Food Noob

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krazykate
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Food Noob

Postby krazykate » Sat Jul 25, 2009 8:52 pm UTC

I'm home alone for the next week, and I'm looking forward to cooking for myself, but I really don't have too many things to work with. Could I get some advice for easy things to make? time isn't really an issue because I don't work and school isn't in session, but I'm not good at complicated recipes.

I've got a lot of chicken in the freezer for some reason, and there's a lot of pasta in the pantry (lasagna, spaghetti and macaroni), so bonus points if you can use those things.

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acb
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Re: Food Noob

Postby acb » Sat Jul 25, 2009 9:09 pm UTC

Is it whole chicken or breast or legs/drumsticks?

For pasta -
Pasta and pesto: cook pasta, stir in pesto.

Pasta and tomato sauce: while pasta is cooking, chop 1 small onion and 1 or 2 cloves of garlic. Cook in a frying pan until translucent (5mins). Add tin of chopped tomatoes, and a bit of dried basil/oregano, or a lot of fresh basil if you have it. Season with salt and pepper. This amount of sauce will probably do two meals, especially with extra stuff in.

Both of these can be made more interesting by adding whatever veg you have, tuna, mince, whatever really. I practically live off these.

Chicken curry is always good, and can be really easy. If you have legs/drumsticks then try roasting them in a hot oven and serving with veg&potatoes or chips or whatever you fancy. Chicken salad is nice - make a salad of whatever you like and put some hot cooked chicken breast in it. Stir fry with chicken&veg.

If you like eggs then there are a lot of different ways to cook them and they are quick, easy and good for you.

The BBC Food website is really good, you can search by ingredient and there are recipes ranging in difficulty.

Thats a quick list, I'm sure other people have some better ideas! If you want some more detail on anything I can give an outline - I don't tend to follow a recipe or timings though so it will only be approximate.

EDIT:
Oh and have a browse in this forum - here are some threads that might be helpful:
viewtopic.php?f=39&t=38959
viewtopic.php?f=39&t=39686
viewtopic.php?f=39&t=39384
viewtopic.php?f=39&t=39468
viewtopic.php?f=39&t=21930

Found from a brief browse, there should be a pasta thread out there somewhere and there's the xkcd cookbook of course!

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PAstrychef
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Re: Food Noob

Postby PAstrychef » Sun Jul 26, 2009 3:21 am UTC

A good roast chicken is simple to do, mighty tasty and leaves wonderful leftovers.
Heat oven to broil
Line pan with aluminum foil, oil with olive oil or pan spray
If you have a whole chicken unwrap it and make sure you pull out the packet of innards. Then rinse the inside. Take a big knife and split the chicken aling the breast bone, pull it apart and flatten it by pushing down on the back of the chicken. Put chicken in pan skin side down.
If you have chicken parts just fit them into the pan. If they are breasts put them in skin side down.
Sprinkle the chicken with a bit of lemon juice, then with salt and pepper-not too much.
Broil for 5 minutes, then turn over and broil until the skin starts to get a nice crackly brown. If the tops of the legs look too dark, don't worry.
Turn oven to 375F.Wash some potatoes and cut them in quarters unless they're very small and you can leave them whole. You can peel them if you prefer that.
Fit them in the pan around the chicken-turning them to make sure they're coated with oil and chicken juices.
Roast for another 30- 45 minutes or so, until the chicken is cooked. You can turn the spuds when you think of it, being careful to keep the nice crust on the potato, instead of the foil.
Eat!
If you are using parts it will probably finish sooner.
If the potatoes aren't crunchy when the chicken is done, put the chicken on a plate, crank up the heat in the oven and give them another 10 minutes.
If the crust sticks to the foil, peel it off carefully and eat it on the sly. Cook's benefits.
Having a friend to enjoy this with is very nice too.
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Zohar
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Re: Food Noob

Postby Zohar » Sun Jul 26, 2009 5:07 am UTC

Regarding acb's tomato sauce - I would suggest you start working on it before you throw the pasta in the water. If you're not used to cooking it could take you a while to prepare the sauce and you should always have the sauce ready before the pasta.

Also, if you have some sauce-less pasta left, rinse it with water, drain it, add a bit of olive oil so it doesn't stick.

