Monday, July 25, 2011

kitchen lessons

I've started cooking again. Occasionally. I didn't cook at all during my first trimester of pregnancy, and now I am starting to cook again and trying to empty the fridge/freezer. We are moving in three weeks.

I thought I'd put down a few things I learned about cooking so I can remember them. I'm sure there is a lot more to this list, but for now I am remembering just two things.

1) For sauces and soups, use white flour. (Gravy is an exception; whole wheat flour works fine in it and just makes it a bit more gritty. I usually use whole wheat flour when making sausage gravy for a biscuits/gravy meal.)  I created this rule for myself after using whole wheat flour as the thickening agent in some kind of soup. It turned out really strange. I wish I could remember what it was. If it is bread product, whole wheat flour works fine. But if its just used as a thickening agent, the results are unpredictable and might be less than delightful.

2) Don't assume that anchovy paste/fillets can be interchanged with sardine juice. I know I might be an oddball in liking sardines. Before I was pregnant, I was on a sardine kick and loved eating them on rye toast with cheese. There is always some sardine "juice" left in the tin after all the sardines are taken out. At first I dumped it in the sink, but then I got the idea that I should save it in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer for some future use. David is not a huge seafood fan, but I have made a fish-base soup once or twice. Or maybe just once. I thought the sardine juice could go in something like that. So I accumulated leftover juice from 3 or 4 cans, adding up to about 1/4 cup.

Meanwhile, I read in cooks illustrated that adding tomato paste and anchovy past/fillets to a beef stew will add depth to the beef flavor (without making it taste like fish). There is a very good beef stew recipe that uses these ingredients and it is super awesome. As I said before, I am trying to use up what is in my freezer. Recently I was making another beef stew recipe and decided to throw in the frozen sardine juice. BIG MISTAKE. It made the whole kitchen smell like sardines, and you could definitely taste it in the finished product. It was still edible and tasted fine, but the sardine flavor ruined the dish in my opinion. Perhaps if I had used only 2 teaspoons of the juice it would have worked out perfectly. (The stew recipe that calls for anchovy fillets says it is 2 teaspoons worth.) But I probably won't ever try it again.

3) This is more of a complaint against blogger and its search engine. I have discovered, to my dismay, that when searching my recipe blog, the title is not searched, only the body of posts. HOW LAME IS THAT? Super duper lame. This means that I have to rely on my tags to find certain recipes. Or, I should just repeat the post title in the body of the post so it will be searched. I might go back and do that for all the posts.  Grrr.

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So long, and thanks for all the fish.