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Posts posted by Malawry

  1. I like your technique for cutting the corn off the cob with the inverted little bowl set in a larger bowl, Monavano. Does it really work? Looks cool.

    Why would Ina tell us to blanch the corn before using? That's unexpected. What's the benefit of that?

  2. bump

    OK, I'm making corn chowder for dinner. Help me make this an outstanding version, please. So far I have some diced Yukons for the farmer's market, four ears of sweetcorn, homemade bacon (non-smoked), good homemade chicken stock, some diced onion, and half-and-half. Do I need carrots and celery? Do I need a fresh herb other than parsley (which I already have)?

    So far, I've cut the corn off the cob and steeped the cobs in some water mixed with stock (my stock is reduced 75% or so, so this means it was basically steeping in regular-strength stock). I've diced the bacon and rendered it out. And I've diced the onion and potato.

    Will I need some flour in this, and if so when do I add it (is a veloute method better, or is it best to add beurre manie)? Is there anything else I can do to boost the sweet corn flavor--should I add a little sugar? I don't want to overwhelm with the creamy flavor which is why I showed unusual restraint in buying half-and-half this time around.

    Coaching welcome. Quickly, I'm heading to the store in a little while and want to serve this for dinner tonight.

  3. Just for something to do, we went to the Maryland State Fair today. I'm here to tell you, serious fairgoers shouldn't bother. The only vaguely interesting food I saw (and ate) was roasted corn. Well, and my husband had an acceptable but not exactly inspiring peach cobbler. Even the caramel corn was underwhelming.

    I wanted some hotdish on a stick, or at least something cool. I only saw one vendor selling crab cakes, and they looked tired and like they'd been drying out on the griddle all day. Maryland stuffed ham was nowhere in sight. What a letdown.

  4. I've been on a bit of a baking bender recently, and did a few recipes from this book. Naturally, I'm physically incapable of making a recipe as written, so keep that in mind....

    I made a two-layer apple crisp, using the recipe for I think strawberry-rhubarb--only I used almonds instead of walnuts, and I had so much fruit on hand I doubled the crisp recipe which resulted in too much crisp for not enough fruit (a situation I never knew to be possible). I loved the crisp mixture though and ended up just sauteeing some extra apples in butter to go with the excess crispy. Yum.

    Then I made a blackberry cobbler, using the recipe that gets baked in a deep-dish pie pan. I loved the hit of lime zest. It rocked, esp since I picked the blackberries from the wild (and had the thorns to show).

    Finally, I convinced myself I would drag my ass out of bed Wednesday morning for medical treatment if I had some kind of cinnamon bread waiting to greet me. So I made the cinnamon-raisin swirl bread, using buttermilk instead of regular milk and taking out the raisins. The result was a very tasty loaf with a bit of tartness thanks to the buttermilk, and my son and I both enjoyed it toasted with butter.

    Thanks, Dorie, for distracting me from my misery lately. If something fresh from the oven doesn't do it, nothing will!

  5. bump

    So I presume a top-freezer is the most efficient model, right?

    I need a second fridge/freezer unit and size is not really a concern. I don't need or want an icemaker in the thing. The single biggest consideration is energy efficiency. Specifically, my husband doesn't want the thing, but I need it for work, and if it's really efficient I think I can get away with it. We'll be putting it in the garage or in the kid's play room so it needs to be lockable. I'm willing to pay more upfront for a unit that is low on the power suck. Suggestions?

  6. bump

    The Kosher market I visit in Maryland has stopped making these, so now I need another way to slake my Chinese marble cookie desires. (I prefer the kind that have a little chocolate marbling in the dough, in addition to the drop of chocolate in the center.) Wegmans sells them in their cookie shop, but I'd rather make my own. Anybody?

  7. I'm several days into chemotherapy now, and Jamie, your opening post rings so, so true for me. I went to the farmer's market this morning and it was like the first cool breeze on my face after months of solitary confinement...even though my first session was only last Wednesday. I bought beautiful corn, cucumbers, peaches, and some friends who run a farm gave me a peck of ginger gold apples. I turned the apples into a crisp when I got home, which I shared with my parents who have been helping me through this so much. If I can only eat so much of something, I desperately want it to be the best version possible..and I spend a lot of time thinking about what I might be able to eat and how best to prepare it. My capacity to eat is also severely limited. Every bite counts. Seize the flavors you love like there's no tomorrow...because you never know.

  8. Whew, I'm glad you skipped the Crazy Crab. The only redeeming feature of that place IMO is the golf ball hush puppies they give you. Everything else pretty universally sucked. I'll check out Hudson's next summer since we have our little one in tow, and a decent family-style seafood place is always nice.

