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Everything posted by Alcuin

  1. Garganelli can be done pretty easily at home too. You cut a pasta sheet into squares, then lengthwise between two corners, roll it around a tubular pencil (i.e. not one with angles so it doesn't roll away on a table) on top of a comb (a long comb like an afro pick is best) so as to make ridges. You get a tubular, quill-like macaroni with ridges outside to catch the sauce.
  2. Alcuin

    Beef stew beginner

    Agree. And I'll also add that I've had a lot of success using wine only. No water or stock (though chicken stock does work too if you don't have beef).
  3. Here's a test case: two versions of the Daiquiri that I see as two different interpretations of the drink. Dry: 2oz rum 3/4 lime 1 t sugar This drink is very dry and quite acidic. I like it for that reason and it is more about the rum: you're letting the rum have center stage. The sugar is just there to make sure it isn't too edgy, but the drink is edgy. I guess you'd call that your challenging dry cocktail. Balanced: 2 oz rum 3/4 simple 3/4 lime This drink is well balanced. It's sweetness and tartness are in harmony and harmonize with the rum. It's a seamless drink, without many edges. With this interpretation, you're bringing out the fruitiness of the rum. These are two interpretations of one of the most elemental drinks. But neither one in my opinion is superior to the other, even though the latter is considerably sweeter. I drink one or the other depending on mood, and would make one or the other depending on the drinker. If somebody thinks the former is superior because it's challenging and dry and dials down the sugar considerably, I think they need to widen their perspective. A proper Manhattan also has a decent amount of sweetness, and the role of that sweetness is important in relation to the base spirit. So I just don't see why we should lionize dry drinks. That's like saying every movie has to be black and white, slow, and serious.
  4. Listening to nothing but the crackle of just baked bread.
  5. I've always toyed with the idea of using it Pisco sour style. I've never wanted to buy a bottle though just for this one experiment, so I've never tried it. I can get the Buffalo Trace and Tuthilltown bottles but I've only had it from friends.
  6. Yeah my dad watches Lidia Bastianich all the time. Now I don't actually expect him to break out and do something radically different, or for him, really complex from watching her show. That's just not going to happen. But if he did one day try the easy peasy roasted cauliflower or braised kale recipes I've given him a bunch of times, I'd think that was something to be excited about. You know I wonder whether we've been so conditioned by the example of Julia, Jacques, and the likes of Keith Floyd who did things back in the day like have an entire show about fish (which I think features the prawn episode mentioned above?) because he thought people weren't appreciating fish. Those days are over for TV, whether we've realized it or not. The internet is probably where that kind of thing resides now, as painful as that lack of prominence might be for us who love it so.
  7. This is true. But I also think that, when it comes to food tv, there are always going to be people who need the basics or just want to watch. They don't make the food, so it doesn't matter that its repetitious. Here the analogy to porn seems all too apt: its the same thing over and over, but it doesn't matter. If they do want to make the food, they aren't going wildly beyond the basics and probably can't roast a chicken well or make a good omelette so when they do try to make something, they're always starting from the same basic (dare I say missionary) position. Then again, I'm not part of this audience, I'm just imagining it. So I may be off the mark here. And of course the tv food watching audience is not a monolith, but the lowest common denominator that the execs have to pitch to probably is.
  8. Alcuin

