Boston's Hidden Restaurants

Transcript of Online Panel Discussion, December 12

Topic: Cooking (Recipes, Equipment, Techniques, and More)

Below is a transcript of a live online panel discussion on cooking, which took place on Wednesday, December 12, 2012. The panel included several panel members, with chefs, cooks, and food writers participating. The hour-long chat included talks with the panel about all things cooking, including recipes, equipment used, techniques, and more. And once again, the chat included some viewer participation. [Note: The original discussion can be replayed at the following link: http://www.hiddenboston.com/online-discussion-1212.html and please go to the restaurant discussions link to check out our other chats.]



Marc H. (hiddenboston): Hello, all! Welcome to a new live online discussion, with this one being a bit different from some of the others that we have done in the past (which have mainly been on restaurants.) This time around, we will look at all things cooking, including recipes, equipment used, cooking techniques, and more. Also, this time around we have a panel of mostly chefs, cooks, and food writers from around the country (in addition to the Boston area). Before we start, why don't we do some introductions? I'm Marc, the founder and owner of Boston's Hidden Restaurants along with the news-based blog Boston Restaurant Talk. http://www.bostonrestaurants.blogspot.com

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: Hello! I'm Jennifer from 1840 Farm in Dover, New Hampshire. www.1840farm.com

Michelle Collins: Hello everyone! My name's Michelle Collins, and I'm a Boston-based food writer and blogger. I blog over at http://www.theeconomicaleater.com/.

Julie King: Hello everyone, this is Julie King, good morning! I am the chef and owner at Villa Mexico cafe in Beacon hill, Mass. You can find us @villaMexicocafe

Jacqueline: I'm Jackie (AKA The Leather District Gourmet) Writer, speaker, trainer, just launched a private culinary venture called Shop, Cook, Eat - Better, teaching clients how to go from "that looks good" to "I made that!" On Twitter @LDGourmet http://jacquelinechurch.com/about-jacqueline/

Katie: Hello! I'm Katie, Chef/Co-owner Owner of The Skinny Beet (www.TheSkinnyBeet.com) and author of the Blog The Small Boston Kitchen

Lexi Van de Walle: Hi all! I'm Lexi Van de Walle in New York -- I write about local food -- policy and recipes www.lightheartedlocavore.com and am also on the Board of The Culinary Trust, IACP's foundation.

Jacqueline: Skinny Beet in da house!

Simi Jois: Hello everyone, i'm simi and I blog at http://turmericnspice.blogspot.com

David: Hi all, I am David from Whole Foods Market!

Jacqueline: Hola David!

Katie: Ha! Thanks Jacqueline! :)

David: Hola Jacqueline

Jacqueline: Simi - gorgeous blog!

Simi Jois: Thxs Jacqueline

Marc H.: Hi, all! Welcome! There may be a couple more folks on the way, but I think we can get started--especially if the world is ending at 12:12 today, as one of my Facebook friends mentioned earlier. ;-)

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: Well, if the world is ending, I would definitely want my last moments to be spent with great food in mind!

Marc H.: I agree!

Julie King: It's not at 12:12 it's on 12/21!

Marc H.: Ha ha, I keep getting those mixed up.

Michelle Collins: Agreed, Jennifer!

Simi Jois: tru

Simi Jois: I thought it was 20-12-2012

Julie King: I agree Jennifer ;)

Jacqueline: If I'm on my last meal I'm going all dairy and nuts Cheese cheese cheese and some hazelnuts almond thing...

Marc H.: I'm with Jackie on that one.

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: At least we'll have new recipes to enjoy before the Mayans interrupt our holiday cooking and baking!

Marc H.: Let's get started...as I mentioned earlier, today's chat focuses on cooking. So maybe we can start out by talking about your specialties. What types of cuisine do you tend to focus on? Any particular dishes that you like to cook more than others?

Jacqueline: I got lazy about wok cooking b/c I live so near Chinatown. Just seasoned a new wok and have been LOVING it. So fast, easy, low fat. Great for all sorts of food, not just Chinese!

Marc H.: Yes. I use my wok for Indian dishes all the time.

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: I love food and love to cook new things. We live on a farm and produce as much of our own food as possible, so we eat seasonally and simply. Of course, I also love to be creative with my baking like last week when I made dark chocolate cookies with an oatmeal stout buttercream!

