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david coonce

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Everything posted by david coonce

  1. Also, never ever put your knife in a dishwasher. It's like rubbing sandpaper on the blade. To second Kristin, I would also say avoid sets. I pretty much stick to 3 or 4 knives - an offset serrated knife (for bread, mostly, but it's pretty useful. Make sure you get off-set; otherwise, it's useless), an 8" Global chef's knife, a Global paring knife, and a filet knife for fish and slicing big cuts of meat. You don't need all those "utility" knives, etc. if you buy good knives and take care of them.
  2. The key is to get a good knife and then learn how to sharpen it! That long piece of steel with a handle that sits in your knife block - it's called a steel, and it's for honing a knife, not sharpening it. To actually sharpen your knife you have to get a stone, or one of the easy-to-use stone-based sharpeners out there, like the electric knife sharpener by Chef's Choice. Learn what angle to use on the stone and then how to use the steel, and even if you use a Forschner or Victorionox, you'll have a knife that is plenty sharp enough for home cooking. Oh, and by good knife I mean a good, sturdy blade, full tang and not some cheap, stamped piece of crap - Henckels, Wusthof, Global (what I use) are ideal, Kershaws are great but probably a little more than a home cook needs. Furi knives are fine for a home cook with small hands, they're way too cumbersome for large hands. Chef-branded stuff is hit-and-miss. In professional kitchens, as many here have noted, most of the equipment is heavy-duty aluminum and most of the knives are Forshcners and Sabaties with wide blades made for frequent sharpening.
  3. I second Spacca Napoli, especially the pie with the poached egg and fresh ricotta and arugula. I also like Piece - more like flatbread than pizza, but flavorful and good with good toppings (I like the clams and sausage.) Good beer, too. I think deep-dish pizza is kind of disgusting. Sorry.
  4. I wouldn't be too hard on the fish guy. He was probably following draconian health dept standards or store rules. Fact is, everybody else touching that fish, from fisherman on down, has been certified or at the very least trained in safe food-handling procedure. The average customer, on the other hand, may have just used the bathroom and not washed his hands, been digging in the dirt, or god knows what other unspeakable acts. My god, he may have just been using poison on his garden, right? You probably should ask about gloves next time - they may be accommodating. If not, don't take it out on the fish guy. As I said, local health departments and their regulations can be draconian and bewildering - but not following them can be disastrous to a business.
  5. I would skip the blanching. Rhubarb goes from crisp to liquid so quickly that it would be risky, and it's probably unnecessary, especially because it seems like you want the crispness of the rhubarb. John's method seems like it would work fine. I've done a savory dish with sauteed rhubarb. That works, too, although it involves an extra pan and etc.
  6. david coonce

    Fish Skins

    The reason why it is considered unhealthy is because mercury tends to collect in the skins of fish. (Similarly, if you eat non-organic potatoes, you should always peel them before eating, because the pesticides collect in the skins.) Mercury contamination is a really big issue with a lot of fish (the big culprit on this is Salmon, which is also one of the most-consumed fish), so much so that there are warnings from the FDA about certain fish and ingestion, especially by pregnant women. Mercury only builds up in the system; it can't be expelled or reduced, and it is poisonous to humans. Having said that, most of us probably don't eat enough fish skin to matter much. I mean, an average serving of fish in a restaurant might be 6 oz., and of that weight probably less than half-an-ounce is from the skin, and most of us don't eat fish every night anyway. But if you do eat a lot of fish, I would advise against farmed Salmon - it seems to have the worst problem with mercury contamination. But I would advise against farmed Salmon for a whole host of other reasons, ranging from its destructive farming methods to the relative insipidness of its flesh to eat.
  7. My wife and I are going to be in Chicago in a couple weekends ... we called Schwa (have eaten there before) re: reservations but can't ever get hold of a real person...Are they closed on Sat/Sunday? What's the lag time on Reservations? If we called now could we get a seating mid-week in late-July, for example? Anybody with knowledge should let me know.
  8. You're using a gas grill? That's the problem. Buy a smoker (mine cost 45 bucks) or a charcoal grill. That's the solution.
  9. I have two also - the 11-cup and 7 cup, both from cuisinart (the pro classic and little pro plus). The small one is actually quite useful for things like mincing a whole head of garlic, where the amount is just right for the small one but too small for the large one. (With the larger one a small amount of stuff tends to just stick to the walls of the blender bowl rather than force down into the blade). If you're just going to use it occasionally, and for dough, the large one should be sufficient. Almost any amount of dough you would make at home is going to be too large for the smaller model, honestly. Don't know much about the KA, but my cuisinart is great. And once you have it you'll wonder how you ever did without it.
