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  1. My first reaction is that many of the component recipes *look* ridiculously easy....which in my experience with the Chez Panisse books means that the recipes can be ridiculously hard to execute because ingredient quality, precision and execution become item No. 1. While ingredient availability isn't really a problem in Berkeley, I think it will make cooking any one dish a marathon. Not to mention to 10 or so components you have to make if you want to do one dish exactly as represented in the book. But, this isn't the way they want you to use the book, and it's not the way I intended when I b
  2. If you go to In-n-Out again, order your fries "Well" or "Extra-Well". They taste an order of magnitude better than the normal, flaccid fries that I hated. (While you're at it, get them animal style if you're into getting a coronary at some point in your life)
  3. If used in very very small additions, Xanthan Gum is also a phenomenal thickener. Be wary, however, as if you want to thicken something a lot, the Xanthan will give you a slimy consistency, but in moderation it provides a clear, absolutely tasteless method of improving the body of a sauce. It's surprisingly easy to find in your local health-nut shop because it is extremely useful for vegan cookery and those with gluten sensitivity.
  4. another classic pairing is a beet puree. You might also consider a Sunchoke Puree, or a "cream of vegetables" with a Sunchoke or other vegetable puree as the binder. That way, you can have the fatty/rich fish with something that has the essence of richness, but doesn't fill you with a gut-bomb. If you do want a bit of color contrast, I recommend getting the best carrots possible (Nantes, perhaps), and leaving a bit of the green stem when you trim away the leaves. Steam them lightly, then immediately shock them in salted ice-water, or boil in heavily salted water, then shock in ice-water (alt
  5. For me it can only be true butter if it's the butter experience I crave, and to up the ante, I'm starting to keep containers of browned butter around to saute the veggies in. IMO, if you're going to eat something bad for you (and I think margarine and butter are on the same plane, despite any studies to the contrary), I might as well go for the good stuff, and for butter my personal favorite is the Kerrygold Irish style. If I want a substitute, I'll just dip (dunk) my bread in some of that new crop olive oil sitting in my cupboard and sprinkle with good salt, thank you very much, or I'll g
  6. If you really want to know how striking a difference the source of a cocoa bean lends towards the taste of a bar, I highly recommend tasting the Guittard Chucuri and Ambanja bars side by side. Don't look at the tasting notes, just try. Since they come from the same company, the process is much the same for both bars, and the quality of the chocolate is top notch. What you taste in these is a huge dose of origin, and the mastery of their roasting process. I've also found that its much easier for newbies to start out with the slightly lower cocoa mass bars (60-65%) before heading over to the
  7. I like roasting whole chickens on sundays, immediately eat a breast and the crunchy wing tips and save the rest for a variety of meals throughout the week: I keep a huge tub of mole (type varies depending on the season and my mood) and will reheat the thighs and legs in the sauce for dinners. Another option for the leg and thighs is to make a quick cacciatore with a box of pomi tomatoes and whatever else I have lying around For the remaining breast I either use it as lunch meat or I make an aioli or something, toss the breasts, and bake it in a casserole with some veggies or something. I also
  8. For some help with sourcing, which college are you at? If you're at UCB then I could give you a lot more help for the best cheaper sources of food around here. It really depends on your budget, though, what you'll be able to get. When I did the budget for the food at a house for 45 people our average cost of food/person/day was about 4.50-5.50, but when we switched to Niman Ranch meats that jumped to about 6.00-7.00. For an average of 50 eaters a night, we required about 1 milk delivery and one store run for fresh veggies every week, and a big delivery from a distributor about every three
  9. I used an old KitchenAid Hobart for years at my folks place and loved it. I just bought a pro 5+, and while the soft-start feature is a life-saver, it definitely does not have the power of the old one, despite higher wattage ratings, but I haven't been able to not knead anything with the hook yet, it just slows a little when I first mix a dough with the paddle. One issue: For some reason the catch at the back of the bowl that fits into the metal clip won't stay put....anyone know if there is some KA part that I could replace it with that will hold the bowl better?
  10. I've been mulling some ideas for truffles and was wondering if anyone has tried infusing their ganache with various forms of Hops. If anyone has any insight, I'd love to hear how your ganache turned out. Right now the plan is to use the same hops I use to make a porter or a stout, and use milk chocolate due to the bittering agents from the hops.
  11. No offense, really (I definitely enjoy the Slow Churned from dreyers/edys as my "everyday" ice-cream, and yes, they are the same company, now owned by Nestle Nutritionals), but low-carb/no sugar is really, REALLY, pushing it. It's Ice-cream. It's supposed to be bad for you. If you want a "healthy" option, just buy an all fruit sorbet or a soy-cream. If you need the "diet" version, you probably shouldn't be eating it anyway, and I say just go out and buy a piece of fruit, it tastes better, there aren't any chemicals, and they have fiber to help fill you up. Trust me, after 3 or 4 peaches,
  12. bechamel, sweet corn, cheese of your choosing (Something sharp), and bacon or prosciutto wild nettles and gorgonzola onions, tomatoes, chevre, and sauteed beet greens I like topping mine with an egg halfway through the cooking process.
  13. Almost everything on College is "safe" but here goes: barney's for burgers, gordo's for burritos, Pizzaiolo (Telegraph in Oakland) for neopolitan pizza, Ici for dessert, Cesar's (shattuck or piedmont) for a quick bite or cocktail. For vegan go to Cha Ya on Shattuck in Berkeley. Also good pizza go to the Cheeseboard Pizza Collective, also on Shattuck. For the best dirt cheap eats, just hit the main drag (Telegraph) by the campus. Also good in Berkeley are Sea Salt and Lalime's. If you venture to Solano Ave. in Albany, there are some really good places that will cater to any price point; Ri
  14. I've been looking at these for awhile (also looking for a suitable, cheaper copy from a laboratory supply), and for an inspired home cook, 45$ is a heck-of-a-lot to spend on a bag, no matter how useful. Can anyone shed any light on the durability?
  15. Chez Panisse Vegetables: I rarely use any recipes, and most of the good tips do not have scaled recipes, but it is a vital companion for selecting and cooking all things vegetable. Madeleine Kammen's "The Making of a Cook" A little of everything in one book, again I use it more for reference than recipes, but it gives great guidelines to many classical dishes. Besides thumbing through "On Food and Cooking", these are my only day in day out references. All my other books are pulled out for a brief inspiration when I want to make a new recipe or tweak an old one.
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