Hard News by Russell Brown

Read Post

Hard News: Kitchen Hacks

334 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 5 6 7 8 9 14 Newer→ Last

  • JLM,

    Roast vege lasagne. Slice at least 4 types of roasting vege however thick you like and heat them in the oven on an oiled baking tray. They don't have to brown but it's a bonus if they do. (I usually have one tray of potato slices and one of everything else - pumpkin, kumara, carrot, parsnip...) Layer in a casserole dish with potatoes at the bottom. Pour over a tin of Watties Indian spiced tomatoes. Cover with a layer of chopped silver beet or whatever other green you have in your garden and lots of grated cheese. Bake as long as seems appropriate. Enjoy, even better the next day.

    Inspired by Circadian Rhythm in Dunedin, where they use lasagne sheets, the proper spices but no cheese, as befits a vegan eatery. Much as I love CR, I like mine better.

    Judy Martin's southern sl… • Since Apr 2007 • 241 posts Report Reply

  • Nora Leggs,

    Need a warm light puddingy on a cold night? One egg well mixed with lots of milk, a little sugar and whatever flavouring you want. Put this into heavy duty cappucino type cups, cover each with tinfoil and steam for 10 minutes in your bamboo steamer. Chawan-mushi-sweet.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2011 • 2700 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    I’m afraid the credit goes to slave labour there.

    Damn, I hadn't actually been aware of that. But EU subsidies are also a factor. Useful Australian story on the issue:

    Such economies of scale trim costs, but Italy's tomato industry has two key competitive advantages: cheap, sometimes illegal, migrant labour and European Union subsidies. For 20 years, Italy has relied on field workers from Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and India. The Rome office of Doctors Without Borders has documented the plight of the migrants in several reports, the last in 2008. They describe a workforce vulnerable to violence and intimidation, living in extreme poverty in disused buildings with no toilets or access to healthcare. According to The Ecologist magazine, which visited Italy's Basilicata region last year, the workers were paid between $25 and $38 a day.

    "The stories coming out of the Napoli region where they grow tomatoes are just appalling," says Mildura chef Stefano de Pieri, just back from three months in Italy. People, he says, care about where their coffee comes from but not, it seems, their tomatoes.

    An experienced Australian importer, who declined to be named, told The Sunday Age the worker exploitation was "very heavy in the past" and the industry was now more accountable. Conserve Italia, makers of the internationally popular Cirio brand, imported to Australia by Conga Foods, has guaranteed all its production is ethical, while Coles and Woolworths say their home brand suppliers must also comply with ethical supply chain requirements. (The Australian industry is not entirely innocent: migrants, mostly Asian or Indian, are used at harvest, and while the farmers pay a contractor about $22 an hour for each worker, they admit they have no idea how much each worker is paid.)

    The European Union has protected the processed tomato industry with subsidies since 1978. Annual payments to farmers and canneries peaked mid last decade at $493 million but are now slowly falling. For every dollar an Italian farmer makes, the EU puts another 41¢ in their pocket, which means they can sell to canneries more cheaply than an Australian farmer. As the subsidies decline, the farmers are asking the canneries for higher prices. This year they got a 26 per cent price increase, which means, finally, they get the same price as Australian farmers: roughly equal to about 4¢ per 400 gram can.

    It would be nice to know which brands to avoid on ethical grounds.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Chapman,

    My life is bedevilled by two modern dilemmas:

    1. I often find myself not having a 1/2 cup of cooking wine on hand when wanting to make risotto or bolognese.
    2. When D and I have a glass of wine with dinner, there's typically about 1/2 a cup left in the bottle that often goes undrunk.

    My solution to this problem has given rise to a third dilemma: how to distinguish between cubes of frozen chicken stock and frozen white wine.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2008 • 135 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It would be nice to know which brands to avoid on ethical grounds.

    It's harder to know in New Zealand. I think No Right Turn wrote a couple of posts about this but I'm buggered if I can find them.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Ben Chapman,

    My solution to this problem has given rise to a third dilemma: how to distinguish between cubes of frozen chicken stock and frozen white wine.

