Baricat Recipe Reviews (Pg. 2) - Allrecipes.com (131039)

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Chocolate Cornstarch Pudding

Reviewed: Mar. 25, 2014
Easy to adapt for diabetics to make a sugar-free treat. I have experimented with various amounts of Splenda, including 1:1, 1.5:1, and my favorite, 2:1. It always takes more Splenda than sugar, no matter what the package says. Because I love deep chocolate, I use 5 level tablespoons of Dutch process cocoa, which makes a huge difference in this recipe. Dutch process cocoa has been alkalized, which neutralizes the acidity that is present in non-alkalized cocoa, such as Hershey's, the most readily available brand in the US. It costs more to buy Dutch process cocoa, but it's money well spent. I buy it in bulk online and use it in everything that calls for cocoa, such as hot chocolate, cakes, and cookies. However, since I have added a full 2 Tb beyond what is called for in the recipe, I believe that's at least part of why it takes so much more Splenda. I've learned to streamline the process by cooking it in the microwave. Give it 3 minutes at full power initially, then whisk well, and set for increments of 1 minute, whisking well after each minute until it reaches the consistency you like, remembering that additional thickening occurs after refrigeration. For me, in my 1000 watt microwave, I only need one additional minute, but bear in mind that your mileage may vary. Add the butter and vanilla, whisk one last time, pour into serving dishes and chill. About 7-8 minutes, start-to-finish. Great depth of chocolate flavor. Simple, satisfying comfort food.
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5 users found this review helpful

Mayonnaise Cookies

Reviewed: Mar. 11, 2014
Had I not just tried one, you couldn't have convinced me that a recipe that goes together so fast, with ingredients almost everyone keeps in their pantry and fridge at any given time, could come out so superbly. The mayo didn't skeeve me out, because I have a couple of great cake recipes using mayo. But the ease of making these belies the wonderful result. I grated the zest of one lemon and substituted lemon extract for the vanilla, and the result was a short, gently crispy, sable-textured lemon sugar cookie, good enough to put on your Christmas cookie trays. But they're equally at home as an after-school snack for the kids. I'm certain that the vanilla would be lovely, as well. The dough was quite manageable for me. Crumbly looking, but it balled up easily. Don't forget to flatten, as what you see for height going into the oven is more or less what you get coming out. I got just under 3 dozen, 32 to be precise. To avoid making a difficult, hard-to-work-with dough, be certain to spoon your flour into the measuring cup, (meaning don't scoop the flour into the cup) then sweep to level the top. If you're finding that your dough is unworkably stiff, you've added too much flour, which will happen if you scoop. As written, the measurements are correct. This recipe is a fabulous find!
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6 users found this review helpful

Russian Mushroom and Potato Soup

Reviewed: Mar. 7, 2014
Absolutely sumptuous! The only changes I made were minor. I had fresh dill, so used it in place of dried, and I puréed the vegetables, so that thickening with flour was unnecessary. At that point, the texture was creamy and rich, making the cream enrichment unnecessary, as well, when calories are a concern. Of course, the half and half made it decadently rich! Another variation is to skip the half and half, and garnish each bowl with a tablespoon of sour cream. Very Russian! At the end of the simmering, the flavor of the dill becomes quite subdued. It blends in and points up the other tastes to perfection. The resulting flavor is deep and earthy. You could easily sub vegetable broth or stock for the chicken broth to make this vegetarian-friendly. Add a salad and a crusty loaf of newly-born bread, and you have a healthy, memorable meal, perfect for a cold, snowy evening, or a Lenten Friday supper. Comfort food at its best.
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4 users found this review helpful

Chef John's Creamy Mushroom Soup

Reviewed: Mar. 7, 2014
Wonderful for mushroom lovers. I like to vary it by using a mix of wild mushrooms such as enoki, shiitake, oyster, and, if I can find them, chanterelles. But if these are unavailable or just too expensive, regular white mushrooms will work just fine. Just before serving, I like to add a tablespoon or two of dry Sherry or Madeira. Again, not a deal breaker, just an enhancement of an already-fine recipe. A small spoon of sour cream makes a delicious garnish.
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1 user found this review helpful

