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Do you employ any of these "secret supermarket ingredients" used by chefs?

ipsedixit Aug 17, 2010 09:33 PM

From the Bon Appetit Blog:

"Time was, what we're about to tell you would have been a dirty little secret. But lately, supermarket ingredients are showing up on restaurant menus across the country in not-so-hush-hush ways, delivering results that fancier ones can't. Here are 16 chefs who use humble foods for a lofty outcome."

Read about all of the 16 "secrets" here: http://www.bonappetit.com/blogsandfor...

I've used some of these (e.g. corn flakes, Worcestershire sauce, bread in meatballs, Nutella, etc.), but the use of Altoids was new to me.

What about you?

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  1. Caroline1 RE: ipsedixit Aug 18, 2010 03:08 AM

    I think I've used every one of them in one thing or another, EXCEPT the orange flavor Pop Rocks. That is new and strange to me. I assume they must be used as a garnish sprinkled on top at the last minute. To mix them into the actual mousse would just end up as pockets of gas, it seems to me.

    Oh wait. I don't use Altoids in lamb sauce either. I may try it one day, but meantime I don't believe it would be mare satisfactory than real mint. A possible substitute if you can't get real mint? Maybe.

    Everytime I make saurbraten -- last time was about a week ago -- I am newly amazed at what a fantastic thickener crushed ginger snaps are in a gravy. Don't know why I don't use them in more than that one dish.

    And I only wish I could buy Wondra flour in any old supermarket at any old time of year. In my area it seems to have dwindled to a holiday commodity. I have to stock up in the most budget unfriendly stock-up time of year!

    I think the most universally used ingredient on their list has to be Worcestershire Sauce. It's ubiquitous!

    Fun article. Thanks!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Caroline1
      Davwud RE: Caroline1 Aug 18, 2010 04:42 AM

      How Worcestershire sauce is a secret ingredient is beyond me.


      1. re: Davwud
        dave_c RE: Davwud Aug 18, 2010 11:01 AM

        I agree... If she used W sauce in making ice cream... That would definitely qualify as a "secret ingredient". :D

    2. bushwickgirl RE: ipsedixit Aug 18, 2010 04:49 AM

      Yes, the Pop Rocks, I'm clueless, I've never actually tried them.

      Many items of the list are packed in large quantity for the food service industry, anyway. How about a 50# bag of Wondra, Caroline?

      14 Replies
      1. re: bushwickgirl
        Caroline1 RE: bushwickgirl Aug 18, 2010 04:56 AM

        LOL! I don't think it would all fit in my flour canister at one time! Maybe we can find another two or three people to go in on one with us? '-)

        1. re: Caroline1
          bushwickgirl RE: Caroline1 Aug 18, 2010 05:33 AM

          I was actually shocked by the price listed for the Wondra at the link, $5 for a 13.5 oz container? Sounds like NYC prices, although with the $4 15 oz jar of Hellman's. I suppose, since Wondra's processed futher than AP flour. Not to change the tone of the thread, but have you tried rice flour for breading? Very crispy.

          I like Wondra for it's blendability, especially in gravy or sauces, no fooling around with roux or cornstarch, and I have a biscuit recipe that uses it, for a very tender crumb.

          1. re: bushwickgirl
            nomadchowwoman RE: bushwickgirl Aug 18, 2010 08:02 AM

            I'm not Caroline, but I have discovered the wonders of breading w/rice flour, bwg, and a great discovery it was as the only way I could get it was to buy a 6 lb. bag (for a cup or so needed in a recipe) at a local international market, albeit a very cheap 6 lbs.. (Wondra, otoh, is readily available in my neighborhood supermarket, but not cheap.)

            1. re: nomadchowwoman
              greygarious RE: nomadchowwoman Aug 18, 2010 08:48 AM

              Wondra used to also be available in supermarkets in 2# bags. Wish they'd bring that back. Trader Joe's has rice flour in a smaller, maybe 1#?, bag.

              1. re: nomadchowwoman
                goodhealthgourmet RE: nomadchowwoman Aug 20, 2010 07:24 PM

                you should be able to find smaller packages of rice flour than that! Look for Arrowhead Mills or Bob's Red Mill at Whole Foods Market, or small 1-lb boxes of Mochiko rice flour at Asian supermarkets...or you can buy as much or as little as you need in the bulk section of Whole Foods if your store has a good one.

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                  nomadchowwoman RE: goodhealthgourmet Aug 21, 2010 01:39 PM

                  when I was looking, I couldn't find it at WF, but it never occurred to me to check the bulk bins--and I've since discovered that the Arrowhead Mills products are in their own special section . . . it's moot, of course, b/c I still have a lot of that lg. bag left.

              2. re: bushwickgirl
                buttertart RE: bushwickgirl Aug 18, 2010 09:43 AM

                Any chance of that biscuit recipe, m'dear?

