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torakris

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by torakris

  1. My favorite knife by far is my 16cm Wusthof Classic, a gift from my mother in law during a trip in Germany. She asked me if I wanted anything and I told her a good knife and I think she picked a good one. I recently bought a Kyocera ceramic knife (also 16cm) and really liked it at first, the absolute best on tomatoes) but it has gotten very dull and I have yet to purchase the special sharpener. I ama also scared to use it on things with thick skins (kabochas or other hard squashes) for fear that it will shatter. At a friends house a little while back I used her 2 global knives and fell in love, I have already told my husband this is what I want for Christmas! I have a little Ecko Flint paring knife (very cheap) that is actually the best paring knife I have ever used. I have this beautiful hand made bread knife with the best blade I have ever come across, unfortunately it has this wooden bar parallel to the blade to help you slice the same size slices each time. the handle and this bar are all cut from one single piece of wood nd it is impossible to remove. I hate it because I can't cut a loaf in half, or cut larger slices, and it only works on certain shape breads.
  2. I think I have tried every type of cutting board imaginable. Those "unbreakable" glass ones were awful, they were so noisy and impossible to mince on. I really liked the plastic one I had used for years until one day I spilled a pot of coffee on it and was really able to see how deep and how many scratches there were. I don't have a dishwasher and keep my hot water turned down pretty low (for the children's saftey), so I was worried about getting it really clean. I now stick with wood, one for meats, and a large one for veggies and breads and for rolling out dough. I gut fish fish and clean seafood directly onto newspaper.
  3. For me it is Insomnia. Get on average 2-3 hours of sleep a day. WOW!! I am one of those you don't want to be around if I get less than 7 hours. 8 is preferable. The book I took to bed with me last night? A Spoonful of Ginger by Nina Simonds a really great book discussing the medicinal/healing effects of food, yin and yang principles, and some of the best recipes I have ever pulled out of a cookbook.
  4. How do you people manage to find time to read?!?! Does no one on egullet actually hold a job?!?! Just kidding, but wish I had time to read! I flip through various cookbooks while I am in bed and occasionally thumb through a People magazine while I am waiting for my food related magazines to arrive in the mail. My most recent "read" is the Kodansha Compact Kanji Guide, great reading!!
  5. spice: cumin herb: basil I find I turn to these the most, they work in the widest variety of dishes. As to my absolute favorites, these change weekly. Right now it would have to be ground ancho chili pepper and mint.
  6. I used to use boiled potatoes but I follow the cook's Illustrated version and get perfect results every time. They dice the potato then add it to a pan adding water to cover by 1/2 inch and bring to a boil over high heat. When it comes to a boil remove from the heat and drain. They are then ready to be sauteed, usually for 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. As for mixed tastes, I guess I am really lucky that my husbands eats almost everything, and likes to eat just as much as I like to cook. When we first married he had a lot of dislikes (broccoli, shiitake, asparagus, etc), but most of it was because his mother only prepared veggies in the same way. Broccoli was always served steamed then cooled with mayo, shiitake was only in soups, asparagus was only the white canned ones tossed into a salad. Once I started preparing them in different ways he came to love them. I couldn't imagine cooking for someone who didn't like onions. A friend of mine can't eat onions in any form and when she came over a while back for dinner I made a meatloaf with no onions. Never again. The same woman, when she saw my monster crock full of garlic, asked me what I use garlic in because she had never used it before!
  8. I have heard so much about Mario and his books especially Babbo, that this is going to be the first on my to buy list during my trip to the States this winter. I have sworn off cookbooks until then, no money or bookshelf space left. I also have Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen, A while ago I made something from it that was good, can't remember what now. The ingredients are impossible to find here in Japan, so it has just been collecting dust.
  9. I don't get the Food Network and rarely eat at "famous chef" restaurants, but I do own a lot of cookbooks and use them frequently. One chef cookbook I really like is Roy Yamaguchi's Feasts from Hawaii. my husband and I used to eat at his restaurant quite a bit when we were living on Maui and have also been to his restaurants here in Tokyo quite a few times. His recipes are right on the spot, and although time consuming, taste incredibly like the stuff in his restaurant. I keep his Thai peanut sauce in the refrigerator at all times and use it on practically everything. His cesear salad dressing is the best I have ever tasten. As for FoodTV people, way back when I was in college I used to stay awake until 11:00 (I am usually out long before then) just to watch Taste with David Rosengarten. I picked up his book also titled Taste last summer and have only made 2 things his Thai spring rolls which were very good and his grilled bruschetta, he gives a variety of toppings but his red pepper and anchovy one is to die for! One resaturant book that I thought was awful was the Moosewood Low-fat or something like that, I no longer have it. Some of the stuff wasn't even edible! Usually even if the food isn't very good I will eat it because I don't want to waste it and make something else, but there were something from that book that hit the trash before the table. I know he gets ragged a lot here, but I really like Jamie Oliver. I have yet to see his show, but his books produce great tasting food with very litttle effort. I just got his 3rd and 4th books yesterday and have already made up my shopping list for this week. The first thing on the menu? a hazelnut torte!
  10. My (Japanese) husband hates okonomiyaki, a Japanese savoury pancake made with cabbage and anything else your heart desires, topped off with okonomiyaki sauce (similar to tonkatsu sauce), mayo, and bonito flakes. He also hates fruits cooked in any way, so when he is gone I throw pinapple on my pizza and whip up some sweet and sour pork.
  11. Interesting question! I don't refrigerate olive oil, but I do refrigerate the nut oils like walnut oil. Butter is always refrigerated in my house and eggs go in the fridge as soon as I get home from the store. In Japan though the eggs are sold at room temperature, but they rcommend refrigeration at home. All of the soy sauce I use says to refrigerate after opening, yet I don't and have never seen anyone in Japan who does. I also refrigerate or freeze all nuts, seeds, dry fruits, chocolate and flours (except all purpose because it gets used up so fast and bread flour because it is in a 5 kg bag). This si mostly out of necessity becasue I tend to buy these in large quantities and because the Japanese summers are VERY hot and VERY humid. Since central air/heat is unheard of here the kitchen can get very hot (the toilet can feel like a steam bath!!)
  12. torakris

