Intro to the Kitchen

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Re: Intro to the Kitchen

Post by Fifth »

crayzz wrote:The best I can think of would be quick dissolving sugar; its still quite fine, but not as fine a powder.
I got that, but in the future I'm likely to be living in quite a small space, and might not have room for more kinds of sugar, especially when I don't use very much of certain varieties - this is the only recipe in my repertoire at the moment that uses powdered sugar, so if I only have room for 2 kinds, powdered is out for granulated and brown. So I wanted to use be able to make the same recipe on a smaller pantry.
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Re: Intro to the Kitchen

Post by Deepbluediver »

Ok, so I recently found out where my local supermarket has been hiding the MSG. It wasn't in the "spices" section, like I would have expected, but in the produce section, along with a whole bunch of other bulk-seasonings.
Going off-topic for a minute, I just want to say that I HATE the local Fairway. The layout of their stores is terrible- I once went looking for lasanga noodles and found them in 3 different aisles. Maybe it's some sort of convoluted plot to make me spend more money by going down each and every lane, but all it really does is piss me off so much that I delay trips there as long as I can. Honestly, if the produce section at the other nearby supermarkets wasn't such crap, I doubt I'd go there at all.

But anyway, now I have a pound-and-a-half of pure MSG.
And here's my dilemma- I don't really have any idea what kind of proportions to use. When it comes to spices, I usually just eyeball it. I made some tofu curry this week, and my curry powder was basically just a spoonful of each of the big 4 (tumeric, coriander, cumin, and fenugreek) and half a spoonful of cayenne. For hot-sauce I just held the bottle over the pot and shook it a bunch. The coconut milk was poured in until "that looks sufficient". And the peas and tomatoes where in the amount of "all of them". That's how I've gotten used to doing things.

But I've never cooked with MSG before. I actually dug out my measuring spoons and put a tablespoon or so in the curry, but since this wasn't a recipe I'd made before I'm not really certain of how different it changed the taste. So now I'm asking for help- is there anyone who has cooked with this before, and could offer some guidelines? Just basic advice? What do you put it in- everything? etc.

Also, I've been trying to come up with some more good and SIMPLE recipes. As I mentioned above, my style of cooking frequently follows the "buy ingredients, cut them up, put in pot, serve when done" sort of thing. Even when I'm helping someone else out live, I tend to be like "Let me see how much you cut- eh, add a bit more." So it's actually difficult for me sometimes when I have to convert that to a written recipe that someone with less practice can follow.

Does anyone have any requests for the kind of thing they'd like me to try?

Fifth wrote:
Deepbluediver wrote: and half a spoonful of cheyenne.
I assume you meant cayenne, and weren't spooning Native Americans into curry?
Fix'd. I wondered why spell-check was telling me that the capitalization was off.
Last edited by Deepbluediver on Fri May 02, 2014 11:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Intro to the Kitchen

Post by Fifth »

Deepbluediver wrote: and half a spoonful of cheyenne.
I assume you meant cayenne, and weren't spooning Native Americans into curry?
Deepbluediver wrote:Does anyone have any requests for the kind of thing they'd like me to try?
Meatloaf. Definitely meatloaf. And you've mentioned shepherd's pie, which I've never knowingly had.
Last edited by Fifth on Sat May 31, 2014 8:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Intro to the Kitchen

Post by snowyowl »

Shepard's pie
Serves 2-3


500g minced lamb or beef (If you use beef, it's called cottage pie, but the recipe is otherwise the same.)
500g potatoes
1 onion
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp double cream
(optional) 1 cup peas

1. Fill a large saucepan with water, and bring to the boil.
2. Peel the potatoes, and chop into inch-wide chunks.
3. When the water is boiling, boil the potatoes for 15-20 minutes.
4. While the potatoes cook, peel and dice an onion.
5. Fry the onion in a tablespoonful of oil. Cook until the onions are translucent. Try not to let the edges go brown.
6. Add the lamb/beef, and, if you're using them, the peas.
7. Cook for a few minutes, stirring regularly, until the meat is brown all over.
8. Take the meat off the heat and leave to sit.
9. When you can prod the potatoes with a fork and they feel soft, they're done. Tip out the water. To do this, put the lid on the saucepan slightly off-centre, leaving a gap large enough for the water but too small for any potatoes.
10. Mash the potatoes with the cream.
11. Spoon the meat into an ovenproof dish, and smooth out the surface. It should cover the base to a depth of half an inch to one inch.
12. Spoon the potatoes over the meat.
13. Using a fork, scratch patterns into the top of the potatoes. This will make the top cook more and be crispy.
14. If you're saving the meal for another day, put it in the fridge at this point.
15. Bake at 180°C for about 20 minutes until the top is brown in places.
16. Serve.
... in bed.
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Shepherd's Pie

