Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Cooking Notes

*When making farmer's cheese, do not ever use buttermilk containing sodium citrate. Ask Harold McGee for a scientific explanation. All I can say is that your milk won't curdle properly, the cheese will have the texture of styrofoam and you'll end up tossing the whole thing.

*How come my cooking never tastes as good when I follow recipes precisely? I'm one of those cooks who looks at recipes for ideas and techniques but rarely follows the steps. Either I don't have all the ingredients, or the recipe instructions seem off, etc. And it usually turns out fine! Here's what happens when I follow recipes to the letter:

Anya von Bremzen's avgolemono, from Please to the Table.

I think this recipe is fussier than it needs to be. Anya has you saute onions and add four spices to your usual chicken stock, eggs and lemon. The soup tastes ok, but would be just as good with the basic ingredients. All you really need is top-notch chicken stock.

Meatballs in pomegranate sauce, also from Please to the Table. These were fine. Not great, like Lindy's, but fine. A little too tart and a little dry, but...fine.

Chickea and chicken dumplings. I really had high hopes for these. The recipe is exotic but not terribly difficult. The Wednesday Chef tried it and gave a thumbs-up. But my dumplings turned out dense and bland! I regretted wasting excellent, homemade chicken stock on these. What happened? I suspect it's more my fault than the recipe's. I've never made dumplings of any kind before, and produced the dreaded leaden cannonballs on my first attempt. I wasn't inspired to take a photo.

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