                1. re: buttertart
                  bushwickgirl RE: buttertart Aug 18, 2010 09:44 AM

                  Whoops! I just checked the recipe, I made a little mistake, they are not made with Wondra, rather White Lily; What was I thinking? I should have known better that a good biscuit would be made with a self rising soft wheat flour.

                  RLB's The Bread Bible makes popovers with Wondra, maybe that's what I was thinking of. Have that one?

                  1. re: bushwickgirl
                    buttertart RE: bushwickgirl Aug 18, 2010 09:52 AM

                    :) thank you! Read the article, I mean really, these seem obvious to pretty much any clued-in home cook - the Pop Rocks are a trifle out there but I've seen mention of them a good number of times in restaurant reviews. (PS Pop Rocks are made in Spain...an early outlier of Spanish whimsy in food?)

                    1. re: buttertart
                      guster4lovers RE: buttertart Aug 18, 2010 01:05 PM

                      I've had Pop Rocks (or popping candy, as they're known in the UK) in a dessert at Ramsay's RHR restaurant...they were a great addition!

                      And Heston Blumenthal adds them to lots of desserts. Maybe it's more of a British chef thing at the moment?

                2. re: bushwickgirl
                  Caroline1 RE: bushwickgirl Aug 18, 2010 10:37 AM

                  Nothing is cheap any more, and that includes Wondra flour. I want to earn now and shop then, when it first came out! I'm not sure, but I think my first container was something like 79 or 89 cents, and I thought it was a bit on the expensive side. But you simply cannot beat it for gravies and sauces!

                  Yes, I've tried the rice flour and like it. Actually, I loke most rice stuff. One of my big favorites is rice noodles. For chow mein (or whatever) I deep fry them in really hot oit and they explode like popcorn without a lid on. Great snacks and when you put sauce on them, they revert to a boiled consistency except for the parts that stay sauce free. I also use a mixture of rice flour and AP flour in tempura batter. I think it comes out a little crispier than my usual mix of AP flour and corn starch. I keep intending to try the rice flour in a slurry, but never remember until after I've already used flour or corn starch. I need to put Post It reminders on my vent hood!

                  1. re: bushwickgirl
                    goodhealthgourmet RE: bushwickgirl Aug 20, 2010 07:30 PM

                    i love rice flour for breading. it's a godsend for those of us who can't have gluten!

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                      bushwickgirl RE: goodhealthgourmet Aug 21, 2010 09:33 AM

                      Makes excellent tempura batter as well. I guess you can include that under "breading."

                      1. re: bushwickgirl
                        goodhealthgourmet RE: bushwickgirl Aug 21, 2010 02:02 PM


              3. nomadchowwoman RE: ipsedixit Aug 18, 2010 08:14 AM

                Worcestershire--check; Wondra--check; jarred mayo--check; frozen pearl onions--check; ginger snaps--check.
                My mother has always made meatballs using commercial soft white bread and milk.
                And then there are secrets which should never be revealed--maybe Altoids in sauce (yikes!) and Pop Rocks (which really are a secret to me; I've never heard of them.)

                3 Replies
                1. re: nomadchowwoman
                  swamp RE: nomadchowwoman Aug 18, 2010 08:21 AM

                  I thought everyone used Worcestershire. I have used most of these but not all. Where I come from Dr. Pepper and other colas have been used in a variety of things for years.

                  1. re: swamp
                    nomadchowwoman RE: swamp Aug 18, 2010 08:47 AM

                    Agree that Worcestershire sauce is hardly a secret (seems to be in almost everyone's fridge), and Coke (rather than DP) has been used for baked ham and in braises (even in some BBQ sauces) in the South for as long as I can remember. But I guess the fact that the chefs' secret ingredients are not-so-secret is the secret.

                    1. re: nomadchowwoman
                      bushwickgirl RE: nomadchowwoman Aug 18, 2010 08:57 AM

                      "But I guess the fact that the chefs' secret ingredients are not-so-secret is the secret."

                      My thought exactly.

                2. Cherylptw RE: ipsedixit Aug 18, 2010 09:27 AM

                  None of these are surprises...just about every restaurant uses some type of commercial item in one way or another.

                  1. Hank Hanover RE: ipsedixit Aug 18, 2010 09:32 AM

                    I think the altoids with lamb and the orange pop rocks with chocolate mousse were creative and interesting.

                    In case you don't know what pop rocks are. They were a candy craze back in the 1960's or early 70's. As I can recall they are freeze dried carbonated soda. You would put a teaspoon or so in your mouth and the moisture in your mouth would make them explode with flavor and literally.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: Hank Hanover
                      bushwickgirl RE: Hank Hanover Aug 18, 2010 09:43 AM

                      Pop rocks were first offered to the public in 1975. If they had been available in the 60's, I definitely would have tried them. By that 70's decade, I wasn't eating junkie stuff any longer, just the hippie natural foods veggie diet, yum.

                      I do remember the big Pop Rocks stomach explosion controversy, however.

