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Everything posted by chuck

  1. chuck

    Making Nut Butters

    Right. It seemed like what was missing was moisture content. What I ended up with was the consistency of natural peanut butter, the kind with nothing added but salt, and it was too thick for what I wanted to use it for, so I had to add even more water to get the emulsified sauce thickness I wanted. The key seemed to be to really thoroughly puree the nuts in a strong blender. Up until the end it was too thin, then suddenly the blades weren't quite catching anymore because it had thickened. If you stopped at that point you should have perfectly smooth, thick puree.
  2. chuck

    Making Nut Butters

    I've made some nut butters recently and they also came out 'pasty and dry'. VitaMix blender, roasted nuts, salt, and a mild oil. Then I substituted a bit of water for the oil, maybe 1/4 cup water to a cup of nuts. So much better, especially since I'm storing the finished butter in the fridge, as I'm pretty sure it should be so it doesn't go off. When it cools down it thickens up but doesn't feel dry in my mouth anymore. Also, with the addition of liquid I can process in the blender until it's really smooth, really get all of the little bits. I bet it'd be a good idea to add different liquids to the various nuts to make some classic combinations into spreads. 'Candied pecan' with honey and water, maple syrup with walnuts, soy sauce and peanuts, etc.
  3. chuck

    Endive recipes?