Another sauce is olive oil, a bit of balsamic vinegar (just a little!), salt and pepper.
You could fry lots of garlic in a pan with olive oil (don't let it brown, otherwise it will be bitter), add a chopped chili, pine nuts and sliced dried tomatoes. Also salt and pepper. Then, when your pasta is done, add it to the pan and mix. I'm vegetarian so I haven't done this but if you take the chicken breast and cut it to small pieces and fry it (before the rest of the ingredients), it should also be good.
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krazykate
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Re: Food Noob

Postby krazykate » Sun Jul 26, 2009 12:32 pm UTC

I ate spaghetti last night. While I didn't read either of your posts in time to use your sauce recipes, I'm saving them in case I ever have to do this again.

I found some packaged chicken broth in the pantry and wanted to make some gravy with it. I mixed a bit with flour and it just turned white. is there something else I've got to add before I heat it?

you guys wanted to know what kinds of chicken I have. I have some cornish game hens "without neck or giblets", and a ton of chicken breasts (no skin). curry sounds delicious. I'm going to search the pantry for curry powder.

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Re: Food Noob

Postby justaman » Sun Jul 26, 2009 8:49 pm UTC

Instead of curry powder look for some cumin seed, coriander seed, chili powder, ginger, mustard seeds and turmeric (cardamom too if you can find it) - all the basic ingredients of curry powder, but will taste much much better if freshly ground, or even if you fry the cumin and mustard seeds and just add some chili.
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Re: Food Noob

Postby Nath » Sun Jul 26, 2009 10:00 pm UTC

krazykate wrote:I found some packaged chicken broth in the pantry and wanted to make some gravy with it. I mixed a bit with flour and it just turned white. is there something else I've got to add before I heat it?

You probably want to make a roux, rather than just mixing the flour with the broth. Start with some fat (e.g. butter), heat it, mix in the flour and cook till it starts to change color. Then add your broth, a bit at a time (or heat the broth separately and add it all at once). Season to taste.

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krazykate
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Re: Food Noob

Postby krazykate » Sun Jul 26, 2009 10:11 pm UTC

i'm saving justaman's curry-powder recipe. I really doubt I could combine all those things without messing something up, but when I've got a bit more practice I might try it.

I hope butter was all I was missing from the gravy. that'd be really easy to fix.

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Re: Food Noob

Postby poxic » Sun Jul 26, 2009 10:15 pm UTC

I learned a rule of thumb for sauces from one of Mom's ancient (er, 30- or 40-year-old) cookbooks.

To make a thin white sauce, about what you'd want for a cream soup, use one tablespoon flour and one tablespoon butter (or other fat) for each one cup of liquid. The liquid can be milk (cream soup), broth (e.g., onion soup), or whatever mixture of stuff you need.

A thicker sauce, for gravy or summat, is two tbls flour and two tbls butter per cup of liquid. This is probably what you want for chicken gravy. Melt the butter/olive oil/chicken drippings/whatever over low-medium heat and add the flour, as Nath said, cooking and stirring (and stirring and stirring and stirring) until the whole mess looks as brown as you want it. If you're adding spices (other than salt), do it at this stage. Then start stirring in the liquid a bit at a time, making the whole thing smooth after each addition. You want to use a whisk here, if you have one, or else a fork. (If you're adding herbs, start tossing them in with the first of the liquid.) When it's all added and the pot contents are bubbly and tasty (adjust salt here carefully), pull it off the heat and dump it where it's needed -- serving dish, straight onto the food, whatevs.

Even thicker sauces use three or four tbls each of fat and flour per cup of liquid. I don't remember what these are usually used for, but I didn't recognise anything I'd choose to make among them.

Edit: the butter probably won't brown the gravy by itself. As long as it tastes all right, don't let the colour bother you.

Also, if you're making a white sauce for a cream soup, you can blend the flour with cold water before adding it to the pot, rather than making the roux. Make sure all the lumps are whisked away and pour it slowly into the hot veggies-or-whatnot, stirring a lot. Let the whole thing come back to a bubble for a bit until it starts to thicken. (Flour needs heat to thicken things properly.)

