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Bill Klapp

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Posts posted by Bill Klapp

  1. The wondra flour trick works for any pan-seared seafood. As with any dredging where you don't want the food to seem breaded, dry the scallop carefully, and dust with the flour very lightly (I use a small chinois) right before putting into the pan. 


    Doesn't matter when you salt, as long as you dry the food right before dusting and cooking.


    I'd skip the clarified butter. You lose too much butter flavor through clarification. Use a refined, flavorless oil for the sear, and then if you want butter flavor, add some whole butter and baste over the top as it browns in the pan. At this point the scallop will have cooled the pan enough to keep the butter from burning.

    Wondra also works brilliantly for sauteeing fresh foie gras, should one's ethics, morality, sense of fundamental fairness and applicable state law permit its consumption...

  2. Happy Boy sells at many farmers markets in the Bay Area. I have had most of their melons, including the Charentais. It's not my favorite melon--it's very sweet. I'll take a straight ahead perfect cantaloupe over many of the super-sugary juicy melons now in abundance. My favorite melon (not in the watermelon category) these days is the orange honeydew, which has become pretty common in the last few years. But I'm sure all melons have their devotees, and it is also very possible that I tasted a mediocre or over-ripe Charentais and formed my opinion that way. No matter how many "techniques" people give me for picking a good melon I find it's mostly luck.

    The Charentais is also thin-skinned and does not keep as well as most cantaloupe-variety melons.  I grew them in Italy during the terribly hot summer of 2009, and was not pleased with the result, but that could have been the year.  The melons from Mantova in Italy are better (it is the classic sweet and juicy melon paired with prosciutto here, not as sweet as the Charentais and not quite as soft), but likely even less available in the U.S.  That said, for my taste (and I like a sweet melon), the Mantova melon and the Charentais are the two best cantaloupes that I have ever eaten.  Ripeness always seems hit-and-miss in the U.S., better in farmer's markets, but for whatever reason, cantaloupe-style melons are almost always excellent here.  (Watermelons are another story!)

  3. Don't eat the moldy orange. Show some respect for our "when in doubt, throw it out" brethren! But don't mind me. I never refrigerate butter, either!

    I agree in principle that no foodstuff is worth nausea or worse, but I also think that many people who know no better throw out tons of perfectly good food unnecessarily, due to lack of food science knowledge, the fetishing of food science knowledge or subscription to food science voodoo. (I have some leftovers that I do not care for myself!) We humans are teeming with bacteria and all manner of unsavory stuff, as is most everything around us, like it or not. We are still here, and in the first and second worlds at least, we do not even suffer food poisoning with any regularity, and it seems that when we do, restaurants are guilty at least as often as our own kitchens and refrigerators. Compare the incidence of food poisoning in your own life to, say, the incidence of colds and flu!

  4. Greetings from the land decorated with hanging, unrefrigerated salamis and hams!  Actually, kidding aside, sliced salami has a greater prospect of spoilage than whole salamis, but as liuzhou notes, it is a cured meat, and as such, it is going to be resistant to spoilage.  If there is no mold, take a whiff, as Smithy suggested above.  (I do not agree with the "overly greasy" notion, however, which can be a good thing, since refrigerated salami not brought to room temperature is not worth eating;  on the other hand, overly dry and curled-up salami is not going to be worth eating, whether safe or not!)   If there is no sour or off-smell, take a small bite.  If it tastes good, eat it;  if not, throw it away.

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  5. Unfortunately, Mary Ann Esposito, or shall I say mary ANN esPOSito, is still on in the LA basin, and apparently still producing new shows.....forever, I'm afraid. She's already been on since dirt was young, and shows no signs of going gently into that good night.....

    The show is "Ciao Italia" and it is dreadful, miserable, painful to watch. Did I mention it makes me twitch when I hear her voice....which is like the voice of your least favorite elementary school teacher. The one who treated you like a blithering idiot, even though you could understand the periodic tables in 3rd grade? THAT teacher.

    She comes on in the middle, the dead, smack middle of the block of cooking shows one of the local PBS stations in SoCal programs on Saturday afternoons. After the Martha show and before Lidia. Although I program my TV for the whole block, I walk the dogs while mary ANN esPOSito is....on....the....tele.....vis....ion.

