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slkinsey

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by slkinsey

  1. Um... what he said. Seriously. I was pretty much thinking exactly the same thing. Second place would be raviolo di uova al tartufo bianco.
  2. The quality of the lard can make a big difference. I can't imagine using those greasy, mealy bricks from the supermarket. I always get mine at Faicco's Pork Shop on Bleeker Street... keeps well in ther freezer.
  3. No web site of which I am aware. If you'd ever been there... they don't exactly seem like a "web site" kind of place. Anyway, they do have a telephone number... and since they supply a lot of NYC restaurants with salumi, I am betting you could get them to fax you a price list and ship you some stuff. Besides their wonderful guanciale, and among many other things, they also have culatello, speck, cotechino and my favorite: zampone. I mean, how can you possibly go wrong with a sausage stuffed into a pig's foreleg?
  4. I get mine at Salumeria Biellese, and it is quite good if not the best I have ever had. Guanciale is by far my favorite salume in the bacon/pancetta family. AFAIK, it is not widely known nor appreciated in the US. Wouldn't surprise me if it were unavailable by mail order. Beyond Carbonara, it is great in Bucatini all'Amatriciana and I like to use it when I make spaghetti with sauteed baby artichokes... Also wonderful sauteed with brussels sprouts.
  5. I love kalbi tang because it is so simple. Other favorites include korigomtang and yook gejang. I am sure the spellings are all way off.
  6. Anything with fava beans... Like Jim, I like to pulse them in the food processor with mint, evoo and a little garlic for spreading on crostini. But, really, you can hardly go wrong with simple blanched "peel and eat" fresh fava beans with a little sea salt and top quality evoo for dipping. Gotta watch out for that Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase enzyme deficiency, though...
  7. My understanding of supertasters is that they actually prefer fairly bland food because the flavors are so much stronger to them -- especially bitter flavors. This is because supertasters have a much higher concentration of taste buds than normal tasters. Supertasters often find relatively benign foods unbearably bitter, and for this and a variety of other reasons would not tend to appreciate foods most of us would consider appealing to a "sophisticated palate." My first take on "sophistated palate" is that it has rather to do with class distinctions, which we all like to pretend don't exist. One with "sophisticated tastes" is able to appreciate those things that are normally consumed and appreciated by people of means. This goes along with the presumption of old that the "higher classes" attain a higher level of education, intellectual development and cultural refinement, which is more central to the question in modern times when these characteristics are not necessarily indicative of one's socioeconomic class. Most "high art," and certainly high art in the classical tradition, tends to be more complex and to require a certain level of exposure and education to fully appreciate. As others have remarked, "sophistication" has certain connotations that imply "complexity" or "the ability to appreciate complex things." It is undeniably more difficult to fully appreciate complex things -- typically requiring some kind of education, although not necessarily formal. Most anyone in the Western World can immediately appreciate just about everything there is to appreciate about a pop song. Not everyone can immediately appreciate a staged performance of Rossini's "La Donna del Lago" with period instruments and vocal embelishments according to early 19th century Italian performance practice. The latter requires a greater level of sophistication in one's appreciation of music (and, to appreciate fully, further sophistication in one's understanding of early 19th century opera). This may smack of snobbery to some, and indeed it is a 20th century ideal that we are not allowed to say that one kind of art (or cooking) is "higher" or "better" than another -- but there it is. At some point one comes up against the wall of making a value judgement. So, really, IMO it is not the case that the difference between the sophistication of two "palates" is simply a matter of individual taste. It is a matter of understanding and education and appreciation of complexity. A person who appreciates an anchovy/olive pizza over a corn/pineapple pizza demonstrates that they understand the Italian tradition of pizza making, that they appreciate complexity of flavor that goes beyond a blast of sweetness, and that they have learned to appreciate flavors that are not instantly appealing. I would challenge the idea that one can have a "universally sophisticated palate" as well. I have a very sophisticated palate with it comes to regional Italian or French cooking but would have to say that, while I am a great admirer of Japanese cooking, I am not exactly a sophisticate when it comes to that kind of cooking. If I take the time to learn and understand and develop my Japanese palate... that might change. In this way, "sophisticated palate" should not be confused with "refined palate," "discerning palate," "delicate palate," "sensitive palate" and so forth.
  8. As it so happens, I just picked up a bunch of stone bowls for the express purpose of making dolsot bibimbap at home...
  9. I like to grind my own chuck (very coarse grind) at home and add around 5-10% ground pancetta. I have also been known to mix in a some beef fat trimmings I have stashed in the freezer for just such an occasion.
  10. Pasta con le Sarde is 100% a Sicilian classic. Other interesting and classical possibilities I enjoy include: Insalatata di arance (cross-sectional "wagon wheel" slices of peeled orange with red onion, parsley, evoo and salt), Spaghetti al nero di seppia, Maccu e finocchietto (broth with spaghettini, dried fava beans, wild fennel or fennel fronds, tomato and onion), Minestra di tenerumi (broth with zucchini leaves, taglierini, onion and basil), Pitaggio (veal sausages with fresh fava beans, fresh peas and artichokes), Farsu magru (a thin beef steak wrapped around a filling of prosciutto, sausage, pancetta, pecorino, hard cooked eggs and other good things), Pollo alla messiness (boiled chicken with a mayonnaise sauce of tuna, capers, anchovies, etc.), and Sanceli (Sicilian blood sausage).