Post by Deepbluediver »

Ok, I hope Snowy doesn't mind if I add my own version of shepherd's pie. It's one of those things that can be as simple as instant mashed potatoes over plain ground beef, but that has at least a hundred more complicated variations. I've been adding to my recipe for years, acquiring bits and pieces of other people's styles, until it's become the Borg of pies. :P

Ingredients and tools
2-2.5 pounds of ground beef, lamb, or turkey
2+ pounds of potatoes (or 1 box of instant)
3-4 cups bag of frozen corn, or fresh corn cut off the cob (3-4 ears, depending on size)
1 large or 2 medium onions
8-10 ounces of white button mushrooms (feel free to use other types, these are just the cheapest)
2 eggs
Cheese (optional)
Gravy mix (2 of those little packets, or 1 large can)
Milk, butter
Spices, if desired
Olive Oil
Large Fry Pan or Wok
Cutting Board
Vegetable peeler
Potato masher or large fork
Large casserole dish or deep-sided baking pan (reduce the ingredients if you only have small baking pans, or use more than 1 pan)

Sheperd's pie is one of those things that tends to be prepared in stages, and is then assembled. If you can manage it, it's quickest to do several parts simultaneously; I'll describe them here separately though.
0) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
1) Rinse the mushrooms to get any dirt off of them. Chop them into pieces about the size of the tip of your pinky-finger.
2) Heat a few tablespoons of oil in your fry pan over medium heat and saute the mushrooms.
3) While the Mushrooms cook, peel and dice the onion.
4) When the mushrooms have been cooking for 7-8 minutes, add the onion to the pan and cook for another 10 minutes, until the onion is translucent and the mushrooms have begun to brown.
5) Add the ground meat to the pan and cook until lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes more.
6) Turn off the heat on your pie filling and prepare the gravy. If using a mix, I usually replace the water with milk to make it a little creamier. The amount of gravy is variable, depending on how juicy you like your food.
7) If you want to try and make your own gravy, in a separate pot heat 3 bullion cubes with 3 cups of water. Reduce heat to low, make sure it's NOT boiling.
8) As the bullion heats, put about 2/3 of a cup of white flour in a bowl. Add warm water a few tablespoons at a time, using a fork to mix thoroughly. Keep adding water and mixing until you achieve a thin paste.
9) Slowly add the flour/water mixture to the bullion, stirring the bullion constantly. There will be lumps at the bottom of your bowl. Don't pour them into the gravy, unless you like lumps. Season to taste, with anything you like (garlic powder, cayenne, black pepper, cumin, marsala, etc; about a teaspoon's worth)
10) Turn off the heat under the gravy and let it sit (it will thicken as it cools, but you don't want it to burn).
11) Prepare the mashed potatoes according to the directions if using instant.
11.5) If not using instant, heat about 4 cups of water and little salt in a large pot until boiling.
12) Peel the potatoes. The end of most vegetable peelers can be used to dig out small spots so you don't need to take of lots of thin "chips" with the slicing part of the device. Personally, I don't care about getting my potatoes 100% perfect. They mash up all the same.
13) Chop the potatoes into pieces about 1/2-3/4 inch square. Making them smaller means they will cook quicker, but you don't want them to dissolve.
14) Add the potatoes to the boiling water, and cook (uncovered) until soft, about 20 minutes. You can use a fork to pull a piece of potato out of the pot and squish it if you want to test if they are done.
154) Drain the potatoes either in a colander, or using the lid of the pot. You can mash them in a bowl if you like, or directly in the pot to save yourself some cleanup.
16) Use your potato masher to smash the potatoes. If lumps remain, whip with a form. Add a few pats of butter, and a splash of milk.
17) Remove the shells and scramble the eggs. Mix into your mashed potatoes. (this makes them richer and fluffier when they bake)
18) Now it's times to assemble you the pie.
19) Start by spreading out the meat/onion/mushroom mixture in the bottom of the pan.
20) Pour the gravy evenly over the meat.
21) Spread the corn on top of the gravy (if you don't like corn, you can use other frozen or parkcooked vegetables- peas and carrots are common additions)
22) Scoop your mashed potatoes over the corn, and use a butter knife, spatula, or other tool to spread them flat.
23) Top with 1-2 cups of grated cheese, if desired.
24) Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. When done, remove and let stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Note: I put the step to preheat the oven at the beginning of my recipe so you hopefully don't have to stand around waiting for it. It also tends to heat up the kitchen that way though. Once you've had a little practice, you'll probably be able to judge how long it takes to prepare food and for your oven to get hot, and you can time it more precisely. DON'T put raw food in the oven and THEN try to heat it up, this frequently causes the food to burn or cook unevenly.

