April 27, 2012

Fridays of Intestinal Fortitude:
Substitutions, Subtractions and Hostesses Lacking the Mostess Help

Note: Fridays of Intestinal Fortitude is a weekly(ish) feature about food, food and more FOOD. No, I am not an expert, but I do enjoy talking about food prep, cooking food, eating food and making sweet love to food.  Okay, maybe not the "sweet love" part. After all, this is not meant to be an homage to 9 1/2 Weeks.

Recipe Index can be found here. 

Today is a Three For the Price of One kinda of day.   It's also a Quickie kinda of days -- Manoj has been out of town this week and I am also cleaning the house from top to bottom in a mad dash of Spring Cleaning.

I am a big fan of modifying recipes! I love playing with recipes, fiddling around with them, trying new ingredients. If you ever make a recipe of mine and you make a change of your own, please tell me! I am always up for trying new ingredients and methods.  One of my favorite substitutions is cumin for coriander.  I like coriander, but it can be a pretty boring spice.

What's your favorite substitution?

I should have pointed a long time ago, that nearly every recipe I post (in particular, the IndoPak ones) have a major subtraction -- fresh chilies. I do not use fresh chilies. Ever. And that makes me sad, so very sad because I love, love, LOVE the taste and texture of fresh chilies. One of my favorite bits about eating in restaurants is getting fresh chilies in my food. However, I have had so many incidents of getting chili pepper juice in my eye, that I gave up. And yes, I was careful and yes, I used gloves and yes, I made extra precautions to Not Touch Anything and then, BAM! I would get juice in my eye. So, I had to give up.  And yes, Manoj makes fun of me and thinks I am overly paranoid.  I am now so fearful of fresh chili prep that even buying fresh chilies for Manoj to cook with makes me nervous (I use a double bag method to scoop them.)  Seriously, AFRAID.

Um, am I crazy?  Are you afraid of chilies?  Is there any other ingredient with which you are also diabolically opposed?

Can You Help a Hostess Out? 
I have a question. I have mentioned over the years that I am not much of a dessert person. I am not crazy about eating dessert myself and baking stresses me out after so many baking related failures.   I am simply clueless when it comes to dessert. Well, except for Crème brûlée (or "creme brulee" sans the fancy French accents!) (a dessert that is so darned easy that seriously, if you have never made  crème brûlée , you should quit reading this post and get your butt out buying some ramekins already.)  Often, when we invite folks over for dinner, they offer to bring dessert, which I happily accept.    But am I wondering, is this violating some essential Hostessing Guideline to accept offers of help?

Is that rude of me, as the hostess, to accept an offer of dessert from my guests??


Olivia said...

I really hate handling raw chicken, especially if it is still on the bone. I will do everything I can using tongs, and even hand over the chopping to my husband.

I don't think it's rude at all to accept a dessert when you are hosting if it's offered. We often just serve ice cream when we have guests over.

Amanda said...

Um, no. I'd rather have people bring dessert than a bottle of wine. Plus, I feel like I'm being rude if I don't take something with me to the party.

As for baking....that's what Supermarkets are for. The bakery section often offers brownies to spice up that ice cream. There is frozen pie in the freezer section. Just serve via the package directions. With things like store-made brownies, just cut them up, arrange on one of your favorite dishes, and serve without worry.

As for chilies, I tend to get the spice on my cheeks or lips. I can't imagine the whole eye thing. Then again, I use Anaheims, and I'm told they're considerably milder than the chilies that go in curries. (I could be wrong about this because I don't do curries, just Mexican food).

Melanie said...

I read a suggestion somewhere that you keep swimming goggles in the kitchen for such things, but I have never had to use them...I just try and try to be really really careful and since I often don't have disposable gloves I do the the zip locks on my hands instead of plastic gloves... but its a pain in the behind. What grosses me out the most is raw poultry, I don't know why I cannot seem to get over it but I gag and gag and then if I have to touch it, I have a really hard time eating it.... but i like it so why I act like this I have no idea. Such a big baby....I am also kinda grossed out about eggs, I tend to pick that white bit out (I'll refrain from posting its real name because that will just make me gag too).... and its such a pain in the butt.... but again I love the taste of eggs its just the raw state that gives me anxiety

Melanie said...

PS I usually always offer to bring desserts, I love to bake and never do for us (diets and all) so if I have the chance to do so for a group or friend I jump on it... it does not make you a bad hostess to accept!

kristen said...

My husband swears I couldn't follow a recipe to save my life. I am the substitution queen. Sometimes it really isn't even the same thing when I'm done.

I'm pretty fearless when it comes to chilis/peppers. I make sure I wash my hands but otherwise no big deal. That is EXCEPT when I was breastfeeding. I just didn't see how any good could come from that.

Unless I really have the whole thing already planned I love it when someone else brings dessert (or lets me bring dessert to their house).

Goofy Girl said...

I seeded fresh jalapenos by hand once, scraping the seeds out carefully with fingers and fingernails....only to have my hands ON FIRE for an entire day! Seriously, I could not sleep that night. I use a more spoon-centric method now.

My huge nemesis in the kitchen is the onion. To say I cry when I peel/chop/touch an onion is a severe understatment...it's more like my eyes are being melted with hot acid. So I wear big ole wrap-around Starsky & Hutch era sunglasses when I work with an onion. It's really quite a sight.

Unknown said...

I don't mind chilis but I do have to be careful or I end up with burning eyes from taking my contacts out at night. But rubber gloves and a light hand have been most helpful with I do cook with them.

Totally ok to have the guest bring dessert if they offer! Although wine is also a nice gesture.

Jen said...

Yeah, I agree, if they offer, go for it! And since there's always places to pick up a good dessert, I figure it's one of the best things to offer to bring. You have the choice of making something or...stopping by the bakery or the freezer aisle at Trader Joe's.

That said, my husband loves to make desserts, so he wouldn't like the idea. Since we don't drink wine, we tell people to bring whatever *they* want.

Otherwise, I'm inclined to tell people not to worry about it. I'd rather do the whole meal and then not worry about anything when I go out. However, in the city where I live, this is definitely a minority opinion!

Unknown said...

Is it rude to accept dessert? Let's take a look at that. You're in a good position being married to an Indian. :D

Are you Martha Stewart? No
Were you raised in the 50's? No

Looking good so far, you can accept dessert. As an added bonus, in many Indian societies guests are often expected to bring sweets. Not always for dessert but we can't hold that against India. Hmmm....I think you have the green light on this one.

I always take the seeds out of the chilis and then wash my hands, change knives and cutting boards right after chopping. Still, some always gets under my fingernails.

I always substitute whole spices for ground when cooking Indian. There is nothing I hate more than biting into a whole piece of spice. It's gross, too strong and ruins the whole meal for me. I rarely ever use coriander and I've also found out that eating it whole like they do hear makes me sick (it happens immediately so I know what the culprit is).

I like additives. Like adding Indian spices to American favorites, commonly known as desifying. I add fresh, crisp, spiced onions to the top of mashed potatoes, put strawberry flavoring in my pancake mix, etc. I'm an experimentalist too.