    She is like fingernails dragging on a chalkboard to me, and her recipes suck. Plus, she's got helmet hair. She may not be the worst, I've not seen a lot of the ones who have been mentioned (and I rule Sandra Lee out as NOT being a cooking show, so she doesn't qualify....), but mary ANN esPOSito is right up there in the most annoying.

    Never seen the show, so this is not meant as a defense of the woman in any way, but "esPOSito" is how the name is pronounced in Italian. It is all of those hockey-playing Ess-po-see-toes who do not know how to pronounce their own names! :)

  6. I just found Walker's version for the first time in Italy, along with Walker's Shortbread, and the Stem Ginger Biscuits were outstanding. Not even remotely related to the ginger snap, and perhaps twice as thick as those pictured and a bit chewy, as well as crunchy. More akin to a crispy, whole-grain cookie with dried cherries or cranberries inside, but with a powerful ginger punch instead...

  7. I saw a picture in the NYT travel section of Hungarian red peppers hanging outside of a shop in New Mexico-style ristras, and, having just been boning up here on Hatch and related NM chilies, and knowing that Hungarian paprika peppers range from sweet and mild to hot, I began to wonder if Hungarians ever use fresh green and dried red peppers as New Mexican cooks do, even if for radically different dishes, and also, if I might source and use some type of Hungarian peppers to create Southwestern dishes in Italy.  Any board learning on this?

  8. I am with andiesenji on this one.  A friend here imports oysters, smoked salmon, other seafood, foie gras and butter into Italy for its top chefs.  I have tasted through the butters mentioned above in this thread and many more, as well as most of France's top butters, and I am convinced that the best butter on earth is made in Isigny Sainte-Mere in lower Normandy, whether sweet or demi-sel.  We buy it in bulk in a 5-kilo basket called a bourriche, then cut it up and freeze it.  It will last for a year (or longer...maybe two!) frozen with virtually no loss in quality.  Also, whether sweet or salted, it can be kept at room temperature (except in summer sans air conditioning, I suppose) without worrying about rancidity.  You may not find it in bulk in the U.S., but Beurre d' Isigny is pretty readily available in gourmet stores in major metro areas.  I could find it in Raleigh, NC, for example.  As to rancidity, U.S. commercial butters seem particularly subject to it, to a degree that homemade farm butters are not.  I would never leave Land O' Lakes sitting out in the kitchen in a butter dish for days.  It would be interesting to know why.


    My typical breakfast here is toast made from a local bread that resembles nothing so much as South Jersey Italian bread, that cracker-crisp-crust, moist, doughy interior suitable for rolling into balls bread, also of hoagie and cheesesteak roll fame, slathered with Isigny butter, either demi-sel or topped with a little fresh-ground Himalayan pink salt if sweet, and then topped with first-quality Parma or San Daniele prosciutto.  Add a caffe latte made with farm-fresh raw milk, and Alto-Adige yogurt or maybe a Star Ruby grapefruit from South Africa in season, and there is no such thing as a bad day here!  All of that said, the butter may well be the most important item in that breakfast lineup...

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  9. I think that both ice packs and dry ice (the latter in a sharply limited quantity) are possible in the cabin, but timing is everything, since if your ice packs thaw in transit prior to your final security check, they will be thrown out as an impermissible quantity of gel.  Just slipped in under the melting wire on a recent trip back to Italy, toting North Carolina BBQ, Lebanon bologna and corned beef!  On the other hand, Italian customs seems to have none of the insane bans on the importation of foodstuffs that the USDA perpetuates.  The EU may have bizarre regulations, but Italy being Italy, it has little use for EU regulation...


    Since it appears that I have pretty much missed the fresh season this year, it seems that frozen, roasted, in-the-skin green chiles will probably be my best shot, so let me raise THIS question:  if I buy said chiles and they partially thaw in transit, is there likely to be a profound health risk in refreezing them?


    Thanks to Weinoo, Shelby, Rob et al. for the input...

