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Dave the Cook

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Everything posted by Dave the Cook

  1. Dave the Cook

    Good Eats: Reloaded

    Over the years, I've watched reruns of Good Eats, partly because I find that I still enjoy the show, and partly because I often picked up something that I missed the first (or second or third) time around, even after I realized that Brown was often just simplifying techniques and information from sources that were less accessible to the typical TV viewer. Almost as often, I'd notice that the show would misstate something, or that its source material had been superseded by more recent findings or technology. So I was actually looking forward to seeing this show, with its promise of corrected and/or updated material, even if it seems to be mostly a promotion for the new show, due out next year. Unfortunately, although some of that happens (along with, yes, several wardrobe/hair/technology snippets), a lot of shortcomings were missed, and a few new errors were introduced: The implication that the flatiron steak was "invented." I suppose that's technically true, but it's not like cattle breeders engineered steers to create a new cut of meat. It was always there. As rancher Coleman says near the beginning of the episode, "There are good steaks all over the cow." Maybe this is nitpicking on my part, but the use of "invented" struck me as peculiar. More time could have been taken to explain cast iron, though the new instructions for seasoning are refreshingly sensible. Still, the implication that cast iron heats evenly is simply wrong. And while I know that a lot of people swear by using nothing but salt and a paper towel to "clean" cast iron, Brown's embrace of the technique runs contrary to his "work clean" ethos. That is to say, if you aren't washing your pans, they remain dirty. He should -- probably does -- know this. He stops the replay to "correct" himself on the definition of "prime rib." This leads to an explanation of grading, which leads to a bit about the cast members who played the "inspectors" in the original episodes. The latter was mildly amusing (as were the inspectors, no matter who played them), but "prime" rib is not called that because of grading. It's called "prime" because of the cut. It was disappointing to have Brown bypass a chance to clarify this point (which confuses many people), just for the sake of entertainment trivia. Brown missed a chance to explain why meat changes color, leaving in place the implication that it has something to do with how the meat is cut, rather than discuss oxidation. The steak Brown cuts into at the end of the episode was obviously cold. What the heck, man. People on eG. for the most part, probably wouldn't benefit from these clarifications, but years of teaching people how to cook has convinced me that many folks would. Alton Brown made his reputation by making food science accessible -- even popular -- and I for one am grateful for that. I'll probably continue to watch the "reloaded" episodes, but I won't be able to completely suppress the notion that I'm a (mostly willing) participant in a cynical exercise.
  2. Dave the Cook

    Gluten -free meatloaf

    I haven't personally tested the option, but the recipe in CI's The Best Recipe suggests bread crumbs, crushed saltines (my choice), or oatmeal. Oats are a little bit controversial as a gluten-free food, but the Celiac Disease Foundation says they're okay in reasonable amounts, as long as you're careful about processing-related cross-contamination.
  3. Dave the Cook

    NYT pay to play recipes

    The New York Times doesn't need me to defend them, and I have an all-access subscription, so Cooking isn't costing me anything extra. However -- If all you want is a recipe for a grilled cheese sandwich or a wedge salad, an NYT cooking subscription is probably not a smart investment. Just post a question here in the Cooking forum, if you really can't figure it out. @Anna N asked a similar question yesterday about macaroni and cheese, and in a matter of minutes, she had at least three-and-a-half intelligent answers. On the other hand, if you're looking for a recipe, and all you can remember is it was by Pierre Franey, using chicken breasts, about five seconds in the NYT recipe archives will yield more than 60 possibilities. Among major US newspapers, very few don't charge you for archive searches these days. Rather than carping about what the Times has done, maybe we should be a tiny bit grateful that they've split off their recipes, so you don't have to pay to be able to search parts of the paper you don't care about. Last I checked, a subscription to Cooking cost $40/year. It's not cheap, but aside from the bargains @Toliver tempts us with regularly, it's not much more than the regular price of a cookbook. Having said all that, I think the subscription model is a bad one in this case. I think they'd make more money by instituting a per-recipe fee. You sign up once, give them a credit card number, and agree to pay 50 cents or a buck (or whatever) per recipe, following a reasonable preview. After that, the micropayment could be automatic, or confirmed with a checkbox at each instance.
  4. Hard to believe, and something we should rectify. This is dead-simple (none of that bechamel or emulsifying-salts stuff), and kids like it: 3-Ingredient Mac & Cheese.
  5. So probably not fresh enough?
  6. Dave the Cook

    Pasteurizing Eggs Sous Vide

    Per the USDA, the white from a large egg contains less than 1/10 gram of fat. Most of the fat is in the yolk: for a large egg, 4.51 g.
  7. Yes, more or less.
  8. Dave the Cook

    Have a good recipe for Dirty Rice?

