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Everything posted by takomabaker

  1. Oh my god, oh my god, oh my GOD, what did that ribeye do to her to deserve that sauce? It gives new meaning to "cruelty-free meat". I've been reading but not posting for a few weeks now, but just couldn't help myself on this one. I just got out of my Weight Watchers at Work meeting (which sucks but I'm on doctor's orders to lose a few pounds and lower my cholesterol) and spent an hour in a conference room with 15 women singing the praises of Rachel Ray. I went on Egullet to cheer up and, well, Rachel Ray and Weight Watchers are looking a whole lot better now. Did she REALLY start that recipe with meat-flavored spaghetti sauce? How do they flavor it? Meat extract? And since she doesn't specify, does Boone's Farm count as "red wine"? OH MY GOD!!! This woman can NOT be for real! This MUST be a joke. It reminds me of the Gallery of Regrettable Food that was circulating a few ago.
  2. I work in production for advertising agencies and have done my share of packaging. I can add two things: First, I use these guys in Richmond, VA for a lot of my specialty boxes. I don't know if you are looking for something custom, but they have always been good for me. I have used them for a lot of custom packaging through the years. Even though they are mostly for direct mail, they will custom produce anything you want. www.commonwealthspecialtypackaging.com Secondly, one of our clients a few years back was a restaurant chain for whom we designed a label for their barbeque sauce that was sold retail (don't ask -- it was a national chain restaurant and the sauce was nothing to write home about). I do know that you need to use FDA approved food safe inks and glues for food products and labels. I thought it was kind of stupid considering the fact the most people aren't inclined to lick sauce off the label of a bottle to the extent that he or she would ingest enough ink to be an issue, but hey, it's the FDA.
  3. A staple of mine and a crowd-pleaser for years... http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/recipe_views/views/13440
  4. I don't mean to sound ignorant, but could someone be so kind as to go into more detail about the process of "turning" or "folding" during the initial rise? Is this similar to making single and double folds when making puff pastry? Wouldn't that deflate the dough each time? Or does that not matter because it is the initial rise? It sounds like a useful method, but I think I need more guidance... Thanks so much!
  5. I just got my complimentary copy last night and you are NOT kidding. I have worked in publishing and advertising for the past 15 years, and this publication looks like it was done by a 12-year-old with a computer and a copy of Quark Xpress. It would have behooved them to hire a publication design consultant to do an initial layout. I currently subscribe to Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Food and Wine, Cook's Illustrated, and Fine Cooking. I don't see myself adding this one to my list.
  6. takomabaker

    Swamp Cabbage

    I grew up with sulfur water. My parents have a well too. I was always told that it was good for me. My mother swears that the reason she's 60 and has never had a cavity is because she grew up with it as well. But I can't figure out how something that smells like rotten eggs, turns bathtubs black, and rots lead pipes can be good for you. You can definitely tell when you walk into someone's home if they have sulfur water or "city water". Is sulfur water just a Florida thing, or does it exist in other parts of the South? I've never given it much thought. Thanks for the collard advice, Robyn. I'm on my own if I want collards now (very sad). But it's definitely not the time of year to start that venture.
  7. Amazingly and a bit eerily, this was my list to a "t" with the exception of La Sirenita which I must now try immediately! I would add Woodlands in Langley Park (especially their weekend brunch buffet), and El Golfo in Takoma Park, but damn.... even Franklins....
