gdenby

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About gdenby

  1. Capers

    My wife has always really enjoyed capers, so we always have them in the house. Yes, smaller is considered better. I've read the caper buds develop so rapidly they can be picked on a daily basis. I bought a jar of salted ones a few years ago. I liked the texture better than the more common brine and vinegar type. I suppose that because I previously had them fluid packed, I associated the pickle like taste with the caper. So the salted ones didn't seem as flavorful. I recall them being vaguely like swiss chard, or a milder beet leaf, but slightly tart. Last year I bought a jar of caper-dill relish for my wife, which she loved as a spread w. various kinds of meat sandwiches. Its no longer in production, so currently she is using a caper and almond pesto instead. I tried duplicating the caper-dill relish w/o much success. So used it to make smoked salmon and cream cheese spread. It occurs to me that capers and dill w. sumac added might be quite nice. Of course, used on pizzas and a few tossed w. salad greens are standards.
  2. Using the Benton's Bacon is good. For myself, I've never tasted anything cooked w. any brand of liquid smoke that tasted good. Perhaps I always use too much. Or maybe the stuff has a shelf life. Don't know. Sometimes even good Spanish smoked paprika tastes bitter. I've had better luck using powdered smoke, which I think is liquid smoke encapsulated in maltodextrin. It doesn't seem harsh. I've added a tiny bit to the rub when I've SV'd ribs, and thought the flavor was like mildly smoked BBQ from over coals. But in the past few months I have been mixing browned butter w. rendered country bacon fat when making sauce. I think it tastes pretty good. Its a matter of taste, but I am more of a fan of "dry" ribs. Not cooked w. sauce, and only served perhaps w. a little on the side. I don't have a Searzall, but have finished in a very hot oven. The results were OK. Not like from over wood coals, but definitely worth eating.
  3. American Dishes

    Hi @thomaschristeena, Most, but not all, American foods are adaptations of of earlier recipes from other places blended w. local ingredients. Among the very few foods still widely eaten that were being cooked before European colonization is "pop corn." Many corn based foods go way back in history. Among older recipes still in use are Boston Baked Beans, a kind of bean stew that added molasses from the sugar trade into a basic bean stew. American style BBQ appears to be adopted from older native methods of cooking meats over glowing, but not burning, coals. The American practice 1st used hogs gone wild from Spanish explorers on the Atlantic coast. Sometime later, Texans and Mexican began using beef. Chili also started in Texas, influenced by early immigrants from the Azores, whose cooking was influenced by north African spices. But it is now widespread, w. many variants, often including tomato sauce and beans, sometimes even on top of pasta noodles. Odd items, like "Philadelphia" cream cheese, or "American" style cheese are found in many recipes. These cheeses are, as far as I know, peculiar to American industrial food production. Both may be important ingredient to "mac-n-cheese." As far as I know, chicken fried in a simple batter has been common for perhaps 100 years. Big chunks of meat cooked in any method have been pretty common, if sometimes costly. Served w. potatoes prepared in various ways. Pre-sliced bread, toasted, and smeared w. peanut butter. Pancakes covered w. maple syrup.
  4. My wife and I visited Portland,OR for a few days, our 4th visit, all sadly brief. As I'm sure many know, Portland is filled with remarkable and varied restaurants. But coming from the Midwest, "land of meat and 'taters," as one friend put it, we continue to be impressed. Everything we had was good, but somethings were outstanding. Top of the line, Higgins Restaurant and Bar. Its long time reputation for quality local food and fine service was obvious. The highlights for me were actually appetizers. I had octopus which was fresh from the port of Garibaldi, about 1 1/4 away. I'd never had really fresh octopus, and was delighted. Firm, but not at all rubbery, mild briney taste accompanied by expert seasonings, and a pile of fresh sauteed vegetables and beans cooked till just popping. The in house charcuterie board was copious and varied. Several terrines, 4 varieties of salami, several sausages. Other bites. Most notable for me was a pulled pork paté that had as much flavor in one bite as a whole PP sandwich. I was very happy with the Hair of the Dog beers I drank with the meal. Had another meal from Pok Pok. As good as the last on a year ago, tho' we had ordered ahead for carry-out and they ran out of sticky rice just as we arrived. Had to wait nearly 20 minutes, which was tedious. I had the Yam Samun Phrai salad. The herbs and spices came separate in a small cup. A really remarkable blend. Would like to have had more time to visit other Thai places, which many are saying are just as good as Pok Pok. Another fine carry out meal came from Me Mero Mole. My wife and I both got the smoked lamb in molé nero. We agreed it was the best lamb we had ever had. According to my son, who had spoken w. the owner, the meat is very slow smoked, started early in the morning for dinner service. My daughter in law has something of a sweet tooth. We visited Pix Patisserie and enjoyed some of the most ridiculously rich and sweet deserts. Brought home a selection of macarons which every one got to fight over. Breakfast a few days later was a selection from Blue Star Donuts, which my DIL considered better than those from Voodoo. I have to admit we fought over those also. One last bit. We traveled from Chicago to Portland via the Amtrak Empire Builder. The dining car fare has a good reputation, and we agreed with that. For anyone making the 2000+ mile trip, consider a sleeping compartment. Tho' the coach seats are spacious, and reasonably comfy, I could not really stretch out. With the traffic of people arriving and departing the coach throughout the night, we had very little sleep.
  5. My experience, also. Major appliances, once considered durable goods, have become much more unreliable than in the past, and much more expensive to repair, if the parts are available at all. Going off into nostalgic accounts. My mother had a 1930s Tappan brand kitchen stove inherited from her mother. As I recall, the frame was cast iron, and there was little insulation, so when running, the kitchen was really hot. Nevertheless, whenever Mom was cooking for special occasions, that's what she used. 60 years of use, and a few decades more after Mom passed, and Dad had to cook for himself. We were given a Maytag washer in the 1980s that dated from the '60s. Used it for 15 years, raising 4 kids and washing immense quantities of diapers. Have had 3 washers since, all repaired at least every 2 years. I worked in a workshop that had a 'fridge, don't remember the brand, that dated from 1954. I'm sure it wasn't efficient, had to defrost it every couple of months. But it ran quiet and cold holding lunches etc. at least until 2012 when I left. We were given a circa 1950 electric skillet, 2nd hand in 1974. Used it every other day for the next 10 years. Etc.
  6. The Lincoln Highway

