aliettedb: (utena)

So I kind of needed to give someone something and I thought I’d try my hand at these–and Gillian Polack is entirely right, they are dead easy to make and so so good! You can replace oranges with any citrus fruit (I kind of want to try lemon now).

Recipe here. I’m not posting a picture of the orangettes (the chocolate-candied peels) because mine ended up looking a bit weird due to coating issues with the chocolate (they still taste great though, but they’re not very presentable!).

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

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aliettedb: (utena)

I’ve posted the recipe for an almond, orange blossom and lemon cake that’s just lovely–we made this weekend, and it’s both tart and sweet, rich with the smell of almonds.

You can find it here.

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

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aliettedb: (utena)

And it’s recipe Wednesday again! Except we don’t exactly have recipes, but I figured it was time I did something for this part of the blog. So instead of recipes, we’re going to talk kitchen utensils today.

My idea of a shopping trip for kitchen utensils is Kawa, 89 rue de Choisy in the 13th District. Kawa sells to individuals, but the primary audience is for restaurant owners and cooks, and the kitchen stuff they sell is heavy duty indeed. In addition to crockery, they have woks, rice cookers, spatulas, etc. I got my (very handy) garlic press from them, and their spatulas and wok spatulas are way handier than anything I’ve seen in high-end cookshops (not to mention cheaper).
When I dropped by Kawa last time, I was in need of a frying pan to replace our nonstick one after its untimely death; and they had a whole row of carbon steel de Buyer pans.

I’ve never cooked with carbon steel, and all I’ve heard (mostly from cooking boards) made it sound really fiddly–which is a thing I don’t really do (fiddly and fragile are two things I handle badly in a kitchen), but I was also tired of having to replace a frying pan every few years when the teflon died on me. What the heck, I figured. They’re reasonably affordable, and if it doesn’t work out I can always change my mind next go-around.

Turns out I was needlessly worried. The pan is great: it’s a bit heavy (but not as heavy as cast-iron–the one cast-iron pan we do have, a big Le Creuset thing, I almost never use because it’s too much work getting it out onto the stove). It has to be seasoned first, which basically consists of heating up oil just below smoking point on it (the instructions come with the frying pan), and carefully wiping it dry. That’s the start of your patina, which is then developed further by cooking greasy things in it until the entire bottom of the pan turns black.

I found the pan seasoned pretty well: I’m not at the stage where I’ll cook an omelette with just a smidgeon of oil on it, but it’s noticeably slicker already, after just a few uses. Because it’s thin and it’s metal, it also heats up quite fast: it’s a great pan for searing meat. It’s not a pan for cooking without fat, or for frying anything fragile (like, whole fish is out); but for  searing or omelettes or anything that requires high temps it’s superb (and because it seizes at truly high temps the meat tastes really good, too).

There’s a bunch of instructions on this that theoretically make it a hassle to handle: do not use an abrasive sponge on it, and clean it with very hot water (and rub with coarse salt if anything gets stuck to it); and dry it and oil it before putting it away. I have to admit neither the H nor I could be bothered to follow these, and the pan has still survived pretty well :) We use a sponge with the green scratchy back, use a moderate amount of soap, and the seasoning has reasonably stuck around so far. For putting it away, I follow advice I’ve seen on the net for carbon steel woks, and dry the pan on a warm stove before putting it away (basically, you want to make sure there’s no humidity on the pan. It might be a problem not to oil it in warmer climes, but in our very dry kitchen it never was an issue).

And, best of all, this is a pan that lasts–no Tefal coating that can flake away, and I know families that still use the ones that belonged to grandmothers. It’s pretty cheap for that price (I got it for 30 euros with a slight discount, normally I think it’s 40). Just be careful: as with all frying pans, the diameter is the outer edge: we got a 24cm-omelet pan, but in reality, the cooking surface is closer to 21cm.

Would I recommend this? I’d definitely get at least one for the kitchen; and see if you like it. It’s a bit fiddly but well worth it.

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

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aliettedb: (utena)

Posted a new recipe at the blog for dumplings, as well as my mini-review of the Dumpling Cube, a contraption that claims to simplify your dumpling making. Does it live up to its promises? Find out all about it here.

Meanwhile, I shall be off to eat my dumplings, yum yum.

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

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aliettedb: (utena)

Ooooh, so happy to see that my recipe for thịt kho tàu has been featured in the Guardian’s recipe swap for Lunar New Year. I feel like I’ve unlocked some major achievement there :)

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

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aliettedb: (utena)

A typical kitchen conversation between me and the H (a little bit of context first: we’ve been making biscuit Joconde , a moist sponge cake dough that is used as the basis for many fruit desserts. The recipe we have calls for 3 eggs and 3 egg whites, leaving us with extra egg yolks):
The H: “What can I do with three extra egg yolks?”
Me, googling and perusing a webpage of recipes “Er. Mayonnaise? Aioli? Pasta carbonara? Chocolate mousse?”
The H, paging through our big book of desserts; “Chocolate mousse. Ah no, that’s got cream.”
Me: “You can substitute coconut cream for cream.”
I really should have looked at the recipe before saying this. An hour later and the H is busy mixing eggs and coconut cream, and desperately trying to get the mixture to set.
The H: “Are you positive you can substitute cream and coconut cream?”
Me, getting up and finally looking at the recipe: “Er. Maybe not. And you know that next bit where you beat the cream until it’s solid?”
The H: “Don’t tell me. It doesn’t work with coconut cream.”
Me: “Probably not.”
The H, after another half hour of beating up eggs and coconut creams, staring at a very liquid chocolate mousse. “Hahahaha. Tell you what, I’ll throw it in the freezer.”
And that is how we ended up having chocolate-coconut ice-cream for New Year’s Eve (it does freeze beautiful, actually. The H says he’ll make a note of the recipe for future snakelet consumption).

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

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aliettedb: (utena)

So…  I’ve now finished reading How to Eat by Nigella Lawson, and I have a bit of a dilemma. I love Nigella Lawson’s style and her no-nonsense approach to cooking; and her advice and general tips, but… but the book itself has very few recipes I can use, mostly because so much of what’s in it requires either milk, buttermilk, cream, and/or alcohol, none of which my digestive system can bear (I do butter and cheese fine, and small quantities of milk in pastries that are well cooked, and that’s about my upper limit). Does she have any later books where the reliance on these ingredients isn’t as important? I got the impression that one of her later books (can’t remember which one?) drew a bit more from South and East Asian cooking? And Nigellissima is Italian food?

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

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aliettedb: (utena)

The amazing Fran Wilde has interviewed me for her series “Cooking the Books”–interviews focused on food and SF writers (you can understand why I was deliriously happy to be picked as an interview subject :) ). I wax lyrical about the power of food, lemongrass chicken in “Immersion”, and my recipe process here.

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

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aliettedb: (utena)

It’s not strictly equivalent, but… spraying stuff with oil, sticking it in the oven quite close to the heating element (about 2/3 of the way up) and turning it over at the halfway mark (when the upper surface has gone golden) is a pretty good and painless substitute for deep-frying [1].


[1] Deep frying has two drawbacks: the first is that it’s fairly messy with high risks of burns (yes, clumsy cook here), and the second is that I can only do it in batches of 4-5 objects in order not to crowd my wok. By contrast, I can stick 20 fried rolls into the oven at a time (more if you count the fact that I’m using both oven grids, one on the bottom to cook the inside, and the one on the top to do the final “frying” stage).
Also, spraying oil is way more healthy since there’s less of it around than with deep frying.

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

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