How to Develop Your Tea-Tasting Palate

Thanks! Embarassing to see that I missed that post.

How to Develop Your Tea-Tasting Palate

@Max: A quick article suggestion for tea -- talk about the water. Some teas taste better with different waters. Just like brewing beer, brewing tea can really vary based on the profile of the water used. My favorite tea house (now closed) had a wall of different bottled (large bottles) water to brew its teas with. It may be fun to talk about the different water profiles by area where the tea comes and the water profiles recommended to drink it with.

How to Develop Your Tea-Tasting Palate

@Max: Good tip, I'll give that a try. Thanks!

By the way good article. :)

How to Develop Your Tea-Tasting Palate

I have a beautiful clay teapot . . . and frustratingly any tea I put in it starts to grow mold within 20 minutes. I assume it has somehow been infused with mold spores at this point. I have tried boiling it, vinegar, and dozens of other things, but none of them seem to fix it. I literally cannot make more than a single pot of tea in it and honestly with it growing mold I don't want to brew any tea in it!


Foolproof Cheese Fondue

I skip the starch and use 4% by weight sodium citrate. Amazing cheese sauce or fondue, never breaks, adds virtually no flavor, and comes out perfect every time. Add all the wine and lemon juice you want for flavor then and you are set to go. I also take my fondue to parties all of the time by simply throwing it in a furnace, it lasts for hours and I can pour out just enough to be used at a time.

Sous-Vide, Deep-Fried Turkey Porchetta (Turchetta)

Congeals the juices so they do not go splattering everywhere when you put it into the hot oil.

Turkey Porchetta

@Old64: Activa RM Transglutaminase.

The Food Lab: The Best Way to Temper Chocolate

@shebakes: I would put a wire rack in the sous vide bath and then put the chocolate in a mason jar and put the mason jar in the bath. It wouldn't take much to weigh down the mason jar if you needed to.

Sous-Vide, Deep-Fried Turkey Porchetta (Turchetta)

@Ken: No, just make sure you like the taste of turkey and prosciutto. I do have to say that the skin does not stick as well when layering another meat inside, but that can be fixed with salt and letting it set a day to readhere and for a stronger adhesion use transglutaminase.

The Food Lab: The Best Way to Temper Chocolate

@findingmykd: My stir plate is not heated. I built one, it's just an old computer fan with a magnet on top, put in a box, with a potentiometer to control the speed. Drop a stir bar into any pan and you are good to go, spin spin spin. Using an Anova would allow me to use it with something getting heated. I have the same problem as you otherwise, where to get a heated stirplate.

The Food Lab: The Best Way to Temper Chocolate

@S. Prince: I love that method of mousse. I use it quite often, although I have had it go horribly wrong without explanation a few times. I suspect it had something to do with temperature or ratio of water to chocolate.

@Kenji: Any reason I cannot use a canning jar in my immersion circulator for this? I can never get all of the chocolate off of the souse-vide bag, at least not as well as I can out of a glass jar. And that now tempts me to get an Anova, I could stick the Anova into a vessel set upon my stir plate, stick the stir plate rod in the glass jar, and then it would be self stirring! Hmmm...

Sous-Vide, Deep-Fried Turkey Porchetta (Turchetta)

I find it to be less or equal work as cooking a normal turkey. The main distinction is you trade off hovering over it in the oven for hours, wondering if you are going to over or under cook it, with prep work.

As for the skin:
1) Spread the legs, then along what would be the front of the leg when turkey is standing, cut the skin.
2) Separate and peel the skin back, it should go easily.
3) Remove the leg at the ball joint.
4) Pull the wing back to identify its joint, break it out if you can (optional, but makes it easier), pull the skin back toward the breast, and at the joint cut the wing off, cutting the skin at the same time.
5) Square the skin off between the thigh and wing cuts, by cutting a straight line between them.
6) Now forget about the skin, it's irrelevant.
7) Remove the breasts and the dark meat.
8) If you are following the recipe, go ahead and remove the skin now. However, I leave it on, throw the whole breast, skin on, into a bag and put it in the fridge.

(optional) From there, I cook the dark meat confit and boil the carcass and odd bits for stock. Once the dark meat is done (24 hours sous-vide), I start it to chill (depending on timing, I may put it in the fridge for a night).