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Last edited by poxic on Sun Jul 26, 2009 10:19 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Food Noob

Postby Nath » Sun Jul 26, 2009 10:18 pm UTC

krazykate wrote:I hope butter was all I was missing from the gravy. that'd be really easy to fix.

It's not so much the butter as the heat. You want to cook out the raw flour taste before adding the broth. The butter is there mostly to keep the flour from burning while you do this.

And curry is surprisingly forgiving. As long as you get the salt right and don't go completely overboard with anything else, you'll probably end up with something pretty good.

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Re: Food Noob

Postby Ulc » Mon Jul 27, 2009 7:39 am UTC

An absolutely delicious way to prepare some pasta, better with fresh pasta instead of freezedried, even better with homemade pasta (if you're new to it, I wouldn't recommend going for homemade, one step at a time)

Chop up onions to whatever size you prefer, I like them fairly large, and fry them on a pan with some oil until they are soft, and golden, make sure that you dont burn them brown, put them on a plate for later
Chop up mushrooms to whatever size you prefer, fry them on a pan with some salt and pepper until the mushrooms start to give off a lot of water, then keep frying till it's gone. They will shrink a fair bit in size, put them on the same plate for later

Mean while you should boil the pasta, when it's done take away the water, and pile it on the plate too - in the now empty caserole, add cream and a small chunk of a good melting cheese such as mozeralla or porte bello, and at LOW heat melt the cheese - when the cheese is melted add the onions, mushrooms and pasta and reheat with some salt, pepper and basil

Wonderful recipe, and very simple to make - if you dont want to make it vegetarian (note, I'm not a vegetarian, but I'm not a fanatic "all meals must have meat!") then you can fry some chicken and add in as well



But in general the best advice for getting started on cooking is simple:

Dont be afraid to try something new, even without having it recommended, if you're thinking "wonder what happens if I do this", do it and find out! Sure, you might get a few non-perfect meals, but then you know.

Dont skip out and use "just heat in oven" food - as an example, around here you can buy potato boats for heating in oven.. don't. Buy fresh potatoes, peel them, chop them and season them yourself. Taste better, and is cheaper, does take longer however.


Actually, I would kindda recommend getting your hands on Jamie Oliver's books, wonderful bedtime reading and will inspire you a lot, and most of it is fairly simple food.



Editied for clarity: Porto Bello is a kind of mushroom, porte bello is the name of a kind of cheese I can find in my supermarket - might just be the producers thinking "hey, this sounds kindda fancy"
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Re: Food Noob

Postby PAstrychef » Mon Jul 27, 2009 2:02 pm UTC

You can do loads with boneless chicken breasts. Put 2 or 3 in a pot with just enough cold water to cover. Add a bay leaf, a stalk of celery, some fresh thyme and a few peppercorns.
Bring to a boil, then skim off the foam. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. You now have a mild chicken broth that can be used to cook rice or couscous or bulgar and poached chicken for chicken salad, or as a topping for any other salad you may make, or as a part of a fry up-saute in big pan some onion, mushroom, green or other bell peppers, diced potatoes and whatever else you have in the fridge. Then you throw in some scrambled eggs and stir until the eggs are as done as you like. Top with shredded cheese if you want to and serve with toast.
You can grill them plain or marinated and use them in the same ways as the poached ones above. And you can toss cut up bits in BBQ sauce and run under the broiler for a few minutes to get a little crust on them.
Then there's what I call
6 can soup
2 cans chix broth (or 4 cups broth from poaching)
2 cans coconut milk
1 long stalk lemongrass, cut into 2" lengths
1 knob of ginger about 2" long, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
2 limes, zest and juice (or 10 keffier lime leaves torn up, if you can find them)
1T brown sugar
Red Thai chili paste-I like Thai Kitchen brand, but what ever you find is ok-you will use this to taste
2 cans straw mushrooms, drained and rinsed
1 bunch thai basil-also called siam basil
1 small hot pepper usually called a "bird" pepper
1# chicken breast, cut in 1" cubes, more or less
Heat the broth and coconut milk together and add the ginger, lemongrass, lime juice and zest and the brown sugar. Simmer for a few minutes. Stir in chili paste until it's as spicy as you like it, then add the chicken and mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes. Just before serving add the basil and slices of the hot pepper if you like things hot.
You serve this soup with all of the lumps of stuff in it. People are expected to remove them at the table. Lemongrass isn't really chewable, and ginger slices have a weird texture.
You can make this without the basil and it's still good. Everything else you should be able to find at a grocers, if you can't find an asian grocers.
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Re: Food Noob