                      1. re: bushwickgirl
                        greygarious RE: bushwickgirl Aug 18, 2010 10:13 AM

                        There was something similar when I was in elementary school in the 50's. I don't know the name but I remember buying the little packets at the soda fountain, where they also sold the candy cigarettes and the wax candy red lips. I guess the latter two were that era's equivalent of today's slutty clothes in kindergarten sizes.

                        1. re: greygarious
                          buttertart RE: greygarious Aug 18, 2010 10:17 AM

                          Your last remark cracked me up completely.
                          Are you talking about sherbet fountains? Tart powder in little bags with licorice straws to suck it out with?

                          1. re: greygarious
                            sbp RE: greygarious Aug 18, 2010 11:40 AM


                            1. re: sbp
                              buttertart RE: sbp Aug 18, 2010 11:49 AM

                              Fizzies were Alka-Seltzer-like deals, that you put in water. These were Lik-m-ades.

                            2. re: greygarious
                              small h RE: greygarious Aug 18, 2010 03:22 PM

                              Pre-Pop Rocks, we had Space Dust, which was the cocaine to Pop Rocks' crack. I cannot believe I'm even making this analogy. (It's true, though.)

                            3. re: bushwickgirl
                              Hank Hanover RE: bushwickgirl Aug 18, 2010 10:51 AM

                              For a real blast take a mouth full of pop rocks and a glug of soda or some of us would pop an alka selzer and mouthful of water. Well we wouldn't swallow it. It was a manhood thing.

                            4. re: Hank Hanover
                              Jen76 RE: Hank Hanover Aug 18, 2010 01:46 PM

                              Pop Rocks were *huge* in the early-mid 80s (my childhood). We were bummed they didn't come in bigger packages. Fun Dip was the "powdered candy" that would come in little packets and you'd lick and dip a flavorless candy stick into it. Pixie stix were much easier to eat and nothing could compete with the giant ones. Nothing like ingesting dyed, flavored sugar straight-up.

                              1. re: Jen76
                                roxlet RE: Jen76 Aug 18, 2010 03:25 PM

                                And getting Pixi Stick (or lik a made) powder down your throat!

                                1. re: roxlet
                                  Jen76 RE: roxlet Aug 21, 2010 11:28 AM

                                  Oh yeah...and then coughing up a cloud of it!

                                2. re: Jen76
                                  mariacarmen RE: Jen76 Aug 20, 2010 10:40 PM

                                  We fed a couple of pop rocks to my poor, long suffering cat once! don't worry, she lived to be 19!! please don't think i'm normally an animal torturer. i was much, much younger, and am still a huge animal lover. but it WAS funny to see.

                              2. nofunlatte RE: ipsedixit Aug 18, 2010 10:22 AM

                                Ah, wax lips. I once was invited to a Halloween potluck (back in my alternative days) and brought a bowl full of wax lips (even back in the 80s, they were starting to get difficult to find). I wonder how one would use wax lips as a secret ingredient? Hmmm, something to think about!

                                Were those the candy cigarettes that would eject "smoke" (powdered sugar, I believe) when you'd blow on them? Or the ones that were white with some sort of red dye at the end and a bunch of them were attached (you'd break them apart)?

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: nofunlatte
                                  greygarious RE: nofunlatte Aug 18, 2010 10:39 AM

                                  The cigs were a red-tippes chalky white candy without much flavor, although I don't remember them being attached to one another. Never saw "smoking" ones. Buttertart, I don't know if there were straws but I do remember the sweet-tart powder. Sort of like fizzing undiluted Koolaid powder. I can't even remember the name of the store though I can remember the narrow space and the color of the swiveling seats at the counter. Also that in those days an ice cream cone was a single modest scoop, which I'd like to see reinstated.

                                  1. re: greygarious
                                    buttertart RE: greygarious Aug 18, 2010 10:46 AM

                                    Yes, who wants a pint of ice cream on a cone, really!
                                    I remember the weird texture of those candy cigs, like eating candy plaster.
                                    It seems to me they were sometimes stuck together.
                                    Faintly wintergreen-flavored? (The one mint I can't abide.)

                                    1. re: greygarious
                                      buttertart RE: greygarious Aug 18, 2010 10:51 AM

                                      AHA! LIK-M-AIDS or Lik-m-ades, right? A small sachet say 2x the size of a sugar packet. Loved them. They sort of disappeared when packaging technology improved and Pixy Stix came out. Make mine red or purple pls. (The sherbet fountains were an English import, similar but the powder was tarter and more finely milled. Enough to set off a coughing jag if you took a big pull on them.)

                                      1. re: buttertart
                                        greygarious RE: buttertart Aug 18, 2010 10:58 AM

                                        Yes...yes...YES!!! Thanks, I can call back the Cranial Go-fers I just tasked with searching my lobes for the name. The little guys can use a day off - just had another birthday and the older I get the busier they are. Also, remember Fizzies? They would be a neat trick for fruity toppings and for salad dressing: http://www.nostalgiccandy.com/fizzies...