David: This time of year love braises, pot pies, and hearty, hearty dishes

Jacqueline: Excellent intro: http://www.graceyoung.com/

Jacqueline: This is probably the most popular question I get asked and I never know how to answer it because it sounds so lazy to say everything, but it's so true

Katie: Ha! Thanks Jacqueline! :)

Simi Jois: Curries using combination of spices - even in dessert

Simi Jois: Jennifer - am envious of you

Michelle Collins: As a vegetarian, I cook a lot of dishes with Indian flavors and spices. We also recently got a Panini press, so we've been having a lot of sandwiches for dinner lately. ;)

Jacqueline: Braised some "Jersey Steak" from WFM with pinto beans and just had the leftover beans now. Yum.

Michelle Collins: And yes, love my wok! Use it all the time

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: LOVE my panini press. It allows me to quickly transform something from the garden into a delectable meal. I also love the wok, no just for stir frying, but for steaming.

Simi Jois: I love PANINI

Julie King: We specialize in Mexican food and our success of our place is based on authentic Mexican recipes and food, our food takes a little longer to cook because the secret to our food is to cook in very low heat but it is definitely worth it. There is an entry that is my favorite, Tinga Poblana, can be cooked all year round

Lexi Van de Walle: As a locavore, I like to cook with fresh, locally grown/raised/caught ingredients.

Jacqueline: Jennifer what do you grow/raise?

Julie King: When we're not at the business I like to bake as well, I make this mean "impossible" flan cake with devil's food cake on top and flan at the bottom, oh my gosh it's so good

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: We keep heritage breed chickens for fresh eggs, dairy goats for raw milk, and tend an extensive heirloom garden and raspberry and blueberry fields. Last year, we happily harvested over 300 pounds of fresh, organically raised produce in addition to our eggs and milk.

Michelle Collins: Julie, that flan cake sounds divine!

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: Wow-devil's food cake and flan combined? Sounds fantastic!

Katie: Sounds great, Julie...I'm less of a baker enthusiast but this time of year I can get a little more into it. I've been baking a lot of breads lately

Lexi Van de Walle: Bay scallops are in season now on Long Island and I've had them a few times already -- quick sauté in butter, with salt pepper and lemon.

Jacqueline: Wonderful to support heritage breeds and heirlooms. Do you know about the #Goaterie over on Twitter?

Julie King: but as everyone is saying, food is around us all the time so we cook everything! I think that's what makes a "chef" a chef, love of the ingredients :) when I see a nice tomato I get happy!

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: No, Jacqueline, I am not familiar. I'll have to take a look!

Marc H.: I'll jump in on this as well--for those of you who know me, I tend to make a LOT of different pasta dishes and sometimes make my own pasta (when I have time). I do a lot of recipes from the "On Top of Spaghetti" cookbook, which comes from the Al Forno folks in Providence.

Michelle Collins: Nothing beats homemade pasta - it's so worth the extra effort!

Jacqueline: I have to try homemade pasta but am not sure about hanging it all over the loft to dry with two cats...

Julie King: Michelle, it tastes even better ;)! Jennifer that sounds so amazing! Would love to try a chicken, my daughter is currently trying to eat only natural, grass fed, produce and it tastes so good

Michelle Collins: Nothing makes me happier than fresh tomatoes!

Simi Jois: i agree julie, am most excited when i see produce

Jacqueline: ;-)

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: Julie, I couldn't agree more! We planted over 100 heirloom tomato plants last year. To me, there is no food on the planet more perfect than a great tomato!

Marc H.: I've just started to learn about heirloom tomatoes. The sauces that you can make from some of them are amazing.

Jacqueline: My "cheater" winter tomatoes are the fat cocktail ones from Me I get at WFM.

Julie King: Katie and Jennifer, it takes a little practice but i can show you how to do it!

Lexi Van de Walle: Love homemade pasta -- I made some with NY State grown flour.... was pretty good.

Jacqueline: I have a hard time getting through the whole of winter and spring awaiting summer tomatoes. There, I've confessed.

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: Julie-you'd be amazed at how simple it is to keep chickens. They require less effort than a dog or cat. As soon as you taste that first fresh egg, you'll never look back!