Hopefully I'll be able to do a recipe for meatloaf by the end of the week.
Last edited by Deepbluediver on Mon May 12, 2014 10:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Deepbluediver »

Fifth wrote:Meatloaf. Definitely meatloaf.
So technically, if I claim that the week ends on Sunday, I'm only 1 day late with this.
Meatloaf is kind of like a giant, oversized hamburger, since it is traditionally made with ground beef. More complicated recipes will use a mixture of beef and pork, beef and turkey, or even all 3 (in even proportions). I've had different kinds, and IMO the differences are subtle at best. You should experiment to find which version you like best and/or is cheapest/healthiest for you. It is most commonly baked, which is what I'll describe here, though I've also tried recipes that cook it in a pot on the stove with brown gravy.
I'm also going to keep this simple- this is one recipe where I lean AWAY from extraneous additions.

Ingredients and tools
2-3 pounds of ground meat (meatloafs larger than a kilogram are more difficult to get to cook evenly, if you need that much food, make 2 smaller loaves)
1 egg
1 cup of breadcrumbs
Spices and seasonings
3-4 strips of bacon
Mixing Bowl
Broiler Pan

0) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
1) Place the ground meat into the mixing bowl, and get ready to get your hands messy. Forget any kitchen tools, this recipe is about 100 times easier if you suck it up and just not worry about touching stuff with your fingers.
2) Press the meat into a lump, and make a depression in the center.
3) Crack the egg and put it (minus the shell- do I really need to say this?) in the depression, along with the breadcrumbs, and any seasonings you like ( salt and fresh ground black pepper, steak seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper, taco mix, dried oregano or cilantro, whatever). Amounts vary, start with anything from 1 tsp to 1 tbsp, and adjust as desired.
4) Fold the meat over onto itself, and use your hands to thoroughly mix everything together.
5) Form the mixture into a rough loaf shape, about as wide around as it is tall, and a little more than twice that in length. Don't make yourself crazy getting the proportions just right.
6) Place the meatloaf on your broiler pan, squishing it back into shape if necessary.
7) Lay the (raw) bacon strips down on top of the meatloaf. This will help keep the top of the meatloaf from drying out.
8) Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes, then remove and let cool for 5 minutes before serving. If your meatloaf is smaller than a pound-and-a-half, reduce cooking time to 45 minutes.
9) I usually eat my meatloaf with plain ketchup (see- giant burger). Some recipes replace the bacon with a mixture of ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard (so essentially, BBQ sauce) and bake it that way. I've never tried it like but feel free to look up some recipes on your own.
9.5) Feel free to eat the bacon, too. In fact, I insist.

The egg and breadcrumbs act as a binding agents- they help the meatloaf stay together when it's cooking. You can do the same thing with a hamburger, if you like, though it's usually not necessary because of the burgers smaller size and flatter shape.

I like to cook my meatloaf on a broiler pan, which helps drain away some of the fat as it cooks. You can also cook it in a loaf pan, which I think makes for a more moist, but also crumblier, meatloaf.

Meatloaf is another good thing to experiment with. Lots of people mix diced onions into the meat before baking; other people will add cheese to the mixture. If you want to get really complex you can flatten it out into a sheet, and roll it up with leafy green veggies like kale or spinach and thin-sliced Canadian bacon to make a stuffed version. Or, y'know, just cook something besides meatloaf. Personally, I view this as a very quintessential americana-recipe, and trying to fancy-it-up is like putting lipstick on a pig.

