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chinagringo


Aug 13, 2010, 3:43 PM

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Cooking Authentic Recipes

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Now that the proper way for preparing "coctel de camarón" from all perspectives and geographic variation, I have to ask just how one defines the RIGHT way to prepare any recipe? Once we left the stone age and recipes no longer had to be inscribed on a stone tablet, recipes became more prone to change or modification. Any creative cook worth their salt would always be looking for ways to improve a particular dish they were preparing. I would venture to say that many times a recipe may be changed due to an unobtainable ingredient or a screw-up by the cook in remembering to have all ingredients on hand.

There are a fair number of us on this forum, who enjoy the cooking challenge but I highly doubt that one could ever achieve a 100% "very best" rating on any given recipe! Each of us has experienced a maturation of our taste buds through various food experiences and other external factors.

Is one's competency as a cook or even chef measured on their ability to follow a prescribed "Authentic Recipe"?
Regards,
Neil
Albuquerque, NM




esperanza

Aug 13, 2010, 4:17 PM

Post #2 of 9 (19223 views)

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Re: [chinagringo] Cooking Authentic Recipes

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I don't think there is any such animal as an 'authentic' recipe. I'd be interested to hear how you define that.

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









chris cooper

Aug 13, 2010, 5:37 PM

Post #3 of 9 (19214 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Cooking Authentic Recipes

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How about the Waldorf Salad as originally prepared? Or the César?


chinagringo


Aug 13, 2010, 6:12 PM

Post #4 of 9 (19205 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Cooking Authentic Recipes

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How about that I misspoke - authentic should have been traditional. Does that work better for you? However, Chris has a good point about the Waldorf or Cesar and any others than are given a specific name by the originator. That very first recipe would have to be authentic prior to be defined as traditional.
Regards,
Neil
Albuquerque, NM



(This post was edited by chinagringo on Aug 13, 2010, 6:15 PM)


Peter


Aug 13, 2010, 9:41 PM

Post #5 of 9 (19187 views)

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Re: [chinagringo] Cooking Authentic Recipes

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In Reply To
How about that I misspoke - authentic should have been traditional. Does that work better for you? However, Chris has a good point about the Waldorf or Cesar and any others than are given a specific name by the originator. That very first recipe would have to be authentic prior to be defined as traditional.


I have seen the César Salad go through evolutions over the past about 5 decades I have been familiar with it. There is a dressing that can vary somewhat but has some specific characteristics, it is made with romaine lettuce, and has some sort of topping like grated cheese, croutons, and/or strips of meat.

I first ate the César with meat strips for a number of years but that for a long time now has typically been reduced to grated parmesean cheese and/or croutons only. The dressing usually contains anchovy paste or substitute and I have heard the first salads included anchovy strips.

I know it originated at César's Hotel in Tijuana. Another original Mexican taste sensation.


Hound Dog

Aug 14, 2010, 8:31 AM

Post #6 of 9 (19163 views)

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Re: [Peter] Cooking Authentic Recipes

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I know it originated at César's Hotel in Tijuana. Another original Mexican taste sensation.

I always enjoy your sense of humor, Peter. As you probably know,César was born in Italy and started restaurants in Sacramento and San Diego before opening his restaurant in Tijuana during prohibition so he could serve liquor.

While César´s original recipe for the salad did not include anchovies in the dressing since that would, doubtless, have scared off some of his devoted drunken American clientele, Caesar Salad as prepared today with anchovies in the dressing is a great treat and I would recommend the following dressing for home preparation without the pompous mixing at your dining room table ritual:

Extra Virgin Oilve Oil (say, 1/2 Cp.)
Lemon Juice (say, 3 Tbsp.)
Canned Anchovy Filets in Olive Oil (the whole can of about 12 salted anchovies)*
Worcestershire Sauce (a generous dash or two)
Dijon Mustard (a Tbsp. or so)
Chopped garlic (a whole lot)

Blend in your home blender to emulsify.

Serve Salad with Parmesan Cheese (shaved in a mandoline slicer and croutons rubbed with additional garlic. Use only the finest Parmesan Cheese from that Italian region - preferably Reggiano - never the dreadful Uraguayan stuff or other substitutes many a cheapo, no-taste tienda will try to sell you in Mexico)

Poached chicken makes a great addition to this concoction.

* More processed food. ¡Damn!







(This post was edited by Hound Dog on Aug 14, 2010, 8:35 AM)


Anonimo

Aug 15, 2010, 3:11 AM

Post #7 of 9 (19118 views)

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Re: [chinagringo] Cooking Authentic Recipes

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Let's take a Mexican classic dish as an example. Frijoles Charrros.

Since I wasn't there when it was invented, (if it were"invented". I think it just evolved through a series of improvisations.) I don't know exactly what a traditional recipe would have in it. Beans, bacon, perhaps chorizo; onions, garlic, tomatoes and chiles.

I was looking for an Internet version, and I found an excellent one here on Mexconnect. http://www.mexconnect.com/...ans-frijoles-charros

Note that it says the beans can be started in a pressure cooker, but should be finished in a clay casserole or slow cooking pot.
I appreciate my pressure cooker for its efficiency and durability, but I lack a proper capacious clay bean pot, so I cooked the beans start to finish in the pressure cooker. Not with pressure on all the time, mind you, but after the initial cooking, opened it up and cooked the beans slowly with the additional seasonings.