Postby PictureSarah » Mon Jul 27, 2009 3:26 pm UTC

Lasagna is actually really easy. Boil the lasagna noodles until soft, and then rinse with cool water and coat with a tiny bit of olive oil to keep them from sticking together. Then layer the lasagna noodles with pasta sauce, grated mozzarella and ricotta cheese, and basically anything else you want. I usually use sliced vegetables like eggplant, bell peppers, tomatoes, etc., and you can also use ground beef or turkey (cook it first), spinach, and anything else that sounds tasty and would go with pasta sauce. Finish off with a layer of grated cheese, cover, and bake at 350 degrees for probably about 45 minutes, then uncover for 15 more to make the cheese crispy.
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Re: Food Noob

Postby krazykate » Tue Jul 28, 2009 12:16 pm UTC

thanks to your tips I successfully made some chicken gravy last night. not a big victory, but I was proud of myself. We usually have some canned cream of chicken soup, and mix a bit of water with it. By cooking the butter/flour and then adding broth, I ended up with pretty much the same result as if I had used the soup. The rule of thumb poxic gave me was really helpful when measuring amounts.

I tried boiling rice but ended up with a pot of mush. Did I use too much water?

I'm looking for a good butter chicken recipe, and google hasn't been very helpful. the recipes always call for plain yogurt (which I don't have) or a mixture of tons of spices (which I would never be able to do right). Any ideas?

If I can't get the butter chicken and rice working, I'll make some lasagna. that seems easy enough.

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Re: Food Noob

Postby Zohar » Tue Jul 28, 2009 12:36 pm UTC

Congrats. Everyone starts out small, so you should be proud. :)

As for rice, unless it's whole grain rice (which uses more water), I put 2 cups boiling water for 1 cup rice. You don't need to mess around with rice, though. I fry it a bit in a pan with some oil (and all the veggies etc., like was mentioned before) and then add the water. Then I keep the flame on high until the water boils again. In the meantime I season the water - it should taste similar to a soup, salt-wise (unless it's sushi rice or something similar). Usually that means about 1 tsp. salt for every 1-2 cups of rice.

After you bring it to a boil, lower the flame and cover the pot. Now, don't touch it! Leave it alone for 15 minutes or so, then check to see how the water is doing, taste the rice to see if it's cooked and so on. If you mix the rice, it could become mushy. You'd want that in risotto, not in normal rice.
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Re: Food Noob

Postby Nath » Tue Jul 28, 2009 1:04 pm UTC

krazykate wrote:I tried boiling rice but ended up with a pot of mush. Did I use too much water?

Either that or it just got overcooked. Does the rice come with instructions? Different varieties like different amounts of water, but Zohar's suggestion of 1:2 is a reasonably safe bet.

For plain steamed rice, you don't even need to fry or season it. Just boil two cups of water, put in one cup of rice, turn down the heat to a simmer, cover it, and don't touch it for 20 minutes. If you find the rice overcooked or undercooked, adjust next time. If you'll be eating the rice plain rather than drowning it in curry, you can put a bit of salt and/or butter in the water when you boil it.

You can also make it in a microwave: cook uncovered till almost done, checking periodically. Then cover it and nuke it for another couple of minutes.

krazykate wrote:I'm looking for a good butter chicken recipe, and google hasn't been very helpful. the recipes always call for plain yogurt (which I don't have) or a mixture of tons of spices (which I would never be able to do right). Any ideas?

Well, if you can't get yoghurt, you could make a simpler onion-and-tomato-based curry. As for the tons of spices, feel free to omit ones you don't have or err on the side of underspicing the food. As long as you don't care about authenticity, you can make a good curry-type dish with very few spices. The important thing is cooking and seasoning things right; spices are just details.

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Re: Food Noob

Postby krazykate » Tue Jul 28, 2009 6:15 pm UTC

I'm just starting to realize how bad I am at all this. I thought the rice problem had something to do with leaving it too long or something. I figured it was like pasta in that it didn't really matter how much water it's put in. the 2:1 ratio is another good rule of thumb to know.