9) Remove the skin, by now it should be really easy to get off.
10) Salt the inside of the skin: this, as I understand it, causes the natural formation of transglutaminase, which will help it stick back to the breast. I have done it without salting and it does not stay in place as well when people eat it. (optional, just use transglutaminase on the inside of the skin: if you want to get crazy with the transglutaminase, this is your opportunity to put in a thin layer of something else, whether it is bacon, thinly cut dark meat, or my favorite pancetta. This is also an opportunity to split the roll into three or four sections, depending on people's dietary requirements (e.g., no pork, no salt, no garlic, no whatever)).
11) Lay the breast into the middle of the skin.
12) Flatten the breast out, find the thickest parts, and butterfly from inside to out so that it will spread open nice and wide.
13) Prep as per Kenji's instructions. -- Note, once I have the sage/garlic/salt on, I like to shred one turkey leg (I tried both once, wow that was a huge roll), and lay it through the core of the turkey. This does not always hold together well, last year I tossed in some transglutaminase and it held together great, this year I had a guest over hanging out who tweaked out at my using "unnatural chemicals". I compensated by adding more sodium chloride, which achieves a similar but not as strong result.
14) Vac seal and let it sit overnight in the fridge at this point, so that the salt (or "unnatural chemicals", whichever) can have its time to act and help glue the skin back onto the turkey.


Once I have done that, I forget about the skin. I then remove the breasts and finally the back meat. Since I cook the dark meat first, I then throw the whole breast, skin on, into the fridge in a large bag. Once the dark meat is done, I start it chilling. While it chills, I quickly remove the skin from the breast, which is really easy at this point. I then lay out the skin, salt the inside of it (which encourages the natural formation of transglutaminase so that it will reconnect to the body.

Are Shooter's Sandwiches Really Worth a Damn?

Summary: I came out of my potato, peaked at it, and read that I should just return to my potato. So, back to the potato for me!

Win a Copy of 'Sweet and Vicious: Baking With Attitude'

Tiramisu, none of that lady finger crap. Make your own sponge, everything, divine.

The Science of the Best Sorbet

I often use egg whites to emulsify (smooth) my sorbets. I have also used lecithin and xanthan gum to great success when trying to not add extra liquid or worrying about someone who is allergic to egg whites.

I admit, this article was a bit low on science high on person experience/rules of thumb. Maybe I am just spoiled with the Kenji-style science where he tests every variable multiple ways, shows the results, and mentions what worked best for him? It would be awesome to see an article like that for sorbets.

I find a sugar syrup is a good way to guarantee that the sugar and fruit juices mix thoroughly. Sometimes I will straight some straight-up juice from the fruit and make a syrup out of it first before blending it back in as well.

The Food Lab: How to Make Foolproof Eggs Benedict

@Scott569: Nearly ditto. The only times I have had hollandaise or mayonnaise break is when I have tried to follow someone else's recipe.

Danish Æbleskiver

Who only makes 4 to 6 aebleskivers?

The Food Lab: These Are My Knives

@Ping-Pong17 : In addition to what @Kenji said, a hollow back grind thins the blade near the cutting edge, which makes it easier/faster to sharpen. On many blades you introduce a hollow grind to one side (especially in wood working), which actually has a much sharper angle than what the blade is then sharpened to. Sharpening often is done to dull the blade (blunt it) from the default angle, which introduces a multi-facet cut that is more durable, but easier to sharpen.

As a hobbyist wood worker, I love water stones. However, I have recently started to transition over to glass stones for finishing my blades. Any type of stone ultimately requires flattening, which is why I have a couple diamond plates on hand.

Sous-Vide, Deep-Fried Turkey Porchetta (Turchetta)

White like in the picture, if you cook it long enough.

Sous-Vide, Deep-Fried Turkey Porchetta (Turchetta)

Guests grimaced, asked, "Oh god, don't tell me that is a tofurkey!" And then tasted it, "OH MY GOD WHAT IS THIS TURKEY EXPLOSION?"

This recipe gets five stars for repeatability and variability. I put the dark meat in the core and it was divine.

Turkey Porchetta

@TwirlyGirly : I agree, this was not the most efficient method to debone a turkey. I used Jacques Pepin's method, which resulted in it being cleanly deboned in under ten minutes.

