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Posts posted by Toby

  1. Wasn't the question of whether to remain kosher/eat with non-kosher followers of Jesus one of the big divisive questions for the 1st generation of Christians, and wasn't it Paul who sort of settled the question by opening up the religion to just about everyone? I thought that might be the answer -- Paul opening it up to a religious version of the Roman Empire, but you can't parallel the Muslim conquest in the century after Mohammed, where dietary restrictions were retained and imposed upon a diverse population of newcomers to the religion.

  2. Is it in Leviticus that the laws of what foods are clean or unclean are first set down in the Bible?

    There's a pretty terrifying passage near the end of the book (which also lists all other ways people can be unclean), in which god says, "If in spite of this you do not listen to me and still defy me, I will defy you in anger, and I myself will punish you seven times over for your sins. Instead of meat you shall eat your sons and your daughters. . . . I will pile your rotting carcasses on the rotting logs that were your idols, and I will spurn you. . . . I will scatter you among the heathen, and I will pursue you with the naked sword; your land shall be desolate and your cities heaps of rubble. . . . And I shall make those of you who are left in the land of your enemies so ridden with fear that, when a leaf flutters behind them in the wind, they shall run as if it were the sword behind them; they shall fall with no one in pursuit."

  3. Roast pork shoulder, sat overnight in refrigerator rubbed with a paste of sage, garlic, Italian dried red peppers, salt, pepper, olive oil, then roasted at 400 degrees for 1 hour 15 minutes, heat turned down to 300 for 3 more hours (for a 4 lb. roast) -- meat just fell off the bone. Socca (chickpea flour flatbreads) with fresh ricotta cheese. Dried cranberry beans, unsoaked, cooked for about 2 hours with lots of whole garlic cloves and sage, then sauteed diced pancetta and onion until onion translucent, added to beans, and cooked slowly for about 30 minutes, just before serving added 1/4 cup red wine vinegar to beans. Sauteed spinach.

    Ice cream (Ben & Jerry's).

  4. And the sushi in SF is very disappointing and inconsistent.

    There used to be a Japanese restaurant on Diamond (I think, but it might have been Castro) between 24th and 25th Streets; its name started with an "H" -- they had really good sushi. (sorry for vagueness, I haven't been there in a long time.) And are the Vietnamese restaurants in the Tenderloin all still there? Plus, there was a great Cambodian restaurant way out on Mission (past the Safeway) in the 3400 block.

  5. I eat a lot of rice, and cook it differently depending on the kind of food I'm serving with it. Chinese rice is the simplest:

    2 cups long-grain white rice

    3 cups water

    Rinse the rice well, raking it with your fingers, until the water runs clear. Drain well.

    Put rice into a heavy-bottomed pot, or if you have it, a Chinese clay casserole. Add the water. (There should be enough water so that if you put the tip of your thumb on the surface of the rice, the water will come up to the first knuckle.) Without stirring, bring the water to a rolling boil and let it continue to boil for 30 seconds, or until the big bubbles come close to the top of the pot. Cover the pot, turn the heat down to low (so that there's a very slow bubbling going on inside the pot) and simmer for 15 minutes, without lifting the cover. Remove the pot from the heat and let sit, still covered, for another 15-20 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork just before serving.

  6. One of the two books I used when learning to cook was Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking.

    That was one of the books I used, too -- if something in one of her recipes utterly mystified me, I looked it up in another book, but the vagueness was very liberating, and everything always came out good.

    What was the other book?

  7. Pan-cooked magret (LesleyC's slow method on duck breast thread), boiled new potatoes then smashed in a little of the duck fat, sauteed spinach, more pears baked in butter, sugar and heavy cream, served with shaved parmigiano cheese.

  8. Squash with maple syrup -- I think I posted on this some pages back in this thread, during a discussion of autumn squash. Used a blue Hubbard squash, cut in half, seeds and stuff removed -- baked with a piece of peeled and cored pear, heavy cream, butter, maple syrup, salt, pepper and a little nutmeg in each half until squash was really soft, then scooped everything into a bowl (minus squash peel) and mashed, adjusting seasoning.

