Foodie Fears, Or Getting A Grasp On The Basics… - The Well Travelled Spatula Blog at Allrecipes.com - 244961

The Well Travelled Spatula

Foodie Fears, or Getting a Grasp on the Basics… 
 
Jul. 27, 2011 1:16 am 
Updated: Aug. 5, 2011 12:24 pm

Okay, we all love food, but there are some things that all of us dread when it comes to food preparation.  There are just things that we think we don’t like, things we can’t bear to think about touching, let alone preparing, or things that just seem too professional or difficult to bother trying to tackle.

This past week, I have enrolled myself in a personal ‘Food Boot Camp’.  Things are quiet at work and I have quite a bit of time on my hands.  There are a few events on the horizon that may change the landscape of my life.  So, as much as I love all my Buzzer’s, I’ve been absent a bit (sorry to worry some of you, you sweet things), but I’ve been trying to focus on being a better foodie and expanding my skills, ingredients and presentation repertoire.

Challenge Number One – Perfecting Pastry

Owning a café, we go through mountains of pastry – sweet, savoury, puff…  but we are able to buy good quality rolls of it.  If we had to make it all by hand, we’d be out of business in no time at all.  But, I want to master a great quality hand made pastry.  After much research, (I won’t bore you with the scientific bits about gluten) the bottom line is you need to:

  • Quickly, combine a 50/50 or 40/60 ratio of plain flour and fat (i.e butter, lard or combo of butter/cheese/cream cheese, etc) to a bread crumb consistency This can be done in a food processor, or by hand.
  • Quickly, add in a small amount of cold water to just bring the dough together.  I just learned, via AR, that to use ½ water and ½ vodka (!) makes for a flakier pastry!  Gather dough together in plastic wrap and gently press into a round disk and rest in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
  • Gently, roll dough out between two layers of plastic wrap to your desired thickness.  Using plastic wrap means you do not need to add additional flour, upsetting the flour/fat balance. Plus, once the dough is at the right thickness, you can pick up the sheet of wrap and invert it over you baking vessel and shape it, without the dough tearing or cracking.  This also prevents stretching of the dough, the key factor in shrinkage.
  • Shape dough to your pie or tart pan, rest, blind bake and there you go!

Challenge Number Two – Remarkable Risotto

A good, creamy risotto is a thing of beauty, whether flavoured with cheese, mushrooms, asparagus, seafood, or just left plain to accompany another stellar dish.  A great risotto bears the hall marks of being unctuously creamy, but still slightly al dente, and bearing great flavour.

  • Sweat one chopped onion in a bit of vegetable oil (canola, preferred) until translucent.  Add one portion (i.e. 1 cup) of Arborio rice.  Stir/sauté rice until outer coating is translucent. 
  • Start adding your liquids.  Your total liquid amount will be about 2 1/3 times the amount of rice you are using, so if we are using 1 cup of rice, we will need 2 1/3 cups of liquid in total.  We will start with white wine – add about 2/3 cup of white wine to the rice (leaving a balance of 1 2/3 liquid required).
  • Now, here is the new trick I have learned.  Do NOT stir the rice!  Agitate, or gently shake the pan until all the wine is absorbed/evaporated.  This is important.  If you constantly stir the risotto, you are breaking down the outside grain of the rice and you will end up with a mushy risotto rather than a creamy, al dente one.
  • Once the wine is incorporated, add about 1/3 of the remaining liquid (usually chicken stock, but could be veg or fish stock; if you are using re-hydrated mushrooms, use the liquid from that), and again, agitate, do NOT stir, until the liquid is absorbed.  Repeat, with the next third of liquid.
  • Add some butter!  For the quantities we are using above, we want about 60 g of butter.  In keeping with the NO stirring theme, using your hand, run the chunk of butter around the rim of the pot just above the rice level, allowing the butter to melt and seep in around the edges, giving the pan a good jostle now and again.  Once the butter is incorporated, add the last batch of liquid and continue agitating.  At this stage, you should add any seafood, asparagus tips, mushrooms, cheese etc.  At this stage, you will need to stir, but try to use a gentle folding method to preserve the state of your additions, as well as the consistency of your rice.

Challenge Number Three – Filleting Fish

Well, besides the slimy feel, a dead creature and the so-called talent needed, this was not something I was looking forward to.  Piece of cake!  Or, should I say, piece of Hake?

