nothavanas: (shortcake)
From Cook's Illustrated Sept/Oct 2009 issue, 1.5x

9/8 cup Everclear (instead of vodka, because we might drink our vodka)
1.5 vanilla beans, split and scraped as much as possible.

Vanilla into a clean empty lingonsylt jar, ethanol microwaved until boiling and poured over. (I am so not used to handling ethanol anymore. Density, viscosity, and boiling point are very different from water.) Mixture allowed to cool to room temperature. Jar sealed, shaken, and labeled "vanilla extract start 12-7-14".

Recipe says to shake gently every day for a week, then strain and store in a cool dark place.

Hm! A suggestion via Twitter is to dilute this all-ethanol extract with distilled water to get 65% water, 35% ethanol. I guess that is what is usually done. Now I am concerned about potency of this extract. There's only 5% water in the everclear. If some of the flavoring extracts into water, I won't be getting much of it. The recipe also doesn't call for diluting, since vodka is much more water-based. That means I might not have enough bean for the quantity of vodka present.
Best case, it won't matter, and I can just use this stuff straight. Worst case, I'll do a second extract with new beans into water, and then mix the two to get the right ethanol-water ratio.

Altered procedure after further discussion:

5.5 oz of above mixture was poured off, leaving behind solids and as much sediment as possible. An additional half of a vanilla bean was split, scraped, and added. 5.5 oz filtered water (brita pitcher) was heated to near-boiling in the microwave, then added. Solution is now cloudy. Allowed to cool to room temperature.
nothavanas: (Default)
I tried a recipe from Cooks Illustrated for chocolate chip cookies. The aim was a chewier, toffee-flavored cookie. The cookies were amazing!

The recipe calls for browning 10 tablespoons of butter, then adding another 4 tablespoons and letting it melt. They then add brown and white sugar (I used turbinado instead of white, because I had light instead of dark brown sugar.), vanilla (I splurged on my fancy stuff), salt, and an egg + yolk. Let that sit for ten minutes, stirring every three minutes. Add the flour and baking soda, mixing until done, and dump in lots of chocolate chips. The recipe says make only 16 cookies, 8 per giant sheet. I made them a little large for normal cookies, but not nearly that big.

I've never had a cookie anything like these. They had lots of nutty browned-butter taste, with a little crunch from the turbinado sugar and a lot of chewiness. Just amazing.
nothavanas: (Default)
Things I made which were good:

Grilled Mexican Corn, from Cooks Illustrated, with a spicy creamy sauce. They have you rub the corn in oil mixed with chile powder before grilling, which gives it a great flavor. I used the broiler, since we weren't grilling anything else.

Vegetable stock, two giant pots full. I didn't bother sauteing any of the vegetables this time. I have made stock ice cubes from some of it, and used some of it in...

Vegetable soup that was sort of supposed to be borscht. Mainly it had a couple beets in it. It ended up being your standard tasty veggie soup with carrots and celery and potatoes and things.

Squash dumplings with brown butter. Thank you, Alton Brown! These were fantastic. You bake some potatoes and some squash (I had delicata, not butternut) and mash their fleshes together. You add salt and nutmeg and flour, then shape into little balls. I couldn't get the dough to become non-sticky, so I just sort of hand-shaped some blobs. I refrigerated them overnight (okay, I left them out in the garage) and boiled them in salted water the next day, until they float. Then you cool them in ice water and toss them with a touch of oil. Before you serve them, you brown them in butter which has first been browned itself, with some sage leaves. So fantastic, rich and decadent and relatively healthy, as decadence goes.
nothavanas: (Default)
What’s in the Box:
Bunch beets
Cameo Apples
Purple kohlrabi
Bok choy
Shell peas
Red Oak Leaf lettuce
Winter Density lettuce
Garlic flowers

I pick it up today around 5ish.
Unrelatedly, Cooks Illustrated recommends a gadget for stripping kernels off of corn. I may have to get one, 'cause it sure is messy with a knife.
nothavanas: (Default)
Chewy Chocolate Cookies, from the Jan/Feb 09 issue of Cooks Illustrated.

I used agave sweetener instead of corn syrup, as I always do now (thank you TJ!). I also used turbinado sugar instead of brown sugar. I weighed the dry ingredients, creamed the hell out of the sugars and butter, and discovered I had only 1/5 cup agave instead of 1/2. Unexpected grocery run!
I used three squares of semisweet baking chocolate (which was so old the fat had bloomed on the surface. I'd never seen bloom before, but it doesn't affect the taste.) and a few tablespoons of chocolate chips (whatall was left in the package). It wouldn't hurt to chill them a bit longer, but they shaped all right even mostly warm. They are delicious, although I don't think the texture is quite what CI had in mind--the turbinado is quite different from regular brown sugar in terms of moisture content. I am most concerned that my food tastes good; whether it resembles some ideal is not my affair.

These were made to go with my "Come to the dark side, we have cookies... --V" shirt.

Oh, nifty

Jan. 12th, 2009 10:27 pm
nothavanas: (Default)
I got my first issue of Cook's Illustrated today. It's just fabulous. The illustrations are a mix of photos and engravings, all in sepia tone. They cover the process of developing a recipe for, say, Swedish meatballs or chewy chocolate cookies or chicken noodle soup, and talk about where they started, what changes they made, and what effect each change had. They go over various stages in texture, flavor, and whatever they investigated. Then they finish with the recipe.
They've got a section on gear, where they smashed skillets against concrete to see how they held up. There's a section on proper vegetable storage and chopping, which has some lovely onion-slicing ideas.
They have some tips sections, some from readers and some relevant to this issue's recipes.
There are no ads at all. They're associated with the PBS show America's Test Kitchen. Now that would be a cool place to work.

This is going to be very cool.


nothavanas: (Default)

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