Easy Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Reviewed: Feb. 6, 2014
Way too much mayo. Perhaps this dish would benefit from dipping the entire surface of the chicken breast in the mayo to coat evenly (and thinly,) as opposed to just topping each breast. The coating stayed wet and never crisped up. The meat was moist, but I couldn't even finish one piece as the unctuousness of such a large deposit of mayo, and the resulting slimy coating was quite unappealing. Honestly, all I could taste was mayo. Two tablespoons of it per piece was clearly the problem. Maybe cutting that ingredient in half would work, but I was so turned off that even with that change, I can't bring myself to try this again. Edited to add: Finally got up the guts to tinker. Spread only a very thin coating (about 1 tsp) on each breast, then mixed the Parmesan and bread crumbs, rolling the pieces to coat them evenly. Baked them on a rack over a foil lined pan. Gone was the excessive mayonnaise taste, as well as the mushy coating. Conclusion: As written still 2 stars, but with the above changes, 4 stars.
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2 users found this review helpful

Best Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce

Reviewed: Jan. 17, 2014
As written, the sweetness is megawatt. But the basics were there, so I tinkered. The second time I cut the sugar back to 1 cup, and whereas it was better, it was still too much for me. It was OK that way if you don't plan to top it with the sauce. But we discovered the right proportion when serving the sauce was a mere 3/4 cup of sugar. BOO ya! That allowed the vanilla sauce to fulfill the role of complementing the rich, homey goodness of the pudding and pointing up the delicate cinnamon whisper. I added the grated peel of one lemon, which contributed a nice foil to the creamy richness, and made the orchestration of luxurious tastes shine. All in all, the recipe posted is a decent foundation, but it needed a major reduction in sugar to appeal to our palates.
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11 users found this review helpful

Apple Pie Ice Cream

Reviewed: Nov. 17, 2013
Very good. I diced the apples finely, and am glad I did. Had I sliced them as the recipe states, the large frozen pieces would have been an icy distraction. Cutting them finely allowed them to be more evenly dispersed throughout, and the spices contributed a definite apple pie flavor. I did not use the walnuts because of allergy issues. The use of the oatmeal cookie "crumble" was innovative and added a lovely flavor and crunch. All in all, a nice novelty ice cream change of pace, but not something I'd rush to make again.
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1 user found this review helpful

Deep South Eggnog Cake

Reviewed: Nov. 9, 2013
A dash of ground nutmeg (freshly ground is best) in the frosting and 1/4 tsp in the cake underscores the eggnog flavor. Because it is so moist, it's a great keeper and freezes perfectly. I see that some people have had trouble with the cake being dry or heavy. Be aware that butter cakes are rarely light and super airy. However, if the heaviness was objectionable, there are two possible reasons for this. First, if there is too much flour, the product will be heavy. Measure by dipping a spoon into the flour and keep doing until the cup measure is full. Sweep the backside of a knife across the top to level. Do not scoop the flour with your cup measure. Alternatively, you could sift the flour into a cup and level. Secondly, if the product was overmixed, that would account for a heavy product. After you cream the butter/sugar/egg/extract mixture, try folding in the dry ingredients by hand. Excessive mixing encourages gluten formation, which is the element that gives bread its structure and chewiness. If dry, that indicates overbaking. Ovens vary, so given timing might not be perfect for your oven. Check 10 minutes before time is up and adjust accordingly. Bake only until a toothpick comes out clean and sides begin to release. If your frosting feels gritty, mix the butter and sugar for 5-10 minutes with your mixer, until the sugar "creams." Test it by rubbing some of it between your fingers. If it feels smooth, then proceed. If not, mix awhile more until it's no longer grainy.
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17 users found this review helpful

Lemon Rice Pilaf

Reviewed: Oct. 8, 2013
I'm delighted to be the first one to tell you that this is absolutely phenomenal! It's decadently rich and creamy, with a wonderfully complex flavor, thanks to the jasmine rice, lemon, and cream. One thing to note in the directions; it states to stir the rice until the kernels turn opaque. Actually, they start out opaque when raw, and as you cook them they turn translucent. This is a fabulous company-worthy dish that dresses up a simple grilled meat or fish, transforming ho-hum entrees into an extraordinary delight. Kudos!
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1 user found this review helpful

