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Everything posted by Zeemanb

  1. Macarons again...my first attempt outside of a classroom setting over the weekend was pretty disastrous…dough was pretty much running out of the piping bag and I ended up with mushroom caps instead of feet. It could have been a few things- it was pretty warm in the kitchen, I could have added too much gel coloring, or the most likely thing...a dumb rookie move of adding the powdered sugar to the wrong thing at the wrong time. The only good thing was that even ugly macarons taste great. I’m not the king of home cooks or anything, but for the most part I’m used to nailing something on the first try...but that’s savory cooking...baking is proving to be a decent lesson in humility. BUT with practice-practice-practice-practice it also has a huge appeal to my meticulous Type A perfectionist side. Soooo I tried again yesterday and it was mostly successful. Organizing everything ahead of time went faster, and on this second try I was able to focus more on the timing of mixing the softball temp sugar into the meringue. Those few moments, to me at least, are the most critical and represent the biggest window for failure. I used no coloring in case that was the culprit the first time around. At the end I did use that glitter powder and hated it immediately…if you’re not careful you can end up looking like a victim of Goldfinger…NOT a fan of trying to keep that stuff off of my face and arms…I’m already a guy who hates sports and makes pastry now, no sense in adding aspiring Showgirl into that mix. About 1/3 of the batch came out of the oven domed/cracked, but it was totally my fault for overfilling the oven and putting sheets on a very low bottom rack where there was less circulation and even heat. Nothing too perfect or pretty...YET. This test run was all about getting the macaronage right, so the lemon curd and black cherry mascarpone fillings were just quick and easy things to throw in there. And of course the godawful glitter because the naked un-colored cookies were too much for me to handle. The process is already starting to flow for me much, much better. I’ll be able to get in a lot of practice before we’re in the middle of the holidays. For fillings I’m going to start playing around with fig, peanut butter butter cream with a jelly center, mocha, honey maple...and once I get a level of comfort to try adding flavoring into the cookies themselves I’d like to come up with a good spicy Thai peanut recipe, or curry...something that would mix well with the sweetness but still bring savory flavor.
  2. If it's Kim, that is one HELL of a burrito she's able to finish these days!
  3. I just received my copy last night, and I have to say...I wish that more of the lesser dietie's would include the level of breakdown detail that is in this book. Ingredients broken down into pantry staples/to-buy fresh, helpful timelines for prep and cooking, and the over the top number of photos for reference. No-brainer stuff to many I'm sure, but what a great example of making things as easy as possible for the home cook...and interesting recipes to boot. Looking forward to piloting a couple very soon.... Edited to add: And $17 at Amazon, I mean, come ON....
  4. Last week I took a class on French Macarons at the Culinary Institute of Kansas City. It was pretty funny being the only male in a class full of suburban ladies. Apparently a huge novelty to have a man in one of these classes, so when they found out I actually knew how to cook I was like a beloved pet monkey/alien for the rest of the day. I don’t do a lot of baking, and most of the other classes they offer are way too basic, so I figured if I’m going to learn a specialty “hey look what I can make” pastry, macarons were a great choice. The class itself was pretty good considering they only allotted three hours. I definitely could not have executed the pastry correctly from reading a cookbook or watching a video...the instructor had a list of about a dozen special tips to help you out as you go through the process. Much easier than I expected in many ways, but mise en place, pristine work space and timing were the biggest things I took away from it...absolutely critical. With the holidays approaching, I think these will be a big hit as gifts. I can see where I’d need to set aside a couple of days to make a large quantity...one day for the various fillings and one for pastry. Lots of room for error, these little babies do require your full attention. Anyway, made two different colors, both with raspberry filling. Serious beginner Pastry 101 stuff for many of you, but this was quite a leap for me...glad I did it.
  5. I think it might be maguro. I think you are right, toro of maguro. dcarch I think my brain rebooted at the sight of that....went blank and then it was two minutes later. I would very much like to sample it to verify what it is exactly.