Katie: Now pair those tomatoes with some pasta...yes!

Marc H.: For sure. I've done that before--made fresh pasta and sauce from fresh tomatoes. Nothing like it.

Jacqueline: Easy peasy - no food mill, no blanching and skinning, no water bath canner...

Simi Jois: I want to learn how to make home made pasta. is there a lot of investment in terms of equipment

Julie King: I am not crazy then! hahaha :) when I get happy the produce comes over and i inspect my onions and lettuces and herbs and beef, etc, my staff laughs :s

Jacqueline: This summer I got a great tip from chef friend re: preserving tomatoes.

Julie King: Jennifer, we have a papillon... I don't think she'd like chickens, but we will buy it ready to cook!

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: Jacqueline, There's no need to confess to me. I grow more cherry tomatoes than we can eat specifically so that I can freeze pounds of them for use during the winter. They freeze beautifully and after simmering away for several hours on the stove, their sauce tastes like it came fresh out of the garden.

Jacqueline: Simply put plum tomatoes in a zip bag in the freezer. When I want one or two for a sauce or stew, take it out. As the thing begins to defrost the skin slips off and you've got nearly fresh summer plum tomato for your dish.

Julie King: You know, I made fresh pasta before. It takes a lot, a lot, of patience, I prefer making the fresh sauces, I see Marc's dishes and I am always impressed he makes his own. Once you get the practice I suppose it gets easier

Michelle Collins: Simi, pasta machines are actually quite cheap - it's easy to find one under $50!

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: Julie, Our miniature schnauzer wasn't thrilled at first either, but he doesn't provide food for our table, so he learned to live with them. Now he is more afraid of them than they are of him!

Katie: Simi - I love making homemade pasta, no equipment necessary! I do it the old fashioned way, by hand

Lexi Van de Walle: I have a few pounds of cooked tomatoes in the freezer that I pull from to makes sauces.

Jacqueline: I froze five pounds "for the winter." They're already gone. Doh!

Simi Jois: and is it really difficult to make your own pasta as julie said

Marc H.: It's very labor-intensive, that's for sure. But technically not too hard to do.

Simi Jois: wow Katie! i need a tutorial

Katie: Roasting tomatoes in the winter gets them a little sweeter too, I use that trick when I'm going through tomato withdrawal!

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: Jacqueline, That is the hard part. We ration them and add more to the garden each year. We can never seem to have enough tomatoes!

Katie: C'mon over!

Jacqueline: My father used to make egg noodles (Hungarian) on the counter. Pile of flour, cracked eggs in middle, knead, boil. But they were pretty rustic.

Michelle Collins: Simi - It was much easier than I expected! It does take some patience, but is worth the extra time.

Simi Jois: Katie :))

Marc H.: Do any of you have specific recipes that you would like to share?

Jacqueline: http://jacquelinechurch.com/curried-kuri-bisque/

Jacqueline: I have sun-dried tomatoes from in-laws garden, too.

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: Making pasta is a lot of fun when you involve children. My kids love to make pasta, especially gnocchi. We spend hours rolling them by hand and laughing as we work in the kitchen.

Julie King: I freeze tomatoes and other vegetables. Not going to lie about these for the winter or when we go on vacation and I don't want to throw away food. We can't be eating burritos everyday so whatever food we have on the side is not going to waste!

Simi Jois: Michelle - am excited to explore and learn this new technique - any help will be appreciated

Jacqueline: This winter soup was a big hit at Thanksgiving

Katie: The trick to good homemade pasta is to knead it like crazy

Marc H.: Yes, it can take a long time to knead it so that it's smooth. But once you do it enough, making pasta is actually kind of fun and not too difficult.

David: Agreed Jennifer. Kids love rolling out the past dough

Jacqueline: I pureed it to smooth it for more elegant presentation but it's totally not necessary. Very flexible too. Spicy or not, curry in or out. Loaded with vitamins.

Julie King: hmmm, I don't have a recipe off the top of my head. what kind of food? what I can tell you is to always, ALWAYS, season with natural herbs

Simi Jois: Katie - i will keep that in mind when i take the pasta plunge

Jacqueline: Dal adds protein, too.