    This seems to me more like an opportunity for culinary experimentation than a problem.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Stevenson,

    Roast vege lasagne

    A riff on the hack above - chop the veges small (2cm square), oil and roast (perhaps using the tips for roasting veges upthread).
    Maybe throw in some garlic cloves and onions (and olives and mushrooms and...)
    Takes about 30-35 minutes, when done make a dressing or apply some other seasoning (spice mix, pesto, what have you).
    Serve hot, warm or cold, good for lunch the next day
    Great addition and leaves you free to cook other components of the meal.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis, in reply to George Darroch,

    Mortar & pestle, the bigger the better for dealing to the coffee beans. Just keep bashing until you get the granularity you are after (might be a while to get to espresso size, though, quicker if you are only making plunger grinds).

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 528 posts Report Reply

  • ChrisB, in reply to Russell Brown,

    My understanding (I can't recall the link to this) is that is it actually a lot cheaper and more efficient to grow tomatoes in some of the African countries where the immigrant labour is coming from, rather than growing the tomatoes in Italy. The bizarre effect of the EU subsidies is that these countries now import Italian tomatoes rather than grow their own

    Auckland • Since Sep 2007 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Stevenson,

    My solution to this problem has given rise to a third dilemma: how to distinguish between cubes of frozen chicken stock and frozen white wine.

    Don't bother, combine and reduce for use as a demi-glace.
    We have left a Sharpie pen on the top of the fridge for labelling after the unfortunate incident with the soy milk.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Nora Leggs, in reply to Ben Chapman,

    My solution to this problem has given rise to a third dilemma: how to distinguish between cubes of frozen chicken stock and frozen white wine.

    Have a nibble!

    Auckland • Since Dec 2011 • 2700 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    I'm afraid the credit goes to slave labour there.

    Indeed, as this story explains. It's also large EU subsidies.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    Snap Russell!

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to ChrisB,

    Those scissors are total awesomeness!

    I have been making a spicy tomato bean sausage stew often of late. It has a lot going for it - it's cheap to make, filling, healthy and tastes great re-heated for lunch at work.
    Recipe roughly as follows:
    1 brown onion and 4-6 cloves of garlic
    Finely diced celery and carrot
    Half a dozen mushrooms
    Half a dozen sausages - spicy eg chorizo are good, frankfurters or kranskys also good
    Two cans of beans - any kind, I usually use white beans
    A slosh of red wine
    A tsp of smoked paprika if you have it
    A tsp of harissa if you have it - it adds warmth
    A bottle of tomato passata plus a pinch of sugar

    Gently brown the onions and garlic; add in the other veg; add the sausages and brown those too. Add the slosh of wine, then the beans, passata, seasonings. Add water as needed - it should be almost a stew consistency.
    I've tried adding various other things such as a small handful of pearl barley to thicken it up (not really needed) and a slosh of pomegranite molasses (just because I had some).

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 828 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Ben Chapman,

    Well, with the lid on, the pressure in the pot should increase, which will increase the boiling point above 100°C…

    This is true, but the pots are venting so I don't think the pressure can rise much. The upper limit is presumably the pressure exerted downwards by the lid divided by its surface area. For a 400g lid with area of 255cm^2, I get a rise in 154Pa is enough to lift it, which is around 1.5% of one atmosphere. So maybe it can get to 101.5C if you crank it up full bore to the point that the column of steam coming out the vent is screaming and the lid begins to lift? At that point, for around a 5 fold increase in the wattage I'm pouring into it, I get a 1.5% temperature increase. So it's cooking the food maybe a tiny, tiny bit faster, and making a very large volume of steam.

    Is my reasoning wrong there?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Stevenson,

    I have been making a spicy tomato bean sausage stew often of late

    Sounds kind of like a cassoulet - add in some chicken thighs (bone in) rather than duck confit, bacon and/or bacon hock, perhaps use rehydrated dried beans instead of canned and slow cook.
    Dress it up with breadcrumb topping and you're there.

    Is my reasoning wrong there?

    Not wrong, but perhaps misguided - use a pressure cooker and you get another 103 kPa, increased cooking temperature and reduced cooking time. I can make chicken stock in half an hour.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    I always wondered why it was called marinara but there was no fish in it. Thanks!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 746 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Andrew Stevenson,

    use a pressure cooker and you get another 103 kPa

    Yup, that’s a whole different device, though. A lid on a pot does not a pressure cooker make. It’s just a whole lot more efficient than no lid, for an almost identical effect. Many times more efficient. The effect can often be better, too, since the higher average temperature in the pot cooks things that may not be covered by the liquid, as often happens with pasta – a piece that is sticking out of the water doesn’t cook at the end. But with the lid on, I’ve noticed this doesn’t happen.

