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Everything posted by Gregg

  1. I do a very similar version of fried green tomatoes, but add them to a BLT once we harvest a few ripe beefsteak tomatoes for slicing. Amazing how complex that sandwich gets with the green tomato added. I didn't take pics, but did pull off an osso buco that got rave reviews a few weeks ago. Most of the credit goes to our butcher who scored the most incredible veal shanks I've ever seen, as good as anything we've ever got from Lobel's.
  2. Wow, I could have written that, your experience (including the drink ordered) and reaction would match mine *exactly* in various places! Yes, yes, yes. Same for me as well. Including the Manhattan!!! With such a civilized beverage order you'd think it would be easier to back the pace off one notch, but then the marching orders probably aren't written by the wait staff...
  3. I'm really hoping that's sarcasm. Both his restaurants are listed in the top 15 restaraunts in the world. Id consider them sqaurely "in the game". Lol. I thought the same thing! I'd have to agree with Todd English. Lunch at Olives in Vegas a few months ago wasn't far from lunch at Wendy's in the airport the next day. But the price was.
  4. Exactly the same experience here. Countless batches, no explosions, bulged cans, no runs, no drips, no errors. I do not like the final product as much as traditional dulce de leche, it is a touch grainy and just doesn't have as deep a flavor, but it is EASY. At our elevation, about 1500 feet above sea level, it takes 2 hours 45 minutes. We usually do 3 or 4 cans at a time. They set in a steamer basket in the bottom of a stock pot and are completely covered in water (think of a water bath canner). We start out with cold water and heat it until the water us just at a VERY low boil. No reason to bounce the cans around, the water temp is the same regardless of boil rate. After the allotted time we just take the cans out, let them cool to room temp and then keep them in the fridge. It should be shelf stable, we just do that out of habit. Of course you will want to transfer it out of the can once opened.
  5. Gregg

    Baked Beans

    Around here beans are a required side dish with bbq. Now that its tailgating season we make a lot of them. I use a mix of mostly navy beans and whatever other firm bean we have partial bags of in the pantry. Cooking in chicken or pork stock adds a ton of flavor. I reserve the bones from smoked pork butts and make a stock from them or add them to the beans while they cook. The smoke is in the background that way, but definitely there. My beans are meaty with either fairly heavily seasoned ground beef or pork added along with a fair amount of chopped up bacon. Lots of onions and a few finely diced hot peppers of your choice all get cooked with the burger and bacon. I usually use a combination of jalapenos and a habenaro or two. Add a little garlic, some cayenne, molasses, ketsup, brown sugar, ground horseradish (the key ingredient), a touch of yellow mustard and some bourbon for the sauce. A drop of liquid smoke in the bean's cooking stock is nice if you don't make a smoky stock or have any bbq bones laying around. All goes into a cast iron Dutch oven at 250* for about 3 hours (after the beans have previously cooked most of the way through). Sweet, spicy, smokey and simple. Best on the 2nd day.
  6. We have a blade grinder and a daughter getting married in June so a burr grinder is quite a ways down the list right now. We have a local roaster who is not the absolute best I've ever run across, but is doing a nice job. They have a commercial burr grinder there and will grind for me. It's kind of interesting because I think you get just a little sample of whatever they person before you had mixed in, but it doesn't seem to bother anyone. I get about a week's worth at a time so it doesn't seem to break down very much. It does come in a bag with a one way seal. I do keep it in the butter compartment of the fridge. After reading some of the advice here I may switch that to a dark, cool cabinet to see if we can tell the difference. At home we just use a standard Mr. Coffee drip machine. The water comes through the filter in our fridge. I do take the time to heat water for coffee in a tea kettle every day. Once it steams good (but not quite boils) I pour a little over the grounds to bloom them. The rest of the hot water goes into the reservoir. On a non-rush day I will wait about a minute for the grounds to bloom then just turn it on, most days it just goes on. The Mr. Coffee has a thermal carafe, which is great. It's not an absolutely perfect world solution, but is economical, simple and does make darn good coffee.
