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    Chicago, IL
  1. The scale bit is from 目盛り付, which Google translates as "with scale." But 目盛り can also mean gradations or measurements, so this probably means that there are some measurements on the ladle, so you can see how much liquid is in the ladle. But yeah, definitely frustrating! ------- Alex Parker
  2. I completely agree. I've glanced through Essentials of Cooking a few time, but Cooking is far more comprehensive. I'm with Maggie: I think it's the best general-purpose cookbook around.
  3. I made the Riviera from the Desserts book for a friend's birthday party. I don't have a picture, but the cake mostly turned out great. I didn't have a problem with the mouse (which was utterly delicious) or the lemon cream (which I've made before). One of the people that tried the cake said "Wow. It has something like 13 different flavors!" I did have a problem with the thin flourless chocolate cake layers. The first time I made a batch, I burned the bottoms of the layers. The second time, I used two baking sheets for extra insulation on the bottom. That turned out much better, but I still had problems removing the layers from the parchment paper without breaking them. With one of the layers I experimented by spraying the parchment with baking spray first; that seemed to aid in the release. I think the parchment + spray + double baking pans + added time in the oven seemed to give me the most success, but it still wasn't perfect. Anyone have any tips on those layers? I notice that they're completely absent from the chocolate desserts book...
  4. I hope I can make it. I'll be working in San Francisco next summer, and I'm still unsure how my schedule's going to work out, but I'm definitely going to try my darnedest to get back to Chicago for the Gathering. Sounds like it might end up being a mega-event. ------- Alex Parker
  5. A few people asked for the recipe for the fruit and basmati rice salad that I made on Saturday. It's Pierre Herme / Dorie Greenspan's recipe (from Desserts by Piere Herme), slightly modified. It has three components: Syrup: 1-1/2 cups water 1/2 cup sugar zest of 1/3 orange and 1/3 lime 3 1/3 inch thick rounds of ginger 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon apricot nectar 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 3 fresh basil leaves Combine all ingredients except basil in a pan and boil. Remove from heat. Add basil. Steep 30 minutes. Strain. Chill. Rice: 1 cup basmati rice 4-3/4 cups water 2-1/2 T sugar 1/2 t salt Wash the rice. Bring other ingredients to a boil. Add rice. Add rice, simmer for 10-13 minutes until the rice is nicely cooked. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain well. Chill. Fruit: 4 cups of assorted fresh fruit, cut in chunks aprox. 1/4 inch on a side. Mix together and chill. Assembly: Juice of 1 lemon 2 T sugar Freshly ground pepper 4 basil leaves, chiffonade Mix rice in with fruit. Start out with 3/4, then gradually add in more if you feel you need it. I prefer the rice accent the fruit than for them to share equal billing. Your own tastes, of course, dictate. Add the syrup, and the above ingredients. Serve immediately and enjoy.
  6. Oh, ok. So the blade is only three inches long. When I read your original post, I also thought that you were talking about a knife with a blade 6 inches long. I think Japanese petty knives tend to be a little longer than Western paring knives, say, 4.5 to 5.5 inches or so.
  7. Ah, I see. My recollection was that the shop I went to had a wide range of knives, from specialty custom knives (including custom Kappabashi-branded knives) to all or most of the major Japanese brands, including Misono, Global, Masamoto, and the like. Heck, they even carried Henckels and Wustoff. But yes, Japanese knives can be more expensive than Western knives -- they tend to use better, harder steel. Also, Henckels and Wustoff have created lower-priced lines of knives which aren't necessarily up to the same quality as their normal product lines. I don't remember if the shop carried mid-price Japanese knives, though (say, under ¥6000 for a gyutou). For those knives, a department store might be a better option. ←
  8. Really? I thought that the knife stores in Kappabashi offered a discount off of retail price. Kappabashi has a couple of specialty knife stores, though they're off one of the side streets -- they're not on the main street. My favorite was Union Commerce. It's not a large shop, but it's full of knives, and almost all of them are sitting there where you can pick them up and see how they feel in your hand (or at least that's how the shop was set up when I was there from 2003-2005). I'd likely return there if I wanted to buy another knife in Japan. Admittedly, I didn't look at any of the knife displays in the large department stores. Those might be a better option if you don't speak Japanese. At the time, I didn't know all that much about Japanese knives, their uses, or how they differ from Western knives. I recommend learning all of this, so that you can appreciate the differences between the various knives that you'll see. Korin is a good place to start, if you don't already know a lot about Japanese knives. There are also numerous threads here on eGullet. Alex
  9. Thanks! I must have washed my hands 50 times on Saturday. I'd touch food, so I'd have to wash my hands before touching my camera, then because I touched my camera, I'd have to wash my hands before touching any food.