  10. If you're used to the ones you cite then this may not be your cup of tea, but my "go-to" knife is a Japanese 8" chef's knife from Global. It's fairly expensive, but the blade is razor sharp and holds an edge forever. I've had it 4 years and had it professionally sharpened once. It's one piece of metal so there's no concern about the handle coming out or whatever. The one caveat I have about it is that it is ultra-light. Some chefs are put off by that - while it makes for great filleting/boning, etc, there's a serious mental block when it comes to cutting through a bone or some other tough piece. It also doesn't have a bolster, which is great for when it's being sharpened (you don't get the "notch" near the bolster like you would with Henckels and Wusthofs) but the top edge of the blade is really narrow, and so if you hold the knife like I hold it, where the top edge burrows into my pointer finger, you get a really gnarly callous. I'm a professional chef so I don't mind, but for someone who doesn't use a knife 50 hours a week the edge might be irritating. There is a line of Japanese knives made in a similar style to the ones in your post made by Kershaw under the brand name Shun that are really great quality. Very expensive though more expensive than the Global. But absolutely indestructible and razor sharp. If you find that you love these TJ Maxx knives and want to make an investment in a higher-quality knife in that style, I would say that is your best bet. And don't be ashamed of your family heirloom knives! My father-in-law has a knife he got from his mother - he doesn't cook at all, and the first time I visited (Thanksgiving) I was looking for a sharp knife, and he pulled out this tiny little version of a butcher's cleaver, and it was absolutely a perfect knife. It was probably made in 1935. It's the knife I use whenever I go up to visit them now.
  11. I think the hammer thing is showing how to reattach the blade. These cheap Japanese sushi-style knives always have that problem - the blades aren't full tang (i.e., they don't run the length of the handle), and the only way the blade is attached to the handle is to simply insert it in the middle. Anyone who has ever used Joyce Chen sushi knives knows what I'm talking about. It's annoying, because once the blade comes out the first time, it never really goes back in for good. I have a couple Chen blades hanging out somewhere in my kitchen;, I have no idea what happened to the handles. The hammer "solution" shown on the packaging seems like it might really hurt the blade, but at $13 bucks, I bet those blades aren't going to stay sharp for very long anyway, so it's no matter. When it comes to kitchen knives, sadly, you really do get what you pay for. Anyway, you asked what these are good for - obviously, sushi and sashimi are the best bets, and if you only use them for those, the blades might stay sharp for a good long while (never run them through a dishwasher!). You are correct that those blade angles are the right ones for sharpening, but don't worry if you can't seem to get them sharp - cheaper knives are generally hard to get and stay sharp because they're made of inferior metal. Like I said, if you use them everyday they're going to get dull in a hurry.
  12. Diann Wow. Thanks for so much good information. This is exactly what I was looking for. I'm going to have to make a schedule! Thanks everyone else, too. I'm excited about experiencing a new culinary destination - I've never been to Philadelphia before and am really looking forward to it.
  13. Thanks guys. My wife has been to Reading market, she swears by some kind of Amish Apple dumplings there, so we'll definitely hit that up. Also impressed by DiBruno's online cheese shop, and Fiorella's looks amazing too. RE: Taqueria La Peubla - is it more southern Mexican-style- i.e. lots of slow-cooked meats, not a lot of cheese, etc? Chicago Mexican food is my favorite - I'm less impressed by tex-mex. What do you think of White Dog? I love their commitment to "using food to bridge cultures," etc., but is the food good?
  14. Braised Belgian Endives with Blood Orange - Halve an endive (keep the root end to hold it all together while it's cooking), sear it in a pan on each side, toss in a knob of butter and the juice and zest from half a blood orange. Lower the heat to low, cover, braise 15-20 minutes. (You could toss the pan in a 325 oven, too.) Serve it alonside a blood-orange/fennel slaw. Slice a fennel bulb, saute in a pan with some sliced red onion, add the other half of the blood orange's juice along with some rice vinegar, season, serve room temperature.
  15. Hey y'all. My wife and I will be in Philadelphia from June 14-18th. I can't really find a thread with blanket recommendations (I found one on hotel restaurants, but that's not really our thing...). If such a thread exists already I apologize and perhaps you can point me to it. Anyway, if there's not, can any of you Philadelphians point me to some good spots? We tend to go for the "slow foods" sort of places, but we like everything. Some names I've heard bandied -or am interested in - about include Django, Pumpkin, Amada/Tinto, Ventri, White Dog, etc. I know there's threads for a few of these, but any additional info would be great. Also, somebody should let Philadelphia restaurant owners know about this thing called the internet. I am sort of amazed that many of these restaurants don't seem to have a website, or at least a remotely current one. And also, I want to do the tourist thing and get a real cheesesteak sandwich - corny, I know, but hey... so where's the best spot and how do I order it? I've heard there's an entire lexicon related to the ordering process. And I don't wanna go to that "English Only" place. Thanks in advance
  16. Yep, trim it and render it. And smoked confit ravioli would be amazing. Serve it in a little butter, fresh sage and red-wine reduction.
