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Posts posted by Sony

  1. Thanks for the vicarious experience! My favorite picture is the one with the hand poised over the pork belly :biggrin:.

    I'm having a small brunch party this weekend- may want to test run a few panko-crusted eggs for fun. Though I'm still going to do my best to secure a wedding invitation :wink: .

  2. Congrats on your new home (I hope!) It just so happens that I was downtown today and picked up a few groceries at Greenstar. I asked the person behind the prepared food counter what peanut butter they used for their sandwiches, and it's Once Again brand (produced in nearby Nunda, NY).

    They sell it at the store (it's actually on sale this month for $3.50/jar), or, if she REALLY likes it, you can order it in 9 # tubs :wink: :


    A few other favorite local spots:

    Ned's Pizza, right by the Cayuga Heights police department. Interesting pizzas for about the same price as crappy chains.

    Sarah's Patisserie, in Community Corners shopping center- wonderful pastries/sweets/confections, great coffee, and friendly, helpful staff.

    As a Greenstar alternative, try Ludgate's on Hanshaw Road- quite a bit smaller (all their meats are frozen and bulk items are pre-packaged), but the nicest people you'll ever meet.

    If you're into ice cream, I have a hard time deciding who has better ice cream- Cornell Dairy or Purity on Rt. 13. I suggest you try both of them to form your own opinion. :biggrin:

    In Cortland, Doug's Fish Fry has fresh seafood, great ice cream, and super friendly staff. I think the only disappointment is their fries- fresh cut, very potatoey, but I'm guessing they're single-fried, not twice fried, so they don't have the crisp exterior/fluffy interior texture I idealize.

    Indian...well, there's Diamond's on the Commons and a place in Collegetown. Neither is particularly good. My favorite place to eat in Collegetown these days in Aladdin's (mostly Mediterranean fare).

    Takeout from Wegmans is quick and can be surprisingly tasty.

    Tacos....nothing fantastic, but Viva Taqueria on the Commons is fairly standard Tex Mex- no huge disappointments, but nothing fantastic.

    Bagels...well, you might be inspired to make your own if you want really good ones.

    Oh, and I always forget about Hope's Way (in the Triphammer Mall) and Ithaca Bakery (on Route 13, northbound Meadow Street side). Don't go to their locations too often, but they've done a nice job catering a couple of business lunches I've been to.

    Please, if you remember the name of the pizza place in Groton, let us know! And welcome to the neighborhood!

  3. One lady said " I could just cry because there is no potatoes and gravy" I said " You have stuffing" and she said " where" and I pointed to the bowl and she said " with corn in it? and I said " Yep".

    :laugh: What did she think it was?

    I too must say I think you're doing a fabulous job, and I'm glad you're keeping us in the loop with your preparations. Though you being up the difficulties of the job, it makes me miss my time in community kitchens when I was living in NC.

    How long did it take for that volume of stuffing to come to temp? Most of my experience involved cook/chill (our food was prepped the afternoon before the actual dinner service) and I always had to account for the time it took for dense foods to cool down/ warm up. But starting with room temp ingredients, I'm just curious......

  4. I'm happy to report on 2 fantastic restaurants I've eaten at recently (though distance-wise, they're quite far from each other!)

    In Potsdam, I enjoyed a wonderful meal at La Casbah, a relatively new restaurant that opened in February 2008 at 6 Elm Street. It's located beneath a dance studio, which means you can hear a moderate amount of noise if you really pay attention. Given the warm atmosphere and lively (but not too loud) music, you'll probably find it's barely a distraction.

    I had the opportunity to chat a little with one of the co-owners, Alex, as well as one of the chefs, Hassan, and the work that went into renovating the space is amazing. Over 1.5 years, the walls were painted, lighting was re-done, furniture and decorations were chosen and imported from Morocco, and menu planning evolved (and is still changing- Hassan would like to add more vegetarian options and put even more focus than they already have on locally-procured foods).

    It was a fairly quiet Tuesday night, so we felt VERY unrushed and had plenty of time to enjoy our meal. A basket of warm pita with butter (flavored with dried oregano, I believe) was set out shortly after our party of 3 were all seated. Fortunately, there were a few wedges left when my entree of chicken with preserved lemons and olives came out, because I wanted to wipe up every bit of that sauce! Nice quality black and green olives in a thin, tangy, briny sauce that infused breast, leg, potatoes and carrots that were simmered together. The seafood tagine (with swordfish, scallops and shrimp) and vegetarian couscous (ordered "moist", per advisement of the regular in our party) were equally satisfying. Can't remember much about the prices, but most dishes were in the $13-$18 and I thought to myself that the food was very reasonably priced, especially given the quality.

