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Everything posted by k43

  1. Penzy's pushes dried herbs (mint, basil, parsley, etc.) that taste like sawdust. Avoid, avoid, AVOID. They also push maybe 100 spice mixes that are nearly identical, in wildly overpriced tiny tins. I do like the Sandwich Sprinkle as a seasoned salt, though. Get the spices individually. Better by far is Kalustyan's http://www.kalustyans.com/default.asp I was there last week when the clerk opened up a bottle of vanilla beans, and within 30 seconds you could smell them through the whole store.
  2. My first action is to scratch the upper surface of the label thoroughly with a junker paring knife and then submerge the piece in a pot of water. An hour later, the label will be soaked through and easy to scrape off. I hate Goo-Gone. I can't stand the smell, and the greasy coating (and the smell) are almost impossible to remove. Also, it's not very effective. My second try is JAZ's recommendation, Un-du. It has little odor, acts fast and dries up quickly. It doesn't remove the adhesive very well, so the area under the removed label has to be scrubbed with a paper towel moistened with water or perhaps vodka before the adhesive re-hardens. Un-du is overpriced. Get one bottle with the handy plastic scraper http://www.amazon.com/Lee-LEE01004-Un-du-Adhesive-Remover/dp/B002M1IKV6/ref=sr_1_cc_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1304447539&sr=1-2-catcorr and refill it with Grip Solvent (for re-gripping golf clubs), which is the same thing except $6.45 per quart from http://www.golfsmith.com/products/916A or $8.45 from http://www.amazon.com/Grip-Solvent-32oz/dp/B002EBX2YY/ref=sr_1_1?s=automotive&ie=UTF8&qid=1296253302&sr=1-1 instead of $6.40 per ounce. For some sticky stuff (such as pine pitch on my car windshield), the only thing that works is acetone, on a frequently-renewed cheesecloth pad. It immediately penetrates any paper (at least if the surface is scratched), so it should work on a stubborn label. However, it's toxic and will catch fire in a blink. Use only out of doors standing upwind of the fumes. Unfortunately, two of the best adhesive dissolvers, ether and carbon tetrachloride, have been illegal for years.
  3. Dunno what kind of eels. They've have been in seaside seafood restaurants. Black skin, a little under 2" in diameter, chopped into 6" lengths, backbone running down the middle, need a hacksaw to cut.
  4. Looks fresh? Squeezes fresh? I buy it.
  5. Beneath my (gas) stovetop. I haven't been able to find a way to get the top off, so stuff that drops through is there forever. It's my theory (and I'm stickin' to it) that the heat from the burners keeps it a dead area.
  6. I absolutely eat the whole thing, including the head. My most amazing Chinese restaurant appetizer is tiny shrimps dipped live from a tank where they move like a snowstorm. They're flash-cooked for maybe 30 seconds and served with a dipping sauce made primarily of soy sauce and ginger. Does anyone know the sauce ingredients?
  7. Eyes -- fish, lamb or anything else. I've eaten pork stomach, goose intestine and goat testicles with great relish, but each time I've tried eyes, they've tasted terrible. Also, I've never been able to understand what people like about eel. I've tried it at restaurants where it's a specialty, and each time it's been like eating bony shoe leather.
  8. k43

    Back of the Can Cuisine

    I've never had a failure, or less than raves, for the chocolate chip cookie recipe on the Hershey's chip bag (or the identical one on the Nestle's bag). I do cut the amount of white sugar in half, though.
  9. I've been forced into retirement and have learned to cook and improvise to be able to afford to eat. The more I do it, the better and easier it gets. My inspiration is Melissa Clark in the New York Times. I get a dry-aged steak maybe twice a year, for birthdays. Otherwise I buy cheap cuts of meat and braise the hell out of them, or cook the smaller ones for a long time at 225 degrees. Half an eye of round isn't pricey when it becomes 6 dinners. And chicken thighs taste much better than breasts anyway. I avoid the aisles at the supermarket. The fresh stuff is around the edges. The aisles hold only pre-processed, heavily salted and sugared stuff. I get things fresh, which are half the cost, easy to cook and without the sugar, salt and 20-syllable ingredients. In the aisles, I get only accent items like capers, anchovies, smoked paprika, cornichons, sauces (Worcester, Pickapeppa, nam pla) and nuts. A quarter-cup of slivered almonds does miracles sprinkled over veggies. Baked potatoes are amazing with thick yogurt, or, better, labnee, plus a tablespoon of caramelized onion. I roast chunky vegetables to bring out the flavor. See Francis Lam's pieces on Salon. Dinner last night was a big head of cauliflower done his way, served with hoisin sauce, hummus and a handful of pecans. This was amazing, and I'm no vegan. Today I'm making lentil soup, with two super-inexpensive smoked ham hocks, a big carrot, a couple of stalks of celery, a couple of onions and the really very decent Pacific beef broth.
  10. k43

