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Everything posted by Malawry

  1. OK, so my husband has been after me for months to learn something about sushi and try making it. I've read all the sushi threads I can find here and in the Japan forum, and studied some of the other Web sites out there. We eat sushi in restaurants more than any other type of food, and I know we would save a lot of money and be able to get exactly what we want if I could just learn to do this at home. But I need your help, and I'm not finding all the answers I need in these threads. My questions are very American-focused, but I do have access to some good Asian markets. 1. How far in advance can I make the rice? How warm/cool should it be when I start working with it? 2. My sweetie almost always chooses spicy rolls. What do you use as a sauce for the "spicy"? 3. How long does pre-made pickled ginger keep? I'm not ready to tackle making my own on top of everything else right now. 4. Exactly what equipment do I need? I know about bamboo mats for rolling maki, I want to buy a rice cooker anyway, I already have a paddle and a large, wide non-metal bowl for the rice. Anything else? 5. How do you make those crunchy tempura-like droplets you find in some American maki? 6. What's a good brand of crab stick available in the US? How about nori?
  2. Can any of the Japanese-style American short-grain rices be used as sushi rice? Are there particular brands available in US Asian markets that are superior for this purpose?
  3. I've enjoyed picking blackberries at Butler's Orchard out I-270 before. They made a terrific jam! They grow u-pick raspberries and blueberries as well, plus other things (cut-your-own flowers, anyone?), but I've only gone for the blackberries.
  4. Malawry

