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Dave the Cook

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Everything posted by Dave the Cook

  1. Sadly, we must report that long-time member (she joined in 2005) and Society donor Lisa Shock has died. A few of us had been wondering about her, not having seen her post since December, 2018. Recently, one of our members came across an announcement regarding her: https://www.alcor.org/blog/2019/01/. (I'll let the notifier out themselves, if they wish; in any case, thank you.) Lisa posted on a wide variety of topics; her curious intellect and eagerness to assist were easily discerned. Her competence, intelligence and integrity were constantly at the fore in the few interactions I personally had with her. I will miss her, as I imagine many here will.
  2. Yeah, but could you do it more efficiently than Lay's? I don't think I could. Phew.
  3. Potatoes themselves have very little fat or sodium, so almost all of those that are in the nutritional info linked to above are coming from the frying and salting. There's an entry in that same database for just "Potato Chips," but no details about how they're made. It might even just be an average of manufactured products. If I had to guess, I'd say that homemade would probably be higher in fat and salt, if for no other reason than manufacturers, for cost reasons, are not going to waste a microgram of any ingredient. I guess you could do your own analysis (weigh the potato, weigh the oil before and after), or send a batch of your own for a lab to do it (have your wallet handy, though they'd give you a breakdown of fat, fiber and vitamin content). I don't think it's worth it, because these days, chips for me are a rare treat, and thus exempted from close scrutiny. I am second to no one in my love of potatoes, but seriously, no salt? What would be the point?
  4. I'm not sure how helpful that distinction is, though. In comparing the nutrition facts for Pringles and Lay's Potato Chips, one finds that, while they aren't identical, they are awfully similar.
  5. We've been steaming since reading Kenji's 2014 article, mostly on the same subject, in Serious Eats. Now that he has a larger group of test subjects available, he has statistics to back up the (to us) persuasive but largely anecdotal assertions he made in 2014. From the NYT article: Then he outlines his testing techniques, which are pretty sound. He follows those with his findings: Steam! On pressure cookers (including the Instant Pot): Age: There's quite a bit more -- enough to make the entire article worth reading -- including his final sentence:
  6. Funny: after trying the handle style for the first time, I disposed of my bowl-style juicers. I've used these in teaching situations, and they are generally very decent, as long as you don't stress them. Those gears are plastic, and when you run into a really stiff, pithy lemon, they collaborate with the plastic body to temporarily deform and fail. I'll put it another way: the additional leverage that the added length and gearing provide make the squeezer (in some cases) too strong for its own good.
  7. Until Royal Dock became scarce around here, we employed it in a Martini made 2:1 with Lillet Blanc, garnished with an orange twist, a ratio we picked up from a bartender at Holeman & Finch. If citrus in a Martini puts you off, maybe there's too much orange, but we like it. These days, we pour Plymouth Navy Strength as a substitute. It's not the same, but it packs the punch, proof-wise, that the ratio requires. We also put the Plymouth to work in gimlets, where it's perfectly at home. Gin is supposed to be juniper-forward isn't it? Having said that, we found Junipero took that a little too seriously. It's decently-made, but doesn't seem to play well with others. Also, it's on the expensive side. the same was true of several small northwest US offerings: lots of pine. I don't remember the names of any of them. We quite liked Citadelle, until it priced itself out of our range. It is, or was, made by the same company that makes Landy cognac. I met the MD of Landy a few years back, and he told me that they started making gin just to employ their stills in the months when, by law, they weren't allowed to make cognac. Aviation is another that's well-made but not to our taste. Too much -- coriander, IIRC. Ford's is a good gin, and having been concocted by bartenders, is good for mixing. I'm looking forward to trying the higher-proof version, if it makes it here. When money is tight, Gordon's is surprisingly good. We tried Seagram's, but it got a big no, even in the higher-proof version.
  8. I was disappointed in the first episode, on chicken parm (I haven't watched the second yet). I have a pretty high tolerance for AB's schtick, but that San Marzano/gangster bit was a waste of time, along with the explanation of DOP certification -- as if the certification alone makes them better. Are they? We don't know, because he didn't spend any time on that. Brown is a clever guy, as @rotuts has observed. Surely he could have come up with an entertaining presentation. Likewise, the sketch with W begged the question about mortar and pestles -- why use one of those instead of a food processor? Not to mention Mister No-Unitaskers has twelve mortar and pestles? Given that there were visible fragments in the browning phase, I'm not buying his lower-pH justification for including the salt-and-vinegar chips. Need more crunch? I'm with @ElsieD, panko is the way to go. And if you want a hit of acid, squeeze a little lemon juice at the table, or over the cheese prior to baking (which might have mitigated the stringy cheese issue). He just wanted to include something different -- a seemingly irresistible impulse he's unfortunately brought forward from the earlier version of the show. I did like the take-down of the chicken breast half (though he was inconsistent with his terminology, sometimes using "half," and other times not). It's nice to see the fridge- and oven-cams still in use, and I still like the informative interstitials, even if the calcium chloride warning was probably confusing to many (if you're buying real San Marzanos, do you need to worry about it?) I also like that he's gone to mostly weight measurements where appropriate (though inconsistently accompanied by volume equivalents). Personally, I can get past most of these nits, but if you're trying to teach people cooking basics, you can't afford to be blasé about small things.
  9. We have both hemostats and forceps; both are handy. A tip we give our students (because it's both true and fun) is that you can save a few bucks by heading to your local pet store and buying "feeding tongs," rather than something called "forceps."
  10. Here's another take on the challenge of roasting a chicken: from the Daily Gullet ( and Best Food Writing 2010), @JAZ's "All That Glitters."