                                        Now that I think about it, I may have been conflating Lik-M-Ades with Fizzies, and the former may not have been carbonated. The linked site is quite the memory lane stroll. I noticed they have "decade boxes", which are collections of nostalgic candies from various decades. Those would be neat gifts for relatives or old schoolmates. And another marvel of the Interwebs is that there are numerous online sources for wax lips and the little wax nip bottles with syrupy contents. What we didn't eat in ice cream cones we made up for in consumption of wax!

                                        1. re: greygarious
                                          buttertart RE: greygarious Aug 18, 2010 11:53 AM

                                          Yay! It just hit me out of the blue. As far as I know they were just citric or other foodgrade (I hope) acid, sugar, and flavor. Fizzies were reactive in water.
                                          My mother (another candyhead) was very scornful of the "just sugar" candies like the wax nips and these. They were supposed to be especially bad for me. And you weren't supposed to eat the wax which made them all the more alluring. Chocolates, toffees and whatnot were favored candies.

                                    2. re: nofunlatte
                                      coll RE: nofunlatte Aug 18, 2010 10:57 AM

                                      You're right, I forgot that candy cigarettes used to blow smoke! We thought we were so cool, and guess what, I never smoked a real cigarette later in life. Just fun for the young-uns.

                                      1. re: coll
                                        roxlet RE: coll Aug 18, 2010 03:27 PM

                                        And chocolate cigarettes too that had paper around the chocolate to make it look like a cigarette.

                                    3. LindaWhit RE: ipsedixit Aug 18, 2010 10:51 AM

                                      Worcestershire sauce, Muir Glen tomatoes and frozen pearl onions, as well as gingersnaps and mayo - use all of them on a regular basis (but not as noted here). I've used corn flakes in my meatloaf as the "binder", and I've tried Pomi crushed tomatoes. I like the idea of crushed potato chips being added to the panko for a crust.

                                      The Altoids used by Bowles for a jus for lamb just really weirds me out.

                                      1. coll RE: ipsedixit Aug 18, 2010 11:05 AM

                                        Chefs don't have to go to the grocery store for corn flakes, Kelloggs sells 25 lb cases of pre-crumbled flakes, very popular at seafood places. But the sugar coated are sort of a secret that I've heard before. Before the days of coconut breading.

                                        I always use Thomas' English muffins and panko in my meatballs, I'm curious about the Wonder Bread although I'd have to buy it especially for that reason. Some day the stars may align.....

                                        Hellmanns mayo has an emulsification process that makes it better than almost anything for binding and baking, it puffs up like nothing else.

                                        1. Peg RE: ipsedixit Aug 18, 2010 11:26 AM

                                          As a Brit I'm still stuck on Worcestershire Sauce being "The American version of fish sauce".

                                          21 Replies
                                          1. re: Peg
                                            coll RE: Peg Aug 18, 2010 11:28 AM

                                            But I thought Worcestshire sauce was from England?

                                            1. re: coll
                                              ipsedixit RE: coll Aug 18, 2010 11:30 AM

                                              I believe that's what Peg was getting at ...

                                            2. re: Peg
                                              dave_c RE: Peg Aug 18, 2010 11:33 AM

                                              Well I believe Lea and Perrins is now owned by Kraft or Heinz. L&P is now American through acquisition (corporate colinization) :-) lol

                                              1. re: Peg
                                                guster4lovers RE: Peg Aug 18, 2010 01:03 PM

                                                Yeah - I had an issue with that too. I don't know anyone who would think "America" when I said "Worcestershire Sauce"...hell, most can't even pronounce it! :-)

                                                1. re: guster4lovers
                                                  thew RE: guster4lovers Aug 18, 2010 02:25 PM

                                                  im pretty sure you will find a bottle of it in a sizable percentage of american refrigerators

                                                  1. re: thew
                                                    bushwickgirl RE: thew Aug 18, 2010 02:29 PM

                                                    It's quite well known in the US, and widely used in the South, I believe. As for pronounciation, it's referred to by more than a few names...

                                                    1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                      thew RE: bushwickgirl Aug 18, 2010 05:22 PM

                                                      widely used everywhere.

                                                      1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                        Peg RE: bushwickgirl Aug 21, 2010 12:39 AM

                                                        In the UK it is pronounced 'Wooster sauce'.
                                                        Even though it is spelled for the county ('Woostershire') it is spoken as per the city.

                                                        1. re: Peg
                                                          bushwickgirl RE: Peg Aug 21, 2010 09:29 AM

                                                          I have heard that as well, and few other pronouciations over the years; it is also sometimes jokingly called, "what's this here sauce." Just for starters, I couldn't make meatloaf, bbq sauce or a Bloody Mary without it.

