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Posts posted by guzzirider

  1. After much delay, Cherie and I finally made it in tonight... and we weren't dissapointed. The Pizza Lombarda and bucatini dish were my favs... also enjoyed the tripe, octopus, and some cheese dish that was the special tonight (just arrived, apparently). Forgive me for not being more descriptive... didn't take notes... just kind of enjoyed it "in the moment".

    However, I did manage one picture with my horrible celll phone camera... something I haven't seen posted on here yet. Tonight's special dessert was Nutella pizza - two layers of cracker-thin crust, with a layer of Nutella sandwiched between, fired and then doused w/ powdered sugar. A perfect example of elegance through simplicity (and the combination of crunchy, chocalately, sweet, and subtle saltiness would be a stoner's dream!). That and a glass of limoncello... pure dope. Can't wait to go back and try some of the other dishes...



  2. OK, regardless of opinions about quality, or depth of authentic selections on the menu, isn't it a little wild that Philly will shortly have 3 Eulogies, 2 Monks, a Zot, and a bazillion places pouring Abbey dubbels?  Do other cities have this Belgian craze going on?

    Yeah... add the Abbaye in NoLibs to the list of Belgian bars with a not-so-Belgian menu. However, I will say that authentic or not, their food seems to be getting better and better. At least the beer selection is quite Belgian-ish.

    I haven't noticed if the Belgian craze is specific to Philly or not... but that would be an interesting observation.


  3. Word on the street is that Tavern on the Green in Fairmount has changed hands, and is (or will be soon) reopening as Monks II. I haven't been past there recently, so I'm not sure of the current disposition.


  4. Barbara, what brand of gluten do you use, and how much do you add? My understanding is that various brands differ in protein %, which is why I ask.

    I did a bit of math prior to my failed experiment this weekend, and figured that if I add 1 Tbsp of vital wheat gluten per cup of KA AP flour, the protein content would be similar to Sir Lancelot. (I think!).

    BTW, I'm also using the CI recipe. :biggrin:


  5. I wonder if you could slice them and make them into bagel chips...or are they too far gone?

    Hmmm... in hindsight, I wish I would have tried that. The saltiness might have been OK in "chip form". Sadly, most of the dough remained unbaked, and I tossed it all.

    I've had good luck with my local supermarket bringing in special orders from KA for me; try asking and see what happens.  You might have to agree to a huge amount, though (50# or more) but give it a shot.....

    I was actually considering asking my local supermarket as you said... the minimum order might be a problem though, as large quantities may pose a storage problem for me. Definitely something I plan to look into, though.

    I am a bit surprised tripling the salt would do such a number on the yeast.

    Good to know.

    Well, I knew that too much salt could do this... I just didn't know how much. I've been thinking about this, though, and I think the amount of salt called for in the original recipe may have just been enough to retard the yeast a bit, and help make for a dense, chewy bagel (which is good). Tripling that salt absolutely killed it, however. I was thinking of trying to reduce the amount of salt which is called for, but it might make for a lighter, "cakier" bagel, and I definitely don't want it too cakey.


  6. Well, a few weeks ago, I made my first attempt at bagels, and amazingly, they turned out quite good:


    I used King Arthur's "Sir Lancelot" hi-gluten flour, but the only problem with that is that I can't find this flour locally, and had to order it online. I hate paying shipping on a product this inexpensive, especially when there's a chance that I'll be using it on a regular basis.

    So, this weekend I was going to do a side-by-side comparison: one batch with KA Sir Lancelot, and one batch with locally-available KA AP "doped" with wheat gluten additive to bring the protein level up. I made the dough and formed the bagels last night, and let them sit in the fridge overnight. Got up this morning to finish them. Before boiling, I let them sit at room temperature for about an hour, but they never rose enough to float in a bowl of water like they should have. Nevertheless, I boiled a few of them, hoping they would poof up anyway. Nope. No such luck. They came out of the pot looking the same as when they went in. Now I went from worried, to *very* worried. I began to suspect that the yeast I just bought yesterday was shot.

    I decided to bake the few that I boiled... just out of curiosity. Again, they came out of the oven looking pretty much the same way they went in. No rise whatsoever.

    And then I tasted one. The problem became immediately apparent....

    I mistakenly measured my salt in TABLESPOONS rather than TEASPOONS, which killed the yeast.

    This is the sort of hilarious mistake that is only supposed to happen to "other people". Not so funny when it happens to you!


    ... grumble grumble grumble... :angry:


  7. Vivienne -

    Sounds like your pan may have been pre-seasoned, but I wouldn't worry about it. Re-seasoning shouldn't hurt. As long as the finish is slick, and not sticky, you should be fine.

    Nice thing about cast iron is that it is hard to mess up. About the only way to destroy it is to break it. It seems that no matter how messed up the finish gets, you always have the option of scrubbing the heck out of it and re-seasoning it again. No worries!


  8. Out of curiosity, why would the distributors care about BYO? A bottle sold retail equals a bottle sold by a restaurant, as far as they're concerned, no? I would think the hospitality industry would be the ones with a stake in keeping their markups.