  8. I've been following this topic to get ideas on where to go for RW, but ended up picking Blackie's and Butterfield 9. Mostly because my dining partner is more of a steakhouse person than I am, and we both picked one restaurant. We also got a late start, so we also chose from what was still available. At Blackie's, I had the rotisserie Long Island Duck with lemon-ginger glaze that was wonderful. I really enjoyed it. My dining partner was not as impressed with her pork porterhouse. She felt it was a bit overdone. But I would definitely return for the duck. I also really enjoyed my first course of chilled tomato soup with avocado, mango and grilled corn relish. It is a dish I'd like to try to duplicate at home. We both sampled each of the two desserts, chocolate mousse cake and strawberries melba. Both were quite good, but nothing extraordinary. Last night we went to Butterfield 9 and neither of us had any complaints. It was a fabulous meal. We both really enjoyed our day boat scallops (Seared Day Boat Scallops, roasted garlic, summer squash pistou, basil emulsion) for our first course. I had Hawaiian Escolar (Hawaiian Escolar, artichoke barigoule, sweet garlic puree and piment d'espellete) and she had spice dusted pork chop (Spice Dusted Pork Chop, tempura squash blossoms, cherries and pancetta sauce). Both were wonderful. I tried the tempura squash blossom that came with the pork and could have eaten an entire plate of just squash blossoms. The creme brulée and Mexican chocolate soufflé cake were perfectly simple and elegant endings. We also indulged in the optional wine pairings. The dessert wine pairing was particularly notable. It was Moscato d'Asti M. Chiarlo "Nivole" 2004, Piedmonte-Italy that I plan on incorporating into my own repetoire. I was not as impressed with the Chardonnay that they served with my Escolar. But I'm not a Chardonnay fan. The chenin blanc that was served with the scallops was wonderful as well (Chenin Blanc Indabo 2004, Western Cape-South Africa). BTW, Butterfield 9 has extended their RW for another week until the 14th. Their menu is on their website.
  9. York Castle in Silver Spring, MD. Litchi, soursop, ginger, banana, Guinness, papaya, guava, mango, coconut.... it's all SO good. Do you choose to support your regional and/or local ice cream makers? Or do you always choose a national brand out of habit? Here in Atlanta, we have Mayfield Dairies which makes an excellent choice .. How about you? ←
  10. Most definitely YES. I grew up on it fried, or stewed with fresh corn off the cob and tomatoes. I rediscovered later in life when I fell in love with Indian cuisine. I recall a very funny story in the Washington Post's food section from several years ago. I don't remember the name of the Indian chef, but it was a woman who discussed adjusting to American cooking in an intereview. She was making tiramisu, and when the recipe called for ladyfingers she used okra, due to the fact that "ladyfinger" means okra in Indian recipes. She said she thought it was strange, but dutifully completed the recipe using okra when it called for ladyfingers. It was probably some very interesting tiramisu.
  11. Hey, watch it. I'm a liberal arts grad and had a double major in English Lit (late 19th century British specifically) and theater. And I haven't found it necessary to work in fast food after graduation. Publishing firms, advertising agencies, and Capitol Hill non-profits, but not fast food. Yet.
  12. High School. Wendy's. Not too bad. We were supposed to get half-priced meals, but the manager usually let us eat for free. We used to make up our own food combinations. Like chicken a la king sauce (remember the chicken a la king potatoes?) on french fries, custom nachos made with chili and the cheese sauce from the potatoes and tortilla chips from the taco salad, or the cinnamon sauce from the apple dumplings dribbled on top of a Frosty. And if you've never spiked a Frosty with Kalhua, you must do so immediately! Back then at least, Wendy's was pretty fresh. The managers used to make the burger patties every night for the next day in a big burger-making machine. The chicken breasts were breaded and fried on-site (a process referred to as "dropping the chicken"). The chili was made every morning with leftover burgers from the day before. Pretty decent for fast food, but this was so long ago that we were listening to Oingo Boingo on the radio in the employee break area. Who knows how they operate now. Right before I quit for a better after school gig at Burdine's department store, my manager got fired for stealing food. I don't know what he was doing with it, but rumor had it that it wasn't just a few chicken breasts for a backyard cookout. It was apparently cases of stuff. What would you do with cases of chicken a la king sauce and chili mix that would be worth getting fired? I've pondered it for 20 years.