                                                        2. re: bushwickgirl
                                                          cosmogrrl RE: bushwickgirl Aug 21, 2010 02:28 PM

                                                          My family often refers to it as "WOO-cest-ISHISH-da-shest-ashist-a-sher"

                                                          1. re: cosmogrrl
                                                            bushwickgirl RE: cosmogrrl Sep 29, 2010 04:37 AM

                                                            Good one! I'm struggling to pronounce that...;-)

                                                            1. re: cosmogrrl
                                                              mariacarmen RE: cosmogrrl Sep 29, 2010 07:49 AM

                                                              is that a bugs bunny cartoon reference?

                                                              1. re: mariacarmen
                                                                cosmogrrl RE: mariacarmen Oct 2, 2010 07:27 PM

                                                                Yep! That's where it came from!

                                                          2. re: thew
                                                            Shrinkrap RE: thew Aug 19, 2010 11:40 PM

                                                            Oops.... it's suppose to go in the fridge?

                                                            1. re: Shrinkrap
                                                              JasmineG RE: Shrinkrap Aug 20, 2010 12:10 AM

                                                              Not that I know, I've never stored it in the fridge!

                                                              1. re: JasmineG
                                                                Davwud RE: JasmineG Aug 20, 2010 07:16 AM

                                                                Me neither.


                                                              2. re: Shrinkrap
                                                                ZenSojourner RE: Shrinkrap Aug 20, 2010 09:56 AM

                                                                I've always stored it in the fridge. My dad used to use it on steak instead of something like A-1.

                                                                As others have noted, I don't consider Worcestershire sauce a "secret ingredient". It's just something you cook with or use for flavoring. Most of the rest of the stuff is just normal ingredients - c'mon now, a particular brand of processed tomatoes, bread, used in the ways you would normally use them, these are just ingredients, nothing secret about them.

                                                                Pop rocks and altoids, now - THAT'S weird.

                                                                1. re: Shrinkrap
                                                                  Hank Hanover RE: Shrinkrap Aug 20, 2010 07:00 PM

                                                                  It's got so much vinegar in it, you could store it anywhere.

                                                                  1. re: Hank Hanover
                                                                    ZenSojourner RE: Hank Hanover Aug 20, 2010 07:05 PM

                                                                    Possibly. I don't have any handy, but it's always best to check the bottle of whatever and see if it says to refrigerate.

                                                                    I was surprised when the fish sauce I just bought says specifically NOT to refrigerate it.

                                                                2. re: thew
                                                                  guster4lovers RE: thew Aug 21, 2010 05:47 PM

                                                                  Um, I think ya'll missed the point of my comment. I didn't say that it wasn't known or available or used here in the US - I grew up in the US and we had a bottle in the cupboard most of the time (though didn't use it all that often). What I DID say was that it didn't scream ZOMFG*AMERICAN*ZOMFG* to me. Big difference.

                                                                  I mean, it's named after a place in the UK for heaven's sake. And I've heard as many (if not more) people say "Worcestershire" (imagine that said correctly) as "Wooster" in the UK. I don't think you can say that people always pronounce it "Wooster" in the UK any more than I can say that Americans call McDonalds "Micky D's" all the time. My authentically British husband never says "Wooster."

                                                                  *sigh* I don't understand the need by Americans to claim things as "American," regardless of where it comes from.

                                                                  1. re: guster4lovers
                                                                    buttertart RE: guster4lovers Aug 21, 2010 05:48 PM

                                                                    Cultural imperialism, baby! ;-)

                                                            2. epabella RE: ipsedixit Aug 18, 2010 01:03 PM

                                                              Philadelphia Brick Cream Cheese? better than just butter in tart dough? anyone else try this? and when she says tart dough, does she mean short crust pastry? very intriguing since i just bought some (i normally buy the local cream cheese but they had the imported stuff on sale).

                                                              18 Replies
                                                              1. re: epabella
                                                                buttertart RE: epabella Aug 18, 2010 01:04 PM

                                                                I've only ever seen it in combination w/butter in tart doughs, myself.

                                                                1. re: epabella
                                                                  nomadchowwoman RE: epabella Aug 18, 2010 01:38 PM

                                                                  Forgot about Philadelphia Cream Cheese, which I always have on hand, but I've never used it for "tart dough," which I assume is like pie crust dough. My mother makes hundreds of miniature pecan and pumpkin pies every year at holiday time and uses a cream cheese pastry dough that works very well in this application. (If she's making a whole regular-sized pie, she always uses store-bought pastry. Go figure.)

                                                                  I've watched her do this--and it's very easy. Also works well for mini quiches. Here's her recipe:

                                                                  3 oz. cream cheese, softened
                                                                  1/2 c. butter, softened
                                                                  1 c. plus 1 T. sifted AP flour

                                                                  Preheat oven to 350. Blend cream cheese and butter. Add flour and mix well. Divide dough into quarters, and pinch off six portions of each quarter, for a total of 24. Press each portion into the cups of a mini muffin tin. Fill w/desired filling and bake until pies are brown and filling is cooked. Yield:24.