  9. Thanks for the tips, people. Please keep them coming.

    Holly, my last two weeks coincide with the near-peak of the produce season, so tomatoes and corn figure strongly in my dietary plans between now and the onset of chemotherapy.

    So far I know I'm making a lobster quesadilla, ancho chile-rubbed beef short ribs, and some crispy skillet cornbread with fresh sweet corn added to the batter. Shrimp and grits too. These are some of my comfort foods.

  10. I was down a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed another wonderful dinner at Red Fish. I think we'll stick to them from now on unless something new opens for our one nicer night out on our annual trip.

    We also had dinner at Sticky Fingers BBQ (a Southern chain) one night. It wasn't as good as last year--some of the meats were not as hot as they should have been. But it was still not bad.

  11. That polenta is unbelievable. I was staying with a friend who works at Michy's recently, and he brought some to his place for me to try. I had it for breakfast and it was so rich and filling I could only eat about a third of it--and I wake up hungry!

    Unfortunately, I didn't get to the restaurant due to babysitting disaster. Next time...

  12. While cruising down my local supermarket cereal aisle recently, I discovered two things I genuinely didn't realize the world needed:

    1. Cereal straws: they flavor the milk you suck through them like Trix or some other cereal, and then you eat the straw when you're done.

    2. Chocolate Chex.

    What else is on the horizon? I want to be ready to deflect requests when my son is old enough to start asking for cereal treats.

  13. No comment on V&A, but I had a very pleasant dinner at Bistro de Paris in the France part of the Epcot world showcase last night. Nothing super-creative, just very solid classic French cuisine with solid classic French-American service. I had escargot and frog's legs for a starter, which were appropriately garlicky and buttery, and then arctic char "meuniere" with fava beans and tomatoes, egg pasta and a foie gras mousse for my main. I rather enjoyed the tastes of the Jonah crab ravioli, duck breast and seared scallops my companions shared, as well. I mean, for a French place in Orlando, I thought it was quite wonderful. But it's not creative, if that's what you're seeking--it's comforting.

    One of my dinner companions is a WDW employee and eats on-property several times each week. He spoke very highly of V&A, saying that at five courses for $80 it represents a great value as well as great food. I do not know his palate well, but he has dined in some fantastic restaurants while travelling and I'd definitely be willing to give it a shot based on his advice.

    Yes, you can get to V&As via Disney transit. You will probably need to take a bus from your resort to the travel and ticket center, and from there hop the monorail to the Grand Floridian resort. Allot plenty of time for this trip; the Grand Floridian is beautiful enough to be worth wandering around if you have time to kill before dinner. To eat at Bistro de Paris, you need Epcot admission.

  14. I too need a new pot. I am willing to spend up to about $100 on it. I am comfortable with drip makers and don't really want to get a french press pot right now.

    I drink a lot of coffee, but I admit I'm pretty pedestrian in my approach to it. I buy the cheapo beans roasted at Costco. I usually drink a cup hot as soon as it's brewed, but I turn off the pot immediately and as soon as the remainder has cooled to room temp, I stick it into a covered pitcher and put it in the fridge. I drink most of the coffee cold from the fridge, with soymilk and Splenda.

    I do have a $40 gift card to Williams-Sonoma, but otherwise no opinion on where to buy something. I'm replacing a Proctor-Silex model given to me by an old friend about 8 years ago, with a restaurant-style glass carafe on it since the original carafe is long gone. I want the new machine to be sturdy enough that I can use it to make a pot of coffee when I cater small dinner parties, and I want the cup it produces to be something I can stand behind. (I buy better beans when I'm entertaining or when I'm hired to cater, and try to grind them fresh at those times, but I only own a really cheap tiny grinder and it seems like a waste of time to me for everyday coffee--am I wrong here?)

    Advice welcome.

  15. Some supermarkets have those thickness guides, like Wegman's, but I find them all but useless. The images on the sign just don't match up to something logical like the number setting on the meat slicer.

    I used to work in a deli-bakery too, and almost everybody would ask for "shaved" or "thin, but not quite shaved." I think few meats or cheeses benefit from such thinness, personally.

