Author Topic: Base prep for furture tests  (Read 7461 times)

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Offline Malc.

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Base prep for furture tests
« on: February 18, 2011, 02:02 PM »
With the age old debate over using specific base for specific recipes and the recent rally of comments regarding the forthcoming test of Bombay Aloo, I wondered if we might be able to find a way of overcoming the problem. Which, as we know, is a matter of practicality over making litre upon litre of different base to test the relevant recipes.

I came up with two scenarios that I think are worth exploring or at least discussing for the benefit of the tests and those members that are following the tests:

1. Prepare a small portion of base.
This in my mind raises only one question, is it possible to to scale down a base recipe to a fraction of its original amount and still end up with the same end result? My initial concerns are that the reduced quantities of spice etc., would have to be extremely accurate to produce the same result. Has anybody tried doing this with base before?

I also wonder whether cooking in small quantities might have an adverse affect as opposed to cooking in bulk. Of course ultimately, we would still have to cook out these individual base recipes.

2. Make a basic onion base with common ingredients.
Most base recipes share components. If we can create a basic onion base with the shared components, then we might be able to cook this in bulk but still make different base recipes by adding in the differing ingredients to smaller portions of it. My concern is whether it possible to omit certain components until a later stage of the cooking.

With the possibility of having to make five or six different base recipes, i'd favour the second option. How close could it get us, would it be close enough?

Cheers,

Malc.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2011, 03:36 PM by Axe »

Online Peripatetic Phil

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Re: Base prep for furture tests
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2011, 02:16 PM »
With the age old debate over using specific base for specific recipes and the recent rally of comments regarding the forthcoming test of Bombay Aloo, I wondered if we might be able to find a way of overcoming the problem. Which, as we know, is a matter of practicality over making litre upon litre of different base to test the relevant recipes.
I actually think that our Group Testing methodology is fundamentally flawed, for that reason amongst others.  Not only is preparing five or six variants of a given dish very time-consuming, it is also quite onerous, and the chef may well be left wondering what do do with the remainder of his/her five or six dishes.  I would like to suggest that, once the Bombay Aloo test is out of the way, we re-visit the Group Test methodology and see if we cannot identify one that places a lesser burden on the testers while still yielding meaningful results.

What I have in mind is basically a "Recipe of the Week" (or month, or whatever), which as many as possible members attempt to prepare, cook and taste; we then have a standardised questionnaire which participants are encouraged to fill in, together with space for free-form comments.

If, in addition, we ensure that several consecutive "Recipes of the Week" all use the same base, then we are not additionally faced with the problem which Axe/Malc attempted to address in his message to which this is a reply.

** Phil.


Offline bamble1976

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Re: Base prep for furture tests
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2011, 03:03 PM »
Hi

I agree with both points of view but for me, especially when scoring something out of 10 say for taste, i need to have comparative dishes side by side in order to judge them as you can never really remember what that last curry actually tasted like!!

Just my thoughts :)

Barry

Online Peripatetic Phil

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Re: Base prep for furture tests
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2011, 03:11 PM »
I agree with both points of view but for me, especially when scoring something out of 10 say for taste, i need to have comparative dishes side by side in order to judge them as you can never really remember what that last curry actually tasted like!!
Yes, I fully appreciate that, Barry, which is why I think we need a pro-forma scoring system that will allow useful comparisons between two member's report on the same dish.  For example, if we list each ingredient against a scale of -2 to +2, where 0 = "Just the right amount", then we can see if there is widespread agreement that there is, for example, "too much coriander".  Obviously there needs to be provision for retrospective comparison ("How does this Madras compare with Taz/Mick's", for example), but I can quite see that unless you have them alongside each other, that may not be too easy.  But if you have a written record of your assessment of (say) Taz/Mick's Madras to hand, then that may help you in your assessment.

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Offline Willyeckerslike

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Re: Base prep for furture tests
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2011, 03:32 PM »
Axe, I am not sure if a smaller amount of base would work but it is a good idea, just that to make 5 separate small bases would be very time consuming I think?

Then you say about a standard base, which is a good idea but it still gives the same problem we already have, ie a specific base to a specific recipe will give a true reflection of the dish being tested, a standard one will not.

I think the group tests as Phil says are fundamentally flawed when it comes to side dishes, as is being shown in the Bombay Aloo thread (but I enjoy reading your findings so please carry on!).  I for one would have liked to join in with these but the time involved to do the side by side comparisons is something I cannot find.  On the other hand Phil's idea of a specific base & specific recipe of the month which I could do when it suited me along with the standard questionnaire is a great idea, and one I would more than likely join in most months, time permitting of course ::)

cheers

Will


Offline Malc.

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Re: Base prep for furture tests
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2011, 03:41 PM »
Then you say about a standard base, which is a good idea but it still gives the same problem we already have, ie a specific base to a specific recipe will give a true reflection of the dish being tested, a standard one will not.

Will, actually what I meant was to create a basic onion base or stock then, take a small portion of it and add in the remaining ingredients to make each individual base. Thus creating five or six different base recipes from a single onion stock.

Offline Willyeckerslike

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Re: Base prep for furture tests
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2011, 04:19 PM »
ok axe, got it  ;D, that might work.  If my memory serves me right the KD1 base does something similar where you can freeze it before adding tomatoes etc at the 2nd stage.


Offline Ramirez

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Re: Base prep for furture tests
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2011, 04:26 PM »
I like both ideas, Malc, but unfortunately I don't think either would be feasible. Option 1 would be ideal, but I think to provide a scaled-down version that is as good as the full-sized version, would take considerable effort and a lot of trial and error. This would have to be done for all bases in a group test. It would be great if the original authors could provide a super-scaled-down version, but I don't think that is likely to happen (especially due to the number recipes sourced from restaurants).

In terms of option 2, I just don't think you would be able to make the base as good as it would be were it made as per the recipe. I am willing to be proven wrong, and there are undoubtedly better cooks here than me, but I just cannot see it working.

I don't think we will ever fully circumvent the compromises of the group tests, as they stand currently. Phil's idea may have some legs though and should be considered.

Online Peripatetic Phil

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Re: Base prep for furture tests
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2011, 04:27 PM »
I see the point, but at the risk of sounding like one of the perpetual whingers, what would we achieve ?  We aren't re-creating five or six authentic bases, but rather five or six variants of a single base in an attempt to replicate the five or six authentic bases that the five or six recipes call for.  I don't dismiss the idea, because I see it as a constructive suggestion, but I do wonder whether the final testing/tasting will really reveal as much as it might if each base were made exactly to spec.

** Phil.

Offline Razor

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Re: Base prep for furture tests
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2011, 04:56 PM »
Malc,

I actually like the idea.

Can you clarify this for me, just so I know we're singing from the same hymn sheet;

Are you suggesting that, we take the most common ingredients from most base sauce recipes, and just cook the "stock" stage, then freeze, for example;

Onions
Peppers
Carrots
Tomatoes
garlic
Ginger
oil
water

Boil until everything is soft?

Now here's the thing, would we blend at this stage or freeze the veg whole and blend once defrosted ready for the spices and whatever else each base requires?

We were all concerned from the outset on how we could practically test curries so we decided to start with starters and breads until we reached a workable solution.  This is as close a solution that I can see.  I'd be willing to give it a go Malc.

As for the time consuming element, I can't think of anything better than spending all day in the kitchen, trying to knock out 5 or 6 superb recipes, sounds like nirvana to me  ;D

Ray :)


 

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