    My favorite way to cook endive is to cut the heads in half, trim the bottom of the core but don't remove it, then place cut side down on a baking sheet that has been dotted with soft butter and sprinkled with brown sugar and salt. Roast in a medium oven until the caramel bubbles and the endive is soft, then leave to cool down to warm before lifting off of the pan. I always use slightly too much brown sugar and it always comes out delicious. A great variation to this is to make a savory Tarte Tatin with Belgian endive. Melt butter, sugar, and salt in a nonstick skillet, cram in as much halved or sliced endive as will fit under the level of the rim of the pan, and cook until medium caramel bubbles up around the pieces. Cool slightly, then pour off most of the liquid that comes out of the endive as it will make the finished product too watery. Cover with a round of puff pastry, tuck the edges down the sides, and bake at 400F until the pastry is brown. Chill completely and then turn out onto a plate and slice. I've made individual ones as well, but man, that takes a lot of attention.
  4. Went to the Kabab House a few weeks ago for take out. I can usually forgive the aformentioned lack of atmosphere in ethnic restaurants because the food is usually worth staying for, and nearly every delicious restaurant in the I. D. is my example. I was a little dismayed at the lack of cleanliness in the dining room, the woman who took my order and then completely ignored me to hand-feed her toddler directly in front of where I was waiting (the kid eventually toddled over and got sauce on my shoes), nothing offered to drink while I waited and the tables who came in after me that were served full meals during my 40 minute wait. I was glad I brought a book. I was very hungry when I finally got home and was terribly disappointed in the food. I was prepared to be a little forgiving as the food had sat in styrofoam for fifteen minutes, but that really doesn't explain the blandness of the samosa and the tikka masala, the weird metallic taste of the naan, and the inedibly salty and dry lamb kabab. And the whole thing was expensive. I've had much better experiences at Masala, Bengal Tiger, Taste of India and even Cedar's. In general I've seen these places busy, with professional staff, music playing, great smells and very good food. Try these instead.
  5. It was said upthread. If you aren't from Seattle you won't really get Dick's Drive-In. No reason to be jealous, you have your memories from whatever lackluster local you hail from. Every six months or so I give in and get a Deluxe and a Cheeseburger and they taste EXACTLY the same as they did growing up. Beefy, pickle-y, Velveeta-y and perfect. I can imagine the taste right now. If you can only rejoice in your youth-in-Southern California-burger chains and insist on nothing but the finest now that you're old and wise, suck on it. We will all be thinking of you, and thanking you, as we pull into the lot in Wallingford at midnight on a Thursday and spot that one open parking space right up front, where we can eat our fine food under the fluorescents. May we move on now?
  6. Cafe Lulu on 65th and Latona is a cool, quiet, small place for good coffee. There's a little shop just south of Ravenna on the east side of Roosevelt that is interesting. Nice people. Van Gogh is quirky. The coffee's fine, and they serve delicious gelato, but the decor is Wedgwood grandma. And it's in a strip mall. If you're in the neighborhood you should check out the crepe cafe/coffee shop just north of QFC on the other side of the street (north of 86th, I think) - good coffee, friendly people, fresh crepes and sidewalk seating. Or head south to Top Pot on 70th and 35th N.E. for strong, bitter (in a good way) drip and a couple of meaty doughnuts. I head to one more place near Van Gogh, but for a different reason: Honeybear Bakery/Third Place Books, which has a fantastic selection of used books and a great old growth counter on the southwest end of the building for watching the traffic go by, is the home of some of the worst service in existence. Car wreck bad. I go there to see what's going to happen to the people in line behind me, in front of me, and to me. I've seen an eight-year-old refused a warm egg nog because the cashier couldn't figure out how to ring it in, even after her mother offered to pay for the egg nog latte but without the espresso shots. Melodramatic shows over a specific brownie in the case ('This one? Are you sure? This other one is just as good... Oh, whatever.') Employee blowups with each other, with customers. Oh, it's sweet. I was there a week ago during a lull and the very cute, helpful cashier took my order, then I paid, then I waited for a bit. Nothing seemed to be happening. The cafe was crickets, no one waiting for anything, so I asked the laconic barista about my drink. 'Coming up!' was the response. He sprung into action suddenly, as if he had just gotten the order. 'Here ya go! Single grande vanilla latte to go.' 'Uh, I had a double short Americano for here.' 'Anyone for a vanilla latte?' 'Hello (slightly frantic)?' 'VANILLA LATTE.' A dozen startled readers, possibly there for the same reason I was, look around at each other. Nothin'. 'I had a peanut butter cookie with that Americano.' 'I don't do the cookies.' And the streak continues...
  7. Anyone know of any web based resources, besides right here, for menu design guidance?
  8. As pointed out on another topic on this forum the space at 3400 Phinney has been taken over by Tom Douglas for a 'chocolate cafe'. Anyone know if they're moving? Or going under? And the chocolates they had with breadcrumbs... are they dried crepe crumbs (I can't remember what that product is called, similar to the baking-with-Cornflakes idea) or actual bread crumbs?
  9. Interested in the Pars on Lake City Way as well. Looked it up online but couldn't find anything. Anyone know where it is?
