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Post in Provincetown, The "Outer Cape" and Wellfleet Too
Another year, another visit to Cape Cod.  I am in Chatham for work until tomorrow then back in Wellfleet for 10 days of vacation.  Yesterday my husband and I had lunch at the Chatham Squire.  Raw clams and oysters, and shrimp cocktail
 

 
and a split plate of fried shrimp
 

 
Dinner was at Pisces, a small seafood focused restaurant.  Bread with white bean dip
 

 
Sautéed calamari with arugula salad
 

 
Oyster spaghettini
 

 
Spinach risotto with local flounder
 

 
Sunset
 

 
Breakfast this morning was at the Captain's Table
 

 
Blueberry bread pudding
 

 
Bagel with smoked salmon
 

 
more later
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A Night in Nanning
I have just returned home to China from an almost two week trip to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. To get there I first travelled by train to the provincial capital, Nanning. The local airport only does domestic flights, whereas there are direct flights from Nanning. The flight time required that I stay overnight at the Aviation Hotel in Nanning, from which there is a regular direct bus to the airport.
 
The trip to Nanning is about an hour and a half and passes through some nice karst scenery.
 
 
After booking into the hotel, I set off for my favourite Nanning eating destination. Zhongshan Night market is a well known spot and very popular with the locals. I had forgotten that it was a local holiday - the place is always busy, but that night it was exceptionally so.
 

 

 
It consists of one long street with hundreds of stalls and is basically a seafood market, although there are a few stalls selling alternatives.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Filled myself with seafood (and some of that blood sausage above), slept soundly and, next morning, flew to Ho Chi Minh City.
 

 

 
The rest of my trip can be seen here:
 
 
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Post in Dinner 2018 (Part 1)
Fried noodles (炒面 chǎo miàn) with pork (marinated in Shaoxing wine), shiitake, cabbage, coriander leaf, garlic, ginger, chilli, scallions.
 

 
    • Delicious
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Post in The Fresh Pasta Topic
Finally success with round ravioli!
 

 
 
The Norpro dished exactly the right amount for my 50 mm ravioli cutter.  Thereby proving Bugialli correct.  I was not pleased that the Norpro pinched my hand.  I like Zeroll scoops much better.
 
 

 
 
The result plated with sage butter.  (Store bought sage, as my poor dear sage plant is looking somewhat threadbare at the moment.)  Enough thujone to sate the lust of the most degenerate absinthe fiend.
 
Humorously I neglected to add salt to the pasta water.
 
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Post in Old cookbooks
 
I have eaten doggoned nearly every kind of game there is. I have eaten possum. It's nasty. Almost as nasty as coon. I will stick to venison and elk.
 
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Post in Fiddlehead Ferns: The Topic
We've now got them here in Nova Scotia - I think they showed up on the 24th of May.
My batch looked like this:
I boiled them for ten minutes, add salt and then melted butter. They'd probably be even better with less time cooking but there has been stories of bacteria in the fronds. Better safe than sorry.
I recall a post from mid 2007 where someone in Ontario was thinking of pureeing fiddleheads for a catering job - along with pickerel I think - and I replied how I simply couldn't bring myself to liquefy such short lived beauties. Now I have a new answer . . . trim off the stem for the puree and keep the tight coils intact.

Post in Dinner 2018 (Part 1)
Brussels sprout salad, fried shrimp and frog legs
 
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Post in What did you buy at the liquor store today? (2016 - )
More oddities I'm rather eager to try.... 

Post in Your Daily Sweets: What Are You Making and Baking? (2017 – )
@Kerry Beal  brought me some rhubarb from her garden and while we were out together yesterday we saw some strawberries and so:
 
 

 
 Strawberry rhubarb crumble.
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Post in L'Ambroisie
February 2018. The cuisine here was so memorable and the venue and service so self-indulgent that henceforth each time I visit Paris I hope to eat here. My best dish was the Fricassee de Homard.
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Post in Dinner 2018 (Part 1)
Was up early yesterday morning so I baked. 
The first Rhubarb Pie of the season.

Threatened harm to anyone that cut it before I got home from work.

We had Pie for dinner. 
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    • Delicious
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Cake Memories
 I listened to Ed Levine's Serious Eats podcast interview today with Maira Kalman and Barbara Scott-Goodman discussing their new book Cake. https://soundcloud.com/user-306003081/special-sauce-artist-and  My initial reaction was that though they are interesting people "Cake? - really?". But knowing how I can be dismissive without giving things a chance, I listened and reflected, and realized I had a deep history with cakes though my cultural sweets experience is Austro-Hungarian pastries. I'll share my memories and would love to hear yours.
 
