a pretty good meatloaf recipe if anyone wants!
By all means, feel free to post it. I've seen really complicated recipes, but I know that on the simple end they can be far more just like an oversized, delicious, hamburger. :P
Horizon wrote:If you bake it in a cake pan, then cover it in a layer of mashed potatoes, it's meat cake, which is goddamned delicious.
I'll get around to posting my recipe for shepherd's pie one of these days.
Last edited by Deepbluediver on Thu Jan 23, 2014 1:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Deepbluediver »

Almost everyone should be able to cook pasta, and lasagna is kind of like Pasta 2.0, or the equivalent of filet-mignon to a regular steak.
The hardest part of lasagna is figuring out just how much stuff fits in your baking dish; the first time you make it I'd buy extra ingredients (since pretty much everything you don't use will keep) to mess around with. This recipe was sized for a pan roughly 14x9x3 inches; you can use both smaller and larger (or deeper pans). Message me if you need help estimating appropriate ratios for your pan.

Ingredients and tools
Ground Beef- 2 lbs
Mozzarella cheese 1 pound
Ricotta cheese 1.5-2 pounds (it's usually sold in 1 and 2 pound tubs; just get a large one)
Parmesan cheese (optional, 1/2 pound)
Lasagna noodles (they are the big, flat, wide ones; 2 boxes)
Tomato Sauce (more than you think, I usually use 1 medium jar of about 24 oz. per pound of beef)
Oregano or other spices (optional)
Large Soup Pot
Casserole Dish (metal, ceramic, or Pyrex will all work fine)
Cheese grater
A spoon
The oven

1) Boil water in the pot, and cook the lasagna noodles according to the directions on the box. Usually they say to boil for about 12 minutes. You don't want to overcook the noodles, as that can cause them to fall apart, plus they cook more while in the oven. Some recipes don't cook the noodles at all, but most of them also suggest adding extra liquid in that case. I recommend figuring out approximately how many noodles you need per layer (taking into account that they expand slightly when cooked) and preparing them one batch at a time.
2) Grate the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses and mix together. Mozzarella is a soft cheese, so you want to use a grater with large holes. Parmesan can be grated on pretty much anything except for the tiniest "spice grater" sizes. Please don't buy the pre-grated "Parmesan" in the bulk-containers; just...don't. Splurge on the real thing. If the mozerella is to soft to grate easily, stick it in the freezer for a few minutes.
3) Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on bottom of your pan. A few spoonfuls is all you need; you don't want your ingredients swimming in it.
4) Put in the first group of noodles, so they cover the entire pan, but don't overlap. An amazing trick that someone pointed out to me one time when I was struggling to fit the noodles in a pan that was just slightly to small was that you can TRIM THE NOODLES after they are cooked! (it was a very head-smacking moment).
5) Crumble about 1/3 of your raw ground beef (2/3 of a pound) on top of the noodles, spreading it out mostly evenly. Don't worry if the layer isn't solid, of if if there are a few larger chunks.
6) Spread about 1/2 a pound of ricotta cheese on top of/among the beef. Ricotta is a very soft cheese; I use a spoon to scoop large dollops out of the container, then use my fingers to pinch off pieces about the size of my thumb. Lasagna is one recipe where it's much easier to make if you aren't worried about getting your hands dirty. Any extra ricotta can be frozen and saved until next time, or for use in something else like an omelette.
7) Sprinkle 1/3 of your shredded mozzarella/parmesan mixture on top of the ricotta.
8) SCoop more sauce onto the cheese, roughly 1/4 of the total you want to put in the whole lasagna, or half a medium jar. (I keep saying "medium" jars because I can't get the big ones in the city where I live)
9) Add another layer of noodles.
10) Repeat steps 5-9 at least twice more, until either all your ingredient are gone or the pile reaches the top edge of your dish.
11) Top with a final layer of sauce. If you leave the noodles uncovered, they tend to get dryed out and crunchy while baking. If you run out of sauce, covering the entire pan with aluminum foil (crimping the edges) will help seal in some moisture.
12) Bake for about an hour at 350, slightly longer (10-15 minutes) if you are using a deep pan and have 4 or more layers.
13) When done, remove the lasagna from the oven and let cool on the stove or counter top for at least 20 minutes before serving. This gives the cheese a chance to re-solidify and any water that's boiled out the chance to soak back in. It makes serving much, MUCH easier.