    I very rarely order dessert, but at the urging of a dining companion, we had the chocolate mousse and the creme brulee. The brulee was appropriately creamy and crisp- a nice, classic rendition- but the mousse was quite distinctive. It came in a martini glass with a bottom layer of plain whipped cream, a intensely sweet layer of chocolate mousse in the middle, and more plain whipped cream on top. A few strawberry slices as garnish too. With the first spoonful, I was surprised to pick up (much to the delight of Alex) a faint hint of rosewater. There was no indication of the flavoring on the menu, but it was fortunately done with a light hand to lend an intriguing (not overwhelming) note.

    I have to admit that I was most likely biased by having the chance to meet the folks behind the operation that night- given the slow pace of the evening, Alex and Hassan even sat and spoke with us for a few minutes- but they are the kind of people you really pull for to succeed in the restaurant industry. Passionate about what they do and able to deliver on good intentions- that's my kind of place. :wink:

    The same holds for Hazelnut Kitchen in Trumansburg, NY. Link to Hazelnut Kitchen website

    It was a gorgeous spring evening, so my dining partner and I made an impromptu run up from Ithaca to arrive about an hour before closing. (Called to make sure they could accommodate us.....) It's the kind of place where you can relax as soon as you enter- wide smile from the hostess, lace curtains, checkerboard linoleum floor, open door to let in the fresh air and ceiling fans spinning to disperse the breeze and conversation. It was a quiet late Thursday service, only 2 other small parties there, but I wonder how loud the small space would be if it was fully packed (even when the tables are well-spaced).

    We were seated at a booth with a plum view of the open kitchen. I'm always fascinated by the coordination of a crew in a small space. Our server was absolutely lovely and was attentive without overwhelming us.

    The cloth napkins have homey, assorted prints on them and match unfussily with the mixed service pieces. To start, we were presented with a small basket of good-quality bread (assorted brown bread, rolls, white bread...) with a ramekin of nicely softened chive butter. It was fun watching our entrees fired- companion had a duck breast special (he requested it medium- with blackberry jus, a cold pea flan and potatoes roasted in duck fat.) I had the hanger steak (medium-rare) with homemade frites and malt vinegar aioli. The steak was easily 10 oz- tender, intensely beefy and perfectly crusty and pink all at once, perched on top of a huge pile of deeply browned (but not burnt!) planks with an honest potato flavor. The aioli was ( I suspect) homemade- faint golden hue and rich mouthfeel- and lightly garlicky. I ate about half of my substantial plate, yet the server wanted to make sure that nothing was wrong when I wanted the leftovers wrapped up.

    It was also nice to see the staff sitting at the bar area at the end of the night, eating together and amicably chatting. Not to sound like a dope, but I feel like the charm of the place is really supported by a dedicated, well-coordinated staff who enjoy and take pride in what they do.

    Great execution with quality ingredients, fantastic service and a reasonable price tag (entrees in the upper teens to mid-twenties). Amen. Already looking forward to my next visit there.

  5. I love it! I came to work early and was catching up on eGullet while spooning up some yogurt. Colleague walked in, looked at me eating breakfast with the nice big screen shot of salmon heads, and wondered aloud how I could eat while looking at that picture.

    She doesn't know what she's missing. :wink: Glad you got to satisfy that craving!

  6. I said that I love books, so my no-so-secret childhood dream was to be a writer. I am just not talented in that area....

    I must respectfully disagree- I think you are quite a compelling writer! I've been enjoying this blog so much, and many descriptions have had me laughing and nodding....tapioca, aka little bouncy balls of nothing....utensil forest.....breasticles...... :biggrin:

    By the way, my not-so-secret childhood dream was to be a fairy. When my father told me it was impossible for me to be a fairy, my prompt second choice was to be a baker. Which is funny because I'm a regular disaster then it comes to baking. BUT, my most recent success was a biscuit recipe from your cookbook! So thanks for keeping the dream alive :wink: .....

  7. Yay! Kim! Nice to have a little Richmond (my old digs!) wafting towards upstate NY....and beyond. Joe's, Elwood Thompson, and even the crotchety (umm....I mean feisty) Ukrop's (I know which one you're talking about- that cracks me up!) But the cookbook collection- what a revelation :wub: .