    Veggies

    I am a veggie lover and tend to cook in the Asian style of having mostly vegetable dishes with a little bit of meat. A really fail safe way with green leaf veggies, peas of any kind, and mushrooms is to sautee some bacon or pancetta then toss in veggie of choice (blanched if preferred) and season with S and P. A great lunch (or side dish) is to grill some veggies on a ridged griddle pan , I like zucchini, red peppers, scallions, and asparagus, then toss them with couscous, a simple vinagrette, and some fresh herbs.
  13. torakris

    Veggies

    Roasted veggies are a staple in our house, it is so easy to just toss in a tray of veggies when there is already something in the oven. For carrots I just cut them smaller than the potatoes or start them about 10 minutes faster. My favorite is roasting winter squashes, cut out the seeds and roasted cut side down until tender, when done I sprinkle with S and P adn drizzle with EVOO or butter. I just roasted a kabocha squash a couple of days ago and it was soooo good, the kids were fighting over the last piece. I also a fan of Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and use it quite often. She can make any veggie taste good and at close to 750 pages she gives you lots of choices. One of my favorites is a spring roll made with chinese cabbage and tofu and 2 days ago I made an avocado and citrus salad that was really good.
  14. I'm not familar w/ that book...but a few good ones (I believe all are in print, easily obtainable from any bookseller and many libraries): Cracking the Coconut by Su-Mei Yu (she has some rather stubborn, some say suspect, views on Thai food but the recipes and pics are pretty good...just ignore her ranting on making your own coconut milk and take some of her absolutes with a grain of salt) Real Thai: The Best of Thailand's Regional Cooking by Nancie McDermott (no pics - good simple recipes, though...the author has several other books I'm not familar with) Finally, not solely focused on Thai, but cuisine from the entire Mekong region: Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid Hot Sour Salty Sweet is a wonderful book, expensive but worth the price! They aslo have a good section on Thailand in their Seductions of Rice book. Real Thai is the book I turn to when I can't find something above mentioned book, also very good. I don't have Su-Mei Yu's book but I made her entire menu (satay, peanut sauce, radish salad, cucumber salad) from the Aug/Sept 2002 Fine Cooking and was very impressed.
  15. torakris