This is a good recipe to involve any young children you happen to have lying about with, since they get to stick their hands into the gooky meat mixture. Just make sure they wash up before and afterwards.
Last edited by Deepbluediver on Fri Mar 20, 2015 10:36 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Intro to the Kitchen

Post by Arklytte »

[EDIT] Thought I put this in when I first typed out this post, but apparently senility has started to creep in. DeepBlueDiver, I just wanted to say that I love this thread and I hope it keeps going for a LONG time. I've been doing this (cooking professionally and now at home) for so long that I sometimes forget that not everyone has had the training and opportunity to learn how to cook that I have. It's great to get back to basics and re-learn stuff. I've tried several of the recipes in this thread and have enjoyed all of them. :) Keep it going folks! :)

I've got a variation on 'standard' meatloaf that we have around the ArkLytte casa quite often. It's amazingly good, very simple, and really tasty.

Meatloaf 'Italiano':
Makes 6 dinner sized servings

Tools you will need:
1 glass/ceramic loaf pan (metal does work, but you need to watch it closely towards the end of the cooking time...metal heats up faster and the edges of your loaf can burn if you're not careful)
Large bowl
Stirring spoon
Paring knife and small cutting board
Turkey baster and empty tin can

1 lb ground beef (I prefer 93-95%'s healthier and you lose much less volume to shrinkage)
1/2 lb ground Italian sausage, sweet or hot, as you prefer (I prefer turkey based sausage, again because it's better for you, but regular pork sausage works just fine)
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 1/2 cups premade spaghetti sauce, divided
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup)
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
Salt and Pepper, to taste
3 pieces of string cheese
Grated Parmesan cheese

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the bread crumbs, 1 cup sauce, garlic, onion, oregano and salt & pepper in large bowl. Stir to combine.
2) Add ground beef and sausage. Combine thoroughly with bread crumb mixture. Work the meat as little as possible, as the more you mix it, the tougher the meat will become when you cook it. I prefer to use my (well-washed) hands for this step, as they work better than any spoon ever invented.
3) Take half your meat mixture and press it firmly into the bottom of the loaf pan. Tear/cut each piece of string cheese in half lengthwise, then slice each piece in half cross-wise. You should end up with 12 2-3 inch pieces of cheese. Layer these onto the meat, leaving a bit of room on all sides.
4) Add the remainder of the meat mixture to the pan and press it down evenly. Be sure that the cheese is fully enclosed.
5) Bake at 350 for 70 minutes.
6) Remove meatloaf and place on trivet. Using the turkey baster CAREFULLY remove the fat from around the meatloaf and put it into the tin can. Be extremely careful when doing this, it's quite easy for the hot fat to 'spit' out from the baster and burn you. Always keep the baster pointed down and away from you.
7) Spoon the reserved sauce evenly onto the hot meatloaf, sprinkle with the grated cheese, then return to the oven for an additional 5-7 minutes - basically until it's hot and bubbly.
8) Remove from the oven, allow to cool for about 15 minutes, remove from the loaf pan onto a plate, slice and enjoy!

PROTIP: This recipe freezes amazingly well. I recommend slicing it into the desired portion size then putting a piece of waxed/parchment paper on a cookie sheet, laying the slices flat on said cookie sheet and freezing at least 4 hours. Remove the slices from the paper and transfer them to a ziploc bag or tupperware. Then will keep for a couple weeks just fine. If you need to keep them longer than that, wrap the individual slices in a double layer of plastic wrap before you put them into the ziploc. This should keep freezer burn at bay for at least 3 months. This actually works well with pretty much any meat you intend to freeze. I buy large cuts/packages of meat and cut/wrap the individual portions, then freeze them. Unwrapped meat will start to freezer burn in a couple of months, but if you wrap it first you should see at least 6 months of freezer life.

You can reheat the slices in either the microwave: Depending on the wattage of your nuker it should take about 3-4 minutes on med power, then 30-45 seconds on full power, to get them sizzling hot. Or in the oven: Lay them flat on a glass baking dish or cookie sheet (give the dish a shot of cooking spray, or use parchment paper...NOT waxed paper; it will burn...on the cookie sheet. DO NOT use spray on your metal cookie sheets btw, the spray will bake on and discolor them, and it forever leaves a nasty residue), pop them in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, and voila!

