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Everything posted by Gary

  1. Gary

    Dinner! 2013 (Part 5)

    Frittata for dinner tonight. Recipe inspired by Ina Garten's "potato basil frittata". Potato, sausage, basil, ricotta, gruyere, eggs, S&P, butter, flour, baking powder. Baked it for about an hour at 350 so it came out nicely browned on top. Lots of leftovers for breakfast tomorrow. (ps. Thanks Ina Garten!!!) http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/potato-basil-frittata-recipe/index.html
  2. I ate at Katz's last Friday night. Pastrami sandwich was sooooo good. Split one sandwich with a friend. I put a bit of mustard on mine, and I'm ashamed to say my friend put some ketchup on hers... (YUCK?!?!?!). Another ordered latkes, and the fourth ordered blintz. I also had my first "egg cream". No egg. No cream. It was a glass of chocolate milk with a splash of seltzer water. Glad I tried it, but won't order it again. Must be an acquired taste, and I live too far from NYC to acquire such a taste (sorry to the New York folks if such speak is considered heresy). Sat at the waitress-served part of the restaurant. Glad I studied up on the "ticket" system which really irritated the folks in my group who didn't know what they were.
  3. We ate there last Thursday, happy to have got the chicken dinner reservation for 5:30pm. Restaurant was empty (as expected) and we started with the pork buns (kind of tough to split, but we had a ton of chicken coming so had to pace ourselves). Sorry for the fuzzy pork bun photo!! About 20 minutes later the GIANT platter of chicken showed up. Wow. Was way bigger than I expected. Too much food for the 4 of us. Much better suited for 6 people, but could feed 8 guests with moderate appetites. My favorite one was the southern style. Then it was the Korean style. Then it went back to the southern style. Actually, the favorite one happened to be the piece of chicken I was holding at the time. I was a bit confused as to what to do with the dipping sauces and veggies. Sauces tasted really good (hoisin was the favorite) but they were tough to put on top of the chicken. Not sure what to do with the lettuce (wraps?) and the radishes & carrots (eat 'em as crudite?). The veggies gave a nice counterbalance after eating lots of fried food but it wasn't simple to put them together with the chicken. The basil and mint were weird additions to the veggie tray. Again, not sure what to do with them and they didn't seem to fit with what I was eating. My overall impression was good. Chicken was super delicious. Service was attentive, friendly, and fun. Veggies were odd. Sauces were tasty, but not easy to put on top of the chicken. Happy to score a tough reservation at a popular restaurant. If you get lucky to get a fried chicken dinner reservation - I suggest you go hungry, really hungry.
  4. Tim, I think the darker color comes from all the molasses in the recipe. The architecture is actually a replica of my own house. Kendi, I got the recipe from Martha Stewart. Click here. Keep in mind that you can trim the pieces after they are baked. Don't worry about "perfection" while rolling & cutting. Do your finish work after it comes out of the oven. A big part of the fun is the decorating and accessorizing (ie. trees, pathway, etc). Keep the house simple and make the decorations fun!
  5. Christmas 2009 We made a gingerbread house that looked like OUR house. The windows are crushed, melted butterscotch candy. Inside is a string of Christmas lights so it looks great at night. We still plan to put on a couple more finishing touches but couldn't wait to post photos on eG. Front of the house Rear of the house
  6. Gary

    Christmas 2009

    Today I made cardamon peanut brittle, using an old recipe from Gourmet Magazine. Some of it will be mailed out to relatives in Germany & Belgium who have told me this is a very "American" candy. Is peanut brittle truly a regional candy? Or, is there something similar in other parts of the world?
  7. Gary

    Christmas 2009

    I am eating some of the cookies, and freezing some. I've got lots of gingerbread house ideas floating around in my head right now. Just need to get out of the office and start BAKING!!!
  8. Gary

    Christmas 2009

    OK... first up are some oatmeal cookies. Although they don't register high on the "Christmas spirit" index... I did find the recipe in the Martha Stewart Christmas cookbook. Therefore, I am adding them to my 2009 tally. Yum yum. I wonder what will be next???? ps to Leslie: Snickerdoodles are a simple drop cookie, rolled in cinnamon sugar before baking. The recipe requires "cream of tartar"... which is in a little jar *way* in the back of my cabinet and used for only this recipe.
  9. I'm getting ready for the Christmas baking & candy making season. I just checked out an old Martha Stewart Christmas cookbook from the library. First up are some toffee and spiced pecans. I always say that I'm going to do more than my "regular" stuff... which consists of snickerdoodles and sugar cookie cutouts. I am trying to get the energy up to do another gingerbread house (last one was 3yrs ago). I'm starting this thread to track my progress and to get inspired from the eG community. Who's IN?
  10. Gary