Additional Info
My favorite brand of pasta-sauce is Ragu. A lot of the others I find have this sour/tart aftertaste that I think comes from being stored in large metal containers at some point during the preparation process. Tomatoes are slightly acidic, and they absorb some of the metallic tang, similar to some brands of OJ when mixed from concentrate (I'm looking at you, Minute-maid). If you end up with a budget-brand sauce, some salt, brown sugar or maple syrup, and a few dashes of hot-sauce can go a long way towards salvaging them.
Oregano is the typical Italian spice; if you want to add some sprinkle a bit in between the layers pretty much wherever you want. Red pepper flakes are another viable option.

One of the best things to experiment with in lasagna is the cheese. Mozzarella/Ricotta is the classic mix, but other viable options would probably include include muenster or monterey-jack, but you should feel free to put just about anything in there that you want to sample.

I forgot to stop and get snapshots last time I made lasagna, so all these are from Google.

This lovely picture (almost certainly not actually prepared for consumption) has way to much Ricotta. This much Ricotta would just about dominate the flavor and texture of everything else.

This one, by contrast, has to much ground beef and not enough mozzarella to hold it together. Again, this was probably set up specifically for this photograph. No lasagna that I've ever seen came out of the pan this neat.

Finally, this image (which, admittedly, might be a vegetarian version) seems to have not enough of everything except the noodles. This is going to be a very heavy and starchy dinner.

None of this should scare you off though; overall lasagna is a very forgiving dish that's hard to really ruin.
Last edited by Deepbluediver on Tue Feb 04, 2014 9:23 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Intro to the Kitchen

Post by Drunkenmists »

I saw this thread..and I'm kinda disappointed it didn't have a recipe for Jamies Pumpkins Bombs..(Though that might be a safety issues, heh).
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Pumpkin Quick-bread

Post by Deepbluediver »

Drunkenmists wrote:I saw this thread..and I'm kinda disappointed it didn't have a recipe for Jamies Pumpkins Bombs..(Though that might be a safety issues, heh).
Well, that's mostly because Tailsteak hasn't posted the recipe for those yet, and my only attempt to recreate them from the visual depiction and the brief description ended in total, abject failure.
(oh god, there was so much blood....everywhere....the flashbacks....just....too much....*whimper*)

The best I can do is offer an alternative pumpkin-based recipe that's gotten good feedback from everyone who's tried it.

Ingredients and tools
1.5 cups of pureed pumpkin
3/4 cup vegetable oil or 1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
2.25 cups all purpose baking flour (don't buy the self-rising kind it throws off the other proportions)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or walnut pieces
a medium mixing bowl
a large mixing bowl
a mixing spoon
a baking pan of at least 90 square inches (length times width, but rectangular or square doesn't matter) and 2-3 inches deep
the oven

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (it's a good idea to always preheat the oven, just to save yourself some time)
2) GREASE THE PAN! Personally, I prefer to use a paper towel to coat the inside of the pan with a light layer of Crisco, though you can also use non-stick cooking spray. If you bake regularly, you must make it a habit to always grease whatever pan or dish you are using. If you forget but catch yourself before you stick it in the oven, scrape everything back into the bowl, rinse the pan, grease it, and try again. Trust me on this count.
3) In the large mixing bowl, mix together the pumpkin, eggs, sugar, and vegetable oil or butter.
4) If you have a sifter, sift together in the other mixing bowl the flour, basking soda, baking powder, and spices (including salt). If you don't, just pour them all in the other bowl and stir for a bit.
5) Blend the dry ingredients into the wet ones, roughly 1/3 of the dry mixture at a time, stirring after each addition until no lumps remain (but don't overmix).
6) Stir in the cranberries and walnuts.
7) Pour the batter into your GREASED cake pan.
8) Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
9) I would recommend only slicing as much cake as you plan on eating at one time, leaving the rest in the pan (cover with aluminum foil or plastic-wrap) so it doesn't dry out.