PROTIP (the second): That tin can full of fat and juice from earlier? Place it in your fridge for a few hours. The fat will come to the top and solidify, trapping the rest of the liquid inside so it wont make a mess when you toss it into the trash.
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Re: Mini Recipes

Post by Arklytte »

Deepbluediver wrote:
Arklytte wrote:Myself, I'm a former professional chef (10+ years experience as well as a Culinary Arts/Restaurant Management degree) who's moved into the IT world...there ain't much money in the Chef biz, unless you're Emeril or Bobby Flay or Alton Brown.
Damn, now I need to stop pretending I know what I'm doing, and slowly slink into the background while hiding my paper chef's hat. :P

I'm gonna have to try that trick with garlic though. As soon as I finish the 1-lb container of pre-diced garlic my roommate bought I've been trying to use up for the better part of a year now.
I was re-reading the thread and I realized I never responded to this post. As mentioned in the edit of my meatloaf recipe...apparently senility is creeping in. Sorry about that...wait...what room am I in again...*wanders off with a blank look*

LOL...J/K, :) In all seriousness, I never meant to come off as all 'uber-chef', and I'm sorry if it did. I just wanted to introduce myself, and having been a chef is a big part of my life. :) But that doesn't make my advice any better than anyone elses. The main difference between a pro and a home cook is practice/repetition. I've known home cooks whose skill blows me completely out of the water and so-called professionals that are horrible at even the culinary basics.

Definitely try the garlic thing btw. :) We're still using fresh-frozen garlic from last year and should have plenty to get us through until next Fall. I use garlic in just about everything and I love having it all ready in my freezer. :)
Anyway, I just wanted to see if I could contribute a bit of what I've found works in the kitchen and help out. Something you might want to consider adding to the intro post is a crockpot, probably at Tier 3 or 4. They are wonderful time savers and very forgiving of newbs. You can find TONS of excellent 'toss stuff in the pot and forget it for 8-10 hours' recipes online as well as dozens of recipe books at your local bookstore.
I've seen them used, but I've never felt compelled to try the crockpot style myself. I love soups and stews, but I like to hang around so I can taste and tweek the recipe while it cooks. And the only things I've ever truly slow-cooked where pork ribs, which I do in the oven. Plus my parents where kind of insistent that you don't walk away from things for to long with the stove on, lest they boil over or burn, but I guess the crockpot would resolve those problems. It's been added to the list, and if I ever have the opportunity again I'll be sure to test it out.
LOVE my crockpot! I use it for several regular favorites and occasionally will try out something new. I know what you mean about liking to be able to season/tweak stuff though. That's one thing that you really cant do with a crockpot. You pretty much already have to have a recipe in mind or have one from a book, because once you get it going, what's in the pot is pretty much all that you get.
It helps if the meat is partially frozen...either put it into the freezer for an hour or, if previously frozen (I tend to buy large roasts and cut them into two pound pieces, then pop them into the deep freeze...this recipe has become a twice a month staple in my house), just put it into the fridge will still be partially frozen and MUCH easier to cut.
This is good advice, though you sometimes need to be careful about what you freeze, as mentioned in the section on veggies. I often put Mozzarella in the freezer for 20 minutes before I need to grate it, just don't leave it there two long or you'll scrape your knuckles to the bone working on it. Fruit doesn't work out so well for keeping it fresh, though frozen fruit can still go into pies of cakes, or used as a topping if you cover it with sauce.

Another little mini-recipe: some fruits, like apples or oranges, will keep for weeks, while other, particularly berries, go off in a few days. Whenever one of my roommates buys berries and doesn't eat them in time, if I catch them before they completely turn into mush but aren't nice enough to eat plain anymore, I save them. Trim or throw out any actual moldy bits, dump the the rest in a container in the freezer. When you accumulate a decent amount, cook them all in pot on the stove until they boil, adding a small scoop of sugar and a few teaspsoons lemon juice. Mash up the mixture with a potato masher or even pop it in the blender for a few seconds, and then either eat it warm or stick it back in the freezer. It forms a kind of berry-compote that goes excellently on pound or short-cake, or can be mixed into cocktails or smoothies (or milk, for the kids).