Michelle Collins: Simi - Definitely! Feel free to email me with any questions: theeconomicaleater@gmail.com

Julie King: bring epazote from Mexico, use laurel leafs on some of my rice dishes, use sesame seeds on mole, and try to season with as much natural as possible because salt and pepper can only do so much

Simi Jois: Get me daughter and husband involved - seems like fun

Simi Jois: Thxs Michelle

Jacqueline: Have you tried Seri oregano?

Jacqueline: Divine.

Marc H.: And we have a question from one of our viewers...

Mmmmpizza: What's your "go to" dish you like to make/bring for holiday parties? I'm always looking for the fast, easy and delicious thing to bring.

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: Mine is smoked cheddar gougeres. They are delicious and a hit at every party. Better yet, they can be made ahead of time and the dough can be frozen. Just pop them in the oven and get ready to delight your friends and family!

Jacqueline: Go to dish: I like to bring chocolate truffles. Everyone loves them.

Marc H.: Sometimes I made ziti in vodka sauce to bring to parties. Very easy to make, and the rich, warming sauce seems right for the season. Mac and cheese is always a quick and easy one as well.

Michelle Collins: I love making homemade hummus or bean-based dips for holiday parties. They are simple, and very versatile. One of my favorites is my jalapeno-cilantro hummus: http://www.theeconomicaleater.com/2010/09/second-helping-chunky-jalapeno-cilantro.html

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: http://1840farm.com/2012/09/smoked-cheddar-gougeres/

Julie King: I make spaghetti carbonara because my daughter loves it ;) If there's nothing at a party she likes she has a "safe" dish she calls it :p and since I don't make it all that often it's special. I use pancetta so the taste is delicious

Jacqueline: http://nourishnetwork.com/2009/11/11/boozy-orange-pecan-truffles/

Katie: I always have dips out with homemade pita chips, toasted bread or root veggie chips. Usually they are pureed veggie ones like eggplant, butternut squash, parsnip, etc..They can get dressed up with nuts, oils, etc.

Simi Jois: I dig hummus

Simi Jois: I love to make my traditional tamarind rice http://turmericnspice.blogspot.com/2012/11/tamarind-rice-puliyogare.html

Jacqueline: [Seri oregano link http://suite101.com/article/AllOreganoNotEqual-a328]

Julie King: If I need to bring an appetizer I make cream cheese smoked oyster rolls, super easy and tasty to make

Simi Jois: http://turmericnspice.blogspot.com/2012/11/tamarind-rice-puliyogare.html

Michelle Collins: Roasted, spiced nuts are also great - and again, very easy!

Marc H.: Are you all ready for the next topic? We could use 3 or 4 hours for this chat! By the way, the end of the world has apparently come and gone. :-)

Michelle Collins: Phew! Glad we made it ;)

Simi Jois: Roasted spicy nuts is a great idea

Jacqueline: Thse are a big hit:

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: Yes!

Simi Jois: yeh ! we are in after life

Jacqueline: http://jacquelinechurch.com/nuts-to-you-pin-this-recipe-for-chinese-five-spice-nuts/

Marc H.: Let's move on...

Simi Jois: Those nuts look awesome

Jacqueline: :-)

Lexi Van de Walle: Nothing fast about this dessert --a grown up holiday ice cream cake I make a frozen peppermint torte with fudge topping and chocolate cookie crust -- 1995 recipe from epicurious. Friends and family can't get enough (travels OK if wrapped in lots of ice. http://lightheartedlocavore.thedailymeal.com/2010/12/holiday-dessert-peppermint-ice-cream.html

Marc H.: How about talking about cooking equipment for a few minutes? What do you consider to be some of your most important cooking tools in the kitchen? They could be as simple as a knife or as complex as a pressure fryer.

Lexi Van de Walle: I love my mini prep

Jacqueline: I find my clients are very worried about what gadgets they "need" really simple is best. Good chef's knife. Solid cutting board. Good braising pot.

Marc H.: My chef's knives are probably it for me, by the way, though I use my microplane a lot for everything from cheese to nutmeg to citrus zest to cinnamon, etc.

TMK45: Our 7qt Viking Mixer

Simi Jois: pressure cooker, slowcooker and my burr grinder to make my own spice blends

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: In no particular order: chef's knife, paring knife, food scale, Silpat and a good Dutch oven.