  • We found three lovely flounders at a very good price.  They were small which probably made them a bit more of a challenge.  A bit of internet research and You Tube videos pumped my confidence
  • Flounders (and other flat-fish) have an up side and a down side, literally.  Starting with the down-side (the light colored side) up, I took off the head by cutting from the throat, around the gills and up to the ‘forehead’.  Then, I found the ‘lateral line’ running down the middle of the fish, and using a sharp filleting knife, made a good cut down so that I could feel the backbone.
  • Starting with the lower fillet and holding the knife at a low angle, I used the bones as a gauge and trimmed the fillet away from the body.  I repeated this with the top fillet and again repeated with the flip side of the fish.  I trimmed excess skin of the fillets and later, using the same low angle knife technique, removed the skin from the fillets.

We lightly floured these fillets and pan fried them, and served them with risotto cakes made from the above left-over risotto.  It was GREAT!

Challenge Number Four – Hollandaise

The thought of making real Hollandaise sauce, with all its potential downfalls, scares most chefs silly.  Now, with today’s mod cons, there are very acceptable adaptations that don’t split, curdle or go funky, but I decided that at least once in my life, I needed to do the real Mc Coy.

  • I started with about 1/3 cup of white wine vinegar in a sauce pan and reduced it to less than a tablespoon.
  • I then melted 100 g of unsalted butter (I used the microwave on several short bursts).
  • I set up a double boiler – a glass (I only had ceramic, but metal would be okay, too) bowl over a steaming sauce pan of water.  The concept is that the steaming heat keeps the upper bowl at a constant temp with no hot spots.
  • I put the reduced vinegar into the double boiler and added one egg yolk and a dash of water, all the while whisking.  Whisk, whisk, whisk…  Eventually, after a few minutes, the mixture will become pale and creamy and change in consistency.  Once it is creamy all the way through, start adding (all the while whisking) the butter in small splashes.  Once each splash of butter is absorbed, add a bit more until all the butter has been added.
  • Now, add a bit of salt – whisk, whisk, whisk. And, the juice of one lemon, whisk, whisk, whisk. 
  • Taste, take of the heat, pat yourself on the back and poach and egg or some asparagus!

So, my fellow foodies, what challenges have you encountered lately?  Which of Grannie’s recipes is lurking in the back of your box waiting for you to attempt it?  Or, are you a totally modern foodie that gets your basics (pastry, sauces, fish) already prepped from the store?  I’d love to know!

Fresh Flounder
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Off with its head!
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First fillet off!
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A sharp knife 'following' the bones
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Filleting the other side of the flounder
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Not a lot of meat left on those bones!
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Flounder Fillets with skin still on. Darker are top side, lighter are bottoms side!
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Comments
Jul. 27, 2011 1:17 am
Errgh! I apologize for the font not being right -- I can cook, I can write, but uploading blog posts is still a challenge!
 
Jul. 27, 2011 1:36 am
LAURIE!!!!!!!!!!! =DDD
 
Jul. 27, 2011 1:39 am
Still reading, but 2 quick questions off the top: I'm good with the proportions of flour to fat - BUT, what is "plain" flour? (All purpose?) And what is "a small amount of water?" Sorry, I'm a dink (=
 
Denise 
Jul. 27, 2011 1:41 am
Great job Good EatNZ! These are some of my biggest fears! Especially filleting fish! One of my biggest downfalls is anything made with yeast. I cannot seem to get that right, so if I see a recipe that calls for yeast I pass it by. So sad, because I know there are so many great recipes that are made with yeast. Now that you have faced your fears, you have given me some inspiration. I just might not be a lost cause after all! :)
 
Jul. 27, 2011 1:55 am
BARB!!! For these proportions about 1/4 cup of liquid (if using vodka . You can always add more but not take it away. Plain = all purpose; just don't use self rising.
 
Jul. 27, 2011 1:58 am
Denise -- the fish was surprisingly easy to filet -- key is a sharp, boning knife. Baking with yeast is tough, and I cannot say that I am comfortable with it -- I think it takes practice. Most dishes, done well, take a few 'run throughs' before you master them.
 
Jul. 27, 2011 1:58 am
[I have always avoided recipes with fresh ginger. My daughter made a recipe the other day that mauigirl had shared with me. We put the rest of the gingerroot in the freezer, as was recommended on the Buzz - so I guess it's time to stop avoiding (= Also, I make "homemade," baked macaroni and cheese - but use cream of mushroom soup like Mom did, instead of making a white sauce from scratch . . . one day . . . (=]
 
Jul. 27, 2011 1:59 am
Thank you (=
 
Jul. 27, 2011 2:31 am
LOL! Barb -- my 'fruit' bowl is never without a good 'hand' of fresh ginger. And, so offense, I can't tell you how upset I get when I go to a recipe on AR and it calls for cans of soup... Sorry! it's the purist in me!
 