                                                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman
                                                                    bushwickgirl RE: nomadchowwoman Aug 18, 2010 02:17 PM

                                                                    Cream cheese pie crust dough (tart dough) was my go-to back before I learned how to bake. It's so easy, imo, much easier than butter only tart dough, with very good results for nut pie fillings, custard pies, fruit pies, all the good stuff. I think I even used it for quiche more than once and I'm sure it's great for other savory things. It's really terrific for tart tins with removeable bottoms, as it doesn't shrink or distort in the tart pan the way straight butter based tart dough can, even after freezing.

                                                                    I noticed there's no water in your recipe; that is how it should be, as cream cheese contains enough water for the dough; possibly you'd need a tablespoon more or so, but maybe not.

                                                                    1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                                      roxlet RE: bushwickgirl Aug 18, 2010 03:29 PM

                                                                      My pecan tassies use a mixture of butter and cream cheese for the dough. It is delectable, and exceedingly easy, but I never thought of using it for a tart or pie. Must try it!

                                                                      1. re: roxlet
                                                                        coll RE: roxlet Aug 18, 2010 03:49 PM

                                                                        I use it in rugalach, and it is a very flaky dough

                                                                    2. re: nomadchowwoman
                                                                      Mistral RE: nomadchowwoman Aug 19, 2010 11:16 PM

                                                                      Cream cheese is wonderful. The best pastry I have ever tasted is Rose Levy Beranbaum's Perfect Flaky and Tender cream cheese pie crust. You must try this no fail recipe! And use heavy cream instead of water.


                                                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman
                                                                        epabella RE: nomadchowwoman Aug 19, 2010 11:25 PM

                                                                        hi, thanks for your tips. i'm going to try this today just to practice and use up old ingredients. one another question though: do i need to blind bake before putting in my filling? i'm either going with old fruit preserves in the ref or "krem-ung-gleys" (creme anglais) and candied cashews or probably some of both. hello to bushwickgirl too - your tips are always appreciated.

                                                                        1. re: epabella
                                                                          bushwickgirl RE: epabella Aug 20, 2010 03:29 AM

                                                                          If you're making a fruit tart of some variety with a krem-ung-gleys filling, then yes. Freeze the shaped tart dough first or at least let it rest to relax the gluten; it will prevent shrinkage of the outer crust edge at the rim of the pan, the bain of attractive fruit tarts. If you extend the pastry dough above the tart pan rim before freezing, it'll look even better after baking. Dock the dough, add your (beans) weights and bake in the usual manner.

                                                                          The RLB recipe linked above is a excellent one; give it a try if you don't have a specific recipe picked out; the addition of baking powder and vinegar work in tandem to enhance and promote flakiness.

                                                                          1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                                            buttertart RE: bushwickgirl Aug 20, 2010 07:19 AM

                                                                            Even I have quite good results with that recipe.

                                                                            1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                                              epabella RE: bushwickgirl Aug 20, 2010 09:23 AM

                                                                              bushwickgirl, many thanks and all that as usual - so glad you're never too busy to advise a dilettante like me. i have to clarify though as i had two tarts in mind: one custard based with old candied cashews and pilinuts. the other to use up a large jar of strawberry preserve close to expiry or some fresh pineapple that i might macerate and maybe flame with brandy or tequila. from the advice so kindly provided, i will go ahead and blind bake (weighed down with old coins wrapped in foil) but the rlb recipe lists butter - do i substitute an equal amount of cream cheese? any other adjustments to other ingredients? usual thanks in advance!

                                                                              nomadchowwoman, like buttertart says: noone should feel bad about store bought pastry dough. i don't even buy the stuff because i'm to gun-shy about my touch-and-go baking skills, i'd rather make my own dough in small amounts and keep my fingers crossed.

                                                                              1. re: epabella
                                                                                coll RE: epabella Aug 20, 2010 02:00 PM

                                                                                I'm starting to make my own pie crust, but my aim is to make it as good as Trader Joes.

                                                                                1. re: epabella
                                                                                  bushwickgirl RE: epabella Aug 20, 2010 02:26 PM

                                                                                  "but the rlb recipe lists butter - do i substitute an equal amount of cream cheese"

                                                                                  Do you not have this link? It's butter and cream cheese combined. Am I understanding your question correctly? I want to.


                                                                                  You don't have to include the baking powder or vinegar, if you don't have, but both are nice additions and work to increase flakiness. Increase the salt by half if you don't use baking powder, so 1/4 tsp becomes 1/2; you get it.

                                                                                  Old coins wrapped in foil, that'll work quite well for weight. It may even increase the value of the tart, not necessarily in a monetary sense, but more in the coin's ability to impart a hint of richness...

