(Yet Another) Foodie

food experiences in this lifetime ...

Storage Tips: Grapes

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Thanks to bookofjoe, I have a reference to show for this tip in the latest edition of Cook’s Illustrated, one of the best returns for one’s money if you have an interest in food. Read the full post at bookofjoe for the entire experiment done by the magazine to verify this. They take a lot of care to see that their recommendations are not old wives’ tales. However, the summary is:

In sum: Don’t pull grapes from their stems before refrigeration. Simply discard any that show signs of rotting and hold off on rinsing until just before serving.

Anodized Pan Woes and Seasoning Tips

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[Photo by: Zhao Shouren]

I had been making eggs on non-stick pans for as long as I remember, but regardless of how much care I put into it, the final taste could never be as good as the eggs Ma used to make, in her aluminium kadai.

I figured that one reason this could be is because of the unique burning that happens to food surface when cooked in aluminium cookware, which explicitly is prevented in non-stick surfaces.

So today, I fished out an old anodized pan that I had bought years back, and decided, of all the things, to make an omlette in it.

It was a disaster. Once the initial mix had settled in, there was no way I could make it move. Attempts to do so kept breaking it up, till out of exasperation, I broke it all up and made a mess of scrambled eggs instead. I obviously hid my failure by telling wife that that was what I wanted to make in the first place. :)

So what went wrong? It obviously was the seasoning of the pan. I didn’t remember how to season such a pan, and so I had just rubbed oil all over and left it on the stove for a few minutes and then dropped the eggs in.

Cooking for engineers says that I need to keep the oiled pan in an oven for two hours. That is seriously never going to happen. For one, electricity is not taken for granted in India. Secondly, it is more suited for countries where using hours on electrics ovens is an accepted way of cooking. I don’t think that is acceptable in any country right now.

The stovetop method in this really nice article on seasoning seems to be the way out. To try it, I need to first rescue my pan which is soaking in water to get rid of all the gunk sticking at the bottom. Apparently, that is not a nice way to treat a pan.

I will try this out and update this post with my findings. The ultimate aim is to be able to cook eggs (apparently the toughest to cook properly on such surfaces).

BTW, all the seasoning articles agree on never washing the pans after cooking. Only wiping them is recommended. I am not sure if I can live with cooking meat based stuff on pans and then not washing off with soap. Apparently, I need to season it everytime before cooking in that case. Sigh!

2011 05 22: Treat Disappoints

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Our Sunday dinner at Treat, Indiranagar was a huge disappointment.

After our recent move to HSR Layout, we hardly get to go to our previously regular Indiranagar hangouts. For a long time, Treat was a place where you would get consistently good punjabi non-veg food. The service was pathetic, and the owner was a grumpy man who doesn’t flinch for abusing his own customers if the need arises. But the mostly authentic food made up for it. I have on occasions been ravaged by mosquitoes in the restaurant, but still stayed on to finish the food.

But yesterday it felt that something has changed for the worse. The food prices have gone up. While some old faces have disappeared, some new waiters were unusually polite. The Gilafi Kabab we ordered was masked by the chilli covering it. But the most disappointing was the mutton biryani, which had been one of our favorites over our last five years in Bangalore.

The basmati in the biryani was replaced by ordinary rice which was broken during cooking. The curry used in the biryani has not just changed colors but also taste. Overall a very average biryani. When I pointed the change to an old time waiter, he still tried to claim that nothing has changed.

I disagree. Perhaps it is time to move on.

McDonalds McSpicy

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The new Mc Donalds Mc Spicy is an interesting challenge to the un-inspiring KFC Zinger. While the rest of Mc Donalds burgers consist of patties which have been grinded beyond recognition or any texture, Mc Spicy is a piece of boneless chicken leg where, for once, you do make out that the meat your are having is chicken. The rest of the burger is pathetic though – a splattering of mayo and infuriating iceberg lettuce. Why the heck so all fast food joints in India insist on this tasteless variety of lettuce escapes me.

Cha Bar Disappointment

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We went to the Cha bar at Leela after a long time. After months of making masala tea at home with fresh ginger and cardamom, the masala chai at Cha bar tasted terribly synthetic. The least a specialty tea joint can do is to use fresh ingredients and not some stock masala tea mix.

Infinitea does a much better job and is a far better value for money – they give a pot for two instead of the cute but tiny street style glass they give at Cha bar.

I ordered pakodas for the first time here while I was waiting for Dipika to finish her shopping. The pakodas were oily and a tad spicy, the spices were quite unusual. Wouldn’t order again.

On second thoughts wouldn’t be visiting here again. For the prices these outlets charge, Infinitea is a far better option.

La Ferme Cheese From Auroville

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via auroville.org

Continuing from my last post on lesser known cheese manufacturers in India. Auroville near Pondicherry is another prominent cheese manufacturer. I have rarely seen their cheese in Bangalore, though and would really appreciate if someone tells me where I can get some.

They make about 15 kinds of cheese too. Fresh ones – Mozzarella, Feta and Ricotta, which have really short shelf life, and therefore I don’t expect to see them all the way here in Bangalore. Their seasoned cheeses include some names I haven’t heard before – farm cheese, Lofabu, Jeera cheese(lofabu with jeera, weird), Swissly, Cheddar, Auroblocjon, Blue D’Auroville, Gorgonzola, Gruyere, Parmesan and goat cheese.

Their website mentions how their cheese products are made in a very environmentally sustainable way, keeping with the rest of the ashram.

For the cheese production traditional methods were adapted to the conditions of the South Indian climate, taking into account Western hygienic standards and concerns for a clean and sustainable environment. Our pasteurization, for instance, is done with biogas, our water is pumped by a windmill and our waste water is recycled.

They make over 100 kg of cheese in more than 10 varieties daily!

Cheeses of Kodai

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(via kodaidairyproducts.com)

Kodai is a 35+ years old dairy in Kodaikanal. They make specialty cheeses which are available in many supermarkets in Bangalore. I am not sure about their availability in the north.

I was quite amazed to find their entire range. They make 15 different kind of cheese – Parmesan, Romano, Gruyere, Cheddar, Edam, Gouda, Tasty Cheddar, Havarti, Camemberti, Feta, Mascarpone, Ricotta, Provolone, Emmental and even Blue cheese!

Since the milk is used from Indian cows, the taste of the cheese are a bit different. I have tried their Parmesan in the past and the flavor was a bit milder than the imported ones that I have tried.

Weekend Coffee

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"Dipika at Costa"

Today, we decided to visit the Costa at koramangala for our weekend coffee time. Fortunately, the outlet had no music blaring inside for a change.

I wonder why I haven’t heard of people complaining about the loud music at most cafes. Don’t they feel more comfortable talking without shouting or reading in a quieter environment?

Julia Child’s Perfect Sautéed Mushrooms

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After being regularly disappointed while sauteing mushrooms, this version finally gave me just the basic recipe to do it the right way.

  • Heat olive oil in a pan over high heat. It should be hot when you put in the mushrooms
  • Add button mushrooms which have been washed, well-dried and sliced. It is important to ensure that they are dried before sauteing them.
  • Toss mushrooms for 4 to 5 minutes until they absorb the oil and the pan dries up. Don’t add more oil. Keeping moving the mushrooms.
  • Continue sauteing for another 2 to 3 minutes until the mushrooms start to release the oil. They will brown rapidly at this point
  • Remove from the heat when they are light brown. Add salt and pepper to taste. I think I read somewhere that adding salt before or while sauteing will make it release more water. Not a good thing.

Pinched from Suite101: Julia Child’s Perfect Sauteed Mushrooms