  11. The thing that I find so interesting about Sicilian food is that is has many elements that seem less Italian and more North African. Lots of lamb, pine nuts, saffron, currants, mint, fennel, preserved lemons, etc. For a primo you could make Mario's "Two Minute Calamari Sicilan Lifeguard Style" which includes Israeli couscous, calamari, pine nuts, currants, chili flakes and other good things. A real Sicilian classic is "Pasta con le sarde" which has bucatini, sardines, fennel, anchovies, saffron, raisins or currants and pine nuts. For the secondo, there are many interesting lamb dishes, or you could make "Farsu magru" which is sort of like an interesting Sicilian meatloaf.
  12. There are two things I think are essential to a real martini that are often misunderstood. 1. It must have enough vermouth. We have all seen recipes that call for a 15:1 ratio of gin to vermouth or instructing one to coat the ice with vermouth and pour off the excess, providing an even larger ratio. But the reality is -- and blindfolded taste tests will show -- that this tiny amount of vermouth is well under the threshhold of taste. If you use such a miniscule amount of vermouth you might as well just drink a glass of chilled gin, which is what you are already doing in effect anyway. There is nothing wrong with drinking chilled gin, of course, but that doesn't mean it is a martini. I am very much against the practice of calling everything served in a cocktail glass a "martini". If you can't at least detect the presence of vermouth, then it is not a cocktail and is definitely not a martini. I read an article recently that referenced a well-known bartender who doesn't put any vermouth in his martinis and still has several returned each night for "too much vermouth" -- which just goes to show that you really can't tell anything at these small amounts. How much vermouth one uses will depend very much on the flavor characteristics of the two spirits. More strongly flavored gins can, and should, take a little more vermouth. Delicate gins take a little less. There is not a huge difference in intensity of flavor between most brands of vermouth, but my vermouth of preference, Vya, has such an intense flavor that I find I can use less. If I'm using Vya and a delicate gin, I might go to 8:1, otherwise I usually go 7:1 or 6:1. As other people have observed, when you serve a real martini with these ratios to someone who is a "super extra dry zero vermouth martini guy" they will usually like your version much better. 2. There should be some dilution. Part of the reason cocktails are stirred or shaken over ice is to dilute the drink. This has the effect of marrying the flavors and opening everything up. You would be surprised how much water is added to a cocktail just from the act of mixing it with ice. Try measuring how many ounces of booze you put into the cocktail mixer, and how many ounces of cocktail you get back out. This is one reason why one should not keep gin in the freezer, because it will be too cold to melt any of the ice. Again, in my experience, most people will prefer a properly diluted martini if they don't know what they're getting. To the few die-hards who absolutely cannot stomach a martini as described above... there is nothing wrong with pouring gin or vodka straight out of the freezer into a chilled cocktail class and plopping in an olive, twist or other garnish. Just don't call it a martini.
  13. Could you elaborate on this point? Yes, I too would like to hear the reasoning behind this. One would think that using water that is less saline than the inside of the vegetables might cause those vegetables to release less of their internal fluids into the water, which might potentially be seen as "dissolving the flavor compounds," or to actually absorb some of the cooking liquid. On the other side of the coin, one would think that using water that is more saline than the inside of the vegetables would have the opposite effect. This seems like a question of basic equilibrium to me. All of this is, of course, complicated by the element of heat -- so maybe that changes things. Or perhaps idea is that the presence of salt in the water would cause certain solids in the vegetables to not go into solution when they otherwise might in a less saline environment? Or maybe the idea is to use a saline solution so that some of the water is actually drawn out of the vegetables, thereby concentrating the flavors somehow (or preventing them from being diluted by the absorbtion of water that would happen in an unsalted environment)?
  14. Hee! From an old headshot, actually... The photog uses a digital camera that is amazing. I can literally blow up that eye to the point where I see all the blood vessels in the white part in alarming detail. Given the vastly larger surface area to volume ratio in leafy vegetables, it makes sense that a much larger amount of salt would remain on the surface.
  15. Changing the boiling point is just bonus points. The salt is to add flavor. Actually, both are wrong on some level. First, the change in the temperature of the boiling point is minimal. Something along the lines of one tenth of one degree, and to achieve even that you would have to add a lot of salt. So to suggest that adding salt to water raises the boiling point in any meaningful way, whether it is the primary goal or a side-benefit, is mistaken. Second, if you're talking about pasta, which is a starch and will absorb some salt from the water, then you are absolutely correct that adding salt will contribute flavor. The same would be true of, say, peeled potatoes. If, on the other hand, you are talking about green vegetables... again, this is a misconception. When you drain the vegetables, only a tiny amount of salt remains on the vegetable and virtually none is absorbed. Try cooking, say, green beans or broccoli florets of equal size in unsalted water, moderately salted water and copiously oversalted water -- then drain them and see if you and your friends can tell the difference in a blindfolded test.
  16. slkinsey