    Must try pressure cooking some day. Sounds exciting.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Hebe,

    And you have a microwave in there too: well done!

    Cheers. I agonized over how to fit it in when we designed the kitchen. It was a real pain in the arse in the original kitchen, took up huge amount of bench space.

    here when the oven or dishwasher door is open, you are imprisoned at one end of the kitchen.

    That sucks. Fortunately, our kitchen has exits at both ends, so you can get to the other end just by walking through the lounge. Handy during parties when the place is packed.

    But from painful experience I can say that 15cm is not really a safe gap to be walking through either. So usually we have to close the dishwasher constantly. Its location is not that good, opposing the fridge and between the dining room and the sink (so rinsing involves closing the dishwasher to get past, then opening it again, then closing it to get some more dishes. In practice I end up piling them up instead). But if it was on the other side of the sink it would oppose the stove, which would be downright dangerous, you could open it behind someone working at the stove and they could fall over backwards into it. The solution is, of course, a bigger kitchen. Or the one I'm always trying to sell to my wife, a bigger house.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Chapman, in reply to BenWilson,

    This is true, but the pots are venting so I don’t think the pressure can rise much. The upper limit is presumably the pressure exerted downwards by the lid divided by its surface area. For a 400g lid with area of 255cm^2, I get a rise in 154Pa is enough to lift it, which is around 1.5% of one atmosphere. So maybe it can get to 101.5C if you crank it up full bore to the point that the column of steam coming out the vent is screaming and the lid begins to lift? At that point, for around a 5 fold increase in the wattage I’m pouring into it, I get a 1.5% temperature increase. So it’s cooking the food maybe a tiny, tiny bit faster, and making a very large volume of steam.

    Is my reasoning wrong there?

    I was being facetious when I made my point about pressure and temperature.

    However, having a quick scan of your working, I think the increase in boiling temperature is going to be much less than 1.5°C. Firstly, your figure of 154 Pa is actually more like 0.15% of atmospheric pressure (101 kPa). And I don’t think that %-age of pressure above atmospheric is going to convert directly into boiling point temperature. You have to use a vapour pressure chart. According to this calculator, you would need to increase the pressure to 104 kPa or so to increase the boiling point by 1°C.

    Not quite sure where you get your 5× wattage figure. Assuming a perfect seal between your lid and pot, you’ll reach the higher pressure using the lowest setting on your hob, when the lid starts rattling.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2008 • 135 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Joanna,

    I always wondered why it was called marinara but there was no fish in it. Thanks!

    Many a suit for false advertising was filed in vain.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Ram,

    Attachment

    Ahem...

    Since Mar 2008 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason, in reply to BenWilson,

    Boil water in a kettle before putting it in a pot. Use a lid on every pot so that you can turn the temperature right down, and reduce the amount of water vapour in the house. Way, way more energy efficient – a rolling boil can be sustained on the lowest setting on my stove. Without a lid, it needs about 4 times as much heat, and you have to keep an eye on the water level.

    Whoop whoop - Science Hack coming

    I thought a few numbers to show why pot lids are really really good!!

    For every teaspoon (about 5 grams) of water evaporated from the water in the pot and thence onto your kitchen windows, the stove has supplied about 11,300 joules. To heat 5 grams of water from 20 to 100 degrees takes about 350 joules. So if you put the lid on the pot, the steam gets recondensed onto the pot lid and drips back into the pot water at damn near boiling temperature, A net return of heat to the water and pot - when it changes back from steam to liquid - of about 10,950 joules.

    Win !!

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Chapman, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Many a suit for false advertising was filed in vain.

    Though in NZ, marinara usually contains seafood. Am I right? Isn't a tomato sauce called 'neopolitan' in NZ pizzerias?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2008 • 135 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Ben Chapman,

    Though in NZ, marinara usually contains seafood. Am I right? Isn't a tomato sauce called 'neopolitan' in NZ pizzerias?

    Not sure, but I wouldn't be surprised. It's often the case overseas precisely because people expect seafood on it. Napoletana traditionally has capers and anchovies.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 5 6 7 8 9 14 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.