    As with many things Cajun, Chef Paul is a good place to start. Edit: @Okanagancook beat me to it. I'd only add that if you're new to Prudhomme, be aware that he is, let's say, assertive in his seasoning. Personally I love it, but some might find it to be a bit much. When I'm cooking for such diners, I start with half the amount of cayenne and black pepper called for, reserving the rest to add later, if desired.
  9. Dave the Cook

    Problem with BBQ/Sous Vide.. is it safe to eat?

    In addition to what everyone else has posted, which has the benefit of being true, this ought to be addressed: This is ignorant, if you really care about salt levels. Regardless of whether you like the end result of the technique or not, brining -- especially equilibrium brining -- is pretty much the only way to precisely control the amount of salt in a finished product.
  10. Dave the Cook

    Best Hand Mixers

    Oh yeah. They're not as common as whisk attachments, but lots of models come with them: here, here and here, for example. I'm pretty certain that I'd never use them (if I'm making something that requires a dough hook, I'm breaking out the stand mixer), or that whisk, either (if I've picked up the hand mixer, it's because a whisk can't do the job). For sure, I don't want to be paying extra for them.
  11. Dave the Cook

    Best Hand Mixers

    What do we think about whisks and dough hooks? Ease of storage? Wattage? Number of speeds? Warranty? Parts availability? Reputation?
  12. Dave the Cook

    Best Hand Mixers

    The handle on our GE hand mixer just cracked, so after 40 or 50 years (this was my mom's hand mixer), we're in the market for a replacement. Anything new in the way of products or advice since the community last (February 2014, I see; btw, @ElsieD: did you ever get a replacement?) visited the issue?
  13. Dave the Cook

    Favorite diet soft drinks?

    This is exactly what you should do. Please report back, including price, observations as to color/carbonation level,etc., and of course tasting notes.
  14. Dave the Cook

    Under counter ice makers

    I haven't worked in a restaurant kitchen or bar in many years; however, I've spent a great deal of time in teaching kitchens (adjuncts to kitchen retailers), all of which have had built-in under-counter ice makers. They've all been broken at one time or another, a few times for weeks while waiting for parts. Admittedly, these machines probably get worked harder than they would be in a typical household, but you'd still expect them to have a better track record than that. I would, anyway. You might want to check out an earlier topic here. I don't think much has changed since then.
  15. Dave the Cook

    Hand-held citrus juicers

    I have one of these. Well, not that fancy, but similar. It's fine for oranges, but it's a PITA for limes and smaller lemons, so I want something else. A friend of mine has these. It seems to do a great job with smaller fruits, even expressing some oils into the juice. So, geek that I am, I started exploring variations on the design. In addition to the ones above (which are enameled cast aluminum), you can get them in raw cast aluminum, polished cast aluminum, cast iron, and stainless steel. In addition to the different metals, the sizes (which must relate to leverage and therefore ease of use) are all over the place. Does anyone have experiences to relate about the various materials and sizes? Yes, it's far too much curiosity for a twenty-dollar item, but that's how I am.
  16. Dave the Cook

    Hand-held citrus juicers

    Citrus juicers are pretty small. I think what you want for spinach is a potato ricer.
  17. Dave the Cook

    A Hobbit in New Orleans

    It's not, but it's owned by the same family, and, if I'm remembering correctly, the classic place is right next door.
  18. Even for a simple three-part cocktail, just between the choice of ingredient brands (and proofs), differing ingredient ratios, garnishes (or not), mixing method and even the type of ice involved, you're dealing with a complex concoction. Whether or not it's simpler than a ham- (or cheese-) burger is something we could argue about forever (hence eGForums!), but it's not helpful to the OP. Besides, "quality of rum," if we can define it as "what's the well rum at this place?" or "what the bartender chooses to pour," is exactly the sort of information that might inform someone trying to decide on a bar to frequent. The OP specifically said "non-signature." A Sidecar is a great drink to test a bar out on. Don't ask for anything specific besides the cocktail itself, and, if you watch carefully, you can find out a lot: Do they even know how to make it without consulting another bartender, a book or their phone? How good is the base spirit? Cognac or brandy? What do they use for the orange liqueur? Is it of decent quality, or flavored sugar water? Are they using fresh juices, bottled juices, or sour mix? What ratios (spirit : juice : sweetener) are they using? Is the cocktail balanced to your liking? Too sweet, too tart? Watery? Warm? If any specification is unclear to you, you ought to feel free to ask the bartender, unless the place is crazy busy. Anything other than a straightforward answer is grounds for taking that bar off your list.
  19. We've done a little fiddling with the Member Agreement. More specifically, we've tightened up a few things in the section dealing with avatars, signatures and member bios. Here's the old version: and here's the revision: If the changes seem minor, it's because they are, and they're entirely in keeping with the spirit of the Member Agreement, and won't affect the overwhelming majority of our members. We've combined the first two bulleted sections, and made the rules for avatars, signatures and personal photos identical. We've tweaked the language in that section and the section on bios to clarify what is and isn't allowed in these areas. Especially, please note that we allow references to culinarily-related activist entities and issues, but not to other activist causes. It's also worth noting that non-compliance with this rule is also likely to trigger an instance of confrontation (the previous rule), though that's not to say that the two are inextricably linked. If you're logging in from Facebook, or using Gravatar, you are not relieved of the responsibility to comply with these rules. We don't edit the Member Agreement lightly. We've done this in the interest of keeping the forums as free of non-food politics as possible.
  20. Dave the Cook

    How much of an effect do stocks really have?