Jul. 27, 2011 2:41 am
There are things that I picked up from Mom [cream of mushroom soup (=], and things Mom did that I don't [potato flakes! blech!] My son's xgf thinks I'm nuts for making mashed potatoes from scratch - isn't that funny!
 
Jul. 27, 2011 2:42 am
No offense, btw, at all, ever (= Sometimes I feel like such a twit here among the "real" cooks.
 
Jul. 27, 2011 2:45 am
Just thinking about my real potatoes and my cream of soups [and instant puddings, etc, etc, etc (=], and I think it's funny what we will choose to "compromise," and what we're snobbish about.
 
Jul. 27, 2011 2:45 am
Love you, Chickie! So glad to "see" you!!!! Nighty night! Off to bed with me!
 
Jul. 27, 2011 3:42 am
I bought risotto rice about a month ago for the first time, it still sits unopened in my larder press "taunting" me on a daily basis! Isn't it funny how some of these things scare the beejeezus out of us?! I can master a simple white sauce and transform it into any number of other sauces - a fear of others LOL!! I agree with Barb its got to be real from scratch mashed potatoes!!!
 
Jul. 27, 2011 5:51 am
Nice blog. I can thank my years in school in Britain for my ability to make pastry and white sauces. As for fish - I buy it already filleted. Potatoes should not come out of a box andmust be the real deal. Yeast and I are friends but I will admit that there is a learning curve there and you just have to practice. When it comes to Puff Pastry, although I know how to make it, I tend to buy it from the frozen section. I need to practice making pasta. My last two attempts have been less than stellar.
 
Jul. 27, 2011 6:10 am
I have that same box of risotto in my pantry, Trishie! It seems to taunt me whenever I am in there...... and mashed potatoes,,,, always from scratch. When my son went to college he had the menu plan, of course, well, the first time he came home he said "did you know that they can make mashed potatoes from a BOX???" The look on his face was priceless! Apparently he was NOT a fan. So wonderful about the fears you faced in this blog. Makes me think that just possibly that risotto isn't such a big bully after all...............
 
Jul. 27, 2011 8:25 am
Barb, I need to thank Campbell's and Mom for some of my early kitchen experiences -- there was Chicken Marengo and many more. And, back in the 80's, who could possibly be bothered to boil a real potato?
 
Jul. 27, 2011 8:28 am
Ha ha! Trishie and Chris, I dare you to get that risotto out of the pantry! It's no where near as daunting as it seems! And, oh so yummy!
 
Jul. 27, 2011 8:32 am
B'nana, I am slowly making friends with pastry. Many years ago I did make puff from scratch, with success, but that goes in the 'why bother' column these days. I've also been tackling pasta this eek (next blog) - like any dough, practice and patience are in order!
 
Jul. 27, 2011 8:33 am
Oh! And, as far as potatoes go, I dug out my ricer, and we've been enjoying lovely mash with a tiny bit of 'chunk' and a lot of creamy, but not over worked!
 
Jul. 27, 2011 8:38 am
Denise, in this day and age, you can get great fish, etc, already filleted, trimmed, etc, but somehow it is comforting, in a weird way, to get hands on with your food! I encourage yu to give it a go! And, think about the stock you can make from the trimmings!
 
Jul. 27, 2011 12:10 pm
I will admit to buying mashed potato packets several years ago - because I found "William's" potatoes - and that's the name on my man-child's birth certificate. I just couldn't resist. Didn't last long, though (= I was excited many, many years ago to learn how to make one mashed potato in the microwave. [Peeling, cubing, and boiling in the microwave in a bowl of water - yay! A mashed potato for my morning toast! Woo hoo! Gramma thought I was crazy. Not for putting mashed potato on my toast (she did the same with leftover potatoes!), but for actually making a potato in the morning especially to put on my toast (=] My son told his xgf that she would understand that it was worth peeling all the potatoes when she tasted mine. Those moments/comments make it worth it, don't they?!?
 
Jul. 27, 2011 3:49 pm
gal you rock! i love your resolve! ROCK ON1
 
Jul. 27, 2011 5:11 pm
BARB!!! I think we've all tried instant mash at some point - ya gotta do what ya gotta do!
 
Jul. 27, 2011 5:12 pm
Hi, Gary! Thanks! Oh, don't worry, we just keep on rockin' and rollin' down here!
 