My first significant cake baking experience was at around age 10 when I was driven to make the  Enchanted Castle cake from the Betty Crocker Boys & Girls Cookbook for my sister's birthday.  Scroll past the bunny salad  https://popgoesthepage.princeton.edu/tag/betty-crockers-new-boys-and-girls-cookbook/  I used a box mix and improvised on the decorating but it was essentially as shown. Suprisingly I was not pained when the first cut was made; just delighted that she and others were delighted.
 
The next wow cake was when my mom made a tunnel cake with dark cherry mousse for a dinner party. It seemed magical. This was in th 60's before they were a "thing".  (see attached image of recipe from Good Housekeeping magazine found in mom's recipe binder)  
 
I'd started baking in general and became the designated cake baker for the sweet my dad took to work for lunch. This was the era of bundt cakes and pudding cakes. I unearthed some of the recipe cards and came upon:  the poppy seed cake from the olo can, carrot cake from Blue Ribbon Recipes, apple cake with orange juice, pistachio pudding cake, sauerkraut chocolte cake & mashed potato chocolate cake, Maid Heatter's Royal Viennese Walnut Torte- list goes on
 
One Christmas Austrian friends sent us a Sacher Torte complete in its adorable wooden box from the Hotel Sacher. Anticipation was high; disppointment was deep. Dry/boring! - though I did like the apricot jam under the chocolate glaze.
 
In the 80's a Vietnamese friend introduced me to the less sweet style of Asian cakes with light fruitiness and a whipped cream & crushed fruit filling.. Around that time I also became enamored of a roulade cake flavored with pandan from the big Chinese market (99 Ranch). 
 
There  was a big "cake lull" until I recently baked an olive oil cake with tangerine zest when the pantry was bare. In fact I think I'll make it again tomorrow
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Post in Gardening: (2016–  )
My sorrel plant.  Looks like it will be a good year.
Just made some Italian Wedding Soup using last year's frozen sorrel.
The lemony flavour worked very well.
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Post in Cooking from Meal Kits (Hello Fresh, Purple Carrot, Gousto, and so on)
 
OK, I was over in the same area later this afternoon and popped back in to pick one up. I ended up with two. My husband wanted to try the shrimp quality and I wanted to try a vegan option. Not that I am a vegan or even interested in becoming one, I just find it interesting to see how appealing they can make vegan kits. I was thinking of making the Black Bean Cakes as a starter, followed by the Shrimp Scampi, but decided the Shrimp would suffice. 
 
Here are some pics and details...
 
The packaging is quite good. The boxes are all the same size, a fairly long and narrow box, good for fitting into the fridge. Info on the box shows if a meal is gluten-free, vegan, etc and the shrimp was labeled as a dietitian's choice. Time to cook is given (are they all 20 mins or less?) as well as level of spiciness and whether you have to do a bit of chopping or none at all. The plastic window lets you see at least some of the ingredients. 
 

 
Here's the contents of the shrimp dinner. It's only 10 oz (less than 300 gms) of shrimp and the other ingredients are very simple, so the quality of the shrimp and the cooked (!) fettuccini will be key. The onions are already diced, the garlic and parsley minced. Pats of butter included. 
 

 
Here's the contents of the Black Bean cakes - instant corn grits, cooked basmati rice, black beans, diced red peppers, cumin, sriracha, salsa verde, diced squash and minced garlic. 

 
The recipe card for the Bean Cakes:

 

 
And for the shrimp:
 

 

 
 
 
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Post in Report: eGullet Chocolate and Confectionery Workshop 2018
Little recon around the room to see what's up
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Post in Gary Danko
 
B and I went there last year in 2016. How time flies!
 
We found our experience not as good as it could have been.
 
We arrived early, and they didn't seat us until 50 minutes later, 20 minutes past our reservation time. When I asked what was taking so long, I was told "Well, you arrived early." That's not the point -- we had a reservation time of 9 pm and it's now 9:20 -- does everyone who comes here get seated late? Strike #1.  Furthermore, we were seated at the bar and no staff came by to alert us; I had to get up to go speak to the host.
 
On to the food...
 

 
"Thai soup" -- while it reminded me of tom kha gai and hit all the right flavor notes, I was asking myself why are we eating pseudo-Thai food in this restaurant? 

Not exactly an auspicious beginning. Strike #2 was that it took nearly 5 minutes *after* being seated before we received the menus, and when they brought us the menus, they also brought us the first amuse-bouche. It felt like a weird combination of: (1) we're being rushed and (2) we're being punished.
 

 
Buckwheat blini, salmon, osetra caviar.

Well-made blini -- perfect, actually. Like butter-flavored clouds.
 

 
Seared foie gras, caramelized onion, poached rhubarb.

Plating doesn't exactly inspire confidence, a theme you will see repeatedly throughout. Was prepared well though from what little I tasted.
 