    There must be something wrong here that's not accounted for in the usual differences between US prices and Canadian. At Amazon.com, it's US $23.44.
  21. Dave the Cook

    How much of an effect do stocks really have?

    Without disagreeing with @cdh, I always thought that this comparison was about whether you use stock or just water.
  22. Dave the Cook

    Ideas for Cornish hens

    We're teaching a private class in a couple of weeks. This is our third go-round with these folks. They're a lot of fun, and eager to learn (as long as it doesn't interfere too much with socializing). For past classes, they've simply chosen lessons from our public classes, but this time they've asked for a custom menu comprising dishes taken from a few different classes. I mention this because we don't have much freedom to change things up, with one exception, which I'll get to in a minute. Here's the menu: Crab Louis Pan-roasted Scallops with Chive Oil and Scallop Jus Filet Mignon with Sauce Béarnaise Wild-rice Stuffed Tomato Gratinée Brownie "Cheesecake" Sundaes with Raspberry Coulis Bellini So, sort of a surf-n-turf thing going on, and it's pretty much set in stone (though we talked them out of crab/shrimp mousse sliders as a first course). But here's the problem: one of their party doesn't eat fish, shellfish or any red meat. They offered to disinvite this guy, but honestly, he's the life of the party, and no one (us included) really wanted to do that. So we're left with chicken, or he twiddles his thumbs and throws bread at everybody while they scarf down their entree(s). We could just roast a chicken thigh or breast, then sauce it with Bearnaise or chive oil, but it seemed to us that maybe we could do something more fun and educational with a whole game hen, either intact or spatchcocked. Here's the setup: We'll have two SV setups going, set at 136°F for the filets. We'll also have two deep fryers at ~400°F to put some crust on the filets. Lots of oven space, since the ovens are only needed to bake the brownies (at the start of class) and roast the tomatoes (requires two ovens, but we have four at our disposal) Open burner if we want to finish (or start) the bird in a pan We want to give this guy a nice dish, without creating huge excursions in the teaching plan, and also without having everybody saying "Ooh, I want some of that, too!" This seems like a problem for the eG crowd to help us solve. Any ideas?
  23. Dave the Cook

    Ideas for Cornish hens

    Yeah, money isn't really an issue, especially since whatever we do will sub for an ounce of lump crab, half of a beef filet steak, and three or four large scallops. We hadn't considered duck, but breast is an especially good idea (if it's not on our student's lengthy list of Things I Will Not Eat), since it can S-V at the same time/temp as the steaks. This is a really great idea, but I'm sure the dude is not gonna eat bacon. It's also pretty expensive in terms of time. We can probably add a small lesson to the agenda, but to do what you're suggesting would require us to rethink the entire schedule -- not something we can afford to do. Having said all that, we might steal this idea for a class TBD. Sounds delicious, but sausage is a no-no. The last time we taught this group, we jiggered our lasagna recipe (which includes sausage) to accommodate this requirement. This is a maybe. Nice that it would allow us to talk a bit about MSG, and why you shouldn't be skeered of it. Hmm. There is a steam oven at the venue, maybe even a CSO in the scullery. I like this, but like @Lisa Shock's idea, it's probably not going to work with our timing. Getting the bones out of a baby chicken isn't all that time consuming, but we're already on a pretty tight schedule. I suspect you're right about people's experiences, and the weight thing is kind of fun, too. Definite possibility, especially if the duck thing doesn't work out. These are all great ideas -- thanks, and keep them coming! To be clear, we're not looking to replace their entire menu, or serve this poultry-based exception to everyone. We just want to give this one guy something good to eat, and if we can sneak in some education along with it, that's a bonus.
  24. Just to really overthink this: what if they've chosen cheeses, and, knowing that you're wine peeps, are actually expecting you to bring wine?
  25. Dave the Cook

    The Frog Commissary CookBook

    We do have the book -- three copies, as a matter of fact. Sorry, I can't help you with the lentils, as I've never made either of the lentil recipes in Frog/Commissary. Lentils do cook more quickly than other dried legumes, but not that fast! I will note that in his blog, Steven Poses has a recipe that include puy lentils, which he cooks for 20 minutes -- more in line with my experience (Bob's Red Mill, for example, says 15 minutes for red lentils). Sorry I can't be more specifically helpful.
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