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  • helenrennie Jan 15 7:20 PM - Comment
    commented on Playing with fire.

    Most ovens have one knob with temperatures (250, 300, 350, etc) and the same knob will say “broil.” If the oven is already preheated, just set it to “broil.” If you have multiple knobs, when you set one of the knobs to “broil” the broiling element will come on and the oven element will automatically go off. Of course, all ovens are different, so refer to your manual for more accurate info.

  • helenrennie Mar 14 4:57 PM - Comment
    commented on Sablefish with Balsamic Orange Ginger Glaze.

    the side dish in the picture is glazed carrots. this was a few years ago, but I think I cooked them in orange juice, honey, and ginger

  • helenrennie Dec 15 5:39 PM - Comment
    commented on Bake a lot?.

    Hi Betty Algier,

    I am with you on the thermometer! I forgot to mention it because I consider it such an essential cooking tool too that I wasn’t thinking exclusively about baking. I wish recipes would give you internal doneness temperature for cakes like they do for breads. It would make judging doneness a lot easier.

  • helenrennie Dec 15 1:28 PM - Split
    commented on Bake a lot? and Bake a lot?.

    I never laugh or shake my head at questions :) I teach cooking classes for a living, so there is no such thing as a bad question to me. Here is why you need a scale:

    http://www.beyondsalmon.com/2007/06/what-difference-ounce-makes.html

    Flour is compressible, so if you want consistent results, the only way to measure it is to weigh it. Whatever baking problems my students encounter: dry cakes, cracked pie crust, no holes in the bread, etc. -- it almost always boils down to the wrong amount of flour.

    Also, keep in mind that many people are perfectly happy with home-baked anything. If it makes their house smell good, they are happy. Can you bake without a scale? Yes. Can you make the best versions of a baked good without a scale? No. When it comes to baked goods, I am like Anton Ego from Ratatoille -- “if I don’t like it, I don’t swallow :)"

  • helenrennie Sep 29 1:31 PM - Comment
    commented on Dough day.

    it’s 2 full sticks plus another half stick (20 Tbsp total)

  • helenrennie May 12 12:44 PM - Comment
    commented on Victoria's secret lamb chops.

    I couldn’t help laugh as I was reading your story. I am a culinary instructor (used to write for culinate a while back). When I was pregnant with my daughter, I did just what you did -- stocked up my freezer and somehow never touched it when the baby was born. I just wanted to cook so badly :) I am now pregnant the second time and I am heading into this new motherhood with no prepped meals. Just like my daughter, the second one will be a summer baby and there is no way I’ll be passing on our short New England growing season to defrost those short-ribs.

  • helenrennie Feb 24 12:27 PM - Comment
    commented on Steamed up.

    Hi Matthew,

    Great post on rice cookers, but I think it’s unfair to compare them to stove top prep (because I honestly think it sucks ;) Have you tried the oven method though? Cook’s illustrated came up with it and it replicates rice cooker beautifully. It works for all types of rice (you just have to change rice to water ratio and cooking time). Here is my description of it for sushi rice:

    http://beyondsalmon.blogspot.com/2006/02/technique-of-week-how-to-make-sushi.html

    It does take more thought than a rice cooker (you have to boil water first and remember to take the rice out of the oven), so maybe a rice cooker is still worth it.

    By the way, most Asians would frown on this recipe because they hate turning on the oven. It’s more of a special occasion thing than an every day tool.

    Cheers,
    -Helen

  • helenrennie Jan 20 12:34 PM - Comment
    commented on Miso mashup.

    Hi Matthew,

    I am one of those guilty people who has a year old (maybe older?) miso sitting in the back of my fridge. I use it in one or two recipes, but not as a condiment, which I’d love to try. My question is how perishable is this stuff? In theory, it shouldn’t go bad because it’s fermented, right? Any idea on whether I should go and buy a new jar, or just use my year old one?

    Cheers,
    -Helen

  • helenrennie Jul 15 11:32 AM - Comment
    commented on Hungry Monkey.

    Hi Matthew,

    The yogurt story was so funny and so familiar that I am still laughing :) One of Sammy’s first food words was yogurt too. She used to call it “yoguk,” though lately it mutated into “yogut.” I guess she is growing and starting to say things the right way now. But I really miss the adorable names she made up for food, like kiwi is a “wizi,” and gnocchi are “yucky” (in a really good way -- that’s one of her favorite foods).

    Keep up the good work! A friend of mine just had a baby 2 weeks ago. She has so much stuff that I don’t know what to get her as a gift. This post reminded me about your book and I am thinking it would make a really great present.

    Cheers,
    -Helen

  • helenrennie Apr 29 12:00 PM - Comment
    commented on The science of baking.

    Hi Kelly,

    Great write up on the basics of baking! I am a cook at heart too, and one thing that made all the difference in my baking is weighing the flour. This will make WAY bigger difference than figuring out exactly how much protein your flour has. Get yourself a scale and try weighing a cup of flour 5 times. You’ll get different amount each time. Whatever you’ll get is likely not the amount the recipe writer had in mind either. A cup of flour can vary by as much as 25% from person to person. No one in US even agrees on what a cup is. Some say it’s 4.5 oz, some say it’s 5oz.

    To avoid the protein content being all over the place for AP flour, Rose Levy Beranbaum suggests only using King Arthur, Pillsbury, and Gold Metal instead of generic brands. I find that her advice on baking gets me perfect results the first time around -- it boils down to being extremely precise with measurements, temperatures, and ingredients. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for Reinhart. His book is great at explaining the theory, but the recipes need too much adjustment to work on the first try. The only way you’ll learn to adjust with baking is to make the same thing 20-30 times changing only one variable at a time (just like a proper science experiment). If your temperament is anything like mine, that’s never going to happen. That’s why I like meticulous recipes when it comes to baking -- I want something decent on the first try.

    Cheers,
    -Helen

  • helenrennie Apr 28 11:30 AM - Comment
    is now friends with

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