    Braising Catastrophe

    In the braising topic, Paula Wolfert wrote that she crumples a sheet of parchment paper under running water and lays it directly on top of the meat, which keeps the liquid in and improves the flavor. That also makes foil unnecessary. Most recipes say to brown the meat thoroughly, often coating it with flour first. However, the topic author said, after many experiments, that browning makes no difference. The key is keeping the amount of liquid small -- only 1/2" deep -- which lets the surface brown during the braise. That's worked well for me. I use a Le Creuset Doufou, which has a super-thick bottom. It works perfectly on the stove-top and has a concave reservoir on top of the cover, which holds a quart of water and keeps the temperature even.
  11. k43


    Don't try this with any red that has thrown even a little sediment, or, a fortiori, any wine you would decant. The wine gets turbid and cloudy and tastes dreadful. An old joke: A diner orders an old, expensive bottle of wine. The waiter approaches the table with it held horizontally in one hand, swinging it back and forth. Diner: Waiter, have you shaken that wine? Waiter: No, but I will.... I know, an expensive bottle would be brought by the sommelier. Still a funny story.
  12. k43

    Caramelized onions

    You can't make decent caramelized onions without using the strongest, most tear-producing yellow onions. And not the big Spanish ones -- the hard, medium ones no larger than a baseball. **Slow Caramelized Onions 3 pounds of the strongest yellow onions, thinly sliced 4 tablespoons unsalted butter or, preferably, schmaltz a bit of balsamic vinegar 1/4 teaspoon salt Combine all ingredients in a crockpot on low for 12 hours. **Quick Caramelized Onions On the stove top, cut the time from 20 to 10 minutes by starting the onions in a dry pan. **Onion Confit (Marmalade) is 1000 times better. Make a large batch and freeze in flattened ZipLoc Freezer bags (not regular) for fast thawing. 6 strong yellow onions, or as many as will fit in your pot, quartered and sliced thick 1 stick butter (1/2 cup) 1/2 cup EVOO 3 sprigs thyme or 1 teaspoon dried 3–4 bay leaves 1/2 teaspoon each ground black and white pepper 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 cup beef or vegetable demi-glace, or just toss in some boullion cubes Saute all ingredients except demi-glace in a heavy, ovenproof pot. Reduce to simmer. After 20 minutes, stir in the demiglace and simmer 10 minutes. Then put uncovered in a 200 degree oven for 6 hours. If it gets dry, add some water or the onion trimming broth described below, and cover for the remaining period. I've also had sensational results by cooking it overnight at 200 to 225 in a covered Le Creuset pot. This comes out very sweet. For your second batch, add some sherry vinegar as a balance. Variations: Substitute pork belly fat or coconut oil for the fats. Substitute ruby port or sherry for stock. Substitute orange juice and a strip of peel for stock. Add a preserved lemon. A hint of nutmeg does it good. Simmer all the onion trimmings, including the root core and dried peel layers, in water to cover until amber. Reduce and add to the confit about half-way through the cooking. Add few chopped anchovies toward the end.
  13. I think an internal temperature of even 150 is too high. Older threads say that trichinosis is killed at 137, and anyway has been eliminated from the food supply. I take a pork loin out of the oven at 135, which increases to 140 after a 10 minute rest (particularly since I do my roasting in a 12" Le Creuset frying pan, which retains heat). The meat is slightly pink at the center, moist and delicious even with today's insanely lean cuts. Salmonella is killed only at 160+, but pork at 160 is dangerously close to shoe leather. I eat raw oysters and clams, so I'll probably die from them first.
  14. The Times recently had a short piece on rice bran oil, which has a high smoke point (428) and a neutral taste. It's expensive, but as the Fat Guy says, that hardly makes a difference if you don't deep-fry with it.
  15. In a class by itself is a 1950s commercial for Super Anahist Cough Syrup, which ended with a nauseating little boy with the syrup around his mouth, pushing his face into the camera and shouting "And it's good enough to eat on ice cream." Even the sponsor didn't let it run for more than a week. They substituted one where the little bastard said "Super Anahist Cough Syrup tastes as good as the syrup you eat on ice cream," but I definitely remember the original.
  16. For no particular reason other than "everybody panic," the feds several years ago declared lung tissue unfit for human consumption. If your kokoretsi has lungs, it's illegal, and I doubt that any restaurant would include them. I still love it, but it's less than authentic in the U.S. Vinnie Bondi of the late lamented Focacceria told me that has father and grandfather taught him to make his famous vasteddi sandwiches with lung as well as thymus, which was better than with just thymus, but he couldn't even get lungs any more.
  17. Put some frozen stock in a pot and stuck it in the 400 degree oven to defrost while I got some other stuff ready. Took it out when it was melted (being careful to use a glove and a potholder) and put it on a stove eye. Put a roasting pan on the other eye, put the prepared ingredients in and picked up the pot to pour the stock over it. Without a potholder. Blisters from the tip of my index finger across my palm and up my wrist. I was in law school at the time and asked my torts prof whether I could sue myself for negligence. Got scorched again, just as bad.
  18. Based on the story in the Times I went last Saturday to the Ridgewood Pork Store, 516 Seneca Avenue in Queens. It's hell and gone away from the BQE, or any other findable street, but it was worth the trek and more! A single thin slice of the gypsy ham, quite lean and dry, is more than enough for my favorite Silver Bells rye, which is saying something. The wine salami with hazelnuts is amazing. Salami must taste like this in heaven. The double smoked bacon is another Platonic ideal. I also got some smoked duck breast, sealed in plastic, which I haven't tried yet, but it looks great. The butcher was generous with samples, and I tasted some perfect garlic salami and chorizo. There were also great looking cappicola and mortadella, which I'll get next time. A great discovery.
  19. I use the Sainted Julia's method, which works on burgers as well as steak: 1. Relax your hand, turn it palm down and poke the meaty area between the base of the thumb and the base of the index finger. That's rare. 2. Turn the hand over and poke the meaty area between the base of the thumb and the wrist. That's medium. 3. Touch the tip of your nose. That's well done.
  20. k43