    Dinner! 2011

    I'm doing this (and by this I mean kung pao scallops). Very pretty food on this forum! Scottyboy-nice consistency to the pasta sauce. Looks perfect. edited for clarity
  9. I love a good Martinez, and I've been drinking them a lot lately. My favorite way: 2oz Punt e Mes 1oz Junipero 1 (big) dash Angostura bitters 1 t Luxardo maraschino garnish: Luxardo cherry If I use Carpano Antica, I like an orange twist in place of the cherry.
  10. More or less, it's pronounced "cokey." To bring a little bit more Italianita to it, you could hold the "K" part of the sound in the middle of the word a split second longer than usual. Thanks. That's what I suspected, but it always sounded a bit funny in my half-americanized half-italianate pronunciation of it. It's no fun not only to be wrong, but to sound funny at the same time. It's exponentially lame.
  11. I've always wondered about the pronunciation of "Cocchi." Sam or anybody else in the know, can you spell it out for me? Not that I have access to it or anything, but still... edited to add: awesome blog! thoroughly enjoying it.
  12. I don't think "break down" is any more precise than "cut up" (though it is more precise than "cut"). It's not wrong or misuse of language, but using "break down" comes with some connotations that "cut up" doesn't. So if you like the word and those connotations use it. I imagine people get pleasure from the sense belonging to a cooking elite that analyzes food in terms of its component parts, no matter what it is and sometimes on the molecular level. And that's great and good. But to say that one is more precise than the other, well, I just don't see that. Like I said before, there are only so many parts so when I'm going to cut up a chicken and you're going to break one down, we're probably going to get some strikingly similar results (and differences related to learned and personal methods).
  13. I think the difference I see between "cut up" and "break down" is well illustrated if you move away from the chickens; if I say I'm going to "cut up" a carrot, it could mean anything. If I say I'm going to slice it, or cut it into brunoise, you know what I'm talking about. I see the same thing with a chicken: if I'm going to cut it up, I could well be boning it and slicing the meat for a stir-fry, whereas if I say I'm going to break it down, it's going to end up in 4, 6 or 8 serving pieces. Now we're really getting down to some nitpicky specifics (which when it comes to language is a favorite pastime of mine). When you say you're going to cut a chicken, sure you can cut it in any number of ways, just like you can cut up a carrot into any number of ways. Cutting a vegetable into large dice, medium dice, small dice, and brunoise is not the same as cutting up a chicken. Personally, I don't refer to cutting vegetables as cutting them up. I might say that I chop them, or that I cut them, but I don't cut them up. That's reserved for animals that I'm breaking down! So I was compelled to look this up in the OED. For "break: it gives definition 2b "To cut up (a deer); to tear in pieces (a fox), also with up; to carve (a fowl), also with out, up (obs.)." So for OED, break down and cut up are synonymous and have some pretty old attested uses with this meaning (back to 1330). For "to cut up" it gives definition 2 as "To cut in pieces; to divide into parts by cutting, to carve; to cut open." The earliest instance of this meaning is from a dictionary from 1580. So again, they're pretty much synonymous according to the OED. Specialized meanings come and go and we all have our own vocabularies and slightly different meanings for the words we use too (unless we are following a textbook, a teacher, or some other guide). I don't really see how break down is inherently better than cut up (which I maintain is different than "cut") and I don't think I ever will. That's the beauty part, I guess.
  14. What other pieces are you cutting a chicken into when you're cutting it into whatever? I mean, you can butterfly, you can spatchcock, you can debone, you can cut up or break down but the parts remain the same, right? I think the point he is making is that "breaking down" is a very specific way of cutting it up. Namely, cutting into the component 8 pieces while leaving skin on and bone in. "Cutting up" can mean any number of things like the ones you listed. Interesting. I don't think of it that way. For the most part, cutting up, butchering, and breaking down mean for the most part the same thing. If you showed me a whole chicken and said you were going to cut it up, butcher it, or break it down, I would understand those things to mean you were going to separate it into component parts, which might mean something different depending on how you did it or wanted it. Break down doesn't really tell me any more than cut up whether you're going to do 4 parts, 6 parts, or 8 parts. And it doesn't tell me if you're going to cut the breast in half lengthwise (leaving the wing on two otherwise mostly boneless supremes with another piece, cut in half or no, that preserves two pieces of breast meat still attached to the breastbone) or across. There are a lot of specifics here that no terminology covers. Of course each word is colored and has certain associations. Butcher calls to mind a shop, and possibly the dispatching of an animal's life. Break down calls to mind professional kitchens. Fabricate calls to mind a textbook method, learned and practiced. Cut up, to me at least, is what you do when you do these things and since I do this in my own kitchen with a method I learned from somebody else not a book, I cut up my chickens. Again though it doesn't really matter, since I'm not a lexicographer or culinary school teacher (and a good thing too, parsing all these shades of meaning and jargon is a pretty tough job!). If you hold up a chicken and say you're going to cut it up/break it down, I'm going to know mostly what you mean, even though we all have our own private definitions of all these things.
  15. What other pieces are you cutting a chicken into when you're cutting it into whatever? I mean, you can butterfly, you can spatchcock, you can debone, you can cut up or break down but the parts remain the same, right?
  16. Now that I think about it, I guess I have some terminology that's pretty consistent. If I'm taking out most of the bones of something, but leaving the meat as intact as possible, I refer to that as "boning a chicken/chicken thigh/ duck/ etc. out." If I'm cutting a chicken into 6 or 8 parts, I'm "cutting the chicken up." I don't really see how "breaking down" is more specific than "cutting up" a chicken into discrete parts. They're synonymous to my mind, but one has the flavor of jargon and the other doesn't. It doesn't really matter what you use here because either way you're getting your point across. So to me, when I hear someone talk about breaking down chickens, because that phrase is pro jargon, I'm thinking that person's doing a massive amount of chickens. You break down chickens on a big scale, but when you're breaking them down, you're cutting each individual one up. To my ears, breaking down a chicken to sautee for the family is like excavating the earth to plant a little flower bed or something. It just sounds incongruous to me, but then again I have some very idiosyncratic views when it comes to word choice. And in the end, it's not that big of a deal.
  17. I cut up poultry. "Break down" seems like an affectation, like referring to people as "Chef ____" (a topic well discussed on another thread). Maybe its the respect for the differences between my kitchen and a professional kitchen (different beasts entirely really). Or maybe its the importance of driving the wedge between work and home that my mom (a longtime pro cook, but never rising to the rank of chef, in some PA and Philly kitchens) drove home for me. For me, it's a sign of respect and acknowledgment of the difference between the two, for her I'm sure it was a necessity for her own sanity. I don't know anyone who'd actually want their kitchen to be like an actual professional kitchen-that would be crazy.
  18. Alcuin

