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Posts posted by ghostrider

  1. For a regular kitchen stove, I find it easier to just use a regular frying pan. It seems that flat bottomed woks are just overkill and a flat bottomed pan works so much better since my stove is pretty weak.

    I'm not sure if all the flipping is for show, but from what I got, "true" stir fry, as a opposed to just sauteeing, involves intense heat which requires the food to be tossed rapidly. I think the tossing is also done so the oil and food is mixed with the air, allowing it to ignite into flame and basically char-broiled the entire dish within seconds.  Talk of stir-frying tends to make a big deal about "wok hei", which can only be achieved apparently from monstrous heat. Of course if used correctly, practically anything can be cooked in a wok with any method.

    I just recently learned about velveting, and man I wish I knew about this technique sooner. I was always wondering how Chinese restaurants got their meat a certain texture.

    I found this article on wok cooking pretty great


    Interesting piece. They're working with much higher heats than I ever did.

    I did a lot of wok cooking at home for 20 years. (I've gotten lazy since we moved to suburbia & don't do much of it any more.) One big advantage of a real wok is that it contains the oil spatter; stir frying in a frying pan always seemed to mess up the stovetop & countertop much worse. I have one of those woks with a ring that sits around the burner - gas stove - so that the wok sits a couple of inches off the burner element & the heat is spread around a wider area of the wok bottom than it would be without that added height. Always got good results, considering that I wasn't working with a true wok stove.

    "Velveting" seems to have a couple of different meanings. Coincidentally, I was watching America's Test Kitchen doing a frying pan stir-fry the other night, & to them velveting meant tossing your sliced chicken in a cornstarch/soy/sherry mixture before frying, so that the meat was coated with the mixture.

    The cookbook from which I learned used a similar mixture & method but insisted on the necessity of rice wine, of course. It also called for a period of marination - 10 minutes or so - so that the mixture got absorbed into the meat / poultry / seafood to some degree. (The precise mixture would vary depending on the recipe.) The term "velveting" wasn't in vogue at that point, this was just a standard part of the technique that I picked up.

  2. This is going back about 10 yrs now, but in Wengen I stumbled across the best rosti I've ever had - & trust me, I tried the rosti everywhere I went in 4 trips to Switzerland. It was at a free-standing place (not a hotel restaurant) near the station. The rosti was laced with cheese, onions & smoky Swiss bacon bits. Outrageously good.

  3. It's the OP, not the wife, who is having taste issues here.

    I went on a low-salt diet (which to me means no salt in cooking) 5 years ago. Used various herbs appropriate to whatever fish or poultry I was roasting or broiling. In sauteeing & pan-frying, caramelization seemed to add enough flavor so that I didn't really miss the salt. It was a bit of an adjustment but your taste changes after a month or two. At that point, when you dine out, a lot of dishes start to taste overly salted.

  4. Somewhere in the mass of stuff I read on this topic last night, I've lost track of where, someone said that lobsters don't have pain receptors as we mammalian types do, but they do have stress receptors. So perhaps it's a matter of degree rather than a simple question of what they do / do not "feel" when we drop them alive into a vat of boiling water.

    OTOH as I noted in the previous thread, adult lobsters eat their young without a "thought."

    I'm still unsure as to where to place all this on the great scale of morality, but I suspect that I'll still be eating lobster rolls as I ponder the question more deeply up in Maine this summer.

  5. Within the commercial kitchen world what you refer to as a griddle is called a grill.  Back in the good old days McD's had a 6' Wolf Grill and grilled their hamburgers.  There are also grills that replicate backyard grilling, as in "char-grilled" hamburgers.

    And therein lies a hornets' nest of confusion & misleading advertising & frustrated expectations.

  6. Another factor in this discussion is that my town, for one, requires that all trash be tied up in plastic bags inside the garbage can. If you put the trash out loose, they don't collect it. I'm assuming that a lot of towns operate thus.

    I'm all for reducing use of plastics (and reducing waste in general), but they aren't going away.

  7. One thing I can't seem to reduce, though, are vegetable bags. If I've got only one or 2 things I don't use them, but it's hard to go up to pay with 5 apples rolling around in the basket. I haven't even  bothered attempting this, because I don't want to make the people angry at my local market... it's a small place and I'd have to go completely out of my way if my wayward free-range produce caused problems.