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  10. I have a real hankering for some classic New Mexico green AND red-driven food.  I have the cookbooks (Rancho Chimayo, Pasqual's, Coyote Cafe and others) and recipes here in Italy, and will be coming stateside this fall and in position to schlep back some chilies.  In the past, I have traveled to the Albuquerque/Santa Fe/Taos area many times to eat the food and did a little cooking at home with red chilies, but never shipped in and used green chilies.  Several questions:  


    1.  What is the typical beginning and end of the green and red seasons?


    2.  I will use dried red chilies, but do fresh green chilies require refrigeration or other special treatment? (My plan is to ship them to Boston via UPS/FedEx, then hand-carry back to Italy.)   I assume that roasted green chilies would be out of the question (and I can always roast my own, if need be.)


    3.  How long will fresh green chilies last?  Should I freeze some once back in Italy, or just use what I have and wait 'til next year?


    4.  Is there any reason why I might prefer frozen, dried or canned green chilies?  I presume that there is an invariable drop-off in quality from fresh to preserved, but I am interested in the views of those who regularly use green chilies in New Mexico cooking.  (I can get canned green chilies in Italy.)


    5.  MOST IMPORTANTLY:  anybody have a reliable mail-order source for buying green and red chilies?


    Thanks in advance!

  11. There was a time before York began a big advertising campaign that a candy company known as "Ludens" had one of the best

    Peppermint Patty candies going.   It was known as the Melloment Patty and there are other makers who still produce something similar.  Pearson's is one example of it.


    York's texture so solid and seems like a piece of compressed confectioners sugar with Peppermint flavoring in it.


    I'm a firm believer in, "To each his or her own" so I would wish you the best.


    Ludens is known now more for cough drops but at one time they produced several forms of candy.


    I'd offer you this link to review from epicurious.





    I've wondered about this for some time myself.  I know invertase is used in making chocolate covered cherries.  Those are stored for a week or two so that the enzyme melts the sugar to a liquid inside the chocolate shell.   My thought is to only use the smallest amount of it and allow the patties to be stored in the refrigerator for a couple weeks so the patty will have a creamier texture and not be so chalky as York's. .

    I agree that Pearson's and After Eight are both winners.  They lean toward liquid rather than the chalky fondant of York's, which I have always found to be dreadful (but yet the perfect peppermint patty for palates that can eat Hershey's chocolate bars!).  Both also get it right with an ultra-thin chocolate coating of decent quality.  I also suggest looking at a Cella chocolate-covered cherry label to see how it maintains clear liquidity rather than the thick white sugar goo of other chocolate-covered cherries...

  12. There is no better grater for hard cheeses like parmigiano. That the Microplane is made in Arizona but found all over Italy and the rest of Europe at significantly higher pricing than found in the U.S., despite the weak dollar, must be chalked up to quality and utility, not marketing. And Shel, here's hoping that you get that TV soon. It can provide welcome relief from the Internet for you!

    P.S. I have three also, but in fairness, two are the same model with different-colored handles...

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  13. I once went to a restaurant, more of a cafe, and ordered the special which was two eggs , toast, hash browns, and juice, but told the server to hold the juice since I didn't want any.  When I went to pay the bill I noticed that it wasn't the price of the special,but the regular.  When I questioned this the cashier, who was also the server, said that the special included juice, and I didn't have any juice, so I didn't qualify for the price of the special.  So, I asked her for a glass of prune juice, drank it, and she corrected the bill so it showed the price of the special.   "Are you happy now?" she asked sarcastically. "I will be in a couple of hours," I politely replied.  To get poached eggs in a place like that, you'd have to order eggs benedict, but hold the hollandaise, hold the ham, and hold the muffins, and it would probably be twice the price of the eggs benedict.

    This thread begins to take on the qualities of the famous Jack Nicholson diner scene in "Five Easy Pieces"...

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  14. I think that it is a lasting tribute to Steve that his passing cuts in so many different directions at once, as he himself so often did. I will start by offering my deepest and most sincere condolences to his family, whose shock and sadness I cannot begin to imagine. Fat Guy was one of a kind, and for me, back in the day, very much a kindred spirit...fellow Fordham law grad and fellow Wall Street lawyer (same building, even!), turned fellow eGulleteer. I still chuckle when I think of my days as the co-host of the Italy forum, and the equal measures of inspiration and abuse that he served up which kept me pumping out new content, never stopping to think that I was but unpaid help using a surprising amount of my scarce free time to help drive the eGullet bus. And I savor the bittersweetness of this moment, when I see the names of so many of the prominent and invaluable contributors of the Steve and Jason era, but realize that few of them regularly grace these pages any more. I was also delighted to see his obit in the Times, which itself shines the spotlight not only on Steve, but also on what eGullet once was and the important contributions that it once made. In some sense, the eGullet community has lost the Fat Guy twice, and he is surely the yardstick with which I am measuring loss today. Godspeed, Steve. We will not forget you...

