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Pitter

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Everything posted by Pitter

  1. You missed the best reason to go there -- the asian produce stand. I visit every friday, and I basically only go to the produce place for their great arugula, bok chok, chives and shallots. I bought popcorn at Beilers which didn't pop, and I find that most of the prices at this market are far higher than the Shoprite at the end of the driveway.
  2. WF has a great produce and seafood department. This is what I know absolutely. I used to sell them most of their cheeses, and quite a few of other things. They have this "saying" that they do not sell any dairy products that have been treated with Bovine Growth Hormone. WRONG! You simply cannot buy cheese from the British Isles or the Americas without getting cheese that got its milk from the commodities market, and who knows what these cows were treated with. Also, I applied for a job with them to manage a cheese department with 500 cheeses. I was offered the job, but had to say nay, as it paid $12 per hour, to manage this number of cheeses with the particular knowledge that I have. My response is, you've got to be kidding me. And this was in a very tony town in NJ. Lord knows how they find the proper people to serve the demanding public in these towns in NJ where townhouses go for $500,000 and three bedrooms are 1,500,00 and up.
  3. Preserved lemons are my "secret ingredient" in many of my preparations -- bean soups of all kinds, salsas, stews (lamb, chicken, even beef) and egg based sauces, especially for fish. It pulls together the elements in the same manner as anchovies, plain salt, acids, fish sauce. No wonder -- it is salt and acid combined, but much more complex, with a haunting flavor. So here's my problem: I bought from my distributor a huge jar of these, as I knew they were as good as I could make myself, and they were very inexpensive. I left the jar out too long at room temp, and the top developed mold. I peeled it off, and decided it was harmless in the same way that mold on olives, while unsightly, is perfectly fine. Their flavor has not been compromised. I remember reading that Ms. Wolfert keeps her olives at room temperature, that they get moldy, and that she prefers them this way. Are my lemons still SAFE? I don't want to poison anyone! And, if they are still edible, can I try the water-in-the-bag trick to keep them submerged, and then store them at room temperature? I'm a bit short on refrigeration space.
  4. My kitchen is exactly 100 square feet, with a four burner, gas burning, convection stove and a rather tall, KitchenAid refrigerator, 24 " in depth. I have enviable countertop space, including a pull-out countertop that doubles as a kitchen table, bookshelves for at least a hundred cookbooks, and cupboards up the wazoo. From this kitchen I have cooked multiple times for parties of 200 people. This is a working chef's kitchen, and all of those fancy things like islands do not cut it for me. For sure, it is messy and cluttered, but I can reach everything with a step or two. I worked for people who had an eight burner stove for which they bragged, "it has never been turned on." And one kitchen where the refrigerator had to be at least 30 feet from the stove. This was an attractive kitchen - the owners spent $140,000 for it in the mid-80s, but it was simply useless from a cook's perspective. When I revamped this space, including new hardwood floors with a new subfloor, the cost was less than $10,000. The countertops and solid, hardwood cupboards remained. I bought the place, not based on the kitchen, but because it was 270 years old and full of charm. Even so, the kitchen has been an absolute joy.
  5. Thank you Wolfchef and Ninetofive. I think I will be buying the Kitchenaid 770. I am so grateful that you dragged me away from the Cuisinart. I had major reservations about that. Perhaps the Robot Coupe is my dream machine, but I think the KA is the way to go.
  6. My early 80's Cuisinart finally died, and it was an incredible workhorse. What has changed since then? I am looking at the KitchenAid KFPM770, which has four work bowls (wow!) and is 1/3 heavier than the biggest Cuisinart. Is this as good as it seems? I am also open to Robot Coupe, Cuisinart, and any other thing someone may suggest. It must have a big bowl -- 12-20 cups. Industrial would be great, provided I can learn where to get it. Thanks in advance, everyone.
  7. Waiting on tables is one of the hardest jobs in the world. It taxes your short-term memory unlike any other job. Fill, delete, fetch, refill, this one gets-- this other one gets -- fill, delete. The physical aspect is strenuous, though I personally enjoy that. Working on the line (kitchen) of a busy restaurant is perhaps even more difficult, but most people there would not do anything else. The pay is far less than the servers make. For accomplished chefs and cooks, it is a "calling." For servers, it is often a gig between actting jobs, unless the have decided to make this their life's work, and then I say, Hurray. You can make decent bucks at this, and if your temperment so suits this, congratulations. There are far too few servers who are willing to commit to this life, and they are sorely needed as front-of-the-house managers. Know this: you may be calling Bangladesh when you call your credit card company, but restaurants are local, and the work will never be sent overseas.
  8. Whereas I really liked her two previous books, and enjoyed her reviews, I have to say that I HATED HATED HATED this book, and I know I am in minority here. I also know that she will be the guest here on Egullet, and do not wish to offend her or anyone else, but here is my opinion: This book was so self serving and egocentric that I wanted to scream, "It's not all about you in this world and why don't you appreciate the gifts you have been given rather than whine and moan about how awful people treated you and how you were forced to eat such bad meals." First, she spends an inordinate amount of time settling scores with pasty faces at the NY Times. Who cares? We don't need to know about people we will never meet and don't care about. I was totally bored by reading two reviews of every restaurant in each chapter -- We get it, Ruth, we get it. But for me, the final straw was when she takes Marion Cunningham to The Box Tree. Here is her mentor, who has been much more than kind to her, and she knows she is taking her to a terrible restaurant, yet she remarks that she wanted a glass of wine and wished that Marion had not stopped drinking, because she could not have said glass of wine. One, it is likely that her dinner guest would not have objected or felt uncomfortable with Ms. Reichl having a glass of wine. Did she bother to ask? And Two, this reinforced my feeling that IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU, DON'T YOU GET IT? I simply found her to be completely narcissistic and am relieved that I am not some acquaintance of hers who she may some day write about.
  9. I use the julienne blade for making vegetable "noodles." Zucchini, daikon radish, carrots -- blanch them briefly, then toss with rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil and some sesame seeds. I also sometimes add some reconstituted, dried hijiki.
  10. Yes, ditto to all of the above, but remember that if you are using lard in a business such as a restaurant or a bakery, you are rejecting a large clientele -- Jews, Muslims, vegetarians. In places like New York City, so diverse and competitive, I would think twice.
  11. Pitter