Another small change was that since I had no fresh chiles serranos on hand, I put a few dried chiles de árbol in with the second onions, garlic and bacon. Come to think of it also, the dried epazote didn't make it in until the pressure had been released. When I tasted it for seasoning, it wasn't quite picante enough, so I diced up some chiles japapeños en escabeche and added them. I thought a touch of umami would be an unobtrusive boost, so I squirted in some Maggi Jugo. ¡Umm...Mami!

So, I certainly deviated from the recipe in several ways, which, as far as I know, was a "traditional" one. The results were absolutely delicious, and we had to restrain ourselves from eating more than a small bowl each. I froze the rest in anticipation of our next party. How much better it might have been if I'd done it in the traditional manner? Perhaps our heads might have exploded with gustatory pleasure? It was already better than wonderful.

So, while I respect the concept of "tradition" and those who pursue it, I'm a modern cook with modern tools at hand and I use them. I also tend to shun prepared, processed packaged ingredients, but I'm not totally strict on that. I almost never will use canned condensed soups in my cooking.

But I have considered using carnitas in Chao Siu Bao, and jícama in place of water chestnuts, and Pimentón de La Vera wherever I think it might enhance a dish. I will say I love quality canned tomato products, as the fresh tomatoes sold here tend to be insipid. I also appreciate the convenience of being able to make a fresh tasting pasta sauce in a reatively short time. Before I retired I was a reluctant fan of Barilla Pasta Sauces and their cousins. Now, with lots more free time I never use them.

Would an ama de la casa tradicional have had a gas stove, a pressure cooker, a freezer and a bottle of Maggi Jugo on hand? Good canned tomatoes?

About a week ago I was discussing the best way do the corn for pozole with our quite traditional landlady. She said to go to the supermarket, buy a big can of precooked maíz pozolero and use it in the pozole. I was shocked. I was thinking maybe of using the refrigerated prepared stuff in bags, but canned? Never. Our landlady is modern enough to not want to spend the long, tedious hours processing dried corn into pozole. I will acknowledge that the traditional pozole is several degrees better.

As it evolved, my menu concept changed and we didn't want pozole.
Instead I made another corn based recipe from Karen Hursh Graber on Mexconnect's Mexican Cuisine section, Pan de Elote del Istmo. http://tinyurl.com/2f3pkdc

I made a number of small changes to suit my purpose as it was to be the base for a dessert. If you want to see those details, read here:
http://mexkitchen.blogspot.com/...st-with-friends.html

Does Atole de Grano taste different if cooked in a cazo de cobre rather then an olla de barro? Could be. But a cazo is what our friend María had, and she made a satisfactory Atole de Grano with our participation last Tuesday. Everyone present seemed to enjoy it, anyway. http://tinyurl.com/28njx6w

To conclude this rather long post, I recommend reading a document by food historian Rachel Laudan that I found yesterday. It's from nine years ago, but I thought it was thought provoking and relevant for today. "A Plea For Culinary Modernism".
This link goes to her blog, from which you may continue if you wish.
http://tinyurl.com/2b3s4oz

Buen provecho,
Anonimo


Peter


Aug 15, 2010, 8:53 AM

Post #8 of 9 (19103 views)

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Re: [Anonimo] Cooking Authentic Recipes

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I think Frijoles Charros is a great example for something that needs no specific recipe. There are some basic guidlenes to follow but that is about it. The olla de barro is a nice touch to lend it "authenticity" but I don't consider it essential. The olla makes a nice presentation on the serving table. There may be an argument that it imparts an authentic flavor, but I would like to see a blind taste test to prove that argument.

As a baker you probably could speak at length exactly why it would be important to follow a bakery recipe to the letter with strict adherence to precise measurements. The bakery is an arena that is among the least forgiving of deviations.

I am of the opinion that if it tastes good, do it.

If you prepare a recipe with your own alterations and expect there may be an expert in attendance who will scorn such deviation, add a region modifier to the name. Make it your own. Then someone else can modify YOUR recipe in the future.


Peter


Aug 15, 2010, 10:58 AM

Post #9 of 9 (19093 views)

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Re: [Anonimo] Cooking Authentic Recipes

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Great article, makes some legitimate points. I don't recall it addressing rolled or sliced oats but that is a handy "process" that makes them worth purchasing.

Over many years I have done much experimenting in the kitchen. I can still produce something that if not completely inedible is not worth the bother, but that is the nature of experimenting. I learned much from my grandmother and her sisters in the kitchen. I recall many times seeing my grandmother making something from scratch that my mother would just buy a mix. Both had their merits but I had a curiosity about scratch foods. When the "secrets" to a ready mix were not apparent and I had to experiment to discover the secret is when I had the most disastrous results on the first go-around. But persistence would usually provide the key.

I am not opposed to culinary luddism, I am just not 100% sold on its merits in all cases. It was important to me to learn the scratch method to baking a cake but often a box of Betty Crocker would provide a more foolproof light and fluffy chocolate cake than I could whip up on my own. But I did continue to scratch make many more quick-bread cakes at home and seldom buy a box of cake mix. In order for my compañera Tere to develop an appreciation for American-style biscuits finding boxes of Bisquick at Costco was a godsend. Now that we made a trip to Costco but failed to find Bisquick this last time I showed her how to build them by scratch. The resulting biscuits now are quite variable batch to batch but that is part of the beauty of them. Kind of like a single-malt scotch.


(This post was edited by Peter on Aug 15, 2010, 11:01 AM)
 
 
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