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Re: Food Noob

Postby Nath » Tue Jul 28, 2009 11:11 pm UTC

You can make rice that way -- use a lot of water and drain off the excess. That's actually the more traditional way to do it. I don't have any experience with that method, though.

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Re: Food Noob

Postby krazykate » Wed Jul 29, 2009 1:01 am UTC

the 2:1 trick worked great. I don't want to experiment with draining or anything when I know something already works.

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Re: Food Noob

Postby PAstrychef » Wed Jul 29, 2009 1:17 pm UTC

An excellent book with this sort of useful information is the newly published Ratio by Michael Rhulman. Instead of recipes, it gives you the proportions of ingredients for foods-pie crust, for example uses 1 part water to 2 parts fat to 3 parts flour-all measured by weight. So you can make any type of pie crust if you use that ratio.
If you really have never cooked anything beyond ramen and mac and cheeze, visit the library and get out a basic cookbook, likeThe Joy of Cooking or theHome and Gardens Home Cooking. Or just browse the shelves and find one with good pictures the Look and Cook series is good for those. Get an idea of the vocabulary and some of the basics.
You should be able to get a small tub of plain yogurt at any grocers, and you use it all in your butter chicken. Sometimes cooking does mean thinking ahead-butter chicken is must tastier with a long marination.Mostly-have fun with it. Cooking is a chance to play with your foods.
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Re: Food Noob

Postby Enuja » Thu Jul 30, 2009 4:21 am UTC

It's really exciting that you're learning so much so fast. It must be really hard to be starting from not knowing what you're doing without a teacher or a trusted cookbook. My dad taught himself to cook, and taught my mother to cook, and they, along with "The Joy of Cooking" taught me to cook. I thought I knew how to cook, but I mostly knew how to follow reciepies. Which is useful for making food, but not so good for improvising with fresh or available ingredients. I bought Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" and I love it. It taught me to improvise, because Bittman gives tons of variations for most of his recipies. He's also got an (older) "How to Cook Everything" which you might really like. I got Bittman's cookbook after I was already an old hand at the Joy of Cooking, so I'm not certain that Bittman has all of the information a completely novice cook needs, but it sure reads like it does. And you're learning not just the way to cook standard recipies (as in Joy) but how to change recipies and make stuff up. I strongly second the "go to a library and check out a cookbook" advice, even in this internet age. It's really easy to find recipes online, but it's not easy to learn to cook from those recipes. There are a lot of cookbooks out there for people learning to cook, and you can try a few and see which one helps you.

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Re: Food Noob

Postby krazykate » Fri Jul 31, 2009 1:38 pm UTC

The improvising is what I'm probably learning a lot more right now than the cooking, since I don't really have a chance to go to the grocery store. I dont think that kind of thing can be taught though. I like the idea of ratio, because my portion sizes will be a lot smaller since I'm only cooking for myself, but I still want to know how to cook for other people too. I know we have Joy Of Cooking somewhere in the house. I thought it was just some obscure family cookbook. Didn't realize it was bought and used by other people. X-D

On the vein of improvising, I'd like to make some chili tonight to use up some of that chicken. Since everyone has their own chili recipe, I figure it'd be pretty easy to throw some stuff together and call it chili. I don't know how to start though. could you guys give me a quick walkthrough of the basics or something?

same thing with casseroles. they seem like they should be easy to make, but I don't know where to start.

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Re: Food Noob

Postby Ulc » Fri Jul 31, 2009 2:19 pm UTC

Do you have anything but chicken?

One way I love to make my chili's are along the following:

Peel some onions, cut them up in smaller chunks, fry in a pot together with garlic and some of the chili, add in the chopped chicken and fry for a bit more, then pour on a liberal amount of dark heavy beer (I use Porter myself), and in a few other vegetables and let in summer for at least half an hour, the longer the better. At the very least till the starch in the meat begings to thicken the chilli, add in more chili to taste

Serve with a bit of rice.. and remember to keep some sour cream handy if possible (if you use chili as I do it, it's that or die a fiery death!)