    And I'm glad I'm not the only one who grew up with a powder room off of the kitchen! Ours was teeny-tiny and had a slanted ceiling (under the staircase). Guests would always mistake it for a coat closet! (We warned toilet-bound people to lock the door- there was an above-average chance of being walked in on otherwise!) But it certainly came in handy when we needed an extra sink nearby (e.g. when greens were soaking in our kitchen sink and someone had to wash their hands).

    And I must add my sincere congratulations on your bypass and wish you continued success! It's nice to see you and Mr Kim enjoying food beautifully prepared by a beautiful lady. (Gotta love the dishtowel slung over the shoulder :wink: .)

    And finally- what does Otis eat? Is he as tempted by your table food as I am? :laugh:

  8. Interesting question/challenge! My immediate thoughts:

    I think that intermediate cooks make the leap from simply executing or "fixing mistakes" (e.g. oversalting, broken sauces) to innovating, adapting on the fly and making the good better.

    Something that advances any cook more and more is their ability to put flavors and textures together while maintaining balance. And being able to pick apart why something is "off" or "missing something" and how to make it work.

    I'm not quite sure how it could be done....an idea that comes to mind might be focusing on the different elements that make food enjoyable to us: visual appeal, smell/taste, and texture. Have exercises where the students practice tweaking dishes that are purposefully "off" and discover that there can be lots of ways to "fix" a dish or meal that is not balanced. Some session ideas:

    - For visual appeal- start with a dish that is unpleasantly monotone and that has no dimension of the plate.

    Then discuss:

    -the appeal of combining colors

    -how staying within a similar color family, when done properly, can actually be successful

    -how to stack, structure, plate foods in interesting ways

    Practice making dish/meal that really focuses on appearance e.g. composed salad

    -For texture- start off talking about dishes where good versions are so reliant on the texture. Crispy fried foods. Silky sauces. Etc. But how a lack of combinations overall in a meal can lead to less satisfaction.


    -the appeal of combining textures

    -successful techniques for making food adequately creamy, crunchy, chewy, etc.

    Practice making a dish that's really focused on texture combination e.g. creme brulee. Or an entire meal.....

    Maybe I'm not making any sense. Or maybe what I'm getting at is still "too simple" or amorphous....but I think it's almost like trying to put together a class on how to build experience! By focusing on the sensory aspects of food, my opinion is that cooks, no matter how comfortable or uncomfortable they are in techniques, can always push forward and innovate using at least the basics. Building more advanced techniques into this framework is also a definite possibility, like many aforementioned.

    And then the sessions will naturally lend themselves to weaving with each other (e.g. fixing a dish that's marred by softness and sogginess isn't simply about throwing on something crunchy- it has to look good and taste good too!)

    Congratulations, and good luck planning!

  9. I found shoulder chops at the Giant this afternoon for $3.99/lb (vs. $4.79/lb for bone-in leg), so I bought a couple. I should have asked the butcher if they had whole shoulder.

    Anyway, the shoulder is a cut best suited for slow-roasting or braises, right? How should I cook the chops?

    Personally, I like to braise them in standard mirepoix/broth/wine.

    Or, I marinate (lots of different marinades work well- tandoori, lemon and fresh herbs, pomegranate molasses and thyme, etc.) and sear over relatively high heat to medium (the meat is slightly chewy but very flavorful by the this method).

    I wonder what it's like working with a whole shoulder? Chatting with a butcher the other day, he mentioned there's a lot of rimming to get shoulder chops from a whole shoulder. Since in my market, the whole shoulder and shoulder chops are the same price, he advised me to just buy the chops unless I wanted the little bits for sausage-making, etc.

  10. Hi Everyone!

    I have business travel this week to St. Lawrence Co. and am on my own for dinner on Tuesday night and Wednesday night. Any restaurant recommendations for Canton, Potsdam or "thereabouts"? As always, my only restrictions are:

    -not looking to blow a huge amount on dinner unless it's REALLY worth it

    -must have tasty non-pork options

    Hope you can help- thanks!

  11. What individual pieces do you have so far, Eric? Also, in general, what kind of foods do you cook at home and how many are you cooking for? Chances are that what you have might be duplicated by what's in a set, and that a set may not fulfill what you need as well as carefully-selected separate pieces.

    For example, I don't own a stock pot because I am able to make the quantity of stock that I need in my largest dutch oven. And many people know don't necessarily need their pieces to be of the same quality as other cookware pieces. I've never tried hard to own an All Clad stockpot because to me it isn't worth the money. But I did buy an All-clad saute pan because in that case, the qualities of the (relatively) expensive pan was worth it to me.