    Mushroom Powder

    I've been away from eGullet for a while... and forgot how generous people are with their replies. Now I've got to get in the kitchen and and post some photos of my results. Mushroom powder might just become the "secret ingredient" in my house.
  11. Gary

    Mushroom Powder

    I stumbled upon mushroom powder at the store yesterday. Bought a small bag (it smells great) and took it home. Now I am wondering where to use it. I'm thinking of adding it to a mushroom risotto. Any other clever uses come to mind?
  12. Gary

    Fresh Shell Beans

    I bought some fresh shell beans at the market yesterday. None of the clerks knew what they were. They were white and red striped and the produce manager said they were Fava beans. I bought them because I saw this thread on egullet. I've not cooked fresh beans like these. I cooked them per the recipe in Joy of Cooking (boiled in a bit of water with olive oil, salt, garlic clove). The red stripes boiled off and the beans came out white-ish. They tasted like... well... beans. Kind of underwhelming. A few questions: Were these really fava beans? Are the red stripes supposed to come off? (they looked really cool) If they are fava beans, is September the wrong season for them? Thanks!! Gary
  13. After a long absence, macarons made an appearance in my kitchen. The result was the best I've done. Thanks to JGardner for the recipe!
  14. The fluffy "snow" at the base of the display is called polyester fiberfill. It is the stuffing used for stuffed animals or pillows. It is from JoAnn Fabrics (craft store) and is called "Soft - n - Crafty". It is made by Fairfield. The Fairfield website is www.poly-fil.com. The snow on top of the houses is just more royal icing. I dragged it down the edges of the roof, trying to make an icicle effect. Good luck to those making gingerbread houses these last few days before Christmas. Just remember... my chimneys were attached with a hot glue gun then frosted over the top. You gotta pick your battles and that's where I drew the line. Royal icing is VERY DIFFICULT to work with on an angled surface. It is OK for attaching flat things to one another because it will have time to "set". I didn't plan on eating this display so the glue issue wasn't a factor. Happy gingerbreading everyone!! Gary
  15. Gary

    Bah humbug

    I am happy to report that I successfully recooked the chocolate caramels with Patrick's advice. I chopped 'em up, cooked to 257F, then poured them in a pan to set. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THANKS PATRICK !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The caramels turned out OK, good enough to share at the office. However, this slate of failures serves to illustrate how hard it is to get candy "just right". Some random thoughts & musings: Final temp: I've got to do a lot of experimenting as to the perfect temp instead of relying on recipes. Is there a lot of variation in caramel cooking temp based on the sugar/butter/cream ratios? Cooking process: I would like to know if there is some difference in the final product comparing different burner heat levels. Does it matter if you get to 250F on high, medium or low heat? Is there benefit to cooking caramels "low & slow"? Thermometer: I really need to get a decent candy thermometer. I've got the glass bulb type (reads 10F too low) and an instant read meat thermometer (very accurate). Hello Santa?!?
  16. Gary