  16. I am not a pastry chef, but I am a graduate of culinary school--and so far, I do think my program was worth my money and time. (I graduated from L'academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, MD in May 2003.) I only say this because I think that whether or not school is a good idea depends on lots of different factors, including the school, the student, and most importantly the student's goals. In my case, school has been useful since I write about food and teach cooking skills for most of my living, and having that degree has been a sort of shorthand for "I know something about what I'm doing and am not a rank amateur"--I changed careers when I enrolled, so I didn't have years of industry experience to back me up. I am friendly with the alumni coordinator at my alma mater and she has been especially useful for me in finding jobs and forging professional connections, so I'd also say schools can be very helpful in those regards. I don't know that school would have been the best path if my goal was to become a restaurant cook or to run my own restaurant--but it might have been.

    I did want to say that finding loans for culinary schools is very, very difficult. Everybody wants to loan money to people getting BA/BS degrees and those working towards master's, doctoral, law, medicine, or other professional programs. That's because people who pursue those types of education are regarded as a good investment by lenders. Associate degrees and (worse) certificates (which is what I earned from L'academie) aren't as reliable an investment from a financial standpoint. I ended up borrowing from my folks to make up the difference.

  17. Having worked as a chef for a sorority (girls only a couple years older than the teens you're talking about), I feel confident in saying that you should make MORE than one bar cookie per person--perhaps 1.3 per person is a better number. Even girls on a diet will eat one when they think nobody is looking, or will choose one as their entire lunch. And boys will want more than 1 of everything!

    Have you ever prepared food for this many people before? Do you have access to a commercial kitchen to use for prep even if not on the final day? Where are you going to store all these ingredients--especially cold ones? I don't want to be a naysayer, but this is a HUGE job that you are talking about with the menu you suggest for a home cook. Trying to boil that much pasta on a home stove with the 1-gal stockpot most folks have in their home pot rack alone will be a nightmare, but if you can borrow a 5gal pot and have a high BTU burner on your stove, it's not too bad.

    I do think you should do everything but sandwiches before the day of the event--wraps get soggy fast. Bake off and freeze the desserts on weekends before the event--cut and wrap, then pull out to defrost the night before. Make pasta dressing and condiments early in the week. Are you planning to roast fresh turkey? If so, roast, slice and freeze well in advance and then pull out to defrost a few days beforehand (they take longer to defrost in the fridge--the bar cookies can defrost on the counter).

    On the morning of the event, you can set up the sandwiches in assembly line fashion--a few minutes of planning makes it a lot easier. Also, toss the pasta with the veg and the dressing right before you head out the door--a vinegar dressing (which I assume you mean by no-mayo) will wilt and discolor your veg.

    A job like this is pretty simple for me, but when I was first starting out it would have been a big problem. I just want to ensure you know what you're getting into. I don't think I could execute your entire menu without assistance in the day-before and morning-of timeframe you're talking about--not with fresh roasted turkey and homemade bar cookies, anyway. And I'm a professional.

  18. Sometimes, I'll be running errands and the baby falls asleep in his seat in the back of the car. If I get hungry, I'll get a grilled chicken sandwich and a diet lemonade from the drive-thru at Chick-Fil-A, or a cappuccino from Starbucks drive-through. This gives me a meal or a snack without having to wake up the baby, wrestle him into a restaurant, juggle him and my food, etc etc. It can be a real lifesaver.

  19. The Haagen-Dasz sorbets have a noticeably superior texture to some of the sugar-only "natural" brands. I eat a lot of raspberry sorbet, and Haagen-Dasz is my choice for this food--especially given the poor selection here on the rural edge of suburbia.

    Now, if there was a commercial grapefruit-campari sorbet, I'd switch alleigances in a heartbeat.

  20. Update:

    Had dinner at Bert's the other night, and I was severely underwhelmed--surprisingly so, since I've had great experiences there before. I ordered shrimp and grits, which were sullied by way too many undercooked tomatoes and lack of salt. The grits were positively leaden and totally underseasoned, plus there was a massive quantity of them. I had to add a lot of salt and some Tabasco to make the dish somewhat workable. The hush puppies and salad with lemon vinaigrette were all right. My husband had the orange BBQ catfish, which was covered with an ok, sweetish glaze but didn't have much grill-type flavor as he was hoping to taste. Maybe we should have stuck to one of the three tuna dishes on the menu or something, but we were disappointed overall.

    I also had a similarly underwhelming dinner at Southern Lights not too long ago--a big disappointment, given how much I'd heard about the place over the years (I had never been there until recently, if you can believe it). This place also suffered a lot of underseasoning, compounded with some shameless shortcuts (cheap deli turkey on the Cobb salad, for example) that did not reflect well on the kitchen.

    I always thought Greensboro did a particularly good job with this sort of friendly, neighborhood joint with entrees around the $20 mark--but now I'm not so sure.

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