    Crepes--Cook-Off 23

    There's an intriguing recipe for crepes in Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Cake Bible. If I recall correctly, it contains little or no wheat flour, ensuring ultimate tenderness. Has anybody tried it? I am on the fence as to whether savory or sweet French crepes are superior. I love them both dearly. I am admittedly a French crepe devotee and have never tried cooking any other sort of thin pancake--even though I adore other thin pan-griddled breads. I think of Bedouin pita as a crepe of sorts, along with mu-shu pancakes and Indian dosais. Does anybody make any of those at home?
  5. It is quicker, and the texture is a little different--the potato chips are more uniform and a little less succulent than handcut fresh potatoes. It's still pretty darn good though, and allows me to make a tortilla in 10 minutes rather than the 30 or so it takes to do it the old-fashioned way. Sometimes you just need a tortilla posthaste, you know.
  6. Speaking of omelets, I couldn't resist trying the Route 11 Potato Chip Tortilla Espanola along with my recent chorizo and asparagus meal. I've made tortillas many times before, and am confident enough with them to teach them in cooking classes, but I'd never tried this sort of shortcut with the traditional Spanish potato omelet before. I figured, if Jose says it's okay then it must work. Also, Route 11 Potato Chips are a local product, which made me doubly interested in the recipe. Here's the ingredients: Eggs, two small bags of Route 11 chips, more Goya Spanish EVOO, and some salt. Beat a few eggs. Add the chips, and maybe a dash of salt. I didn't add any salt, figuring that the potato chips were probably salty enough, but the Route 11 chips are labeled "lightly salted" and it turns out they weren't lying...these were not quite salty enough for the whole dish. Let this mixture soak for a few minutes; it doesn't take long, maybe 10 minutes or so. Periodically stir and break up the potatoes with a fork as they soak. Oil an omelet pan or a small skillet generously. You don't want your eggs to stick! Heat over medium heat. Beat an additional egg into the mixture and then tip it into the hot pan and lower the heat. Cook, shaking the pan to prevent sticking, until the bottom and sides are set. You can stir during the initial cooking, but not once the eggs start setting or you'll break up your tortilla. Slide the tortilla out onto a platter, uncooked side up. Invert the pan over the platter and, holding the platter against the pan surface, flip so the uncooked egg comes in contact with the pan surface. Return to the heat for another minute or so and then lide out onto a clean platter and serve immediately. Some people (at least in the US) eat their tortillas cold, but I like my eggs hot so that's how we ate them. It was a terrific meal!
  7. Hey, I'm only trying to help you save face here, Michael.
  8. I see a lot of products labeled "Chorizo" in American markets. How do you identify which are Spanish-style and which are Mexican-style if the label doesn't say? (The D'artagnan chorizo is labeled as Spanish-style.) And how can you differentiate among the various Spanish styles (smoked/cured/fresh)?
  9. Cool nights are ending shortly, so it seemed like the time was ripe to make chorizo braised in cider from the Tapas cookbook while I could still appreciate it. The only semi-challenging part of this recipe is finding Spanish-style chorizo--in most areas of the US, the Mexican sort is easier to locate. Fortunately, D'artagnan makes a delicious Spanish-style product that I found at a nearby Wegman's supermarket. The rest of the ingredients are easily sourced and normally reside in my pantry: Spanish extra-virgin olive oil and hard cider. I like the Goya EVOO, it's inexpensive and tasty and it's available everywhere, even in the crappy supermarkets where I live in West Virginia. There's salt in my picture for some reason (it has a habit of walking into all my ingredients photos), but you don't need it. Cut the chorizo into coins. Saute them in a little olive oil until lightly browned. Add some hard cider. I used Woodchuck amber cider. Let it braise on the stovetop for about a half-hour, until the cider is reduced and a little syrupy. Jose suggests serving it in soup bowls with crusty bread. We ate ours with asparagus and another dish from the cookbook that I'll cover in a future post.
  10. Curiouser and curiouser. I suspect Chef Michael is through making pronouncements about the opening dates, or I'd ask him for comments. Somehow, I suspect MoCo didn't make the process too easy.
  11. Funny you should ask. I just returned from another weeklong trip to the island. (My folks have a timeshare there, and this is the second year we've joined them.) Captain's closed its fish shop, unfortunately. They have opened a new restaurant in Coligny Plaza I think, but they didn't include the fish counter in their new space. When we called to ask where we should buy fish instead, they suggested Piggly Wiggly. We bought some seafood (not local) from Publix. My husband and I ate two meals out. One was at the Southern BBQ chain Sticky Fingers, where we enjoyed decent ribs and wonderfully meaty wings. The other was our first time out without our baby in honor of our 5th wedding anniversary, at the Old Fort Pub. My parents said this was the best place on the island. If that's the case, well, my opinion of HHI dining has not improved over last year. I had asparagus en croute with proscuitto as a starter, which was okay but nothing to write home about. Some marginally acceptable crab cakes that did not contain any lumps of crab followed, which came with delicious grits and some sauteed cabbage and black-eyed peas. My husband really liked the BBQ pork empanada starter he ordered, and he didn't seem so interested in sharing the trout with pepper-sauce beurre blanc and jambalaya rice he got as an entree, so perhaps they were better than what I chose. The restaurant is in a beautiful location overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway...if you ask for Table 11 right now you might get a chance to peek at some adorable baby raccoons who live in the trunk of a tree right beside the table (which is at the window and well-situated for sunset-watching). Old Fort Pub is part of the Lowery Group of restaurants (which includes Boathouse 11, CQs, Antonio's and some other local eateries). I'd regard Old Fort and Red Fish as equally alright--I'd return to either, but not with great enthusiasm.
  12. I decided to make an onion marmalade to go with the duck. The risotto is in panko-crusted cake form and needs no sauce, imo. I am trying to decide if I should make a basic pan sauce as well (just duck demi, onions, butter type thing) and drizzle it on the plate. Oh, I'm adding some grilled baby zucchini to the plate too...
  13. Yeah, I wouldn't have done the risotto cakes like that except I am writing a story on risotto for my local paper, and there's leftover cold risotto from the photo shoot that I want to use up. I added the peas and serrano 'cause I thought that would look pretty in the photos and I had those things on hand. I actually have a jar of roasted red peppers sitting in the fridge that need to be used up. Hmmm.
  14. We're having a couple friends over for dinner tonight, and I thought I'd serve some duck breast as the center of the plate. I'm just planning to sear it but I want to serve a sauce with it. I have things like duck demi, cream, lots of assorted dried fruits, assorted vinegars, assorted liquors and liqueurs on hand (calvados, poire william, really good rum, brandy, etc etc). I will be serving a risotto cake alongside, the risotto has peas and serrano ham mixed into it. What sort of sauce should I make that will match the cake? I'll back-end into the wine from there, so wine suggestions would also be welcome. (The rest of the menu: tomato soup, seared scallops with corn beurre blanc, the duck and risotto cake, and then passionfruit cheesecake for dessert. Yes, a little rich, but my guests absolutely adore cheesecake.)
  15. Malawry

