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John S.

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Posts posted by John S.

  1. Hi,

    My husband and I are flying into SFO on a Tuesday at 9:45 AM and driving to Crescent City, need to be there by noon on Wednesday.  We want to enjoy the drive and need some suggestions for how to break it up.  We have heard Point Reyes is a great place for eating and for getting picnic stuff, so maybe we would start there with lunch (saw the PR thread).  We want to drive up 1, but need some recs for where you would stop for the night and other not-to-miss places to eat or poke around.  We would enjoy any wineries that are near this route since we won't be going to Napa/Sonoma.  We do want to see the Avenue of the Giants.  Any hotel/motel recommendations would be appreciated.  We like camping, farm stands, hiking, and trying new foods.  Where would you switch to 101 from 1?

    After our stay in Crescent City we're driving back to San Fran for a few days (so we will check out those threads) but we will have another opportunity for 1 night in between the 2 destinations.

    Thanks a lot!

    Wow. Not much time to enjoy the drive but there are ways. From SFO it would take about 6.5 hours straight drive (through San Rafael and staying on 101 which is inland) to Crescent City. Going the coast route to Mendocino is the best option, due to lack of facilities on highway 1 below that, and to avoid slow travel between Fort Bragg and Rockport or Noyo, if you choose to cut over at either place. You can spend the night in scenic Mendocino on the coast. There are wineries there, but they might be closed by the time you get there (the road is windy up to Mendocino). That would take all day Tuesday. Get up early and drive up a bit to Noyo and go east to Willits, which is a slow drive due to the windy road. You could make it up to Crescent City by noon. Of course there are other places to stay, but none as beautiful as Mendocino. The town is a real treat to peruse. You will have to mostly bypass Avenue of the Giantss because of time. There are a number of turnoffs from highway 1 within the Ave. of the Giants area, and you could take some time to check maybe one of those to see the forest. Forget Pt. Reyes because it takes a real long time to get out there from highway 1. Since you only have a total 27 hours to get up there, your options are limited, but good luck and have fun!

    John S.

  2. Recently I've made a couple of batches of Mafé. Since it was peanut season at the time, I bought some fresh raw peanuts at the produce market and started there, but it turns out I don't really have the first idea how to do it. What I wanted to do was start by making what was in essence a home made peanut butter. That meant I needed to roast, shell, and grind the nuts.

    Chris, are there any health food stores around? One close to me lets you buy their roasted peanuts and grind them in the store. I never had luck with my VitaMix 5000, since it has a protection circuit that shuts the blender off when the motor temp reaches a preset point. It's just too thick. Therefore I think the only way to make peanut butter without adding even one ingredient, is to use a grinding machine.

    One Costco pb has no ingredients but roasted, shelled peanuts. The natural oil rises to the top, so you just mix it up real well when it's warm, then in the fridge for safe keeping. All nut butters need refrigerated against mold if they don't have preservatives.

    Those are the only 2 options I know. But either of them gives you pure peanut butter with a taste to match.

    John S.

  3. Hola,

    Moved awfully close to china town a few weeks ago and I took a walk --found some good pork and lots of good braising beefs cuts.  Turned a corner and WHAM giant crawling massive huge king crabs going for $5-6/lb. 

    I'm surprised. I thought (correct me if I'm wrong) that the crabs (Alaskan King or Russian King) were always frozen upon arrival back at the harbor from where the boats originate, and that they have to be kept frozen until end-user purchase.

    John S.

  4. Has anyone eaten here yet??

    I ate at Solgel, the restaurant at Solage,last weekend and it was fantastic to say the least. A couple of standouts were the bacon and egg salad and the beef shortrib entree. Also the venison, 3-ways, special along with a truffle pasta appetizer were outstanding!

    There is a special Valentines chocolate dinner coming up that looks like it could be lots of fun.

    The chef, Brandon Sharp, was the sous at Danko. Highly recommend!

    It's Solbar.


    John S.

  5. I just finished the last of a batch of Flageolet beans, which I cooked with a carrot, some celery, an onion and a bunch of thyme, salt and pepper.  I was about to pour the bean cooking liquid down the sink, when I decided to taste it. OMG! it's delicious!

    Is there anything wrong with adding this to soup or in cooking? Does it, uh, cause gastric distress?  :blink:  I feel really dumb pouring this great tasting broth down the drain.

    What do you do with it?

    I usually use it as a stock for something, soups come to mind. I also save the leftover "liquor" from roasting chiles or bells and put it in the chile, soup or whatever has the veggie (or a similar one) in it.

    John S.

  6. Aside from the obvious advantages of cost and ease, is it possible that some people actually prefer to use canned vegetables over fresh ones?