  10. Bistro Magnolia on 65th and 22nd N E has closed. Had a 'closed for remodelling' sign in the window for a while but now has a sign for a new place opening in it's place, 'Hot Dish'. Maybe it'll be traditional Minnesota casseroles... Also, a great way to find out about openings, and sometimes closings, is the Washington State Liquor Control Board's website. They list the names and addresses of new restaurants starting up and the old place that closed if there was one in that spot before. Pretty sneaky, eh?
  11. Two places I've been to recently are worth mentioning. Banh mi place on King St. just to the east of 12th Ave. called Banh Cuon Than Dinh (or maybe that name isn't completely right). King St. is one block north of Jackson, making this place almost impossible to find in the jumble of tiny strip mall businesses. It's sort of behind the original Malay Satay Hut spot. Sort of. Well, the sandwiches (I had the chicken and the barbequed pork) were worth checking out and the other snacks on display were pretty interesting, if not downright challenging, like a cold fried sweet potato cake with a shell-on shrimp stuck to it. I still like the banh mi at Saigon Deli on Jackson and about 13th the best, but these were certainly tasty. Had a lot of jalapeno, which is good. The other place was next to Greenleaf (which I love) and across from House of Hong called Szechuan Noodle Bowl. It's been around for a long time and I'm sure everyone knows about it but for some reason I'd never gone in. That is one plain room, and the chair that I picked left my face about six inches above the table, but jesus that was some good soup. I started with the green onion pancakes, then had a taste of spicy beef noodle soup, some spinach dumplings and some pork dumplings. All were great. I liked that the portions, while cheap, were not huge. I like filling up on a good XL pho sometimes, but the smaller sizes here made the food seem more refined somehow. And it was, despite the bright light and beyond-casual service. It seems like it's easier to have a very good experience in the I. D. by not spending a lot of money than it is in the other neighborhoods. All of my expensive blowout meals down there have been somewhat disappointing, while the really inexpensive ones have been winners. I don't find that to be the case around town generally.
  12. My rule has been, 'if I can't lose it immediately on the floor of the passenger seat then I shouldn't be consuming it in the car'. I didn't come by this rule through intuition unfortunately, and trying to sell a three year old car with huge stains on the right-side floor mat did raise some issues. Nothing really serious, like kimchi or anything, but brushing dried cheese out of black carpet is not easy. The longest lasting smell, and it made me switch to drip, was from a fresh, hot latte. It didn't even happen as a result of swerving to miss a kid or duck, I think I just took too long to get it into the cup holder when merging. It had to go. It happened in the late fall and I smelled that all winter. Sold the car in summer, fortunately. 'Check out how well the air conditioning works... It's like a refrigerator.' I've just recently changed my driving priorities. A guy explained to me that men can focus really intently on one thing, but women can put on makeup, drink coffee, and have an in-depth conversation while driving. I don't believe that women are really that proficient, as I have been cut off more than once, but he asked me one question that changed the way I think about myself as a driver: 'When you get lost do you turn off the radio so that you can focus?' Well, son of a bitch, I do. I don't even talk on the phone anymore, even with the wireless thing. Eat a doughnut? May as well drive off a bridge...
  13. The table next to me had a gigantic long roll that looked like a big omelet, but smelled like pork and spices. It looked great but I couldn't figure out what it was on the menu. Everything on the menu has a terse description but the dishes on the tables were all bright, large and delicious looking. Escargot is on there, along with a fair amount of duck. I just noticed on the takout menu that I snagged that they serve a 7 course beef menu for $17.95. For two people. Everything is very inexpensive based on what I had and the way the other things looked. Almost all of the starters are $3 and the main dishes and salads are $6. Coming from downtown on Jackson it's the last street on the right before going under the freeway. Take the right and it's halfway down the block on the left.
  14. This place has been open for a couple of months but I didn't try it until a few days ago. It's next to Szechuan Noodle Bowl and across the street from House of Hong on 8th S. Very small inside but gussied up a bit, with bamboo posts along the walls and cool light fixtures. Friendly service from the beginning. They seemed happy that we were there and steered us in the right direction when we ordered. Sometimes it's obvious when people are genuinely interested in pleasing you... The food was really good. The 'fried flour cake' sounds pretty bad, but it was unbelievable. Very crispy on the outside, smooth and slightly gelatinous on the inside, covered in egg and served with a simple dipping sauce. The spring rolls had a core of what I think was crispy fried pork skin in a tight roll, making every bite delightfully crunchy. That led up to the pho, which was the best I've had in the city. I go to Pho Bac and love it, the Than Brothers is the old standby and great with a ton of hot sauce, and I just tried Pho Cyclo in Sodo, but this was better. The broth was richer, the toppings more fresh. I felt bad about adding a little hoisin and hot sauce but they made it perfect. My belly was warm for the rest of the day.
