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ninetofive

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    Westford, MA
  1. ninetofive

    A Culinary Journey in India

    Fascinating report, John, and can't wait to hear/see the rest. I was in India March 10 through the 22nd and stayed at the Coconut Lagoon and the Taj Hotel and Towers, too. One morning at the Coconut Lagoon I woke up early and counted 20 water snakes swimming in the lagoon next to us -- cool! The staff naturalist told us they'd caught a python there the week before. Sorry, not food-related ... am curious where else you went. I took a cooking class in Cochi and eGullet came up during our lunch conversation. :-)
  2. ninetofive

    Top Chef Season 4

    I didn't think I could dislike anyone more than Lisa on Top Chef this season. Then they brought on Ilan. He should have tasted more food and talked less about it. Nice seeing Hung and Harold, though.
  3. Susan, thank you for everything! I will miss you as food blog czarina.
  4. ninetofive

    Top Chef Season 4

    I actually liked Smith as a guest judge, and I went into the show thinking I wouldn't (bleah, Oprah's personal chef, bleah). He was warm, honest, unpretentious -- unlike the guest judge they had for the pastry challenge last week. He was a good choice for both challenges. Agree with others about the $10 challenge at Whole Paycheck. There's just no way, no way at all. There was a shot of Stephanie at the meat counter with three wrapped packages in her basket. Even with chicken backs in there, I doubt there was less than $10 worth of meat. I'm wondering if they let the cheftestants pay wholesale cost rather than retail?
  5. ninetofive

    Top Chef Season 4

    And I recall the dish with the pre-roasted chicken went over pretty well.
  6. ninetofive

    "Cook's Illustrated"

    I admit, I find the structure of CIs articles and shows a little tiresome, but it doesn't stop me from subscribing or watching. As others have pointed out, how can every version of a dish suck so bad until CI comes around? I wish for once they'd admit, "We've rarely met a monkey bread we haven't liked, but what if we could develop a gooey, cinnamon-infused Sunday morning treat that tops them all?" That gets my attention more than harping on the awfulness of a recipe. That said, I like the magazine a lot. I like that they don't accept advertising. I like that they put a recipe through the wringer, testing it dozens and dozens of times, something I'm not able to do as a freelance recipe developer -- what a luxury! Do I I always agree their results are the "best"? Taste is awfully hard to nail down; what they do well is breaking the recipe down into techniques that are usually spot on and something I adapt to my own cooking. From there, I'm free to improvise and develop the roadmap to my "best" taste. I picked up the special CI that just came out (a fluffy white coconut cake on the cover?) and made the manicotti the other night. I followed the recipe exactly, which is something I rarely do. The idea of using presoaked no-boil lasagna to roll up the pasta was a cool idea. I made the components of the dish ahead of time, put it together on a Sunday afternoon, then baked for dinner on a Monday as the recipe said I could. While the dish turned out fine, it certainly wasn't the most spectacular manicotti I've ever had, and I know I'll never make that particular version again. (My son complained that it made the whole house smell like vomit, thanks to the browned cheese on top -- and I have to admit, he was right!) However, I will use that noodle idea with my mother's recipe for the ricotta filling and my grandmother's meat sauce recipe next time I've a hankering for manicotti.
  7. Awesome blog, Chris. I'm in awe of all your skills: cooking, charcuterie, photographic, organizational ... wow!
  8. Kim, I'm in awe of your cookbook collection. And congrats on the weight loss. You look fantastic! I can't wait to see what the week brings.
  9. Chris, just want to say I'm enjoying your blog. As others have mentioned, your photos are spectacular. And yay to Cooks Illustrated dinners -- they're popular around here, too.
  10. ninetofive

    Top Chef Season 4

    Anyone remember the fantasy scene in Dumb & Dumber? Jim Carrey on the couch, igniting his gas for the assembled party guests? Definitely something flambeed.
  11. ninetofive

    Hartford Recommendations

    I just wrote about Hartford's dining scene for US Airways magazine, and I lived in Hartford for a good 10 years. For dinner, I'd suggest Firebox (www.fireboxrestaurant.com). Excellent wine selection, consistently good reviews on the food, and an interesting space. I also like that they buy from local farms, although this time of year ....
  12. Michael, don't know if you saw this thread: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=51634&st=30 I posted (negatively) about my 14-cup Cuisinart food processor back in 2006, and my opinion hasn't changed. I'll add that I'm not thrilled with the grating attachments, either -- I end up using the grating attachment we bought for our KA mixer instead. Cuisinarts used to be a good machine, but I believe the company has changed hands and the quality has gone downhill. I'll never buy another one, for sure.
  13. I'm going to order those strips right now. It's going to stink if it's genetic, though. I have no such defense on any of my character flaws.
  14. Mostly it's Oliver who goes through the bread. I probably bake about three loaves a week. I think I picked up the cold oven start from one of James Beard's bread recipes, although I'm not sure. It also could be from Elizabeth David's bread book. Obviously it doesn't work with the baking stone, which requires preheating, but with sandwich loaves in tins, it's great.
  15. Abra, that is soooo cool. (I just looked it up -- CD calls it "Two-Grain Abracadabra Pilaf.") Oh, that looks delicious -- I'm a sucker for pistachios and apricots with grains. And since everything is in my pantry .... A plug, eh? Well, if anyone here is at all interested in freelance writing, check out The Renegade Writer and The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock. The first book is a good start if you're relatively new to freelancing; the second one is geared more toward experienced freelancers. I like the 2nd book more, myself, because I'm nosy and like to see how other freelancers pitch stories to editors. My co-author and I blog regularly about writing-related subjects -- link below. OK, I hope that sales pitch wasn't too offensive.
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