Simi Jois: and my blender

Katie: A good knife and heavy, durable pots for cooking. My life changing kitchen gadget this year was our juicer. We have fresh juice every AM and it makes cocktails way more fun :)

Michelle Collins: Definitely my wok, KitchenAid stand mixer, and tomato knife from Backyard Farms.

Julie King: I can't live without my Oskar food processor. I still have it from when I got married and I take care of it as if it is my other child. It chops everything perfect and quick, even meats for when I am making stuffing!

Julie King: for those rolls: get a box of Philadelphia cream cheese, a square piece of foil and spread the cheese on the foil in a perfect even square. Get your favorite smoked oysters and smash them to a paste, add a little bit of a spice if you'd like a kick, and lay above the cream cheese, roll the foil and refrigerate for at least an hour. once the roll is hard take off the foil carefully and rool over finely chopped walnuts, serve with Ritz crackers.

Jacqueline: I adore the All Clad Copper Core pieces I got with IACP discount. Even heating of copper w/o having to polish. Clean up is a breeze.

Jacqueline: A cast iron skillet.

Michelle Collins: This time of year, I also use my crock-pot a lot!

Marc H.: Yes, the crockpot is great right now. I have a bunch of "slow-cooker" cocktail recipes I want to try for my crockpot.

Jacqueline: Yes on the microplane zester. Nutmeg, zest of organic citrus.

Michelle Collins: Katie, I've been contemplating getting a juicer! Especially for cocktails haha. ;)

Julie King: Yes, Jacqueline is right, a lot of people come to our business and ask what they should buy and I never know what to tell them, buy a knife and a chopping board and a pan and get cooking!

Jacqueline: A good Staub braiser takes the place of crock pot for me.

Simi Jois: and i love the aroma therapy when cooking in the crock pot

Marc H.: Definitely. Nothing like coming home to the scent of a good beef stew for me.

TMK45: Crock Pot is great

Katie: Do it!! We've been obsessed. We seriously use it every day to juice fruits and veggies

Marc H.: Do any of you have any really unusual cooking utensils/tools?

Jacqueline: Also "cheaper" cuts of meat are much more flavorful - more connective tissue/ collagen. Low and slow, moist heat.

Lexi Van de Walle: Made a falling apart delicious goat curry in my pressure cooker last night in under an hour!

Michelle Collins: I just might have to add a juicer to our wedding registry......

Jacqueline: I'll tell you a trick I use all the time. with a common tool.

Marc H.: Do tell! :-)

Marc H.: Actually, we're getting into techniques, tips, and tricks in a few, but feel free!

Jacqueline: You know those tea balls that have a sort of accordian handle?

Marc H.: Yes?

Jacqueline: Great for dusting flour or confectioner's sugar

Marc H.: Nice!

Michelle Collins: We have an avocado slicer, which is totally unnecessary, but does make slicing an avocado much easier.

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: Well, I have a few: a pasta extruder (in addition to a hand crank pasta machine), a popcorn popper that belonged to my husband's grandfather and my great grandmother's biscuit cutter.

Jacqueline: Like so: http://jacquelinechurch.com/new-age-patronage-support-the-writing-you-love-plus-a-bonus-recipe-for-thanksgiving/

Julie King: scissors are not as important as people consider, they work as knives, to chop herbs, in case your knives arent as good, get a good pair of scissors

Marc H.: So true. I use scissors all the time for basil.

Jacqueline: I have one that lives in the bag of confectioner's sugar.

Jacqueline: Dusting the cutting board, counter or silpat you get a very nice fine dust no extra flour.

Katie: You'll be happy you did! Then we can swap juice/cocktail recipes, Michelle! :)

Simi Jois: i use scissors for my cilantro everyday

Simi Jois: yes i have a indian noodle maker for rice noodles

Marc H.: Ooooohhh, now that's something I could really use. I love Singapore-style noodles with curry, and it'd be great to make the noodles from scratch.

Jacqueline: Oh - Indian noodle maker?

Jacqueline: link pls?

Jacqueline: Parchment paper is another thing folks don't use enough

Julie King: I have an egg slicer and I just love it even if it seems too fancy to have perfect boiled egg slices ;)

Marc H.: Ha ha, I see those in the store all the time and always consider getting it, but never do.