    Tempura--Cook-Off 22

    My favorite tempura in restaurants has always been sweet potato. Do you have to parcook the potato to get it right? It's usually sliced thin, but not wafer-thin like a potato chip or anything. Does it cook through from just the frying? What is the traditional fat medium for tempura?
  16. Albert Uster Imports in Gaithersburg, MD sells the truffle shells, but you will have to buy a huge case in order to use them. Maybe you can split the case with a friend? Also, I'd call La Cuisine in Alexandria and see if they carry them. I have not seen them for sale off the shelf anywhere, unfortunately. Perhaps there are chocolatiers who use them that might be willing to sell you some of their supply?
  17. Tomorrow's weak-handed challenge: Torting and frosting two cakes for the bris on Sunday. Let's see how much manual control I have now that the cast is off my right hand. I'll report back afterwards.
  18. The cast came off finally yesterday! I have a splint to wear now, but only wear it at my own whim for extra support. (I wore it this morning while edging the lawn.) My handwriting has mostly returned to normal, but I still have not cooked because my son was born last Friday and my parents came up to help take care of me and my husband during these important nesting days. I'll be returning to the home kitchen next week after my folks have left and the bris is over, and I hope by then to have regained still more strength and flexibility in my wrist. Meanwhile I'm just happy and relieved to have a little boy and to have two hands I can easily wash for changing him.
  19. So I might get my cast off tomorrow--if not then, than certainly on Monday. I'm also slowly building up to labor (I think). So I did a sort of last hurrah for one-armed dinners... I bought some lamb arm chops last wkd at the farmer's market. I marinated them in red wine with oregano and EVOO and then seared and braised them in the marinade (plus garlic and a can of tomatoes). We had them with my favorite asparagus (sauteed in butter with balsamic reduction). I currently have some brownies in the oven...I plan to eat a corner piece with some java chip ice cream later tonight, and then bring the rest to the nurses in the hospital. I've cleaned up the kitchen and probably won't be cooking anything semiserious again until I have a baby and no cast.
  20. Thanks, Chantilly Bob. Obviously you are much more familiar with the area than I am, since you live much closer! Lori, be sure to let us know what you did for food after your visit.
  21. Wegmans is in Sterling. It's near the intersection of Rte 28 and Waxpool Road. About 6 miles from Udvar-Hazy, I'd guess. Trader Joe's is much closer to Udvar-Hazy and is also a good choice for pic-a-nic supplies. If you feel ambitiously foodie, there's a Grand Mart right across the street from TJ's for cheap meats and exotic produce and Asian and Hispanic products. I recommend picking up some Pocky for dessert.
  22. Lori, you could also swing by Wegman's, which is just a few miles from Udvar-Hazy, and get picnic makings (subs, pizza, soup, premade entrees, sushi, whatever floats your boat). I'm guessing there are some kind of picnic tables near the museum. Or bring some camp chairs and tailgate.
  23. I want to know what happened to the staff at this restaurant after Walsh's column ran. Was this considered acceptable behavior by the FOH management? (Even if so, I'm sure they'd prefer it not be run in the local paper!)
  24. I agree with Neil. Chefs are generous sorts in my experience. You don't have to drop a few $250 checks on dinner to get to know them or to ask them for this sort of favor. If they don't know you, try stopping by during afternoon lull and asking for a second of their time. Offer to pre-pay for the goods if they'll let you buy some off their next order and chances are they'll trust you (and probably decline your prepayment, at that). If you want to get to know the people at the restaurant, try just having a drink and a starter at the bar a couple of times when they aren't busy and just make yourself known to the staff and ask if the chef can come out for a second (tipping generously helps improve regard among front-of-house staff, of course). There are small grocers in the DC area that can and do respond to requests. I made lots of requests at the Takoma Park Silver Spring Natural Foods Coop over the years I was a member there, and most of them were fulfilled--including seemingly obscure ones like when I asked that they carry Eco Farm's microgreens. Try smaller stores like Yes! Organic Foods and you may have more success than asking at Whole Paycheck. The biggest barrier for the home cook wanting to source "unavailable" goods, in my experience, is the problem of needing to buy a whole case of whatever in order to get somebody to bring it in for you. Many grocers and chefs will take a chance and order something once and then see if people buy it (off the shelf or as a special), but they may not be willing to order it again if it doesn't sell. That's just part of life, unfortunately.
  25. I'm tired enough of my limitations that I'm starting to do a little more in the kitchen. Tonight, I made chicken parm for my husband for dinner...complete with breading the chicken breasts. (I couldn't figure out how to pound the chicken flat with one hand, so I had to start frying in oil and then finish cooking the chicken through in the oven.) Three-way breading with one hand was fun ...I gloved my good (left) hand and dried and seasoned the breasts. Then I set up seasoned flour, egg wash, and seasoned bread crumbs. I floured all the breasts one-handed and then set them in the pan. Then I went in batches of three: one breast into the egg and then rested in the breadcrumbs, the other two in the egg and left in there. Then I changed the glove. I crumbed the breast I'd laid in the breadcrumbs and set it in the pan, and then I used the very tips of my fingers to pick up the next breast from the egg wash and set it in the crumbs. This way I didn't get breaded fingers with the gloves. After I crumbed the second and third breasts, I rested them in the pan and changed my glove to start over with the remaining three breasts. From there I was able to fry and bake them using tongs to manipulate with my left hand. My sweetie reports the chicken was superlative. Also, I used both hands to slice an apple neatly earlier. It brings me great pleasure to eat an apple cut into narrow, even slices, but that's hard to achieve one-handed. I pulled my big chef's knife out and it felt so good in my right hand---you know that facial expression Aragon gets in The Return of the King when he finally takes possession of the king's sword from the Elvish people (in The Lord of the Rings films)? That's about how good it felt to grasp my chef's knife. I was able to hold it in my right hand and do the pressing down with the heel of my left to cut up the apple. Nice. I'm in the mood to bake. Originally I'd planned to make a birthday cake for my son when I went into labor, but I ditched that idea after I broke my arm. Now I'm back to toying with that idea. At the very least I'll probably make some brownies or something simple to take to the nurses in the hospital...
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