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  1. Most commercial places do add the vitamin c, as mentioned above. Supposedly, it also helps to keep the pits and put them in the container when you save it. Then definitely the plastic wrap on the surface of the guac. I've got about sixteen different ways I make guacamole. I started out with the recipe from Rick Bayless's cookbook... But tweaked it. I started adding a bunch of garlic to the tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, cilantro and lime juice. Most recently I've been super lazy and buying salsa verde and just mixing it with the avocado. It's actually really tasty. You get that great acidity of the tomatillos. Depending on the salsa, I'll add a little lime juice and salt. Always salt. This way, also, I just make one avocado and it usually ends up being dinner.
  2. I was once pleasantly surprised by a Whole Foods farmer's market last year. It was really welcome, being right on my way and in a place I would have stopped at anyways, and having some of the great local growers as well as bakeries etc. I'd definitely frequent the Whole Foods markets, especially since I am almost always unable to make it to the normal farmer's market, having classes all morning on Saturdays.
  3. i'm referring to kahlua. the alcohol all cooks off during the baking. I got the trick from Fox and Obel here in Chicago, where they have the best chocolate chip cookies i've EVER eaten. They use Callebaut chocolate and pecans, and i think they use a good healthy amount of coffee liquor (one day i got a cookie package with an ingredient list... woohoo!). Dang, I want one of those cookies NOW. Next time I make cookies I'll use a LOT more kahlua.
  4. My new trick is to add some coffee liquor to the batter. Last time I did it i think it was around 2 tbs, but it wasn't enough to really taste. It mostly brings out chocolate flavors.
  5. I'm lucky enough to live by the Spice House, and I can definitely say everything there is stellar. They're still small enough that they can grind spices fresh each week, and they often have a wide selection within individual spices. I highly recommend them.
  6. I was working with the temps for milk chocolate, but I think that because I used some dark at the end of the seeding the temp wasn't high enough to sufficiently break down the cocoa butter. It still tasted great and turned out pretty darn well!
  7. So it would be good to let the darker chocolate melt first and use the lighter to seed? I didn't have enough milk chocolate last night and was throwing in shards of dark just to bring the temperature down, but it ended up not working.
  8. Interesting, munchymom. I always feel that Gino's East pizzas are soggy anyways. (Not to get started in the which-pizza-is-best debate, but they're pretty low on my list.) A good deep dish crust has to have some cornmeal... Or be like a Malnati's butter crust. mmmm. That pizza that guzzirider made seems great.
  9. Seeing as passover just passed, in my family you just don't mess with the traditional brisket or meatballs recipes. A couple years my non-jewish aunt tried to make some crazy briskets and every year since all the older generations spend the few weeks before asking if we're going to have the regular brisket yet. Luckily, they always get a yes now. Brisket - chili sauce, Lipton's onion soup, lots of sliced onions, maybe some carrots. Meatballs - chili sauce, cranberry sauce (the jelled kind), and a ground potato mixed into the meat to lighten it up. This year i finally got the meat light enough that my Bubbie approved. They're very 1960s Good Housekeeping, but it's the way it's done in our house.
  10. I'd like to say that it's entirely possible to have a clinker. My mom gave me a cast iron skillet which i scrubbed down (she hadn't used it in at least 20 years, probably 30), reseasoned, and then used to cook a lot of bacon. It didn't take the seasoning too well then, no biggie, just keep using it properly. However, it didn't take me long to realize that it does NOT heat evenly. So, now I have a good cornbread skillet, and I'm planning on picking up a new Lodge to use for stovetop cooking.
  11. One of the tricks to getting smooth tops is to hit the baking sheet on the countertop a few times after you've piped out the cookies. It helps the peaks settle.
  12. These were my first successes. I used jgarner's recipe, and these turned out well. I'm going to keep trying different recipes to see which one I like best. I'm going to try nicolekaplan's Pierre Herme's method next (I didn't have a thermometer before). I'm also going to start experimenting with colors and flavors now that I'm more familiar with the recipes. Yay!!
  13. Learning to make macarons has become my most recent major project. I've turned out some good batches of chocolate macs, and I'd like to start experimenting with different flavors. It seems the filling can be reimagined in a variety of ways, so I'm more curious about the cookies themselves. What are thoughts on food colorings? I'd prefer to stay away from McCormick's Red no. 40 etc., but I'd love to be able to get some of the crazy colors we see in pictures. I've looked at some options like natural food-derived colorings, which I'll probably try, and food color gels, which I don't want to use because they contain propylene glycol. I've seen color powders online but no ingredients were listed. What about using liquids like extracts or oils to flavor them? What is the effect of adding liquids to the mix? I'm curious about using other nuts, too. I know I read somewhere in this thread (probably from Patrick) about substituting half of the weight in almonds for another nut. Has anyone tried more than this? What were the results? Thanks!
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