  15. Here are a few more: The reuben at the 74th Street Alehouse. It's tasted exactly the same for the last five years. Braised meat and cabbage, slightly spicy dressing, pan-fried then warmed in the oven. If they served fries I would set up a tent and sleep out front every night. They keep raising the prices though. I think it's $11 now, probably be more next week. Grilled pork bahn mi at the New Saigon Deli (about a hundred yards east of 12th and Jackson on the south side of the street). It's the most expensive option at $2. How do they pay the rent? BLT at Persimmon on Fremont and about 42nd. Kind of small but great ingredients. Any of the sandwiches from the really small counter at the Spanish Table under the Pike Place Market. Good bread, a thin line of filling, and olive oil. It doesn't look like it'll do it but it's completely satisfying every time. At Salumi I've had a good sandwich with thinly sliced spicy salami and fresh mozzarella. All of their sandwiches are tasty, but that's a lot of bread for just one sandwich. The pate and cornichon sandwich at Le Fournil just south of the University bridge on Eastlake. Delicious, and the lunch deal every day is a relatively large sandwich, a drink (including espresso), and a fantastic pastry for $7. That's hard to beat.
  16. Two things I didn't know: 'In Washington state, raw milk sales are legal if the farm is licensed through the state, which requires monthly testing of the milk and inspection of the farm and milk bottling room.' 'Six dairies in the state are licensed to sell Grade A raw milk, both goat and cow...' Anyone know which dairies are licensed? I'd love to try raw milk. I've heard about the kid on Vashon with the cow, but never really made it over there. In general, licensing is a very good idea. Hopefully as this issue gains publicity the regulations for small production will more accurately reflect a rational concern for safety rather than sensationalism.
  17. The above link doesn't work unless you subscribe to Food and Wine. I've found cockles at the asian supermarket one block south and a half a block east of 12th and Jackson. Can't remember the name. That was a while ago.
  18. Oh, also, the Conway Tavern, which is 'just over the county line' to the north, has always been pretty good. Good selection of beers, good pub food with a few surprises, and what seems like a rough and tumble 'country' atmosphere. In reality, the cowboys are local vegetable farmers and those Harleys out front are most likely parked in Queen Anne garages most of the time. Nice people in my experience. I think I need to take some of these suggestions and stop in Snohomish County instead of shooting up I-5. Good topic.
  19. Well, it isn't a restaurant anymore, but I always admired Armadillo Barbeque in Woodinville for their willingness to be kooky with their menu and decor, and for some smokey barbeque. It's now a full time catering operation and they do the same dishes as they used to for lunch and dinner. Their website makes the whole deal sound pretty slick and impressive. There are so many kinds of barbeque that it's hard to please everyone, but I thought their stuff was pretty powerful. Two former menu favorites: 'Weasel on a Stick - $87.50', and the 'Snake Plate - three bucks worth o' stuff - $4.50'.
  20. Sad to see Akira close. It had been there for 15 or 20 years, I think. Of course I always meant to go there...
  21. Stars restaurant in Langley on Whidbey Island appears to be shuttered. The sign on the door at the bottom of the narrow stairway leading up to the dining room said something like, 'restaurant is closed', which I took to mean closed in a permanent way. No more menu outside or posted hours. I had some great experiences there, although they had more to do with the drinks and the view than with the food or service. Still, it wasn't bad and I was sorry to see it go. With the recent discussion on this thread about how difficult it must be to operate a business in Wallingford, I wonder what the situation is like up in Langley or Coupville (or a dozen other small towns around here). I found it hard to get a good bite to eat when I wandered around town yesterday, which should have been one of their busier times of year. The Inn at Langley is definitely a destination place. I have recently heard some bad things about the Captain Whidbey Inn, I think on this board, which is disappointing after they had such a promising rebirth a few years ago. I'm not going to link to their website, which seems to support the recent claim (menu page - yikes). Hopefully the next mention of Whidbey Island will be about new restaurants opening!
  22. For large amounts or cheap prices, or both, try Plymouth Poultry. Down south of the stadiums east of Costco. They are a very large wholesaler of a ton of different types of meat, and they can order anything they don't have. They sell to the meat markets and grocery stores around town, but if you show up with cash or check they'll take it. It's great for special occasion stuff. Call ahead.
  23. I think Wonderbar in Wallingford is still open. Drove by about six last night and the front windows were open and there was a sandwich board out front.
  24. Mt. St. Helens and north did you say? I'm full of information, apparently, as I went down there from Seattle a bit ago for camping and hiking and relaxing. If you make it across the Columbia into Washington you can head straight east then north into the wilderness, or drive up I-5 to the Saint Helens cut-off and head in there. Spectacular scenery and plenty of huckleberries this time of year, and whenever you see a place to pull over and camp, just do it for free. Or head for a campground, deserted midweek, but maybe full on the weekends, for a sure-fire delightful experience. If your car has a high clearance that would be best, but it isn't really necessary, especially if it's a rental. As far as food/restaurant selections? Nothing that I've ever run across is worth mentioning. You might find a blue collar breakfast spot or two, but it's kind of barren as far as real dining is concerned. The main tourist attraction for the area isn't really compatible with fine meals, as folks who have just spent an extended amount of time scaling peaks or camping in an RV aren't really looking for something complicated. Getting back to your original post, if you're looking for camping the route up from Trout Lake to Mt. Rainier is some of the best country you'll ever spend time in, it's close to I-5 if you get the itch to speed it up, and the dining possibilities are endless (if you bring a bunch of good food and wine with you from Portland).
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