                                                                                  1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                                                    greygarious RE: bushwickgirl Aug 20, 2010 05:37 PM

                                                                                    <Increase the salt by half if you don't use baking powder, so 1/4 tsp becomes 1/2>
                                                                                    That's doubling, not increasing by half.

                                                                                    1. re: greygarious
                                                                                      bushwickgirl RE: greygarious Aug 20, 2010 05:43 PM

                                                                                      Right, my error, thanks, important, I'm glad you brought that to attention.

                                                                                    2. re: bushwickgirl
                                                                                      epabella RE: bushwickgirl Aug 22, 2010 04:49 PM

                                                                                      hi bushwickgirl! i finally made the tart after very busy working holiday weekend. my first attempt as most first attempts go was soggy: the strawberry preserve was too syrupy and the relatively nice shell didn't hold up to it well (syrup didn't thicken in the oven as i'd hoped). second attempt after straining the fruit was much better. i'm also guessing the second attempt was much better since the first batch was fresh rolled unlike the well rested/refrigerated second batch. the pineapple version as well as the custard filled will have to wait until the next weekend. thanks again for all the advice.

                                                                                      "Do you not have this link? It's butter and cream cheese combined"

                                                                                      sorry about that, i followed the link on Mistral's post: http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/rec... and foolishly misread it since i didn't read past the butter in the ingredients list.

                                                                                      1. re: epabella
                                                                                        bushwickgirl RE: epabella Sep 29, 2010 04:42 AM

                                                                                        Sorry I haven't gotten back to you, I've been absent...anyway, sounds like you were able to end up with good results. That's what counts.

                                                                                2. re: epabella
                                                                                  nomadchowwoman RE: epabella Aug 20, 2010 08:52 AM

                                                                                  I personally have never used the recipe, but my mother does not blind bake them for her little pies.
                                                                                  I would take bushwickgirl's advice, as she is the baker. I have almost always failed when making pastry, so I usually resort to Pillsbury's rolled & refrigerated crusts [hangs head in shame], but maybe I'll give the RLB recipe a try.

                                                                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman
                                                                                    buttertart RE: nomadchowwoman Aug 20, 2010 08:56 AM

                                                                                    Don't feel bad, it's my biggest bugaboo too. But I soldier on.

                                                                            2. m
                                                                              morwen RE: ipsedixit Aug 18, 2010 01:36 PM

                                                                              My son-in-law used lime flavored Kool-Aid when he was a little short on sugar for the icing for a coconut cake. I was dubious but it was actually pretty good.

                                                                              11 Replies
                                                                              1. re: morwen
                                                                                roxlet RE: morwen Aug 18, 2010 03:29 PM

                                                                                That must have been some giant sized package of Kool-Aid!

                                                                                1. re: roxlet
                                                                                  morwen RE: roxlet Aug 19, 2010 08:46 AM

                                                                                  He ran out of sugar and only needed a small amount but it was several packets worth. They buy Kool-Aid in bundles. Their pantry disgusts me.

                                                                                  1. re: morwen
                                                                                    darklyglimmer RE: morwen Aug 19, 2010 09:54 AM

                                                                                    Wait, you mean the little paper packets? When I was a kid, those were just the dye and the flavoring. Unsweetened. Maybe things have changed since, but back then it was the canisters that had sugar in them. My mom never bought the latter; either they were too expensive or she bought into the whole you-control-the-sugar thing.

                                                                                    But the unsweetened packets were kind of horrible straight up . . . if that's what your son-in-law used, there must have been enough sugar in the icing to compensate, which is certainly not out of the realm of belief.

                                                                                    1. re: darklyglimmer
                                                                                      morwen RE: darklyglimmer Aug 19, 2010 11:38 AM

                                                                                      I have no idea since the only kool-aid I ever buy is two packets of unsweetened lemon once a year because it cleans the water stains out of my dishwasher (and since it does that I figure that's more reason not to consume it). When the kids were at home there was home made ice tea, lemonade, juice, or milk in the fridge, but I did not buy soda or powdered drinks or even Gator Aid. Sodas are treats and they could buy them with their own money if they wanted.

                                                                                      If indeed it was only lime coloring and flavoring that he added (and it could've been, he's fairly clueless and rarely does anything more than fires up the nuke) then no wonder I didn't mind it. It was less sugary than normal frosting which I generally scrape off.

                                                                                      1. re: morwen
                                                                                        darklyglimmer RE: morwen Aug 19, 2010 12:35 PM

                                                                                        The lemon flavor cleans the water stains out of your dishwasher? Wow. I guess that makes sense, since it's probably mostly citric acid. The bottle warmer we use for the baby is supposed to be cleaned using packets of citric acid, which we've never been able to find - maybe I ought to try Kool-Aid!

                                                                                        1. re: darklyglimmer
                                                                                          buttertart RE: darklyglimmer Aug 19, 2010 12:39 PM

                                                                                          You can also buy sour salt in the Kosher section, it's citric acid. May be cheaper per ounce.