Edit: You can also do this with fresh berries of course; I'd estimate it about 1/4 of cup of sugar and 1 tsp. lemon juice for every cup of fruit or so.
Your compote idea works awesome as a topping for good vanilla ice cream too. Frozen fruit works really well as a replacement for ice in smoothies as well.
Arklytte wrote:WASH CUTTING BOARD AND KNIFE[/b] before starting to cut up the veggies!!! Dry thoroughly. This is a VERY IMPORTANT STEP, as if you dont it can cause cross contamination. And that's bad, m'kay. Better yet, buy TWO cutting boards and use one exclusively for meat and the other for veggies.
Also, I know some people may object to what I just described. A lot of chefs (and nurses) are real sticklers for freshness/cleanliness, and for a professional kitchen I'm sure that's a necessity (as evidenced by the quote). But I was taught, growing up, to have an almost pathological aversion to wasting food. It comes from my dad, and the circumstances in which HE was raised, which basically boiled down to- if it doesn't give you food poisoning, it's still good.
And if you get food poising, then lookit here at Mr. Fancy, thinking he's to good to eat with the rest of us.
I'm not quite that extreme, but I still look for ways to use or reuse leftovers, and I feel bad whenever I don't catch something in time and it goes bad.
Same here. It's especially tough for me, as my wife hates leftovers. I've gotten pretty good at making meals that are *just* big enough, but sometimes we still have leftovers and I pretty much always end up eating them.
In my case, there's also all the camping trips I've been on. Spend enough time in the wilderness, and eventually you will either go hungry, or learn to accept dirt as a legitimate seasoning. :lol:
ROFL! Too true!!
Edit: I want to clarify- I may be a bit more lackadaisical than some people about cleanliness, but I'm still believe it's important. One of the first things I did when I moved into my new apartment was clean (and reorganize) the kitchen from top to bottom. I also clean WHILE I cook- every time there's 5 minutes for something to simmer or boil or bake, and you have your prep for the next step done, clean the tools and pans and counters from your previous step in the recipe. That way when you're finished, you haven't let everything pile up.
This is probably the best advice I've read in the thread. I do the same thing. I *detest* having to wash a sink full of dirty pots/pans but if I do the work as I go I find that I dont mind the cleanup nearly so much. And as a bonus, it makes the missus happy. :D
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Re: Intro to the Kitchen

Post by Deepbluediver »

So recently I just did my first picture-based recipe.
It's good because you can see how I actually cook, and I think it helps illustrate that once you have a little practice and have figured out what you like, cooking can be easier than the TV shows or even this thread make it out to be.

Moving on, once again I need inspiration, or suggestions, or even requests for foods to post. I've pretty much run through my store of things that I cook regularly and are super-simple. Though there's only a handful of things I've ever cooked that where really super-complicated, but for example, I recently made a really good seafood-chowder, but it wasn't cheap it took a bit more work than I think visitors to this thread would be eager to undertake (making my own fish-stock for example).
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Re: Intro to the Kitchen

Post by crayzz »

Hot Chocolate

Since it's getting cold, at least here in the north (do we have any southern hemispherean readers?) I'll throw in a simple recipe for hot chocolate. You will need a small saucepan.
  • 150ml of milk; I recommend the milk be as creamy as possible. If you only have 1% or skim, consider adding a tablespoon or two of 10% cream. I use 2%, though I believe homo (3.25%) would be ideal.
  • 45g of pure milk chocolate; i.e. not bakers chocolate. We're being lazy and fast, here, so we want something already sweetened and tasty.
  • Cinnamon to taste; cinnamon doesn't mix well, so you'll really have to stir. I'd start with adding a couple of pinches, to see how much you like.
Break the chocolate into as small of pieces as you can manage. Put the pieces and the milk into the saucepan, and heat the pan on an element set to medium. Stir regularly, else the chocolate may burn to the bottom of the pan. If it does burn, you're gonna have a hell of a time getting it off. Regardless of your efforts, some chocolate is going to melt to the bottom and sides of the pan, and simply mixing isn't going to get it off. I recommend using a small spatula to get it off, and to mix in general. Throw in a few pinches of cinnamon to taste, mix it in well, and you're done.

The whole thing takes about 10 minutes, and is easily scaleable for multiple people and/or carrying around a litre of hot chocolate in a thermos to keep you warm for the day.
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