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Posts posted by ninetofive

  1. 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. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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 ....

  5. Michael, don't know if you saw this thread:


    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.

  6. You could find out for certain if he's a supertaster -- go to Supertaster Test and you can get a couple of test strips for just a few bucks.  (I first read about this on the Amateur Gourmet's blog).

    I had long suspected that my husband and oldest son were supertasters and...they are!

    It helps me to know that their pickiness isn't a character flaw; it's genetic.

    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. :raz:

  7. Great blog, Diana.  I love Oliver's signs.

    If it's not too late:  How often to do you have to replenish your family's sandwich bread?  And how did you come to the cold-oven start?

    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.

  8. Thanks for this glimpse into your week.  That thing of eating differently from your spouse is such a huge hurdle, and it's always interesting to see how other epople surmount it.

    And I can't help it, since you use it a lot - look into your Passionate Vegetarian for the Abracadabra Pilaf.  That's my recipe, or her tweak on it.  Me, I use basmati.  She really didn't need to credit me, since I'd totally forgotten I'd ever invented the dish, but I was really happy to see it again and discovered that I still like it.

    Diana, will you give a plug for your freelancing book?  I'd love to have a look at it.

    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. :shock:

  9. Oh I'm sad to see you end your blog!  I hope that you might continue posting pictures in the what's for dinner, lunch, breakfast section down below. 

    It was a joy to read and I wish you all the best on your upcoming race.

    Thanks, Shelby, I will! I'm going to be more participatory from now on. Although I do have to admit it was nice to wake up this a.m., make oatmeal, and not worry, "Where the *&^% is the camera?"

  10. Where is this restaurant located in Concord?  I knew of a place on the East side about a dozen years ago, but my Mom thought it had closed the last time she was in the area.  I wonder if it is the same one.  Those pooris and naan look fantastic!

    Liz, I don't know Concord well, but it was on a street right off the main thoroughfare (between South State Street and the main street?) I think it may be called House of India ....

  11. Since I had soup for breakfast, I thought it was fitting to have breakfast for dinner. Latkes are one of my favorite Sunday night dinners:


    Everything came from the pantry for tonight's meal. I shred the potatoes with my KitchenAid shredding attachment, squeezed the liquid out, then added salt, pepper, grated onion, flour, and a little matzo meal before frying the pancakes butter (I know, I know, I should be frying in schmaltz!) And instead of sour cream, I like creme fraiche. It's a very high calorie meal, but on a cold night such as this, it was perfect.

    And for dessert:


    A chocolate tart based on a recipe in Roast Chicken and Other Stories. I took liberties with mine by adding a touch of almond extract to the chocolate and pouring it over a layer of raspberry jam. Tonight we will eat small slices of this with a bit of fresh whipped cream while watching the finale of The Amazing Race.

    I am sad the week is ending for me, but excited to read the next eGullet blog and be transported to another world. Thank you everyone for sticking around this week and being so kind, saying nice things about my food, style of eating, and most of all, my little boy. I would love to come back and blog during our gorgeous New England summer.


  12. Wah! That's too funny. About a year after we'd been married, my husband said, "Why do we have so much GARLIC in everything?!" I'd never noticed. Growing up with an Italian-American mom, garlic was absolutely normal. 

    So now we compromise: it goes in everything but vinaigrettes. :wink:

    (And I did cure my husband of putting ketchup on pasta, which I consider tremendous progress.) :blink:

    Those are some terribly cute baking pictures, with your son!

    How many of your cookbooks do you use regularly?

    I can see one of eGer Dan Lepard's books.

    Thanks for blogging; it's been fun to follow your week.

    Ewwww, catsup on pasta!

    Yes, you got Dan Lepard right (I haven't had time to bake from it, but hope to remedy this soon). Also in my collection are Monica Bhide's Indian cookbooks, Russ Parsons' How to Pick a Peach, and the Cooking of Southwest France by Paula Wolfert, although I think that last one was buried so it couldn't be seen.

    I use my cookbooks more for reference than anything else, to get ideas, and kind of jump off from there. Hubby simply can't comprehend why I need so many cookbooks ... "You don't even cook from them!" Which isn't completely true, sometimes I do, but they mostly inspire me.