    I find canned vegetables vastly inferior to fresh, especially for green beans. Yet, there are tons of otherwise good restaurants that serve canned green beans as a side. Even at potlucks, there's usually a canned green bean casserole, sometimes from good cooks that I would expect otherwise. I've gotten to the point that I can't eat more than a bite or two of the stuff.

    Maybe people are just used to it and have recipes (from their mom, Cook's Illustrated, etc.) that call for canned green beans and have come to actually like the taste?

    I'll buy tomatoes, as mentioned by most. I also use corn off-season and beans anytime. I enjoy making beans, but I can't tell the difference in taste! The only other thing I can think of is new potatoes. I stick a couple or 3 cans of them in very hot water to soak while I'm making garlic butter and cutting the bread. Then along with the meat and garlic bread I grill them outdoors with a vinegar and tomato-based BBQ sauce.

    John S.

  7. Calling all sauciers!

    I have two items on my menu that need an overhaul.  One is our burrito which is seasoned black beans, roasted zucchini, traditional salsa and roasted green chiles.  The other is our pannini with bacon, cheddar and roasted green chile.  Both are good, but I find both to be dry.  . . .

    Adding more chiles than is usually called for makes the sauce thicker for me. If I want to use it in the way you are wanting to I have to strain it first since it separates.

    John S.

  8. I've been working on my own habanero hot sauce recipe for a little while now, and subsequently I've been consuming lots of it myself.

    It's got me thinking how different cuisines and styles of preparation effect the spicyness of chillies eg fresh/dried/pickled etc. What I kinda mean is some chillies burn really hot but fade quickly, and some build up and last.

    Isn't capsaicin just capsaicin?

    Can someone explain this?

    That's a good question. I do know that capsaicin dissolves in milkfat/butterfat, so a creamy ice cream reduces the heat in the mouth (or wherever the stuff is -- I have a good story about my son when he was still in diapers). Trust me ice cream works -- as does alcohol. There may be other things that the chemical dissolves in, so what the chile is eaten with can affect the quality of the experience. It may dissolve 100% or only partially. Drying and cooking don't affect the heat in a chile, and the hotter the chile, the longer it burns. Good luck with your sauce. If you find a combination of ingredients that works well, let us know! I just finished a batch of bhut jolokia sauce. I found that the mash is so hot that I can use very little in a bottle. I have to put in other stuff like lime juice, vinegar, tropical fruits, mustard, etc, in significantly greater proportions than with habanero. Aside from all that, the answer to your question is still a mystery to me!

    John S.

  9. I was just in the middle of studying on a cold day with not much food in the house. I had some slightly stale bread, so took some good quality Italian salami, ordinary tomatoes and mature cheddar, melted some butter in a pan and made a really good toasted sandwich. Simple and delicious. What are your favourites?

    As a child, my mum used to make really good steak and mustard ones, as well as ones with leftover minced beef. And there is always simple cheese.

    I usually go with the following when I feel like a grilled sandwich. A couple slices of a good hearty bread, buttered on both sides. While one side is toasting (low-medium) I put a couple pre-roasted, skinned and seeded poblanos (erroneously called pasillas in most stores) on the up side. Some muenster slices and grilled red onions follow. Put the two halves together and finish grilling. I got the idea from Mark Miller.

    John S.

  10. I'm trying to cook a dish that includes plantains, so I left them outside for about a week to get the plantains black as that's supposed to be a sign that the plantains are sweet. But, now, there's all this mold all over the skin which I'm assuming is not safe to eat. When a recipe talks about waiting till the skin of the plantain is black, how black are they supposed to get? Was I supposed to store them in the fridge while I waited for it to turn black?

    First, don't use the moldy ones. I always use them fried. I never see them sold ripe because I think they are always used pre-ripe. They will not be as sweet as a regular banana and they have more starch, so you don't eat them out of hand. Just a different application. Look at some South American recipes. Crema goes with them well.

    John S.

  11. The article says that he was itching all over when he went to bed, to the point where his girlfriend scratched his back to help alleviate it. Clearly, this was a massive allergic reaction, but they didn't recognize that the itching was a symptom.  Maybe the chilis, maybe something else.

    I'm allergic to roasting chilis and peppers, to the point where my throat closes up. I almost went to New Mexico on vacation until I saw that they roast peppers all over the area in the Fall, when I was able to go. No point in dying on vacation...

    Lala's right. He died from anaphylaxis, the result of ingesting (or be bitten by, or rubbing up against) something you're allergic to. I know that all you guys know what an epi-pen is. In his case it came on rapidly. It was from something he ate but had few symptoms until near the end. When I have a significant overdose to my allergy shots, I begin with a productive cough. I never get to the itching point because I recognize it and they give me O2 and an injection of a lot of epinephrine.

    Any food can do it to someone. It sounds like he normally ate chiles, so this is probably not the cause. MomOfLittleFoodies, I've never seen peanut butter in chile sauce except for one origin: Africa. Morocco and other nations use "groundnut" in their recipes.