    Galangal vs. Ginger

    I can't really see subbing them-they taste completely differently and I don't think you'd get a similar effect at all. What did you use them in where you subbed them?
  19. I don't have any figures, but judging by their share of shelf-space, the vast majority of eggs sold in the US are unpasteurized. I've seen eggs sold specifically as pasteurized, which seems to imply that there's a reason to mark them out as pasteurized because the other eggs aren't.
  20. I was in England recently and was surprised at the difference in refrigeration philosophy. I knew people kept eggs out of the refrigerator, which I have no problem with and ate them with relish. But I also noticed most vegetables I'd definitely keep cold were left out, like bell peppers and a cut eggplant. The bell peppers were wrinkling up and I'm sure getting mushy. The eggplant was beginning to look desiccated too. Kept under refrigeration, I think you'd squeeze a few more days out of them, but it wasn't and isn't my place to say I guess. It just seemed pretty inefficient.
  21. Well as for the word, "perfectus" in Latin means completed, finished, carried out fully. It came to mean something like spiritually complete and also "having all essential parts." There are a lot of other meanings too, but I'm pretty sure the last one (having all essential parts, i.e. both sides of the coin, sweet and dry vermouth, the complete spectrum of vermouth, etc.) as an extension of the meaning "complete" is at work in the phrase perfect Manhattan.
  22. I have a Martin Yan book signed at Book and the Cook too. It's Martin Yan's Asia. My mom brought me when I was still a bit of a youngin'--it was a formative experience for me. His knife skills are as everyone is saying amazing and he's a born showman.
  23. I'll be in London for a week working at the British Library. This is my first time there, and I'm looking for recommendations for good reasonably priced food. I'm looking for things like fish and chips, Indian or Caribbean, etc. I'm on a budget and travelling alone, so I won't be doing much dining. Just eating. Thanks in advance.
  24. I cut up a chicken mainly like weinoo, but with some tricks gleaned from others. One thing that I learned from Pepin is, when cutting a thigh/leg off the chicken, to cut until you expose the joint. Then with a sharp knife, just cut through the ligament that holds it together and (here's the trick) just grab the leg/thigh and pull it right off of the bird. That grabs all the meat cleanly off the chicken (along with some excess skin to trim). Its a cleaner and easier way to do it and it doesn't take all that much handstrength though it does take a little. The only part of cutting up a chicken that really involves any heavy knife work is splitting the breasts. If you're not doing that, a paring knife will suffice. Otherwise, I use whatever strong enough knife is handy (boning, chef's, even a heavy chinese cleaver).
  25. So are you going to use Champagne, or some other sparkler? I like good Champagne too much to use it in cooking, especially vintage. But I regularly drink relatively cheap but great ($16-20) Cremants de Bourdeaux and Burgundy. The Bourdeaux I usually drink is I think 100% semillon which gives it a nice roundness, and the Burgundy is 90% chard and 10 pinot noir. There is also a nice sparkling Vouvray I like quite a bit. These are nice wines that have good structure and the kind of fruit (expressed, but elegantly restrained) that would be suited to what you're talking about doing. Nice pin point bubbles too.
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