  7. My daughter is getting married at the end of June. The wedding has an island theme. She wants to do a signature drink at the reception and would like it to be a variation of rum punch. The reception venue has a few rules that we will have to work within. Obviously they will provide the booze. We can provide any juices, mixers, fruit, etc. provided it all arrives unopened. Any liquor ordered that is not consumed becomes the property of the venue. We can't remove either open or still sealed bottles. My wife told me to shut up, forget it and move on. They have reasonable prices on their house liquors, exorbitant prices on call liquors and are obscene on special orders (6x cost). In other words, they run a very plain jane bar and want to keep it that way. I'd like to find a recipe that uses mostly light rum since that is what they have in our budget. I have a great recipe that uses mostly Myers dark, but that stuff will cost me $120/btl. so can't go there this round. Any of you guys have any ideas how to make the most out of generic Bacardi?
  8. I live in the middle of the proverbial food desert. No celeb chefs anywhere near here and I'm sure none on the way any time soon, so for us its one of those gaudy, touristy events when we get to eat at one of their hot spots. I do have to say that we've had very few let downs and most of those were more a matter of unrealistic expectations that sub-standard food. It is interesting to see celeb chef's personas kind of wear out. I guess actor's images don't get old and tired because they get to do a new role with every new movie. Chefs don't usually have that luxury.
  9. I didn't realize that horseradish was a traditional component in Russian dressing and REALLY didn't know that McDonalds added it in their 'special sauce'. It's been a while since I've had a Big Mac though. Just a little horseradish is spectacular with the corned beef, mixed into a good quality 1000 Island dressing.
  10. That's almost exactly how I do mine. I don't make the kraut into a patty, just dry it and toss it loose on the griddle long enough that it just starts to caramelize the edges. I like to add just a (very thin) slice of good pastrami, all pulled apart, to the corned beef and I also give the meat a quick run on the griddle. I think having the meat and kraut hot from the beginning just makes the cheese that much more...melty. Good Swiss cheese in a must, but I like to add just a little grated Comte' right in the middle. The weight on top is essential in my mind. Like Jaymes said, crispy, crunchy perfection. ETA: Around here (Nebraska, home of the original) its mostly thousand island these days. I like to add just a little horseradish to a good store bought thousand island. Sounds weird, tastes great on the sandwich.
  11. We roasted bone-in chicken breasts the other night. We dove in right when they came out of the oven because we were in a hurry to get somewhere. The skin was wonderfully crisp and the meat was moist, but there was some loss of juice onto the plate right after cutting. I can't help but feel that at least a short resting period is beneficial. Like Shalmanese said, letting it come a few degrees off the high makes sense. As a purely practical matter it always takes me a few minutes after the bird comes out to get the side dishes coordinated so its going to get a rest anyway.
  12. Caught a few minutes of a Gordon Ramsey show the other night. He was roasting a turkey. What caught my ear was when he said you should rest it for as long as you roasted it. His was a fairly large bird (just a guess at 16 or 18 lbs.). If the cooking time was 4 - 4.5 hours then presumably he rested it that long as well. Unfortunately I didn't have a DVR on that TV so couldn't rewind to get specifics. Does anyone here rest a bird for that long? We've always let one set for 45 minutes or so to reabsorb juices and cool enough to comfortably handle, but I've never thought about resting it for multiple hours. Frankly I'd be worried about bacteria. Any thoughts?
  13. Gregg