  10. The watermelon salad was fun, and it was really simple. Steven (Fat Guy) and I originally whipped up a vinaigrette of 1:1 olive oil and balsamic. We added it to the watermelon and stirred. The vast quantity of watermelon that we had swallowed all the vinaigrette without blinking. Steven noticed that there was a lot watermelon liquid at the bottom of the mixing bowl. We dumped the liquid out, as it was overpowering all of the balsamic we were adding. This time, we added just balsamic, omitting the olive oil. We wanted to cut through the strong, sweet watermelon flavor. Mixed again. Added more sea salt, lots of black pepper and scallions. More seasoning (we had a lot of watermelon). Things that would have made it better: smaller batches. The mass quantity of watermelon was probably squeezing the watermelon at the bottom of the bowl, extracting more watermelon juice, which was diluting the balsamic. Fat Guy though about reducing the watermelon juice and balsamic and adding both to the watermelon. Sounds good to me, though I'd be careful of using too much watermelon juice -- we needed a lot of additional flavor and acidity from the vinegar to cut through all of the watermelon's sugar. It's definitely something I want to play around with. Edit: Also, stir the watermelon with your hands to avoid denting the crisp edges and to avoid (again) squeezing out more watermelon juice.
  11. I made it back to Chicago safe and sound. And still full. I couldn't believe the sheer amount of wonderful food that Dominic put out for the group -- I didn't manage to eat any, except for a bowl of blue egg-yolk gelato, but I was very envious of the people that managed to eat and take home leftovers. Here are the highlights of the pictures I took during the festivities on Saturday: Edsel prepping the goat: The goat itself: Dance cooking the eggplant: Ronnie, the charcuterie master: Ronnie's pastrami: Tomato soup shooters: Randi's incredible cherry pies: Plating: Soup and sandwich: The appetizer, glamour shot: Shrimp and risotto: Fat Guy dishing out the watermelon salad: Men at work, getting the goat (ready): Saucing the goat. Behold the power of the Gary Kunz Saucing Spoon: A single perfect block of ganache: Basmati Rice and Fruit Salad: A few people collapsing at the end of a long, awesome, tiring, unforgettable day:
  12. Checking in before running off (late) to the lunch. I probably won't be able to eat anything -- maybe I'll have some gelato. Maybe. I just walked 6 miles, haven't eaten a thing at all today, and I'm still not hungry. The food last night was glorious. I'll have a lot more to say about it later. My pictures won't be ready until tomorrow (monday). My laptop doesn't have enough free hard drive space to be able to process the raw camera files that I've been shooting into normal jpegs. I'll be heading back to Chicago tomorrow, where I can do the processing on my desktop. Alex
  13. It's not hard to get downtown if you have some time. I tend to use the #6 bus, but there are various other options, including the Metra (which only runs frequently during rushhour). Going north from downtime is more time-consuming, but is also definitely doable. In Hyde Park proper, options are somewhat limited. The grocery store in the area, the Coop Market, tends to be universally hated by the students here. There's a small produce shop called Hyde Park Produce that is cheaper and better (for produce). HPP also carries Boar's Head products. There's another small place called the University Mart (or somesuch) which also sells Boar's Head stuff, but I've never been inside. I tend to shop at HPP in Hyde Park and travel downtown for Trader Joe's and Fox and Obel (small upscale grocery store with very nice bakery). There are two bakeries in Hyde Park: the Bonjour Bakery, which produces some decent pastries (and also sells sandwiches and the like). The Medici Bakery sells bread and pastries. Their bread is good, their pastries... not so much. The Thai places aren't great. You can get much better food, for a similar price, downtown. My favorite restaurants in the area are the two Middle-Eastern places: Cedar's and The Nile. The BBQ place, Ribs-n-Bibs is supposed to be decent. There's a couple Mexican places, a southern food restaurant (Dixie Kitchen), and one weird place that serves American southern food and Indian food (Ragun' Cajun). For any kind of real variety, you really do need to head out of Hyde Park, unfortunately. Let me know if you have any questions ------ Alex Parker
  14. It seems the brownies' texture has come together somewhat over the past few hours. They seem even fudgier and richer than when I tried them earlier. I think the extra time has really improved them. They're incredibly rich (how could they not, with those ingredients: Valhrona chocolate, Plugra butter, a little flour and a little sugar and a couple of eggs); I can only eat a tiny piece at a time. We'll see how they fare tomorrow. I've also frozen 1/4 of it and will see how well it stands up to the freezing. Dorie notes that it should stay good for 2 months, This book is a ton of fun! ------- Alex Parker
  15. I had a hankering for brownies, and since I don't actually have an 8" square pan (the size seems to be fairly rare), I made the "bittersweet brownies." I used the Le Noir Valhrona chocolate that's cheap at Trader Joe's: some 71% and some 85%. It turned out well, though I Like Dorie says, it makes a thin, very fudgy, brownie. It really is almost like a thick, solid mouse. Only thing I'd change in the future would be to cut back on the amount of instant espresso. I'm using the King Arthur powder, and the tablespoon called for in the recipe was too much, for my tastes. I'll try a teaspoon or a teaspoon and a half the next time round. I need to get my hands on an 8" square pan. Just need to find one that's not non-stick... ------- Alex Parker
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