Normally I would do it with beef as it absorbs the chili taste better, but chicken can work
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Re: Food Noob

Postby krazykate » Fri Jul 31, 2009 5:48 pm UTC

so the only liquid you add to your chili is beer? I thought there was some mixture of tomato paste or something.

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Re: Food Noob

Postby PAstrychef » Fri Jul 31, 2009 6:28 pm UTC

Some chili recipes use tomato, but most get their color from the chili spices. You can check out allrecipes.com for some simple recipes. just search chicken chili.
Don’t become a well-rounded person. Well rounded people are smooth and dull. Become a thoroughly spiky person. Grow spikes from every angle. Stick in their throats like a puffer fish.

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Re: Food Noob

Postby Enuja » Fri Jul 31, 2009 9:43 pm UTC

I'm confused about this can't get to the grocery store thing. You say you have time, and you're home alone, so you're cooking for yourself. I'm guessing that the problem is vehicular access or money. If you just need a few things, like yogurt (should be less than a dollar) and chillies (enough spicy ones for whatever you need should be less than 50 cents), it should be easy to walk or bike to a grocery store. I walk to get all my groceries, and I prefer it to driving, as long as you don't want to buy a lot of liquids. Since I drink water and have a backpack on almost all of the time anyway, I have no problems with it whatsoever. Buying soda or lots of milk or shopping for more than one week or more than one person can be difficult on foot, but getting a few missing ingredients for something you want to try shouldn't be at all difficult.

As far as casseroles go, cook your pasta to almost done, make a roux or white sauce as described above, put together with whatever else you want in a casserole dish and bake it between 350-400 F. Putting something on top that browns well (like cheese or breadcrumbs) does wonders for a casserole. If you've got the same edition of Joy of Cooking (the updated version that came out in 1997) as I do, there is macaroni and cheese on p. 320 and Tuna noodle casserole on p. 321.

For chili, I really like the (vegetarian) Wild Caribbean Black Bean Chili on p.276 of the Joy of Cooking. I make half what the recipe calls for.

On curry I'm going to disagree with some of the advice here: I learned to make it with pre-mixed curry seasoning, and it's really easy. If you're intimidated by mixing your own spices, but all means, skip that for now. Know that your curry will taste better when you mix and brown and crush your own spices, but there is nothing wrong with leaving that for later, when you're a more confident cook.

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Re: Food Noob

Postby Ulc » Sat Aug 01, 2009 10:35 am UTC

Well, a good chili is one of those wonderful things that everyone has their own recipe for, I merely presented mine ;)

But yes, I only use beer for the liquid
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Re: Food Noob

Postby krazykate » Sat Aug 01, 2009 7:54 pm UTC

This week is just a bad week. I'm getting my drivers license soon, so I should be able to drive in the future, but I can't right now. I have a bicycle too, but it's 90 degrees outside for most of the day, meaning that the 4-5 mile round trip would leave me sweaty and disgusting. This is the first time in a long while that I've had neither a car, a hyperactive (and very bribe-accepting) little brother, or decent weather.

[/whine]

does cheese cook well? I used bread crumbs, figuring it couldn't possibly taste any less bland. I thought cheese just burns if you put it in an oven.

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Re: Food Noob

Postby poxic » Sat Aug 01, 2009 8:05 pm UTC

Cheese does cook well, if you take care of it. You can mix it into a dish and bake it, leaving the bits on top to burn a bit which isn't necessarily a bad thing. If you want to put cheese on top, wait until ten minutes or so before it's done baking. Whip the pan out of the oven, decorate with cheese, then whip it back in, trying to not let the oven or the food cool down much (and without burning yourself). The cheese should be bubbly and maybe a little brown in places when the baking is done.

(Note that you probably shouldn't try this with breads, at least baking-soda types. They have a tendency to stop cooking as soon as they're taken out of the oven, no matter how fast you get them back in there.)
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Re: Food Noob

Postby The Utilitarian » Thu Aug 06, 2009 12:58 am UTC

For an easy chicken and pasta option I like Blackened Chicken:

First make a spice mix, my girlfriend and I use equal parts black pepper, paprika, Oregano, Garlic Powder, and about a sixth that of Cayenne pepper (to taste, more if you like spicy) you can customize with your favorite spices.

slice one or two chicken breasts into half or thirds.