    The Cooking Date

    I made manicotti on my second date with DW, about 25 years ago. It apparently went over pretty well.
  14. Also not a food pro here, but a serial entrepreneur. From a business standpoint it sounds like you are giving away a lot of product. The math for handing out food to random strangers on the street just doesn't add up. Sure they will be happy to take it and will undoubtedly compliment you, but you have NO way of knowing if that person works next door or if they will never walk by your shop again. It's not a well targeted marketing strategy. Besides, a successful business never gives away anything people are willing to pay for. If you want to "give" something to offices in the area give them a card good for $5 off any lunch (for example). Printing up cards like that is dirt cheap. Make a spot on the back where they have to fill out their name, company name and email to take advantage of the deal so you can track where customers are coming from. There is no way to overemphasize how important it is to know that. From the standpoint of your new business the difference between giving product away and recouping your raw costs is HUGE. Its ok to forgo your profit on the one time transaction to get a new customer in the door. In your business model that is actually a pretty cheap way to do it. It is NOT ok to go in the hole trying to draw people in. Plus, do you really want to draw in people just looking for freebies (and who probably brown bag most of the time) or would you rather bring in people that are already willing to pay for lunch? Your idea of targeting the hotel staffs is a lot more valid. My wife actually worked for many years as a concierge at a high end ski resort. The restaurants in town would host dinners for her group and the concierge staff at all the larger hotels. The theory is obviously to get the people who can/will send customers to you on your team. If you give away sandwiches to 100 people that all have the potential to send you hundreds of customers a year (and assuming they like your food) you should be overflowing. The idea, as you already know, is to concentrate very specifically on people who can refer customers. You also have to follow up and develop a relationship with those people to get the maximum benefit from it. Invite as many concierge, hotel managers, office managers, etc. as you can legally hold and throw them a party. Use all the old caterer's tricks; keep the booze flowing and make sure everyone wishes they could have had just one more bite of whatever their favorite was. I don't have statistics on how productive they are, but from a customer POV loyalty cards are a pain in the ass. The last thing I want to do is carry more crap than necessary in my wallet. I know offices that keep a file of those cards for whoever is going to the restaurant on any given day, but don't know anyone, including myself, who heads to a restaurant because of the loyalty program. Good luck!!!
  15. We were out with friends the other night and they were treating. I ordered fish that came out like a slab of maritime jerky. It was as close to inedible as anything I've had in a long time. I discreetly called the waiter over and he was very understanding and accommodating about getting me a replacement. Of course everyone else was finished with their entree by the time mine arrived (which would be my #1 reason to suffer through it rather than send it back). This was at a restaurant with a top reputation and one which we frequent so I was really surprised to see this dish made it out of the kitchen, much less to me. They offered drinks, but we had cocktails before dinner and were having wine (they didn't offer to comp wine). They offered desert, but none of us are desert eaters. Its not like we were trying to get some freebie anyway, we just wanted a nice dinner. The timing of the sent back meal kind of blew it for everyone. Next time I will think about just having some more bread...
  16. Once heard, "better'n road kill, ain't it?". Probably not appropriate in every situation, but it cracked us up.
  17. That is true, but the other side of the coin is that there are enough entries and enough people voting (usually 200 or so) that there is reasonable confidence that the true crowd favorites rise to the top. In any competition that is informal, not officially judged, not all the voters are even going to try every entry which would also skew the results. As a purely practical rather that purely statistical matter, a chili that gets 200 third place votes (but no 1st or 2nds) appeals to a wider variety of people than one that gets 20 first place votes (and no 2nd or 3rds). I'm not a restauranteur by any means, but lessons from other businesses tell me that if I can get 100% of diners to vote me in their top 20% I'm probably going to have an easier time making it than a competitor who has 10% vote them at the very top. (Of course I don't live in a major metro area so will concede that it may not matter so much if you have a potential customer pool of several million people.) I'd be interested to hear from the pros to know if that thinking is flawed or not. Regarding the OP, the comments regarding competition rules certainly explain the limitations on chili recipes. It does seem like there should be a way to extend the prep/cook time at competitions to allow for more creativity. Why not a 24 hour window instead of 6? As far as I know the teams all start off with fresh meat. If they used bone in cuts they would have time to roast bones, prepare stock, make chili paste, etc. all still within the same guidelines, just a longer timeline. Maybe its just too hard to keep the judges sober for that long.
  18. My wife's office has a chili cook off every fall. There are usually 12 to 15 entries covering a surprisingly wide variety of chili styles. Invariably the winner used Swanson beef stock, Bush's canned chili beans, probably a couple packets of chili seasoning mix, usually hamburger instead of some more highfaluting cut of beef and a couple onions that may or may not have been tossed in the pan with the burger. Acceptable toppings include grated store brand mild cheddar cheese, chopped yellow onions and for the really adventurous some Tabasco sauce. No other style or higher end version has ever won. The office is a group of doctors so they tend to be reasonably well educated and several are definitely appreciative of good food so its not as simple as calling out the redneck vote. Everyone at the party votes for their top 3 favorites and the winner is the one with the most votes. That simple. I've always thought that was kind of funny and in a weird way kind of a slice of Americana. For the record, at home I like to use my own stock, dried beans, toasted spices, a little Green & Black's 90%, ground chuck. The peppers, including a couple habaneros, and onions get roasted first. Guajillos and anchos get ground into a paste and added to good quality tomato paste then into the pot. Then I add a 12 pack of Tecate' (with a little going into the chili as needed) and let it cook. I think its great, but it would probably only crack the top 1/2 at the cook off.
  19. Mine is very close to Chris' original post. Always use Cognac for the booze. Egg yolks instead of whole eggs for richness. I like a little parsley in the mix. And 1/2 butter, 1/2 duck fat for...well, you know why.
  20. oh wow - i forgot about that one! except i use currant jelly and mustard for my sauce. ← Cranberry sauce and tomato sauce in our house.........with meatballs. ← now i'm going to be forced to start a thread on this topic. Lol...current jelly and chili sauce (the weird stuff, like kicked up ketchup) in our house.
  21. Cayenne and msg here. Get the big bottle of Accent from Sams, it's so cheap. I, too sneak a sprinkle of cayenne into so many different things I've lost track. If you've never added a tiny bit to hot chocolate on a snowy afternoon you haven't lived!
  22. Smoke, a BBQ joint in Basalt, CO (slightly better than average food, killer staff) Restaurant Six89 in Carbondale, CO (wonderful food, excellent staff, go if you have a chance) Billy's in Lincoln, NE (good food, nice staff, super quaint and cozy, best Manhattan ever)
  23. Same experience here. We have a great little Mexican joint right down the street where I can get them fresh, better than mine and for about the same cost as the ingredients. Can you say no brainer?
  24. Last night I lightly browned a pork tenderloin and placed it in a 325* oven. Prior to that I had sauteed minced onion and jalapeno (with S&P) until just starting to caramelize then added a bottle of Jarittos pineapple soda with some canned, crushed pineapple and a little cayenne pepper and let it reduce to a thin syrup consistency. The pork got "painted" with the syrup every 5 minutes or so until done. It was a beautiful deep amber lacquer on the meat and a sweet-spicy flavor.
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