Simi Jois: it is labor intensive and a beautiful brass one

Michelle Collins: Sounds great, Katie!

Julie King: nice, yes Simi and Marc, scissors are great

Simi Jois: Jacqueline - not done a post on it yet - we use it so often that i postpone taking picture

Katie: Have to agree, Jackie, we blow through so much Parchment paper around here!

Julie King: yes! that paper can be used even to roast some fish, quickly and easily in the oven. It comes out so juicy and perfect

Lexi Van de Walle: Steamer basket -- the kind that dumplings come in at Chinese restaurants -- comes in handy for veggies -- I use the wok for the steam

Marc H.: I have a bamboo steamer. Started using it after taking a class with Brian Reyelt (from the Citizen in Boston) where we learned how to make all kinds of Chinese dishes, including dumplings.

Julie King: hmmm, I steam with two pots, bano maria if you know? I guess that's the old way

Jacqueline: Just saw cute idea: use large steamer basket to store shallots, garlic. Makes sense for air circulation.

Simi Jois: am going to do a post on it soon

Michelle Collins: I use my kitchen scissors all the time to cut herbs from our backyard garden - especially mint, rosemary and basil.

Jacqueline: I just taught fish en papillote

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: Parchment paper is underused. It's one of those kitchen tools that you just can't appreciate until you use it. Once you have, you're hooked on its versatility.

Simi Jois: Bamboo steamer is on my to buy list

Marc H.: It's so worth it.

Jacqueline: I always do "Dumpling Fest"4 husband's bday

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: Love my steamer basket in the wok. We eat very little meat, but I make a mean chicken substitute using the steamer basket and wok!

Marc H.: I do that as well. Put the steamer in the wok that's partially filled with water. Easy to do!

Simi Jois: when you go to a kitchen store don't you all feel like buying everything and get excited at the possibilities

Marc H.: Yes. Whenever I go to the kitchen store at Chelsea Market in NYC, I feel like I need to take out a bank loan before going.

Julie King: how do you substitute chicken Jennifer? I gotta get me a steamer basket then!

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: Yes, but then I remember what someone else already said, simple is best. That, and there's only so much cabinet space in a circa 1840 Farmhouse!

Simi Jois: I need a bank loan to if there is a banker in here

Michelle Collins: Sur la Table is my weakness. I can't walk into that store without spending half my savings!

Julie King: when I go to a kitchen store my daughter goes off to get a coffee at the other side of the mall...

Simi Jois: I try and tell myself simple is best but ....

Simi Jois: lol Michelle

Lexi Van de Walle: I have a second home -- so 2 of everything

Marc H.: Wow, time is really flying. Ready for the next topic? Some of you have already brushed upon it, actually.

Julie King: Jennifer, you are right again my friend! I go to the stores to see and get ideas but sometimes a lot of these "tools" are so expensive! Sometimes I do buy a new knife, or cutting board-I love cutting boards for some reason, and then i stop. It's a treat but I don't need to have it all, these things won't make me cook better

Marc H.: New topic: Do you have any particular cooking techniques or tips that you'd like to share with people? For instance, how to easily peel a head of garlic, how to make a good stock, or what kinds of "substitutes" to use for other ingredients if you're out of a particular item (or want to experiment). Jackie already mentioned a great one a few minutes back...

Marc H.: I love this tip, in part because it's kind of funny to watch. http://vimeo.com/29605182

Michelle Collins: We eat a lot of eggs during the week, so I sometimes use homemade applesauce in place of eggs in baked goods - I never notice the difference, and I feel like it makes a lot of cakes, brownies, etc. even moister!

Julie King: well, back to the spices, if we run out of epazote for our black beans, which is the traditional way to season them, we use oregano. But not "too" much, oregano can bitter things but it has a very similar taste to epazote

Julie King: with the skins of green tomatoes you can use them as fertilizer for your plants or if you boil the skin, dieting water-yes!

Marc H.: Really. I didn't know that!

Simi Jois: For the perfect curry color, you need to roast the onion in oil on a slow flame for 20-30 min without salt and it turns a perfect brown and let it cool and then grind that into a fine paste with some cashew paste

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: I mentioned this last week, but I've been making my own vanilla extract for years. I started due to my son's food allergies, but couldn't believe how intensely delicious the flavor and aroma of homemade extract was. Not to mention that it is so much more cost effective and as simple as brewing a cup of tea. In fact, so many of my readers asked me to start selling a kit, that I added it to our shop. It has been a big hit!