David's Yellow Cake

Reviewed: Sep. 16, 2013
This baked up into a respectable cake. It is quite yellow, as promised, because of all those yolks. However, what I learned is that there is something very positive to be said of cakes that also utilize whole eggs. That something is lightness. Although these layers were quite moist and tender as promised, the crumb was dense. I prefer a less heavy, more feathery cake. Not only is this possible, it is relatively easy to achieve. A superior recipe to this one is Yellow Clooney Cake on this website. If you try them both, I'm confident you'll agree. All in all, this is a reasonable option that won't undermine your reputation for baking prowess. It's just not, however, as close to my ideal as the recipe mentioned above.
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6 users found this review helpful
Photo by Baricat

Black Magic Cake

Reviewed: Sep. 12, 2013
No idea how anyone can fail to be impressed with this easy, perfect cake. It's the standard by which all should be judged, the quintessential American-style chocolate cake. The flavor is robust, with a depth and complexity owing to the coffee. Just as an aside, I detest coffee, but no problem, because you never taste it in this cake. The taste does not even have so much as a hint of mocha, only chocolate. If you are a chocolate fanatic, Dutch process cocoa increases that quotient. When doing so, you can cut back the soda to 1-1/2 tsp, because Dutch process cocoa is pre-alkalized. Success is ensured by sifting your flour to aerate, and mixing as little as possible, just to incorporate everything until smooth. Remember that the more you work your batter after adding the flour, the greater gluten formation you encourage. Gluten is the protein in the flour that gives baked goods structure. It contributes the opposite of tenderness. As an example, it's what gives yeast doughs their elasticity. That's something you don't want here, so mix as little as possible after adding the flour, and the result will be an exquisitely soft cake that just melts in your mouth. I find the best complement to this cake to be Italian meringue buttercream that just increases that meltingly soft quality. Truly the best you can make.
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12 users found this review helpful

Peach Wrinkle

Reviewed: Aug. 25, 2013
A total and utter bust. When I checked it at 40 minutes, the center was still not set. I baked it an additional 10 minutes, and it still wasn't done. Went a further 25 minutes, and although the center seemed to spring back at that point, it collapsed while cooling, a classic sign of under baking. Yup. Sure enough, when the crust was broken to dish it up, the center revealed a raw, gooey, semi-liquid mess. I regularly check the calibration on my oven's temperature, so that wasn't the problem. The edges were crispy, due to the added bake time, and the flavor was decent. Recipe was followed exactly, and measurements were triple checked. All in all, a sad, disappointing waste of some gorgeous (and expensive) peaches.
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4 users found this review helpful

Ranch Dressing with Fresh Herbs

Reviewed: Aug. 9, 2013
Finally! A ranch dressing that doesn't resort to garlic and onion powders! Those two ingredients impart a nasty taste, so why use them when fresh garlic and fresh onions are so readily available and inexpensive? Most people like a fresh taste on their fresh salad, and this dressing delivers, in spades! The only change I made was to double the lemon juice, because upon the initial taste, I wanted a little more bite to it. But that was just how I felt on that particular day. That change was quite minor, and totally subjective. It's just about as close to a perfect ranch as you can concoct. Edited to add: For the reviewer who felt the shallot overpowered the dressing's taste, this problem can be obviated by blanching the minced shallots for about 30 seconds before adding to the mix. It will tame the sharpness of raw shallot and help it "play nice" with the other ingredients.
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2 users found this review helpful

Chef John's Chicken and Mushrooms

Reviewed: Aug. 9, 2013
The challenge factor made me curious, so I had to try it. The meat was good, tender and cooked through. The accompanying sauce, however, was unrelentingly bland.. To increase the flavor, simply using chicken stock in place of water would represent a huge leap forward in sensory quality. I mean, if adding butter was acceptable, why not stock? An interesting culinary exercise, however.
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9 users found this review helpful

Delectable Marinated Chicken

Reviewed: Aug. 5, 2013
Way too heavy-handed on both the garlic and the liquid smoke for our taste. When it comes to liquid smoke, a few drops go a very long way. Those two ingredients were all we could taste. Sorry I can't say better.
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3 users found this review helpful

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