  11. We had a Capresso for quite a while, and were quite happy with it. However, years of use had worn the printing off. Muscle memory was usually sufficient to set the timer properly, but we got tired of the guesswork required for odd-sized batches. Finally, we replaced it with an Oxo Conical Burr Grinder. So far, it's been great. It delivers a consistent grind size for our purposes (almost always just plain-old drip coffee), and has quite a wide range. Having said that, I'm not sure what you need for stove-top moka "espressso," and I should warn you that it can't quite make it to what I would consider a grind suitable for an espresso maker.
  12. Valentina makes something similar.
  13. These appear to be pretty much the same thing.
  14. That is interesting. Thanks, @Margaret Pilgrim.
  15. There's no such thing as a starter for Greek yogurt, as Greek yogurt is simply regular yogurt with some or most of the whey removed. This is usually done (at home) by simply dumping yogurt into some sort of straining device -- a sieve lined with a few layers of cheesecloth or a coffee filter works fine. (Alternatively, or in addition, you can add thickeners, like pectin or gums, or even powdered milk, but I'm pretty sure that would be considered cheating.) If there's a specific brand of yogurt that you like, there's your starter, as long as it has active cultures. Just stir in about 3 tablespoons of yogurt per quart of milk. It's not necessary to have a yogurt machine, although it will probably keep things neater. But you can use anything that will maintain the proper temperature for incubation, 100° to 110°F (38° to 43°C), for at least five hours (the longer you incubate, the thicker and more tangy the yogurt will become). I've seen people make yogurt in Instant Pots, microwaves, well-insulated containers (like a Thermos), even slow cookers and proofing boxes. ETA: someone -- Alton Brown, maybe? makes it with a bowl and a heating pad. There are many, many internet tutorials with more details.
  16. @lemniscate I've never tried to make a sauce with brie, but it's clear that other semi-soft cheeses work fine with this technique. I really doubt it would break -- I've baked many a mac and cheese without a hint of breakage. So, I'm sure it would work. The thing I think you need to think about is if you want more brie flavor in your lasagna (which you'd get by removing the roux and possibly milk from your bechamel), or if making a Melty Cheese is just fixing something that isn't really broken.
  17. @gfweb: I've never tried it with straight parm, though aged gouda (and Cabot Clothbouond Cheddar) come close to the same sort of dry graininess (a description that doesn't capture the flavor of the cheese, but only the texture), and they've done fine. I've usually buffered intense cheeses in combination with milder specimens, perhaps wanting to temper the strong flavor of well-aged cheeses for my guests -- or perhaps out of fear of a failed emulsion. But I'm pretty sure someone around here has combined a pair of dry cheeses to good effect -- @Chris Hennes, maybe? If not, I'm willing to experiment and let you know.
  18. We might -- or might not -- have made an announcement when we first posted the Melty Cheese Calculator. You can find it here, but in case you don't want to dig up this post every time you need it, we've added a link in the "Browse" tab at the top of the page. Anyway, a friend was asking what kind of cheese or cheeses one might use in it, as the technique pretty much allows you to treat almost any (I haven't had any failures yet) cheese as if was Velveeta or Cheez Whiz. Modernist Cuisine and the subsequent Modernist Cuisine at Home offer up a few possibilities, but I'm sure we can top those. Here are some of the combinations/applications I've used: Aged provolone and Tillamook extra sharp cheddar -- sauce for cheesesteaks Gruyere/various aged cheddars for mac and cheese Jalapeño jack and manchego for a broccoli casserole Just last weekend: Baby Swiss and TJ's Unexpected Cheddar for mac and cheese Aged gouda, unaged gouda and Monterey Jack -- chilled, cubed, breaded and deep fried to make "croutons" Here's a photo. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's had tasty fun with this technique. What have you made? Share!
  19. Same coin, other side: I think it's to prevent moisture loss. Note that even the thicker-skinned, fatter, more typical cucumbers sold in US markets (sorry, I don't know what their name is) have a rather lavish coating of wax on them. The way I remove the plastic from the skinny ones is to cut the end -- the nippley end -- off without going all the way through the plastic. This leaves you with a "tab" of sorts that you can use to start "peeling" the plastic off. I admit that this works only about half the time. If it fails, I resort to @lindag's method to get past the "shoulders" of the fruit, then try to slide the plastic down without tearing it (so as to be able to twist it closed for subsequent storage), in a motion that would embarrass me terribly if my mother walked in and caught me.
  20. Sprouts Farmers Markets is recalling frozen spinach over listeria fears: https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2019/06/sprouts-farmers-market-recalls-spinach-in-19-states-after-listeria-test/
  21. You can totally do it. This guy says so.
  22. With only "ugly" to go on, it's hard to guess what she finds objectionable about a meat grinder, though I suspect she's thinking of the type that clamps to a counter or table, usually made of tinned steel or iron, and operated via a hand crank. Though it's hard to call any meat grinder aesthetically pleasing (they all have the feed-tube-delivery-spout arrangement), electric grinders aren't as objectively ugly. It might be worth your time to read through an earlier topic we had on them (I've linked to the last page, but you can back up if you're interested). I don't know if Northern Tool (mentioned prominently in the linked topic) operates in Canada, but Bass Pro Shops does, and they carry a number of dedicated grinders that are similar to what one could get at NT.
  23. Sorry, the original version was trashed in a upgrade a few years ago. I think I just found the text in an old archive. Please give me a day or so to resurrect it.
  24. Nothing against Bob and his Red Mill, but note how much less expensive this is. On a separate note, I learned how to cook chili from Jane Butel's terrific Chili Madness (the original 1980 edition; I've not looked at the 2018 version). I hope you enjoy Southwestern Kitchen as much as I did her earlier book.
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