    I live north of 30 in Indiana. Most of the smaller towns along the route here don't have much in the way of interesting food. Warsaw, IN, has a few good places. Likewise Valparaiso. I recall having some fine fast food sandwiches from a place called Zel's in Schererville. But 3 Floyds is most definitely worth a stop. Its been packed every time I've been there in the pst few years. The food has been very good. For a year or two, Chef Sheerin of Trenchermen in Chicago was mentoring the kitchen, and retains a contact w. the current chef. Farther west for the next 50 miles, most of the food is pretty boring. Sometimes some good Mexican, or gyros, maybe hot dogs or 'Q. Much better to head into Chi.
  7. Beef Cuts for Soup

    I agree w. the above. Most likely the shanks were not cook long or hot enough. Pressure cookers are the way to go for stocks. Considering the broth was good, try a manual fix. Use your fingers to pick the meat off. Anything that resists, save for the next round of stock making. Most of the plate short rib meat ends up tender. Most of the chuck short ribs are harder to get tender. If you can find beef neck bones, those work well. Lots of collagen to turn to gel, and the meat, what little there is, is medium tender.
  8. I've used a base stock batch 5 times, refreshing in a weekly basis. The 5th time around was exquisite. Served it alongside the meal in shot glasses. I have found that the stock may spoil if not refreshed within the week, or frozen. The other down side, for me, is that if it becomes too gelatinous, the mouthfeel isn't pleasant.
  9. I've never heard of mustard becoming hot as a tincture. Easiest way to find out, buy some Everclear, mix with fresh pounded mustard. Taste. If I get the time, maybe I'll try making mustard gel. Or just coat gel w. mustard itea.
  10. I suppose freshness is important. Seeds less than a year old, or flour less than that. If you want heat, start w. whole seeds. Darker = hotter. Grind or pulverize. Want really hot? Black nustard seeds, pulverized and mixed w. water. Wait 10 - 15 minutes. Should be about as hot as fresh horseradish. Little bits between the teeth will still scorch after hours. Water based mustard only has the heat for 4 - 5 days, then fades rapidly. Vinegar in the mix won't give as much heat, but will stay hot for a couple of weeks.
  11. I suspect most grocery stores are stocked by a few distributors, who in turn are supplied by a few mass market businesses. I suppose none of the Asian dumpling manufacturers is big enough for the food conglomerates to buy, and they have too small a market share to get into the distributors supply line. But look at it this way, if they were widely available, the quality would decline. As long as the makers are still primarily serving people who know what the item should be like, they have to make something passable.
  12. We order pizza for delivery maybe every 3 weeks. Both of the places we buy from add a delivery charge of about $3. Both are about 3 miles away. I asked my SIL, who did pizza delivery for awhile, and he said he never saw a penny of the delivery fee. And, he had to use his own car, which didn't get the best mileage. So I always add 20% to the total cost, w. includes taxes and delivery fee, and round up to the nearest dollar.
  13. Here's a frame to the question. If you were a normal Japanese home cook, and always used knives that had very low edge bevels, as low as 15 degrees inclusive, and cheap, would you be considered a "hobbyist" if you thought chef worthy blades could have an inclusive angle off 40 or larger? Could you call yourself a chef using knives like that, and still respect yourself?