Quick Breads are those made with eggs instead of yeast, like the traditional banana breads.
Feel free to leave out the nuts if you have an allergy, or substitute other mix-ins, such as chocolate chips, raisins or candied fruit.
If you find your baked goods sticking even with a greased pan, you can grease and then flour the pan, which means pouring a light layer of flour over the Crisco, and shaking it into an even layer. If your baked goods still stick, then baking might not be for you.
If you plan on baking a lot, I heartily recommend you get some kind of timer that you can carry around with you for when you leave the kitchen. If you can't set an alarm on your phone, then Bed & Bath has cheap ones for about 10 bucks. If you don't, you WILL forget, and you WILL burn whatever it is you are cooking.
Last edited by Deepbluediver on Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:01 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Intro to the Kitchen

Post by crayzz »

Deepbluediver wrote:GREASE THE PAN! Personally, I prefer to coat the inside of the pan with a light layer of Crisco, though you can also use non-stick cooking spray. If you bake regularly, you must make it a habit to always grease whatever pan or dish you are using. If you forget but catch yourself before your stick it in the over, scrape everything back into the bowl, rinse the pan, grease it, and try again. Trust me on this count.
I will second (and third, fourth, and fifth if need be) this.

Quick cleaning tip: if you burn food to any type of stove-top safe cookware (pots, pans, whatever) and don't feel like spending 20 minutes cleaning, add some slightly soapy water to the cookware and boil that water atop the stove. The boiling water will lift off much if not all of the burnt food. This has only failed me once, when I burnt chocolate to small pot in the process of making chocolate milk.
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Re: Intro to the Kitchen

Post by JustinReilly »

crayzz wrote:This has only failed me once, when I burnt chocolate to small pot in the process of making chocolate milk.
As an aside, my double boiler was a wonderful investment.
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Re: Intro to the Kitchen

Post by crayzz »

French Onion Soup

For this you'll need a pot and at least 1 oven safe bowl. You can actually buy bowls specifically for french onion soup, but I get along just fine with my cereal bowl and my over sized mugs. Like pretty much everything I've contributed, I should say that this is by no means the best or ideal way to do this. Its simple and tastes good, in my opinion.

The ingredients:
  • 1/2 small onion; exactly what type is up to you.
  • 1/2 L of Beef Stock; I know of three ways to quickly get beef stock: premade stock, powder mix, and bouillon cubes. I personally prefer bouillon cubes. They're very cheap, and one pack of 8 will make you 4 litres of stock.
  • Bread; again, exactly what type is up to you. It's traditional to use french buns (at least around here) but it isn't important. I've used everything from rye bread to croissants.
  • Cheese; I prefer cheddar for this. As a rule of thumb, I'd say that any cheese that would taste good on nachos would taste good here.

The first thing you need to do is warm your stock. If it's premade, just gently warm it on the stove. If you're using powder or bouillon cubes, boil the water before adding them. Once they're mixed in, bring the stock down to a simmer (i.e. a little below a boil). While the stock/water is heating up, chop up your onion. Once the stock is ready, add the onion and let it cook for about 10 minutes.

Heat up your stove to about 350-375 degrees. While you're waiting for the stove and soup to ready, cut some slices of your cheese of choice. Also get a slice of bread ready. Once the soup is finished and the stove is ready, pour the soup into your oven safe bowl. Leave some space (about an inch) and place the bread on top of the soup. Then put the cheese onto the bread, and stick the bowl into the oven. Cooking will, again, take about ten minutes. Keep an eye on your bowl. Once the cheese starts to brown around the edges of your bowl, then it's ready to eat.

Like pretty much any soup, you can add whatever else you want. I like to add lentils and carrots. But, if you do so, be sure to adjust the cooking time of the soup. Lentils, for instance, can take anywhere from ten minutes to two hours to cook all the way through.
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