  6. YES, American cheese on a burger...hands down my favorite. Also, I do love the Sprecher Root Beer a LOT, but have you tried their cola? Excellent stuff, wish I could find it here in KC. GREAT blog! Loving it so far!
  7. Damn if that isn't just brilliant....I never buy pre-peeled garlic just because it seems to lose flavor or go bad before I use it up, but the stick blender is one cool trick to try. Much residual garlic smell in the freezer when you do that?
  8. I generally always add half and half to my daily thermos of coffee...but more to test how strong it is- if a long pour of dairy does not change the color of the coffee whatsoever, then it is strong enough to drink .
  9. Really, really looking forward to this...the infinite nature of Mexican cuisine is very exciting to me, and there are few things I love more than trying different regional dishes. Awesome!
  10. Here in the buckle of the Bible Belt, just down the road from Westboro Baptist, I can't really think of an overtly religious restaurant...and my urban missionary fundamentalist radar is pretty strong. You'll get groups of "Look at me! Look at me!" evangelicals fresh from church coming down off of a Holy Ghost bender who make a spectacle of praying over their meal, but beyond that not too much churchy action. Maybe some Christian AM radio in a random cafe. Actually, one of my favorite places to eat on a Sunday afternoon is a steakhouse in western Kansas City, Kansas...chicken fried steak, homemade pies, 950 oz. glasses of iced tea, pickled beets, and a huge assortment of MUCH older folks who just got out of church. Leisure suits from the 70's, blue hair, an Elvis shrine near the front door, hand-crocheted "JESUS" plaques for sale by the cash register....it's a scene, man. Very, very conservative Christian atmosphere....but it works. Still very welcoming to the hell-bound.
  11. For Tony..somehow...some way... constant re-statement of the obvious never QUITE jumps the shark.
  12. LOL, I was at a dinner the other night when that exact topic came up. Enjoyed a borrowed copy of the first edition enough to go order my own and buy a subscription. I thoroughly enjoyed the content and layout...reminded me of many quickly defunct (suspect that won't be the case for Lucky Peach) music 'zines from the early 90's. I did not know Chang was a former theology student....now I really want to hang out with him and compare notes, lol.
  13. Spring of 1990 in Tapachula, Mexico...stopped for the night to rest up before some border crossings, on a trip with 2 other guys to deliver a school bus to a missionary in El Salvador. We stayed at a hotel where most of the rooms only had partial ceilings, but there were drains in the floor in case of rain. They had a little taco stand attached to the basement where you could walk down from outside and sit on a retaining wall to eat. It had not been an easy drive from Phoenix, Arizona to the southernmost part of Mexico, and we still had to get the bus through the Guatamala and El Savlador border crossings. We sat and ate tacos, taquitos and hamburgers, and drank God knows how many bottles of coke and Fanta orange. It was a spectacle...late at night and they were about to close before we showed up. We basically ran them totally out of food after about an hour or so of eating. THAT was a real celebration...relief to have gotten that far with some last-meal anxiety thrown in. The food was great...roadside food culture in Latin America is joyously fun and delicious. I've had a ton of fantastic, memorable meals, but the brief moments of peaceful, happy eating during that adventure always come to mind first. I never feel like I'm REALLY drinking horchata now if it's not out of a plastic baggie.
  14. Just thought of it this minute, so have not tried it, but I wonder if they'd be able to handle a very light, super quick tempura fry....as a component in a caprese salad. Just thinking out loud.
  15. This is the key...the KEY to a good root beer float! I had a friend who insisted the ice cream should be added last. Insanity. Barq's is a favorite, Mug Root Beer is good too, less bite to it. I like A&W okay, it's just not root-y enough for me. Then just some basic Belfonte vanilla. Experiments with homemade never went as well as run of the mill store bought varieties.
  16. My wife and I spent a lot of time eating at Sticky Rice in Richmond, and I believe the sauce is just a mixture of mayo and Sriracha. I've combined the two at home and it's very close to what we ate there. And I'm sure you've already heard, but the Sticky Balls are a must-try. They are pretty crazy...deep fried inari pockets with tuna, crab and sriracha rice, topped with wasabi sauce, eel sauce and tobiko. Late night craving all-star dish.
  17. Zeemanb