    Coffee Machines

    I do my coffee the really old fashioned way, I bring the water just to a boil and hand pour it through a filter into the carafe. It is a little time consuming, but I really like the flavor it produces. I have a very small kitchen and don't have the space for a coffeee machine , the only counter space is taken up by my espresso machine and my food processor. I also use the french press and really like this as well. I tend to drink my coffee cold (yes even in the winter!) and the french press makes great iced coffee. I also use frozen beans directly from the freezer in the coffee mill, I am going to try thawing them next time.
  16. I don't consider myself a snob, but I often check out people's shopping carts while waiting in the checkout lines. Occasionally thinking not very nice thoughts about the state of their internal organs and the reliance they have on frozen meals, pre-packaged and overly processed foods.
  17. Because I am on a pretty strict budget, I try to avoid having any food go to waste. I try to plan my meals a couple days to a week in advance so I buy exactly the vegetables I need and none go to waste. Leftovers usually go into husband's lunch or are eaten for my lunch the next day, sometimes as is and sometimes made into something else. If it wasn't very good the first time though, I will trash it and I always feel slightly guilty. Good leftovers not needed immediately will usually be frozen, rice freezes really well and can be brought back to life in a microwave. Occasionally I do over buy or food goes bad and then I through it away but yeah I guess that guilt is always there.
  18. It's a good site, but humor aside think about this box from a culinary perspective. "Bourbon" "Pickle" "Chocolate" "Lemon" "Milk" My head hurts just LOOKING at that box. Why they had to throw the word pickle in there, I will never understand. Of course the Japanese just love to use English with out giving consideration to its meaning. For example the name of the apartment I live in is Privy Tachibana (Tachibana being the name of the city I live in), my neighbors always get a kick out of it now that they know what it means. And just down the street is a woman's hair salon called gout, I just can't get myself to go in there! I think I will go check out the Pocky selection at the drug store today, the kids will be ecstatic because I don't normally buy too many snacks.
  19. My favorite pocky is the coconut one. I usually hide the box from the kids when I buy so I can eat the whole thing by myself. My favorite of the Fran is the the matcha (green tea) one. These stick type sancks are very popular over here, but there is no one name that they are are referred to, and I have never seen them sold in a vending machine. I can read all of the Japanese, no problem, but then again I have Japanese OS. “ú–{Œê‚à‘‚¯‚Ü‚·‚æB
  20. Well Lopez y Gonzalez folded a little while back, but it has resurfaced as Lopez Bar and Grill, it sounds worth checking out. http://www.cleveland.com/dining/reviews_pl...ssf?4474?4474_1 Edit: I guess i need to work on getting my links to look like everyone else's. Is there a way to do it with out typing in the whole thing?
  21. I guess I will have to drag my butt over to the West side again! There used to be a great Mexican place in Cleveland Heights, Lopez y Gonzalez, I wonder if it is still there...... In South Euclid at the corners of Mayfield and Green there is a little tiny place called Amir's (I think that was the name). It is a restaurant/store/factory? A lot of their home made product (hummus, tabouleh, etc) can be found at the store and at supermarkets all over the East side. I go there for lunch at least once a week, very very good.
  22. GO BROWNS!!! It's not the right thread but I thought it was fitting. I was born and raised in Cleveland, unfortunately I didn't get interested in food until after I left. For some reason in Cleveland all the good restaurants seem to disappear pretty quickly, so a lot of my favorites are now long gone. East side or West side? I am an East sider myself and one of my favorites is Hunan on Coventry (On Coventry Rud, duh!, in Cleveland Heights). By far some of the best Chinese in Cleveland. Coventry has some other good restaurants, of course I am not sure what is there currently. If you are just looking for some fun, up the street from Hunan is BD's Mongolian Barbeque, this is a chain restaurant all over the midwest. It is a big do it yourself stirfry. You pick any kind of meat/seafood/tofu/veggies from a salad bar type set up, top it wih one (or as many as you like) of their many sauces/oils/spices/condiments and take it over to the guys at the big fry pan. Here your food is cooked alond with about 10 other people's on griddle about 3 or 4 feet in diameter. This is not gourmet food, but it is really a lot of fun especially if you are with a group. Also a must go to is Phnom Penh (13124 Lorain Ave), incredible food and unbelievably low prices. This restaurant is the only reason an Eastsider would go to the West side! Give me some time to think of some more. but these are 3 places I willd efinitely be going to on my trip back in December.
  23. In Japan chicken sashimi (completely raw) is eaten. You usually have to go to a chicken restaurant (one that serves only chicken dishes) rather than a sushi bar. Frequently in their cooking magazines I see recipes for seared chicken (usually the tenderloin) with the inside still completely raw, think seared tuna rare. I have never heard of anyone getting sick over here though. In a former life as a US Army food inspector, I learned a lot about chickens and would never touch unless it was fully cooked. And I never buy prepackaged ground meat.
  24. Do they have the orange and pinapple flavored kit kats too, or it is just a Japanese thing? The pineapple are quite nasty, but i rather enjoy the orange ones.
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