  9. I've been looking for sweet bean paste for ages, and not been able to find it. I've come across hot bean sauce, crushed bean sauce, yellow bean sauce, and sweet lotus paste, but not the elusive sweet bean sauce.

    This is really confusing. Sweetened red bean paste, made with little azuki beans, apparently is often confused with sweet bean sauce. What you wanted was the sweet bean sauce? This does seem to be hard to find -- Bruce Cost in Asian Ingredients says that "the only available sweet bean sauce comes in cans from the Taiwan company Sze Chuan Products." You really can substitute the hoisin sauce, but that probably will have some chiles in it, or just add some sugar to bean sauce.

  10. I've been looking for sweet bean paste for ages, and not been able to find it. I've come across hot bean sauce, crushed bean sauce, yellow bean sauce, and sweet lotus paste, but not the elusive sweet bean sauce.

    Sweet bean sauce is pureed soybeans mixed with sugar or maltose; garlic and sesame oil can also be added. In Cantonese, it's called tim min jeung. You can just mix three parts bean sauce or ground bean sauce with 1 part sugar to make your own.

  11. Pasta, I made pasta: a very fresh-tasting version of Pasta alla Carbonara from the Zuni Cafe cookbook -- bucatini using just-cooked diced bacon, peas, grated pecorino romano, ricotta cheese and eggs.

    Sauteed broccoli rabe with garlic.

    Baked pear halves with butter, sugar and heavy cream, served with shaved parmigiano (recipe courtesy of Margaret Pilgrim) -- really delicious.

  12. I looked through Alice Waters' first book, the Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook, published in 1982. I was sort of surprised to see that many of the recipes and the special meal menus toward the end of the book actually were far more complex and "technique-driven" than I'd remembered (probably because I only cooked the simpler ones). Also, many of the recipes seemed to be French-influenced. In the second Chez Panisse cookbook, the one co-written with Paul Bertolli in the mid-80s, the food seems more Italian (probably because he was the chef at that point). And the last three books seem to be even simpler.

    In the introduction to the Menu Cookbook, Waters says: "I have not attempted to oversimplify the problem of obtaining first-quality ingredients. . . . In the same vein, I have not attempted to simplify the complex preparation of an apparently simple dish. Remember that the ultimate quality of a dish is determined initially by the worth of the ingredients and the time and effort expended by the cook. Certainly some dishes require a less complex presentation, but those are usually the dishes which require an additional application of diligence in the selection of the raw ingredients."

    So it seems she was saying back then that if you're going to make a simple, easy-technique dish, then you have to have really good ingredients, rather than the ingredients are so good, we don't have to do anything to them. Note that I haven't eaten there and am simply extrapolating from her cookbooks and my experience cooking from them.

  13. Where did you get the iron one?  Is it cast iron?  It seems like it would be too heavy to lift!  The Joyce Chen woks available now have flat bottoms.

    It can't be cast iron, it's not that heavy. I've looked it up now -- it's made out of a "thin, tempered iron," whatever that means. I got it in a kitchen supply place in Chinatown in San Francisco a long time ago. The Joyce Chen one is, I guess, more flat bottomed than round; it's easier to deal with on the stove, but I don't like cooking in it as much.

  14. Both my long-handled woks are pretty much round-bottomed, perfectly round on the inside and with a slight flattening at the outside base, so it balances okay. One is a Chinese iron one, and the other is a weird Joyce Chen-like one made out of a strange black metal that I don't like as well.

  15. If you can turn the grille thing on your stove that fits over the burners upside down so that the wok can actually sit in the round depression (concavity?), you can dispense with the wok ring. The flames will be directly under the wok and the heat shouldn't escape as much. (Sorry, I'm hopelessly retarded when it comes to names of things.)