  13. I really like Thai Derm as well. I had forgotten the name of it, but it is my first choice for carry-out. I've TRIED to get carry-out at the little cafe connected to the Thai Market on the other side of Safeway (one block over) when I'm in shopping (I love to cook Thai food as well) but the cafe always seem to be closed. There is another Thai place I like in Wheaton one block off Georgia Ave on Amherst -- I think it's Thai Ruen or something similar -- that I really like. Thanks for the tip on Roger Miller. We had a bad experience at the Ethiopian Restaurant on Georgia Ave. and have been wary about trying Roger Miller. I've actually attempted to be a community activist in cleaning up the Long Branch area myself, but Montgomery County doesn't seem very responsive. I've been trying for years. Don't get me started on that. I'm the loudmouth that was quoted in The Washington Post a few months ago for a community activist group that I'm starting. Sorry, I shouldn't get started.... not on the subject.... But I do love El Golfo. We also eat at the Mediterranean restaurant on Carroll Avenue in Takoma Park quite a bit. It's not a place that I go nuts for (like a restaurant in Astoria in Queens for which I'd gladly drive 3-1/2 hours up I-95 just for the spanakopita even if my S.O. wasn't a Queens native and we go up once a month anyway) but in a restaurant-starved corrider it is a little oasis. And the owners are so kind and so welcoming that the so-so atmosphere (they haven't caught on to the idea of "mood lighting") and occasionally unpredictable food quality can be overlooked. I avoid Taliano's on Carroll Avenue. I worked with a guy who worked there for a number of years and he refused to eat there. I won't go into specifics, but he told me enough stories that I haven't eaten there since.
  14. When I make these, I get big containers of blueberries at Costco for about $8 when blueberries are in season (like now). But I made this with 4 cups of berries because I miscalculated what I had and it turned out fine. They were just thinner.
  15. Your mention of the Wilson Walker reminded me of another place that I forgot to mention. The Beverly in Staunton, on Beverly Street. They have the best burger that, to date (the Beverly Burger), I have ever had. I still have dreams about those burgers, and the college metabolism that let me eat them with impunity. The Beverly also has "high tea". I think it's on Wednesday afternoons. They have all kinds of Southern specialities (such as red velvet cake) as well as traditional English tea fare. And if it is hot outside, you can order your tea iced (especially if you lean more toward the red velvet cake than the scones). Back when I was in college -- TOO many years ago -- their tea was only about $5. I'm sure it's more now. I do miss the Staunton/Lexington/Charlotteville area. It is a beautiful part of Virginia.
  16. This is a PARAPHRASED (so no rules are broken) recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine (an issue from a few years ago) that I just LOVE! I've passed it on to others who have successfully tried it with other berries, but I have never strayed from the recipe. The blueberry/hazelnut combination is just SO good. Blueberry Hazelnut Bars (Yields 12 large or 48 bite sized bars) Crust and Topping Butter or vegetable oil for greasing the pan 5 oz (1 cup) hazelnuts, toasted and skinned 9 oz (2 cups) all purpose flour 4 oz (1 cup) confectioners' sugar 2 tsp. baking powder 8 oz. (1 cup) cold, unsalted butter cut into large cubes 1 large egg 1 large egg yolk 1 tsp. vanilla extract Filling: 2 lbs (6 cups) fresh, picked over blueberries 2/3 cup granulated sugar 1/3 cup cornstarch 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon 1/4 tsp. salt Crust and Topping: Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Line the bottom and sides with a sheet of parchment, leaving a few inches of paper hanging over the edges of the two long sides of the pan to help remove bars after baking. Roughly chop 1/2 cup of the hazelnuts; until they are about halved or quartered. Put the remaining 1/2 cup hazelnuts in a food processor and process until finely ground; put them in a large bowl. Add the flour, confectioner's sugar and baking powder and stir with a fork to blend. Cut in butter until the pieces are the size of a pea. Lightly beat the egg and yolk and add all but 2 tablespoons of the egg to the butter-flour mixture. Add the vanilla and mix with your fingertips until mixture clumps and is uniformly blended. Mix in a more beaten egg if dough is dry. Or you can mix the dough in a large (11-cup capacity) food processor by pulsing in short bursts. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Divide the dough into two portions, one slightly larger than the other. Using floured fingertips, pat the larger portion into the bottom of the prepared pan, pressing firmly, and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes. Cover the remaining portion with plastic wrap and also refrigerate. Remove the pan from the fridge and prick the crust with a fork. Bake until the edges are golden and pastry is dry and light brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack before filling or the bars will get soggy. Make the filling: In a large bowl, combine the berries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt. Toss gently to thoroughly coat the berries and then scatter the filling onto the cooled crust in an even layer. Crumble the reserved dough over the berries; it won't completely cover the berries. Bake for 25 minutes and then sprinkle on the chopped hazelnuts. Continue baking until the topping is puffed and golden and the filling is bubbling near the edges and in the center about and additional 50 to 60 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Use the parchment to lift out and then cut into bars with a long serrated knife.