    Bah humbug

    If I were you, I'd recook the caramel to a higher temperature, maybe 250 or so. Or I'd cut it into small pieces and coat them in chocolate. Sorry you had such a bad weekend, Gary! ← Patrick, Can I chop up the squishy caramel, put it back in the pot, cook to 250, then pour it out again? Will this work? Will I get less-squishy caramel? Gary
  17. Ouch. A beautiful Sunday ruined with a three-peat of candymaking disasters. 2pm: Peanut brittle. Joy Of Cooking recipe (page 788). Cook to 295F for a "tender" brittle. Chewy. Sticky. Awful. Trash can. 3pm: Chocolate-covered crunchy hazelhut cookies. Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme (pg. 87). Heat to 140F. Cool to room temp. Slice & bake for 22min @ 275F until dry & dull. Result: Flaky, fell apart, won't hold together. Awful. 5pm: Chocolate and Lemon caramels. Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme (pg. 169). Cook to 243F. Result: Undercooked "squishy" caramel. Current status: Sitting out on the countertop... destined for the trash if it doesn't firm up overnight. Today was lots of wasted nuts, sugar and enthusiasm. I even went so far as to boil some water to make sure my instant-read thermometer was accurate (it is right on the money!!). The boiled water was the lone success in today's culinary adventure. I was hoping to walk into the office Monday morning with an impressive plate of goodies. Now I feel in quite a "bah humbug" mood. Any similar sad tales out there? Gary
  18. One thing I found useful was the trimming process a few minutes after the gingerbread is out of the oven. The pieces I made had spread just a bit. A sharp knife on the edges made them straight again. This really helped during the assembly process. The flat bottoms rested nicely on the countertop. The straight edges connected better to each other. My engineering brain is trying to improve the trimming process even more. I was considering adding some notches and posts to assist in the assembly process. The ideas are still running around my mind but the basic concept is for the walls & roof to hold together via a series of dado joints. The frosting (mortar) would be additional strength. The mortar + waiting process seemed too difficult. Walls would slip apart unless you held them for a while. Has anyone else come up with a better way to expedite the building process?
  19. A weekend of fun was inspired by an old Martha Stewart holiday craft book I borrowed from the local library. The craft was making gumdrop trees & toparies. I took that brief bit of inspiration (plus some sugar) and had a weekend of fun with the kids. Enjoy the photo tour. Necco wafer shingles on the roof, carefully installed one row at a time. Walls, roof & door are all decorated and ready for assembly. M&M's and licorice on the walls. Closeup of the candycane fence, assembled with my new glue gun (I really LOVE this thing!!). The gingerbread houses were assembled with royal icing and seem to be holding up pretty well. Candycane heart. Gumdrop "wreath" over the front door of the house. Candyland Village. Gumdrop trees and topiaries. Mixed into the scene are some plastic toys from my daughter's collection. Notice the reindeer eating the nose off the marshmallow snowman. She has some clever food styling ideas I'll have to admit.
  20. I tried this recipe a few years ago. It came out kind of like an apple marmalade. Definitely not worth the effort IMHO. Maybe the recipe and me were defective. It uses up a lot of apples... a good thing in the fall season here in Michigan.
  21. Two batches of macaroons this weekend left me with 8 leftover egg yolks. I put 'em in the fridge for a while then went looking through my cookbooks for ideas on what to do with them. I ended up making pots-de-creme from the Joy of Cooking. I used up the last half pound of the Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate in cupboard too! What else can you do with all those yolks? I don't like the idea of just throwing them out. Any recommendations? Sweet or savory will do. Thanks!!
  22. More macaroons today. This time I made 'em smaller... a bit over an inch in diameter... just like the recipe says. The domes came out good (no wrinkles). They were a nice balance of crunchy and chewy. I got more cookies out of the recipe without having to double it. One sheet was dusted with cocoa powder and the other with powdered sugar (a nice contrast on the cookie). Stuff I learned: - Insulated baking sheets are important. I burnt a whole sheet worth of macaroons. - Egg whites need to be beat fairly stiff. - Macaroon size should be just about an inch in diameter. Too much larger and they start to wrinkle around the edges during baking. Maybe other recipes will allow larger macaroons. I used the CDPH version exactly. - Crunchy and chewiness goes away after a couple days in the refridgerator. The larger ones in the photos below were made New Year's Eve. 48 hours in the fridge made them sort of soft. They lost the crunchy and chewy factor. Here are some photos. Enjoy!! LARGE -VS- SMALL size macaroons Large ones made a couple days ago. Notice the wrinkles. Cocoa powder dusted macaroon Powdered sugar dusted macaroon (a bit lopsided... but tasty!!)
  23. Inspiration hit at my house. I just had to try macaroons again. They came out pretty good. I was worried about the "wrinkles" midway through the baking process. The wrinkled tops seemed to settle out a bit so they aren't as noticeable as the last time I baked macaroons. I used the CDPH recipe and left the egg whites out about 3 hours. My only gripe about this recipe is there was a LOT of work and I only got 10 cookies. I got excited and piped them a bit on the big side (2" or so). Has anyone had luck with doubling (or tripling) the PH recipe? Thanks, Gary
  24. Gary

    Using Up the Apples

    Growing up in Michigan I was lucky to have a Snow apple tree in the front yard. I ate hundreds of them in my formative years. Tiny apples, deep red skin, brilliant white flesh. I've not seen them in a store or farmers market since. Anyone else know of this apple variety?
  25. Gary

    Burger helper

    Zingerman's in Ann Arbor operates a trailer outside their Roadhouse restaurant. I've not been there but it might be worth checking out if you haven't already. It sounds similar in nature to what you are planning. Click herefor details. They describe it as follows: "In any case the Roadshow is a built-in-1952, Spartan Aircraft Company's All-Aluminum Trailercoach that we've set up to serve early morning coffee and cappuccino, Bakehouse pastries and breads. We're also out there for lunch with a menu of sandwiches, soups and soft drinks. You can even pick-up a loaf of bread to take home for dinner! When you stop by, ask about our Fridge to Fridge Menu. We've come up with some special selections intended to go from our fridge to yours, prepared by us, and ready for you to heat and serve."
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