  17. Now sear them in a hot pan for a few minutes, pour in half-a-bottle of pinot noir, a drizzle of maple syrup, let it all reduce, serve with deep-fried green-onions. Or go in the other direction - do a smoked confit - pack the thighs with kosher salt and fresh herbs overnight, then rinse and cook in fat (preferably duck fat but anything works) for 6-8 hours at 250 degrees. Let cool, shred and serve - over greens, stuffed in crepes or tortillas, in ravioli, whatever. Good luck. That is a dirt-cheap price for duck.
  18. We're living longer because of medical science. Living longer doesn't necessarily equal a better quality of life. See: Terri Schiavo. And while "4-star restaurants" are hardly bastions of health food, their portions are much smaller and their prices are higher, therefore they are an indulgence for special occasions for most people - I eat at "4-star" restaurants maybe 6-8 times a year On the other hand, the prices at these kinds of chain restaurants are low enough that people can eat at them weekly, or more often. And we know about the portions. And that's not even considering fast food, which is cheap enough that eating it every day is cheaper than making food at home. And way back there in Post #32, John L mentioned something about "banning" foods. CSPI has never advocated banning any food. They simply think that consumers should be informed about the products they're buying. We don't let restaurants serve rotten meat to customers; in fact, we have health departments that constantly monitor restaurants to make sure they're not serving potentially dangerous food to people. Why is it a big deal to mention that some food is really, really bad for you, and may even contain trans fats, which are indigestible by human beings and that mainstream scientists have declared unsafe for human consumption at any level. Is that "banning" food, or giving people useful information?
  19. If you thought it tasted fine without the egg yolk then leave it out. If you tasted it with the egg yolk you'd understand why it's in there - richness, yes, but also for binding ability and overall,um, unctuous-ness. It's a lot like a vinaigrette or mayonnaise - the egg yolk helps them stay together and also adds to the richness. And neither of those are cooked. If you're really concerned about the raw egg yolk, and it's an understandable concern with pregnant women, you can buy pasteurized eggs.
  20. Yeah, these are pretty amazing. The sad thing is, a couple of them look like things I've eaten. Mostly in college and/or drunk, but still... My favorite is the second one - mostly because it's called "Fresh Chicken and Broccoli Pasta" which implies some "healthy" or "low-fat" dish, and actually has 2040 calories and 128 grams of fat per serving. And it doesn't even look good!
  21. We will be there in June for a wedding, probably four days/3 nights. Looking for a couple dinner recommendations. I've always wanted to check out White Dog - I like their philosophy and the food sounds good. That leaves a few other meals. Let me know - Lunch, dinner, and for real, what is the legit place to get a cheesesteak. (I don't want to go to that "English Only" place, either. ) Thanks, Philadelphians.
  22. Most of the steaks I get are local and organic, so just a touch of olive oil, s&p, occasionally red wine and garlic (if it's boneless). Super hot cast-iron skillet, 2 minutes each side, toss it in the oven for 5 minutes, rest, pour any juices over. For flank steak, olive oil, a ton of fresh garlic, a little cumin, red chilis, and salt. For t-Bones there's a nice marinade of orange juice and zest, cilantro, olive oil, chili, garlic, salt, pepper.
  23. Also, a little side note, if you're still worried about trich (which is exceedingly rare), you can freeze pork and kill it, then thaw the pork and cook to medium-rare. Pork cooked to 160 degrees is bland and chewy.
  24. Does prime meat really taste any different from choice after three and a half hours of braising? Also, assuming there are differences, why would the prime be better for braising? Prime steaks are better because of their marbled fat, but the whole point with braising cuts is that you create tenderness through long, slow cooking. Thoughts? ← While I would agree that braising is a good way to make an inexpensive cut of meat palatable (or even edible), imagine what it does to a great cut of meat? I get local, grass-fed beef shanks/ribs here in town and the quality of the dishes I get out of them is far superior to any supermarket beef I've ever tried. It's why food at great restaurants tastes better than you make at home. Better ingredients makes better food, whether it's baby carrots or new potatoes or beef ribs. Start with good ingredients, and everything else takes care of itself, in my opinion.
  25. Don't buy it. Seriously, save up and spring for the KitchenAid. You will have it forever, it's way better in quality, and you will use it more often because it works so well. When it doubt, shell out for the better quality, I say. And I am poor, so I know of what I speak.
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