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  15. There's another solution for country hams… don't soak it or cook it at all, take David Chang's lead and slice paper-thin like prosciutto, serve on bread. Delicious.

    Actually, Patrick O' Connell of the Inn at Little Washington was serving thinly sliced cured (but raw in the uncooked sense) country ham on kiwi wedges with a lime cream sauce back when David Chang was but a wink in his father's eye.  Despite the high salt element in most country hams and the quite different tastes, country ham and prosciutto are essentially the same thing.  One difference is that trichinosis is all but unknown in Italy, while it has always been a North American concern.  However, I think that the curing of the country ham takes care of the problem...

  16. In the country, we ate "city" hams, but before they were city hams, all packed in water and spiral-sliced and such.  The lightly smoked hams came from the packing plant wrapped in imprinted butcher paper.  ("Coleman's Blue Band" was my grandma's go-to brand.)  No glaze packets, but baked with homemade brown sugar glaze, cloves, scored fat and the rest.  Country ham was almost invariably breakfast fare, except for when one of us begged for country ham steaks for lunch or dinner...

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  17. I am thinking about buying the XVC 205E (eco) (or maybe XVC 305E) for home use, as my primary oven, with a good-sized convection toaster oven as a backup for smaller day-to-day tasks.  I have a number of questions, but will wait and see if anybody has used one of these.  These are smaller 230V models, so there is no problem to plug in and go in Europe.  A water tank and pump kit are available if I cannot or do not want to connect it to the water supply line.  The biggest question, not answered clearly by anything that I have read, is whether the machine has a basic broiler function.  I probably will not need much more pop than toasting something or melting cheese, and the toaster oven may be enough for that, but it would be a little surprising if a machine that appears to be able to do everything but win American Idol does not have a top element that can broil modestly well...

  18. David, the drive-ins and the counters in the White Oak and Rexall drug stores, where you could get hot dogs, cherry, lemon, vanilla or chocolate fountain Cokes and ice cream specialties, WERE Oak Hill's only eateries!  Well, the Hotel Hill had a dining room, but nobody ever ate there.  The Glass House on the WV Turnpike at the Beckley exit was our fine-dining experience.

    At one point, Oak Hill, a town of roughly 5,000, had two sit-down movie theatres, the King and the Oak Hill, and two drive-in movie theatres, the Skyline and the Mountaineer.  Ah, the Saturday afternoon horror double features with huge boxes of hot, fresh-popped popcorn, a Coke and the gumdrops or cinnamon imperials bought in bulk at Woolworth's on the cheap.  Free movie tickets sometimes hidden in those popcorn boxes, too!

    We sometimes did the fried bologna sandwich with toast, lettuce and mayo (and mysteriously, not tomato).  Easy to laugh at until you taste it.  My father was raised in Pennsylvania Dutch country, so I also ate my share of Weaver's Lebanon Bologna sandwiches on white bread with French's mustard.  He referred to it as "smoky meat".  That it was!  I continued to mail-order Weaver products, including regular and sweet Lebanon Bologna and the stunningly good smoked beef for creamed chipped beef.  Another WV favorite...creamed chipped beef.  (I can make a mean batch out of smoked beef and excellent packaged bechamella here in Italy!)  I could never understand how that dish got the bad rap that it did.  I almost joined the armed services in the hope of being able to have it every day!

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  19. It sounds like a great place to grow up. Surely you had chicken and dumplings on Sundays, not the puffy dumplings but slickers, as my granny called them.

    I love that stuff and can't replicate it to save my life.

    Damn! Good catch. I forgot chicken and dumplings. WV did not corner the market on most of these foods. It is just that you cannot have a Ruth's Chris steak if you want one, or caviar, or beef Wellington, or lobster unless some outsider tells you what those things are! And yeah, it was as fine a place, and a time, to grow up as I can imagine...
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