 
Figs, arugula, fennel, Gorgonzola cheese.<br style="background-color:#ffffff;color:#353c41;font-size:14px;"> <br style="background-color:#ffffff;color:#353c41;font-size:14px;"> Average salad, nothing special.
 

 
Seared scallops, morels, English peas, Madeira.<br style="background-color:#ffffff;color:#1d2129;font-size:14px;text-align:left;"> <br style="background-color:#ffffff;color:#1d2129;font-size:14px;text-align:left;"> Excellent flavor, from the bite or two I stole off of B's plate. Sear on the scallops poorly executed though.
 

 
Lamb loin with farroto, Medjool dates, carrots and chermoula.

The lamb was well-cooked. The plating sucked, the sauce was oversalted (basically, if you can taste it, it's too much), and the accompaniments slapdash.  At this point, I was starting to become irritated. This is a restaurant that is supposed to be in the vanguard of San Francisco dining and for the prices that are being charged, everything should feel like perfection from the moment you step inside to when you depart.
 
This was not it. Ixnay on the square plates.
 

 
Cheese cart.
 

 
Sauternes.
 

 
Louisiana butter cake, peaches, huckleberry compote, vanilla ice cream.<br style="background-color:#ffffff;color:#353c41;font-size:14px;"> <br style="background-color:#ffffff;color:#353c41;font-size:14px;"> Amateurish plating. Cake itself was "fine". Maybe I ordered wrong.
 

 
Flourless chocolate birthday cake.
 
I suppose it might have been a good restaurant -- in 1995. You can do better in the City.
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Post in The Perfect Burger
 
There are definitely quality levels in processed cheese. Kraft Singles, for instance, are processed American "cheese food product". They do not qualify to be called cheese. Velveeta is also a cheese food product. There is also American cheese that does legally qualify to be called cheese. Kraft and Borden make versions that can be found alongside their cheese food product slices. My favorite is American cheese sliced to order at the grocery store deli in front of the customers. It is also processed but retains enough cheese to legally still be called cheese. The processing allows it to become creamy instead of stringy when it melts. At the very bottom of the heap is imitation cheese food product, made with oil. Now we are talking plastic. This stuff is vile. 
 
I also like good quality American cheese on a burger. Occasionally, I'll be in the mood for cheddar, provolone or a Swiss and mushroom burger, but I keep going back to the American version. I don't like blue cheese, but almost every good burger restaurant around here offers a burger with blue cheese. I always bend the corners off a square slice of cheese and place them up nearer the center of the burger so they don't melt off into the pan or grill. The smoked provolone I'm currently buying is cut from a round log and is already perfectly shaped to melt on a burger.
 
Sometimes with very good perfectly cooked beef, I will eat it on a bun as a plain burger with nothing else, or if in a really purist mood just eat it as a "steak". It's all good if you stay far away from the imitation cheese food product. I can't believe they can legally sell that drek as food.
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Post in eG Cook-Off #77: Asparagus, the Spear of Spring
 
Asparagus was first blanched for about a minute, then quick chilled in an ice bath; drained and briefly stir-fried, then tossed with Soy Vay’s Teriyaki Sauce to coat. Served with Teriyaki Chicken Donburi, Mushrooms and Pickled Ginger.
 

 
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Post in Pâte de Fruits (Fruit Paste/Fruit Jellies) (Part 2)
This is what they look like today, after air drying for a day. The sweats!! Grrrrr...
 

 
Recipe: 
 
2 cups puree (~550g) (I used frozen strawberries, unstrained, with 10% sugar added) 3 cups sugar (675g) 2 - 3oz packs of Certo Liquid Pectin 2 Tablespoons of Lemon juice  
Heat puree to 140 F Add sugar and heat to 235 F Add liquid pectin and boil for 1 minute Take off heat, add lemon juic Cast in pan
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Post in The make-your-own vanilla extract experiment
Like many who have contributed to this thread over the past decade, I have been nursing a jar of vanilla for several years, started back in the good old days when a pound of perfectly serviceable beans could be had for sub-$20. A few weeks ago I happened on a forgotten stash of those beans, which I was even happier to discover were still vacuum sealed. Recently I came across an article about infusing vanilla in the pressure cooker so I decided to give it a shot. I filled 5 eight-ounce mason jars with 20 grams each of chopped fresh beans and beans fished out of my working bottle, then added 60ml each of cheap vodka and everclear. An hour in the Instant Pot at high pressure, natural release, resulted in a lovely dark, nicely perfumed infusion - has a fairly sharp alcohol aroma and flavor,  but less than I expected. Definitely a great way to jumpstart a batch. For comparison, below is a photo of the bottle into which I dumped a bunch of the  used beans and equal amounts of vodka and everclear just now; the pressure cooked batch; and the bottle that has been brewing in my basement since sometime in the late oughts. The lighting is not the best, but the color of the pressure cooked bottle is virtually indistinguishable from the legacy bottle.
 

