Sunday, July 30, 2017

Fat Chance

This is NOT how to get chicken fat! (web photo)
A good friend and cook has exhorted me on several occasions to make chicken stock from scratch, instead of using shelf-stable Kirkland Organic Chicken stock-in-a-box. Cooking a chicken or two is requisite to obtain the precious chicken fat.

I’ve thought of making my own chicken stock, but there are numerous reasons I don’t.

One: I’d have to go to the Mercado to buy chicken. Currently, we try to stay away from the mercado. We love the tradition but abhor the energy burning reality. I suppose I could buy chicken at La Bodega Aurrerá. Mmmm?
Two: I’d have to cook it within a limited time frame ere it spoils. When we return home from the Mercado, we just want to rest.
Three: I’d have to strain out the solids.
Four: I have to make sure that there’s room first, in the fridge, then in the freezer. (The Kirkland needs no refrigeration until opened.)
Five: After it’s refrigerated, I carefully lift off the valuable fat. It would be a good idea to further render the fat to eliminate moisture. It will keep longer.
Six: Get appropriate size container(s) and refrigerate/freeze the fat.
Six-(a): mark containers with date, and ID.
Seven: clean up pots, pans and utensils. Pay attention to thorough grease removal.

I’m sure that the resulting chicken stock is superior in every way to the Kirkland, other than in convenience. Oh, it’s not organic, but that’s not a high priority for me. Convenience is the keyword for why I use Kirkland. Plus it doesn’t need refrigeration until opened.

Chicken fat is not a healthy food, but I admit, it would be nice to have some at hand every once in a while. It's a must in potato knishes and in kasha varnishkes. (I never have toasted the kasha in the oven, as in the linked recipe; only in a pot on the stovetop.)  I substitute vegetable oil. Fat chance that I'm going to render chickens for stock and the golden bonus of chicken schmaltz.

We need an image of chicken schmaltz here. Maestro!

Pure, rendered chicken fat. (Borrowed from the Web)

Potato Knishes
Good looking knishes recipe here.

Kasha Varnishkes with yogurt topping. Yogurt is not common on KV
Kasha Varnishkes, Step-by step recipe.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Forum of the Three Squeezers

The title of this post has nothing to do with the former New York restaurant, The Forum of the Twelve Caesars. It's just a play on words that amuses me. Instead, this is a loose, product  comparative review of three citrus juicers, one ancient manual and two shiny electric models.

We'll begin with the manual, lever action squeezer; Old Faithful. Fuel: muscle power. I bought this cheaply at a moving sale some years ago.

The lever-action, manual juicer is reasonably fast and effective, although larger orange half shells frequently lodge in the upper cup and must be dislodged with a knife blade. It isn't difficult, but it slows down the production flow. The lever/handle becomes slippery and I try, fruitlessly, to keep it wiped dry with a paper towel. When squeezing large quantities, the strainer and cone need to be emptied of excess pulp and seeds, or it may clog, then overflow.

I must have been in an enchanted spell when I sought an electric juicer, one that I hoped would be faster and require less energy input than the manual juicer.

I fell into the clutches of and in a moment of heedless impulse, purchased the cute little Oster citrus juicer. (below)

Oster does make juice! While it lives.

This I regard as more of a toy than a serious kitchen appliance. Oh, stoopid me.

These are its good features:
  1. It's cute and looks good on the counter top.
  2. It's easy to assemble, disassemble and to clean.
  3. There are two ways of capturing the juice output; a retaining receptacle or a continuous flow spout. I think it's foolish to use the retaining receptacle.
  4. The receptacle has graduated markings, for those who want to know how much juice was made. Why?!?

Here's the bad things about it:
  1. It's slow. Very slow
  2. Almost as much or more muscle power, compared to Old Faithful, is required to press the orange half against the juicing cone.
  3. If you carelessly use the retaining receptacle, it can overflow.
  4. My machine died in less than two weeks after I received it. I was juicing 3 kilos of oranges, and the machine was doing fine until the last half orange, when it suddenly and silently died. Now, maybe I'm to blame, for tasking such a toy juicer with a commercial quantity of oranges. But the instruction sheet had not given any advisory as to limits.
Moving ahead now into deeper realms of impulse shopping. I'd read positive reviews of this Cuisinart Pulp Control Citrus Juicer made by the respected company that made my food processors, and other quality kitchen tools. I saw it at Bed Bath & Beyond in Morelia. I was enthralled, and swept it off the shelf into my shopping cart, heedless of its high price. At least it wasn't an online purchase that had delivery challenges.
It looks much more serious than the Oster. It looks positively ecclesiastical.

I've juiced with the Cuisinart several times, and it seems superior to the Oster. It hasn't yet died under the loads with which I task it.