                                                                                          1. re: darklyglimmer
                                                                                            Mistral RE: darklyglimmer Aug 19, 2010 10:56 PM

                                                                                            Kool-Aid - As long as you don't drink the stuff!! Yikes imagine what it is doing to your body including your teeth..

                                                                                            1. re: Mistral
                                                                                              guster4lovers RE: Mistral Aug 21, 2010 05:49 PM

                                                                                              My parents never allowed it in our house, so at my best friend's house, we made it all the time. We called it "Artificial Flavourings." mmm....artificial...

                                                                                        2. re: darklyglimmer
                                                                                          Shrinkrap RE: darklyglimmer Aug 19, 2010 11:42 PM

                                                                                          That's how my childless aunt and uncle. served it; Unsweetened.

                                                                                          1. re: Shrinkrap
                                                                                            buttertart RE: Shrinkrap Aug 20, 2010 07:19 AM


                                                                                            1. re: Shrinkrap
                                                                                              darklyglimmer RE: Shrinkrap Aug 20, 2010 07:48 AM

                                                                                              Yikes. Were they looking for a child-repellent? Because that would have worked on me.

                                                                                              My grandmother, a classic Depression-era penny pincher, could stretch a packet of Kool-Aid to cover all 36 grandkids. It was horrible and watery, but at least she sprung for the sugar!

                                                                                    2. BobB RE: ipsedixit Aug 20, 2010 01:28 PM

                                                                                      I was at a highly-rated (on Chowhound and elsewhere) restaurant in Toronto recently, and for dessert had a dish that was basically a rectangular extruded snake of dense chocolate mousse, topped with Cap'n Crunch cereal - the latter added by hand, at the table, by the chef himself, with a flourish. WAY too precious a performance, but I must admit it was tasty!

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: BobB
                                                                                        ZenSojourner RE: BobB Aug 20, 2010 03:02 PM

                                                                                        I was in a restaurant in Puerto Rico many years ago where they had on the desert menu (I kid you not) . . . . .



                                                                                        1. re: ZenSojourner
                                                                                          EWSflash RE: ZenSojourner Oct 9, 2010 04:50 PM

                                                                                          mmmmmmmmm, Twinkies... *insert picture of Homer Simpson drooling*

                                                                                      2. goodhealthgourmet RE: ipsedixit Aug 20, 2010 07:29 PM

                                                                                        none of those applications struck me as unusual or really even noteworthy except for the Altoids.

                                                                                        and crushed corn flakes are a key ingredient in my grandmother's/mother's Thanksgiving stuffing recipe :)

                                                                                        1. coll RE: ipsedixit Sep 29, 2010 09:47 AM

                                                                                          I have a great source for my Chinese basics, but someone I know who's family owned Chinese-American restaurants and now sells food to that clientele, told me some of his biggest sellers are tubloads of ketchup, Open Pit, cheap worchestshire, instant brown gravy powder and so on. He was just rattling them off with recipes for how they make all those ubiquitous sauces, wish I had taken notes because it blew my mind.

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: coll
                                                                                            yfunk3 RE: coll Sep 29, 2010 01:04 PM

                                                                                            A lot of Chinese-American places don't use powdered brown gravy, but make their own brown gravy mix with soy as the main component (speaking from experience as I grew up working in my parents' restaurant and also knowing the other Chinese places in town). Ketchup has been adapted to be used in many western-influenced Asian dishes, so it's no surprise there. Worcestshire...can be used in a lot of things, but I doubt it was in any sauces and mainly having to do with ground meat dishes and marinades.

                                                                                            Every restaurant is different, though. There's no set way to make any of the dishes we're all so familiar with when we think of Chinese American cuisine. I certainly never saw powdered gravy or Open Pit in any of the kitchens and stockrooms of Chinese restaurants I've been in, so it might also be regional tastes.

                                                                                            1. re: yfunk3
                                                                                              coll RE: yfunk3 Sep 29, 2010 01:32 PM

                                                                                              Thanks for the info, I really wish I had paid more attention, but he was a real talker! He was talking about the all you can eat buffets, so that may be a whole other ball of wax.

                                                                                              1. re: coll
                                                                                                yfunk3 RE: coll Sep 29, 2010 02:26 PM

                                                                                                Ah, well, buffets are also a whole other animal. You need to replenish often with frequent batches and a lot of the cooking is done by hired cooks and not the owners of the restaurant (unlike non-buffet restaurants). So you need uniformity and speed, which definitely explains prepared mixes and such. My mother still manages (not the owner) a Chinese buffet now, but I've never personally been in the kitchen... I'm sure they have some sort of powdered gravy for their brown sauce, though!

                                                                                                Just to clarify about the Worcestershire sauce thing: it's already so salty that it really wouldn't be in any of the brown sauces since the soy and oyster sauces over most other "salty" flavors. Didn't want anyone to get confused as to what I meant the first time around. :o)

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