Sous-Vide, Deep-Fried Turkey Porchetta (Turchetta)

@Kenji: Thanks! Good to know. I decided to let mine sit and rest. We will see how it turns out. Of course, now I wish I had stuffed the center with stuffing instead of dark meat. But we will see.

Turkey Porchetta

Oops. I meant "Tacchinetta". Two C's.

Turkey Porchetta

LoriP: Put the cooked stuffing in the turkey and apply some Activa RM! Brilliant idea. I just did that with dark meat instead of stuffing.

Either way, mmm Tachinetta! (Porchetta = Little Pig. Tacchino = Turkey. .'. Tachinetta = Little Turkey)

Sous-Vide, Deep-Fried Turkey Porchetta (Turchetta)

Is the purpose of the rest period to allow the turkey to bond to itself using the salt as a catalyst? If so, can I drop it straight in the sous-vide if I use a dusting of Activa RM? I am planning to put some dark meat into the center, from precooked legs, and was thinking of bonding it with some transglutaminase.

TALK! Top Community Recipes notice on front page is useless

The top community recipes dialog is utterly useless. Remove it and use the space for something else, or enable a way to tag non-recipes or useless recipes so they are not shown as top recipes.

Seriously, for the last several months the top listed items have been: Boiled Water Recipe, My Husband is not a Vegetarian, and Risotto.

The only one of those three that is even halfway interesting or useful is the Risotto topic. BWR is cute, funny, but detracts from the site. And MHNV is locked because the thread was obnoxious and flametastic.

Yah, so, fix it or delete it. Thanks.


Okay, I've seen the koolaid, but I have not drank it, and at $1400 I am hesitant to even sip it. Yet, I must ask, has anyone here used a Thermomix and have an opinion about it?

I have watched the videos and came to the conclusion that the tools I already have seem to do everything it does, albeit in more space. And, I have a suspicion that the Thermomix is like the all-in-one printer/scanner/fax/copier of the food world: it does a few things well, a lot of things mediocre, and something will break first that will make you toss the whole thing out.

If you are wondering what I am talking about, here is an old WSJ article on it:

I am open to all opinions, from those who have used it, those who own one, those who have a friend with one, those who have seen it online, and those who have never seen one before but want to shout out their opinion. However, please let me know which category you fit into, so I can evaluate your answer in that light.

And if you are a Thermomix salesman, please either be honest about it or don't be obvious about it, but don't be sneaky and try to pass yourself off as the opinion of "just another user".


Hardware Torch, Yay! Wait, Causes Cancer?

Is a hardware store propane torch safe to use on food?
What do health inspectors think of kitchens that use them?

I have wanted a kitchen torch for years. After innumerable recommendations from pros and hobbyists alike, I put a hardware torch (Berzomatic) on my Christmas list. Surprise, I got one! A nice Berzomatic Propane (not MAPP!) with a brass nozzle.

Surprise! "This product may cause cancer in the State of California." (paraphrase). Also, "This product may cause birth defects."

Uhoh. I have a pregnant wife, who read the back of my new torch, and promptly told me I have to return it and cannot use it because it'll kill or seriously deform the baby, her, me, and anyone else that eats my food.

My theory is that I'm not sticking the brass torch (which may contain lead) into the food, in fact it's not even in direct line of the flame, all it does is focus and mix the gas. Plus, the temperature the torch metal gets to isn't high enough to melt it. And anything that burns causes cancer in California, because combustion causes cancer.

What does everything think? Anyone actually address this question?


Serious Vacuum Sealer (chamber, planning ahead)

I have a FoodSaver, it works just fine, but sucks at sucking up liquids. I admit, I am dreaming ahead at this point, but when I plan ahead sometimes I get what I want sooner.

I want a home-style chamber vacuum. Why? I can my own food, I have recipes that involve boiling at room temperature, I cook sous vide, I am tired of playing games to get my FoodSaver to not suck up fluids (e.g. pre-freezing), and why not?

Looking around, I have found one "portable" chamber vacuum. The chamber is 11"x12"x5". Not huge, but it would do the job a lot of the time. A taller unit would be awesome - if I could get quart jars in it ..., but the cost is utterly unrealistic.

Here is the kicker, I want to pay $500 or less. I know that isn't realistic, yet, but it is a start.

So, what realistic chamber vacuum sealer would you get? Or do you already have?