    Dinner! 2011

    You just triggered a very dangerous part of my brain that keeps repeating "Fried Green [fill in the blank]!". Watermelon makes sense, and I'm ALWAYS looking for something new to try whenever I've already got a pan or pot of oil ready for frying. Way to think outside the box!
  18. Just to chime in- truly excellent blog! Fun and very educational for this landlocked midwesterner, and I'm sure the crippling seafood envy will subside with time. You took us out on quite a high note before a break, thanks!
  19. Zeemanb

    Dinner! 2011

    Way to go! I'm telling you, I have no idea why the east side of Aisle 9 at Price Chopper doesn't go....ketchup, mustard, relish, BACON JAM, mayo...... this stuff just makes sense as a part of daily life. It sounds decadent, and it is, but you render way more fat out of the bacon than if you were just to fry and eat it. Plus, a little bit goes a LONG way. Total healthy food, lol! Welcome to The Matrix.....you just shifted your reality by making that stuff.
  20. Still trying to reel this whole thing in enough to add a comment beyond "damn!"...over the top great to be following this!
  21. Zeemanb

    Dinner! 2011

    Holy cats, that looks amazing! I may have just drooled onto my keyboard a little. You're a workplace health and safety risk, Zeemanb! Oh, it's no Uni On Toast, but it was still pretty good . The test was whether or not the wife would like it, and she really did. The star of the dish was the improvisational sauce though. We agreed that next time we do some good pork chops or loin it will make a comeback. Nothing but a couple of caramelized shallots, a few tablespoons of honey, a couple teaspoons of sesame seeds and just enough chicken stock to keep it from gumming up as it cooked down.
  22. Zeemanb