Katie: I use Tubinado sugar in place of brown sugar in all of my baking. It gives things more texture

Michelle Collins: I also add garam masala to a lot of baked goods this time of year, especially pumpkin-based desserts.

Jacqueline: Many people try to eat a meat free meal and miss the satisfying flavor of umami. I like to teach folks to build it into whatever they're cooking. Can be done with ingredients and techniques.

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: Julie, I couldn't agree more! My grandmother was the best cook I have ever known and she didn't own a single piece of fancy equipment!

Simi Jois: Jennifer - link plz

Jacqueline: I make and grind my own spice blends: Garam Masala, Chinese 5 spice powder, a Fajita spice blend

Marc H.: When I'm making tomato sauce and don't have much time, I add powdered cocoa to it to give it an added richness. Also a bit of nutmeg to kill some of the acid.

Simi Jois: i add garam masala in mulled wine too

Julie King: to make your coffee sweet too, homemade style for us, boil and add a branch of cinnamon, that's "cafe de olla" for us and it's consider humble because people can't afford sugar but it's so delicious

Jacqueline: Simi is right on about building layers of flavor by browning that onion first. In fact, Indian food is one of the cuisines that is a good transition to adding more flavorful meat-free meals.

Julie King: rubbed in your nails also makes them grow stronger-makes you stinky but oh well

Marc H.: Ha ha! I'll pass on that, I think.

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: Here's the link to homemade vanilla extract. If you have any questions, feel free to let me know. http://1840farm.com/vanilla-extract/

Marc H.: Thank you, Jennifer. This is one I really want to try.

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: See, tomatoes really are the perfect food!

Simi Jois: thxs Jennifer

Julie King: if i burn myself I get the skin, just the skin-that see through part- of an onion and place it on the burn, either that or spray oil. makes sure you don't get a boil

Michelle Collins: Marc, I love that idea! We tend to make tomato sauces quite often, so I will have to try that next time.

Marc H.: You can also use the cocoa powder to make a sauce for Sicilian pizza. A bit of brown sugar helps it as well.

Simi Jois: Thxs Julie ! i needed that tip

Julie King: Jennifer you have a great website!

Lexi Van de Walle: Jacqueline -- I'm with you on the spice blends. I'll add Creole season to your list -- cayenne, garlic, onion powder, black pepper, thyme. Great on veggies, meats, on popcorn and New Orleans dishes like red beans and rice

Jacqueline: Jennifer: how many times can you use the same vanilla bean?

Julie King: Marc this sounds great!

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: Julie-Thanks so much!

Jacqueline: Yes - I have been meaning to do ti since Cachere's has a dairy warning on the label and I'm now allergic!

Marc H.: Brian from the Citizen taught us a trick that I'm sure some of you know. To peel ginger, simply use a regular old metal spoon. It takes the skin off really easily.

Simi Jois: I like to add turmeric, cayenne, salt and a bit of sugar to my popcorn or chips

Marc H.: I use tumeric to color lots of foods--works good in casseroles and with pasta.

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: Jacqueline-I have used the same beans twice with great results. Then I use the old beans to make vanilla bean sugar or in baking recipes. The beans get soft as they steep to make extract and are much easier to use.

Julie King: To make very quick, last minute donuts, get those pre-made biscuit rolls from the supermarket and cut a hole in them, deep fry them and powdered sugar=five minute donuts, perfect for sudden visits, or large church gatherings

Michelle Collins: Yes, I love that trick for ginger! I believe I saw it on a cooking show once, and never turned back.

Julie King: you know what we love over here? homemade chips sprinkled with lime juice and paprica. They're great for TV days

Jacqueline: Tomato sauce umami tip:

Jacqueline: Melt an anchovy in your olive oil while softening onion. It won't taste fishy - the marinara will simply taste rich and savory.

Michelle Collins: Turmeric is one of my favorite spices!

Marc H.: There are some really good tips here. I'll be making a transcript of this chat, by the way, so you can print it out.

Simi Jois: Julie !! am trying that

Jacqueline: Turmeric: anti-inflammatory v. good for you.