  13. Okay, now that I've gotten caught up: Thank you for sharing your life with us, and for all that lovely snow.  I hope that kids-cooking shots do not become mandatory like fridge shots are (BTW, where's yours?), for that will disqualify me from producing any more foodblogs in the future.  Unless, that is, I can borrow Oliver the next time I blog!

    Sandy, I got those fridge shots posted on the first page of my blog ... in fact, my editor at the Boston Globe put them up on her blog! There's even a Pocky shot on day 3 or 4.

  14. I've read mixed reviews of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, and am glad to read your take on it.  I may have to revisit the bookstore to see whether I want to pick up a copy.  One reviewer wrote that it still takes hours instead of 5 minutes, even with the dough already prepared and resting in the fridge.  Yes?  No?

    I see you too have the Gourmet's 50-year best-of celebratory cookbook.  I have it too, and consider it one of my "what was I thinking?" purchases.  It looks okay, but I don't think I've ever actually cooked from it.  Have you?  Do you have any recommendations for where I should dive in, if I'm to keep that book?

    Nancy, it does take more than five minutes to get that initial loaf -- the 5 minutes refers to the shaping and doesn't include rise times. There's an initial room temp rest time of 2 hours, then you're free to bake or store the dough. I feel, however, that it's a more time-efficient way to get a home-baked boule than the Sullivan Street/Dutch oven-baked boule, which requires an initial 12 to 18 hour rise/rest time. You want a loaf of bread, you have to know a day in advance. With this new method, you have the dough ready and within two hours can have a loaf of bread on your dinner table. Another benefit is that you can make more than one loaf at a time, as I did yesterday. With the SSB, that's a little more difficult unless you have two dutch ovens handy.

    I got the Gourmet cookbook at a steep discount, and whatever I've made from there (which admittedly isn't much) has turned out wonderful. Weirdly enough, the best recipe in there is the one for Boston's own Parker House rolls. My extended family begs me to bring these to holiday dinners and such.

  15. Sundays are "family day" around here. We try to do something special together, just the three of us. In the spring, summer, and fall there are so many things for us to do. Sometimes we'll visit Great Brook Farm State Park in nearby Carlisle and bring a picnic lunch, then hike the trails and look for mushrooms. Or go for ice cream at one of the many ice cream places around here. In the winter, we tend to look for places to keep warm, and unfortunately, it usually means a mall, where Oliver likes to look at toys or jump around on a play floor. We've recently instituted a new rule where each one of us gets a turn to pick what we do and guess what?


    Today's my day to pick! I do know we have to go to Costco to pick up my eyeglasses, but maybe I'll be able to squeeze in some foodie stuff.

    I like to get up early on Sunday mornings and cook/bake. We're out of bread, so I baked up our "house loaf," your standard white sandwich bread. I'm not sure where I got the original recipe, but over the years I've tweaked it into my own. Both my husband and Oliver love this bread for toast and "jelly sandwiches." The smell of it baking is heavenly, but I don't actually enjoy eating it that much ... it's too sweet and soft for me. I like my bread rustic, somewhat chewy and hearty.


    Please ignore the fish sauce and chocolate syrup. I'm terrible about putting stuff away when I'm done with it! I usually use buttermilk in the bread, but since we don't have any, I clabbered the milk with a tablespoon of cider vinegar. Here I'm using King Arthur Unbleached White Flour, but sometimes I use KA bread flour, or even switch in 3 ounces of oat flour or rye to make the loaf a little more nutritious.


    Poor Bessie does the kneading while I futz around with other things in the kitchen. I put on a pot of beans for a soup I'll eat during the week:


    The bread goes into a warm oven for an initial rise of one hour. Blatant product placement shot, but I love this plastic wrap. It's the clingiest wrap I've ever come across.


    On Sundays I also wash and cut up fruits and veg for the week. I find that prepping fruits and vegetables cuts down on binge snacking. I like eating blueberries and melon for breakfast:


    Meanwhile the bread has risen for an hour, so I deflate it and shape it before sticking it in a loaf pan for a second rise.


    After 35 minutes, I remove the plastic wrap from the loaf pan and crank the cold oven up to 400. This gives the bread terrific oven spring and a nice dark crust. After 15 minutes, I turn the oven to 350 and bake for another 24 minutes before removing to cool:


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