Melt a small dish of butter

dip the chicken strips in the butter and then roll them in the spices until coated

fry the chicken in a dry non-stick pan until the spices on the outside are mostly black

serve with spicy-alfredo sauce pasta (I just mix regular garlic alfredo with Frank's Red-Hot)

Very easy and tasty if you like spicy food.
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Re: Food Noob

Postby Enuja » Thu Aug 06, 2009 2:49 pm UTC

Cheese does not just burn if you put it in the oven. Think of pizza. That's a very hot oven, with cheese on top. Cheese topped bagels and breads? And, of course, cheese topped casseroles. And I'll even put bread in my oven just so I can put cheese on top of the bread to be bubble and rise and brown a bit. Yes, cheese browns, and if you put it on something that needs to cook for a long time, then it might burn before the rest of the dish cooks. If you've got more cheese, it will be less likely to burn, if you've got less cheese, it will brown and burn much more quickly. If your cheese dribbles onto a metal pan (or the bottom of the oven) it will burn. My problem with macaroni and cheese is always getting the top to brown enough, never that it browns too much. I'll usually turn the oven up a bit at the end to make sure that my mac and cheese actually browns, instead of just melting.

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Re: Food Noob

Postby Bakemaster » Sat Aug 15, 2009 9:21 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:Regarding acb's tomato sauce - I would suggest you start working on it before you throw the pasta in the water. If you're not used to cooking it could take you a while to prepare the sauce and you should always have the sauce ready before the pasta.

Also, the quality of flavor in a marinara is directly proportional to the amount of time it was cooked. Slow and low for great justice.
Nath wrote:And curry is surprisingly forgiving. As long as you get the salt right and don't go completely overboard with anything else, you'll probably end up with something pretty good.

Well, and a good rule of thumb is to go easy on the turmeric. It's pretty overwhelming in large amounts. More often the bulk of your spice mix will be powdered coriander and/or cumin, depending on whether it's a sweeter or spicier masala you're going for. Paprika can also be good for bulk in a hot dish, as it adds a lot of color and not too much heat. And ginger is ALWAYS a good idea.
krazykate wrote:I'm looking for a good butter chicken recipe, and google hasn't been very helpful. the recipes always call for plain yogurt (which I don't have) or a mixture of tons of spices (which I would never be able to do right). Any ideas?

Either get some plain yogurt, or use coconut milk. Failing that, you can use cream, though obviously that's less healthy. Soy milk can be okay, but it's too thin to really be a good replacement; you have to use it in very small amounts so as not to make your dish watery. My advice would be to follow this recipe as closely as possible; I haven't tried it myself, but I've tried a bunch of other Indian recipes on Videojug and they have all turned out well. Having the video as well as the recipe is a great help for a beginner.
krazykate wrote:does cheese cook well? I used bread crumbs, figuring it couldn't possibly taste any less bland. I thought cheese just burns if you put it in an oven.

If it's in the oven uncovered, the moisture will cook off and the cheese will brown and then burn. If you cover your dish with foil though, it retains its moisture and would take a lot longer or higher temperature before burning; so for instance, you can cook something cheesy under foil for an hour, and take the foil off in the last 5-10 minutes (depending how hot the oven is) to brown the cheese on top.
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Re: Food Noob

Postby The Utilitarian » Sun Aug 16, 2009 12:31 am UTC

krazykate wrote:I'm looking for a good butter chicken recipe, and google hasn't been very helpful. the recipes always call for plain yogurt (which I don't have) or a mixture of tons of spices (which I would never be able to do right). Any ideas?

YourReality makes a fantastic butter chicken without too much hassel. Perhaps if you ask nicely she'll share it. I know she uses raw whipping cream, low sodium tomato sauce, and the Patak's Butter Chicken Paste (NOT the Butter Chicken Sauce they make, which is a much more finished product and doesn't allow for you to make it as tasty on your own)

Learning to make Butter Chicken at home was one of the best investments of a weekend we ever spent. Truely I am blessed to live with her -_^
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Re: Food Noob

Postby YourReality » Sun Aug 16, 2009 12:44 am UTC

The Utilitarian wrote:
krazykate wrote:I'm looking for a good butter chicken recipe, and google hasn't been very helpful. the recipes always call for plain yogurt (which I don't have) or a mixture of tons of spices (which I would never be able to do right). Any ideas?