One that I have seen is the Ary VacuMaster VP112 (size stated above). But, are there other options? If you could spend up to $2000, which one would you get? And, has anyone bought or used the VP112 and actually have an opinion of it?


Immersion Blender for Christmas: Which Brand/Model?

My wife has been asking for an immersion blender for years. I have been dragging my feet, because every one I have owned or known someone else to own has died within six months. I have looked at the reviews of dozens of immersion blenders and constantly the reviews rate the product as the best thing since fire, until they have owned it for six months and the plastic gears are shredded. I imagine some of this is due to how people use or abuse their immersion blenders, but I must ask -- What is a good immersion blender that will last for several years? Or at least a good brand name?

I am currently leaning toward a KitchenAid Immersion Blender, but if anyone has a specific model or brand they would recommend instead that would be great. A model that uses real metal gears (or hard plastic), has a removable and cleanable shaft and blade assembly, and possibly has a small variety of attachments (I like the idea of the whisk attachment in addition to the blade attachment), would be ideal.

Thanks! I am hoping to buy this in the next couple days, unless I can find it locally, so all tips welcome.

How do you organize your Spice & Herb drawer/cabinet?

I just bought 48 new spice jars to replace some that were broken and to finally get some of my bagged herbs and spices into jars. When I mentioned this to one of my friends, her incredulous response was, "Wait, how many spices do you have?!?" I then explained that I have over a hundred spices but under two-hundred, but I cannot recall exactly how many (I think it is around 120 last time I counted). After we cleared up the conversation on how I keep them fresh (I rotate my stock by use, date the jars, and keep small amounts on hand), we got into a conversation about organization.

My friend insisted I should organize my spices alphabetically and was in shock with how I organize them. My personal organization scheme is to separate the spices by flavor and aroma profile. General categories are sweet, savory, salty, pungent, hot, and a few more. I organize my spices so I can mix them together like different hues of paint on a palette. I find this to be very useful and gives me more flexibility. Furthermore, I often have a flavor goal in mind and mix my herbs and spices together to reach that goal. And, I admit, I reshuffle a bit during use based on how old spices are (thus flavor changes) and what my mood is. But, I find this method to work really well.

As a result of this conversation, I was curious as to how others organize their spices. So what do you do? How do you keep them organized (or disorganized)? And, for the heck of it, how many spices do you use regularly? And how many spices do you have on hand at any one time?

Homemade Halloween Treat Manifesto

The modern treatment of Halloween treats sickens me. Store bought, bottom shelf, cheap atrocities for candies in response to fear mongering, hate villaging, and stranger danger obsession.

I declare that I have experienced enough of this, I am tired of it, it saddens me, and I want to retake the Halloween I remember from my youth: homemade treats, building community, and connecting with neighbors.

Henceforth, I will strive to make homemade treats for trick-or-treaters and I will encourage others to do the same. Take Halloween back from fear mongering, make it about community again, and introduce kids to the treats of our childhoods!

However, this must be done with an ounce of realism and sanity. Thus, I propose the following steps to ensure optimal treat-acceptance and minimal-waste:

1) Announce to your neighborhood that you will be making homemade treats, announce the day and time you will make them, give out your address and phone number, and encourage people to come over and help or watch.

2) Individually wrap all treats, include a label with the following information: "HOMEMADE TREAT!", treat name, treat recipe, your name/phone/address/email, and "Please contact me if any questions."

3) Don't make too many treats, plan on running out and replacing the sign below with a sign that reads: "Out of homemade treats this year, try again next year!"

4) Put up a sign at your walk that reads: "CAUTION: Homemade Treats At This House! Parental permission required for treat acceptance. Ingredients include: ...{ingredient list}..."

5) Put up a sign on the door that reads: "CAUTION: Homemade Treats; please do not take any if they will be thrown away."

6) When children trick-or-treat, do the normal, but add on "Do you have permission from your parents to take a homemade treat?" If the answer is no, "Sorry, we only have homemade treats this year."

7) Gracefully accept all returned treats or refusals, do not be insulted.


Who is with me?

Homemade Halloween Treat Manifesto

The modern treatment of Halloween treats sickens me. Store bought, bottom shelf, cheap atrocities for candies in response to fear mongering, hate villaging, and stranger danger obsession. I declare that I have experienced enough of this, I am tired of... More