    Crackling stock

    Cracklings (grivenes) are the greatest invention of Jewish cooks (and probably most others). Pure addiction. I fear added veggies might distract from the unadulterated goodness, but I'm willing to try. There's a very short window between when grivenes are perfect and when they're scorched and inedible. Also, they keep cooking after you remove them from the fat. My paternal grandmother was a dreadful cook, but she had the gift of picking the moment of grivene perfection.
  21. I got a Joyce Foods Label Rouge chicken yesterday at Eli's Market in Manhattan. Joyce ships only frozen birds, but this one was thawed, though it probably was frozen at some point. I roasted it simply, with butter and a little garlic, salt and pepper. It was excellent, but not amazing, and IMHO not good enough to justify paying $27 for a 3-1/4 pound bird. The never-frozen chilled chickens at Dean & Deluca are just as good and a third the price.
  22. k43

    Lamb Tenderloins

    The better the lamb, the less it needs. When I get a loin from a grass-fed organic lamb at the Union Square Greenmarket, I do almost nothing to it. I sprinkle it with a teaspoon of salt (no more), put it in a plastic bag in the fridge overnight, rub it with freshly ground black pepper, sear it all over and roast it on a rack at 350 until the center is at 135 (increasing to 140 as it rests outside the oven). Amazing. Even garlic or thyme would interfere with the flavor, and it needs little or no extra salt.
  23. k43

    Good sauce for steak

    I usually pour off most of the fat, deglaze with a splash of vermouth and then add a splash of cognac and flame it. The floral addition from the vermouth and the implicit sweetness from the cognac is particularly good with skirt or hanger steak.
  24. k43

    Inexpensive Roast

    I followed the CI recipe, salting the eye of round and refrigerating overnight, then rubbing it with pepper and searing it very thoroughly on all sides before roasting at 250, which is the lowest setting on my oven. It came out very good. Don't overdo it with the salt, though. I used 2 heaping tablespoons of kosher salt on a large eye of round and it was too salty. I roasted it on a rack in a 12" frying pan, which preserved the crust on the bottom.
  25. I like and often give Harry & David Royal Riviera (i.e., Comice) pears. Their order fulfillment is first class. Greenberg smoked turkeys are excellent, but the smoke flavor is VERY strong. Give the smallest one you can order. Spices seem tacky to me, but you could give a container of fleur de sel from Zabars or SaltWorks, which is sufficiently expensive, in addition to being wonderful. My wife, being Swedish, likes the Viking Smoked Sea Salt -- very heavy smoked flavor and crunchy, cubic crystals. Salt Traders' Truffle & Salt is excellent, with a strong truffle flavor. It's also at Zabars, along with an equivalent Saffron & Salt combo.
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