Jul. 27, 2011 5:46 pm
How do you make a tongue stuck out on the computer? I drug myself in from the garden in the 100 degree heat to check emails. I've been thinking of you and the earthquakes etc. I'd have missed the blog amd the updates on AR if it weren't for Soup Loving Nicole. Now back to read the blog. :)(:
 
Jul. 27, 2011 5:56 pm
LOLOLOLOL! Wonderful as usual my dear! Challenge. Well, get the gardens ready for my guests this weekend. Get the food ready for this weekend. I think I will slide on the bread and buy it. After being in 100 degree heat all day, baking ugh. That is everyday for the last 2 weeks. OMG I saw a cooking show weeks ago about the vodka/pastry. Too bad Mother Nature is cooking my fruit and the deer and the raccoons and the.... Awesome blog dear!!!!!!!
 
Jul. 27, 2011 6:03 pm
Hi Cat! I've been thinking about you getting ready for the shin-dig! I'm sure it will be awesome! Def. slide on the bread -- you don't need to be baking!
 
Jul. 27, 2011 7:46 pm
Pie Crust is still my major fear! Maybe one day I will tackle it! Great blog!
 
zeebee 
Jul. 27, 2011 9:47 pm
laurie- i miss seeing you as often on the buzz, but your food boot camp sounds exciting! a great way to hone your skills for sure. i still have plenty of things to learn, and wish i could cook new things everyday. my DH tells me i should have plenty of time, later, when my kids are grown and moved out. LOL. then i will finally get to bake everyday. :)
 
Jul. 27, 2011 11:36 pm
Shannon, pastry/pie crust IS tricky. I am not 100% confident at all. I have read a lot, watched a lot of videos/TV shows and I am just beginning to get a bit more comfortable.
 
Jul. 27, 2011 11:37 pm
Zeebee, I've missed not being around the Buzz as much, too, but I've got a lot going on, and decided my time is better invested in 'training'! Don't worry, though! I am still around and always will be!
 
Jul. 28, 2011 4:23 am
Hi Laurie - thanks for this! I love to read about you and yours, even if I don't log in for months on end. I find your notes fascinating - there is a TV chef who insists that you should always stir a risotto to break down the grains, to release the starch in order to achieve a creamy finish! As for Hollandaise, yes grasping the nettle was something of which I was leery, particularly as Diana makes such a good one always. My first attempt was 'reasonable' but I persevered and now I modestly admit to matching Diana's heights, when I go the whole hog and really really concentrate - however, I discovered recently a stunning 'simplified' version, and now toss Hollandaise off as easily as I make mayo!
 
Jul. 28, 2011 8:23 am
Nice to see you Good EatNZ. Great blog. Thanks for the details. Yeast and I aren't enemies, but we don't get along all the time. I'll have to give puff pastry a try. I love that stuff! Side note...that stuff goes straight to my thighs. ugh.
 
Jul. 28, 2011 10:17 am
Great blog and loved all the comments that follow! I usually buy pie dough but I believe your blog just put a stop to that but just like Baking Nana, I will continue to buy puff pastry. And croissants (Mmm!). I do not use can cream soups, instant potatoes, packet sauces as I have learned to make all that from scratch. Hollandaise scares me though, but it's because of the raw egg in authentic Hollandaise. I'm OK with that though!
 
Jul. 28, 2011 11:57 am
Man, I gotta be honest. I've seen a lot of dead fish in my life- some significantly more dead than others (in Alaska rotting fish line pretty much all beaches and wetlands in August) but that flounder really freaks me out.
 
Jul. 28, 2011 11:58 am
Just the pic that's it's whole and sitting in the bowl, though. Not the filleting part.
 
Jul. 28, 2011 1:03 pm
Congrats on your accomplishments! You have inspired me to tackle some of the more challenging recipes that I have been wanting to try. I guess I'm a hybrid foodie. I finally conquered scratch made cakes, frostings, and cheese cake. I'm way too snobby to buy "cake mix", "muffin mix", or frosting in a jar. I can't have fish (allergy), but I normaly buy deboned chicken and when I make chicken salad, I buy a rotisserie chicken. How lazy is that? I like some jar sauces and dressings. I think it depends on the product. I agree that mashed potatoes should not come from a box. The hubby likes them, but I'm not sure they are real food. But what does he know, he also drinks "instant coffee"...blech.
 