    Dinner! 2011

    My first attempt at duck was tonight.... I was supposed to do it as part of my eG blog on Sunday but my best intentions to do the Thomas Keller roulade dish did NOT pan out. Since it was going to be an after-work meal, I put these La Belle Farms breasts the SVS at 135 degrees for 2 hours as soon as I got home. Seared it for about 5 minutes, and made a simple caramelized shallot, honey and toasted sesame sauce to add some sweet flavor. They came out just great, great crispy fat, plenty of that left in the pan for roasting potatoes this week. Resting after searing.... On the plate....
  23. I've never cooked it, but I've eaten Mexican "buche" several times and find it to be absolutely delicious. The stomach is cleaned and braised, then the whole thing is deep fried to get the outside crisp and then cubed and tucked into tacos and burritos. Outstanding textural experience.
  24. Before the thread closes, just wanted to give a huge THANK YOU again to everyone for making it so rewarding...you all know what it's like spending time around family and friends who may not appreciate or understand where we are coming from, so it is incredibly comforting to share your story with likeminded people. And boy is it nice now not to worry about getting the little knee-jerks throughout the day remembering a photo op I missed..... .
  25. The good news- it's about twenty degrees cooler today and there's no reason to hide out all day on a Sunday. The bad news- any Keller-level cooking is going to have to WAIT. I could spend the majority of my afternoon working on that and pull it off with some degree of success, but on the way home from dim sum I thought...why not just close with a signature-style writeup of THAT, enjoy the rest of my Sunday, and start looking at the seafood-porn that RRO has going on. I DO have two gorgeous La Belle Farms duck breasts thawing out, so I will be making a visit to the "DInner" thread soon.... When Meredith and I think of "brunch", it's rarely of the omelette or panini variety. We generally go with Vietnamese or dim sum. Dim sum is something I've apparently never been able to eat correctly during my travels....there's always some BETTER place I didn't hear about that is a magical wonderland that everyone but me knows about. And even if you DO go to the right place you weren't in the right city....the best dim sum in San Francisco doesn't compare to the worst Vancouver has to offer...etc, etc. I like the crazy big rooms and cart service, so I'll end up somewhere like Golden Unicorn in NYC or Y Ben House in San Francisco. I know I don't approach it as wisely as I could, but I usually have a blast. At 7am on a Sunday morning, sitting solo at a table in Y Ben House with nine Chinese senior citizens, watching them literally run and attack the carts as they come out of the kitchen tends to make up for whatever magic I'm missing flavorwise elsewhere. I say all of that to say- the Ng family, owners of the multiple Bo Ling's locations around KC do dim sum that is at least as good, if not better, than what I've had in my travels. A beautiful space, boomin' cart service, large selection, and from 11am to 2pm on weekends the place is totally packed. The absence of soup dumplings is strange, I will say that. We've been there enough times now to kind of narrow it down to the bare necessities.....it's very easy to overdo it. We'll always try one new thing, but the rest of our meal is made up of tried and tested favorites. If you are new to dim sum, we're excellent dining companions for your maiden voyage. Shu Mai- the logical beginning to ANY good dim sum brunch... Bean Sheet Rolls- a very major favorite of ours...ultimate mix of unique texture and rich flavor Seaweed Salad- This was our first time to try Bo Ling's version, and it's good and crunchy, plenty of sesame Shrimp Toast- this is NOT your average Pu-Pu Platter version Brown Tripe- this is one of my very favorite dim sum dishes, but I am generally eating this one alone.... Pan Fried Fun Rolls- our over the top favorite thing at Bo Ling's...outside the texture is almost like crisp pork belly, then the inside is all soft noodle, topped with a sweet and savory hoisin type of sauce and sesame seeds.....it is best when it is still burning your mouth. Totally worth it. I'm sure by now I've shown that tradition, loyalty and nostalgia are very important themes for me in dining and in life. In order for me to love food there has to be a connection to it that goes way beyond flavor, and I know that most people in this online community can appreciate that because we all share it to some degree. Dim sum is delicious. One of my favorite chowdown foods on earth, but it's also iconic. Specifically, these stupid sesame balls. I like them okay when they are sizzling hot out of the fryer, but the reason I get them every-single-time I dine goes back to my first experience with dim sum....1989 in New York City, eating in a dim sum parlor I cannot recall the name of, dining with my late brother. That trip is a very long story, but the short version is- I was twenty, he was fifteen and after visiting NYC for the first time when I was staying with a friend of mine at Yale the year prior, I thought it would be cool if we saved money from our part time jobs and I took him out there. We planned our trip by consulting....Fodor's. Went all out and stayed at the Waldorf, ate at Carnegie Deli a ton, Benihana, saw Cats AND we saw Phantom of the Opera when it was still THE show. We had to purchase scalped tickets with the money that was going towards a meal at Tavern on the Green. It is hilarious to look back on the dining and cultural choices, but hey, two kids from Kansas in the late 80's....whaddaya want? We were blown away by that town, I'm still blown away by it after two more decades and god knows how many trips out there. It's my favorite place in the world. The dream life would be to live there and write about the culture through my unique filter, but I have no interest in doing it poor. The good life is practically free here in the midwest compared to that place. I can't remember how we even heard about dim sum, but our Fodor's guide told us where we should give it a try. In Kansas and Missouri we have a lot of space, and we appreciate our personal space very much. Getting buddied up with two total strangers at a table for four in the dim sum restaurant kind of blew our minds. We sat with these two ladies, and there is a specific word I know but I'm not sure if it's a derogatory Yiddish term or not, so I'll just say.....they were really, really super loud, gossipy, TMI to nth degree, Fran Drescher-y bombastically invasive of your personal space women. And we sat talking quietly to one another in our bad sportcoats, choosing from an array of exotic dishes as the shockwave from their conversation exfoliated us. The sesame balls are the only things I remember from that first dim sum experience. I don't think they are ever GREAT, but these were bad....cold and the sweet bean paste in the middle had set up and gotten crumbly. We just looked at each other like "are these SUPPOSED to be like this?". When I go out to NYC, the first place I ever eat, and there is literally no scenario on earth other than the place burning down that would EVER change this, is the Carnegie Deli. I am aware of deli beyond Carnegie, but it's total tradition stemming from that trip. Likewise, whenever I eat dim sum I always, always, always order sesame balls for dessert. We lost my brother later that year, and so it's just something that I do because it's funny to think back to that morning in the dim sum parlor. And I have the type of mind where a sesame ball can be a touchstone to remind me that I've packed in a hell of a lot of life since the first time I choked one down. When it comes to the food I love and I want to share with others, it always has to fit some sort of narrative...a contender that may end up being a major sense memory. I wish I could have fit more into this week, but I guess there's always at least one more dish or restaurant to talk about no matter how long you keep at it. Thanks everyone for the encouragement and kind words, this has been a great experience and it gives me a whole new respect for what it takes to crank one of these out. For anyone with an interest in my town, I can always provide you with a Kansas City that is as Kansas City as Kansas City gets...
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