Hi Serious Eaters,
I just got a Romertopf clay baker (the 4 person one) and I have some questions that I'm hoping you can help me with. First, I am going to use it primarily for bread, and I am wondering, do I need to soak it before bread in it? The instruction manual seems to indicate that I do, but I've never heard anyone mention soaking before in conjunction with baking bread in terracotta, so I'm a bit confused.
Also, I know you're not supposed to use soap to clean them. Have you found any method that is particularly effective? Is water really enough? Do you ever use baking soda?
And finally, do you have any great recipes for other things to make in a clay baker? I am a vegetarian, so I won't be roasting meat in it, but I'd love to find some other uses for it, so I'd appreciate any ideas you have. I'm a complete novice at clay baking, so no tip is too small!
Thank you so much for any insight you can give!
Like therealchiffonade, I too have a chocolate question:
What do you do when a recipe calls for unsweetened baking chocolate, but you can only get bittersweet? Does anyone have a relatively reliable approach to substitution, reducing the sugar, etc? I ask because I don't think unsweetened baking chocolate is available where I live (I can get 85%, I think), but I still want to make brownies, etc. that have good consistency but aren't horribly sweet.
Thanks for any suggestions!
I'm on holiday in New York City at the moment and would really like to make some Indonesian food. Do any of you Serious Eaters know where I can find Indonesian ingredients (kecap manis, sambal oelek, terasi, galanga, etc.)? I wouldn't mind ordering online, as long as it arrived promptly and didn't cost the earth.
Thanks for any ideas.
My birthday is next week (29), and I can't decide what to do for it, but I want to do something fun because my last birthday was really depressing. Do you have food-related birthday traditions? Do you go out to dinner? Do you make yourself a cake? Do you go on a pub crawl? Do your loved ones bring you breakfast in bed? Or do you lie in bed and eat chocolates and pretend the whole thing isn't happening?
Give me inspiration!
I'm sure there are foods whose enduring popularity leaves you baffled. In my case, it's fruit pies and blue cheese.
What about you?
It can be nice to experiment in the kitchen, but everyone has some beloved dishes which they feel can only be made in one way, and with which no one is allowed to tamper.
I don't want any wierd spices in my fish pie (a friend recently suggested the inclusion of ginger), and my boyfriend would rather poke out his own eyes than see a variation on the sacred combination of poached salmon, potato salad and sliced cucumbers.
What dishes turn you into a traditionalist?
Here in London it is cold and wet, and it's only going to get colder and wetter. In fact, I currently have the heating on, and am wearing woollen socks. I have exhausted all of my rainy day food ideas, and now I need some inspiration. What do you make on a cold, rainy day (that is, if all of you in the midst of a warm American summer can recall what such a thing feels like)?
Were you served lunch at school? Did you brown bag it? Did you go home for lunch?
I was served lunch at school, and it was vile. We ate 'family style,' there was no choice (although at some point they began providing jelly sandwiches for vegetarians - occasionally, when they ran out of the other kinds, with MINT jelly), there was no standard of nutrition, and lunch was viewed as a punishment by one and all. Thinking about it still makes me cringe.
What about you?
Or did you as a child? I'm thinking along the lines of 'Wednesday is Meatloaf Night!'
I particularly remember being fed Chinese takeaway beef with broccoli by my father, and also eating tinned fruit cocktail with maraschino cherries at preschool. In both of these memories, I must have been about two and a half years old (for timeframe, think late '70s).
What early food-related memories do you have?
Of course it depends on what I'm eating it with, but in general, I require piccallili, Swedish mustard (which is quite sweet) and mayonnaise.
Here's mine: I was a vegan at the time, and I had got into the habit of making 'pizza' with a toppinng of vegetables, covered with this 'cheese-like' combination of silken tofu and nutritional yeast wizzed together in the blender. It wasn't great - in fact, it was pretty revolting - but it broke up the tedium. (I will add here, as if it needed to be pointed out, that at the time I was cooking for one. Otherwise, I'd never have got away with it.)
Anyway, this tofu-nutritional yeast combo would have been merely a blip in my record of relatively sound food-related judgement, were it not for the fateful day that I went to the farmer's market and returned with a large celeriac. When I got it home, I was wracking my brain for something unusual to do with it, and I hit upon the misguided notion that it would be really delicious to make a kind of celeriac au gratin with the aforementioned tofu/yeast combo as the topping. I spent an hour lovingly slicing the celeriac, braising it (or something) and arranging it in a little pyrex dish. Then I spred the odious combo on top, sprinkled with breadcrumbs and popped it into the oven.
What emerged tasted like drinking rainwater out of a rusty bucket. It was so revolting that I've never been able to eat celeriac again - it's flavour is, for me, indistinguishable from the flavour of nutritional yeast.
Ok, that's mine. I'm not proud, but I feel a little better for having told you. What's yours?
I always soak them for the required amount of time. I never salt them until the end. I have tried with limas, black beans, kidney beans, cannellinis, black eyed peas and countless others. They always cook unevenly, and the skins are always horribly tough. Even lentils routinely let me down! What am I doing wrong?
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