Jul. 28, 2011 2:18 pm
Hi, Phil! Good to see you! I've always stirred risotto with some success but often a bit gluggy -- the agitate method worked beautifully (again, at a TV chefs suggestion) -- creamy, but light textured. Happily, I know there are simplified versions of Hollandaise, but I needed to do this for myself!
 
Jul. 28, 2011 2:19 pm
Hi, Lovecakes! Good to see you!
 
Jul. 28, 2011 2:22 pm
Lissa, thanks! After many attempts at pastry, this method is so quick and so simple! But, I will still use store bought puff. I shun most processed foods, besides not being particularly healthful, I resent paying extra for what I can make myself.
 
Jul. 28, 2011 2:23 pm
Ha Ha! Sarah! The flounders wren't pretty but they sure tasted great!
 
Jul. 28, 2011 2:24 pm
Stang, nothing wrong with being a hybrid -- everybody has different tastes and time constraints. If real coffee isn't available, even I will go for instant, but I refer to it as a 'coffee flavored beverage'!
 
Jul. 29, 2011 12:05 pm
"Coffee flavored beverage" LOL! I love it. I can't wait to tell my husband that's what he's drinking tomorrow morning.
 
Jul. 29, 2011 4:09 pm
Oh, these scare me. I can make most things reasonably well, but pastry? I recoil in fear (and so does my poor family). I'm afraid I will be buying pastry until the day I die. The rest, though, made me feel somewhat accomplished (a nice switch from my usual state). I just wanted to let you know that I have a hollandaise recipe from America's Test Kitchen that suggests using the blender. Worked beautifully!
 
Jul. 29, 2011 5:10 pm
Hi Realmom! It's funny what makes some of cower and what others think nothing of whipping up. This week, I've conquered smoking, custard and brown butter. I will share shortly!
 
Jul. 29, 2011 9:39 pm
WOW! Butter YOU...YOURE ON A ROLL! (or a puff pastry!) LOVE IT!
 
Jul. 29, 2011 10:18 pm
Thanks, VG!!! I am trying to get OUT of my comfort zone!
 
Jul. 30, 2011 12:16 am
Loved the boot camp idea!! The closest I ever came was spending one winter making a different soup every weekend. Boy was that fun and the family mostly loved it! We'd just gotten our first breadmaker and yummy!
 
Jul. 30, 2011 4:47 am
Thanks, Preshie! Well, we're well stuck into winter here, and rather than hunkering down, I decided to hone my skills, or at least try to!
 
Leslie 
Jul. 30, 2011 5:55 pm
Laurie, I'm gonna have to try some of these. I want to try some new and different recipes. I've never made risotto and I've always disliked making pastry. KLM won't eat fish, but maybe for myself. Love ya.
 
Jul. 30, 2011 8:46 pm
Hi, Les! The risotto is really good!!! Give it a go!
 
fox 
Jul. 31, 2011 9:47 am
I applaud your accomplishments and your ability to verbalize what you have done. I have stopped making pie pastry for the most part. I seldom make pastry (my husband is diabetic), and mine is not usually as good as Pillsbury's. At nearly age 69, you challenge me to do better. Tell me, though, what is the proportion of fat to flour that you use for pastry? Is it 50:50 flour to fat or 40:60 flour to fat. I very much enjoyed reading the blog.
 
redly 
Jul. 31, 2011 5:36 pm
I did not read all of the comments because it's time to help my guy make dinner. Mashed potatoes are best (in this girl's mind when they are fresh and loaded with milk and butter and a bit lumpy). Mashed potato flakes are a pantry staple. They are so good for thickening some soups or even a sauce. You know when to improvise....
 
Jul. 31, 2011 6:54 pm
Fox, Thanks for your great comments. I've been playing around with the fat/flour ratios a bit. I find 50:50 is a bit to fatty, but 60 flour:40 butter is good. In a few cases, I lessened the butter but 'made up' the balance with cheese, cream cheese or other fats.
 
Jul. 31, 2011 6:57 pm
Hi, Redly! Yep -- when it comes to mash, fresh is best, but I agree that instant can help save a lot of dishes at the last minute. It depends a bit on the main dish on how I like my mash. Sometimes thick and chunky with the skins still on is good for a hearty dish, sometimes (but not often IMHO) whipped is good. My all-arounder is riced, with butter and milk. Oh, and a secret ingredient? A dollop of Best Foods mayo right at the end!!!
 