 
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Post in eG Cook-Off #77: Asparagus, the Spear of Spring
This is an asparagus appetizer dish I did for Easter.  Simple blanched asparagus with sliced cucumber, then some lox-style salmon.  Lemon mayonnaise dressing.  The little pastry in the upper right corner is a savory gougere made with parmesan and then filled with a smoked salmon mouse.  Without the asparagus it would be pretty bland.
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Post in eG Cook-Off #77: Asparagus, the Spear of Spring
Inspired by @liuzhou, asparagus spears wrapped in phyllo.

Rather decadent.  Served with the Preserved Lemon Aioli from Shaya which is nice but I should have trusted myself and used less extra virgin olive oil.  At 1:1 extra virgin olive oil:canola oil, it's a little heavy tasting.
 
I'd say these stalks are medium sized and they were nicely cooked in the time it took the phyllo to brown. For super thin spears, you can wrap 2 or 3 together.  Big thick ones could be blanched but I think there's room to cook them longer in the oven without resorting to that.
I cooked these in the CSO at 350°F (mine seems to run a bit hot) on convection bake for 12 min, then turned them and baked 3 min more.  
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Post in eG Cook-Off #77: Asparagus, the Spear of Spring
My favorite asparagus dish of this spring is the Raw Asparagus Salad with Breadcrumbs, Walnuts & Mint from Six Seasons. The header notes say to make this dish with the first pristine spears of spring asparagus, before you do any cooked dishes. The recipe is available online here.

I like the way the asparagus spears are sliced thinly, at a sharp angle and I seem to be using that method of cutting them a lot lately.
 
Today I made an asparagus riff on another Six Seasons recipe,  Pasta alla Gricia. That recipe is also available online, at this link.

He calls for 4 oz of sugar snap peas/2 oz pasta/serving. I used the same proportions, but with asparagus......and added an egg.
 
Here's another recent asparagus/egg combination, this time on an English muffin:

 
Lastly, asparagus quesadillas from Nopalito:

 
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Post in eG Cook-Off #77: Asparagus, the Spear of Spring
Where I grew up I haunted the creek looking for the trailing arbutus, wild violets and the first of the wild asparagus.  The creek was a brackish one and the asparagus I found was half the size of the pencil ones you buy now.  I would eat it RAW!!!!  I was taught NOT to be greedy and take all but let some go to seed for the birds.  Once the first asparagus were found it was off with my mom to look for others on public property..
 
As it is Mother's Day here I want to add a rememberance of my mom who I lost almost 38 years ago... though it could also go under the foraging topic as well.
Once I found those first spears we would get in the car(a green Chevette) and roll along the local roads with me in the passengers seat and my head out the window looking for things that I told my head weren't supposed to be there - mainly at this time it was those tiny, thin spears of sweet asparagus.  I would also begin to make note of blooming wild grapes and where the tangles of berries would be later in the summer - blackberries, wine berries, wild raspberries.  Throughout the seasons we would cruise around with me looking like a deranged lab with my head out looking left and right.   Love and miss you, Mom.
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eG Cook-Off #77: Asparagus, the Spear of Spring
We were driving through Southeast Washington when suddenly Marnie shouted, "look, there it is, stop the car!" Needless to say, we were all a bit stunned and thought there must have been some critter scooting across the highway.  And then I saw it for the first time: asparagus.
 
It was decades ago, but every spring I relive the memory of seeing asparagus growing for the first time.  Our family had been at a horse show in Pasco, a town in the Columbia River basin in South-Central Washington.  We decided to drive over to Walla Walla, the heart of Washington's asparagus fields, to visit Whitman College.  Mother had graduated Whitman in 1946, and we were taking our family friend Marnie to visit campus where she would start her freshman year in the full.
 
It was then that I fully understood why asparagus--seasonal, local asparagus--is a prized delicacy of spring.  I had the idea it grew on a bush.  Or maybe it grew in some sort of cluster, cloaked within a heavy blanket of outer leaves like cabbage or cauliflower.  Yet there it was, one stalk at a time,  bursting up through the rich soil fed by the Columbia River.  Rows and rows of single stalks of asparagus standing in a perfect line.
 
Given Mother's ties to Whitman College and Walla Walla, the role that asparagus would play in shaping our family's tastes for this special vegetable should have been easy to predict. (As an aside, Walla Walla is also the home of the "Walla Walla Sweet" onion.  Mother used to tell us she loved a raw Walla Walla sweet sandwich on white bread with mayonnaise).
 
Now I'm sure you've got your own culinary memories and favorite asparagus dishes to tempt us.  So today we'll begin eG Cook-Off #77: Asparagus, the Spear of Spring. (See the complete eG Cook-Off Index here.)
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