Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Kitchen Hacks

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  • Nora Leggs,

    OK, I haven't tried this, but am intrigued by Massaged Kale...

    Auckland • Since Dec 2011 • 2700 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Nora Leggs,

    Massaged Kale…

    Haxor........(see what I did there, )
    Kale is your friend!

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    put tit on low the night before and when you get up you have lovely, soft oats.

    This just has to be a winner

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Amy Gale,

    Our standby food for almost nothing: Frog pond Soup

    Saute in EV olive oil 2 or 3 onions cut into wedges. While that's cooking pick a colander-full or so of green veges; if kale take out the ribs, then chop (or tear if you don't have a knife). Dice 4 big potatoes. Add to the pale brown onions. Cover with water, or stock. Salt or kelp is good here, crushed garlic; splash of tamari, splash of apple cider vinegar. Cook all till soft. (Add Miso if it needs some zap and you haven't used much in the way of other flavours). Whiz with the stick blender till smooth and very thick and deep green. Grate or crumble a mountain of favourite cheese in each bowlful.

    Another hack: colanders: useful for everything from gathering veges to fruit bowls to lightshades. And because I like old colanders.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Raymond A Francis,

    Comfort food.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Ben McNicoll, in reply to Nora Leggs,

    Never fear.... Harold McGee has blazed a wonderful path already. Had his book On Food and Cooking from the library years ago.... it's huge and fascinating. Haven't been back for the updated version, which is probably even larger.

    +1 for that recommedation... was just given a copy of it as a present. A weighty tome I've only dipped into a couple of times, but incredibly interesting stuff, and all the workings behind food processes.

    Changing the way I cook things for the better.

    Like, don't reheat braises/stews quickly or you undo everything that slow cooking the meat did.

    Grey Lynn • Since May 2007 • 115 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Hebe,

    Whiz with the stick blender

    Now those are a hack and a half. I've never used another blender since I got one. Fits in a cutlery drawer, takes no time to set up, does an excellent job with little mess, takes about 10 seconds to clean.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Thrash Cardiom, in reply to BenWilson,

    A heavy cast iron pan comes in handy when searing a large piece of beef prior to roasting. I usually heat the pan on high heat (gas) for 10 - 15 minutes prior to doing the sear.

    I find they also give better heat control for various dishes. Thin/light pans tend to burn food way more easily than heavy pans.

    That said, I've probably gone overboard with pans having around 7 of them ranging from small and light to vast thick based, lidded monsters. They all come in useful.

    CHB • Since Nov 2006 • 55 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to BenWilson,

    Yeah: for a decade of having kids I had no other small appliance apart from the stick blender and a flash coffee machine (nuked by a neurotic cat: she leaped from the top of the fridge where she slept, knocked over the espresso maker, which was still plugged into the power socket, the water emptied out, the switch on the machine turned on and the thing burned out. I wept at the time.)

    Now I covet a Magimix food processor (but $800!).

    Kitchen cat hack #1: Don't leave the espresso machine plugged in case of katmikaze attacks.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth,

    The gizmo that's done most to change my cooking over the last five years: a good digital thermometer. Egged on by Neil Perry in his big white book (title escapes me), and by watching too much Heston B, I started using one when roasting meat. Low temp roasting produces fantastic pink beef, succulent chicken, perfect pork, etc, but you also get the certainty of knowing exactly when something is "done" even if you're not being fancy.

    Bucolic in the backblocks… • Since Jan 2008 • 269 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Thrash Cardiom,

    You explained it! Thin pans burn. The best small one I have is a Copco omelette pan: beautifully smooth cast iron.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I also have a well-seasoned small cast-iron pan for toasting pine nuts, cumin seeds, etc. It is precious.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    My favourite kitchen tool is apparently known as a French oven. It was expensive but has been totally worth it and is in continuous service throughout the winter with a soup, stew or casserole in it.
    I have a horrible cheap stainless steel roasting pan which buckles with the heat when you make gravy -- I am coveting a heavy copper roasting pan, but at a cool $619 on Amazon, it's not going to be acquired any time soon.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 828 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Thrash Cardiom,

    I usually heat the pan on high heat (gas) for 10 – 15 minutes prior to doing the sear.

    I think I'm seeing the flaw in my thinking. I simply don't cook anything that hot on a stove. I'd use the oven or the BBQ (which is cast iron). Must get a better BBQ, but the old dunger I inherited when my grandmother had her stroke has never missed a beat in 10 years. No hood, though.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew, in reply to Gareth,

    Obviously there's a gap in the market for a kitchen physics blog...

    I use Cooking For Engineers. For all that nerdy cooking goodness...

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Gareth,

    The gizmo that’s done most to change my cooking over the last five years: a good digital thermometer.

    I like the idea of the accuracy. How does it work in practice? Do you stick it in every time you want to get a reading, or does it stay in? How about with the oven?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth, in reply to BenWilson,

    Depends on the thermometer, I suppose, but mine can be used in-oven - the probe is attached to the display by a long heat-resistant wire. You can set a target temp and have the thing beep when the meat gets there, or just use it ad-hoc every time you pull the meat out of the oven. For low-temp roasting (with oven at 90ºC, for example) it can take several hours (plus or minus a fair bit, because ovens are seldom calibrated perfectly) for the meat to cook to the desired temp, so using the probe is really useful.

    Bucolic in the backblocks… • Since Jan 2008 • 269 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    My favourite kitchen tool is apparently known as a French oven.

    The Dutch will be livid. :-)

    I have a Chasseur roasting pan, which I don't use that much because it's so effing heavy, and thus a bit of a pain to clean. Purchased and lugged back from Australia, where quality cookware is so much cheaper. Even Le Creuset is available at prices which will require you to sell as few as one of your children.

    I have two "French" ovens, one big, one smaller, both from Stevens. They're a bit lighter than Le Creuset, and the outer and inner finishes aren't quite as good, but they're bloody handy -- and as little as a quarter of the price of the French lines.

    I'm going to stop here, because this should be another thread.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    My favourite kitchen tool is apparently known as a French oven.

    Only if it emits a pong is it a Dutch Oven.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Ross Mason,

    The hack is to pass it on the left side.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Nora Leggs,

    Attachment

    Underwater, automatic fish catcher and wok

    Auckland • Since Dec 2011 • 2700 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to BenWilson,

    The hack is to pass it on the left side.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5439 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Nora Leggs,

    Blaze that up! Oh, it's underwater.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston,

    I love oats. I fancy its my Scottish ancestry channeling itself into my cooking.
    Oat milk - beautiful, way better than Soy or that weasel piss Rice milk. In my humble opinion of course. Great with coffee since I had to go off cow's milk .
    Also works well with Whiskey but be-where far too easy to drink .

    Rolled oats added to old school mince - two handfuls - gives it a satisfying nuttiness.

    Last night I oated roast potatoes. Par boiled the potatoes, drain, add rolled oats - ground up a bit first in mortar and pestle - coat well and roast with heaps of olive oil.
    Again that oaty nuttiness and lovely crunch lifted the potatoes to another level.

    There, I've oated myself, and I'm proud of it !

    Northland • Since Nov 2006 • 510 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Can't help but think that something like this might be a cheap and cheerful alternative to an expensive enamel dutch oven.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

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