    I quite enjoyed the article, but then it's pretty much the way I've felt all along, so it was easy to.

    Agreed. Whether you buy a particular bottle from a state store, or from a restaurant, it still comes from the same distributor. At least in PA. However, every state seems to be different. Perhaps in MD. the stores are able to bypass local distributors and buy direct from suppliers (wineries) or other sources. (I don't know if this is the case... just thinking out loud...)


  9. i love the strange world of meat flavored potato chips and had high hopes when i was given a promo bag of those cheesesteak chips last year at a phils game. 

    but those things suck.  they mainly tasted like liquid smoke and salt.  ugh.

    Agreed. I tried them once out of curiosity, and regretted it. To me, they just tasted like BBQ chips, only *much* saltier for some reason. I don't know what they were thinking. I want to know who at Herr's tasted these things and said, "Eureka! It tastes just like a cheese steak!"

    Snyder's of Hanover used to make a "Grilled Steak & Onion" potato chip that I rather liked. It actually tasted "steaky" to me. I even got a vegetarian friend of mine hooked on them (he missed meat), but he was a bit concerned about what the "natural flavor" in the ingredient list was. We used to joke that "natural flavor" was just a euphemism that manufacturers would use to trick vegetarians into eating meat-derived products... :laugh:


  10. Drizzled over vanilla ice cream.

    One of the more memorable dishes I've had that used balsamic vinegar was:

    "Deviled Strawberries"

    Fresh sliced strawberries, with homemade blood orange sorbetto on the side. This was all plated on top of a balsamic vinegar reduction, and was finished with shaved chocolate and fresh cracked black pepper. I ate at this particular restaurant numerous times, and always shied away from this dish.. but finally my curiosity got the best of me, and I'm so glad it did... this was PHENOMENAL!

    Sadly, the restaurant is now gone... but I intend to recreate this for myself sometime.

    If your vinegar is really good, it might have enough natural sweetness that it won't need to be reduced much, if at all.


  11. Turkish place?  Regardless of whether they pass muster with L&I, this one's new to me. What's it called, and where is it?

    I'm not sure which one Ducksredux is referring to, but there is a Turkish place called Konak on Vine between 2nd and 3rd.


    I don't consider myself a connoisseur of Turkish cuisine, however, I did go there one night with a Turk friend of mine, and he's quite fond of the place. They have a $2 Tuesday deal there, where you can sample a wide array of small dishes @ $2/plate.


  12. For those who may be interested, Craig LaBan is speaking at the Central Library this Wed:



    Craig LaBan | The Philadelphia Inquirer Restaurant Guide  (A)

    Wednesday, February 28, 2007 at 7:00PM

    Central Library

    Ticket Info: FREE. No tickets required. For Info: 215-567-4341.

    As Philadelphia’s restaurant scene continues to grow, finding the perfect place for dinner can be a challenge. Philadelphia Inquirer food critic, Craig LaBan is an ideal guide for those who want to discover the city’s best dining. Whether it’s a decadent splurge or a sandwich at the neighborhood bar, La Ban’s new book gives you his 76 Philadelphia favorites and more than 500 capsule reviews of local eateries. The winner of a James Beard Foundation Award for his restaurant reviews, La Ban has been the Inquirer’s restaurant critic since 1998.


  13. I have never baked bread of the non-banana bread type before but this recipe and all of the furor around it was so intriguing I had to give it a shot....


    LOL! I resemble that remark!

    My banana bread is pretty darned good, but other baking attempts have been pretty miserable. This no-knead bread is great ego booster and motivational device. I recently started making it, and was so happy with the results, that I was inspired to blow the dust off the KA mixer and attempt some other projects. I'm now regularly making my own pizza dough, and just this weekend I made my first batch of bagels - quite successfully, I might add.

    It seems this simple loaf of bread is really opening up the world of baking to alot of new people.


  14. Question to Jason and anyone else using quarry tiles in their oven: Do you leave them there all the time, or do you remove them (once they're cool) after baking pizza? If you leave them there all the time, can you place baking or roasting pans directly on the stones to bake cakes, roast meats, etc. or do you use a different rack above the stones?

    I haven't had them in very long, but I'm planning to keep them in all the time. My thinking is that it may help the oven heat evenly. Assuming I don't need to use both racks, I can get away with just using the upper rack. Just need to be careful about items that might splatter or boil over onto the stones.

    I'm not sure yet how it would work if I put a roasting pan or similar directly on the stones.

    Hopefully, others will chime in with their experiences.


  15. Thanks!

    My oven dial goes up to 550, but my oven thermometer shows it actually getting up to about 575.


    Get the manual out on the oven and you have a +- 35º adjustment ...

    I set mine so it gets upto 585º when I use a stone. Stone is on bottom shelf and is about 685º when the t-stat shuts it off on the preheat.. Thats when I put the pie in.

    Usually I use a 14" squaare of 1/4 mild steel plate in place of the stone...It works much better. The steel holds more heat, and gives it up faster so the crust gets really crisp.