Simi Jois: Michelle and turmeric is v healthy

Jacqueline: Ginger tip: http://jacquelinechurch.com/somen-japanese-cold-noodles-are-a-summer-staple/

Michelle Collins: Great! Thanks, Marc.

Marc H.: Well, we are quickly running out of time here...

Marc H.: Got about 5 minutes left...

Simi Jois: and turmeric is great for skin - for cuts and facepack

Simi Jois: :('

Lexi Van de Walle: Tumeric in egg whites is a good substitute for the yolks

Julie King: rosemary anyone? A super easy check pea and rosemary soup we love for cold days too: water, simmer chopped onions and rosemary, add a cup of chickpeas per person and lightly smash them in the pot to create a soft paste, leave to boil and season with some kosher salt. It's just so tasty, rosemary is greta

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: Love rosemary. We grow it in the garden every year.

Michelle Collins: Julie, that sounds fantastic! Thanks for the recipe.

Jacqueline: Roasted chick peas as snack/ who's got a fave recipe?

Jacqueline: Simi?

Marc H.: How about a really quick, final topic?

Jacqueline: Yes!

Julie King: oh no, we gotta go! well I tell you, we're busy here so I gotta start helping ;)

Simi Jois: 5 min left

Jacqueline: How about a great foodie gift tip:

Julie King: if you would like to contact us please note: villamexicocafe@gmail.com my friends :)!

Marc H.: Thanks, Julie!

Jacqueline: Yuzu kosho http://jacquelinechurch.com/ingredient-sleuth-two-new-finds-you-must-try-yuzu-kosho-and-bonny-doons-verjus-de-cigare/

Michelle Collins: Roasted chickpeas: http://www.theeconomicaleater.com/2011/02/dinner-party-recipes.html

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: Julie-thank you

Jacqueline: Thx Julie!

Marc H.: Final question:

Marc H.: What is your one favorite ingredient to use in cooking?

Marc H.: I'll go first. White truffles. Or ancho chilies. Or garlic. Oops, I guess that's three.

Simi Jois: does it have to be one

Marc H.: See my faux pas above. :-D

Julie King: Marc that's a hard one!

Michelle Collins: Ooooh, this is a tough one! I use cayenne in pretty much everything....

Simi Jois: then spices

Julie King: hmmmmm.....

Jacqueline: One?

Jacqueline: Inconceivable!

Michelle Collins: Simple, freshly cracked black pepper is also something I use in everything!

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: I have to side with Julia Child here: butter. It makes everything better and is useful in baking or cooking.

Jacqueline: Cue Inigo Montoya bot.

Julie King: I'd have to say right now, oregano and "seasoning leaves" or ramo de olor that has a mix of leaves that you can toss in almost every dish to give special flavor to foods. I just love spices

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: Julie-You've made me want to travel south to Boston for some great Mexican food!

Simi Jois: home made ghee - clarified butter and spices

Jacqueline: Julie do check out the Seri Oregano

Marc H.: I'm really getting hungry now.

Michelle Collins: Thank gosh it's lunch time - this chat is making me hungry!

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: Agreed-I should have known to bring a snack to a food chat at lunchtime!

Julie King: Thank you my dear Jennifer, always welcome ;)! Simi I will check it out, my social media master daughter will find it for me!!!

Lexi Van de Walle: I keep servings of roux in the freezer for gravies and cooking

Marc H.: We have hit the 1:00 hour, unfortunately. Thanks so much to all of you. There is a ton of information to look through here!

Julie King: I know, time to eat kiddoes! Thank you so much for the invitation Marc, it was great!

Jacqueline: Thanks so much for hosting!

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: Thanks Marc. I can't wait for the next chat!

Lexi Van de Walle: Fun chat. Thanks Marc!

Michelle Collins: Yes, thanks Marc! This was fun and informative, per usual.

Simi Jois: thxs Marc this was great !

lesarl: great program - lots of learning from this end!

Jacqueline: Sorry - will you be posting transcript link?

Marc H.: Yes, I'll have it up later in the week.

Jacqueline: Thanks! I want to find/follow some of these folks just met today! Thanks all!

Katie: Thanks, this was fun...nice to "meet" you all!

Jennifer @ 1840 Farm: Agreed-nice to meet you all here. Hope to see you soon!