    Dinner! 2003

    I also like to save up parmigiano rinds in the freezer and simmer them in the sauce when I make Ragu Bolognese, although I can't remember where I got the idea. Does anyone else do this?
  17. slkinsey

    Dinner! 2003

    Oh no Jin, I was not talking about the tinned tomatoes . What I meant is that his recipe for Bolognese only uses tomato paste and no whole tomatoes at all (canned or fresh) Really? He did on Mario Eats Italy. I think a lot of Americans (and this is likely true of non-Italians around the world) expect most pasta sauces to be tomato-based, and thus want their Ragu Bolognese to have more of a tomato flavor than it should. I've had gallons of the real thing in Italy, and it has always struck me as tasting of meat and not really of tomato at all. When I make it at home I do include some tomato paste, but I find that it ends up giving the ragu a certain richness rather than any definable tomato flavor. Some think pasta sauces should have a strong garlic component as well. I find that people with these expectations are often disappointed or underwhelmed with real traditional Ragu Bolognese and will modify their own "ragu Bolognese" recipe accordingly. At this point, they end up with a tomato-based, garlic-tasting meat sauce that really isn't anything I'd call Ragu Bolognese. I think one can use either tomato paste or whole tomatoes... but not enough of either one to make the sauce taste tomatoey. I prefer paste, because I don't like tomato seeds in anything I am going to be cooking for a long time.
  18. Oh, neither one. I should have been more clear... Go to a place that sells construction stone -- like a brickyard or something like that. You tell them the dimensions you want and they sell you that exact piece of stone. Just for full disclosure, keep in mind that such a piece of stone will weigh upwards of 100 pounds.
  19. slkinsey

    Cardoons

    Anyone have a line on where to get Cardoons in NYC? I have never (well, hardly ever) seen them here.
  20. It's been a while, so I don't remember exactly where I got it. Couldn't have been too far from NYC though. I can check back through the archives of rec.food.sourdough (which I used to frequent in my militant sourdough days) and see where I got the idea, though. Maybe that will ring some bells. Anyway... it is around the size of my oven's bottom with a one inch space all the way around. It's probably 2 inches thick -- maybe a little more, maybe a little less -- and quite heavy. Packs quite a thermal mass, as you may well imagine. Boules explode up from it's surface, and it cooks pizza in less than 5 minutes.
  21. Having spent much time in Italy, I am very much an Italian traditionalist when it comes to pizza. This is to say that I like my pizza paper thin, slightly charred on the bottom, and with the toppings very much limited in number and amount. I've got a massive slab of soapstone on the bottom of my oven (something I picked up for baking sourdough) and from time to time we'll invite over a crowd and turn out a couple dozen pizze in various configurations. House favorites are: tomato/mozarella and fresh porcini mushrooms drizzled with raw olio di Cartocetto (famous olive oil from Le Marche, where I first had this pizza) out of the oven -- almost as good using crimini mushrooms with some rehydrated porcini and your favorite high-class olive oil stracchino, ruccola and bresaola tomato/mozarella with dressed salad greens and prosciutto tomato/mozarella with oil-cured tuna and onions tomato, chili flakes and raw shrimp (they cook right on the crust in the oven) tomato/mozarella with good anchovies, capers and chili flakes -- would love to try this with raw fresh anchovy fillets cooked on the crust tomato/mozarella with pancetta and raw eggs (they cook into "fried eggs" on the crust) it's always fun to make a "quattro stagioni" pizza with whatever is around that represents the four seasons to you (say, prosciutto, asparagus, mushrooms and basil) of course quattro formaggi is great I hear of Otto selling a lardo pizza (no sauce/cheese, just crust, salt and thin pieces of prosciutto fat draped on the warm crust) that sounds like something I will be making soon... Besides that, I can always find something interesting and unusual at the Green Market that works on a pizza -- have made ramp pizza and even a chive blossom pizza that was very well recieved. When I do go with more familiar American toppings, I like to at least jazz it up a little by doing things like using sauteed baby artichokes instead of canned, or using spicy sopressata instead of pepperoni. Any salumi is, in my opinion, better if you put it on the pizza right after taking it out of the oven rather than cooking it on the pizza. Anyway, IMO, the real secret is to go very conservatively on the toppings, otherwise it ends up soggy and very much like mediocre American-style pizza. My thought is, why make it at home unless you can do something better, or at least significantly different from what you get at your local Original Really We're Not Kidding This Is The One And Only Famous Ray's or Pizzeria Dodici's Chicago Style Baked Cheese and Meat Pie/Torte Thing.
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