    Hmmm... steel plate actually sounds like a good idea. I've been using unglazed quarry tile that I picked up at Lowes (see post #11 in this thread for a picture). So far, I've been pretty happy with that... and the price is right!

    The Jeff Varasano link that doctortim posted above is interesting. That guy fiddled with his oven so that he can use the self-cleaning mode to cook pizza.... gets up to >900 degrees! :laugh:


  16. Thanks!

    My oven dial goes up to 550, but my oven thermometer shows it actually getting up to about 575.


    The two pies look very nice; what are the toppings?

    What are your favorite toppings so far?

    The first one shown is scallop & bacon w/ a garlic cream sauce. The 2nd is just a simple margherita w/ fresh mozzarella and basil.

    I need to tweak that garlic sauce - it tasted great, but was too thin. I think next time I'm going to try a bechamel based sauce, I think.

    Picking a favorite topping is hard. A simple red pie with cheese and crumbled sweet italian sausage will always be a favorite. I also like ham & sundried tomatoes. I've got a list as long as my arm of potential toppings I want to try (white pie w/ onion confit & goat cheese?).

    Hard to pick an overall favorite... really just depends on my mood. :smile:


  17. Glad to hear of your success, doctortim!

    I just recently started making my own pizzas, and I'm finding it to be truly addictive. The possibilities of topping combinations is almost endless. When I make dough, I make enough for 3 pies, so I can spend 3 nights "experimenting"... as long as my wife doesn't get sick of eating pizza 3 nights a week (so far, so good!).

    Here are my two most recent:



    Shoot... now I'm making myself hungry... :raz:


  18. Two things which have long intrigued me:

    When you roast red peppers in order to peel them, they retain heat for an amazingly long time - fingers get burnt well after the peppers are out of the grill/oven/bbq/whatever. How? Other foods, eg onions, seem to cool down much more quickly.

    When you defrost prawns (shrimp) they seem to do so from the inside out - so a perfectly defrosted prawn will still have a thin coating of ice. Again, how?

    Neither question is of earth-shattering importance, I'd just really like to know! :huh:

    Allow me to speculate: :hmmm: <-- me straining my brain

    When you have dissolved minerals in water, it lowers the freezing point. For instance, when you dissolve salt in water, the it freezes (and thaws) at a lower temp, which is why salt melts ice.

    So, I'm assuming that the moisture inside the shrimp is actually water with various other things dissolved in it. As the temperature of the frozen shrimp begins to rise, the water on the inside will thaw faster, even though it's the same temperature as the outside, which is presumably "purer" water with a normal freeze/thaw point.

    Again... just speculation...


  19. Oh, dear.  I can't seem to move beyond this.  Scallops. Bacon. Pizza.  Garlic cream sauce.  I really, really want to eat this soon. 

    Any chance of a recipe, Jason??

    Well, as I mentioned, I haven't really perfected the sauce yet. It tastes good, but is too thin. If you want to try it, though, feel free:


    5 cloves garlic (minced)

    1 shallot (minced)

    1/2 C dry white wine

    1 1/2 C heavy cream

    Ground black pepper to taste

    Simmer garllic and shallot in wine, until reduced by 1/2.

    Add cream and black pepper, cook until thickened. Let cool.

    I used medium sized sea scallops. Salt, paprika, and a little black pepper. Sear for about a minute on each side in olive oil with a little butter. After searing, cut each in half so that you have two pieces - seared on one side, rare on the other.

    For the bacon, I used hickory smoked, cured, thick cut. Make sure it is cured bacon, because you really want the saltiness. Brown in a pan, but don't overcook... keep it a bit tender. Let cool, and slice into roughly 1/2" pieces.

    Use whatever crust you like. Do not oversauce. Put the scallops down, seared side up and then sprinkle on the bacon. Bake until crust is browned.

    Hope that helps. My next go-around, I plan to use a bechamel-based sauce, in hopes that I can get it thicker. I'll be sure to post those results when I get to it.


  20. I keep coming back to this... onion soup is one of my favorite things to eat and/or make... and this just look phenomenal, Marlene!

    Last night we had scallop & bacon pizza with a garlic cream sauce:


    Tasted fantastic, but I'm not thoroughly happy with the consistency of the garlic sauce yet. Its not quite as thick as I would like it. I'm thinking of trying a bechamel-type sauce next time. Oh, well... I guess I can suffer through a few more "trial runs"... :laugh:


  21. Well, if I ran a restaurant that had to deal with selling of my reservations, I'd be pissed simply because somebody else would be making money off of me, without actually doing a damn thing.

    In my mind, its not unlike me opening a restaurant, and then somebody coming along, hording all the nearby parking, and then putting up a sign that says "VIP Parking for Jason's Restaurant: $50". I'd be after them with a tire iron.

    What I want to know is, what kind of no-show volume do these places create? If they reserve say, 4 tables on a busy night and only sell one of them, thats 3 no-shows for tables that quite possibly would have been filled if they weren't hoarded in advance.

    Just seems shady to me.


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