    DJyee100, I have never experienced that and know of no cases, after reading the article.

    Nibor -- your's sound much different than a systemic allergic reaction . . . can it be something like celiac disease is for wheat consumers?

    And prawncrackers, you're probably right on the dorset naga (AKA bhut jolokia, and Naga jolokia). That one has been found (by chromatography) to be WAY hotter than the Red Savina habanero, which is around 600,000 Scovilles, compared to the Naga a million or more.

    John S.

  12. The chiles are yellow, orange, and red, about 1" to 1 1/2" long at most. I always thought any chiles this small were Thai chiles, but I guess not. Can you identify these chiles?


    They are not Thai chiles -- too wide and not a bit curly. They are c. annuum but it's hard to tell exactly which variey. There are hundreds of varieties in all 5 species. They look like serrano, but it appears from the photo that these pods grow upright rather than pendant. Serranos are pendant.

    I would ask Jeannie at chileplants.com or Jim at wildpepper.com.

    John S.

  13. Waiting in a doctor's office this morning during my wife's appointment, I started thumbing through the (mostly women's and lifestyle) magazines. One of them featured a blurb about Padma Lakshmi, and I was surprised to find a handful of compelling recipes I immediately began to transcribe: Black Grapes & Baby Arugula; Carrot & Cilantro Salad; Sauteed Sweet Potato & Limas; Basil & Blood Orange Salad; and Pondicherry Lentil Salad.

    A few of these call for "Pure Orange Oil," with fresh grated zest as a substitute.

    I've never used this. Where do I find it, and are there varying qualities? It sounds like you only use a tiny bit -- a drop or two -- to flavor a dressing or dish.

    I found this: http://www.eastherb.com/orange-oil/now-foods/p24545.html, and this one too, http://www.greenfeet.com/itemdesc.asp?ic=8501%2D01051%2D0000 that has 4 different citrus oils plus a lemongrass oil. The recipes you mentioned, except the last one, didn't particularly sound Punjabi, but the article seems to be.

    John S.

  14. I have looked in the merged thread and can't find much about Red Sage, a Mark Miller I have wanted to visit for years.

    We're going to have more time to spend out there this time because we have taken sufficient time off to attend my daughter's graduation from AU.

    My wife and I will host 4 different dinners (and some brunches) around DC and Sterling/Centreville.

    I want to go to Red Sage but can't find out much because they don't have a web site, and nothing much in the threads here. So, how do you DC eGulleteers view Red Sage?

    Next, I want a good traditional Southern place (Hitching Post?) for one night.

    Any help would be much appreciated (we're leaving on May 6).


  15. I was in an Asian market today buying shiritaki noodles, and I realized that it's King Crab season! They have them live in tanks, and they're enormous, and fairly feisty looking.

    I'm cool with Dungeness crab, I've cooked lots of them, but I can't fathom dealing with one of these monsters, and I was too shy to ask for help.

    Does anyone know if they sell them live? Or do they kill them at the store? If live, how on earth would you get them home?

    Any advice would be hugely appreciated, I love crab, but I've never seen Kings live before today. Except on "The Deadliest Catch", of course :raz:

    I think normally, Alaskan king crab is cooked and frozen as soon as the ship unloads them, and they stay frozen until they are bought at retail. As far as I know they are available year-round. I may be wrong on the above but I think that's right. Costco has king crab roadshows and it seems to me as though there is no time of year they don't come to sell crabs at Costco. Most if not all of the Costco crabs are from Russian waters. I assume Russian ones are processed the the same way as Alaskan. Anyone know for sure? I have never seen live ones sold down here.

    An aside, an Asian market near me sells live Australian crabs. These are much heavier than king, but the legs are proportional to the body. They sell for either 25.00 or 45.00/pound retail (I know, the diff could be a show-stopper) and they must weigh 6 pounds each. They're HUGE. Does anyone know how to cook those daddys?

    John S.

  16. I agree with paulraphael in that arrowroot is very easy to use. You can use it for your clearest recipes and it imparts no color or flavors to anything. However I don't use it for gravies, where I want a flour/fat roux to flavor the batch.

    John S.

  17. I prepared cocotxas pil-pil for lunch today and they were UNBELIEVABLE!!!

    I would like to ask for recipes as the flavors and the flesh texture of the cheeks are  extremely sensitive.

    I never heard of them either. Sounds Aztec. Can you post your recipe?

    John S.

  18. A long time chilehead, it’s recently come to my attention that there’s an area where my knowledge is sorely lacking…

    Does anyone out there know how to make fermented pepper mash- the type one uses as a base for hot sauces?

    Thank you.

    Sincerely, Dante

    Are you interested in this for commercial production or personal use?

