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Old 02-01-2011, 11:13 AM   #1
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My first attempt at following a recipe

I joined this site a couple of days ago to help me learn how to cook. As I stated in an introduction thread a couple of days ago I bought a beginners cookbook and found it to be over my head. It was suggested that I pick a recipe I would like to try and ask questions. That is what I will do now to show just how clueless I am. I have chosen a recipe for Chicken and Chile Soup. I have gone to the store and bought the ingredients. At least I bought most of the ingredients. I forgot to buy heavy cream and I do not have a potato peeler. I will have to go back to the store today and buy those things. The recipe also called for 2 medium red chiles, seeded and finely chopped. I am guessing the author means fresh red chiles, but I went to two stores and neither had any red chiles in stock. I ended up buying a bag of dried chiles. I hope I can substitute with that. Another question is what does the author mean by medium? Until seeing the bag of dried chiles I did not even know what a chile looks like let alone what is a standard size for one.



Maybe I had better list the ingredients in order to ask my other clueless questions.



2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium red chiles, seeded and finely chopped
2 slices lean bacon, diced
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed (oh oh I didn't buy this either)
2 skinless boneless chicken breast portions, thinly sliced
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 cups corn, frozen or canned
5 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, to garnish



Now, for my clueless questions. What is the difference between chopped and diced? Can I use a knife to do both? The recipe tells me to add the chicken to the pan after 5 minutes. Do I add the chicken raw or do I have to do some cooking or the chicken before hand. The recipe does not say. Wel that is all my questions for now. I am sure I will have more later.

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Old 02-01-2011, 11:58 AM   #2
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I can't help you with the chili questions but I think I can handle the others. There will be others to chime in to correct me if I'm wrong. There is a difference between chopped and diced. Chopped is usually smaller pieces and they are not usually uniform size. Diced is little cubes, mostly uniform in size. Adjectives like coarse and fine can be applied to both methods to give you approximations of sizes of the pieces. How to Mince, Dice and Chop Onions > Start Cooking
A knife will do both and even will peel the potato! You can still get a potato peeler since it is easier but it is not necessary. Slice the chicken raw. I'm just guessing here but most soup recipes start with cooking the veggies in a bit of oil or butter first then adding the broth. If you are to add the chicken after 5 mins, I'm guessing that is before the broth/stock so you will be cooking the chicken with the veggies. Slicing it thin it will cook quickly. You can sub milk for the heavy cream if you want and you can get garlic already prepared if you want. Hope this helps and good luck!
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Old 02-01-2011, 12:27 PM   #3
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Edgar cut the big end of the Chili's off cleanout the core and seeds.Wash it after cleaning out the seeds. Cut it up and soak in 1/2 cup of water for one hour. Add to Your soup and let cook.

Good Luck
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Old 02-01-2011, 12:35 PM   #4
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I just saw that your recipe has potatoes. Start your chili's to soak before you start the rest of the recipie. Add the chilis when you add the chicken stock. I use dry chilis in Chili all the time If you soak them first you will love them.

Josie
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Old 02-01-2011, 01:00 PM   #5
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Edgar, don't worry too much about being exact in your ingredients as you cook. (Baking, on the other hand, seems to be less tolerant and needs one to be exact in their measuring and the ingredient list - which is why I rarely bake anything.) For example, the medium chili peppers. When you go to the store, look at the chili peppers. If the ones you purchase are tiny, start with two and add another...or a part of another....until you get the amount of heat that you want.

As Jabbur mentioned, you can substitute milk for the cream. It may be better with the cream, but then the milk may give you a texture that you prefer. With the fresh garlic, which I have come to love, I went for years using garlic powder or jars of minced garlic in the refrigerator before truly learning how easy it is to use the garlic fresh.

Pay attention to the words like finely chopped. When you see "finely" anything, it translates into itty-bitty pieces. (When it says finely minced, I break out my food processor and turn it to mulch - which is not the same as finely minced but works anyway.

One thing I remember mixing up when I started cooking: 1 Tablespoon of chopped fresh cilantro is different from 1 Tablespoon of cilantro, chopped. In the first, you want to measure the tablespoon out after you chop the cilantro. In the second, you want to chop after measuring, which will give you less.

I love the internet as it does give any cook a lot of advice and ideas. I recently found this page, which had good advice for disasters and some good substitutions for ingredients. Disasters will happen regardless of your experiences level. Of course....I went there for the substitutions. Yeah, that is my story and I'm sticking to it.

~Kathleen
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Old 02-01-2011, 01:10 PM   #6
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Hi Edgar glad you decided to give this a go... I will try to interpret how I would do this... As for chilis, there are many, many types and different levels of heat... I would define small (sereno) medium (jalapeno) large (poblano), I not sure what type of dried chili you bought but it will have to be reconstituted... You do this by putting the pepper in a bowl, and pouring hot water over it (to cover) after about a 1/2 hour it will be pliable... You can then cut it in half and remove the seeds and the stem... The recipe seems a little wack for me as they are telling you to, finely chop an onion, and peel and dice a potato... What that says to me is make each of those ingredients the same size, they're just messing with your head with their wording... There is chopped (large) diced (medium) and minced (small)... I would go with a dice, use the kernals of corn as your guide, I keep things uniform, not only for presentation, but because they cook more evenly... Ok chicken, cut into thin slices and depending on the thickness of your breasts (OOPS) you might want to cut the strips in half lengthwise... When crushing the garlic (peel it) put it on your cutting board, place your knife on top of it, and smack it hard, it will then be crushed... As for the thyme no need to cut, mince, chop, dice, just hold it by the top of the stem (the thinest end) and run your fingers down the stem... Now the heavy cream is used for richness, silkiness, and body in your soup, if it was me I would use that... Cilantro will be the garnish you use to sprinkle on top of your soup when it is in your bowl, pick the washed leaves off and give them a rough chop with your knife...

I hope this helps you and I didn't confuse you too much!!! Happy Cooking...
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Old 02-01-2011, 01:38 PM   #7
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Thanks everyone, I think I got a handle on this after reading the responses. I think I may hold off until tomorrow after work. The snow is coming down here pretty hard and I do not want to drive to the store in this stuff. I will get the cream and garlic on the way home from work tomorrow. Actually I will have to buy thyme also. I had bought a jar of thyme seasoning and now I see the recipe calls for fresh thyme.
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Old 02-01-2011, 01:56 PM   #8
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Edgar, You can use the Thyme you have. Just use 1/2 the amount the recipe calls for.

Josie
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Old 02-01-2011, 02:07 PM   #9
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Please keep us all posted as to the results of your first attempt, and remember to taste, taste, taste all through the cooking process!!!
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Old 02-01-2011, 02:12 PM   #10
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Here's a little hint for thinly slicing that chicken:
Put it in the freezer for half an hour or so, or until it is stiff but not hard.
It will be MUCH MUCH easier to slice!
(Then be sure to wash your cutting board, knife and hands before moving on
to the other ingredients you need to chop up!!!)
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