YourReality makes a fantastic butter chicken without too much hassel. Perhaps if you ask nicely she'll share it. I know she uses raw whipping cream, low sodium tomato sauce, and the Patak's Butter Chicken Paste (NOT the Butter Chicken Sauce they make, which is a much more finished product and doesn't allow for you to make it as tasty on your own)

Learning to make Butter Chicken at home was one of the best investments of a weekend we ever spent. Truely I am blessed to live with her -_^


Aaaawwww, haha that's so sweet! As for the butter chicken I CAN indeed give you a recipe if you want but it does involve several spices. I'm pretty sure you won't be able to find a recipe without them. The spices are pretty much what makes it butter chicken but it's really not as tough as it might seem to get them right. I'm not exactly a pro and I managed to sort it out ;) Lemme know if you want it.

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Re: Food Noob

Postby Nath » Sun Aug 16, 2009 1:42 am UTC

YourReality wrote:Aaaawwww, haha that's so sweet! As for the butter chicken I CAN indeed give you a recipe if you want but it does involve several spices. I'm pretty sure you won't be able to find a recipe without them. The spices are pretty much what makes it butter chicken but it's really not as tough as it might seem to get them right. I'm not exactly a pro and I managed to sort it out ;) Lemme know if you want it.

Well, technically, the butter and the chicken are what make it butter chicken; the spices are what make it good. :)

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Re: Food Noob

Postby The Utilitarian » Sun Aug 16, 2009 1:52 am UTC

Nath wrote:
YourReality wrote:Aaaawwww, haha that's so sweet! As for the butter chicken I CAN indeed give you a recipe if you want but it does involve several spices. I'm pretty sure you won't be able to find a recipe without them. The spices are pretty much what makes it butter chicken but it's really not as tough as it might seem to get them right. I'm not exactly a pro and I managed to sort it out ;) Lemme know if you want it.

Well, technically, the butter and the chicken are what make it butter chicken; the spices are what make it good. :)

Actually of my two favorite Butter Chicken sources (YourReality and Royal Tandoori in New Westminister), neither actually use butter in their recipe, usually replacing with cream.
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Re: Food Noob

Postby YourReality » Sun Aug 16, 2009 2:01 am UTC

True dat, much better that way. Less greasy when you use whipped cream. While we're on the topic of food here (and waiting to see if I should divulge my butter chicken secrets), how easy/hard is sushi to make? And where does one get the stuffs needed?

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Re: Food Noob

Postby Nath » Sun Aug 16, 2009 3:47 am UTC

The Utilitarian wrote:Actually of my two favorite Butter Chicken sources (YourReality and Royal Tandoori in New Westminister), neither actually use butter in their recipe, usually replacing with cream.

Well, that would be malai chicken, rather than butter chicken.

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Re: Food Noob

Postby The Utilitarian » Sun Aug 16, 2009 4:07 am UTC

Nath wrote:
The Utilitarian wrote:Actually of my two favorite Butter Chicken sources (YourReality and Royal Tandoori in New Westminister), neither actually use butter in their recipe, usually replacing with cream.

Well, that would be malai chicken, rather than butter chicken.


I'm going to have to go http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wittgenstein here and assert that if a dish prepared in this way is consistantly called butter chicken when I order it or find a recipe for it, then this dish is called butter chicken.
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Re: Food Noob

Postby Bakemaster » Sun Aug 16, 2009 4:10 am UTC

Speaking as someone with not a ton of sushi making experience... I'd say for a beginner, the most important thing is the rice. You're not going to be able to cut up raw fish yourself, and the assembly is all about practice. So look up some tips and tricks for how to make good sushi rice, make sure you buy the right kind of rice, and follow the directions carefully.

After that, all you need are sheets of nori. And it helps to have a sushi rolling mat, usually made of thin pieces of bamboo. The ingredients can be whatever you like—thin strips of cucumber or carrot are hard to screw up. I personally love unagi (eel) with avocado. Sarah and I also once tried a spicy temari mixture that worked out just fine.
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