    Bad Cheese

    What is the name for this cheese? If it is Serra, it is probably very good, if perhaps a little old. Just cut open the top and it should be all gooey and wonderful inside. If it is Azeitao or something else, it may be dried out. The mold is simply something that happens, and does not necessarily indicate that it is bad.
  12. Barilla is now made in the United States (as of more than five years ago.) For every day, I like DeCecco, though I know it is more expensive because of importers taking an unreasonable percentage which is passed on to the distributor, then you and I. For special meals, I like Martinelli, though it is not as good as it was 20 years ago. If you can find access to an article about pasta from the Atlantic Monthly, written by Corby Kummer about 18 years ago, it is a very fascinating look into the Italian pasta industry.
  13. Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking, by Yamuna Devi, will keep you busy for the rest of your life. This is my favorite cookbook (and I have a few hundred) and I am not even a vegetarian.
  14. This past summer I canned a horseradish/tomato salsa and it was divine. I still have 4 pints of it, and I use it almost every day. I used 24 oz fresh, grated horseradish, 8 pounds fresh tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, corriander, cumin, garlic and several onions sauteed in EVOO. The original recipe suggested cooking the horseradish with all of the other ingredients, but I added it at the last minute to keep the heat. Even so, the heat is diminished in the canning process, but the flavor is one fine thing.
  15. I was organizing my spice cabinet just yesterday, as I have over 60 of them, and I use them all, especially for Indian and Thai cuisine. Cardamom makes the best coffee cake in the world, as found in this little gem "The Moosewood Cookbook," going back, like, 30 years. I fold blueberries into the batter and this is the biggest hit at all pot-luck birthday and brunch parties. Mace and fennel seed are used in many Indian recipes. Whole cloves, bay leaves and thyme are used for stock. Mustard seed (black and yelllow) are used in all Indian cooking and the powder is used for making sauce for slavering on everything. Turmeric, cumin, corriander, hing and white/black/szechwan peppercorns are the nomal things I throw into the saute pan. I guess I like spicy food. Please buy a coffee grinder for ten dollars and grind your spices as needed. I need some suggestions, however, on how to use Black Kokum.
  16. I bought a GE Profile a couple of years ago, and I couldn't be happier. My suggestion is that you spring for the extra bucks to get the convection oven. The oven itself is bigger and wider than any other brand I looked at in that price range. I was originally set on a Wolfe, but was so disappointed that they discontinued the black range with the big red knobs that I decided to go with something 1/4 of the price. My GE boils a quart of water in 2 minutes, and the convection oven makes the best roasted chicken and vegetables that you can imagine. I was originally apprehensive, as owning a GE is so politially non-correct in these parts, considering how they polluted the Hudson River, but ultimately, I was in a bind, and this was the best stove available in this price range.
  17. Cut in half, scoop out the seeds, then bake them facing down with whole cloves of garlic in the cavities. When fully soft and carmelized, scoop the flesh from the skins, mash them with the roasted garlic (squeezed from their skins), chopped fresh sage, and swirl in some fresh goat cheese. Also, my favorite soup is with butternut squash and yellow split peas. Saute in butter or oil some chopped onions and garlic, ground cumin, corriander , mustard seeds and turmeric, add said butternut squash, yellow split peas and stock or water. Cook until everything is soft. Puree with a stick blender. Then, and this is Most Important, sautee in butter or oil a tsp each of cumin seeds, mustard seeds and ground corriander with some brown sugar, then while sizzling, add it as a garnish on each bowl of soup. Also garnish with some fresh, chopped corriander. Clear as mud? My friends always laugh at my instructions -- some of this, a little of that. I am trying to improve my ability here, but I never use recipes.
  18. The Commissary Cookbook carrot cake, as many have mentioned, is the best in the world, bar none. I made thousands of these when working as a baker, as it was my most requested cake. The pecan filling is sweet, but I counteracted that by adding far less powdered sugar in the cream cheese frosting, keeping it tart and tangy. The frosting recipe I found to be far too sweet and cloying. Also, I stretched a double recipe of the frosting to cover three cakes, including icing on the sides, as it really makes too much for one cake. Once I made a carrot wedding cake -- five tiers, plus two full sheet cakes for extra. The bottom layer was 20 in. by 10 in. and must have weighed 30 pounds. This was for a party of 100, and should have been enough for 300. I heard that not only was the entire cake consumed, but the guests were going into the kitchen to run their fingers along the empty pans to gather every last crumb. To prep for large amounts, I didn't grate the carrots but rather, simply pulsed them in the food processor with the raisins.
  19. Pitter