  14. As a young fellow said to me a few years ago, "Your generation was lucky, it learned how to make mac and cheese from a box." I replied "How so?" "Your generation at least had to learn to boil water, my generation would starve it they couldn't toss something into the 'wave." So I suppose I must agree, even a just sharp knife is adequate for most contemporary home cooks. But my mother, who was a good home cook, would run her Sabatier thru an electric sharpener frequently, and sometimes steeled the blade several times during the course of a large dinner. She would never have considered herself to be a chef. Still, she required an edge comparable to what is still considered sharp, i.e. about 20 degrees per bevel. To quantify, I call standard edge bevels at 20 - 22 degrees per side sharp. Very sharp is 15 - 18. "Screaming" sharp around 12. "Scary" below 12. For my home use, I avoid anything that is not at least very sharp. They are just too clumsy.
  15. At just about the same time I started to learn to sharpen my kitchen knives, and then buy better ones, I ran into the same problem. The only knife close enough to do the job was my old mainstay, a 10" Sabatier-Hofftriz. Could not cut the skin easily, and was wat to big to handle. In the end, the only thing that worked was a fresh snap off utility blade. While I was learning about Japanese knives, I practiced sharpening w. an Edge Pro apex. What I found was that even if I could get them to where they could easily slice paper, some would hold that edge for as little as 4 cuts. The Sabatier could be taken down to an 18 degree bevel per side, and hold it. It is the only one of my old knives that I still use on a regular basis. The only old knives I still rely on are both boning knives. One is a Dexter-Russel I bought used from a butcher, the other is an old Chicago Cutlery I bought from a thrift shop. They are still very useful if I'm slicing up a carcass, and don't want to hazard chipping a more expensive blade. Once I bought knives, mostly Japanese, that would hold a 15 degree bevel, I stopped using ones w. the standard 20 - 22 degree bevels. Even freshly sharpened, they are too much of a bother to use. In other words, what I used to consider sharp does not even qualify for the term IMO. I do have one "scary sharp," a gyuto that has a bevel that I think is between 10 and 12 degrees per side. And I don't use it that much. Partly because I rarely need to, partly because I don't have a good end grain cutting board, and I'm afraid I would mess up the edge using it against the boards I do have. To date, I've only needed to strop it, so don't know how hard it will be to restore the edge if I have to give it a lot of use. I have a couple of "screamingly sharp" knives, a petty knife with a VG-10 core, and bunka made with R2 that is "laser" thin. One of those gets used for almost every job. I love not crying when I cut onions. I like that my apple and potato slices oxidize so much more slowly. I like being able to slice items as thin as I would w. a Benrinner mandoline that are to big for that. While both require a good bit of work if they really need sharpening, I only take them to the stones maybe 2 times a year with home use. The Sabatier-Hoffritz under the same use is about 3 times a year. I should add that my hands are becoming quite arthritic, and clumsy. Every bit of effort I save in force is much appreciated. And to go back to the problem Norm mentioned, I have one knife that I suppose is scary sharp just for the job. I bought an inexpensive Kai "Wasabi" short deba. Being single beveled at 15 degrees, its just the right size to slice away skin from pork belly, or picnic shoulders, and keen enough that the job isn't very hard. Also good for cutting poultry joints and tendons.