  17. I really enjoy Cubano's. I grew up in Florida eating Cuban sandwiches, and I can honestly say that they have the best Cubans I have ever had! They are not 100% "traditional", but does that really exist when you are talking about Cubans (that's another topic)! I'm meeting a friend there tonight, actually, and am really looking forward to a mojito! I LOVE the ropa vieja. I think it's the best thing on the dinner menu (they only serve Cubans at lunch). I had snapper poached in a banana leaf a few weeks ago (their special) and it was to die for. I also LOVE Mandalay and could eat there every night. I took my family (visiting from Florida) there and they loved it, and I took a college friend and her husband who were visiting from Richmond there and they loved it. I have not had one thing on the menu that was less than excellent. I order Chinese delivery from a place on Georgia called Tin Jin Palace or something similar and was pleasantly surprised for Chinese delivery. A few months ago we tried to eat at Mandalay and found we were between lunch and dinner service. We walked around the corner to Georgia Ave. and decided to try table service at Tin Jin (?) and it was better than we expected. There is a pork and eggplant hot pot on the menu that I get over and over again there. And the chicken with walnuts is really good. We always order extra walnuts. If I want Chinese in Silver Spring, that's where I go. Also, we have always loved El Mariachi in Rockville and we were surprised to find out that we live just a few blocks from a sister restaurant called El Golfo on Flower Avenue. It is closer to Takoma Park (where we live), but I think it is considered to be Silver Spring. It is on Flower Avenue, almost on the corner of Piney Branch. It is good, casual food. We went there for an early dinner last evening and I just had some ceviche, tamales, and flan. But I've enjoyed everything on their menu thus far. I prefer El Golfo to Samantha's, actually (although both are quite good). I really like the ribs at Red Dog. I'm sure that have other excellent things on the menu, but every time I go there I can't resist ordering the ribs. I just wish they would expand their dessert menu. I've not had a problem with service there, and I went once in the beginning of a major snow storm and was surprised that they had even stayed open and our server was friendly and the service was fast. York Castle tropical ice cream on Georgia is fabulous. I could wallow naken in a vat of their Litchi ice cream (TMI, I know). Also, this isn't Silver Spring but I absolutely adore Woodlands in Langley Park. It's just a little further down University than Samantha's. It's in a strip mall. It is vegetarian Indian, and even as a non-vegetarian I love it. They have a weekend brunch buffet for around $8 that is wonderful and varies from week to week. I feel lucky when they have both pumpkin masala and carrot halwa on the buffet! I order a mango lassi to round it all out and life is good!!!! Has anyone gone to the Thai place in the "plaza" area with all of the chains? I was there with my visiting family the other night and we stopped for my nephew to play in fountain. I saw the Thai place and got excited because I love Thai. The place across from Mandalay is great (I can't remember the name) but more Thai is better in my book. Right behind the Silver Diner. Across the street from Cubano's which is decent-to-good Cuban food. ←
  18. I attended college in Staunton, and was surprised when I moved to the Washington area to find that people here refer to the Shenandoah as what I consider to be Washington suburbs! When I was in college in Staunton, and when I lived and worked in Lexington after graduation I don't remember thinking of the Shenandoah as extending much past Harrisonburg. It surprised me when I found out it was "officially" so close to DC. That said, and if you want to drive further than an hour or so outside of Washington (which is WELL worth the extra gas), I would recommend White Star Mills in Staunton and The Southern Inn in Lexington. Both are quite wonderful. If you end up around those parts, I would also avoid The Depot in Staunton like the plague. It was, without a doubt, the worst meal of my life when I went back for a college reunion a few years back. Blah! I worked at Lime Kiln theater in Lexington. I remember many Washington patrons that made a weekend out of seeing a play at Lime Kiln with dinner at The Southern Inn beforehand.