    Making mash involves "almost pureeing" the fresh chiles then adding water and salt. Water and salt changes the flavor of the chiles. It increases the shelf life but at a cost. With aseptic packaging it's possible to "almost puree" the chiles then to can them with aseptic methods. This is how the chocolate milk comes now, in those plastic containers, with that thing you rip off on the top, instead of the cardboard containers you could tear to open. The shelf life is way longer than the cardboard method, to the point that it's all done aseptically now.

    Anyway it's so easy to make or buy the mash packaged the modern way, and then make your favorite sauce from the "fresh, not fermented" mash.

    Better flavor. Since you have to decrease the pH drastically (lime juice or vinegar) to make a sauce in most cases, this stuff will stay in the fridge for a year at least.

    John S.

  19. Looking for somewhere new to try! We like Amber at Santana Row, and Gaylord's in Palo Alto pretty well. Have had good and bad experiences at Amber in Mountain View (last time was a disaster, with abysmally slow service, and when the food finally arrived it was not nearly good enough to justify the 1+ hour wait!)

    Is there anywhere you would recommend, in the South Bay area? (Anywhere South of Palo Alto, basically.) Looking for a place to have some really good, traditional Indian food, (and not strictly vegetarian)?

    I welcome and appreciate any suggestions!


    The places you mentioned are considered the best in the area regardless of the style. Amber is way overpriced, but their food is great - maybe the best Northern Indian around here. ludja was correct in assessing Sue's as a good place. They do make a chicken vindaloo and have a lunch buffet. I cannot seem to find a pork vindaloo because most of the Indian restaurants do not serve beef or pork. There is a new one, specifically targeting the lunch crowd called Bombay Garden (at Lawrence Expressway and El Camino - the northwest corner next to OSH - not to be confused with Bombay Oven, another good buffet lunch place on Stevens Creek in Cupertino). They have more selections than any Indian restaurant in the Bay Area. Udupi Palace is also wonderful, as ludja says. It's vegetarian and has great papadum, idli and all that type food. I love the coconut chutney.

    This area is rife with ethic restaurants.

    John S.

  20. Here's an excellent photo essay on candied hot peppers and suggestions of how to use them.

    Thanks for posting that link to Dave DeWitt's pages. I never read the one about candying chiles. It's a great article. I'm going to try it - I found one of those old coffee presses on eBay.

    More to the subject of pequins in general, there is an article on the same site about chiltepins which are just a smaller, roundish version of pequins. The same applies to them w/respect to the availabiliy and growing characteristics, as well as the heat.

    John S.

  21. And since everyone and their hermano in my town is processing their green chiles right now, and we all do 40 pound bushels to last us til next year...my additional tip to the above is that I package them in varying sized packages - 2 peppers, 5 peppers, 10 peppers and so on (not separated and allowed to freeze clumped) to be used accordingly.  Obviously the 2s are for home meals for my spouse and I.  The 5s get used for small dinner parties, the 10s are for fall soups and stews.  We also will vary the amount of seed and membrane to vary heat somewhat (moderately effective technique).  And as a friendly reminder - wear gloves and DON'T WIPE YOUR EYES!  :shock:  We've all made that mistake at least once.

    BTW, I haven't done it enough to really vouch for it, but oil packing is good too for some uses.

    Gfron1, I always wanted to be there for harvest! I understand the towns smell great for a few weeks. Can I ask you, when the big rotating cages that Marigene mentioned are used, do they hose down the cages (thus the chiles) while firing so that they'll cool and the cage will come out cleaner? I find when people do that, (the only time I had someone do it here in the Gilroy/Morgan Hill area south of San Jose) the juice is lost and the chiles don't taste as good when you use them...

  22. I never peel roasted chiles  when I buy my bushels ...just put them in a bag and freeze them with the skins on ...they peel very easy after you thaw them ...

    I am not about extra work ...

    Not to mention, if you peel/seed them prior to freezing a lot of the "liquor" (juice) gets away, and that stuff I can drink all by itself! Best to seed, peel and stem after they're thawed. And others mentioned also best not to freeze in a clump because they're a mess after thawing (unless they're already skinned and seeded).

  23. I've never used a prepared chile sauce.  Have always made my own.  I'm getting lazy in my dotage.  What brands do you recommend or use?  I'd like something hot and flavorful, regular and chipotle.  Other styles are fine as well - I just don't know what's out there.


    I'm with Milagai, Sriracha is my favorite all-around sauce and replaces the bland condiment "ketchup" in everything I do. I also really LOVE Blair's Mango Habanero sauce. I regularly use Salsa Kutbil-ik de Chile Habanero, by Yucateca. It's only a couple bucks per bottle. The above are all hot, but there are other tasty ones which are not. There is a web site called the Hot Sauce Blog, a very active community of afficianados out there. You may be able to get some ides there. They have new product announcements and reviews.

    John S.

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