    Stir Frying-Which oil

    Grapeseed oil. It has a large smokepoint (like, 550 degrees) and is friendly to all folks who may be allergic to peanuts. The flavor is neutral, so the taste of veggies, etc., really shines.
  20. Pitter

    Cooking with alcohol

    Legend has it that cooks who drink on the job add too much salt. You can always tell if the chef is alcoholic by the saltiness of a dish.
  21. In less than a week, I will have about 200 Romas that will ripen all at once. I slowly roast them, plain, and then put them into a dozen or so zip-lock bags and toss them into the freezer. This means that all winter long, I can grab a bag and have instant tomato sauce that is reminiscent of the best of summer.
  22. There is a place on the Sea Bright boardwalk that has the best pizza I have ever had. The name is Macuso's. I was highly sceptical when told that this is the best pizza on earth, but was hughly surprised. The crust is thin, the sauce is perfect, and the cheese is a combo of mozz and cheddar, which really works. I am told that the local cops fill the place in the winter.
  23. Kale is my favorite food. Call me a weirdo. I simply blanch it, without anything, then dip the leaves in vinegar. This is my late-night snack, which, I suspect, is better for me than potato chips. I stay thin, get my calcium and iron, and what could taste bettter?
  24. I am so frustrated. I have hundreds of green tomatoes on the vine, but none of them have ripened, or even seem that they will ever ripen, because of the cool weather and all of this rain. What is going on? Does anyone else have this huge challenge with rain/no sun/cool temperatures. I live in central NJ.
  25. I never found clogs practical while working in professional kitchens because I always feared I'd lose one while running up and down the stairs all day carrying heavy (and sometimes very hot) loads. For me, Birkenstocks -- never! While kind to the arches and posture, I need all over support. Danskos are fine for those confined to smallish spaces -- the line during service, for instance. The most comfortable, skidproof shoes I ever owned were purchased at a doctor/nurse uniform store. They were black, ugly as hell, expensive and durable. I wore them for 5 years. You have to figure, if they are good enough for an RN in an emergency room, they should be good enough for a kitchen worker. Money should really not be a concern when buying work shoes. There is so much at stake with our backs, necks, potential falls. Two visits to the chiropractor equals one pair of really good shoes. As for wearing flip-flops, I gave that up after I broke my big toe because I was wearing them, and I was in the confines of my apartment.
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