    I save those & use them to wrap up leftover Chinese food containers to keep them from stinking up the icebox. I'm slowly accumulating more than I use up, though.

    Here in Jersey the bagging practices vary widely, even within the same store. At my local Stop & Shop, some of the clerks are very methodical & efficient while others take the excessive-bags approach that started this thread. I guess they need better management.

    What also gets me is when I stop at a deli for just one or two items & they automatically want to bag it. I always stop them. I've usually got a bag, often resuable, in the car already. I don't need an extra bag just to carry the item(s) a dozen paces out the door.

  8. I'll suggest that arbitrary threshold levels, wherever they're set, may be a less useful tool than patterns, & a good doctor-patient relationship will focus on the latter & perhaps avert a crisis diagnosis.  That of course requires regular visits to the doc.

    It sounds like you have a relationship with your doctor that works. However, there are plenty of people who in your situation would have been given a course of medication to lower their blood sugar. That's when the "epidemic of diagnoses" gets scary.

    I couldn't agree more. Too many docs will just write an Rx & see the next patient. And this is not the forum discussing the reasons for that so I'll say no more.

  9. John, I think you -- and anybody else interested in this subject -- would find this piece in American Family Physician ("New Diabetes Guidelines: A Closer Look at the Evidence," by Woolf and Rothemich) to be a good summary of the opposite position, if you haven't read it already. Woolf and Rothemich note that
    Lowering the diagnostic threshold shifts the definition of diabetes into the central bulge of the bell curve where the glucose level of most Americans falls.

    and that therefore

    Under the new guidelines, at least 1 million Americans (and possibly more) with fasting plasma glucose levels of 126 to 140 mg per dL (7.0 to 7.8 mmol per L), who previously would have been told that they had normal (or impaired) glucose tolerance, will now be informed that they harbor a disease.

    They make several arguments as to why this is a bad idea. First, they point to studies that conflict with the studies underlying the new diagnostic threshold. Second, they note that

    even if risk is increased, the new policy argues that having a risk factor (a mildly elevated fasting plasma glucose level) is tantamount to having a disease. There is wide overlap between healthy persons and persons with diabetes in the fasting plasma glucose range of 126 to 140 mg per dL (7.0 to 7.8 mmol per L). . . . . Labeling persons with a fasting plasma glucose level of 126 to 140 mg per dL (7.0 to 7.8 mmol per L) as having diabetes, when most will not develop meaningful disease, is akin to labeling persons with elevated cholesterol levels as having heart disease.

    Third, they point to the scant evidence that correcting mild elevations in glucose levels improves health. Furthermore, they argue:

    The benefits of an earlier diagnosis must also be weighed against potential harms. . . . . Although the first-line treatment for patients with mild fasting blood glucose elevations should be diet and exercise, some physicians may be tempted to prescribe glucose-lowering drugs if levels remain elevated, exposing patients to potential side effects (e.g., hypoglycemia). Given current uncertainties about the health benefits of detecting or correcting a fasting plasma glucose level of 126 to 140 mg per dL (7.0 to 7.8 mmol per L), these patients may be subjected to harm for no appreciable gain.

    Not to try to extend a tangent with another personal anecdote, but there may be some value in this story of why I changed one facet of my diet:

    Last year my doc told me I was getting to be borderline diabetic because my glucose level was around 120. I guess he was going by the new guidelines. I'll admit that hearing "diabetic" applied to me for the first time scared the bejeebers out of me & led to some immediate dietary changes that took my glucose levels in the other direction.

    The important thing here was that the doc was able to show me steadly increasing glucose levels over 3 years of blood tests & explain that it was the trend, more than the actual level, that was worrisome even though I hadn't yet gotten beyond "mild elevation."

    I'll suggest that arbitrary threshold levels, wherever they're set, may be a less useful tool than patterns, & a good doctor-patient relationship will focus on the latter & perhaps avert a crisis diagnosis. That of course requires regular visits to the doc.

    Sadly, I still haven't lost weight, but that's a separate issue. Good blood work results after a year of more controlled eating are their own reward.