Aug. 1, 2011 4:18 am
Good for you Good EatsNZ! I doubt there isn't anything you cant tackle! Would love to see pics of the pastry. I have been a bit unsure about attempting it but you make it sound not so intimidating? Will you put together a personal recipe for it? You have me anxious to try it now LOL! Great blog! I have challenged myself to make more of other members personal recipes this summer and have not done such a good job at keeping that promise to myself. Just not enough hours in the day sometimes! Would love to add yours to my "to do" list :)
 
Aug. 1, 2011 12:53 pm
great blog, I leave the filleting of fish for RNGrampa, we have a deal, we both catch, he cleans/fillets, I cook, we eat-seems to work well:)
 
Aug. 1, 2011 2:37 pm
Do you know how great it was for me to receive your phone call? Wicked cool! You are such a dear! And head smack, I do too watch Masterchef. Somedays I wonder about me :)(:
 
Aug. 1, 2011 4:28 pm
Thanks for the lovely compliments, WFDM! I'll attempt to put together something for you soon, but I've been using 60% flour to 40% fat (butter, by weight), and a couple tspns of sugar for a basic sweet pastry. I tend to do most of my baking by weight rather than volume. If you don't have a scale, look up how much a cup of flour weighs (use a basic AR recipe and have it re-calculate with the metric button). Hope that helps!
 
Aug. 1, 2011 4:29 pm
RNG, that sounds like an excellent compromise you have! I normally buy filleted fish, but the flounder looked good and I decided it was one of those 'blech' things I needed to conquer. Easy peasy, really!
 
Aug. 1, 2011 4:31 pm
Well, my dear Cat!!! SLN posted some pics of the round up on FB! I think you have your birth year confused! I thought you were someone else's daughter!!! You never mentioned you were 'hot' in that context!
 
Aug. 1, 2011 7:29 pm
Excuse me?!! I'm not on FB. Uh Oh what am I missing? Did I mention my sister is 13 years older. Do I look blonde? It must have been all that sun. Rock em off their socks is it my tomorrow or my tomorrow's evening? I always get that confused. LOLOLOL
 
Aug. 2, 2011 10:50 am
My problem is a mental one. I cannot stand the idea of cooking beef liver or any liver at all. I used to eat liver and onions as a kid, when Mom made it. But when it came time to make it myself, no way. Not gonna do it. Of course, now I now that it shouldn't really be in my diet anyway, I don't feel so bad.
 
Aug. 2, 2011 1:57 pm
One Hot Mama, I tend to agree. I'm not a huge fan of beef liver, but in this challenge, I did actually try liver again. I had a Czech friend cook it -- totally different than my mom's way -- he braised it. It was edible!
 
fox 
Aug. 2, 2011 2:25 pm
Thanks, Good EatNZ for your comments and instruction about proportion of flour to fat for pastry, and thanks for the blog. Maybe my husband will eat pie again sometime soon
 
Aug. 5, 2011 12:52 am
Thanks, Fox!
 
Aug. 5, 2011 12:24 pm
Rock their socks off dear!!!!!!!!! I will always be grateful for the time you have taken with me to teach me how to make my food "sing"!
 
 
 
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Good EatNZ

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About Me
As a Californian, now living in New Zealand with 20 odd years spent in the Caribbean in between, my cooking style has had a lot of different influences. After several years in other businesses, we finally came to NZ 9 years ago, and with no experience other than eating in a lot of them, we opened a cafe! Our friends thought we were nuts, and in retrospect, we were. We have now sold that business and are trying to figure out what to do next! Watch this space...
My favorite things to cook
I love to play with Asian inspired marinades/ingredients - getting the blance of sweet, salty, sour and spicy just right. I also seem to be drawn to fiddly foods -- home-made pastas, tortillas, filled won tons and grape leaves.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My mother loved Mexican food, and definately passed the taste on to me. I always loved my mom's enchiladas and tacos, and often whip up something like that quick for dinner. When I have more time, I make home-made Tamales. It's time consuming, but worth it. We have a hard time getting decent whole roasting turkeys here in NZ, but there is nothing like spending a day preparing 'the works' for a holiday dinner.
My cooking triumphs
I recently catered for a group of 18 - 22 for 18 days straight. I had prep support from the cafe (they were able to make all the cookies, muffins, cakes, etc) but I single-handedly managed all the main dishes, plus the organization and ordering supplies. The group was so impressed they gave me a gift certificate and I had a real Sally Fields' moment: They like me! They really like me!
My cooking tragedies
Serving things at dinner parties, not realizing that they weren't things that everyone liked or had tasted before. I was shocked when an important client turned up for the lovely roast lamb and said he had never eaten lamb before! Corned Beef was another one.
 
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