    In case you haven't seen it, slkinsey wrote an excellent piece on stovetop cookware in case you go for the separate pieces route. Understanding Stovetop Cookware, click here

    Would love to know a little more info to be of better help- especially to such a considerate spouse!

  12. Just reporting back on my Boursin trials!

    I can now personally confirm that Boursin and eggs is a wonderful combination.

    I crumbled a little over a pasta dish with chicken, asparagus tips and garlicky sauteed mushrooms- SO good!

    Finally, last night, I crumbled the last of it into a thyme-scented mornay sauce to make a gratin with leftover roasted cauliflower. Definitely comfort food for the lingering cold weather....

    Thanks for all the wonderful ideas, everyone. Glad there are still many more to try!

  13. Barbhealy, do you happen to remember the title of the recipe? I'm wondering if it's archived on epicurious.com.....

    Oh, and I love to see old threads resurrected :wink: . Please report back on your projects!

  14. He *always* cleans up. A man who washes dishes is the bomb, people.  :wub:

    A man who cooks- sexy (with a few caveats- read below).

    A man who cleans the cookware I dirtied- HELL YES, that's sexy! So long as he isn't tossing my knives in a dishwasher :raz: ......

    This is speaking as a heterosexual female who does not like doing dishes. Interesting to hear the perspective from those attracted to the same sex....

    In the scattered dating I've done the past few years, I haven't had men react negatively to my ability to cook- usually, it's been a plus, but I could have skewed the findings by gravitating towards people who also enjoy the adventure of home-prepared food. However, my life situation does not require me to know how to cook. Acquiring my skills, limited as they may be, is a lifestyle choice.

    On a bit of a tangent, I just like being in the kitchen observing or cooking with people who "know their way around the kitchen" and are neither too pompous nor too timid. I don't want someone unproductively criticizing my kitchen behavior, but I also don't want to bark orders at anyone (male or female). Cooking is sensual and I don't want that vibe messed up by someone who can cook well but is a big arse about it. (There's that pesky caveat.)

    I have found in my experience that friends who don't "play nice" in the kitchen tend to be male. And that could be a big contributor to why I'm satisfied in our platonic ways, even if the feeling isn't mutual....I like them, some are even downright cute, but I don't find that behavior sexy. :wink:

  15. Oh my gosh, you might be my hero paulraphael! I bought a Cuisinart secondhand and have been baffled as to why the unit won't run without the narrower feed tube insert! Now I know that it's an anti-suicide feature.....and that maybe I can work around it! :wink:

    I can't wait to get home and check it out. That insert can come in handy, but sometimes it just irritates the heck out of me.....

  16. Yowza! You all are awesome! :biggrin: How is it that I've never had Boursin when it seems to be so versatile?!

    One question: the fettuccine +protein + Boursin......is there anything else required to create a sauce? Milk? Stock/broth? Or is it simply meant to melt on its own?

    I'm never terribly skilled at stuffing chicken, but freezing the Boursin before stuffing sounds like a marvelous idea.

    Boursin-stuffed tomatoes.....a good, simple appetizer idea for upcoming social engagements.

    Eggs and Boursin sounds good.......I've recently tried scrambled eggs with a little Neufchatel crumbled in, so I bet that the Boursin will be fantastic! Especially if I have some Boursin grits on the side..... :wink:

    Oh, and welcome ErikaK! Your suggestion will have me use up some scallions that are languishing in my produce drawer......

  17. I live in an area where there are lots of pasture-raised animals.....chicken feet aren't normally on the order list, but I'd like to ask the farmers if they will sell the feet.

    In this case.....how do they need to be cleaned/prepped before using? Forgive me if this seems like a dumb question, but having no experience working with them myself, are the packages of frozen, ready-to-use chicken feet simply cleaned and then frozen, or was there some kind of special parboiling, cleaning, etc. in the picture?

  18. Hi all,

    I was gifted with a round of Boursin "garlic and fine herbs" cheese product, which is not a usual ingredient in my cooking arsenal. I'm sure I could just swipe it on crackers, but any other tried-and-true ideas (or inspired ideas) for how to use this would be much appreciated. Thanks!

  19. En route to Saratoga Springs for business, I passed by this business in Amsterdam, NY (where Rt 67 veers off of Rt 30). I wanted to stop in a take a peek, but had no time to dawdle before a meeting.

    Called to find out that they're open till 7 PM on Thursday- I'll probably be passing by before they close. Is it worth a stop for decent prepared food and/or interesting groceries? It looks like they offer Polish and Italian specialties as single meals, but they also cater.....

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