  10. As the owner of a coffeehouse that bothers to stock 10-12 premium, loose leaf teas (that are mostly fair-trade) at a time, each of which is probably of a higher quality than anything found in a tea bag, I'd have to say that generally speaking, I'm not cool with patrons bringing their own tea bags.

    I can't imagine anyone who appreciates tea wanting to bring a tea bag into your establishment. Places like yours are way too few & far between.

    (You aren't located in Jersey by any chance are you?)

  11. It surprises me that, living in the Boylan's heartland of NNJ, I see the regular Boylan's soda everywhere. But have never seen Boylan's Mash around.

    The Montclair deli where I work stocks them both. The Mash stuff is popular, though I think that traditional Boylan's soda still has a slight edge.

  12. I was at my hairdressers the other day, for a touch-up and injection of local neighborhood gossip.  Just over the din of the hairdryers there was an animated discussion of a Whole Foods coming to Clifton, nestled in the complex on Route 3 West and Alwood Road, right next to TGIF.

    Well, you can expand OK, but it will be a Trader Joe's, not a Whole Foods.


    I believe the Stew Leonards referred to will not be a full Stew Leonards, but a wine store.

    I noticed that construction last week & wondered what the heck it was.

    TJ's is useless.

    If enough of us say "Wegman's" will they build one?

  13. there's some good competition in the space: menupages.com and allmenus.com

    Not really, menupages.com is New York and surrounding areas, I'm in New Orleans. Allmenus.com, for New Orleans, has less than two hundred restaurants listed and I looked at about 15 of them and only found two menus. I have over 450 restaurants listed and 230 menus.

    I was going to suggest menupages as a model for graphics &navigation but I see that you know it already. I for one use it frequently. The functionality is terrific. You seem to have something similar going.

    I don't know how they run things but if you can find out anything about their business model, I bet the information would be valuable.

    My one suggestion would be to add an option like menupages' "On Screen Menu." I find the PDF load & navigation irritating, as I think some other folks may. The formatting of that On Screen Menu makes it much easier to get a sense of a place quickly & decide whether it should go onto the short list for a particular occasion.

    Good luck! New Jersey could use a site like yours!

  14. I would like to invite a talented, creative chef to open a restaurant (not just a caterer) that has more than a deep-fryer and butter sauces to this neighborhood (Leonia/Teaneck/New Milford). These are highway towns of single-family homes and disposable incomes. The malls and bad-food chains around here are PACKED.

    With so many people waiting in line at places like the Cheesecake Factory, Morton's, M&S, etc, I don't understand why there aren't more good independent restaurants around  here.  We don't need another Appleby's!  So help me if another TGIMcFunster's (thanks Mr Bourdain) opens around here I'm moving.

    Having recently gotten into the habit of driving up from Rutherford to dine in Teaneck (equidistant with Montclair for me), I'm a bit befuddled by this opening statement, though I'll admit I don't yet know the whole area well.

    Our goal to date has been the Teaneck Kebab House for the excellent Afghan food (there's none to be found in Montclair or anywhere else that I know of within a 10-mile radius here in Jersey). But we've noticed a few other places in the immediate neighborhood - En Bistro across the street, Victoria's on the corner of DeGraw & Queen Anne - that look appealing. We'll probably try those at some point now that I know how easy the route to Teaneck is.

    All this has me wondering what else Teaneck might have to offer. I plan to do some exploring when the weather improves. I realize that so far we've been just to the southwestern corner of the area that the OP delineated. I probably won't be inclined to penetrate New Milford or Leonia without a compelling reason to do so.

    Maybe I'll find that there is nothing else up that way, in which case I'll agree with the OP; considering the population density in the area, you'd expect that it would support a few clusters of quality dining opportunities.

  15. I have a friend who will not eat white food. Period. I've never heard the complete story as to why he won't eat them.

    The poor man will never know the pleasure of eating whipped cream or mayo (or Miracle Whip :raz: ).

    I have a friend who won't eat blue food. And she's one helluva cook, trust me on this. But nothing blue.

    I've tried to convince her of the excellence of blueberry pie made with fresh Maine blueberries, to no avail. She says it can't possibly be worth violating her lifelong rule for.