  19. I have also heard that Godiva in America cannot use liqueur in their fillings. I'm not certain if that is true or not... probably sweeter would be my guess ← Sweeter. Also, the fillings are different. For instance, until recently, Godiva didn't offer hazelnut creme fillings for the American market, although that's one of the most popular fillings in Europe. ←
  20. I could be wrong, but I think it is just Montgomery County (where I live) that has archaic liquor laws, not the surrounding MD counties. I find it VERY annoying. I trek to Alexandria or Tyson's Corner so I can go to a Trader Joe's with beer and wine even though I live right down the street from one. If enough people complain to Montgomery County about these ridiculous laws, maybe the county legislature will do something about it. I can't imagine how much money they lose because people like me drive into DC or Virginia to shop. I've also heard that this is a large reason why cool grocery stores like Wegman's are opening in Virginia but not Maryland. So much money is made from beer and wine sales that it automatically cuts the potential bottom line to a point that it isn't worth it to them to venture into Montgomery County. Even though we are one of the most affluent, fastest growing, and progressive places to live in the country we are stuck with Giant and Safeway for supermarkets. Those laws really hurt us. You're not the only one who lives in a state with stupid liquor laws. I was a little baffled to hear everone talking about booze at TJ's because there's no such thing here in Maryland. ← The TJ's in VA have alcohol. There's one in Old Town on King street I think and the one I go to is on Leesburg Pike. ←
  21. I think a lot of it has to do with the way people are raised. I grew up in a large family and we didn't eat convenience foods for economic reasons. If we had rice, we ate buttered white rice. Not Rice-A-Roni or rice that came with flavor packets because it wasn't economically feasible for my parents. When I first moved out on my own, I was fascinated by the rows of frozen and dehyrdrated convenience foods that were off limits when I was growing up. But, frankly, I was also working in an entry level advertising agency job from 9 in the morning until as late as midnight every night. Back then, I was lucky to get one weekend off a month and the agency paid for take-out when we worked after hours. I ate from local restaurants that delivered pretty much every night. California Pizza Kitchen was a food group for me back then. Now, I eat the way I grew up. I buy almost no convenience foods with the exceptions of snacks I keep in my desk drawer for late nights (I work for a non-profit now -- no more free meals) that I usually get at Trader Joe's (those deydrated peas are the best!). I think people's adult eating habits are a combination of the way they are raised and their current lifestyle.
  22. takomabaker

    Swamp Cabbage

    THANK YOU for that amazing site. That's exactly what I'm looking for. A part of me is afraid to even try to make swamp cabbage. Everything that I have ever gotten homesick for and tried to duplicate from my grandmother's kitchen has been a dissapointment. My collards suck. That's all there is to it. They suck. I have actually thrown an entire pot of collards down the garbage disposal they suck so bad. My grandmother told me that you have to make sure that your collards are young and tender. And my sweet tea, although passable, is not even close to what I grew up on. What is so hard about Red Rose, sugar, and water? I've thought maybe the fact that my grandmother had a well and her water was sulfur water might have made a difference. So I'm thinking, should I just stick to my good memories or make an attempt at swamp cabbage?
  23. takomabaker


    My grandfather used to smoke mullet. It's truly food of the Gods. And if you eat it with a side of grits and tomato gravy, you'll think you're in heaven.
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