Here are some advantages:
  1. No retaining receptacle. It's simpler without that less than useful feature.
  2. The motor reverses the direction of the juicing cone when you lift the fruit for a moment. This action aids complete juicing. See #3.
  3. It really, really gets every drop of juice out of the fruit, if used properly. This is its best feature.
  4. There is a supposedly adjustable pulp strainer, but I've not yet learned how to use it. See YouTube video, below.
  5. Easy assembly, disassembly and cleaning.
  6. Looks good, not cute, but more distinguished and stately than the Oster.
  7. Juice output is good, but almost creamy with pulp. Unless you dislike pulp, it's unnecessary to strain the juice.
These are the negatives:
  1. Considerable force must be applied to the fruit half to start the juicing.
  2. Slow output. Slow motor, I suppose for consumer safety. At least half the output speed of the manual juicer.
  3. Sometimes makes loud, rattling noises.
  4. Sometimes the juicing cone spins without any fruit on it, spraying pulp bits about.
  5. It's a good idea to clean out the strainer at intervals if juicing. Easy enough as there are no nuts, screws, bolts or latches in its construction. (A negative reference to my Turmix Juice Extractor, a very different machine for a different purpose.) 
I can optimize my use of the Cuisinart Juicer by, ah, reading the effing manual, and even better, watching the highly instructive video below.
Note the rocking motion of her hand while holding the citrus half. That action yields the most juice.
Also note the use of the clear plastic dome to extract any juice remaining in the pulp.
Another nuance is the electric cord storage receptacle. (I know, not a biggie.)

I am delighted to have found this video. It gives me hope that I can progress in getting the most from my Cuisinart Pulp Control Citrus Juicer.

UPDATE: At last, I gave in and bought a PDH Industrial Model Citrus juicer, from on line. This monster, weighing in at almost 10 kilos, ain't walking off the counter. It's all stainless steel and is of simple construction. It's fast and powerful. I can juice 3-4 kilos of grapefruits in about 15 minutes, without breathing hard. I did have to find a taller juice receptacle, but that wasn't too difficult. Clean up is easy, as there are only three simple parts in contact with the fruit. It can be cleaned disassembled or in place. Even the on-off switch is better. It's an industrial type rocker switch that lights up red when on.

I learned to place a strainer over the receptacle container, as the machine puts out an excess of pulp mixed with seed fragments.

Tonight I had a little difficulty in disassembling the operating head, so I started to clean it in place. But then, the parts in question loosened and I finished cleaning it disassembled.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Dining in Malinalco: Las Palomas

Las Palomas was the second restaurant recommended by our hostesses at Casa Navacoyan. The service was acceptable and the food decent, but with a tendency to heaviness.

The menu is extensive, with cheese a common element in very many dishes.

The entrance is on a street currently closed to vehicular traffic but easily traversed on foot. Just inside, up a gentle slope, is a covered dining area. To the rear there's a partially covered patio area. We chose to sit in the front due to flies in the open patio.

Our waiter brought us some dips and chips to munch on while we decided what to order. The nearer salsa was interesting for the fruit in the blend. The frijoles were a heavy paste.

I started with a Crema Fría de Aguacate. It was very smooth, soothing and mild.

Sra. Cuevas had an Ensalada de Espinacas y Peras con Queso de Cabra vinaigreta balsámica. That was very nice, although I was surprised to see that the pears were cooked and seasoned.

I was intrigued by a Tamal Envuelto de Acelgas Relleno de Champiñones con Mole.

But when I tasted it, it was too heavy and the dominant brown color did not add to its appeal. I wouldn't order it again.

This next photo is an unidentified mystery, and appears to be pechuga de pollo con mole, but strangely, I don't have any notes on it and can't definitively identify it. Could it be a Chile Jaral of some sort? It must have been eaten by my wife.

For dessert, I ordered a Crema Catalana, but the waiter returned to say that "se terminó". Not available. That was moments after guests at another table received one, with a glorious topping of golden spun sugar. I suspect that making two in close succession was onerous to the kitchen staff.

So, instead, I had a deconstructed Tarta de Manzana, which despite its somewhat disheveled look, was all buttery goodness.

Food: 7

Service: 7

Ambiance: Tranquilo

Cost: Sorry, I didn't photograph the check, but I do recall my surprise that the total was more than that at Los Placeres. I'd had a half bottle of a semi-dulce white Rioja wine which increased the total check.


Dirección Restaurante- Bar Las Palomas :
Guerrero 104, Barrio de Santa Mónica Malinalco, México

Sitio web Visita el Restaurante- Bar Las Palomas (No se encontró)

Horario : Martes -Jueves 11:00 a. m.a 6:00 p. m. Viernes y Sábado 11:00 a. m. a 10:00 p. m. Domingo: 9:00 a. m. a 8:00 p. m.

Telefono: 01.714.147.0122