  16. Oh dear you have my sympathy.  Nothing worse as a cook to find the ingredients you’ve lavished your hard-earned time and money on are sub-standard.  Especially with a precious ingredient such as scallops.

    Sometimes though it can very difficult to gauge the freshness of seafood when it is sold already prepared.  For example with fish fillets and in particular with scallops out of the shell.  I buy scallops when I can afford them but i always buy them in the shell.  That way i know exactly how fresh they are and that they haven’t been pumped full of preservatives and water.  Fresh scallops are always tightly closed.  I don’t mind paying a little extra as I do see them as a ‘luxury’ ingredient.  Besides, paying less for an inferior product is a false economy (as everyone knows – I hope!).

    You definitely need to have a word with your seller.  In your position if the goods where as bad as you described then I would do more than have a wee word to the nice man!

    Very few fish purveyors in the U.S. offer scallops in the shell. Is that really a commonly found option in the U.K.?

  17. Craving some fish last night so worked a stop at Riverside into my post-workout route & got some flounder for $7.99 / lb, along with a few other goodies. The filet was curiously dry - very different from what you get at Whole Foods - is this a sign of having been frozen & thawed, or being from a different sort of "flounder", or just an older fish?

    Anyway, it sauteed up very nicely & tasted fresh & sweet.

    They also had something called "Basa Sole" for $5.99 / lb. Looked very nice but I thought I'd Google it first. Yikes! Is it Basa or is it Tra? What a conundrum.

  18. Something that has always been and will always be one of my top 10 favorite dishes is just up your alley- linguine (or spaghetti) aglio e olio (with garlic and oil). Some consider the anchovies and red pepper flakes optional, but to me they're essential (along with lots and lots of garlic). Nothing could be better.

    I make that once or twice a week (no anchovies). Some minced fresh peperoncino is a nice alternative to the dried flakes. Chopped Italian parsely adds color & a flavor counterpoint, also helps reduce post-prandial garlic breath.

    Freshly grated pecorino is the final touch.

  19. ^^^^

    Strict or pure vegetarian for an Indian means no meat, fish or eggs and possible no garlic or onions. There aren't a whole lot of vegan Indians.

    Whoa. Why would garlic & onions be ruled out?

    They believe it excites the passions. It's not really a vegetarian thing. But I think it's a Hindu/Jain thing. I think it was originally widows who were not allowed to eat garlic and onions (because spicy food excites the passions) but since they were often confined to the kitchen this gave rise to a tradition of preparing food without garlic and onions.

    Ah, OK, I figured it was something "philosophical." :wink: Thanks.

  20. ^^^^

    Strict or pure vegetarian for an Indian means no meat, fish or eggs and possible no garlic or onions. There aren't a whole lot of vegan Indians.

    Whoa. Why would garlic & onions be ruled out?

  21. ghostrider, I believe you're thinking of a moka, which isn't exactly what I'd call an "Italian percolator."

    Right you are. This is very similiar to the one on Lidia's show.

    I dropped coffee from my daily routine many years ago, so I'm not really up to speed on these things any more. I found myself wishing I'd had one of those moka things before I gave the stuff up.

  22. I've worked in cookware stores off and on for 10 years, and have seen and used just about every new type of coffee maker or "system" that's come along in that time. Lately, I've noticed that people seem to be buying percolators. Not a lot -- maybe 3 in the last 6 months. But that's three more than I've sold in the previous 9.5 years. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that Michael Ruhlman was singing the praises of percolators on his blog as well.

    As far as I know, there haven't been any improvements in percolator technology in the past 20 years, have there? Both from personal experience and from everything I've read on the subject, it's clear that it's just not a good way to make coffee. So what's the deal? Is it nostalgia?

    Stovetop or electric?

    Coincidentally I was watching an ep of Lidia just a couple of nights ago where she was explaining the various methods of brewing coffee, apparently for total novices. Athough she didn't pick a favorite, when she finished with the stovetop percolator demo I found myself thinking "Gosh, that looks good!" There was just something about the Italian percolator & the whole process that was instrinsically appealing.

    So if you're selling Italian stovetops, maybe Lidia is responsible.

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