  16. Robert, what a nice post. This cold week was good for Italian bean dishes. I made a version of a Pugliese bean dish -- dried fava beans cooked to a puree, seasoned with garlic-fennel seed-red pepper olive oil, served with sauteed broccoli rabe. I actually added half cannellini beans to the fava beans, and mashed the whole thing up by hand to get a rough texture. Ate with Sullivan St. pane pugliese. What flour do you use in the bread? Is it supposed to be a semolina dough, or just white flour?

  17. I'd just add that for cooking and eating at home, it's still not that easy to obtain good ingredients. I spent several hours the other day searching for a decent brand of polenta that wasn't instant-cook or in an already cooked log. Trying to find non-ultrahomogenized heavy cream has become a project, even in so-called "health food" stores.

  18. Wok cooking is very visual. It happens pretty fast and your hands are busy tossing things around, so I think the judging of when to add the next ingredient, when it's done, are visual decisions with maybe how it smells secondary. You just have to have everything prepped and close at hand. As for seasoning, if you're using salt at all, it usually goes in right at the beginning when you first fry the garlic or whatever; I usually follow the amount called for in the recipe for soy sauce, oyster sauce, the first time I cook a dish.

    You really don't need that many extra pantry ingredients -- several types of soy sauce, maybe sesame oil, oyster sauce, some of the bean pastes, star anise, dried mushrooms. Also, Chinese-style rice is really easy to make and can be done in a pot without a rice cooker.

    Chinese slow-cooked casserole dishes are great in the winter, as are steamed foods, and I think you can make these taste better at home than they do in most restaurants.

    If you can find a copy of Irene Kuo's The Key to Chinese Cooking, it's a great book to learn from.

    (edit: right on cue, Jinmyo)

  19. I've been making dried beans several times a month (sometimes several times a week) for over 30 years. I love cooking pork in with the beans (ham hocks, andouille sausage, leftover ham picked off the bone, salt pork); long, slow cooking with the flavor and fat from the pork seems to plump the beans, and the thickening of the pork-flavored liquid from the breakdown of the beans would seem to me impossible to achieve with canned beans which are already cooked. Even making beans without meat, such as Mexican black beans cooked with only a head of garlic and some herbs, it seems as if the delicious thick broth and melting of the garlic into the beans and broth would also be impossible with canned beans. I sometimes make Egyptian fava beans (the small, round brown ones) that are cooked without meat, and they're so much better made from the dried ones than from doctoring the canned ones. I also like cooking beans in glazed earthenware pots, which give the beans a very silky texture.

    There are some farmers in the U.S., such as Phipps Farm, who grow all sorts of unusual (and often organic) beans that have their own distinctive tastes that would not be available canned.

    Once you get the pot of beans started, there's so little to do, other than let them cook, that I can't see the whole convenience issue as really being a factor.

  20. Could the bollito misto be orderd by a single diner?  Sounds huge.

    There were 2 of us and we each ate our own order, plus split an order of the ravioli special (stuffed with pork with black truffle and butter sauce), plus shared an order of ricotta with honey cheese course. I ate everything in the bowl, my friend left a little over. It was very satisfying. Unfortunately, it was a special, so don't know when it will reappear there again.

  21. Dinner at Lupa the other night -- the special, bollito misto, was great, particularly on a very cold night. Huge bowls that took up most of the table, filled with large pieces of veal tongue, beef cheek, pork shoulder, two kinds of cotecchino-type sausages (both made in-house, I think), chicken, a few pieces of carrot and onion, in a very clear and flavorful (although noticeably salty) broth, served with apple mostarda, mustard, mint pesto (might actually have been more like a salsa verde), tarragon, and dried chile peppers (to break open and sprinkle into the broth -- adding the pepper lessened the saltiness of the broth). The chicken was especially delicious, with a very chicken-y flavor. We drank Le Pupille Morellino di Scansano, very fruity and nice with the food.

    There's a recipe with picture in the Babbo Cookbook; the dish at Lupa was actually more refined and elegant than the picture or recipe in the book appear to be.

    I ordered the ricotta with honey -- I thought the ricotta had a lovely creaminess to it, but not enough depth of flavor.

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